One Size Does NOT Fit All

I have mentioned before that blanket statements are not a good thing and that one size does not fit all. For those of you who get discouraged because every time you read someone’s supposedly helpful post you realize it just isn’t going to work for you: this one’s for you.

Dear Discouraged,

There are so many people out there who say they want to help you. And unlike my previous rant about those who don’t even try in their articles and blog posts to do so, there are those who ARE really attempting to give you useful information. They’re trying to share what they know or what they’ve learned to help you with things like time management, or getting organized or being productive or losing weight or getting fit. But you’re just becoming more and more discouraged because no matter how many of these helpful articles and posts you read, nothing works for you. Maybe, for whatever reason, you simply can’t try the thing they’re suggesting. Or maybe it’s because they say “This is what you need to do” but don’t then share with you ways in which you could actually do it. Perhaps even they don’t understand how they do “the thing” and therefore couldn’t teach you even if their life depended on it. But maybe, just maybe, it’s because ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.

This is a common mistake that helpful folks make which often leads to what I think is my biggest pet peeve: blanket statements. Saying something like, “All a person has to do is <this xyz thing> to be a confident, successful, productive person” is like saying “All people can run marathons, they just have to train.” Guess what? That’s not true. I have such flat feet they’re nearly inverted. I tried training for a 10k, my first ever, after losing 150 pounds. I discovered after running my first 5k and then my second, that my knees were practically exploding (as in, swelling to 2 or 3 times their normal size). I went to a sports medicine doctor and it turns out not every single human being is physically built for, or capable of, running long distance (never mind sprints). I can train until I’m the most fit person on the planet, but that does not mean I’ll successfully be able to run a 5k, 10k or full marathon, and both the sports expert physician and my physical therapists have confirmed that.

Similarly, just because a guru, life coach or successful person shares the secrets of their success with you does not mean their secrets will work for you. I can give you three examples of this right off the top of my head.

  1. Get up earlier in the morning. While I agree wholeheartedly that getting up earlier in the morning means you can get lots done while others are still unconscious, it’s actually not always possible for human beings to be early risers simply because we’re not all wired the same way. You’ve heard of “morning people” vs. “night owls,” I presume. Well, there is scientific research to back up the fact that not everyone can blink awake at 4am or 5am and be instantaneously “on” like I am. You can check out this one of a plethora of articles you can find via Google Search. So if you are someone who has tried and simply cannot be “a morning person,” then don’t despair. Not only are you not alone, but you aren’t a failure just because you have been unsuccessful with this.
  2. Do the thing you are most dreading or “hate” the most, first. Once again, I agree wholeheartedly with the concept. I know that personally if there are five things I need to do and I really, really hate one of them (think: clean the bathroom), it’s best if I just do that thing first and then whew, it’s off my plate and I’m no longer dreading it. But let’s face facts here: not everyone can just do “the thing” first for a variety of reasons. What if it’s a phone call you’re absolutely petrified to make (perhaps calling up an ex-spouse with whom you parted on less-than-kind terms) but the person you need to call isn’t available until the early hours of the afternoon? Does that mean you’re going to do nothing at all until 1pm? Hardly. How about if your “most dreaded thing” is having your in-laws over for Christmas dinner? You can’t “do that first,” it has to be done on Christmas Day (or Eve, or whenever you do that). One thing helpful gurus often forget is that not everyone’s lives are the same as theirs. Not everyone can do precisely what everyone else does, precisely when they do it. So if you have tried suggestions like this and failed because it doesn’t fit your life, YOU ARE NOT ALONE (you’re going to hear that from me a lot over time) and YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE because you can’t/couldn’t/didn’t (another thing that’ll start becoming common fare out of my mouth. Er…fingers).
  3. Say No to time wasters/stealers. Hey, I tout this one myself. The most fierce guardian of your time has to be you because it isn’t going to be anyone else. Nobody in the world cares about your time as much as you do. But odds are you can’t actually say no to absolutely everyone in your life. If you are an Administrative Assistant with four VPs you support, you can’t march into a VP’s office and refuse to do the work they just emailed you to do. Not unless you want to risk losing your job. I’m more interested in offering other practical things you might be able to try if saying no isn’t an option for you, but oftentimes gurus will tell you things like, well, if you’re not saying no then that means you don’t want it badly enough. Um…excuse me??? For whatever reason, if the Admin wants to keep their job, who am I to tell them they’re failing? I’m not helping you if I tell you that unless you do “These 10 Things” you are a loser. I am helping you if I say, “The best thing to do is say no. If you can’t, try these other things on for size.” Maybe one of them will be helpful and useful. The point is I tried to help, not condemn you for not doing one thing.

Hopefully you see what I mean now after these examples. All things do not work for all people, just like vegetarianism may be awesome for some folks while others biologically cannot handle eating that kind of diet. Just like not everyone is overweight because they eat too much (a common misconception, especially among those who’ve never had a weight problem in their life). Just like not everyone can simply walk out of their job when it becomes too stressful. Well, I mean, sure, they could, but the consequences might be so horrendous that they feel it’s better to stay in the unhappy job than walk out and risk things like losing their home, being unable to feed their children and so on.

I like using Jeff Foxworthy’s methods (although not his content, lol, because only he can be that funny) as follows: If you are unable to put into practice every self help method you read, you might be a human being!

Bottom line: There is nothing wrong with you if you are unable to do all the things that all the gurus/experts tell you that “you should.” There is something wrong with gurus/experts telling you there is something wrong with you because you can’t. I promise I won’t ever be one of those people. If you can’t do the thing I suggest, let’s find another way. Together.

‘nuff said.

With much love and aloha from Hawaii,

Christine, the OahuPM

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