Try, Try, and Try again?
Or as the underage youths I witnessed chant around some vomit: “Drink until you die, drink until you die”. We receive varying degrees of praise depending on our level of mastery. Prize-giving being a 'parade of ability’, motivating us to try harder, do better, because it’s not true success if you don’t have a medal/hickey/liver failure to prove it.
Competitions and awards train excellence,
birth innovation and connect nations.
But they can be dangerous.
When does ‘trying’ become damaging self-obsession that fuels self-hatred at not being good enough? When does healthy eating morph into anorexia, entrepreneurship into megalomania, and your university degree into years at a job you actually hate? Our desire to win often becomes an obsession that steers us away from who we are, instead of closer. The scary part is how we let it.
If you’re hating what you’re doing - STOP DOING IT.
I’m not talking about a few days of uncomfortability, a challenging exercise regime or a shitty few months at work. No. If you can’t push through the tough times, then you need to go back to being scolded by a parent and “stop crying, it’s only a scratch, it’ll make you stronger”. I’m talking about challenges, goals, jobs, activities and situations that leave you repeatedly drained, exhausted, depressed and soul sucked. You need an exit strategy, and you need one from the very beginning, so that you don't ever become trapped by your own “desires”.
‘Giving Up’ doesn’t always mean ‘You Failed’.
You have dreams and goals, both of which rely on a certain amount of perseverance in order to come to life. Sometimes however, you’ll keep trying to build your dream house, with a budget that just covers your groceries. Giving yourself permission to downscale your goal isn’t failure, it’s loving yourself enough to realise when ‘trying’ is tearing you down, instead of building you up.
Adjust your expectations or you’ll be permanently disappointed.
When we take on a job, challenge or goal, and for whatever reason don’t master what we set out to do, this rocks our subconscious need for ‘approval through achievement’. All those empowering words that we were groomed with as children (‘try’, ‘persevere’, ‘suck it up’), are the very words that now hold us prisoner to goals and situations that slowly kill our motivation and joy.
Quit. It’s the best thing you’ll ever do.
There’ll come a time when you’re sick of walking the tightrope. For whatever reason, you’re caught in the indecision of whether to jump off, or keep walking. If the rope is leading you into the arms of obsession, self-criticism, depression, anxiety, exhaustion, self-hatred and disappointment, then listen to these fine young Irishmen rockers and
“Pack up, give in, go home, get out
I used to be a dreamer
But I realized that it's not my style at all
In fact it becomes clearer that a dreamer
Doesn't stand a chance at all”
Challenges are supposed to push and excite you.
mine broke me.
I have just finished my 30 Day Detox Challenge. Like all of us, I started out wanting to do as Left Boy does and:
“Get it right, all night
From the dark to the light
From the back to the middle to the front.
Get high! Light it up!
Raise that cup!
Put your motherfucking hands up!”.
Instead I found myself in an unhealthy obsession, battling extreme weakness and a bad state of depression that negatively affected both my work and sense of self. This challenge took me into corners of myself that I didn’t even know existed. It wiped the floor with me, and then it cleansed me in ways that only an in-depth conversation about detoxing would do justice to.
I gave up on day 25.
best decision I've ever made during a challenge.
We are overly hard on ourselves for not reaching perfection. Giving up taught me mountains more about self-love and forgiveness than perseverance ever has. We weigh too much, we’re not fit enough, we don’t eat well enough, we look in the mirror facing how we don’t sleep enough, thinking we don’t earn enough, don’t don’t don’t. Yes, society leads us down this path of scarcity, but when you look in the mirror, it’s not Vogue or Forbes talking to you. You are feeding yourself your don’ts. You are stuck in situations you've chosen to be in.
if you don't like it, don't choose it.
Quit what you hate.
quit talking smack about yourself when you do.
My personal challenge and 4 key conversations in the last few days:
Tam - Give yourself a break
Jess - Architectural expectations don't match their budgets
Lloyd - When to push through or give up
Stephen - You create your reality, your words are power.