It’s impossible to keep up. Every day I see countless articles about life hacking and personal development. There are never-ending itemized lists that outline things I must do throughout the day in order to be a fully-functioning and successful human being. According to most of these posts, it seems that if I continually optimize myself, I will run like a machine – living life at five-hundred percent, one-hundred percent of the time.
Is that a good thing?
The thing is, I’m not a machine, and I’m tired of tracking and perpetually examining the data taken from my daily routines. It gives me flashbacks to my early 20’s when I wrote down my weight twice a day along with every single morsel of food I put into my body. I spent so much time qualifying myself by scratching into a tiny notebook with a precision pen that I was missing out on life itself. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly dabble. I track “basic” metrics: to what extent I exercised, meditated, read, and wrote. I make sure to volunteer once a month and try to keep track of whether or not I’ve participated in community events. And just when I think I’m doing a halfway decent job, I see more headlines for other things I need to stop or start doing, practice, digest (mentally or physically) or communicate.
Apparently, in order to be successful in life, I need to do one-hundred burpees as the sun rises while listening to tech bros congratulate each other over doing work, summarily packaged into the highly prosaic term “hustle.” There are also voices to stop and start listening to, and for the life of me, I can’t tell if the authors are referring to other people or certain parts of myself. Ironically, it’s enough to drive one insane. To all these authors, podcast hosts, and ‘grammers, I gotta say: "Why tho? Does it have to be this way?" Please hit pause for a sec and consider the following:
Rest isn’t a bad thing.
Am I supposed to berate myself for staying up writing until 1am, then getting out of bed at 9? Am I lazy for wanting to get a full eight hours of sleep? And if I have a crappy day then binge-watch House of Cards while devouring a bag of Milanos in one take am I not cut out for success? Must I be ashamed, as I sit on the couch wearing a thick, juicy facemask, scrolling miles with my thumbs on social media – despite the fact that I will likely feel reinvigorated come tomorrow? I don’t want to finish a book every week. I enjoy taking notes and savoring the sentences. Can we please just slow things down a bit?
To be the best self possible for ourselves and for others, well – that should be more than good enough.
Because everyone moves through the day differently.
I do my best work at night. This prevents me from joining the ranks of successful people who have this morning routine, and might even disqualify me completely from becoming a top performer at life in general. I am okay with this. Besides, I have low-grade P.T.S.D. from my last job. I’m an introvert and highly-sensitive person, preferring to work in sprints while taking frequent breaks to rest. I don’t drink Soylent, nor do I regularly consume meat, dairy, or anything with more stuff “hidden” on the inside (ravioli, gross!). I would read more motivational posts, except for that my sense of humor is snarky and just a tad cynical (hey, a good belly laugh is healthy though, right?!). I practice yoga in favor of sweaty Crossfit sessions. I like to go on long walks to think. Despite all this, by going at my own pace I’ve somehow managed to launch a successful consulting business, travel the world, and finish my first fiction novel, all in the last twelve months.
Besides, rules are fun to break.
Too many rules are hard to follow. To be the best self possible for ourselves and for others, well – that should be more than good enough. The real metric for success is happiness. It may be one stacked full of variables and heretofore unknowns, but at least we can find it on our own terms, in our own way. That’s growth worth chasing.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nicole is a writer and marketing strategist living in San Francisco, CA. Her company, NAC Worldwide, launched a year ago to help companies of all sizes achieve their marketing goals. Besides helping to grow great products Nicole is obsessed with life hacks, productivity, and using technology to make life better for all.