Grading yourself

Whether or not we’re aware, we attempt to live up to our own expectations based on how we grade ourselves.  Some grade themselves by how much wealth they accumulate.  Others feel accomplished by transforming their bodies, building a business, or raising well-adjusted children.

I grade myself on how useful I can be (hopefully this blog is an example). This is my own internal measure, so there’s no right answer, reward or penalty.

It pays to be deliberate about what we choose to value.  And fortunately, once we’re out of school, we get to decide how we’re graded.

Important but not urgent

There is a useful matrix showing “important” on one axis, and “urgent” on the other.   Even without fancy charts we intuitively know that we should focus energy on items of long-term significance, and not on unimportant emergencies.

One way to deploy this is to be vigilant about managing phone notifications, email subscriptions, and everything else in your environment that forces you to pay immediate attention to things that are not critical.  Urgent does not equal important.

The purpose is to create space for intentional living, and to stop reacting to every bit of noise.  The first task is to remove as many stimuli as possible.

Perfection may be your downfall

The first thing to know about acquiring new skills or habits is that the most perfect, responsible, scientifically tested method for learning or improving means NOTHING if you quit.

The perfect diet is irrelevant if you don’t follow it, but follow a healthy eating plan only 70% of the time and it will change your life.

Don’t let perfection be the enemy of remarkable progress.  No matter what you’re trying to improve, the mediocre plan you follow is infinitely better than the perfect plan you abandon.

 

You and the digital you

Social media gives us the unprecedented opportunity to act like mini celebrities.

As we display the best version of our lives online, we may miss the opportunity for introspection.  It’s easy to obsess over how we feel we are viewed by others, and ignore looking closely at how we view ourselves.

I’m not preaching.  I share my accomplishments and highlights online.  But remember, you can have appropriate concern for your image (including digital), AND work on improving the real you.  It doesn’t have to be either/or.

 

We are all unusual

Social conditioning and culture influences what we think of as normal, and we use the word normal as a substitute for “typical” (i.e., what most people do).

The most normal person you know is actually a complete weirdo that you just haven’t gotten to know well.  And that’s a beautiful thing.  No one ever brought anything new or useful into the world by striving to fit in.

Whatever your brand of weirdness, proudly be the best version of it.  Some of us are inspired by you, and are cheering you on.  The ones who aren’t may not be worthy of your time.

 

Vitamin S

Study after study shows the benefits of getting enough sleep, and the serious side-effects of a lack thereof.  It’s easy to trade sleep for the short-term value of accomplishing more.

Perhaps if we viewed sleep like a vitamin or holistic medicine that continuously healed our bodies, emotional states, and focus, we’d reconsider our priorities.

This is actually a truer-than-it-seems analogy.  And statistically, everyone reading this is deficient vitamin S deficient.

Where you are now

We all go through ups and downs.  One problem with how we handle the downs is that we attach our identities to where we are and how we feel in the moment, even if the moment lasts a month.

We make one poor decision and think: I’m not very smart.  We come across a picture of ourselves back when we were at our physical best and say: I’m out of shape.  A situation or outcome makes us miserable and we think: I am depressed.

Don’t confuse who you are right now with where you are right now.