With the current ‘F**k It, Do What You Love’ eCourse now underway with a band of thirty Doing What They Lovers, I’ve been contemplating how we make our decisions about what to do next in our lives. After all, people on our Do What You Love courses often agree with this statement –
“I’m at a crossroads in my life and I don’t know which way to go.”
The emphasis on those courses, clearly, is to follow your heart, and go after what gives you joy. But what informs how you make decisions in life?
What informs everything from what job you’ll do next, to what you’ll do this evening?
It fascinates me that many of us now are concerned by the ‘utility’ of whatever we do. Everything we choose to do or be or eat is based on our internal utility algorithm. So if we’re planning the weekend, for example, we might decide to go the gym (utility – to keep me in shape); read that self-help book (utility – to improve me and make me happier); sleep in on Sunday (utility – sleep has been shown to keep you well and make you more productive); go to the theatre (utility – to keep me in touch culturally); re-decorate the spare room (utility – it will affect the price of the property)… and so on.
We’re obsessed with the utility and benefit of everything. We don’t just see what something gives us now, we want to see its wider benefit.
We’ve got to the point that, if you sit on your sofa with pizza in one hand, and a beer in the other, watching Netflix, you could be wracked with guilt for your wasteful unhealthy behaviour. What’s that going to achieve, eh? Where will that get me?
It seems that we’ve moved, over the decades, from a widespread hedonism, where, outside work hours, the main question that informed any decision was ‘will this give me pleasure?’…
…To a tight form of utilitarianism (and a definition of that philosophy that is drier than was intended), where we only do something because of a perceived benefit to it… something that can answer the question ‘Where will this get me to then?’.
We see this with children too. I wish our society’s little ones, at least, could play for longer, be examined less, live in the moment, and just ask themselves ‘what do I fancy doing now’. This is what they naturally do, isn’t it? They’re natural hedonists, children, though clearly not in the sense that many of us understand ‘hedonism’ (all booze and parties), but in their natural inclination to play and to simply enjoy themselves.
Somewhere along the way, children lose that (probably with SATS and entrance exams and the surrounding uptight and anxious adults). People tell their teenagers to study hard, to study what will give them the most utility, not what they love, not knowing themselves what the world of work will look like in 10 years’ time (once the robots have arrived).
‘F**k It ‘ suggests the possibility of seeing such constraining patterns and then breaking free from them.
So, what should I do this afternoon?
Get ahead on my long to-do list (that would help the business)?
Do the kitchen (that would help us all)?
Or watch the end of Ozark on Netflix?
What does ‘F**k It’ tell me? (it tells me that at some time pretty soon I’ll be hitting the sofa).
And after reading all that –
How do you judge what to do, in big things, and small things?
What are your patterns, and how can you say ‘F**k It’ to them and break free?