The Cult of Productivity & the Art of Purposeless Living

The Egg Productivity System

photo by rent-a-moose

Isn’t the essential reason behind greater productivity, greater happiness? Aren’t we supposed to get more done so we can have more time for the things we enjoy?

Our pursuit of increased productivity, should result in increased happiness right? But do we really feel free?

Our aim to be more productive and increase efficiency can often lead to obsession. We confuse achievement for happiness. Our happiness should be the inspiration for achievement, not the other way around. When our happiness is found in achievement, we get sucked into constantly putting our happiness in the future.

We’ll allow ourselves happiness when..

… We pay off our debt.
… We don’t have anymore problems.
… We lose 20 pounds.
… We have x amount of money in the bank.
… Our lives are perfect.

There’s nothing wrong with being more productive, the problem occurs when our happiness is determined by it.

The Truth is.. We’re Often the Happiest When What We’re Doing Has Absolutely no Purpose.

We create productivity systems to make us more efficient and get more done. When we originally start on this path, our reason is to have more free time and decrease the stress of unfinished tasks hanging over our heads. If it’s done, we don’t have to think about it anymore, right?

But somewhere along the lines we lose sight and our desire to accomplish becomes an obsession. We’ve become a member of the cult of productivity. Productivity is no longer a means to an end, it’s the end entirely. In fact, we never get there, do we?

That’s Because.. There’s Always Something to Obsess Over.

The essential tenet of the cult of productivity is we’ve turned a means into an end. We no longer see the forest for the trees. Instead of doing things to enjoy them, we do things solely for the future benefit. We never get there though because we’re constantly living in the future. I’ve been there and it sucks.

A few symptoms of this disease are…

… Meditation for the sake of gaining a clearer, calmer mind, and increased ability to focus.
… Exercising for the benefit of better health, stamina and increased energy.
… Organization for the sake of a clearer mind and fewer distractions.
… Socializing to make more contacts and increase your circle of influence.
… Personal development for the sake of it.

There’s nothing really wrong with any of these things up front (except perhaps that last one.) The problem is when do these things because we know we should. Instead of a joy and a means to improve our life, they’ve become grim duties.

I’ve found myself caught up in this rat race. Becoming obsessed with making more money, being a better employee, a better husband, a better person, a better organizer, a more likable person. All of these things seem like noble pursuits, but when you lose sight of your intentions, you become a slave to your goals.

We’re no longer doing them, they’re doing us. Our obsession with our goals has moved us from inspiration, to enslavement. I know I’m not the only one that’s experienced this. It’s hard to remember the authentic reason for your goals and not let your ego’s identity get caught up in them.

We’re so obsessed with the outcome that we don’t even appreciate the results when they arrive. We’re already caught up in “what’s next.”

Productivity is Not the Root of Happiness.

Judging your happiness based on productivity doesn’t make much sense when happiness is the root of productivity. Productivity will never be the root of happiness.

If your goals are starting to own you, maybe it’s time you took a step back and re-evaluated your life. Are your goals serving you, or have they become insufferable, bovine taskmasters?

We need to have the courage to re-evaluate, drop and re-prioritize our goals at any time. Our lives aren’t static. A goal that may have served you well a year ago, could be completely out of alignment with your life now. Sometimes quitting things or breaking up is the best answer.

When it comes down to it, the most important thing is how we feel. If our goals are making us feel like sh*t, then they’re probably not doing much good for us.

If you count every minute that goes by till 5 o’clock, maybe you need to say “I quit.” If your friends are bringing you down, perhaps it’s time to let them go. All of this takes guts and can be absolutely terrifying. But how much time do you have to live a life that is less than what you dream of? Most people aren’t afraid of dying as much as they’re afraid of truly living. Letting go of fear is scary in and of itself. That’s because you’ll no longer have your ego to hide behind. You’ll no longer have your socially conditioned idea of “what I should do” to crouch yourself down under.

Most people in our time have a internal conflict between what they love (what they want to do) and what they feel is practical (what they should do). The solution to this problem isn’t easy, but the answer is clear. You don’t have to settle for either or.

What it Really Takes: The Marriage of Your Heart and Mind

Just like any relationship, the marriage of your heart and mind requires hard work. Their might be a honeymoon stage at first. You’ll blissfully forget the world and follow the most impractical notions. Enjoy it. But reality will set in sooner or later and you’ll have to do some real soul searching. You’ll have to re-create a relationship that satisfies both your heart and your mind’s needs. Anything less just isn’t worth living for.

If you feel like you’re getting caught up in ego-driven goals and you’re drowning in your own expectations, it’s time to stop and think about where your life is going. If your “sacrifices” are making you miserable, maybe they weren’t worth it in the first place. Just ask yourself.. Does this make me feel alive?

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