Greg Morris

Designer, Pretend Photographer, Dad

The Enjoyment Sponge

Ali Abdaal writing The Optimisation Paradox edition of his newsletter:

There’s nothing wrong with optimising something for growth, and “treating it like a business”. But it comes with the trade-off that, usually, the thing becomes a little less fun.

It doesn’t matter what you like doing, the moment you get reasonably good at it someone will say “I bet you could make some money doing that”. Should you choose to, it is at that point the fun will be sucked out of it.

Perhaps not straight away. It might take a few weeks or months. Perhaps longer. At some point, whilst trying to streamline it or maximise profits, you will realise you don’t enjoy doing this thing any more. You will realise that not everything needs to be monetised, and you will miss the old days of doing it for fun.

Like a sponge, if given free rein, our actions will suck all the fun out of everything. Ali quotes a ‘game designer’ from a video he has watched. What video and what game designer we don’t know, he said, “Left unchecked, players will optimise the fun out of the game they’re playing”.

Which, as Ali says, is an interesting quote (just not quite enough to write down who said it) because it cuts right to the heart of our unhealthy trait to ruin everything we enjoy by doing too much of it. My tendency, as Ali has found out, is to do this with podcasts. Start spending too much time on audio editing, recording too much, and lose sight of what really matters — the conversation.

I also say this fairly often about writing because I have seen it happen to friends of mine that now need to pay the bills by publishing. All the writing they did because they enjoyed it and moulded their craft, grinds to a holt. I guess, who on earth wants to do things for free, when they can get paid for it. Well, we all should.

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