Starting from school where we are encouraged to volunteer and take part in extra-curricular activities to going above and beyond at the workplace, there is constant pressure to do more – to be more.
In the time of digital age, where we are burdened by an information-overload, expectations sometimes surpass capabilities. Starting from school where we are encouraged to volunteer and take part in extra-curricular activities to going above and beyond at the workplace, there is constant pressure to do more – to be more.
Inspirational quotes and motivational posters flood our social media feeds as enablers of encouragement to keep moving forward. However, what if we were told that it’s okay to give up? What if giving up could actually be something beautiful? What a radical thought! Achieving success can seem like a race, in which we try to have it all.
As we hustle through the path of greatness, we can be losing more than we think. ‘Giving up’, in this context, does not mean slacking off or letting go of meaningful initiatives, but rather strategically choosing to pursue only what truly matters – be it health, family or a passion.
When it comes to implementation, the aforementioned may involve declining one’s involvement in a particular activity or opportunity. Sometimes, it encompasses backing out of something we have already committed to. That said, our personality may simply make it too difficult for us to say “no,” and lead us to take on more than we can effectively handle. We may believe that opting out will reflect negatively on our reputation and might create more work for the other party. However, it is often in our head. Other people tend to generally understand when we explain situations and genuinely list out the reasons behind our actions. Living in a ‘yes’ culture can make it seem as though we must always be go-getters, but it’s okay to pause.
Through a short-sighted lens, we sometimes find ways to convince ourselves that a commitment is only temporary or will be over soon. Consider this: we think so much before investing our money, but why not before investing our time, which can never be earned back? Hence, it is vital that we take a bird’s eye perspective and think whether or not the channels through which we spend our time will add value in the grand scheme of things. This may look like making a running list of pros and cons for a decision or perhaps a simple conversation with yourself surrounding requiring trade-offs. If you are reducing focus on the gym, or family get-togethers to partake in an activity or work more, is the sacrifice worth it? There is no objectively right answer; the stance varies case by case. The point is to engage in this exercise and question the ultimate purpose of every decision.
In light of purpose, we do have goals that we strive to achieve. Holding those goals constant, we center all our actions around an objective. We tell ourselves that the reason behind everything is the fruit at the end of the path. While this is a positive way to grow outside one’s comfort zone and achieve what was previously not thought possible, an important callout needs to be made: it’s okay to not change yourself, but change your goals instead. Moreover, sometimes, the targets we want to hit are not made by us, but are either a direct output of others’ expectations of us or a reflection of what we think they expect. Regardless, life is an evolving, dynamic journey. Goals are not set in stone, but should be periodically revisited to see if they make sense given changing circumstances and priorities.
Next time you make a decision about investing your time, let your instinct guide the way and listen to your often-right gut. Be it a project, volunteer opportunity, work engagement or another activity, ask yourself:
1 How will this benefit me? Will I be happier? Develop more skills? Make more connections?
2 What will this take away time from? Will I have time for self-care? Will I see my family less?
3 Is the trade-off between the above two questions a healthy balance?
Overall, no decision is perfect, and every challenge can be navigated with a positive mindset. That said, understanding that ‘giving up’ does not necessarily contain a negative connotation can be life-changing. When it comes to time, giving up in one area brings along the beauty of gaining in another to holistically enhance your quality life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Naina Grewal is a recent graduate of SFU, with First Class Distinction in a Business and Communication Joint Major, holding both the President's and Dean's Honor Rolls. She has been featured in an international documentary featuring her accomplishments and passion for stirring youth involvement and creating dialogue. A youth radio show host on Red FM since age 12 and an engaged community volunteer, Naina is recognized as Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25.