When the health goals you set for yourself don’t go as planned

A Japanese perspective on determination and resolution

Kaki Okumura

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When my friends and I just graduated college, for a lot of us it was a very confusing and unsure time. We didn’t quite know what we wanted to do, how we wanted to do it, and we didn’t really know what to make of the opportunities presented to us.

Illustrations by Kaki Okumura

We did our best to apply to positions we found interesting, but most of us just ended up accepting the first offer that didn’t sound awful.

As a young person who didn’t quite understand what they wanted to do, you can imagine how these jobs turned out for us a year or so later — we ended up quitting. And every time someone in our friend group quit a job they hated, we all celebrated.

We celebrated because in our hearts we understood that our friend was not a lazy bum who had no grit, but that they were looking to find something that suited them better. And the next job they found would be much better. We’d see them grow a lot happier.

There is a Japanese proverb that roughly translates to, “To let go is nourishment for the soul”.​

諦めは心の養生

It doesn’t mean to give up at the slightest bit of challenge or resistance, but that instead of dwelling on what we didn’t follow through with, it is much healthier for us to let go and move on, without regret. There is no shame in giving up.

It’s part of life.

Why don’t we offer the same perspective to personal health?

Most people understand that quitting a job is an important part of career growth. Unless you were in a lucky minority that found the perfect position from the first time trying, it was necessary. But when it comes to personal health, we often don’t see it the same way.

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Kaki Okumura

Born in Dallas, raised in New York and Tokyo. I care about helping others learn to live a better, healthier life. My site: www.kakikata.space 🌱