It’s New Years Eve and after a few days of holiday celebrations and time off from the usual work routine, you start to reflect on the year that passed and begin to look forward.
This year, I tried to think not about achievements or goals the coming year but more about things I want to do more of and some other things I want to do less of. So I started to make two lists. One titled “Do more of” and the other “Do less of”.
The first list quickly filled up, but it was much harder to think of things I wanted to do less of.
At first, I became annoyed by this. After all, the day only has 24 hours and there’s only so much one can do with the limited time we have. I already feel like the hours of each day pass by filled with things to do, so adding more stuff will be simply impossible. What to do? Sigh. If only I had more time!
But then I realised how fortunate I am to be in this situation.
I mean, there are tonnes of things I want to learn and improve on - but I’m already doing stuff I like to do and there’s not much I want to change. What if it was the other way around? That would actually be quite horrible. I would be doing lots of stuff I didn’t want to do, but I wouldn’t be able to change it. A terrible life, most likely stressful in the worst possible way.
Maybe I shouldn’t look at my list and think of what limits me in terms of time, money and other resources, but instead as a reminder that there are still more things out there to explore and learn and that as long as my “Do more of”-list is longer than my “Do less of”, I am actually in an extremely fortunate position.
In many ways this is maybe one of the best metrics of sustained happiness there is: the ratio of the two lists. The More/Less Ratio.
Imagine suddenly becoming a billionaire with all the time and the money in the world. You could quickly go through the “Do more of”-list because of your vast resources. But then what? You could fill it up with more things, but eventually it would run out. Your life would be empty.
This happened to Minecraft creator Markus Persson after selling his creation for a few billions.
It can also happen when achieving a life long dream. Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull describes in his book Creativity Inc how his life became empty and meaningless after achieving his life goal of creating a digital animated movie (Toy Story). Luckily, he found a new purpose in building Pixar the company as a creative super studio.
There is a famous quote from another important Pixar person: Steve Jobs, from a speech at Stanford:
“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” he urges the crowd of students and what does that mean if not keeping a high More/Less ratio?
With that in mind I’m taking a new look at my two lists. I add a few more things to the “Do more”-list. Sigh. If only I had more time…