I’ve seen a lot of ‘rah, rah, just try harder’ cheerleading type posts on the internet lately.
Sometimes ‘just try harder’ is rocking advice: it’s just what you need to hear on the days when a boot up the arse is helpful.
Now, I’m all for working hard and doing your thing and being stubborn and persistent, even when things are tough.
But sometimes ‘work harder and keep going’ is actively harmful.
This is because of The Law Of Diminishing Returns.
You already know what The Law Of Diminishing Returns is. You’ve been there, you’ve done that and the t-shirt is mouldering unwashed at the bottom of your laundry basket.
The Law Of Diminishing Returns is when the energy you’re expanding far outweighs any benefits you will receive.
The Law Of Diminishing Returns is when you’re too tired, hungry or burnt-out to work but you keep going anyway. You do bad work that will need to be redone later but hey, at least you were in the office showing your face so no one can accuse you of ‘slacking’.
The Law Of Diminishing Returns is when you hit your email button on your phone just one more time before bed. The Law Of Diminishing Returns is when you endlessly rehearse a conversation that you know you’ll never have because the other person refuses to hear you. The Law Of Diminishing Returns is when you read that same page five times but don’t take in a single word.
The Law Of Diminishing Returns is this conversation from When Harry Met Sally:
Marie: The point is, he just spent $120 on a new nightgown for his wife. I don’t think he’s ever gonna leave her.
Sally: No one thinks he’s ever gonna leave her.
Marie: You’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right.
The Law Of Diminishing Returns happens in offices & workplaces all over the world every single day. It happens to me after about 3 hours of working, when I hit my internal limit. Now what I should do at this point is take a break and go do something else or rest.
If I don’t switch gears, I invariably start going round and round in endless internet circles like a dog chasing its tail. Mine goes email; Twitter: Pinterest; RSS feed; Twitter; Ravelry; Facebook – rinse & repeat until I get cross with myself or my eyes fall out, whichever happens first. You’ll have your own version.
Sometimes what you should be doing is not ‘trying harder’ or ‘being more magnificent’ but resting. Or thinking. Or playing with your kids. Or sleeping. Or reading. Or watching TV with your sweetie. Or even – whisper it if you dare – quitting completely because you’re trying hard at the wrong thing.
By all means, be magnificent if magnificent is where you are right now. If you are magnificent, I will applaud you and tell my friends.
But no one can be magnificent constantly. It’s just not possible. So if your well is empty, you need to bloody stop. There is no more water there. So you need to either find another water source or sit down and wait for some rain.