04 Feb Why We Can’t Keep Our Resolutions
I recently read Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck (I may be late to the party on reading this but highly recommend if you haven’t already). Upon feeling somewhat invincible and indeed, giving less of a fuck than I did before, this consequently sent me on a bit of spiral into reading up more on how other people have tapped in to success. Not with the get rich quick methods where a Business tycoon gets you to make a vision board and follow their 10 step guides to getting rich and fit in a week. This image of being able to transform yourself has taken on a world of its own, and can be seen in so many spheres beyond the pressures many already impose upon themselves. With influencers and carefully curated content acting like white noise to the clatter of everyone’s already busy lives, I started questioning how is it that with all this online “motivational” content, that it’s seemingly harder to make the statement of “this year is going to be the year” to actually be it.
This image of being able to transform yourself has taken on a world of its own
With the time of New Year’s already having come and gone, I’ve launched into 2019 hoping to forget resolutions all together. For some, this may have minimal value or sound lazy, because you have some abnormal degree of willpower. However, for the remaining, the following might shed some of the guilt you may be experiencing after sleeping through your alarm for an early gym or having broken your vow to kick that habit you promised to see the last of (what nicotine habit?). If we’re going to look at the way we’ve been raised, the way we currently live, and the obscene amount of content we’re consuming at all times of the day, it truly is no wonder why levels of anxiety seem to be at an all-time high. There’s this stress I see within so many of the people I know including myself that’s centered around this fear of inadequacy. That’s only enhanced by taking study breaks to scroll by and by and by again, finely permed and pressed feeds, the highlight reels of our friends and acquaintances, that causes that internal little tick of stress. A small ping of FOMO with a sprinkling of self-doubt and wonderment around what the hell you’re doing. From arguably the most unqualified source for expertise, myself, I’d like to emphasize how normal this is and if nothing else, celebrate it so we can quite literally, stop giving a fuck. Two of the main concepts that helped me hush the nit-picking I found going on so often in my head, I give you the following.
There’s this stress I see within so many of the people I know including myself that’s centered around this fear of inadequacy
- Mark Manson’s “feedback loop from hell”. One of the random gifts that we as humans have access to is having elaborate, for the most part, logically developed, thoughts. Best part of that though, the thoughts we have about our thoughts. The loop of thinking about what we’re thinking, what we’re feeling and here’s the best part, why we’re thinking and feeling what we are. “I’m anxious, god I wish I didn’t get anxious about such dumb stuff” Now you’re immersed in a feedback loop about why you get stressed about being stressed and well, welcome to mental hell.
- Life is quite literally a cycle of finding and solving problems. To then discover and reassess new problems needing solving and with this, you can almost quiet that little glooming cloud of god when will the list shorten because we all have it. Want to eat healthier? Great, go buy the groceries, okay now you have to commit to cooking these meals you’ve romanticized to be the game changer. God, I want a snack.
So when we break it down to all of that, no wonder goals are hard to keep up with. A goal I would indeed promote is to extinguish the defeatist attitude accompanied anytime we slip up. Anytime that you might not be fulfilling the lifestyle you were hoping to adopt and finally have the discipline to stick to. First, it’s essential to be mindful of how quickly everything in life is delivered to us. If we’re at a loss for directions, our phones drop a pin on a map and we are reoriented. If the Wifi’s not loading your page the second you hit enter, we go on 3G. We have developed a reboot system where when we come to desire something, it’s no question that we need it right in that moment. In no other domain do we ever try to adopt such outlandish and out of character feats. If anything, we’ve grown increasingly impatient and with that, it’s important to be forgiving in other domains of our lives.
We have developed a reboot system where when we come to desire something, it’s no question that we need it right in that moment
Our brain operates according to the pleasure principle that drives people to gratify their “needs”. Beginning with demands as simple as eating and sleeping, this principle has evolved to be driven by devices and the flow of content that our daily lives are fuelled by. Compelling us to engage with sources that supply instant gratification. This pleasure principle neglects to consider that when we sit ourselves down and plan to revamp our lives, we won’t be met with instant feedback. We won’t have people comment on how toned and healthy we’re looking after just 2 days of consistent working out. Your GPA won’t instantly spike after grinding at a paper harder than you’ve done in semester’s previous. Life happens in, yes you guessed it, real time. The lines between real and online life have blurred our understanding and expectations when it comes to trying to accomplish things that aren’t internet based and thus, enter the feedback loop of “why is this not working yet, I’m actually trying”. Our brains are learning to respond now more than ever to our impulses and are being muddied through the way we’ve intertwined our actual lives with the ones we construct.
There exists a flaw that’s fundamentally engrained in how we approach goal setting because we do so unlike anything else we do in life. Our expectations are blown out of proportion and defeated in the blink of an eye because our failures have come to feel more personal and catastrophic than ever. Fact of the matter is, we’ve come to grow to be the most impatient people around and with that, it’s time to readjust your expectations, configure goals holistically rather than giving yourself a cut off the “if it doesn’t measure up to my expectations by summer then it probably” mentality and well, cut yourself some slack.
Welcome to 2019, the year to not give a fuck.