Today I’m making a formal declaration (a manifesto, if you will) that productivity is for losers. If you’re interested in living a life that matters, productivity is possibly the biggest thing getting in the way of you achieving that dream.
Measuring the awesomeness of your life by the number of things you accomplish is like measuring the worth of a cat by counting its nipples (yes, I JUST said that). In the end, when your decrepit bones are packed into a coffin, it won’t matter how “successful” you were or how many G’s you had in your offshore bank account. It won’t matter if you’re band went Platinum or your blog post went viral. It won’t matter if you graduated with a 4.0 or won recognition as the most scholarly scholar who ever scholared.
This is what actually matters –>
What really matters in the scheme of our tiny little lives on this gigantic ball of dirt is the people we become. You see, everything we do either brings us a step closer toward the kind of people we were meant to be or a step in the wrong direction. (Important note: I can’t tell you the person you’re supposed to become. Not my job. If you want to talk personally about where that question led me, let’s talk.)
It also matters, a lot, that we help each other become the types of people that make a difference. I wrote about surrounding yourself with the right types of friends, and I think that’s super important. I want to thank Everett Bogue, Nina Yau, Matt Madiero, Raam Dev, Karol Gajda, Dusti Arab, and Tammy Strobel for challenging me through their words and actions. Find yourself a supportive cast of people that will do the same for you.
I was wrong, I’m sorry.
6 weeks ago, I wrote a post about how to be insanely productive. That was me doing my best to produce something I thought would make your life better.
What I realize now, from hours of writing and thinking about where we’re headed, is that it doesn’t matter how much we accomplish. What matters is the type of people we’re becoming and the type of people we help those around us become.
I needed you to know that.
Welcome to a Brand New Reality
Productivity is the idea that we should maximize the use of our time in order to accomplish as much as humanly possible. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a stupid idea. For a long time I thought that by doing more, I could make the world a better place.
The fallacy in that logic is that the future of human race depends on us finding joy in something besides the things we accomplish and the stuff we own. The secret is to find joy in being.
This is incredibly deep stuff I’m talking about. And I’m intentionally taking my writing to a different level because I think it’s time we (as a society) get serious about living a life that matters. Instead of sharing the “feel good” stuff about becoming a minimalist, I want to show you the real path to letting go of fake desires and needs to embrace something far more real.
How to Be a Joy Magnet
If the point of our lives isn’t to accomplish one goal after another, what is it? The simple answer: To manifest joy.
In my experience, joy is the lubricant of a healthy, incredible life. When you are joyful, what happens to the things around you? Joyful people are quicker to forgive, show affection, connect with others, and do things that make a difference. Even better, joy is contagious.
Joy is the essential ingredient to improving your life and the people around you.
Now, joy isn’t something you can buy at the store, and from my experience it can’t be forced – at least not for long. The key to tapping into the world’s infinite supply of joy is to start doing things that make you come alive. I know what I’m saying isn’t profound, you’ve heard it before. What I’m trying to do is connect four important truths that have the power to change the world as we know it. (Here comes the good stuff…)
1. We were designed to do the things we enjoy.
2. It doesn’t matter how fast we do these things, it simply matters that we do them.
3. The process of mindfully doing the things we enjoy adds joy to the world.
4. Joy is the lubricant of a happy, meaningful life.
I can’t possibly stress enough that it doesn’t matter how much you accomplish in the 80 or so years you walk this earth. Maybe you grew the world’s most successful website and sold it for a billion dollars.
Maybe you hustled your way to the top of a business empire, spending long hours doing all the hard, boring work nobody else wanted to do. Maybe you won piles of awards and medals, won national recognition, and brushed shoulders with giants.
I’m not saying these things are bad. They’re all really sweet accomplishments that would make anyone proud. But what did you have to give up along the way? Did you enjoy the journey or were you mostly stressed and anxious?
There’s a better way. It really rocks my world and I think, if you gave it a try, it would work for you too. Get ready…
Rockin’ the Un-Productivity Lifestyle
I’m about to blow your mind. I’m going to show you how to manifest joy by not giving a hoot about productivity. Yes, it’s that awesome and yes, you’re life will never be the same.
There are three major steps, and I’m going to walk you through them slowly.
First —> Quit setting goals for yourself. There are two reasons for this: 1.) They distract you from enjoying the journey and 2.) They make you feel inferior.
Enjoying the journey. When you go on vacation, do you see the long drive as a part of the adventure or an obstacle in your way? Most people see the latter. To me, not setting goals is like going on a road trip without a destination, you’re forced to savor the company you’re with and the sites along the way. That’s joy.
