Taking Inventory of 2020 with Duct Tape, Henry the VIII, and Forrest Gump

Do you remember the movie Ghost with Patrick Swayze, Whoopi Goldberg, and Demi Moore? Of course, you do.


Picture the scene where Oda Mae is trying to sleep while Sam is incessantly singing “I’m ‘Enery the Eighth, I am, ‘Enery the Eighth, I am, I am…”


My inner critical voice has been singing to me on repeat lately, but her words are not motivating nor endearing. She’s no Patrick Swayze.


She wants attention. She wants to remind me that I bought a terribly uncomfortable mattress a few weeks ago. I was nervous in the store because the salesperson wasn’t wearing a mask. So, I bought a brick covered in foam just to get out of there quickly.


She wants me to remember all the times I said or did the wrong things – whether they occurred 20 minutes or 20 years ago.


She wants me to shut down my business and get a “real job” because my revenues are down this year.


I must change the playlist in my brain. I’m using this post to do so.


To finish 2020 strong, I have completed the first draft of a workbook to help readers calm perfectionism and quiet the critical voice. Obviously, this book was born out of personal need.


When I release the book to you next year, five people may buy it, but my hope is that the six of us will benefit. Ooh, there goes that critical voice again!


One of the exercises in the book is to take inventory of the good things you’ve done. We perfectionists tend to focus on our foibles and snub our successes.



With duct tape over the mouth of my critical voice, here are ten good things I did in 2020:



  1. I wrote some of my best blogs ever. The intensity and emotion of this year deeply affected me, and that came out in my writing.


  1. I practiced self-care. With help from wonderful doctors who embraced telemedicine, I took care of my health. I meditated three to five times a week. I availed myself of Dr. Laurie Santos’ free course, The Science of Well-Being. I walked outdoors when weather and motivation collided.


  1. I helped people. I helped family, friends, clients, and strangers. I coordinated resources and donated expertise. I made a difference in the lives of other people.


  1. I maximized my investments in technology. I became a Mailchimp power user and published a free webinar on interruptions. I learned about search engine optimization and upgraded my website. I bravely unsubscribed hundreds of nonreaders from my productivity blog distribution list and created a five-month trickle campaign for my new Learn Together distribution list. This is rock star stuff, people.


  1. I developed my skills as a writer. I joined industry associations, participated in dozens of webinars, joined a critique group, and submitted manuscripts to publishers, agents, and writing contests.


  1. I called my friends. For years, I have habitually called friends who don’t live near me. This year, I called everyone. Lots. I have not been able to see them face-to-face but hearing their voices and laughter has been wonderful medicine.


  1. I intensified my education on systemic racism. I recommend the following: go through Rachel Cargle’s free 30-day #DoTheWork course, follow No White Saviors on Instagram, and take one or more of Harvard’s Implicit Assumption tests.


  1. I pivoted my speaking business into webinars. With support from my wonderful clients at Volkswagen, I developed and delivered several webinars. I loved doing this! Adapting to the Zoom format was no big deal, and I was able to introduce training exercises that you can only do when participants are in front of their computers. It was so, so fun.


  1. I led the effort to get Captain Corona and the 19 COVID Warriors out to the world. Even if I had done nothing else this year, Captain Corona would have marked 2020 as a success.


  1. I persevered. In the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”


That’s my inventory. My critical voice is about to pass out from screaming into the duct tape across her mouth. She wants me to make her list of all the things I did poorly. She doesn’t want me to post this blog.


Maybe I’ll put ‘Enery the Eighth on repeat for her.


I encourage you to grab the duct tape, quiet your critical voice, and celebrate your successes this year. 2020 was a doozy, right? But you’ve likely succeeded more than you think.


And if 2020 was one of your best years ever, that’s wonderful! Several of my clients have had record (high) revenues. Feeling guilty about your achievements is your critical voice trying to steal the joy. I applaud you and your success.


I’m going to ask Alexa to play Unchained Melody at volume seven. I’ve got to get rid of this ‘Enery the Eighth earworm.


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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at getproductive@melissagratias.com or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.




  1. Seana Turner

    Wow, that is a very impressive list of accomplishments! If I had done all of those things, I would be feeling very good. I love this approach to shifting our mindset and finding joy in what we are able to do. Perfectionism is a recipe for exhaustion and disappointment, and it just isn’t necessary. Here’s to a a new year and a new internal playlist!

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Thank you, Seana. You are correct – mindset is key.

  2. Linda Samuels

    That inner critic can be so darn loud. I love how you are shutting it up with a big piece of duct tape, your anti-perfectionism workbook launch, and this great list of ten incredible accomplishments you did in 2020. And the year isn’t over yet! You are inspiring in so many ways- from your honesty about “the voice” to the ways you used your best self to bring light and value to others. I wish you all the best as you continue to knock it out of the park, enjoy your blogging break, and rejoin us in the new year. I always enjoy reading your posts.

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Thank you, Linda. From a blogger as wonderful as you are, that is an amazing compliment.

  3. Melanie

    I have been struggling with this a lot the last couple of days. I cherish my time with family during the holidays and I feel defeated not being able to spend time with them. That inner voice hasn’t been very kind to me and tells me to “get over it” and “stop being hyperbolic and overreacting.” We all just want to do the right thing. Sometimes it’s hard and overwhelming. I will try to practice kindness and self care with a little extra enthusiasm. Thanks for sharing.

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Thank you for sharing your struggle, Melanie. That critical voice can be so sneaky.

  4. JoAnn Fournier

    I enjoy reading your blog. I always get something out of it, and I have sent your link to many friends. Thank you and Happy Holidays!

  5. Susan Whitmire

    We are our own worse critics. You are a wonderful communicator and person. I still tell the story when you had to ‘sit me down’ and help me alter the plan when I thought I failed miserably.

  6. Julie Bestry

    Revenues down during a global pandemic? How embarrassing for you! Seriously, Melissa, you rocked this year. You published a children’s book that made the WORLD sit up and take notice, and more importantly, it helped families deal with the crisis. (And I should know, as I was with you ever step of the way from that first Sunday morning call, when you’d just thought it up.)

    You rocked 2020. You rock most things. But you don’t have to rock EVERYTHING. If you did, we’d have to smack you for making the rest of us look bad. But right now, you’re fabulous, you look great, and you make us better every day!

  7. Geneen Ransaw

    This was timely and much needed. Thank you for sharing!


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