Wrong yardstick

Imagine that we are sipping a cup of coffee and having a nice evening conversation. At one point, I just casually slipped in a question, how’s everything going in your life? You might shrug it off blabbing things are great and you are fine. Think that I’m your close friend and I looked you in your eyes and with a serious tone asked again, how are you doing? You will pause to reflect on what is happening around you. Then, with your head turned low, mumble how things are not so great.

If this is you, you are not alone. This is how most of us feel inside. On the surface, everything seems fine and we are all doing great, but inside we are all alone in the dark not knowing where we are heading.

The problem is our shiny exteriors that hide everything. We might have a good college degree and a decent job and that gives us enough reason to convince that everything is going great even if it’s not. The problem is the wrong yardstick that we all carry. The same old one that all of us and even our parents carried.

There are two primary problems with this imaginary yardstick:
  • We have not updated it ever since we made it
  • We design it for everyone and not for you

When you measure your life with this broken yardstick and the reading says, oh you got a degree and job and a family, great progress so your life is great too. Except you know it is not.

Measuring progress is critical for your growth and your feedback. Without it, there is no way to quantify your progress. For that we surely need a yardstick. It is just that you need to make sure what it measures is what you want. Don’t measure what your friends are measuring or what your parent told you to measure. Measure your life with what you want to measure.

  • When you are measuring your relationships, ask yourself, am I getting what I want from a meaningful relationship?
  • When you are selecting a college, ask yourself, is this really what I want to learn?
  • When you marry someone, ask yourself, is this the person I want to spend my time with?
  • When you have children, ask yourself, am I providing them with what they need from me?

It is so easy to fool ourselves with a wrong yardstick that doesn’t work for us and act like everything is fine.

If the yardstick you have is not working out for you, what should you do?


Build your unique yardstick, just the way you are.

I can understand your disappointment when it all comes down to the same old saying, love what you do. It is boring and we are all tired of hearing about it. So let me put it this way. The problem that most of us invariably face is not to realize our yardstick is wrong, but what units it should be. This is where I think we should be a bit more forgiving. Write whatever unit makes sense to you. Be ready to rewrite it again and again whenever you think it is not measuring right. If you think kilometers is the unit of your weight, then measure it in kilometers. If the kilometers didn’t work out for you, find a new unit.

We are so obsessed with getting the job done that we just rush in and measure everything with the wrong yardstick just to have some answers even if it’s wrong. We think that not having answers are worse than having no answers. I think neither will help you. You need to keep searching for answers till you find them. Neither having the wrong answer nor having no answer will help you.


So next time we have our evening conversation, when I ask you, how is your life going? Just say I haven’t figured out my yardstick yet. I thought being Nomad was my thing, but as it turns out, I’m a family person. I would be happier to hear this than hear about some course you took because someone told you that technology is promising. Because I will know that you haven’t given up and are still searching for answers.

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