Particularly this time of year you can’t click twice anywhere on the internet without seeing articles like “The Top 5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Workout” or ” 10 Ways to Get Organized” all over the place. And despite the fact that I know those articles are going to be filled with variations of such sage advice as “get your butt off the couch” and “pick your stuff up and put it away” I still click on them thinking one might contain the magic wand that folds all of my socks for me an puts them neatly away for me.
No such luck.
I know this says something about us culturally — about our issues with sock folding (could be that’s just me) and our need for “quick hit” information that basically tells us things we already know and are going to ignore anyway (unless it gives us permission to eat three pounds of bacon a day and still miraculously lose weight). And to be honest I can’t blame the people who write them– god knows I couldn’t live without google, but in these times of SEO and Pay-Per-Impression advertising, people will do almost anything to get you to click.
#1 – I already know this, and now I can’t get those two minutes back.
I mean, there’s irony to the fact that I spent time reading Five Ways To Find More Time In Your Life instead of using those precious minutes to do some of the things I’d like to find more time for, right?
#2 – It gives me the unrealistic impression that it should be just that easy.
Frankly, even though I consider myself an intelligent (if not always wholly-rational) individual, there’s a brief shining moment when I click on the 8 Ways To Get Beach-Ready Abs and I picture myself in two weeks with Jillian Michaels body. I don’t picture myself doing 346 sit-ups every day, mind you, or changing my entire diet, or figuring out how to fit two hours of cardio into a schedule that already allows me minimal sleeping time.
What a lot of these “Top 5 Tips” articles are really talking about is change, and unless we’re talking about buzzing your hair off (been there, done that) change is neither quick nor easy.
Side note: Great book for better understanding change and how we do it… Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard.
#3- Probably they googled this, just like I did.
The truth is that most posts or articles with quick tips aren’t written by professionals. They’re probably written by people like me who freelance for publishers after their day jobs and need just as much motivation as the rest of us to get off the couch. Even if it is a fitness, cooking, organizational, or, okay, DIY expert writing, the top five tips that they give to everyone certainly aren’t tailored to me.
Because let’s face it, I’m special. (Yep. I’m just totally going to leave that one open so you can make wisecracks at my expense. Proceed. )
I might be more swayed by an article that was “The Top 5 Ways I Kept My House Clean For a Month That May or May Not Work For You.” At least I know the person writing the article actually tried these tips and found a way to make them work, and maybe I can learn something from their story.
Now I might be the exception and not the rule here, but this is what I want… I want to know how my friend who used to hate running as much as I do just completed her first marathon. I want to know how that blogger who I know has a full time job just like I do manages to update her site every day. I want to know how people who aren’t going around banging their heads against the wall because of all the email they have to manage keep themselves sane. In short, I want their stories.
I don’t want it diluted or watered down into five quick tips. I want the details, the nitty-gritty, the reasons for why something was done this way instead of the other way, and what worked and what didn’t. I want to know that it wasn’t easy. That maybe it took a couple of tries to get it right, but that in the end real people have made real changes in their lives.
It might be too much to ask for, but I’m putting it out there. I know I can’t change the collective attitude about the “quick fix” but one thing I can do for damn sure is keep telling stories. If you’ve got one to share (or one you’d like to hear) let me know.
Around here, it’s always story time.