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  • Writer's pictureCalvin


Society doesn’t admire slouches.  That’s why we always tell people to work hard and to give it their all.  To leave it all out on the field.  To push it to the limit.  To give it “100%”.  Sometimes, we go even further and say that we need to give it 110% (whatever that means)!

Those are all arbitrary guidelines I suppose.  Because who really knows if we’ve given it our “all” or our best shot?  That we’ve emptied the tank?  There’s no set rule nor commandment that says expending this amount of energy will make you qualified as having given it everything that you’ve had.

There’s also that popular saying of getting 1% better every day to compound your improvement for the long run.  The general advice is great.  But what exactly does 1% mean?  Are we somehow calculating in our minds what that number entails?  No referee is sitting there with a calculator, analyzing when you’ve hit that miraculous benchmark of 1%.

Anyways, I guess I’m just nitpicking right now.  Because again, the general advice is great.  It’s just that no one really knows when you’ve given it all your all.  I feel that we always have something left in the tank after a workout.  Or after a big project.  Or after some form of challenge.  We don’t necessarily expend all our energy for the sake of glory and sacrifice.

I remember while practicing basketball with a group of friends back in the good old days, and our coach at that time told us to go at “60%” effort level and play that way.  I couldn’t understand why he’d tell us to go at “60%”.  That sounds like such an arbitrary number.  Wouldn’t he want us to go at 100% or at full throttle?  To leave it all out there on the court as we say?

I don’t have a clear answer to this.  These are all, after all, just arbitrary numbers, and there’s no right or wrong way to approach this.  I guess we don’t necessarily have to always be pushing things to the breaking point every day.  We must know our limits as well.  We can bend but it’s not good to break all the time.

Sometimes, we need to rest and to just enjoy what’s in front of us.  And I understand that this is easier said than done for many people out there.  Whether it be by circumstance or mindset or context, sometimes, it’s just not possible for people to take it easy.  

After all, they got bills to pay, families to feed, people to take care of in general.  It’s not easy out there for the average person.  Maybe that’s why people are always working so hard and giving it “100%” of everything they have.

However, it’s good to be cognizant of your energy level as well.  To, as they say, live to fight off another day.  To make sure that you’re thinking not just about short-term gains but long-term perspectives as well.  Because if we expend all our energy for the only pursuit in front of us, we will be burnt out and have nothing left for all the other pursuits that have not yet come forth to us as opportunities.

Productivity is a big buzz word these days and especially with the advancement of technology, everyone is trying to find out how to get a leg up on the competition.  And it’s been leading us to have busier and busier lifestyles, with less downtime and less possibilities for slow enjoyment. 

Sometimes, 100% is not needed to live a successful life.  Sometimes, having a “passing grade” is good enough.  Maybe 90%, or 80%, or yes even 60% would suffice at times.  Because we all need to know our limits and know when to step on the accelerator but also when to step on the brake a little bit.

For myself, I used to be one of those step-on-the-accelerator types of people in my younger days.  To just go full throttle, whether it be working out or working on a big project.  I guess maybe I had more energy to expend when I was in my 20’s.  These days, as I age, I’ve been trying to learn how to enjoy more of the slow life. 

How to not necessarily have to organize every single minute of your day into doing something for the sake of not wasting time or for the sake of optimal productivity.  Yes, it’s great to achieve your goals and to get things done, because our culture is still more results oriented.  But, again, sometimes it’s good to go at 60% and to spend more of your mental energies enjoying the journey. 

And just to take it easy because at the end of the day, it might not be worth it to be living a maniacal lifestyle of consistent achievement after achievement (in my humble opinion at least). 

So, whether you are giving it 100% or giving it 60%, I’d say just don’t get too caught up on how hard you are working all the time.  Because sometimes, it’s okay to just take a step back and appreciate the slowness of the things around you.  The slow growth and the slow beauty of leaving something for yourself and not always all out there on the court.

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