Why do you want to be more “productive?” Why are there so many productivity books, products, courses, and gurus?
If you examine this question, productivity isn’t quite what it seems. Lots of people (moi included) have fallen into the trap of seeking productivity for the sheer sake of “being more productive because that’s what we’re supposed to do.”
If you think about it, this is programming we carry around that is a) bogus and b) fun-killing. If you think about the source of this programming, we can go back to the factories of the Industrial era, with bosses lording over “production” to assure that it didn’t lag.
Notice the similarity between the word “production” and “productivity?” Yeah.
You are a tool
The implication is that you are a tool for cranking out stuff (otherwise known as a “robot”). The more stuff a robot cranks out, the better the robot! The more we reward the robot. Yay! Good Robot!
Um, no thanks. Not the way I want to live my life. And hopefully not the way you want to live yours. Being someone’s pet robot is not in my life plan.
I can anticipate the objection now (hey, I’ve done enough grant writing that I am pretty good at figuring out what those objections might be, in advance).
Your objection may be something like this:
- If I produce more, I will earn more money and/or other rewards (like promotions or Nobel prizes).
- If I earn more money and/or other rewards, I will be happier
- Therefore, producing more means more happiness!
Yes, I talk to a LOT of people who have this kind of implicit (and almost always unexamined) belief system.
It’s not helping you…
Let me count the ways in which this belief system does not serve you.
1) Producing more does not lead to more money or other rewards. It is NEVER about the quantity, unless you’re on an assembly line or a farm. If you are doing anything even mildly creative in your work, it is about the QUALITY and NEWNESS of what you do, way more than quantity!
(Imagine if your humble author went on a robot-like “productivity” binge and wrote 3 blog posts per day of blah blah blah blah blah… where would that get her? Um… nowhere! Or, perhaps having a Comp Sci degree, she could use an artificial intelligence program to auto-generate lots of blog posts? um…. blech)
2) More money and/or other rewards do not equal more happiness. Quite often, the opposite occurs. People often have this ego that thinks these things will make it feel satisfied, but the ego is NEVER satisfied.
For example, I had a client who recently had few HUGE wins in her life. A few days after the ego-led euphoria of those wins wore off, it was “back to normal” – but worse.
It was “worse” because the big wins put additional pressure on her to “live up to” the wins and to “not screw it up.” So here she was, less than a week after some things that would create envy among many other people – feeling more doubt and concern than ever. (Fortunately, we worked through that and she’s back on track!)
Those wins, like money and stuff, never produce lasting joy or satisfaction. So why is it that we often spend much of our lives striving for them?
Ego programming. The ego is not by itself “bad” (and you’re not going to get rid of it in this life anyway). However, through various experiences with various people in our lives, we pick up ego programming that tells us that seeking fame or fortune or stability or security is for our highest good. And we carry that programming through life, unexamined, it shaping most of our actions and experiences without us even knowing it.
And so we end up pursuing goals that are shallow, ego-led goals, never finding the long-lasting joy or satisfaction that is our birthright as a human.
For many of my readers, you may be more in the category of “seeking security” or “seeking stability” rather than “fame and fortune.” You may even have some judgement relative to those people who seek fame and fortune, thinking of them as ego-driven, while thinking of yourself as not so ego-driven.
I encourage you to think about that for a moment. What generates the need for security or stability for many people? Fear – i.e. not wanting insecurity, fear of the unknown, fear of the future, fear of what will happen, fear of things not going well, etc.
Where does fear come from? Ego programming! Fear is only and always about ego. It is just a different form of ego programming. Yet it can take over your life in an insidious manner that’s far less than the obvious ego programming that leads to seeking fame and fortune.
We live in an ego led world, and I am an ego girl…
Okay, the line from the song by Madonna didn’t fit this expression so well, but I will proceed nonetheless….
We live in a very ego-led world. It is rare to encounter someone who has seriously undertaken a path of attempting to live at a deeper level, one that strives to constantly go deeper than the ego-programming and to live from the CORE. That means living in the NOW, enjoying each moment, being in the flow, and creating!
So, we tore apart the notion that “producing more will produce more happiness.” It’s bogus.
I don’t think that anyone truly wants to “be productive.” (Have you EVER met a small child who says “I want to be PRODUCTIVE today?” I didn’t think so.)
No, I think that people want to have harmony, adventure, joy, fun, excitement, intrigue, love, connection and similar feelings/experiences. And we need to get rid of the notion that more productivity somehow leads directly to more of those things.
It often leads to exactly the opposite – especially in our over-jacked, hyped up, always-on society. We often get sucked into “being productive” for the sake of “being productive” and then these other things become ever more elusive. That’s bogus.
So, in part II of the article, we’re going to do a logical trick that is going to blow your mind (or at least tweak it a tiny bit) – to redefine the relationship of productivity to your fun and to your life.