It’s become a major ambition in the personal dev world to relentlessly optimize every aspect of your life. It’s not enough to optimize your business, your finances, your exercise regime, but you should also optimize your meals, your recreation, and your sleep.
Man is not a Honda Engine
I know it goes against the entire culture of success, but a person is not really at their best when they’re operating at peak capacity. It’s just unsustainable.
But we tend to think for maximum effectiveness, we need to fully exploit every moment of our day. That’s complete bullshit. (I should do a list post on all the things that are bullshit. What do you think?)
You’re Not Even THAT Efficient
Since we like to compare ourselves to machines, let’s take one we’re all familiar with: a car motor. On your dashboard it shows you the RPM gauge. On the one side, usually about five thousand RPM and up, you’ve got a red band. You know, of course, that if you run the motor up there, it’s not going to last very long.
But based on the logic by which we run our bodies, you’d think the motor would run about 4,000 rpm. You know, not redlining it, but pushing it about as far as you can without causing permanent damage.
But that’s not how an engine works. In fact, if you pay attention, it rarely hits four thousand, and when it does, it’s only for a short burst before it chooses a better gear and it’s back down at the sensible, efficient 2,500 rpm. Even at 70mph.
Over-optimizing Leads to Burn-Out
I’ve lived the optimized life. I was a paragon of efficiency; no wasted motion, no excess energy spent. I ate, slept, and breathed efficiency. It’s no way to live. And even worse, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. You work so damn hard that you need a break, so you work even harder to get ahead – but when you work even harder, you start redlining– and you know what happens next.
It’s a hell of a struggle to build white space into your life and I can’t give you any specific guidance how.
All I can tell you is, you’re not a Honda motor.
And even Honda motors don’t work as hard as you do.
How do you over-optimize? How did you (or do you plan to) stop?