Self Optimization

The Minimum Effective Dose for Self Optimization

I write a lot about becoming your best self, loving yourself, getting weird. Breaking bad habits. Meditation. Happiness.

To the outsider this might seem like overkill. It might seem like optimizing every area of your life is exhausting and a ton of work. 

And you would be 100% right to say this.

In the attempts to optimize, we can accidentally move in the wrong direction. Optimization can be accidentally stressing you out. 

If you’re always trying to improve every small area of your life, it’s usually a sign that you’re not happy where you are. 

Optimization isn’t the answer. 

There’s a minimum effective dose to this self help and self optimization business. Once you’ve gotten yourself to a certain point, optimizing more isn’t going to make you all that much happier. 

Adding in 10 minutes more of meditation, or finding every opportunity to be mindful throughout the day, or fine tuning every minute of your schedule throughout the day probably isn’t going to make you all that much happier. 

Get the basics right, and then give yourself room to have your flaws, your vices, and the things that might not be great for you in the long run, but do provide genuine happiness in the moment. 

I’m not one of those people who will tell you to stop drinking, stop smoking, stop having sex, or to be mindful for every moment throughout the day. 
That’s exhausting, unsustainable, and generally sounds boring as shit to me. 

As Tim Ferriss always says, “Aim for the diet that works 80% of the time that you can maintain, rather than the diet that is 100% perfect but is unsustainable.”

A good analogy for this is the Ketogenic diet. This is a diet with HUGE health benefits – but it’s a fucking nightmare to do properly.

It’s a diet that has you check your blood ketone levels to make sure you’re in ketosis, avoid all carbohydrates and sugars, take all sorts of supplements, and generally eat a diet that is difficult to maintain if you don’t cook every one of your meals. 

So yes, while this diet is great for you – it’s insanely difficult to maintain, and you will probably cause yourself more stress than good by trying to hold yourself to an impossible standard. 

This is an important point here – don’t hold yourself to an impossible standard.

We’re fed this culture of “hustle” and “grind” and “struggle to success”, we see entrepreneurs and celebrities with success we want to replicate, and in doing so, we set the bar too high for ourselves.

Where does this leave us? Instead of appreciating the growth and progress we have obtained, we focus on where we want to be and what we want to do.

Personally – I respect the people who have gotten the core foundational practices correct, and still give themselves to be a piece of shit from time to time…because it’s fun. 

I respect the people who have discovered a good balance. The people who have a little give. The people who know how to not be perfect and be perfectly fine with that. 

If it stresses you out to miss a day of your precious “routine”, then I would prescribe for you to lose your routine more often. You’re too dependent on the routine for your happiness. 

We must be careful not to cling to anything too tightly. To not set the bar at an unachievable place. To not be dependent on these practices, but instead use them to amplify our already existing happiness. 

So yes, it’s a good thing to eat healthier, exercise more, get better sleep, and be a happier person. 

But don’t drive yourself crazy in the process. 

Find the big habits that have the biggest impact, and stick to those. Don’t try to fix everything. Intentionally aim to be imperfect. Aim to have “most” of your shit together. 

Give yourself room to be a flawed human being like us all 🙂 

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