My initial impetus for writing about guilt was that I want you to feel better.
One of the things that motivates what I do is the fact that you are doing work that you love, work that you think is important, and yet you feel guilty, overwhelmed, and unsure of yourself. You work so hard you get sick. You stop loving what you do in the frustration of all the pressures you are under.
Guilt takes time
The best reason to stop feeling guilty is that it takes valuable resources away from doing the best you can on the priorities you have committed to.
If you are spending time and energy thinking about whether you are working on the right thing, that is time and energy you are not spending actually doing it.
If you are overexplaining, you are taking valuable time and energy away from the things you’ve decided to focus on to explain to someone else why you are not doing the thing they wanted you to focus on.
It’s like you’ve put “Process guilt” on your task list alongside everything else.
Guilt makes it hard to concentrate
And then there are all the conversations you have in your head about that decision.
The guilt is a gremlin that tells you things that may not be true.
The gremlin might be scared of what you could do if you really focused on your best contribution. Or, it could be scared of how others will react to that contribution.
Those conversations are distracting you from the work you really want to be doing. It’s hard to focus on your priorities when a gremlin is poking you.
Get more good work done
My desire for you to really enjoy the work you do is not just pollyanna-ish. If you are doing work that you think is important and that you enjoy you are going to work harder.
You are going to be more focused. You are going to be motivated to work through the difficult and unpleasant parts to produce good work.
You need to stop feeling guilty because you don’t have time for that. Guilt is definitely not one of your priorities. And you need to focus on your priorities because you want to do good in the world, and focusing on that is going to make a difference.
This post was edited Nov 13, 2015.