Some Much-Needed Brutal Honesty

My girlfriend just called me out.

She said I wasn’t hustling or working hard enough to achieve my goals, specifically waking up earlier.

I couldn’t deny it. It’s true, I have been slacking. And it’s clear that my girlfriend has a front row seat to my current lack of integrity. I said I would do something, and I haven’t. I’m not being true to my word. And if I haven’t been true to my word in this case, it’s unclear what she can count on me for in the future.

So what’s the consequence? Well, I feel shame, for one. Not only to myself, but to her, who wants to see nothing but the best for me. And when she saw that I hadn’t made enough of an effort, she was bold enough to call me out on it.

It’s not easy to objectively look at ourselves, but it’s absolutely essential if we want to improve. It’s tough, though, hearing something like that about yourself. The words sting at you. All sorts of mental barriers came up and excuses instantly popped into my head about the external factors that prevented me from doing what I said I would. I ignored the temptation to justify my lack of integrity, however. I simply allowed the pain of knowing I was in the wrong wash over me.

I needed the tough love, and I appreciated hearing it. It’s not often in life that someone will directly tell you about your personal weaknesses, allowing you to improve on them. We hate hearing bad news about ourselves, and our first instinct is to avoid it. Even when we do confront it, we try to explain it away or downplay it, like I almost did with my excuses ready at hand.

When my girlfriend finished her spiel, we were both relieved. Of course I knew that I hadn’t been achieving my goal of waking up earlier, but I hadn’t realized the impact of not staying true to my word. I came to terms with the fact that I had failed thus far, knew what I had to do going forward, and had an accountability partner. My girlfriend was relieved that I had really listened to her, and saw that I wasn’t going to take the easy way out by abdicating from my word.

No one said NY’s resolutions were easy. Here’s to leaning into the pain.

Why Do Anything If We’re All Going to Die?

I was watching a TED talk on YouTube when I scrolled too far down and ventured into the comments cesspool, coming across the following heavily upvoted comment.

“To be honest, we’re all dead anyway, it doesn’t matter what you achieve in life at all, the second you die you’ll instantly become unaware you ever achieved it or that you ever existed and lived your life in the first place, so stop taking it so seriously, ultimately you’ll forget it ever happened, in just six decades most of the people this talk is directed towards will be gone, their achievements might remain, but they won’t be aware of them remaining so why should they care?”

This commenter was trying to convince us why we shouldn’t bother striving for success. Why bother doing anything if in the end we’re all going to die and no one will remember us? Life is meaningless, so why exert effort into achieving anything?

I’m sure most of us have entertained similar existential thoughts at some point in our lives, however briefly. The problem is, if you hold this belief and and truly believe it, you’re almost guaranteeing a life of mediocrity and complacency.

If you don’t believe something matters in life, you’re pushing it out of your life. If you don’t believe flossing matters, your dental hygiene routine won’t include flossing. If you said to your girlfriend, I don’t think you’re important, you won’t have a girlfriend for long after. So when you say, it doesn’t matter what you achieve in life at all, you’re essentially distancing yourself from achieving anything in life. You see this in practice when people say, I don’t think money is important. Chances are, the person saying that has a lack of money and always will.

If nothing matters in this world, if no one will remember you eventually, in a sense, does that not provide you with the reins to do anything you want? If nothing is worth doing, then something is just as easily worth doing as well. And if something is worth doing, then you might as well make that something extraordinary.

Perhaps Chuck Palahniuk said it best when he said, “We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, it’s to create something that will.” An honorable goal would be to leave the world in a better place than you found it. Sure, maybe you won’t actually ever achieve historical greatness in your life. Few people do. But to give up without trying and asking why bother guarantees your insignificance.

Finally, consider this analogy: if you were given a piece of cake and told you could eat it, would you question the purpose of eating the cake if it would run out eventually? Of course not. Scarcity doesn’t make it any less enjoyable – in fact, it may even add to the pleasure. And so it is with life.