Redefining our perception of success & productivity

If asked about a quality or goal we want to achieve in our lives, many of us would respond with a desire to be successful.  How do we define what that is for us?  Oftentimes, our concept of success is driven by our culture and media portrayal of people highlighting their accomplishments.  Which, more often than not, means showing off wealth in terms of mansions, luxury cars, lavish vacations, and anything that reaches the aesthetic of abundance for consumption.  All of that can be great and there’s nothing wrong with wanting or having nice things!  However, are there better markers for success?  What would we be giving up for the pursuit of this standard or ideal lifestyle?


Capitalism has taught us that grinding and producing is our roadmap to attaining that quality of life.  The promotion of this “no days off” and the “grindset mindset” mentality has led to many people feeling uncomfortable around the idea of rest.  This can look like:

  • Continuing to engage with work on vacations or time off.
  • Waking up and looking at your work email the first thing in the morning.
  • Feeling guilty about stepping away from work to focus on a personal need (making/getting lunch, scheduling doctor’s appointments, going for a walk and getting fresh air).
  • Not allowing yourself to relax unless you’ve “earned” it.

The notion that we can’t engage with pleasure unless we’ve endured suffering has been a common issue that comes up in therapy sessions.  We haven’t been given permission to make our wellbeing a priority over work.  If that thought is bringing up discomfort, this is me giving you permission!  Rest isn’t earned, it is a necessity. REST IS PRODUCTIVE!  Success doesn’t mean that we should push ourselves beyond our limits or disconnect from our bodies and values.


You may be asking, so what now?  There are different ways to steer your life towards healthier attitudes around work and productivity.  Defining success and our values can assist us in that journey.  Success can look like having safety, stability, peace, access to resources, and building community with our loved ones.  In sessions, I guide clients towards identifying value and purpose driven goals, being able to slowly let go of guilt or shame around engaging in recreation, building upon their identity outside of their career, and knowing that they are much more than what they can produce.  We all have our own barriers to overcome in the pursuit of existing wholly, happily, and authentically in life.  Contact us to be connected with a therapist to support you in your path towards change!

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About the author
Pallavi Ankolekar

Pallavi Ankolekar, LCSW CCTP is a psychotherapist specializing in working with adults with various wellness goals in NY and NJ. She is passionate about supporting BIPOC navigate their healing journey with warmth and compassion because we all deserve the opportunity to thrive and not just survive.