Gossip magazines, vlogs, ‘reality’ TV & social media platforms.
What do all of the above have in common?
They give us the opportunity to watch other people live their lives. To allow our minds to wonder, just for a moment, what our own lives would look like if we had the same influence/wealth/looks/fame/ freedom or power.
There’s a special, almost childlike fascination that grips us when we live vicariously through other people.
“Imagine having so much money!” or “It must be so nice to have a life like that”.
Now, logic would tell you that you can’t sit around keeping track of someone else’s life unless you’ve got an abundance of time & energy on your hands.
Time & energy. Two of the most complained-about resources on Earth. Think about it…time is always going too fast for us and we never have enough energy to do the things that truly matter.
Welcome to the cult of The Sideline Life.
The Price Of Spectatorship
“There’s no such thing as a free lunch” – I’m sure you’ve heard these words before.
If you want something, you’ve got to pay for it. And if it’s something that can’t be bought, you’ll pay for it with your time and energy. With your life.
Because we’ve chosen to devote so much of our time and energy to keeping track of everyone else’s lives, we’ve had to stop living and start watching our own lives from the sidelines.
We know when we’re unfulfilled.
We know when our lives feel meaningless.
We know when we’re destroying our health.
We know when our marriages are burning to the ground around us.
We know when we’ve lost the connections we once had with our kids.
We know when we don’t know where we’re going or what we’re working so hard for.
Here’s the thing though: We never have the time or the energy to do anything about the areas of our lives that need our attention the most.
And until we decide to actively participate in our own lives, we’ll continue paying the price of spectatorship.
Here’s what the payment plan looks like:
Instalment #1: You’re Never Good Enough
If you focus long enough on the gilded, polished, perfect images that people portray online or in public, you’ll start to believe that no matter how hard you try, you’ll never be as ‘perfect’. You’ll always finish second-best.
Because you’re trying to run someone else’s race.
Like you, I’ve been blessed with many talents. For example, I love languages and for some reason, I hate working with numbers more than I have to. (I always don’t know why in school, I had to learn how to calculate the area of a trapezium but that’s a discussion for another day)
Anyway, did I try to be the best Maths student in school? No, I became (and still am) intensely devoted to building the gifts that I’ve been given.
I’ll never learn how to split an atom and I’ll never send a rocket to space and I doubt I will ever successfully solve a quadratic equation on the first try.
I don’t really care because I’ve got my own race to run.
Instalment #2: Nothing is Ever Enough
What did you earn over the last 12 months? Write that figure down. Now Google the salary of the CEO of an exchange-listed company.
What was your financial net-worth at age 25? Write it down. Now Google the net-worth of the founders of Facebook & Snapchat.
The feeling that most people experience when doing this exercise is the same feeling you get when you stand on the sidelines and wistfully observe the successes being broadcast on your Instagram feed.
“Must be nice to have all that”
“Imagine a life like that”
If you compare what you have with someone who seemingly has more, you’ll never learn the meaning of ‘enough’.
We’re starving for more but the quest for more is what’s suffocating us.
Instalment #3: Watching is Enough
This is the most dangerous part of this entire equation.
99 times out of 100, spectators never ever take action. They plan, hope, wish, strategise, dream, hold meetings and always use the words “I need to” without ever taking action.
Why? Well, spectating demands all your energy and your time.
And, because we’re collectively in love with the idea of planning to ‘one day’ do something, many of us have come to believe that watching is enough.
Are you living the life you were created for?