May 11, 2009
Goal Addiction and The Cult Of Productivity
Society wants you to be a goal addict, because it’s good for the economy.
It’s a cycle. Spend money on those motivational tapes and seminars now. Spend money on antacid later when you’re not getting the results you want. Blame yourself for sucking. Spend even more money on booze, drugs, and mindless entertainment to take your mind off of your failure to achieve everything now (or, for the more sophisticated, buy the technological gadgets which will finally help you get more organized). Lather, rinse, repeat.
It’s a cycle. It’s a game. And the house always wins, and though you may be a high roller today, you will always lose in the long run.
Goal addiction is great for the economy – but not so great for you. And you’re in deeper than you think.
“I Can Stop Anytime I Want To” And Other Bullshit You Say To Yourself
How do you know if you’re a goal addict? It’s just like other addictions – there’s a pattern of destructive behavior and stuff you rationalize to yourself. Here are a few warning signs:
- Your default answer is “yes” when presented with a new commitment to sign up for – because you just know you can do it.
- You’re falling behind in the things that matter (your physical health, your emotional health, and your family, for example), but you’re still cranking on things that have temporary value at best.
- A significant amount of your daily stress comes from being behind on things
- You think technology is going to solve your time management problems.
- You are working your ass off, but not moving much farther ahead on your many goals.
- You don’t actually have clear “finish lines” for your goals, so any success never feels like enough
- You think of “juggling” your goals rather than focusing on them.
These are just a few of the signs of goal addiction, and if you’re seeing them in yourself, you need to seriously take notice.
Because if you don’t, a bunch of bad things will happen.
- By trying to do more and more, you’ll also accomplish less and less.
- By trying to please everyone, you’ll please no one.
- Your stress level will continue to spiral upward.
- Your life satisfaction will start to spiral downward.
- Ten years will pass, and you’ll be really disappointed with where you are.
Goal addiction is a life killer – and it’s a sneaky one at that, because the goal addicted lifestyle sounds so attractive when it’s glamorized by …
The Cult Of Productivity
I’m not going to describe the ins and outs of the productivity-industrial complex today, but chances are you have been wooed by them for a while now. They’re the ones pushing the latest productivity gadgets or web apps or life hacks under the guise of “things that make your life easier.”
But all of these edgy solutions almost never, never designed to make your life easier. They are designed to sell products. They are designed to push trendy web services. They are designed to make catchy, “blog candy” top ten posts. They are designed to get you focused on something other than doing work on your goals, because “something other” is sexy and “work” is not.
Because “doing a million things” is impressive. “Doing less” smacks of weakness.
Because “optimizing” sounds intellectual. “Simplifying” sounds like you’re copping out.
If you’re not “too busy” these days, you must be doing something wrong - and while that’s bullshit, that’s still the way our culture sees things.
And the worst part of it is, you can be working for the productivity-industrial complex and not even know it - even your best intentioned work may be destined to help people run faster on their treadmill rather than helping them get off the damned treadmill that’s exhausting them in the first place.
God knows I’ve contributed my fair share. But I’m slightly older and slightly wiser now.
And I’m ringing this bell to get you to ask yourself the question too – Are you so addicted to achieving as much as you can that you sacrifice hitting home runs in the areas that really matter?
Chew on that.
It’s ok to say “Oh shit, why am I doing this with my life?” No one will think you’re weak.
Ok, that’s a lie. Many people will think you’re weak, that you can’t hack it in this fast moving society.
But just ignore them. They’ll go back to their tools, their stress and their antacids, and wonder why you look a little happier than you did before.
That’s all for today. Chew on what I’ve said so far. Ask yourself if you’re living the goal addicted lifestyle, and if that’s really where you want to be.
It wasn’t easy for me to admit goal addiction to myself, or my role in the productivity-industrial complex, but I had to face up to it.
Still working through it. Making some progress, one day at a time.
Maybe we’ll throw together an AA meeting for the goal addicted. Holla back in the comments if you want in. :-p
Till next time,