A common occupational hazard for anyone I know, who is building something that matters, is to get stuck in a mental loop of “how does this thing I currently do matter in the grand scheme of things?” Playing a computer game to chill out a bit? Get back to work, slacker — the world’s problems won’t solve themselves. Procrastinating by doom-scrolling through TikTok? How could you — there is work to be done! Taking a day off to do — gasp! — nothing? Can’t do!
The guilt of being trapped in the “everything has to matter”-loop is real, and gets exaggerated by reading the n-th article on how to be more productive (and the sheer fact that you read this article instead of, you know, be productive, made you feel bad as well).
A little while ago, I read “Die With Zero”. It’s a good book, highly recommended. One of the interesting comments the author makes, is that — in the grand scheme of things — your actions don’t matter. Only a few generations down the line, and the world will have entirely forgotten about you and your work. I find this a very comforting thought — it really doesn’t matter all that much what you do with your life (besides for you, of course!). Which means you ought to think about what gives you pleasure and fulfillment — and act accordingly.
Now — of course, your actions matter. As a matter of fact, your actions matter greatly. The only way we, as a collective, can make sure we leave this planet better than we entered it, is by working on things that matter, things which have a net-positive impact. Everything matters — from the way you show up for those around you, to what you do with your precious time on this planet.
Herein lies the paradox: While nothing matters, everything matters at the same time. I have come to believe that we, individually, have to make peace with this paradox — and go even further by embracing it:
Build what matters while being kind to yourself.