Groundhog Day no more
On knowing when to be flexible about your schedule and life commitments.
I remember hearing Seth Godin say, “If you have an ideal day, you have a problem” on a podcast, and it stuck with me: the simplicity, the boldness, the truthfulness of this turn of phrase.
Back then, I was busy constructing my “ideal day” (read: listening way too much to my father). I, too, fell prey to the social media dogma that we should live like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day: come up with a perfect life, an ideal day, a perfect schedule, and then stick to it. Many can agree: even if you think lifestyle gurus are BS, a tiny lightbulb still fires up in your brain, creating doubt: What if…they’re right?
The root of the problem is that when we think about our schedules or lives, we think of them in a linear way. Write every day. Exercise every morning. Work on XYZ twice a week – Tue and Thu. Work on ABC three times a week – Mon, Wed, Fri. House chores on the weekeends. Of course, there’s the beauty of simplicity in such an approach: by delegating your life to Google Calendar, you free up mental space to think about something else. Deciding takes a mental toll, and it’s easier not to decide or have someone else decide for you (e.g., you in the past).
But the problem is that when we add that level of rigidity to our lives and attempt to live by strict schedules and time blocks, we simultaneously detach from our bodies and – forgive me, rational thinkers – souls.
This detachment might be useful in certain scenarios: e.g., you really-really-really want to watch that Netflix documentary, but you really-really-really need to work on an article because the deadline was, well, yesterday.
But in most cases, it’s detrimental.
The underlying toxic premise behind having a Groundhog Day of life and buying into the self-help bullshit on social media is that we, humans, exist linearly. Advice from gurus or that random Veronika on Instagram that tries to be one fails to acknowledge that (most of us, at least) are not fucking robots and we are different every day.
Some days, you have 6 hours of sleep and wake up fresh and recharged 100%. On other days, you have 10 hours of sleep and wake up with only a half-full battery. And then, some days, your battery stays 30% no matter what you do.
As they say, “the last 24 hours have a lot to do with how you feel now”, and for those of us who don’t live in a vacuum, shit occasionally happens in those 24 hours that changes our mental or physical state.
Success on a day when you woke up refreshed and energized can be very different from success on a day when you woke up with dark circles under your eyes, exhausted, hungover, and pondering buying a ticket to Bali and just telling the Universe to screw itself.
Which is to say, we must be flexible.
Striving to write and work out daily is great, but sometimes, just doing the bare minimum is enough. Though other times, you might go all-in and use being energized and having a 120% battery. Just like you wouldn’t open 374 tabs on an iPhone that is about to die, the key is to listen to yourself, not give in to the toxic shame culture on social media, and – whatever you do – don’t compare yourself to others. And yes, I just compared you to an iPhone.
Just because Joe-The-Gym-Rat had a H.I.I.T. at 4 AM doesn’t mean something is wrong with you.
Tell Joe to F.U.C.K. himself (not necessarily to his face) and do what you need to do today.