"Oh my god ... why are you so FAT?"
This is, verbatim, the first thing that came out of my Mom's mouth once when she dropped by for a visit.
Literally the first thing.
Like, I opened the front door ... and that's what she said.
The memory of it still makes me laugh, albeit a little ruefully.
Growing up, if one of the Price kids put on a few pounds, the Price parents wouldn't hesitate to call it out. Not to be mean, just out of concern — and, let's be real, disapproval. It's just the way they've always been.
In fact, when I was a kid, my mother gave me an actual formula for what a woman's weight "should" be.
"Your height in centimeters minus 110 = your ideal weight in kilograms."
So according to Mom, at 5 feet 5 inches, I should weigh 55kg, or 121 lbs.
Now, I'm not an especially vain or aesthetically-focused person. I don't wear makeup, I've never dyed my hair; I've been wearing the same battered $25 Mark's Warehouse boots for about four years now and probably won't replace them until the soles fall off.
But despite this, I still can't shake a deep-seated sense of failure about not being able to hit my mother's 121-lb benchmark anymore.
It's completely irrational. Existentially speaking, weighing a specific number is beyond trivial.
We're all gonna die, we can't take it with us, and nobody's watching anyway.
And yet, even though I know this, that &%$#ing number — 121 POUNDS — is hardwired in my brain.
For a good 20 years of my life I had to hit it (or a number close to it) to feel "okay" about myself, whatever that means.
Now, having been cooped up in quarantine for a few months, doing what I can to stay fit but ultimately putting my fitness goals on hold while perfecting my fried chicken recipe & inhaling carbs with abandon, I've been thinking a lot about the concept of "goals" as a whole.
Specifically, those quantified, material goals we love to set for ourselves: goal weights, goal revenues, goal net worths, dream homes, dream vacations, bucket lists, and on and on.
Where exactly do these "goals" come from?
Clearly, judging by the roots of my inextirpable bodyweight obsession, they're not always just about what we want, deep down.
Far from it.
Some come from our parents & families ...
Some come from television & movies ...
Some come from our friends ...
WAY too many come from social media ....
And some come from just having a naturally competitive disposition — one that demands we measure up "better" than our peers, no matter what's being measured.
When I think about the goals I've set for myself over the last decade, I have to admit most of them track back in some way or another to one of the above.
They seemed normal at the time. More or less the same kinds of goals as everyone else: Be fit, make money, have fun.
Didn't think about it too much.
Then that damned Coronavirus Brought. The. Hammer. DOWN.
... smashing these "normal" life goals into laughably trivial pieces.
Around the world, families and businesses have had to throw aside vanity- and aspiration-fuelled "goals" to focus on practical, survival-mode needs.
Paying the mortgage.
Keeping the business afloat.
Taking care of the kids.
It was disorienting at first. Many of us felt cut adrift, spiralling rudderless day after day with no carrots to chase.
But now, months later, I've heard more than a few entrepreneurial friends mention how they're secretly liking quarantine, despite the uncertainty and inconvenience.
They're getting enough sleep for the first time in years.
Their social obligations have been cancelled — and they don't miss 90% of them.
They're making progress on long-neglected hobbies.
They're saving a TON of money (of course, they're losing it, too).
Perhaps most importantly: For the first time in their careers they feel completely immune to professional development FOMO.
And it's glorious.
Don't get me wrong: Quarantine sucks, and I say this as a lucky, work-from-home introvert whose normal routine is practically indistinguishable from it.
But the one upside of the Coronapocalypse is that it's muted the roiling, insatiable hurricane of compare-&-despair we've been living in for at least a little while.
Despite the chaos of the news and the uncertainty of the future, there has never been a better time to stop, take a deep breath, and get in tune with what makes us truly fulfilled.
Have you reflected on what you TRULY miss since "normal" took an indefinite hiatus? What do you miss?
Even more importantly, have you taken note of what you DON'T miss, and might even try to eliminate from your life from now on?
[My answers are pretty simple: I miss training BJJ & kickboxing at my MMA gym. And maybe getting a really good bowl of pho at a restaurant every once in a while. And what I don't miss? Business travel. Flights in general, even. I'll do it if it's the only way to get somewhere interesting, but I'm definitely going to minimize flights as much as I can from now on. God I hate air travel.]
The economy is starting back up, slowly. Soon we'll all be running around like chickens with our heads cut off, trying to "win" and "crush it," whatever that means.
Before that happens, I hope you find some time to sit back and reflect on what makes YOU happy (and I mean YOU — not your parents, not your friends, not your spouse, not your business coach, and not your favorite social media influencer or Hollywood celebrity).
I hope you're able to take a minute to pause and find honest, uncompromising answers to simple-yet-life-changing questions, such as:
- What do I most enjoy spending my time on?
- What people, things, and actions in my day-to-day routine bring my the MOST joy & happiness?
- Do I actually LIKE working? (Hey, it's ok not to — work is called "work" for a reason.) In light of this, do I want more or less of it in my daily routine?
- How much do I actually have to work/earn to keep the things I truly enjoy in my life? (Note: this last one is a VERY different question than the one we usually ask ourselves, which is "how much money do I need to feel OK about myself and/or better than other people?")
- Do I really need anything beyond this? If so, why?
Finally, before the 24/7 cacophony of our rebounding economy drowns everything else out, I hope you're able to figure out efficient, low-effort, planet-friendly ways to attain and maintain the things you truly need in your life, without ...
- Working yourself into an early grave
- Triggering a mental-health collapse from stress
- Spending money you don't have
- Feeling like you have to "keep up" or fearing that you're "falling behind"
- Forcing yourself to do work that you don't like
That's all I wanted to say. I know things are super-crazy right now, what with the pandemic and social unrest.
But just remember — now really is a great time to think about what "life goals" really matter to you, while the flood of FOMO marketing tactics and ads has dried up a little.
It's a historically unique opportunity that costs absolutely nothing — and it's just for you.