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Rediscovery Self-Worth: Moving Beyond the Productivity Trap

Raised on the East Coast of the U.S. I am all too familiar with the relentless pursuit of productivity. We like things done….. yesterday. Not necessarily relegated to the Northeast, however, hustle culture has permeated our country. When it’s steeped into the culture, it’s reinforced constantly, whether we are mindful of it or not. That makes it easy to fall into the trap of equating our value with our ability to get things done

In this article, we will discuss;

  • How to recognize the subtle signals that we may have confused our inherent value with our productivity levels. 

  • The dangers of this mindset and how it can lead to burnout, overwhelm, and a lack of connection. 

  • Uncover the values that define us beyond the realm of productivity – the qualities that make us truly human, outside of our accomplishments, so we can appreciate the benefits of changing our mindset. 

Let’s get started! 

First let’s look at a few signs we might be confusing our value with productivity:

We are constantly busy! 

We neglect our own needs

We have a hard time relaxing. 

We’re uncomfortable when idle.

We have big reactions to failure & setbacks. 

We have a hard time asking for help.

We compare ourselves to others. 

We rely on external praise or recognition to know we’re doing enough. 

We strive for perfection.

Our self-esteem is tied heavily to our achievements. 

If any or all of this sounds familiar to you, you are not alone. Many people are having a similar experience, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful. There are dangers to confusing our self-worth with productivity that can cause us to devalue ourselves and harm our sense of wellbeing.  

When we equate our value with our productivity, we only feel valued when we are doing something. Implying who we are isn’t enough and that gets us into trouble. 

For example, we feel guilty for taking breaks or doing nothing. We feel uncomfortable because we don’t perceive the value. In other words, we are being worthless, or aren’t earning our worth. 

We forget pauses and breaks are essential for regrouping, recharging, and gaining clarity. Pushing ourselves to continuously perform can detract from the quality of what we’re accomplishing and it’s an efficient way to burn ourselves out. 

Most of us would love to slow down, be more present, and feel connected with the people we care about, but our need for productivity undermines this deep desire. When we’re in go-mode, pausing long enough to appreciate the present moment seems like a luxury we can’t afford. 

Then there is the fact that our to-do list never ends. Productivity is a never-ceasing loop that will never feel satisfied because once one task is complete another takes its place for us to feel valued. 

Sounds exhausting if you ask me. If only we could feel valued without linking it to our productivity. How can we let go of that belief so we can see value in our being as well as our doing? 

It’s time to challenge this limiting belief. To get us started, let’s discuss a few ways in which we have value that isn’t determined by what we can accomplish, shall we? 

We are valuable because:

  • We’re human – yeah, we’re kind of a big deal. If I were to hand you a precious human baby, who can do little but sleep, eat and cry would you tell me they weren’t valuable?  

  • Our personal qualities – our qualities, characteristics, and experiences have come together in a completely unique way. There is no other us!

  • Our capacity for connection – our ability to form meaningful connections with others, fostering love, friendship, and a sense of community helps create well-being support systems. 

  • Our individual growth & learning – our personal journey and experiences are valuable.

  • We can enjoy life – experiencing joy beauty, and pleasure adds value to existence. 

  • We provide emotional support – providing support on an emotional level to those around us has a profound effect on their lives. 

  • We uphold ethical & moral integrity – Acting in accordance to our values contributes to the moral fabric of society. It enhances human relationships and builds societal trust. 

  • Our cultural and artistic expression – art, music and other creative outlets contribute to and enrich the human experience. 

  • Our spiritual and philosophical insights - Our presence can spark an insight, aha, or breakthrough in other people’s journeys. 


Pretty amazing, wouldn’t you say?! Can I just take a moment to say: Wow! I’m so glad you exist! 

When we acknowledge our innate value, it makes us feel good! We reduce our stress and anxiety by alleviating our need to perform. We foster compassion for ourselves and others which translates into realistic standards and more authentic relationships with the people around us. We can finally create that work-life balance we’ve been craving and maybe pursue other interests or passions that didn’t seem possible until now. Speaking of that, we are more likely to experiment and explore new things when we aren’t so focused on productivity. Overall, we find more meaning and fulfillment in our lives because we are no longer afraid that a lack of productivity reflects a lack of value.

I really appreciate you all coming along as we explored mistaking our productivity for our value. I hope you enjoyed discovering signs we might be confusing the two, looking at the negative impacts on our lives, and reestablishing why are value is constant and innate.  

We are worthy of receiving love the way we give it, freely. Even if we didn’t do anything to earn it.  

Take care of yourself. 



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