Feeling inferior. When you set a goal for yourself, it’s easy to fantasize about how much better your life will be when you achieve that goal. The life you are imagining is not your own; it’s an imaginary version of yourself that doesn’t actually exist.
Unfortunately, people compare themselves to that imaginary person and picture their current lives as inferior. What you need to be doing is focusing on the here and now; being content with yourself as a work-in-progress.
Second —> Stop thinking about being productive. The real battle takes place in your mind. Before you can even begin to adopt this liberating lifestyle, you’ve got to believe it with a passion.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
Your impact on this planet starts with your beliefs and the thoughts you allow to manifest in your brain. Most of the time when my fiancé comes back from student teaching she’ll asking me how my day was. Instinctively, I’ll respond, “Pretty good, I got a lot of stuff done today.”
That’s where it starts. Instead of defining my day in terms of experiences or things that I’m excited about, I defined it by how much I was able to get done. That’s an awful way to measure joy. And it means that the only way to make tomorrow a good day is by hunkering down and getting stuff done.
Third —> Be Unproductive. It’s sad that I even need to say that. But actually, a lot of people are waiting for permission. They want to be looked in the eye (or computer screen) by someone who cares and told that they are free to have fun.
What better example do we have than kids? Just watching those little guys run around, throwing rocks, tackling each other – it’s all so brilliantly unproductive. They do it because it manifests joy. They might not call it that, but that’s exactly what it does.
How to have fun!
Maybe you’ve been a boring drone for so long you’ve forgotten how to have fun. That’s alright, I’ll show you how.
Today, my roommate and I went outside with a green blow-up ball. We designed an awesome game that involved kicking the ball against the side of tall brick building (each section had different point values) and then trying to prevent the other person from catching it (using ANY means possible).
Since we both live on campus, people were walking by all the time. Some stopped and stared at us in disbelief, thinking “Why are two grown men kicking a ball against a building” and other couldn’t help but walk by with an enormous grin on their face.
I think they were jealous. Anyways, I had a blast and it made my day.
4 Ways to Make the Un-Productivity Lifestyle Work
Since I officially made the decision to reject productivity (about a month ago), I knew I needed an alternative formula to make sure I didn’t end up laying on the couch all day sucking on lollipops and pouring toxic colas down my gullet. I’m still refining my approach to how I get things done, but these 4 basic tenets help me stay focused and still do meaningful things with my life.
1. Focus on one thing at a time. One of the main reason people never get anything done is because they try to do everything at the same time. Their brain goes into overload and crashes their main server (oops!) I’ve always imagined a life where I can do the things one at a time. It lets me actually enjoy working because I’m not running around like a chicken with my head cut off. The side effect –> sometimes without trying, I get a lot of stuff done.
2. Start doing more of the things you love. I accidentally just performed the perfect case study for this point. Over the weekend I was working on a paper for school. It was about the minimum wage, and honestly, it’s a rather dull topic to write about. It took me almost 6 hours to come up with 2,200 words worth of content. Not surprisingly, it only took me two hours to write this post of about the same length.
The difference? I get really excited to write and publish a new post. Without even trying, my fingers can barely keep up with my brain as my thoughts come pouring in. In a word: awesome.
3. Clear the clutter from your life – both physical and mental. The best part about being a minimalist is that it doesn’t take me long to get organized. Because I own ¼ the amount of stuff that most people do, I don’t waste a ton of time shuffling through stacks of papers, folding mountains of clothes, or being distracted by a million odd and ends.
Another reason people spend the majority of their lives “thinking” about doing things rather than taking action is that their minds are full of a steady stream of garbage. How many times a day do you need to check Twitter? Email? Blog stats? The point is, learning to focus your attention and keep your mind clear is a skill that will pay for itself a million times over. <– This works!
4. Enjoy the process. It’s important to note that I have nothing against being productive. Sometimes it happens, and it can be a pleasant surprise. The point is, I’m not living with the productivity mindset where I feel like I always have to be getting things done. I relax. I enjoy the things I do as an end in themselves. If I’m enjoying something, why rush it?
This is a Freakin’ Manifesto
Words can change the world.
It starts with one person – you.
And when it ignites a spark – you share those words with others.
Social media revolutionized the way ideas spread.
Help this manifesto reach more eyes by sharing it on Facebook.
Be a part of something huge.
I dare you.
The editor of Ethical Living, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.