On the purpose of progress

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about why are we so obsessed with this idea of progress. It’s so embedded into our collective psyche that many times we do not even realize that it is there. Many of the elements in our economy (e.g. stock market, currency, venture capital, etc.) rely on things growing over time. This principle is so basic and fundamental to the operation of our economy and society at large that we don’t even really think about it much. I certainly hadn’t.

However, I think that the implications of this are huge because it heavily influences us and our decisions. You’re unlikely to move to a city that has been in ‘decline’ for the past 20 years. People are more likely to go into a field like computer science because the perceived earning potential is much higher than in other fields. To me a simple response to this argument could be that evolutionarily we are conditioned to pursue paths that increase our likelihood of survival. However, that oversimplifies the situation because you could argue that with the abundance of resources that exists today (in the US) you can still have more than enough to live a meaningful and comfortable life without pursuing higher growth paths.

I am personally guilty of following paths that I belief will allow me to progress the most (both financially and professionally). I don’t have an answer as to why we are so obsessed with this idea of progress. Some people argue that it will allow us to live better and/or longer lives and that might be true. To me this seems the current frontier of this argument. We want to progress because it allows us to live better, longer, healthier, and more meaningful lives. Progress then seems to be a means to an end and not the end itself.

If that is the case, then it seems important to keep this in mind in our daily lives instead of obsessing over progress for the sake of progress. If we focus on what the future could be if we accomplish something instead of blindly working towards a higher level of achivement, then perhaps we could enjoy the process even more than what we would do other wise.

This is only the beginning of this journey but so far it’s working great for me and maybe it will for you too. Hence, why I am writing this post. If you feel that this might be useful to someone you know or to your network in general please be sure to share.

Also, if I can help with anything feel free to reach out – hi@xavierpladevall.com