I don’t know how it was like for you, but growing up, you always heard that you could do absolutely anything if you put your mind to it. That was the motto in schools, right? Try until you succeed, achievements are a matter of effort, and anything can be attained if you work hard enough.
Now, that’s a nice thought in theory, but whether we believed it or not, we all knew it was inherently wrong. I could try as much as I wanted, but I was never going to be as good as the athletic kids in gym. I could practice, work at it, and do whatever it took to train and build up my abilities, but my level of skills in something like athletics is never going to be as good as someone who’s naturally inclined to that particular activity. I can cook as much as I want, but I’m never going to be as good at it as my dad and boyfriend, who are both talented in that area. No matter how much I practice or try or work at something, unless I’m naturally inclined and skilled at it, I may not have the amount of success I was originally looking for.
So this is where teachers started changing the equation. Yes, you can have anything as long as you work for it, but the most important thing is to try your best. Everyone’s important and valid as long as they’re making an effort, even if they may not be the best in a particular area. Put your best foot forward, try as hard as you can – that’s the important part.
Bottom line is, success is a matter of how hard you work for it. Or at least this is what I’ve always seemed to be taught.
I believed it, so I started to work like crazy. I want to be successful, whatever that may look like for me, so I’m going to try as hard as I possibly can. Want a good career, build a business, have a good relationship, etc? You gotta work for that. You gotta work for it until you’re bleeding out everything in you and you can’t take another step forward, and then you need to pump your veins with caffeine to keep you going. After all, you can achieve anything if you put enough effort in, so if nothing’s being achieved yet, you must not be working hard enough, right?
Wrong. And this is a trap I let myself fall into.
I wouldn’t take days off. Ever. I’d feel bad about not getting every item on my list done every day. I’d cram ten projects into my daily life instead of focusing on one or two ideas and building up from there. The more I threw myself into things, the better. It meant I was making something for myself.
Now, I’m not here to minimize hard work. Making an effort and moving towards goals is important, and you’re never going to get anywhere if you don’t take the steps to do so. Life requires work. I get that. There’s no way to get around it. However, it becomes a problem when your work starts getting in the way of making progress.
Here’s my argument for you guys: life happens. Whether you believe in fate or destiny or higher powers or anything else is irrelevant; life has a very distinct way of coming together and working itself out. And sometimes, when we keep trying to push forward on our own, trying and trying without letting life do it’s thing, we’re the ones getting in the way of our own success.
However, when you take a moment and stop trying, suddenly you start to see all the pieces come into place by themselves. Your relationship starts going smoother, you feel more relaxed and at peace, opportunities start coming – whatever it may be.
When we’re so caught up in our work and our own efforts, often times we miss the things that were right in front of our face from the very beginning. It takes stepping back and just letting life happen in order to see these things. But when you’re so caught up in trying, whatever progress you’re making is usually just spinning your wheels over and over again while you try to find solutions that are usually right in front of your face in the first place.
So that’s it. I’m done trying. I’m done trying to have a good relationship, to be perfect, to start up all my projects, and everything else besides that too. Which isn’t to say that I’m not still working on them, that making progress isn’t a good thing, but rather, I’m being relaxed in my efforts. The world won’t end if something takes me a long time to do. It’s okay if I need to take breaks and relax sometimes, or stay in bed until 1pm because my blankets are too comfortable. That I’m okay in myself, and if I don’t give life the chance to just happen, I’m getting in the way of the opportunities that could be presenting themselves to me if I weren’t so distracted by my own effort.
The teachers were wrong. While hard work is important, living your life is important too. I stopped living so I could work, but the only progress that ever happens is when I stop working so I can live. We need to stop glorifying the busy, the hectic, and the task focused lifestyles. We have to get back to the roots of what it means to be human, which is in the quality of the lives we live, not in the chores we can accomplish.
So, my challenge to you is – stop trying.