It’s okay to not be okay . . . for some people. For others in New York who have created their identities around productivity and achievement, not being okay should be okay. But often it isn’t.
We all know one or two of these people in New York. The serial achievers. The people who thrive on climbing a new mountain every few months. They wake up early, they run the New York Marathon, they “slay the day”, and then they spend quality Instagram-worthy time with their beautiful family and friends.
You ask them how they are doing and you get responses like, “We’re okay. You know, just plugging along. I’m finishing up my next book and learning to speak Mandarin. It’s been a crazy week because I’m building the kids a treehouse from recycled materials and trying to hire two more people for my company because demand is super high right now”.
You might be inspired by the accomplishments of New York's serial achievers. Or, they might make you frustrated and jealous. But, for the most part, serial achievement is not about anyone other than the person that feels compelled to consistently achieve.
Listen, accomplishing goals is awesome. People in New York who live their lives to the fullest are winning in so many ways. But some people feel compelled to rack up one accomplishment after the other for reasons other than the joy of success.
Some New York serial achievers can have a pretty significant chip on their shoulders. They want to prove the haters of their childhood wrong or validate their presence on this planet or prove to their mom and dad that they aren’t dumb/lazy/worthless. Obviously, this is not everyone (by any stretch of the imagination), but if this resonates with you, I urge you to take a step back for a moment.
If you are a person who has adopted the mask of productivity and accomplishment as a part of your identity, I urge you to check in as to why. A chip on your shoulder is okay when it’s a chip. However, during tough times, that chip can grow to become a boulder and can crush people under its weight.
I’m not a very religious person, but I believe there is so much truth in Ecclesiastes 3 — “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . a time to tear down and a time to build.” If you are always building, then eventually, you’ll be forced to tear down whether you want to or not.
Everything in New York is cyclical. Everything in nature, too. Plants grow and wither. The tides rise and fall. We inhale and exhale. There must be a balance. When there isn’t a balance, your body or mind can begin to rebel. I get it. The accomplishment train is hard to stop. After one rush of adrenaline, you need another. But, whether it’s to make you feel like you’re good enough or if it’s for the adrenaline experience itself, I highly recommend mentally pumping the breaks.
New Yorkers' serial achievement does not lie principally in the achievement itself. It lies in the relentless mental push of the achiever to continue to race on thinning tires, to push through to the next obstacle, and the emotional unwillingness to take the risk that people might not always be impressed by you.
If you’re one of these New York serial achievers and you dare to take the mental pressure off of yourself for a quick breath of calm before jumping back into the deep end, chances are, you will be the only person that notices. And, it’s likely that those who DO notice will congratulate you for taking a pause.
Conquer the world, but after you conquer it, reward yourself with a well-deserved break.