Unlearning is $10K Work


Whether it’s making life insurance payments, negotiating with an electrician or drafting your will – it’s tedious AF.

Adulting is the toll booth of life. With no EZ Pass.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines adulting as:

[Behaving] like an adult, specifically to do the things—often mundane—that an adult is expected to do.

Some examples of adulting (courtesey of the subreddit r/adulting) include:

  • Realizing that your kitchen will never be clean. No matter if you get take out, no matter if you’re gone all day, you will be cleaning. The. Kitchen.
  • How much time you debate yourself on keeping an iPhone box because it’s, like, a really good box
  • Learning that the Christmas Magic you felt as a kid was really a mom who loved you so damn much
  • The unanswerable question: “Where TF is all this dust coming from?”
  • Having friends who are counselors and teachers who still do drugs on the weekend

Adulting also has some more pernicious “downstream effects.” It could be losing hope that a job can actually make you smile. Forgetting how to take a break. Pursuing hobbies without turning them into competitions of self-worth (or for-profit side projects). Losing yourself in wonder, dreams and delight.

So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that when I asked my Tweeps “What are you trying to unlearn?” – adulting was one of the responses.

We often think of $10k work as being additive. Adding a new skill. Crafting a new strategy. Developing a new mindset. But a more productive and joyful life can be attained by removing things. Or in this case, unlearning.

Unlearning is $10k Work. What are you going to unlearn today?

What I want to unlearn

As your fearless leader, I went first with my list of unlearnings:

  • For something to be worthwhile, it has to be hard
  • The natural path of marriage is growing closer
  • Feeling of “on top of things” is possible
  • It’s too late to salvage strained relationships

The need to struggle was one that resonated throughout the collective responses. If you’re feeling this, I invite you to consider what’s behind the struggle?

The marriage one also elicited a slew of private DMs. After all, it’s tempting to buy the RomCom trope that once you become IG official or put a ring on it or have that first kid, the stars of love will align perfectly and permanently. (Chuckling parents in the background, I 👀 you and my post on Relationship Resentment is Top 3 in the RadReads cannon.)

I organized the reader responses into four categories:

  • Funny
  • Work, Productivity and Decision-making
  • How you view yourself
  • How you relate to others

(Note: I bolded the responses which appeared more than once.)

Some funny ones

As someone who recently gave up caffeine, the sugar one hit home. It’s remarkable how quickly your body adapts when you remove something you thought was vital to your survival.

  • Sugary things taste good
  • Looking up symptoms online
  • SEO, so I can write online without always thinking about keywords

Work, Productivity and Decision-making

40 hour work weeks. See ya – it was nice knowing you. In a world of hybrid work, powerful collaboration tools and intentional organization design there’s no reason we should be prisoners to a relic of the Industrial Revolution. (Here at RadReads we have a 30 hour work week.)

  • 40 hour work week
  • Everything has to be “life changing” and “impactful” to have value
  • That time in front of a computer screen is where progress happens
  • Sweating the small stuff
  • Multi-tasking
  • Complexity opens more doors than simplicity
  • Depending on myself is better than trusting others
  • The habit of rationalizing every single decision
  • Neurotypical productivity advice (like “eating the frog”)

How you view yourself

This category saw a re-imagining of success, ambition, hyperactivity and boundaries.

  • Putting yourself first sometimes shouldn’t be seen as selfish, it can be necessary
  • That I need a perfect score to be successful
  • Rest doesn’t equal being lazy
  • Your passion/purpose is to do one thing in life
  • You have to do a lot of things to be successful
  • One’s career accomplishments don’t define who you are as a person. (Nor does your career.)
  • Being ruthlessly self-critical is a “competitive advantage”
  • Just because I’m good at being good at things doesn’t mean I should do everything on my own
  • Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I have to
  • The urge to see myself in other’s faults

How you relate to others

On their deathbeds, one people’s of most common regrets is:

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

This category was rife with letting go of others’ expectations.

  • Asking for help isn’t going to irritate others
  • I should compete at status games
  • How to stop defaulting to an apology (when I wasn’t in the wrong to begin with)
  • Setting your boundaries & being less present for your entourage is selfish, when sometimes it’s necessary for self-preservation/your own happiness
  • That when people ask a question they always want an answer
  • The poisonous skill of fitting in
  • Rationalizing, apologizing for or otherwise feeling the need to explain my personal decisions to other people
  • Unconscious Bias About Race, Gender, and Sexuality
  • One doesn’t always have to be right
  • The feeling of being responsible for others’ lives

Now it’s your turn. Repeat after me: Sugary things do not taste good.

What are you going to unlearn?

Come learn how trailblazing entrepreneurs, executives and creators like James Clear commit to unlearning, asking good questions and hitting goals at the free $10k Summit beginning on 10/5.

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