You Are What You Do

Image result for action cartoon

Over the past several years, I think I have spent a substantial amount of time trying to better understand myself. I believe that self-awareness is not an “end-state,” but rather a continual journey of discovery in which one develops an acute understanding of his/her world. This is a unique experience for each and every person, one that occurs on an infinite time-horizon, with various obstacles, difficulties, and surprises. 

One interesting lens to think about “self-awareness” is to try and find the delta between “how you think about yourself” and “how you act.” 

I have always admired the simplicity of the phrase of “you are what you do.”

Many of us (myself included) tend to over-estimate how much we care about x and underestimate how much we care about y.

We say we care about being healthy…yet we watch more Netflix than go to the gym. We say we care about family…yet how often do we call our friends. 

In essence, it is easy to say you care about things. It is easy to write about caring about certain things.

But what do you actually do? 

Your priorities are reflected in how you actually spend your time. Of course, you can always change your actions…but it is certainly an interesting exercise to understand your day…and how happy/energized you are with how you are spending your time. 

The other interesting thing is just how much your actions indeed shape your personality. Over time, and I think this is particularly interesting, you are morphed into “how you spend your time.” 

Work is a major example of this. In the modern economy (in America) work is a fundamental part of life. The average American works 40-60 hours a week. 

And it can be extremely boring and dull. 

For instance, 

“You are what you do. If you do boring, stupid monotonous work, chances are you’ll end up boring, stupid and monotonous.”

Sure, you may gain discipline, but your benchmark for imaginative, creative, and interesting will have changed while your anchor is lowered in the presence of boring. 

The point of this essay is really to internalize the idea that “saying is not doing,” and that the true test of time is materialized in your actions. 

Also published on Medium.