Those numbers you’re trying so hard to beat? They’re meaningless.

Life is not a video game, but we live as if it is.

For example, all our lives, we chase certain numbers.

Everyone does this, though I personally think society places particular pressure on women to live up to these ideals.

Who knows – maybe men have their own set of numbers that matter most to them.

Throughout our lives, these numbers haunt us. We think about them in the middle of the night. We journal about them, set goals around them and beat ourselves up when we don’t get them just right.

Want an example of what I mean by the numbers?

See if any of these sound familiar:

  • When I weigh X, life will be great.
  • When I get an X grade point average, I’ll be happy.
  • When I am X years old, life will be better.
  • If I get X steps each day, I’ll be healthy.
  • When I can fit back into a size X, things will be perfect.
  • When I make X dollars per year, I’ll know I’ve made it.

You may have other numbers that haunt you. I’m using X here because whatever the number is, it doesn’t matter.

That’s right! I’m here to tell you that these numbers are utterly meaningless.

Looking back on half a century of life, I can tell you that chasing these numbers didn’t improve my quality of life in any way. If anything, the opposite is true.

Trying to fit into a certain box – to weigh a certain amount, be a particular size, make a certain salary, get a precise number of steps each day – is not the key to happiness. When people look back on their lives in old age, they do not think about these numbers unless it’s to regret focusing on them too much.

What matters in life are meaningful, personal connections with family members and friends. Finding our passion and following it. Communing with nature and animals. Finding beauty even in the darkest days. Figuring out our strengths. Giving back when we can. Loving ourselves and others. Sharing our gifts. Letting our light shine.

Little by little, I’ve been trying to rid my life of meaningless numbers and focus on what’s truly important. It’s hard to do.

Old habits are hard to break – especially when everyone around you is still chasing those numbers. It can be hard to cut away from the pack and do your own thing.

Last year, I stopped weighing myself. Boom! There goes a number I’ve lived by all my life. It never meant anything except in my head. Honestly, I’ve never felt better. What a huge step forward!

A few months later, my Fitbit died and instead of replacing it, I asked E for a pretty, old-school, rainbow-hued watch for Christmas. I still try to walk often throughout the day, but I no longer worry about my step count. Did you know that 10,000 steps a day is a completely made-up goal anyway? It’s meaningless!

The global health pandemic made us all take stock of our careers and work lives. All those hours I was spending in a car commuting to a high-paying job downtown Columbus? Time wasted.

Instead, I started my own business, work from home for about half the hours I used to, make less money and have tons more time with my family and enjoyment in life. It’s about taking stock of priorities and focusing on what really matters.

Our time in Costa Rica made me realize that I’m not prioritizing nature enough. I try to get out in nature a few times each week, and I walk our dogs daily, but I want to do even more. Our naturalist guide taught us that touching or hugging a tree can do amazing things for our energy – he said it can even heal our bodies and minds. Walking barefoot on the earth has similar grounding and energy-balancing properties. I plan to do a lot more tree-hugging and barefootin’ from now on, at least daily!

This year, I also made it a priority to go and visit my beloved parents in California. This solo trip meant so much to both me and them, and it’s something I look forward to repeating for as long as I can. Time with them is truly precious and none of us are getting any younger. We never know how many more visits we’ll have together, so I plan to make the most of them!

What are some ways you can let go of meaningless numbers and instead focus on what’s really important in your own life? Give yourself permission. Trust your instincts and listen to that quiet little voice inside of you, instead of doing what everyone else does or what you’ve always done.

Life is short. Let’s not waste time playing by the numbers. Let’s dance, make our own rules and have fun!

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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