We all love a little bit of hedonism. It’s part of being human.
And some hedonism and self-indulgence every now and then, is probably a good thing.
But when taken to an extreme, excess hedonism becomes a vice.
So where do we draw the line between enjoying ourselves and taking it too far? And what can we do about it?
Defining Excess Hedonism
There is nothing wrong with a little bit of hedonism.1Part of life is enjoying it, so why the f*ck not.
But when we engage in excess hedonism over an extended period of time, our indulgences start to hurt us.
We are all put on this earth to be good and happy and doing sh*t all makes us neither good or happy in the long term.
My definition of excess hedonism is this:
Any day where I spend less than 50% of my time focused on my goals, excluding sleep.
Assuming I sleep eight hours a day, that leaves sixteen hours. If I’m not putting at least eight of those hours towards my goals – that’s excess hedonism.
This is the idea that some downtime is good for you – but too much just leads to laziness.
What Happens When You Indulge in Excess Hedonism?
Excess hedonism looks different at different timeframes.
For a day 😁
Doing nothing productive towards your goals for a day is fine.
It’s a break.
But once you are rested and ready, you should be back on point and working towards your goals and purpose.
For a week 🏖
If you are on vacation doing nothing productive for a week is fine.
But what about when you are not on vacation?
A few days is fine.
But after that, you start to lose momentum on your habits, your virtues, your mission, your purpose and your work.
For a month 🤔
This usually doesn’t happen for most people – they have jobs, bills and responsibilities.
But for people between jobs or businesses, this occasionally does happen.
If you have done nothing productive for thirty days, that’s thirty out of thirty-thousand days in your life (0.1%), gone.
You could have:
- Travelled well in two places.
- Launched a new project.
- Learnt to code.
- Finished four (or more) books.
For longer 💀
Longer than a month is where excess hedonism becomes problematic.
For most people this will never happen due to financial and family commitments.
But for people with highly-specific professional skills or who have just exited a business? This can happen.
While it sounds cool to not have to be responsible or do anything productive for three months, six months, a year 😳… the reality is not as glamorous.
What happens is that these people start to lose all sense of responsibility – to others, and more importantly, to themselves.
They lose momentum across one area of their life and this cascades into other areas.
They start to lose confidence.
They may go through a mild form of imposter syndrome.
Their insecurities start to emerge.
And because of all these things, their behaviour changes and people notice. Their reputation begins to suffer damage in a way that cannot be recovered from.
If it’s not obvious, this is a really, really bad situation to be in.
How does their behaviour change?
In a lot of subtle ways.
They pick fights. This is because they have nothing going on, and so they feel the need to be right and to justify to themselves why they have nothing going on. The other side of this is blaming others all the time.
They become disconnected from the flow of things. From other people, from their network, from money, from opportunities and from the world at large.
They struggle to do even the basic things, like exercise, sleeping well or eating well.
They live in denial and find things to busy their time with, so that they are not embarrassed when talking to others about what they’re currently (not) doing. The reality is they are just fussing about and not really doing anything.
They start to make bad decisions and are unable to prioritise things in their lives.
Avoiding Excess Hedonism
Avoiding excess hedonism on a daily basis is not difficult – just live and move with purpose.
At the end of each day, ask yourself:
- Did I do anything of purpose today?
- Did my day have direction?
And if you have a day where you did nothing of purpose or direction, then just correct it the next day.
Eliminating Excess Hedonism in the Short Term
First – don’t be lazy.
If it’s just a day or a week where you’ve been off your game, just go back to your routine. Use the systems you rely on to get yourself going again.
If it’s weeks or months, then you need to do whatever it takes to get that first kick.
If you’re a self-starter, you need to get precise and measure what you do. Write down your goals. Journal. Manage your tasks.
If you have friends who can help, ask them. It’s always easier to get out of a rut of excess hedonism with helping hand or two.
Eliminating Excess Hedonism in the Long Run
The endgame is to have as little unplanned excess hedonism in your life as possible.
The first step to this is to accept that you are going to be active and do something of value every single day from now on until the day that you no longer can.
Yes, you will get breaks.
But if you are hoping that one day you will wake up and never have to do anything ever again, you are wrong.
Even people I know who are post-economic and have everything in their life sorted, still wake up with purpose and work on their goals.2Yes, they took some time off and enjoyed themselves. But then they set new goals and found new purpose in other things.
In fact, they probably do more than you or I, which no doubt is a contributing factor of their success.
The second step is to not f*ck up your momentum.
Make sure that you get enough sleep and good food and that you take care of your health and energy levels.
Make sure that your productivity stack is in order.
Make sure that you keep producing things of value on a daily basis.
Having momentum generates a good and ongoing performance state which makes it easy to live virtuously – and free of vices like excess hedonism.
The last step is just that – live virtuously. Counter vices like excess hedonism with virtues like commitment, duty and self-control.
What To Do Next
You can learn more about vices and virtues by signing up for my free newsletter below.
You can also read about virtues like self-discipline here.
- Part of life is enjoying it, so why the f*ck not.
- Yes, they took some time off and enjoyed themselves. But then they set new goals and found new purpose in other things.
Photo by ray rui.