Is it Useful to "Performance Review" your Life?
About three years ago, I went vegan. It was something that no one in my life expected - myself included. I wasn’t a ravenous meat eater by any standards, but I was normal. And like most normal people…I kind of thought less of people who didn’t eat meat.
My freshman year of college I met an incredibly handsome, very fit guy named Juan. We were chatting over drinks and he mentioned that he was vegetarian, and I remember very clearly thinking, “what a shame, I would have liked to date him.” Isn’t that horrible?
After I graduated college, and had moved to Florida, I one night found myself watching a Ted Talk by Melanie Joy, and I became vegan overnight. It wasn’t the footage of animals suffering, or the statistics on how meat impacts on your health that made me go vegan. Instead, she began her Ted Talk with a simple question
Have you ever wondered why you might eat chicken’s wings, but not swan’s wings? Beef burgers, but not mouse burgers?
Have you ever wondered why you might drink cow’s milk, but not pig’s milk? And have you ever wondered why you haven’t wondered?
I was 22, and I sat there in my bed, for the first time wondering.
I hadn’t ever thought of that. It made me confused. I consider myself a very introspective person. Why haven’t I wondered about this? How have I over-analyzed so many things in my life, but what I do three times a day (or more) has never been questioned?
I had eaten meat my whole life. It was just something I grew up doing, so I assumed it was the right thing, and I kept doing it simply because I always had.
But that’s not a good reason to do something, is it? Just because I always have!
So I reasoned myself into being vegan. I took a step back, and asked myself if I could give up meat. Does it make me insanely happy? No. Do I agree with factory farming and animal cruelty? I don’t. Okay, then. I’m not going to be a part of this. I won’t eat meat.
And that way of thinking changed everything about my life.
I realized, for the first time, I had never done a “Performance Review” of my life. I had never done a yearly check-in with myself, gone over where I stand on issues, and why I’m acting and living the way that I am.
So I started to question everything. Why do I agree with certain politics? Why do I have the stance I do on religion? Is this because I truly believe these things, or is it a way of thinking I have just because I’ve always had it.
Things started changing.
I stopped considering myself a religious person. Sure, I had gone to church as a kid, but that was something I did just because I had always done it. I checked in with myself, and re-evaluated where I stood. Do I truly believe the story of the bible? No. Have I wished for years that I believe in Jesus, but I never truly have? Yes.
I dated more women. Sure, I had always dated men growing up (and had confusingly bi-curious friendships with girls) but I always told myself that I would end up with a man. I re-evaluated that. It wasn’t myself who thought that. It was years of movies about princesses winding up with princes, and not knowing anyone gay that I could speak to, and family members remarking that male waiters had crushes on me…the more I thought about it the more I realized how much conditioning there is to be completely straight. Am I attracted to women? Yes. Have I experienced romantic love with women? Yes. There we have it.
All of these pillars of my life started crumbling. The words I used to define myself…they had been the same since birth. Why had nothing changed? Why had I never thought to check in on these pillars, or to break them down and rebuild them?
And then I realized that we are the only people who can do this to ourselves. Your partner can push you to make changes in your relationship. Your boss can push you to make changes at work. But you’re the only person who can question your pillars and build them in the fashion you want.
I think this is most clearly seen when it comes to politics. No one has ever changed their political views because someone yelled at them enough on social media (insert huge, obvious eye roll here). So it’s useless to try. That is someones pillar, and only that person can change it.
I realized this too when I first went vegan. I was insanely passionate about the vegan cause - and I 100% look back on the posts I made and the messages I shouted with a huge amount of embarrassment. What, and how someone eats is a pillar. Only that person can change it.
So I’m curious, when was the last time you did a performance review of your life? Have you ever written down all of your values, and confirmed that you still hold them up to the same degree? Or have you questioned things in your life at different stages, and changed how you felt?
Off to wonder,