We live in the era of improvement.
You have to work smarter, not harder. Need enough inboxes to connect with all your life areas, re-sketch the same metrics to keep track of minute improvements, and if you’re not on top of every new productivity app — well, then what are you doing?
I’ll tell you what: nothing. You’re not moving and not shaking. If you’re not increasing personal productivity – snowballing your progress and all that – you’re stuck. And wherever you are at one moment, that’s the worst place you could be.
So, you plow your way through a library of self-help books as though you were looking for gold. But all you dig up is dirt. There are a million methods out there and none of them seem to be working.
Something is wrong and it has to be fixed.
You soldier on and read about breathwork, and how trauma collects in different parts of your body. You find – and agree – that we worry too much, and that taking the first step is all there is to it. We read and read and, by God, you read some more.
For all the work you put in, though, all you end up with is a million well-intentioned words weighing you down.
How can that be? Allen from the office swears bullet journaling is a lifesaver. Mary promises breath work will release you from everything holding you back, and that this is what you need to build back stronger. If Allen and Mary can do it, why can’t you?
In a blind panic, you go to YouTube because – you realize – maybe you’re a visual learner. And there must be vloggers out there who’ll help you catapult into a higher stratosphere of being. You consume hours of videos; tutorials, workshops, webinars. But you end up feeling more stressed than ever. Like a wall of screens is closing in.
One moment you are certain eating healthy is the most important thing. The next moment daily affirmations (or breathing exercises, living minimally, setting goals, etc.) take their place. How, while trying to get closer, are you getting farther from your goal?
Let me put a notion in your head: It’s not you, it’s them. All these people and blogs and vlogs are trying to evangelize you to their cause. To them, you are another saveable soul.
Because bullet journaling and breath work and everything else really did help Allen and Mary and all the others they assume it is the right thing for you. It’s what got them to new heights and they’re positive it will help you.
The problem is, and I fear we too often forget this, we are not all the same.
Yet people will keep forcing everything on you. ‘Dude, this doo-hickey is the real thing, man. It’s doing wonders for my thingamajig.’ And we fall for it. Every damn time. After conversations like this, you walk away with the feeling you’re missing out, or that you’re doing something wrong. But the only wrong here is being done to you. They assume you are them. Heck, you even assume you are them. You’re not.
Still, you try. You’re two-hundred pounds overweight and maybe Mary’s breathwork will awaken something in you to work with. You’re not getting any work done and bullet journaling might just be the thing, thanks, Allen. You read whatever there is to read. You buy e-books, purchase course materials, join webinars – the works. You try and try, fall flat on your face, try again, but don’t see any results.
“Remember,” Mary and Allen say, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Keep it up.” So you try for the umpteenth time – no longer just wasting money, but also time. You stick to something for weeks or months or years. You might even start seeing results, but, you wonder, will it always be such a fight?
You know, I like that sentence: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Sure, they’re right. If you don’t put in the work you won’t get the result. But – and I’m no long-distance runner so maybe I’m wrong – don’t people start out sprinting? There will have been few marathoners who just got up and ran.
The great thing about this is that if you start out sprinting you might find you loathe running. Then what do you do? You won’t go on to run a marathon, I’m sure. You find a different hobby.
It’s the same with these methods and lifestyles and end-all solutions to every problem you’ve ever had – start out with a sprint to find out if it’s for you. It probably won’t be. That’s not a problem, it’s a reminder that we’re not all the same.
How many people do you know who run marathons? There’s a big chance you know more people who play football, basketball, volleyball or go to the gym. Not everyone is a marathon runner, so why are you forcing yourself to be into every productivity method or lifestyle change you stumble upon?
Every time you read a new success story for an upcoming methodology please remember that the people writing about it are the ones who made it work. No one who failed is going to be blogging about it. These method-evangelists are the few, but we, the many, are going to have to find a different path – our own path.
You are going to have to find what works for you, not by trying everything for months and months, but by sitting down and deciding who you are and what you need out of life. And maybe you find out that you’re not ready for anything new right now, and that’s okay.
Whenever you read a blog or watch a vlog where people say ‘you should’, ‘you have to’, ‘you must’ just shut it down. Reading every self-help book isn’t going to change a damn thing if you’re not ready for it.
Find the lifestyle that suits you now and be happy with who you are. Don’t force yourself to be a digital nomad, or an entrepreneur, or a gym junkie if you’re not. And don’t let anybody make you feel bad about it either.
And what if you do want to run that marathon? If that is for you, even if you can’t run more than a minute today, then you will work at it and it will work. Because you are being true to yourself and that’s the only thing you have to be.