13 Things I’ve Given Up in Pursuit of a Better Life

#2 — Holding unrealistic expectations

Toby Hazlewood
Nov 20 · 8 min read

1— Being Constrained by Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a barrier to finishing projects and fuel to the procrastination that prevents us from even getting started. It’s the impossible standard that inhibits creativity and discourages experimentation.

2 — Holding Unrealistic Expectations

Sometimes things work out for the best. Sometimes projects fail, circumstances conspire against us and people let us down. Doing anything in expectation of a particular outcome can lead to disappointment.

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”

-Alexander Pope

3 — Expecting Applause and Gratitude

When we give a gift, write a story or do a favour for someone else, chances are good that we’ll feel underwhelmed by the response.

4 — Ignoring Conventional Wisdom

When I was young and foolish I rejected common sense and well-intentioned advice, mainly out of arrogant self-righteousness. What could I possibly learn from the collective experiences of those who’d trodden this path before me?

5 — Ignoring My Mortality

In youth most of us believe we’re immortal — that our health and vitality are a given and that we can count on a long life, unencumbered by illness.

6 — Ignoring How Much Time I Have

Impatience is a curse when it makes us question our commitment to a project, or prompts doubt in our skills and undermines our dedication. Time has shown that good things take much longer than expected to achieve.

“Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year — and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.”

The greatest accomplishments and the most significant changes in my life have all been the work of years rather than months or weeks.

7 — Ignoring How Little Time I Have

The flip side is that time is our only finite resource. Acting like we’ve got all the time in the world is to be deluded by the myth of eternal life.

“What we have is now.”

-Eckhart Tolle

8 — Thinking There’s Only One Way

I’ve given up on arrogantly thinking that my way is the only way. My values, beliefs and opinions are those that work for me and support me as I navigate my life.

9 — Accepting a Fixed Mindset

For many years I was convinced that I was a finished product. I believed I’d done my learning, completed my education and my role in life was to do my best using the skills I’d learnt. I didn’t read and I actively avoided opportunities to grow and change by staying in my comfort zone.

10 — Equating Success and Money

When I abandoned money as the only measure of my success, life became a lot more satisfying. I still strive for money as a means of enhancing life but I now recognise that other measures matter just as much.

11 — Allowing Sunk Costs to Dictate My Path

The time and money we’ve poured into an endeavour is often what ties us to it long after we should have given it up. The qualification we earned, the career we built, the relationship we invested ourselves in — each of them may account for many years of our lives through blood, sweat and tears that we’ve shed. We can’t get them back but we don’t want to admit they were used in error.

12 — Kidding Myself That Others Have It Easy

In the face of adversity, it’s easy to blame a lack of support, the environment, the stock-market, politicians, competition or some other random factor for our difficulties. It’s equally easy to believe (misguidedly) that our situation is 10x more difficult than anyone else.

13 — Being Constrained by Success Hacks and Habits

I’ve experimented with many habits and practices over the years — some have been life-changing, others less so. Once I started experimenting, I felt reluctant to ever quit anything in case it was responsible for some slight marginal gain.

Letting Go, Quitting and Forgiving

A happy, fulfilled and worthy life is a composite of the many things we do with our time. But it’s also made by the things we let go of which are no longer serving us.

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness and fulfillment.

Toby Hazlewood

Written by

A writer, dad and husband sharing his thoughts, wins and losses to help and inspire others. Say hello at bit.ly/TobyHazlewood

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 138,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

Toby Hazlewood

Written by

A writer, dad and husband sharing his thoughts, wins and losses to help and inspire others. Say hello at bit.ly/TobyHazlewood

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 138,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

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