You Don’t Have To

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You don’t have to do it.

Whatever thing it is that you keep telling yourself you have to do, you don’t have to.

You don’t have to do anything.

In fact, you never have to do anything you don’t want to do.

Disagree? That’s okay, you don’t have to agree. You’re allowed to disagree. It doesn’t make you a bad person. And it doesn’t make me a bad person. And it doesn’t mean you can shame me for having that opinion (or vice versa). But we don’t have to agree.

You don’t have to do this.

You don’t have to workout.

Or you can, if you want. It’s your choice. You don’t have to run to get into shape. You also don’t have to strength train. Or do Crossfit. Or yoga.

You don’t have to eat “healthy”.

Or at least you don’t have to eat “that.” You don’t have to conform to some stranger’s definition of healthy, either, even if that stranger is me.

If you don’t like a certain food, you don’t have to eat it. Want to eat McDonald’s every day for lunch? You can. (Just prepare yourself for the consequences a la Super Size Me.)

You don’t have to go to work.

You don’t have to lose weight.

You don’t have to anything that you don’t want to do.

The most important driving forces in our lives are our perceived expectations. Think of these as your expectations of expectations of you.

These aren’t even real expectations. These aren’t your mom’s expectations or your friends’ expectations or your coaches expectations, but what you think are their expectations.

And sometimes, they’re just the expectations that we set for ourselves. It could be a weight goal or an athletic goal or a yearly income goal. Whatever it is, let me be the first to tell you that you don’t have to reach it.

Reaching goals doesn’t make you happy.

Progress & achievement are interesting concepts.

On the whole, humanity needs progress and achievement because it helps us live healthier, more fulfilling lives. The discovery of a cure for cancer will be a long-awaited achievement that all of mankind will be able to celebrate (and that’s just one example).

But on a smaller scale, individual achievement is addictive. When you allow your own personal happiness to be driven by your ability to make progress and achieve things, you’ll find that each achievement needs to be “bigger” in order to find that same sense of happiness and accomplishment.

Achievement is addictive, much like a drug. But you cannot overdose on achievement. There is no rehabilitation. And your friends and family likely won’t be holding an intervention to help you overcome your addiction.

Here’s what you will find, though. You’ll normalize your latest sense of accomplishment until it feels like you’ve never accomplished anything at all. Seem familiar? A perfect example would be your most recent pay increase at work. After some time, you become desensitized to your original sense of accomplishment and accustomed to your new standard of living.

And where do you turn to obtain that same accomplished feeling again? The same place it came from the first time: a pay increase at work. Only this time, it’s going to take more hours and more work.

And the cycle will continue, endlessly, until you break it yourself.

But being happy is a funny thing because it doesn’t require any achievement at all. Happiness is found by being grateful for the things that you already have.

Stop telling yourself that you have to, should, ought to, must, or need to do anything.

You don’t.

If you want to make yourself a happier, healthier, more productive human being, stop telling yourself that you have to do anything.

Instead of telling yourself that you need to go to work, tell yourself that you want to go to work because your job is your source of income and your income is what allows you to have a roof over your head and food on the dinner table.

Instead of telling yourself that you need to go workout, tell yourself that you want to workout. You want to workout because you’ll feel great immediately after. Oh, and because those workouts will accumulate to help you build muscle and lose fat and look better and go hiking with your friends and get more dates.

Don’t allow what you perceive as others’ expectations to determine the course of your life. You don’t ever have to do anything that you don’t want to do.

Do the things that need to be done to create the life that you want to live.


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