When 2023 arrived, I thought I would feel enlivened like I usually do. I love the thought of fresh starts and new opportunities, and of course, a new planner to see it all unfold. But as I scrolled through Twitter and my Instagram feed, instead of feeling inspired, I felt a heavy wave of pressure to do more. Everyone seemed to be sharing their goals of going to the gym, writing daily, and earning higher salaries than ever before. I stepped into that familiar territory of overwhelm.
It’s not that I don’t admire the ambition and commitment to growth of others. I'm just growing tired of the idea of more.
In response to the overpowering heaviness of “more” I was presented with, all I could think of was less. Wanting less, doing less, planning less, and stressing less - it sounded like blissful delight. You might think it's a lazy line of thinking and judge me for it. But in our success-driven, social media-infested society, it’s a lot more difficult than you think. We're constantly barraged with images of people living incredible lives, donning trendy clothes, making loads of money, traveling to exotic places, and working on cool projects. Our instinctive reaction is to want more.
But this is a problem. Not because it initiates those feelings of comparison and the green eyed monster (which it often does), but because we already want so much.
If you asked me right now what I want in life, I’d surprise you with the length of my list. At the top of my head: I want a family. I want to do yoga every single day and do a handstand. I want to be a creative director or a freelance writer. I want to earn more money so I don’t have to stress about bigger expenses. I want a car so I don't have to rely on anyone to drive me anywhere. I want to visit Australia, New York, and Iceland. I want to write a book. I want to learn a language. And there’s probably a lot more, but you get the idea.
I have a lot of wants. I’m actually kind of embarrassed about it. But what’s even worse is that social media fuels this further. Seeing a photo of an incredible sunset might spur me to add another travel destination to my list. Spotting someone with an impressive career triggers me into thinking, "I could do that". Every time I log on, five more items could easily get added to my list.
With a never-ending list of wants, it's no wonder we feel like we're not doing enough. We’re incredibly privileged to have so many opportunities: to make money outside of traditional means, to travel to new places with ease, and to learn new skills. But with every door that opens, you end up with more on your plate and you turn your back on other doors.
This is one of the reasons why I love Warren Buffet’s 25/5 rule:
- Make a list of 25 goals
- Arrange them in order of importance
- Circle the top 5 most important goals
- Cross out the remaining 20
The 20 goals you cross off your list aren’t things to get to later. They’re temptations you need to avoid at all costs. They’re detours that take you away from the pursuit of what you truly want.
It's easy to get sidetracked and deviate from our authentic path. It's easy to get lured away by shiny objects. But being able to stand your ground and focus on less can help you to get closer to what really matters to you. It's not an easy thing to do, but here’s how I’m approaching it:
- Know your values. If your main value is family, why are you setting so many career goals?
- Be prepared to miss out. Often the reason we feel that pull whenever we see an Instagram post is because of FOMO. But just remember, by saying no, you’re saying yes to something more valuable.
- Be honest with yourself. When you see that girl boss on Instagram and feel envy creep up on you, get real with yourself. Do you really want that person’s day to day life and all of the responsibilities that come with it? Or do you just like the idea of what they have?
- Notice if you already have what you truly want in life. Are you creating discontentment for yourself by chasing more?
Most of us are holding ourselves back from happiness, success, and fulfilment. Not because we aren’t striving for it, but because we’re striving way beyond it. We can't have everything. We can't do everything. We can't be everything. We’re in a world of so many options. We even get to watch those possibilities play out right in front of us on social media. But it's only when we want less that we can get closer to our version of success, our version of happiness, and our version of fulfilment.
That feeling of always needing to do more will never end until you want less. And with endless opportunities and noise, that's how you truly thrive in today's world.