Let’s Find a New Place to Live: Productivity Isn’t Home

Carmelle Ellison is a Licensed Psychotherapist who specializes in working with Millennials and the Gen-X population who suffer from complex trauma; those who are high achieving but have difficulty separating their self-worth from productivity; along with helping individuals manage anxiety, depression, life transitions, and relationship challenges. You can connect with Carmelle at

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

If you’ve ever experienced the satisfaction of solving a difficult problem or finding an answer that felt like it was buried under so many rocks that you were close to giving up when you found it, you’ve likely encountered how gratifying productivity can be. Successful productivity can really rock our worlds in a good way.

Yet when the value of our self-worth and esteem become wholly dependent on the problem solving efforts of our minds and hands, we may find ourselves becoming like Pinocchio. The strings prompting us up is perfectionism, and let’s imagine that productivity is Geppetto. We tell ourselves that productivity is our safety net, our home, our main way of overcoming self-doubt and that it’s easier than the navigating the minefields of our emotions. Productivity feels like a a clear formula on how to “get it right”, how to “solve for x” and then move on.

Only, here’s what we miss by relying all too much on productivity:

1.) A life built on constant productivity doesn’t shield us from being controlled by perfectionism’s fear of failure. In being controlled by fear (usually disguised as the never ending must-do’s that can’t wait until the morning), we can start to believe that the only way to stay on top of things is to always be doing something that brings “value”. Yet, if we’re always so focused on the value of our hands and minds, we may underestimate the need for leisure of being.

2.) The productivity of our efforts eventually run on fumes. Usually, I’m all for kicking imposter syndrome’s butt, but with thought to constant productivity, there’s truth to imposter syndrome. The fear of being “found out” or “dropping the ball” highlights the body’s awareness that constantly functioning at such a pace is unsustainable. Even the brightest and most energetic of folks eventually run on fumes, and they are “found out” to be human. When the  “ball drops,” they learn that there’s still a life waiting for them. Despite, productivity preferring that we operate as “super-humans” 24-hours a day.

3.) What seemingly gives value to self-worth and esteem through productivity can also create sensitivities around the slightest bit of criticism. Criticism is then perceived as the antithesis of value contribution when productivity is the hub of our functioning.

4.) Productivity only feels like home, because it’s what we’ve given most of our time and energy to. It seems safer to give our time and energy to something that has a clear return value, rather than extending our efforts and attention to other parts of our lives that require vulnerability of self.

5.) Productivity kicks into gear the pride of “doing”, but creates guilt around “being”. And that’s the issue with productivity. As much as we would like it to be home, it can never be. It affirms value through performance and doesn’t give room for who and what we might be outside of the impulses of “having to perform” or “contribute”. It’s possible for home to be more. Home can be acceptance; home can be freedom to explore; home can be fresh air that you don’t have to earn; home can be more than what productivity leads you to believe that it gives. Productivity isn’t home.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...


    There are 4 productivity personalities.

    by Pooja Hoffman
    Sleep Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on UnsplashExercise Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash, Food Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash,

    What’s Maslow got to do with it?

    by Alexis Haselberger

    How Diet Affects Mental Well-Being and Productivity

    by Derek Lotts

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.