Whatever you do today, let it be enough

Share This Article
  • 123
  • 40

I wrote this post especially for ProHealth Inspirational Corner and it first appeared there on the 11th March 2019.

Your worth is not measured by your productivity”

We live in a society that teaches us that unless we are pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone, constantly striving to do more, we are not embracing life or living to our full potential.

But how does this expectation affect people whose lives are already filled with the daily challenges that accompany ill-health?

I have spent the majority of life feeling like I need to prove myself worthy. That somehow, if I’m not striving for 100% everyday, then I’m not a successful and productive member of society. I have pushed myself way beyond my limits on many occasions, and it’s part of the reason why my health has deteriorated so badly over the years.

I decided to take a few minutes to contemplate the reasoning behind my need to push myself. Why do I feel unworthy if I’m not constantly striving to better myself? Where does this compulsion to challenge my limitations, at the cost of my health, come from?

A recent conversation with a friend came to mind;

A good friend of mine was telling me about two job offers she had. She felt the need to justify the decision she had made. One job was very similar to the work she had been doing for years, and she’s damn good at her job. The other was more challenging and would take her outside her comfort zone. Neither job was better or worse than the other. This is what she said about her decision; “I know I took the easy road, but…” She said it in a negative way, like she had to justify not pushing herself beyond what she felt comfortable with. But why should she, or any of us for that matter, feel guilty about making a decision that makes our lives a little easier? Why should we feel the need to constantly challenge ourselves to prove our self worth? Who dictated that life had to be so tough?

The truth is, society expects us to constantly challenge ourselves. We are bombarded by this message on a daily basis. We are encouraged to constantly push ourselves beyond our comfort zone – and we are made to feel like we are wasting our life, or just plain lazy, if we don’t conform.

These messages are hard enough to deal with for the healthy, but when you live with chronic illness or mental ill-health they can be even more damaging.

When I was diagnosed with ME/CFS, after being unwell for many years, I still felt unable to rest and give my body the time it needed to heal. I felt like I had to push myself to prove I was worthy – to strive to achieve the most from every day. Looking back, I can see how this pushing and striving caused my health to continue to deteriorate even after diagnosis.

The unhealthy messages

Exactly what messages are we being encouraged to conform to? Here are a few motivational quotes I found online – there are hundreds more I could have included.

❌ Do one thing everyday that scares you

❌ If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you

❌ Great things never came from comfort zones

❌ The harder you work for something, the greater you feel when you achieve it

❌ Scared?, good. We don’t grow when we stay inside our comfort zone

❌ You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days you feel good

❌ Become the hardest working person you know

❌ Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

❌ Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage

❌ Push yourself, because no one else is going to do it for you

❌ Don’t take the easy road

These messages can be damaging to someone living with a chronic illness

People with chronic illness often live within a carefully orchestrated routine, a routine we have created for ourselves that allow us to function without aggravating our symptoms too much – it allows us to live within our limitations. This routine may be considered our “comfort zone”.

But it’s quite common amongst spoonies that every once in a while we challenge our limitations, it’s like we forget how bad things get when we do too much. Or we feel guilty about not doing more, and the pressure gets too much – pushed along by society’s expectations and the messages we’re being force fed.

Constantly being bombarded by these messages can be damaging to us, both mentally and physically. We can feel like a failure when we can’t meet up to society’s expectations but pushing leads to a worsening of our symptoms.

What’s so wrong with the “easy road” or living in our “comfort zone”? Why should we have to constantly push ourselves? Why do we have to take the hard route in life, haven’t we got enough to deal with? And who decided life had to be so tough? Who says we constantly have to push to prove ourselves as worthy?

Rather than constantly pushing ourselves, can we not just accept how things are, right now – how we are, right now?

