The You Agenda

Opportunities are strongly persuasive things, particularly when they appear to be rare.

We bend over backwards to seize them; they lead us to deprioritise parts of our life that we previously considered as vital; we may even reshuffle all our plans for them.

We say we’re doing what we need to do to get where we need to be, but everything comes at a cost and we often pay a hefty price for the choices that make us a second thought in our own lives.

An abuse of power.

In the wrong hands, an opportunity is a perfect tool for manipulation. The harder to come by it seems to be, the stronger the power it wields over us.

The people we work for often know how to use that power to devastating effect in our lives.

You can feel its effects in the speeches about being privileged to have something to do, and it shows up in the subtle reminders that you’re not irreplaceable.

It’s a power that keeps you at work till odd hours, makes your weekend disappear in an overflow of tasks and justifies deferring your holiday for the umpteenth time.

Unwittingly, we become cannon fodder in someone else’s unending war for relevance.

And too often, our dreams go straight to hell.

Opportunities don’t guarantee fulfillment.

You’re finally clutching the golden ticket, the applause is deafeningly loud and you have chills from all the hype.

Then nothing.

The hollow feeling comes back, that damning memo from the cavernous void that a thousand opportunities cannot fill.

The climb ends in an ever-shrinking plateau that signals the start of another climb and the ladder goes all the way up to… death.

It’s a game of musical chairs that never ends – even when you sit, you’ll be back on your toes soon enough.

How can we find fulfilment when the bloodthirsty, fame-hungry gods of work we worship demand increasingly greater sacrifices to stay pleased?

It’s pressure and not the kind that makes diamonds, just shipwrecks of lives.

Choosing yourself.

Like many things in life, self-love is easier talked about than practised.

Sometimes we love ourselves in ineffectual bursts, those intermissions of sanity that punctuate the frenzied pursuit of happiness.

It’s ironic that we often find the happiness we’re chasing when we pause the chase to love ourselves and when we choose ourselves over the demands of a rigorous schedule of dancing nonstop to someone else’s beat.

But those bursts of self-love don’t balance out the harrowing ordeal we put ourselves through consistently.

The cycle of excessive strain and slight recovery is unsustainable, it’s a recipe for irreparable brokenness.

We need clearer boundaries between work and the rest of our lives.

Self-care should be our default lifestyle option.

Rest should not involve glancing at screens because we’re afraid of missing out.

It’s time to throw out a work culture that glorifies suffering for nominal achievements over a healthy balance of effort and downtime.

There’ll always be goals and there’ll always be work to do but there will only be one you.

Get on with the you agenda.