A few years ago then 28-year-old Michelle Rapp, a Cornell University graduate, experienced a series of unfortunate events. First, she lost her job in a mass layoff at a San Francisco start-up. Then, anxious to get back to work, she took a physically demanding job at a Chinatown tea shop—but weeks later she threw out her hip while carrying boxes up the store's steps. Unable to walk and go on job interviews and feeling stressed and demoralized, she immersed herself in a cerebral and competitive card game, Magic: The Gathering. Yet even this diversion ended up causing anguish for Rapp. Her whole-hog approach to the game—joining tournaments and founding a local chapter—was only the latest act in a lifelong pattern of setting ambitious goals and then judging herself harshly for failing to meet them.