Photo: Roland Hechanova/Unsplash
People fall prey to any piece of advice they read or watch online. If someone (who merely seems worthy of giving advice) tells them to wake up at five a.m. to work, they’ll do so without question.
That’s not a problem. We should try new things and experiment with different ideas to find out what works for us. The problem is when you listen to someone and then keep following their advice when it isn’t working for you.
For example, if you’ve been waking up at five a.m. for a month, and you feel sleep-deprived and miserable, that’s a sign you should stop waking up at five — even if it’s working for everyone you know.
The people who are giving you advice are doing it from the bottom of their hearts. It worked for them so now they want to offer it to other people. However, you can’t assume that everything someone tells you to do is great.
The following pieces of advice are tips I’ve heard before that I think people should ignore. But just like those tips, this is my opinion. They might actually end up working for you, but if they don’t, you shouldn’t feel guilty.
#1 Work twelve-hour workdays
Productivity has become a race in the US. We’re all trying to scramble in more work and more hours, and it’s not because we want to. It’s because we’re obsessed with it. We feel useless when we’re not working. Some of us can’t even enjoy a break without feeling guilty.
I love my work, but I’m not going to work all day with little to no breaks. Why? Because that’s fucking insane.
People romanticize waking up early and sleeping late, skipping meals, and staying locked up in an office for hours on end. If you’re on a deadline, sure, I accept (some of) that. But following that schedule every day?
I have a director friend who ended up in the hospital because of how hard he was working. That’s not what we should be aspiring to — taking care of ourselves so badly we end up in a hospital bed. You need sleep, food, water, and short breaks throughout the day.
If you want to work ten, seven, or five-hour workdays, you can. Yes, when you’re not working, someone else is. So what? We shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to what others are doing anyway. It’s a recipe for disaster.
#2 Never waste time
In Jay Shetty’s podcast On Purpose, Eva Longoria once talked about how she never wastes time. If she’s on a plane, she’s reading a script. If she’s in the car, she’s listening to a podcast. Countless others have shared this advice, too.
Seventeen-year-old millionaire Caleb Maddix once said in a video (unfortunately, he’s deleted the video off YouTube) that instead of going on social media during breaks between meetings or speeches, he’d read an article about personal development.
I love working and self-improvement. “How can I be better tomorrow?” is practically my motto. But I’m not a fan of working every minute of every day.
You don’t need to be endlessly obsessed with personal development or productivity. I don’t understand the use of reading an article every time I take a break because that’s an overload of information I’ll end up forgetting.
If you want to listen to your book or music instead of your self-help podcast, you can. You can read fiction instead of non-fiction. People say it’s a waste of time, but why doesn’t anyone take happiness into consideration?
Happiness is another form of productivity. That’s not a waste of time.
#3 Say what you think
You should always speak your mind and never let anyone shut you down. Your opinions matter, but we need to practice asking ourselves: “Should I say this out loud? Does my opinion matter right now?”
If you’re going to add hate into the world, there’s no point in opening your mouth at all. People like to bring up freedom of speech when they say something wrong. Even though you have the right to say whatever you want doesn’t mean you should.
What’s the point in saying something that’ll only hurt someone? zThe most important area we need to practice not saying what we think is on social media.
I watch a show called The 100. Like all shows, some people love it and some hate it. The creator tweeted that he hopes they get picked up for a prequel-type series. I was surprised when someone replied, “Why would ppl make noise for your show when you’re [sic] writing has disappointed us for seven years now?”
This person can feel how they want about the show. But why would you say that to another human being? Social media makes it easy for people to speak their mind and say a lot of shitty stuff.
If all you’re going to do is attack people, then no, don’t speak your goddamn mind.
#4 Take your work seriously
People should take their work ethic seriously. As in, you should show up every day and work hard. When it comes to the work itself? That should be play, especially if you’re an artist.
Whether you’re painting, writing a script, or building a website, you don’t want to take it so seriously that you don’t let the creativity flow. You want to have a playful mindset that lets you see all types of possibilities without limits.
Let yourself make mistakes, color outside the lines, and create things you might end up throwing away. The point is to be free. People think work is about suffering but work is about joy.
I’m not saying you’ll always have fun, but we tend to stress and overwhelm for no reason. Sometimes the solution is to pretend you’re a child who gives no shits besides creating the thing they see in their heads.
Kick ass and never give up, but less yourself have fun at the same time, and watch yourself bloom.
#5 Anger is a Waste of Time (Be Happy)
“For every minute you are angry you lose 60 seconds of happiness.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson quote.
People like to force good emotions onto us — positivity, happiness, joy. No, you shouldn’t drown in your anger and sadness for days (unless, obviously, something grave happens). But to tell me that being angry is a waste of time because I could spend that time being happy?
Last time I checked, we were three-dimensional humans, not one-dimensional side characters in a tv show. We have a lot of emotions. It’s impossible not to feel them. It’s unhealthy not to feel them.
If you’re furious or sad, you’re allowed to be. Again, don’t go on a rage and punch a wall. But let yourself feel. Don’t bottle up emotions and pretend they don’t exist.
Besides, “negative emotions” aren’t bad. How many revolutions have started because people were angry? How many people have climbed to the top because they were unhappy? These so-called negative emotions have been catalysts to some of the greatest things life.
Never listen to anyone who tells you not to be sad. Let them be robots who don’t feel. You can enjoy all of life by feeling everything.
Everyone’s got different opinions about everything. You can’t let other people keep influencing your choices when this is your life. You choose who and what to listen to and ignore because only you know what’s best for you.
And if you don’t know what’s best? Sit down and ask yourself what is. What do you really need?
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re okay with waking up at five in the morning when you’re not. Don’t pretend you’re okay with minimalism when you’re not. Stop abandoning friends because they’re not “successful.”
Your life is not theirs to claim. It’s yours. Own it.