I loved this post on Reddit, discussing an issue I’m familiar with.
For the context, it’s posted in the “fatFIRE” community. It’s a group of people aiming to get their financial freedom and retire early.
I’m a therapist and my patients are mainly “fatfire” people. Them being patients, I obviously have the ultimate selection bias. Yet: What I find is that those who lean too much into this logic of optimization are the ones that suffer from a (literal) maddening degree of alienation.
It’s an easy trap to fall into as it is so very sensible: Why would you spend six hours cleaning (doing a chore you hate and doing it badly) if you could just work an additional hour and outsource that? So you hire a cleaner. And a cook, a personal shopper, an interior designer and a nanny. But if you don’t watch out, all your little self worth eggs, so to speak, are kept in the same work basket - and, step by step, you start to live the life of a stranger. You eat the food of someone else, wear the clothes of not-you, in an apartment that might as well be a hotel room, with kids that are more attached to their nanny than to you. Your vacations are glamorous, but there’s little connection to anyone or anything in them. At this point you might start to feel a little unease. You might start to wonder why you’re unfulfilled and try to treat yourself better - so you double down. You get a PA because dealing with a schedule is annoying, you get a personal trainer because mens sana in corpore sano and while you’re at it, you also start therapy, where you learn techniques that help somewhat and where you analyze childhood events. But what somehow is kept at bay, in a fish-not-having-a-word-for-water-way, is that you identify with your job of optimizing processes to maximum efficency to a degree that you treat yourself like any work project. What I am getting at here is: Watch out. It may be easier and more worth it to develop an interest in cooking or join a sports club or a gym that you like. But also: Screw cleaning.
Many entrepreneurs I’ve met since I live in Asia are fascinating people. They can talk to me for hours about how they improve their business, how they build habits to be more productive, and how they delegate part of their tasks. I’ve learnt a lot from them.
But like some of them, I also fell into the trap of making an obsession of goals achievement. I’ve tended to put aside small pleasures because they wouldn’t fit into my productivity mindset. This post gives a very sensible description of the issue. I found it essential to keep a healthier balance by dedicating more time to people and hobbies, out of the productivity equation.