How Being Efficient Destroyed My Values

There was a time in my past, when all I could think about was how to push myself and maximize my efficiency.

I think it was sometime during college. I had read a book about the value of time, how it should be measured based on self-worth and the things you could do to make the best use of that time. It talked about recognizing the skills you’re good at and focusing on that rather than things that don’t matter in order to achieve more.

It made a lot of sense. If you’re someone who has the ability to make $80/hour programming, then why would you waste precious time doing things like washing dishes, doing laundry and taking care of chores you could hire someone to do? Instead, you could be working during the time you would’ve saved and made more money as a result.

So I listened to the advice, religiously took everything I learned to heart and expanded upon it. I strived to make the absolute best use of my time. Everything from that point on in my life was about how to be more efficient: I’d hand off my chores to a maid I could barely afford, have all my meals delivered, let myself be driven from one place to another — anything to give myself more time. I even started listening to audiobooks and podcasts instead of music while working out at the gym. I took things to an extremity.

It was somewhere along the line, having been blinded by the obsession for never-ending efficiency that I lost sight of what I valued most. I became so focused on not wasting time that I forgot the people that mattered and the things that made me who I was. Friends, family, relationships, my own mental health — all cast aside for the sake of a sightless ambition.

I was depressed, constantly upset at the outcome of my results, at my inability to become even more efficient. At this point I had already isolated myself from friends and family, often lashing out at those who were close to me. I judged others based on their abilities to be efficient and lost touch with reality.

It wasn’t until one day, when I finally snapped out of it after chancing upon this quote:

“Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have” — Anonymous

The quote was a revelation, a wake up call back to reality for me. What had I been doing all along? For what reason was I pushing myself so hard for? What was the point of all that I’ve done if I could no longer recognize what it was that I valued and wanted to work towards?

In my obsession to become a better, more efficient person, I lost myself. I forgot what was important to me, friends and family, and changed unknowingly for the worse. It’s ironic because I ended up losing more than I had gained in wanting to achieve more.

We all have ambitions. We all have goals, dreams of being a better person or finding success. Many of us, when we’re working towards those dreams and ambitions, forget what it is that we truly value. We forget the things that truly matter in the first place. We lash out at those close to us, not giving them the chance to understand what it is that we’re going through and the reasons why we’re doing it. We’re so caught up in wanting to become a better person that we forget the things that made us who we are in the first place.

Sometimes we need to take a moment to consider what matters to us, what our values are and the reason why we work so hard in the first place. It’s not about the money; it’s never been and never should be — money is just a means to an end. There has to be an underlying reason for why we’re putting in the effort. Maybe it’s for happiness, maybe as a way to support our dreams, or perhaps as a way to take care of those we care about, no matter what it’s for, we can’t forget, because these are our values. Our values is what will keep us afloat, keep us sane in our never-ending quest for greatness.

About the author

Jon Lee

I travel the world in search of lessons worth sharing. Addicted to culture shock and transparency. Currently working on heeyy and duuck.

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