I Just Can't Keep Up
Joel Eschenbach • August 13, 2017
She’s always at the back of the line, slowly moving, distracted, and mostly just does her own thing. Moving our family around feels like turning a large ship, and sometimes she’s the anchor hanging off the back of the boat (OK, that may be a bit harsh). No matter the analogy, my daughter has a different pace than the rest of us, and to be honest, I’m a bit jealous.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur trying to launch something new, a single parent trying to work and take care of your kids, an employee striving to hit deadlines, or a student studying to create a future for yourself, the ever-increasing pace of life seems to be approaching break neck speed!
With the 24 hour (or 1 hour) news cycle, our constant Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, and Instagram feeds, and the lifestyles that we’re all working towards, most of the time we're just trying to keep up. Think about it, how often do you have to learn something completely new just to keep your business afloat or to get through another week of work? And how about the amount of information that we ingest everyday compared to that of even 5 years ago?
Now before you start reaching for your anxiety meds, let’s consider a few things:
Adaptability has always been the key to survival
Change is at the core of who we are as humans. Adapting to our surroundings and even manipulating them is how we still exist as a species. The difference today is the unprecedented speed of change as a result of the technological revolution and the increase of knowledge available to almost everyone at the simple tap of a screen.
Regardless of how good we've gotten at adapting on a regular basis, it's still so hard to accept change. But why? Why are we so resistant to change?
This post from Libby Copeland sheds a little light on it...
Change is threatening and presents a plethora of unknowns. According to Journalist David McRaney, author of the best-selling book You Are Not So Smart,” told me that the brain seems wired to want to resolve unknowns. “When the brain is facing uncertainty, it creates certainty; when it faces meaninglessness, it creates meaning,” says McRaney, who is now at work on a book about how people change their minds. “When you are uncertain, you have that immediate emotional reaction that it needs to be resolved now, and you will devolve to the fastest, easiest, least-painful solution before you will to the best solution.”
Going all the way back to our pre-historic roots, we have a need for certainty in order to survive. Will heavy storms or drought come to destroy my crops? Will an invading tribe or predator show up and try to take my land or precious resources? If our tribe moves into this new unexplored area, will we be able to find the food needed to survive?
But despite these anxieties and fears, humanity adapted, explored unknown lands, and did whatever it took to stare change right in the face and overcome it.
So will we, because it's not going to stop anytime soon.
The pace is not slowing down
According to this article, knowledge is doubling every 12 months.
"Buckminster Fuller created the “Knowledge Doubling Curve”; he noticed that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today things are not as simple as different types of knowledge have different rates of growth. For example, nanotechnology knowledge is doubling every two years and clinical knowledge every 18 months. But on average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. According to IBM, the build out of the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours."
With this kind of increase in knowledge and constant exposure to other points of view, we are regularly faced with decisions about how this new information relates to our current beliefs, daily priorities, and long-term goals. This can be overwhelming. But it also presents us with unique opportunities that have never been available to previous generations. Among these are the ability to quickly access advice from modern experts in science, sociology, psychology, and theology alongside of ancient sages within a matter of seconds.
However, the success of individuals in decades to come won't depend on the ability to access information, it will be directly related to how well they are able to filter through and keep the most beneficial information, and more importantly, implement it into their daily lives. Anyone can obtain knowledge, but few actually live out even a small percentage of what they know to be the best life advice.
I could go on and on about how adaptability and the speed of change are changing our world for the better, or I could speak of how we're headed towards an apocalypse created by artificial intelligence because we greedily outsourced everything to machines. But no one wants to hear that. Instead, here are 2 questions that have been running through my head the past few weeks as I'm constantly adapting to the ever-changing market and our constantly changing society...
1. Where am I headed and why?
For me, it's important to ask myself what I'm going after and why. Is it to collect more stuff, make more money, or live an even more comfortable life? While these things aren't bad in and of themselves, they can become a meaningless cycle that never ends. In his bestselling book Sapiens, author Yuval Noah Harari says.
"One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations. Once people get used to a certain luxury, they take it for granted. Then they begin to count on it. Finally they reach a point where they can’t live without it."
It's important to stop and ask ourselves when enough will be enough. Is everything I'm running after just for me, or am I using to improve the life of someone else? Is where I'm heading bringing peace to the world around me, or just storing up a mass of belongings to make myself feel more secure.
From building a business or growing a family to getting your degree or pursuing a new a career, it's helpful to stop on a regular basis and question why you're working so hard to achieve this goal. Do you just enjoy the process? Are you trying to get somewhere? And when you get there, how will that improve your life or the life of others?
2. Am I all in?
We all know what it feels like to go through the motions. Even when we're present, we're not really present.
Let's use hobbies as an example. The days of people doing things they enjoyed just because they enjoyed them seem to be fading. Hobbies aren't for making money, starting a side business, or telling the world how amazing you are, they're for your personal enjoyment and give you a feeling of accomplishing something. Most importantly, when we are engaged in an activity like a hobby, we are all in. We get lost in the creativity, enjoyment, and accomplishment of the task at hand with little worry about what other people think or what it will produce for us long term.
Maybe its possible to be present more often in our work life and family life like we are with hobbies.
So why am I jealous of my daughter when she's lagging behind the family, constantly playing with her food, or lost in her imaginative play? Because she's always completely involved with what she's doing.
There's no question that she's all in, but what am I running after in such a hurry?