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Is Self-Optimization the new Self-Destruction?

A Soulstory

Millennials rush through their lives as if they were a Bugs Bunny GIF, desperately seeking for inside and outside self-optimization. They organize, they structure, they prioritise more than ever. Their lives are a succession of time slots. Little by little they eliminate the lightness of being, suffering from exhaustion and lacking uniqueness.

Never not Learning

Lucy scrolls through her Amazon search results to buy a book for her long planned weekend getaway. She wants to go to the beach. As Lucy considers herself as mindful, she will not make the mistake of spending time on work mails. Instead, she orders two books: “The 5 AM Club” by Robin Sharma and “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. As the Algorithm also proposes a new Thriller (as a girl she used to stay up all night for any kind of crime novel), she laughs: “pointless”.

Design your Day right

Lucy’s day begins at 6AM, she spends the first 30 minutes without a phone, meditates for 15 minutes, does stretching exercises for at least five minutes and drinks not more than one coffee with a zip of oat milk. She isn’t lactose-intolerant but let’s face it: dairy is social suicide. Lucy knows that morning routines are key. Once having finished, she switches on her phone, scrolls through some news Apps, checks her schedule for the day and answers the first work emails. Being efficient in the morning means having more time for some coffee chats in-between.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays Lucy goes to Yoga class by bike, listening to the first half of a Podcast (God bless Airpods), showers in the studio and takes the bike to the office, listening to the second half of the Podcast. She chooses between a business-oriented morning briefing, an entrepreneurial interview or something about self-optimization. Lucy optimizes her daily routine by organizing her to do’s, hobbies, and basically every other part of life into a strict time schedule. Since she started to prioritize her tasks on a daily basis, she feels productive, self-determined and sometimes a bit compulsive. But Lucy knows, structure is key.

Lucy works from 8.30AM to 5.30PM. She is mostly busy with calls, virtual meetings, some project management, some Excel. Every hour she takes a five minute break to answer WhatsApp messages and another five minutes to walk to the office kitchen and back. Lucy learned that her time is valuable and it’s okay to say NO to lunch dates. Since Lucy learned to say NO to things, she feels powerful and efficient. Lucy knows, saying NO is key for a woman in business.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays she meets her boyfriend Paul for Spinning class after work. Working out is a must. Tuesdays, Date Night at Home, Thursdays they eat-out. Both agreed on not visiting the same restaurant twice, boring.

Her girls decide on Sunday where and when to meet-up via Doodle but as these group dinners are noisy and messy, Lucy makes sure to only attend them if there are less than 5 girls at the table. Otherwise, she will be told the same stories over and over again. Instead, she prefers to meet her friends 1:1 for dinner. Most importantly, one evening per week is reserved for herself, ME-Time.

Modern Machines

Lucy and friends share the same interests, the same hobbies, they love Açai Bowls and Lentils. They speak about job opportunities, salaries, restaurants and Apps that reduce unnecessary tasks, such as actually having to read a book. They visit the same restaurants, cafés and bars, reservations for Friday are made on Monday. On leave, they know which breakfast they are going to have two days before entering the place they found on Instagram. They all read self-help books and apply the same mind models.

Lucy has no time to daydream, no time for snoozing. None of her friends snooze, none of her colleagues snooze. It doesn’t fit the agenda.

Imagine this guy, strolling by the river, carrying a real book and a blanket and a bottle of wine. It’s 4PM and he has no appointments. Maybe he does, but why would he care. His mental model is called Nonchalance. He wakes up just before leaving the house, sometimes having breakfast, sometimes not. His phone shows 60 unanswered WhatsApp messages from the last 3 months. There are no routines, the days aren’t planned and on the weekends he gets up at sometime between 10AM and 3PM, it depends.

Lucy lives the direct opposite. She is exhausted but she has no time to realize that. She hates working for the dream of someone else, constantly feeling pressured to define the next move, to make the next step, to be her own boss at some point. There is always someone who is faster, smarter and has the idea she could potentially have thought of. There is always someone who got up at 5AM.


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