The Difference Between What Works and What Lasts
Retail therapy works. That rush of endorphins when we purchase something new and shiny, or big and expensive, or one step better than “theirs” – it can rescue a bad day or reverse a disappointing meeting with a swipe of a card.
But it doesn’t last.
Social media works too. The instant gratification of a like or share, the engagement of comments, the perfect selfie to portray the perfect life – it works to validate our place among the hundreds or thousands of so-called friends or followers.
But it doesn’t last.
Busy also works. The one-(wo)man-show to make sure everything gets done “right”, saying yes to as many opportunities as possible to maintain the “helpful and available” perception, and wearing the badge of busy with pride – it works for a completed to-do list and sense of accomplishment.
But it doesn’t last.
“There is a difference between the things that work and the things that last.” –Bob Goff
Words work, actions last. Organization works, decluttering lasts. Performance works, authenticity lasts.
Minimalism revealed in my life how I love to do what works – the quick, the easy, the ‘just enough to get by’ way I approached just about everything. The way I multi-tasked mothering and Facebook scrolling, said yes to not offend and regretted it later. I impulse shopped for a quick pick me up only to descend into self-rejection for being careless with our finances.
Soon, the stuff around the house lost its appeal. The expectation of it giving life to my soul disappeared. Now, as I lean into a life of less, the question I find myself asking is, “will this last?” Will this thing or that habit mean something right now or a year from now – will it matter for the generations after me?
Am I living a life that works or am I living a life of legacy?
What we miss when we only do what works
There is a name for doing only what works – survival-mode. We find ourselves in survival-mode for many valid season of life – parenthood, grieving a loss, being stranded on a deserted island, and other extreme stress inducing situations. But survival-mode is not meant for daily life or lasting relationships.
As a mom of two young girls I know survival-mode. I camped out there for the first few years of motherhood, too tired and emotionally spent to pack up my survival gear and move into purposeful living. My children were fed, napped, bathed, and age-appropriately stimulated throughout the day, but I existed on one cup of coffee seven times reheated, stray goldfish crackers, and a quick baby wipe to the arm pits. It was all I could do – it worked.
The danger I realized later, is that survival-mode becomes unnervingly comfortable. It’s that place of knowing things aren’t as they should be, but you’ve been there so long that it’s more comfortable then making a change. And we miss out on the life right in front of us.
We befriend our fears and struggles because we’ve learned how to do what works around them, instead of doing what lasts to overcome them.
While I followed my littles around the house picking up, cleaning up, and all but giving up, waiting for nap time or bed time, I lost precious moments. I missed the beauty of being the only mother my kids will have.
What are the things that last?
The moment I decided what worked wasn’t working for me anymore, I began by purging our home of clutter and excess. I needed a clean slate, a fresh start to discover the things that last over the things that merely work. I stopped substituting productivity for purpose. I let go of comparison and chose compassion. I desired legacy over luck and gave myself permission to live in the fullness of my soul, and then gave it away to those around me.
I went from survival-mode to an intentional pouring out of self into the people I love. Being present went from a physical location to an emotional and spiritual awareness of what was happening around me. I removed the temptation to just survive, and I slowed down enough to appreciate what lasts.
A slow, deliberate presence lasts.
The things that last are intentional choices with an eye on who we are becoming, what we are creating with our life. Love, peace, grace, and gratitude last. Self-sacrifice, service, and generosity last.
How to transform what works into what lasts
Survival-mode is meant to be a temporary solution for extreme circumstances. You were not meant to merely survive life, but to thrive in your gifts and talents and purpose.
If you are stuck in doing what works because it feels like the only way, I want you to know there is a better way – a sustainable way that will last not only in your life, but in the lives of those you love.
Here are a few ideas to transform what works into what lasts:
Stop trying to do it all.
To be all things to all people, live by the expectations of others, and over-extended boundaries is not a sustainable life. Change expectations, slow down, set solid boundaries, and say no. Clear the calendar of busy work and find white space to recharge.
Let go of stuff.
It’s not about having less stuff for the sake of less. There is an abundance of freedom in owning less that allows us to focus on the vital few – the things that last. Less clutter equals more space, time, peace, presence, and soul.
Comparison kills community. It breeds self-hatred and rejection. It poisons our purpose and steals our joy. Their life may be working for them, but it doesn’t work for us. We get to choose our own way – a way that outlasts fashions and status updates.
Bob Goff says he looks ahead to the next best version of himself for advice. It’s how he turns into love for those around him. So, what would the next best version of YOU do, something that works for now or what will last for generations?