Our inner critic is powerful. It's the voice that speaks up to tell us we're not doing a good job, we don’t measure up, or we need to try harder. And it's so convincing that its opinions can seem like fact. Learning to recognize the voice of our inner critic is a powerful step in the direction of self-care, but just as important is understanding what it's trying to do.
Psychologist Amos Tversky said that, and it's true. If every moment of our time is spoken for, we have no time to think about how we're spending our time. Big-picture thinking is so important yet so easy to avoid. There's more to life than constant productivity, and it's worth putting a little slack in our schedules. The payoff can be immense.
We talk a lot about Future You, who has to live with the consequences of Present You’s decisions. Thinking of your future self as different person is a useful way to examine and manage life choices. I’m a big fan of signing up Future You for beneficial activities like running a 5K. But, as a reader recently pointed out, it’s also possible to fill up Future You’s time to a degree that they will not appreciate—to incur “time debt” that Future You will have to pay.
It’s easy to feel guilty about taking break from work, whether it’s a a 3:00 PM walk or a weeklong vacation. But serious performance requires serious rest. It’s true in the gym and in our careers: rest makes hard effort possible. The break isn’t separate from the work—it’s part of the work. Break freely and without guilt. You’ve earned it, and you’ll perform better when you get back.
The first time you try something new, you’re not going to do it very well. Instead of over-preparing (so that the first try goes better), maybe you should just get the first try out of the way. To get good quickly, fail early and often.