No More Almost. It’s Time to Commit.
While it’s a well-known term in the modern age, “Life Hacking” has not yet found its way into dictionaries. For those unfamiliar, a simple Google search will bring about variations on the same definition: “any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life.”
Mark Manson defines it a little bit differently and I find myself sharing his perspective. In his latest book, the colorfully titled, Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope, he unpacks what I consider to be the truth of this term, describing it as, “trying to reap the rewards of commitment without actually making a commitment.”
This is what a shortcut is after all right? An easier way to do something definitively difficult. Why read all of War and Peace when you could listen to Blinkist?
Why dedicate yourself fully to an exercise and nutrition plan when you can follow the hottest new diet trend promising a perfect body in 30 days or less? Why commit to one person when you can experience the thrill of new love every night of the week with someone who will leave in the morning?
The answer is simple: because you won’t actually be experiencing anything of real and lasting value.
There is wisdom in committing completely. When a commitment is fully made you invest your time and energy, you plan your life around these priorities that you have made. Commitments require real effort, accountability, and dedication. In a way, commitments are like children. Would you ever bring a child into the world and then change your mind about caring for it? The only reason people try to circumvent commitment is fear; fear of failure, fear of losing freedom, fear of boredom. Yet fear is always, and especially, in this case, an illusion. Mark Manson has something to say about this as well:
“Commitment gives you freedom because you’re no longer distracted by the unimportant and frivolous. Commitment gives you freedom because it hones your attention and focus, directing them toward what is most efficient at making you healthy and happy.”
Making real commitments actually makes our lives easier and cultivates simplicity. Decisions become easier to make, there is no longer a fear of missing out on something better because what you’re doing or making is of real value. Commitment gives everything a deeper meaning.
This is likely why there is a rising school of thought that encourages radical, total commitment to a task during productive work hours — much like surgeons in an operating room. It’s been proven that doing so not only increases job performance but job satisfaction, too. I can promise you that while I was in labor with each of my four my children I did not email, text, or answer any phone calls. Can you imagine someone going in for a triple bypass, and midway through the surgery the doctor decides to take a tea break and go for some fresh air? Or better yet, while operating, gets a text message and replies to it? Of course not.
The other side of this coin is decidedly uninspired. Half-commitments end up making us feel emotionally drained and land us in a place I call “The Almost”—a place that we have all been. The Almost is a land of “good enough,” “close enough,” and “comfortable.” Many of us are living in The Almost in some area of our lives and the secret to fulfillment is identifying where and ultimately eradicating that halfway place.
A marathon is 26.2 miles. Imagine training for this, arriving to the race, jumping off the starting line, and at the 22nd mile, saying to yourself: “Wow. I’ve run 22 miles, that’s pretty good. I’m almost done so maybe I’ll just stop now.” After all that effort you are not going to allow yourself to “almost” finish a marathon. No! You invested all that time and energy and you are going to go to the 26.2-mile mark. Why would you work so hard to do anything other than that? Consider these questions:
What are you doing out of obligation?
What are you settling for because you think it’s “the best you can do”?
What things do you dread, push through, or find add heaviness to your life?
What are you partially doing? And what keeps you from doing it fully?
Answering these questions honestly gives us a better idea of where we are living in “The Almost.” From here we can identify and fully commit ourselves to what we truly want to accomplish. Because truth be told, we will never be happy until we are fully committed and striving toward our unique purpose. And the other stuff? Ditch it. Never put off what you can straight up cancel and if you can’t rid yourself entirely of responsibilities that distract you from your purpose and passion, get resourceful.
The kabbalists teach that our energy is never wasted. All of the effort we create in one direction will gain momentum and manifest in our lives in ways we could never imagine. But we have to show up. We have to commit. And it is only to the degree with which we commit that our goals and dreams can arrive. We came to this world to live a big, beautiful, transformative life. Why settle for “The Almost” when you commit to The Absolute Best?
Identify an area of your life where you are a little too comfortable, where things are not as you would want them to be, but they aren’t bad. You’ve just identified an “almost” area.
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It was so important to me, reading this at this exact time.
Thanks for being so clear!