Letting go of the result
It's okay if you aren't getting it now, because you eventually will.
Last week I was focusing on going to bed on time and reading before bed. This is still a work in progress and putting this pressure on myself is very fitting for the topic of this week’s newsletter.
Lately, I’ve been excited to do things. This week I was excited to head into my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class. I was excited heading into yesterday’s flight lesson. I was excited heading into my pole and flex classes. Excited, a bit, just before my Latin dance class.
What changed? Story-time... sorry.
For most of what I wanted to master, during the lesson, I would focus on perfection at the time of the lesson. And anything but perfection would be a complete disaster.
Sounds extreme when I put that into words now, but shockingly, it wasn’t long since I felt like this.
But there was a strong anxiousness to make sure I understood what was being taught at the time.
Since I was not that good or talented and very new to what had been taught, mastery was actually impossible. And we know that perfection is the enemy of good — though I would never describe myself as a perfectionist.
By the end of most sessions, I would go home slightly defeated. Not enough to make me want to quit, but enough to feel like I had an itch I just could not scratch.
Like I said, I didn’t feel like quitting nor did I dread what I did, but there certainly wasn't a fun factor to what I was doing — which led me to think: why am I doing all of this? That question would go unanswered for a while.
Instead, I would say to myself:
“Make sure you turn up, even when you don’t want to”, or
“It’s supposed to suck! Just keep going”, and even
“If you are finding it difficult, good, it means you are being challenged, which makes you better”.
These are valid points and they do get you through the tough times, but I don’t think life should be solely delaying gratification or, in other words, perpetual suffering.
Coming back to that original question: why am I doing all of this? It’s for the future goal. Why do I do a lot of things? It’s rarely for the present. It’s for some future goal.
Hands up if you are guilty of this…
When was the last time you just went for a walk? A simple walk. No destination, not to get your steps up, clear your head, or some benefit you seek in the future. Just a simple walk for the hell of it?
I can’t remember. In fact, I’m not sure if I am capable. I have this desire to fill up my time with activities that are “productive” or “self-improvy” (and that’s why I feel bad if I browse social media or get distracted for a second). It’s all in the effort to please the future self.
Now, it's not totally bad to delay gratification or prepare for the future, but as with everything, we need balance.
What got me thinking about this was a book recommended by a friend (not an influencer I follow, or an algorithm), 4000 Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. I even touched on this topic in an older post about silence.
To summarise Burkeman’s thesis, there definitely is a productivity epidemic going on, where there is constant consumption of educational content — instead of just cooking dinner or doing the dishes, we need to multitask with an audiobook.
Multitasking seems good — two tasks done at the same time saves time. But we slowly train ourselves not to be able to do the mundane without some stimulation. In effect, we overstimulate ourselves.
You might also find you do two tasks, but neither one exceptionally well. Burkeman’s argues that even doing a mundane task, staying present with it, or even allowing your mind to wonder has benefits over trying to squeeze as much as you can in the time given.
Plus, the more you do, the more you want to pile on, so no matter how productive you are — it will never be enough because the goalposts just keep on moving.
This all comes down to our fear of an uncertain future. We know that crystal balls don’t work and this terrifies us, well, me anyway.
So what do we do? We do the impossible task of trying to make the future certain. That means preparation — taking on more tasks to make our future selves better and more prepared (the effort).
What happens if things don’t go as planned (the results aren’t what we expect)?
Humorously, I was talking about this topic with a friend. He said to me that he doubts Jimi Hendrix had a dedicated programme on getting better at playing music. It puts my gym regime to shame, I thought. Like most normal people, I guess, they do their hobbies because they enjoy their hobbies — not to get better for the future.
And that’s where I thought — just let go.
Don’t worry if you don’t nail that technique for the day. Obviously, make sure you turn up and focus, but just learn to enjoy the moment. Be grateful that you get to do these things and don’t worry about what you are missing out on.
Shifting my mindset has made me enjoy these hobbies so much more. And paradoxically, enjoyment is what can help you improve faster.
So this week, I’m going to focus on just being okay with turning up, putting in a good effort, and not worrying about the result.
I hope you found this useful to you and enjoyable to read. Let me know what you think.
Stay focused, and talk soon,
My Favourite Things
1. Cutley Razor
I have some friends who have an online store where they sell quality razors and shaving creams. I love the sleek design of this razor. I had my neck bear waxed off — safe to say it wasn’t the most pleasant experience. Shaving is much better for me to tolerate. But it’s hard to define the line with the conventional razor. But this razor, due to how it works and is held, makes defining those lines a lot easier.
Directed by Tobias Lindholm, this movie is based on a true story following the serial killer nurse, Charles Cullen and the courageous actions of Amy Loughren. It is crazy how he got away with what he did for so long and how large institutions just turned a blind eye to it.
This book is the basis of this post. Burkeman is a self-proclaimed productivity nerd and his goal was always to do more with the same amount of time. We learn why that may not be the best thing for us. Unfortunately, the future is uncertain and we can’t do everything — instead of looking at this with restriction, notice how this is actually liberating, allowing you to focus on what matters.
Making Coffee as a Work-From-Home Employee
I am no barista but I am a coffee-making hobbyist and I want to share with you how I make coffee with all the added accessories. Enjoy!