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September 25, 2018

Miserable AF? We’re chasing after the Wrong Thing.

In the digital era, one of #IWWIWWIW (I want what I want when I want it), life is all-consuming and overwhelming.

Digital filters amplify the mundane disproportionally, rewards veneer, and instant gratification is both cheap and real.

There are a lot of things to be had—we want it all. And the thing is, we can appear to have it all.

It doesn’t matter how many successful people or TED Talks tell us that “having it all” is a sham.

We still want it.

And, as a prerequisite to having it all, we must first have balancewhich we think is the key to happiness: to find balance among all the things.

Actually, we don’t think it—we are told it—and then we believe it, and we strive for it.

We strive for that perfect balance of all the things, because it supposedly guarantees something so necessary to our quality of life, and yet we end up miserable AF.

Why?

>> Because things do not carry equal weight.

>> Because in embracing balance, we disregard priority, timing, and order—all of which cost in compromises of some kind, usually at the detriment to our happiness.

>> And because, when we aim for balance, we don’t aim for excellence or quality, we aim for the average median. We aim for the bland and the boring.

I’ve always been fascinated by extraordinary people—artists, influencers, freethinkers, entrepreneurs, world leaders, agents of change, revolutionaries—and in no account of any success story did I ever learn that they became extraordinary through a balanced life.

Instead, these are the common phrases that are universal to any success story:

“I became a machine.”
“Meteoric rise.”
“Outgrown.”
“Never could have predicted.”
“I was both excited and terrified.”
“I had never thought…”

None of these phrases are commitments to or results of balance because the very concept of “extraordinary” is to be beyond the confinements of what is ordinary, and balance is just that—a comfortable place of ordinary.

There is nothing wrong with wanting comfort or safety and there is virtue indeed with wanting simplicity.

What I’m saying is that if we want to achieve spectacular milestones, and if we are only happy upon achieving those milestones, then aiming for a balanced life is not the way to get there.

The concept of balance, and the concept of having it all, are by their very definitions, mutually exclusive.

The question is: what are you choosing to commit to?

Did Usain Bolt, Olympic gold-medalist, become a legend because he was balanced? No, he was obsessed with speed and that propelled him forward. He was after a critical spark.

Since motion is multidimensional, our ability to resonate with what nourishes us, and be obsessed with the things that grow us, form the expanse of our narrative.

The way we move has the power to change our lives.

But say we did strive for balance—the world is changing too quickly for us to hold even a moment’s worth of it, so we end up constantly reacting to life’s new pressures and demands and we misdirect our energies playing catch-up to a constantly outdated game of being the average.

Striving for balance keeps us miserable AF, but that’s also the good part—we just might become so frustrated that we quit trying to achieve it altogether.

And we can—we don’t have to run our lives in another person’s lane.

Like #girlboss Sophia Amoruso said, “Abandon anything about your life and habits that might be holding you back…know that there is no finish line; fortune favors action.”

Anyone who is curious about life will be curious to explore its extremes. There is both danger and freedom to live life beyond the measured scales.

We each have a unique time line, one that doesn’t adhere to the same incremental distances or standards to that of our peers, our parents, or what we are sold in the media.

When we learn that we are unable fit our narratives within the confines of a mass-produced road map, giving up our contours to find balance is flatlining all the things that make our lives unique and valuable.

The advice to have balance may very well have been a well-intended thought, but it is one that talks us out of all the soft voices within ourselves that tell us to just go a little bit further—one more rep, one more page, just one more time.

Maybe instead of balance, a better goal would be to figure out what truly matters to us and start with taking care of our priorities.

Until we figure out what those priorities are, with clarity and certainty, a balanced handle of it all will no more empower us than being out of balance.

You’ve read this far because you are either miserable AF (aren’t we all?) or, like most of us, you have been conditioned to think balance is what you need to be happy.

I hope all of the above has made you rethink, reconceptualize, reorient, and reconsider, because there is nothing satisfying about giving up momentum for a languished life.

So, blaze the trail while others watch in posture-perfect pose.

As Seth Godin reminds us, “Human nature is to need a map. If you’re brave enough to draw one, people will follow.”

~

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