Constant self-optimization is not normal. By treating our lives as systems to be optimized, we can lose focus. We fail to realize that efficiently circling around is not the same as aiming for a meaningful journey. This is especially true after such a tough year.
Sometimes, rather than adding items to our ever-growing to-do lists, it’s better to stop and ask ourselves: what can we not do? Not as an assessment of our limits (“What are we not able to do?”). It’s an invitation to take stock of what we can get rid of in our busy lives. What can we stop doing in a post-pandemic world? Here are 4 ideas.
100% Or Nothing
We convince ourselves that nothing short of 100 percent commitment is good enough. It’s all or nothing. Either you eat a totally clean diet and you exercise for two hours a day every day or there’s no point in trying.
This pandemic taught us that we simply don’t have this level of control over our lives. In reality, we should think kaizen. The most effective way to achieve any goal is to break it down into smaller, actionable pieces. So that we don’t get stuck like a dear in the headlights. For example, instead of saying you’ll never eat sugar-rich foods ever again, start by making a goal to eat vegetables with every meal. Once you get it down, it’s easier to add a new goal without feeling overwhelmed.
Reconnecting With Bad Friends
After the worst year ever, with travel plans canceled and celebrations postponed, many of us have people we can’t wait to see. But some of us also found out that we’re better off without some toxic friends. Ask yourself: Has somebody’s absence from your life been a relief? Maybe you’ve grown apart, and that’s fine. Maybe you never really liked them and the pandemic has just made things clear. Whatever the reason, don’t feel obliged to reach back to them. This year of separation may actually be a gift.
Obsessing Over Weight
A new study confirmed what many of us already knew: the pandemic made us gain weight. Despite the growing attention given to body positivity, there’s of course been a lot of judgy and outright bad takes on the matter. Sure, you can obsess over the pounds you gained. Or maybe you can rise to the occasion and break the cycle. Ask yourself where you learned that gaining weight (in the midst of a pandemic nonetheless!) is something to be ashamed of. What are you getting out of obsessing over your weight right now, and what are you losing? What could you be doing with that time and energy? Instead of focusing on the number of pounds you think you want to lose, find some activities that you love, eat food that makes you feel good, do something that soothes you. You can definitely drop toxic expectations and old programming.
Go To Work Sick
The science on masks to contain infectious diseases is clear: they work. No one in my family has caught influenza or colds in over a year. Parents of children told me that it feels so good to have healthy kids rather than seeing them pick up every kind of infection. But we learned another lesson from the pandemic: stay home when you’re sick. You get to stop the spread, you actually save your company money, and you prevent future illnesses. One habit you can definitely drop to improve everyone’s wellbeing is bragging about how few sick days you take. Nobody wants to hear that.
The pandemic is nearly over. Now it’s the time to prepare ourselves for our post-pandemic lives. Look back at the past year, keep the good, shed the bad, and live a life worth living.