How to Be Content in Life: Give Yourself Credit

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Girl, Wash Your Face" by Rachel Hollis. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you beat yourself up for not being as far along in life as you thought you would be by now? Do you struggle to give yourself credit for your accomplishments?

Women often beat themselves up about all the things they haven’t yet accomplished. Give yourself credit for what you have accomplished, be open to new dreams, and have faith that things are turning out just as they are meant to be.

Keep reading to learn why you need to give yourself credit for your accomplishments instead of focusing on what you’ve yet to do.

Give Yourself Credit for Your Accomplishments

Women often beat themselves up about all the things they haven’t yet accomplished.

Some even dread birthdays because they serve as a reminder of things they haven’t checked off their to-do lists — and time is growing short.

Women may feel they’ve fallen short on career, financial and personal goals if they’re not a partner in the firm by 40, married with kids by a certain age, or haven’t lost the baby weight. This can feel like you’ve broken promises to yourself, and with every passing day and week you can feel farther and farther behind.

Rachel Hollis, author of Girl, Wash Your Face, also fell victim to this line of thinking, and through her experiences urges other women to stop focusing on what you don’t have, give yourself credit for what you have accomplished, be open to new dreams, and have faith that things are turning out just as they are meant to be.

Goals Don’t Have an Expiration Date

Negative self-talk about what we have and haven’t achieved is damaging. Imagine a baby taking her first steps, but her parents demand that she start running. Ridiculous, right? Yet we set these unrealistic expectations for ourselves all the time, criticizing ourselves for what we’re not doing without celebrating what we have accomplished. Give yourself credit for what you have already done.

Goals don’t have an expiration date; you can continue to strive to reach them. Try to relax about the goal-achievement timetable you’ve set in your head and understand that “God has perfect timing.” For the non-Christian, think of it as “Everything is happening exactly as it’s supposed to.”

If you are depressed about what you haven’t accomplished by a certain age, perhaps you don’t yet have the life experience to reach this goal. Just like a baby learning to walk, maybe you need to get your bearings for a while. Maybe that particular goal wasn’t meant to be — something else might be coming for you down the road. Maybe you need to be in your current situation to be ready for your future.

Along with your list of goals, you have to give yourself some grace; beautiful things you never planned can happen in life. When you’re agonizing over something not going right for you, think of this time as preparation for your future. Focus on what you have done; give yourself credit for the tiny steps you have taken.

The Universe Has Perfect Timing

The author illustrates the idea of “God has perfect timing” with examples from her life that show things not going according to plan can work out exactly as they were meant to.

  • She had difficulty getting pregnant for the first time, but when her son was born, she knew everything she went through was worth it to have this beloved and special child.
  • She dreamed of being the biggest event planner in LA, but her company didn’t grow as she’d hoped. But her blog, initially just a marketing tool, grew a fan base and became hugely successful. Now she runs a lifestyle media company with millions of fans and loves the work. If she had the biggest events company in LA, she wouldn’t now have the career she’s so passionate about — one she never even dreamed of. 
  • When setting out to adopt her fourth child, she and her husband encountered heartbreaking hurdles. She almost gave up because the process was so painful. She realized that she had to have faith in God’s plan for her. When she finally adopted her daughter, the heartbreak was worth it because it all led to this child. 

Not being where you thought you should be could be the best thing to happen to you, helping you end up exactly where you’re meant to be.

How to Give Yourself Credit When You Feel Behind in Life

Try these strategies to stay positive when you feel you haven’t accomplished enough.

  • Make a list. Write out everything you have accomplished. When you give yourself credit for all the things you have accomplished, you realize it’s wrong to be so hard on yourself for the things you haven’t yet conquered.
  • Talk about your feelings. Being silent and brewing in your own dark thoughts helps that negativity grow. When you open up to someone about your feelings of worthlessness and underachievement, you’ll meet with their validation.
  • Don’t attach a time limit to your goal. Big dreams shouldn’t have an expiration date. Keep working toward your goal whether it takes a month or a decade.
How to Be Content in Life: Give Yourself Credit

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Rachel Hollis's "Girl, Wash Your Face" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Girl, Wash Your Face summary:

  • Why you should accept that life can be messy
  • How seeing that you're in control of your life can help you live more joyfully
  • The 20 lies you might be telling yourself

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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