matt's blog

Spending your energy

How much of your energy do you expend trying to change things? How much of your focus is on events beyond your control? How often do you feel the need to educate others? To show them the "right" way?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much of life is truly in my control… the answer is very, very little. When looking at the things I spend my energy on, it can be useful to consider inanimate objects.

They don't change.

Teaching fire a lesson

If we're burned by fire, we don't attempt to "teach the fire a lesson," as Seth Godin points out in Linchpin. Why do we do the same with people? People are much more difficult to change... even when they want to (and most people don't).

We can look to the fitness industry and the popularity of books like Atomic Habits as an indicator of willingness (but inability) to implement positive changes.

And yet, I'll gladly share that, even with this awareness, I've been caught up in relationships, jobs, and situations, where I've waited, tried, grasped, longed, and yearned for a change in human behavior. A change that never came. I still do it today—when I make a mistake, do something dumb, or “miss out” on something important, a little piece of me holds onto the past and tries to go back in time or “cmd + z” my actions.

Letting go

Buddhism preaches "letting go," and eschewing attachment as the path to enlightenment and I think they're onto something. Who knew, millennia of introspection is worth something, I guess.

Letting go of dogma, letting go of striving, letting go, even, of being attached to other people is freeing.

It's essential to allow your identity to evolve. An attachment to a fixed "personality" or self-identity can be as perilous as expecting fire to not burn.

What if you lose the job that defines your identity? What if you can no longer participate in the sport that shaped you? What if raising a family means giving up your favorite hobby?

Would you struggle and grasp at existence? Or would you allow your identity to remain fluid and excel in your next challenge? Maybe some of you have faced similar challenges. I know I have and if one thing is certain, I’ll face a few more while I’m still around.

Just as we don't expect fire to stop burning, it's futile to expect different outcomes without different actions. Rather than resisting reality, acceptance of the present and setting realistic expectations of what is within your control can guide meaningful actions.

Taking small, consistent steps towards your goals can lead you to where you want to be, even if that involves finding new surroundings, rather than trying to alter the old ones.

#life #opinion #work