I would like to propose some more constructive motivational quotes;

Instead of these often damaging messages, I propose a new constructive approach, that embraces chronic life with all its challenges. Here are a few of my favourite quotes;

✔ Relax. You are enough. You do enough

✔ Life is too short to spend it at war with yourself

✔ Resting when tired isn’t lazy, it’s self- care

✔ Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is rest

✔ Just take it one day at a time

✔ If your compassion does not include yourself then it is incomplete

✔ Your worth is not measured by your productivity

✔ Forward is still forward, no matter how slow

✔ Breathe extra deep, let go, and just live right now in the moment.

✔ In a society that profits from your self doubt, loving yourself is a rebellious act.

✔ Don’t feel guilty for doing what’s best for you.

✔ Just breathe. You don’t have to figure it all out today

It’s perfectly ok to live within your comfort zone

The biggest lesson I’ve learned over the past few years, is to respect my body rather than fight it. To accept my limitations rather than push my body beyond its limits. To acknowledge that my self worth is not determined by my productivity. That it’s perfectly ok, and beneficial for my health, to live within my comfort zone. It was only when I accepted this new message, that my health started to improve.

Of course it’s beneficial to set goals. Setting and achieving these goals can give us purpose and the sense of accomplishment- but not at the detriment of our health.

So please try not be pressured by these often damaging messages. You don’t have to be constantly pushing yourself to prove your self worth. You have enough to contend with. You don’t have to be challenging yourself everyday- finding enjoyment and happiness is much more important. Whatever message society is sending us, I’m here to say: “Life doesn’t have to be this tough.” Go easy on yourself. Whatever you do today, let it be enough.

For more personal stories, reviews, news, inspirational quotes and in-depth discussion, please head over to my Facebook page.

Join the Conversation

  1. Avatar
  2. Jo Moss
  3. Avatar
  4. Avatar
  5. Avatar
  6. Avatar


  1. So very well said. I love your quotes, and I utterly hate the others. “Great things never came from comfort zones” – we know how seeing that could affect someone with (or without) a chronic illness. Staying within our comfort zones are just fine. We’re all worthy, no matter what. Love this post.

    1. Thank you Elizabeth. Unfortunately for the majority of my life I thought I had to live by the first set of quotes, and that was very damaging for my health. Its quite liberating to be able to change perspective. Take care

  2. Thank you for this Jo. My health has seriously declined in the past 2-3 years, and I am sometimes bewildered at the pace of life most people have. I have no problem living in my comfort zone, but do struggle with the guilt that doing so, makes me less worthy a person, than someone who can do yoga, or hiking, or just even walking into a store. I feel badly for children now, whose parents have them on a non-stop agenda of athletics, music, and community activities. It’s like they’re preparing their resumes for them! When they graduate from the top notch University they will attend, they will have a well rounded ability to speak foreign languages, compete with the best, and have top grades. I am lucky if I can get dressed and sit up all day! Why isn’t a career in the trades OK? Because it’s not impressive enough. Young people want to make an impact on the world, but is that really feasible? OK, I’m on a rant. Sorry! LOL Anyway, I think it is nice to hear out loud, that it is OK to be just a regular person, and not feel you have to constantly challenge yourself to do more. That works out great for some people, and it’s wonderful when it does, but there’s something to be said for taking it easy too. As you said, life doesn’t have to be so hard. It’s OK to live inside your comfort zone, for as long as you would like. Love your articles. XO

  3. Thank you Jo for this post – just sad that I didn’t find it earlier. I had ME/CFS since 2010 and have come a long way since original diagnosis but now feel that I’ve reached a plateau or even declined a little so have been trying to improve or push myself a little and this has just led to feeling frustrated and a failure. Your lovely and kind words have helped to put the balance and perspective back that I need. Thank you so much xxx

  4. Really good post and yet, that neoliberal motivational poster crap is a massive part of the culture problem in the US, UK and elsewhere (good for shareholders, tennis coaches, etc.). But ultimately I and I’m sure many others have to push past limits because otherwise there’s no roof and no food. What can one do when there’s no financial support? Rhetorical question, but it’s not always a choice.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.