You Can Do Anything
Quick Summary: You can do anything. You cannot do everything.
We’re told that we can have it all, do it all, and be it all— whatever we want is, with enough work and drive and dedication— attainable. I’m optimistic at heart, and I believe that people can do anything. But, doing anything is often confused with doing everything, and while I believe you can do anything, you cannot do or be everything. The confusion between these two concepts has come up in several conversations lately, so I thought I’d turn the idea into a newsletter. Here goes…
When we’re young, the world feels full of unlimited opportunities and endless possibilities. We have our whole lives ahead of us, and anything (and everything) seems achievable. However, as we grow up, we begin to realize that we can’t do everything; in order to pursue some paths, we have to turn away from others.
In order to achieve our goals and pursue our dreams, we have to make choices. We have to prioritize what’s important to us and let go of the things that aren’t. Saying yes to this means saying no to that. But closing opportunities can be psychologically difficult because it feels like we’re giving something up (hot tip: we are). When we give something up, we feel a sense of loss or sadness as we say goodbye to a potential future. Given that we are pleasure-seeking-pain-avoiding monkeys, we seek to avoid that pain.
While this may seem like a good strategy in theory, it can lead to decision paralysis and fear of committing to any one path. The pressure to maintain options (avoiding the pain of closing off potential paths) makes commitment difficult, even when we are committing to things that are aligned with our goals or values. We may worry that we’re missing out on something, or closing doors that could lead to success. This can lead to a sense of anxiety and uncertainty, as we struggle to make decisions and move forward. We find ourselves haunted by what if. Making a commitment, and closing the door on an opportunity, can feel like settling, like not taking advantage of everything that life has to offer. Good enough feels like defeat.
Yet the idea of “good enough” can be a highly positive space, one that’s rooted in contentment and gratitude. The constant push for everything is exhausting and demoralizing. The idea of “good enough” allows us to find satisfaction and joy in the present and in what we have, rather than constantly worrying about what could be or what might have been. It reminds us to appreciate what we have and to be grateful for the blessings in our lives. Good enough is not about settling, but rather about recognizing and celebrating the value of what we have achieved.
Anything is possible, but everything is a trap, a mirage that leaves us constantly wanting more.
-Dr. Justin