Can partying be a source of self-improvement? Although I tend to write more about work and productivity, because those are my strengths, I’m probably a fairly typical student when it comes to partying and socializing with friends. Because of this I’ve been asked a number of times on how I feel this fits with the pursuit of getting the most from life.
My University Social Life
In highschool I rarely partied and never drank. This gave me more time to work on personal projects that really interested me. But it also meant that I did less socializing with my peers outside of school. While this was a tradeoff I understood and accepted at the time, it wasn’t ideal.
When I started living in university residence two years ago, I decided to switch my previously sole focus on productivity and spend more time working on my social life. Becoming more outgoing, fun and spontaneous, I met dozens of new people and built a fairly large social circle in the first few weeks.
Today I would say I’m closer in between those two ranges. I meet with friends every day, going out to a social or club once or twice each month. I do drink when I go out, but I place my emphasis on meeting people and having fun, not getting drunk. Occasionally I haven’t been perfect in this rule, but most the time it has worked for me.
Why the Focus on Productivity?
I love the work I do here at this blog. If someone asked me whether I had to choose between giving up all social contact and giving up my ability to create, there wouldn’t be a moment of hesitation in my mind. Productivity isn’t drudgery to me. It means the ability to do more of what I love faster, better and more effectively.
If you don’t have a similar passion for your job, studies or personal projects, I can see why it would be difficult to understand my relentless focus. When I was in the third grade I organized a small club with a few friends to try and come up with ways to make and sell things. Ever since that early beginning, the joy I’ve got from creating and working on personal projects has exceeded almost any other drive I’ve had in my life.
Are Partying and Self-Improvement Opposites?
Looking at the kind of people who party all the time and self-improvement doesn’t usually jump to your mind. As a result, it is easy to see why many people believe partying is the antithesis of personal development. Party, drink and socialize all the time and you most certainly are working against self-improvement.
I think this is an issue of mixing up correlation and causation. Although partying all the time doesn’t usually match up with overachievers, that doesn’t mean it is actually destructive towards personal development.
The reason I feel there is a strong association between over-partying and under-achieving is because when you lack that drive to create and work, partying seems like a much better alternative. When you hate your studies and don’t know what to do with your life, getting drunk four times a week seems better than just sitting home alone.
The solution to this problem is to work on that drive to create. Explore and experiment until you find something that fills you with passion, even if you can’t make a living off it immediately. From that point you can spend time building a career, business or income stream around that initial drive. (For more of my thoughts on building a passion, read my article: What Do You Want to Do With Your Life? )
Where Can Partying Be Beneficial?
Partying isn’t all bad. The real question is whether you are using it to improve your social life and regain your energy or whether you are just trying to escape from the truth that you don’t have a creative passion. Improving your social skills, regaining your energy and meeting people are all valid reasons for going out.
The other question is if you are partying to meet new people, relax or build your social life, are you accomplishing this? Like the person who works twelve hour days but accomplishes the same amount as the person who only works four, going out three nights a week might not do much more than going out once.
Drinking and Partying
I’m of the belief that drinking is to socializing what caffeine is to productivity. Ultimately it’s probably not a good thing, it isn’t necessary and often it is used as a crutch. Chugging back that third espresso or beer to boost your alertness or confidence probably isn’t ideal.
That being said, I haven’t been perfect in resolving this issue for myself. Over the summer months between May and August I might have had one drink, but usually my complete cutbacks also meant less socializing. I’ll probably work on cutting down or eliminating alcohol in my social life, probably through a 30 Day Trial sometime in the future.
Partying is a bit like watching television. There can be really great shows that inform and entertain, but if you watch a few hours each day you are probably just using it as a distraction.