Case against optimizing your life | Page 2 | Daily News

Case against optimizing your life

Many people I know are on a quest to optimize their lives — some of my favorite people in the world will spend days trying to perfect a productivity system, get things automated, or find the perfect software for anything they’re doing. They are on a continual search for the perfect diet, the perfect work routine, the perfect travel setup.

Optimizing can take quite a bit of time and energy. What would happen if we let go of optimizing? Who would we be without the idea that we should optimize everything?

One idea is that if we decided not to optimize everything, we’d stop caring, stop trying to make things better, and live suboptimal lives. But I know myself pretty well — I will always care, even if I am not trying to optimize. I will always do my best, which is different than optimizing — it’s taking care and giving love, even if things aren’t optimized. I believe most of you are this way, pouring your hearts into something with pure love, without needing to make everything perfect.

So why shouldn’t we optimize? And what would it be like if we didn’t?

I don’t think people who optimize are idiots (many of the smartest people do it), nor is it a life-ruining thing to try to optimize. I’ve done it many times.

But consider: The savings never get realized. When you try to optimize, you are spending some of your precious life moments trying to find the perfect setup. Sure, once you’re done, things will theoretically be set up perfectly from then on, so over the long run you should save a lot of time and effort, right? Well, first, let’s acknowledge that there’s a big cost to optimizing up front. And the savings would only be realized after running the optimal system or method for a good while. Unfortunately most people who optimize don’t just set it up and forget it — they continue to try to optimize over and over. It’s a never-ending quest, so the cost keeps adding up but the savings never catches up.

Optimizing is a trap of dissatisfaction. Optimizing is the quest for something as close to perfect as you can get it. But that’s an unrealistic ideal. It doesn’t really exist.

- Zen Habits 

You voted 'Disagree'.

 

Add new comment

Or log in with...