Recently I felt like I had a major breakthrough with something I have been working on trying to change and felt exhilarated that something had shifted, finally! – and so significantly and quickly!
Alas, my joy was short lived. I was humbled as I ran into my own limitations. I had to re-learn a lesson that I already knew very well. A lesson that is a central Careerly tenet: change is incremental. Nothing that is sustainable happens overnight.
Which.. should be good news, right? It takes the pressure off! The truth is that real change is hard work and takes time. Every good thing takes time to build. It’s often two steps forward and one step back. And it’s best to forgive yourself for that fact of life.
A related lesson is that there is only so much one can improve, change, optimize. Here’s advice - you may have received or heard of - but which is not true: follow your dreams, do what you love, and you’ll turn your whole life around! You’ll be this other happier person floating on pure contentment and bliss, just like the uber-success stories featured on the magazines covers. The meh job, crazy boss and horrible commute will be behind you forever, the daily grind but a distant bad memory.
If you haven't discovered this already, you will at some point: a part of life is a daily grind no matter what you do. For example, there is a lot of grind involved in working for yourself even if it’s doing what you love. Freelancers, small business owners, and entrepreneurs typically report that while they enjoy their work more, there is financial insecurity and other challenges that simply don't exist with a regular job + steady paycheck. One makes a calculated trade-in of one set of positives/negatives for another set of positives/negatives.
Now, have improvements been made? Has happiness and productivity increased? Yes, absolutely. But the quality-of-life improvements we are talking about are over months, perhaps years, and is more in the range of 40 - 50%. Not 100%.
And that is the crux of my message here. There is no magic wand – no 100% awesomeness turnkey solution to life no matter what you do. Everything has a good side and bad side. A ying and a yang.
And that is fine. Based on solid footing, you can still pursue your dreams and passions, just on a path that is sustainable.. which means it will last! Besides, in what universe is a 30% improvement not good? In my book, that number counts for excellent. Eventually you can improve a little more and get to 40%, perhaps even 50%! And we have to believe that is good enough. Even more than good enough.
So, for less stress, adopt a ‘good enough’ attitude for all attempted change: work, relationships, health, diets, and exercise plans. I think that if you try to improve yourself, to love honestly, to make the world a better place, just the trying is good. If you do a teeny tiny little more than you did yesterday, that’s success.