Updated: Jul 7, 2021
Productivity – a word commonly used in economics, particularly with the industrial background, to describe how many products one can get out of a certain process. The goal is to maximize the productivity, input output ratio, in order to maximize financial profits. Originated in the industrial era and still used in the capitalist “endless growth” economy, it finally found its way to the personal and individual life of human beings in the western world. We are so impacted by the profit-oriented economy that we start using terms for ourselves which were meant for machines and technical processes.
I assume I feel like most young adults. Finishing High School, going to University, graduating, and seeking for a career in my field, preferably where the world can be made a bit better. On top of that, there are unconscious desires, such as making enough money to have a “good” and “secure” life or even to gain some status in the community by having a good income. But that’s not enough. In order to be seen as driven, we need to show that we are ambitious in our career path. Because if not, our future employer might not consider us in lack of experience and knowledge.
But there are so many other decisions which do not get valued enough by our system and it is on us to value ourselves and our decisions. You might feel that you suck in your field because of bad grades, no interest or lack of motivation. You might not have finished high school or college and that feels like you don’t have as many options or not as valued. And then maybe you can’t find a job in your field and you might do something totally different – and your parents think of your degree as a total waste of money and time. There is nothing wrong with taking a different path than most of the people do. You might get more rejected or judged by others for that, but this their problem. Nothing you should burden on yourself. As Toko-Pa Turner writes in her book Belonging: “Many take the path well-worn, but they are only given a half-lived life”.
With all this blame on yourself, naturally, you feel overwhelmed, overburdened and not good enough. Feelings of unworthiness, laziness and stupidness may come up.
None of us have to do anything in order to be seen, loved and cared. You as a human being are good enough- it doesn’t matter what you do. And even if you fail, you are precious and important.
I know some people who would read this and not believe it. Or be like: “but I have to do something!”. “I have to follow my dreams, I have to gain on status and then life is going to be happy and great“.
So what happens when you’re not productive? You are hanging around home and might feel useless and bored. But, that you feel that way is not because you are unproductive. Unconscious beliefs about yourself that make you look wrong come up. “I am unworthy, wrong, lazy”. But is that truth? Is your value bonded to your productivity? No, its not. You feel that way, because you believe your own or others peoples appreciation is now taken from you. If you remind yourself, that that is actually not the case than you can feel well and important, even if you are not “productive”. And if you give yourself some time being “unproductive” you might learn something about yourself, like your needs and values. Maybe you learn that “doing nothing” doesn’t exist and you learn to appreciate the time you have without focusing on any goals or wishes.
If you haven’t developed any greatness for yourself before that, then nothing else will bring it in life. You need to appreciate yourself and list all the great things about yourself. Whenever you feel “unproductive” and because of that unworthy, ask yourself: What is great about your personality? What are your values? What do you need in order to be happy? How can you pursue that only for yourself?
We need to support each other and value each other’s strengths and characteristics. We are all the same worth, even if we don’t pursue the path carved by society.
Remind yourself that you are so much more than your “products”, activities, and goals. Whatever you do or not do, you have people who love and like you because of who you are and not because of what you do.
At the second day of this trip in Frey, Argentinia (2019), I felt very unproductive and weak. and it made me really sad and frustrated. I wanted to go climb and have fun. But my body was just too tired. I was not able to hike the vertical 2300 ft (700 m) to one of the towers, climb a multi-pitch and than hike down again. The highest tower "El Principal" looks so close. But it was such a pain to get there. And after it rained on the second day, we hiked back to the foot of the mountain on the third day. Looking back now, I did the right desicion and it is totally fine to be weak. I had a great time there and maybe I can return some day with a stronger body. And than having the cutiest bird landing on my hand to eat our walnuts was just worth the trip!