Do you know what I love about getting from Point A to Point B with Google Maps as my trusty guide? I can take the expedient approach to food and entertainment and connection without guilt. I have one job and taking care of myself with optimization isn’t it. Potato chips at the gas-up spot are a great answer to my rumbling stomach. A mind-candy audiobook is expected. Feet belong on the dashboard, poor posture be damned!
It’s exhausting to be in constant pursuit of my best life, of the fullest expression of myself, of my own maximized fulfillment. I like the short-term, get-it-done checklist approach. It’s simple. Clear. Streamlined. Sure, there are bumps along the way, but my criteria for a fix isn’t mired in some complex formula of Fulfilling My Potential. For this treasured glimpse of a few weeks, I can set that sh*t down.
I’m not ramping up to pitch you another life hack, I’m asking you to exhale and consider the toll of our zeitgeist. I’m exhausted by my own expectation that I milk my life for every drop of truth, insight, and impact. Last week, I talked to a potential client, and his earnest expression of despair about falling short around being the best version of himself was heartbreaking. What are we doing to ourselves that we’re intolerant – even ashamed – of our struggles, of our dark sides?
Another client told me, “I wish I could have a different mindset, one that’s more normal.” This was a 26-year-old swept under by a professional quandary. When did we stop normalizing struggle and polishing perfection, shooting for moon so that we could land among the stars? Sometimes we land on our ass in a pile of dust – and it isn’t stardust!
I’m not urging an embrace of failure. I’m asking for a reset around expectations that we all flourish all the time or we’re not trying hard enough. Yes, check your privilege. Also give yourself some serious latitude around life function. Berating yourself about what’s missing and how you’re falling short compared to everyone else doesn’t help. Giving yourself a break does help. Letting yourself be human helps. Realizing that we’re all in that pit at one time or another matters. There’s nothing wrong with naming your pain, even wallowing – just don’t set up camp there in Woe Is Me Land.
Let’s be real: the more we can topple the tyranny of reaching our potential and living in a flow state, the better off we’ll all be.