Optimization Without Exhaustion

I get it. You want everything to be more streamlined, more efficient, speedier, more productive, more profitable, and absolutely optimal.

I want that, too.

Yet in the constant striving for the best, we can run ourselves ragged.

So how do we shoot for excellence without ending up in a puddle on the floor each night after trying so damn hard to make it all the best?

First, we realize that optimal doesn’t happen without rest.

If we use the body as a metaphor (which is always my favorite place to start) and we look at fertility, it’s super obvious: our biology doesn’t allow us to create if we’re not well rested and if there aren’t adequate resources to nourish our bodies so we can nourish a baby.

Without rest, the juices of creativity dry up

Why do we need creativity for optimization?

Because in order for things to work at their best, we need our best ideas.

Ever tried to solve a tricky problem when you’re sleep-deprived? If Mike asks me a question at bedtime, sometimes as simple as which flight time to book for an upcoming trip, I simply don’t have the bandwidth to identify what would be optimal.

You gotta have rest to optimize.

Next up is space.

Friction frequently comes from trying to do too much.

Ever tried to fit a day into an hour? Not a lot of flow in that.

Cancelling, decommitting, saying no, and taking things off your plate instantly leans your life toward optimal.

You can stop trying to time-hack and fit more into the space you have.

It’s way easier to find space by taking stuff out than by adding it in.

And finally, go deeper.

Ever tried to start meditating or exercising or drinking green smoothies only to find that 3 days into your new routine your fresh habits have already gotten lost in the shuffle?

That’s because our actions stem from our beliefs. About ourselves. About the world. About what’s possible for us.

So if you want to optimize your fitness routine, your nutrition, your productivity, your marriage, your parenting, your sex life, or even your closet, go deep and ask yourself what you truly believe.

Your beliefs are running you. Habits stem from beliefs. Your daily life stems from your habits.

Want new habits? Dig up the old beliefs and let them go.

This is sometimes easier said than done, but sometimes not.

The least exhausting way I’ve found to change a limiting belief is to consciously look for examples that prove the belief wrong.

When I gather enough examples, presto chango: the belief is gone.

For example, I used to think you could either be financially successful or in a loving romantic partnership. Not both. And I had TONS of examples proving this belief correct.

But the truth is I wanted both abundance and love. At the same time.

So instead of continuing to gather examples of single, financially successful people or poor partnered people, I decided to look for examples of people in relationships like the one I wanted to have who weren’t struggling financially.

And wouldn’t you know it, once I started looking, the examples were everywhere.

Not long after that I met my husband, with whom I currently enjoy financial abundance and a beautiful marriage.

Coincidence? I think not.

Next time you decide you want to optimize an area of your life, instead of hitting overdrive and trying to make things better through effort alone, try the following:


Make space

Go deeper

When you follow this path, you let optimal happen instead of making optimal happen.


What area of your life could use some optimization? Which one of the suggestions above resonates with you the most? How could you apply it to your situation? Tell me in the comments!


  • Kate, the part “Want new habits? Dig up the old beliefs and let them go.” I’m going to do this RIGHT NOW. This resonates so much. I immediately had two old beliefs pop into my mind that I need to let go.

    Thanks for all that you do <3


  • Alejandra

    Thanks !! im from Argentina , i wish optimize my body !! i understand to rest..and saying no..

  • Monica

    Your post is right on time, as it usually happens!
    Thsnks for sharing

  • This post is coming at the perfect time.

    I have been steadily working towards creating more space in my life, particularly as it relates to my business. Everything has been packed to the gills, trying to do way too much.

    This week, after months of untangling all that was crowding the space and the beliefs underneath, I am starting to feel the love that space yields. Love for myself, other people and my life.

    I see that the real work is around those beliefs that underpin the behaviors that were filling up all the space.

    Your post organizes this process I have undergone and puts into a format that I know, experientially, works. It helps me look at other areas I want to optimize. I’m going to start by picking three beliefs I want to unravel about intimacy since I am in the process of taking my relationship to the next level.

    Thank you!!!

    • Kate Northrup

      I’m so glad this is so timely for you! And isn’t it cool how creating a framework around this work makes us feel like it’s easier? Godspeed!

  • Wanda

    But when wanting what others have or trying to focus on what others people fortune. Isn’t that imply being jealous of others people good relationships and finances??

    How to focus on the good marriages and finances without being envy or jealousy being involved? I personally would not like someone wanted what I have or have work so hard to achieve especially in my love life. I am willing to do so as long as I don’t see any jealousy coming my way. There is so many people out there that are desperate and send such bad vibe when one is happy 😞 It is so sad people at times can not be happy for others. I had been burnt before by sharing my happiness whether is my relationship with my husband or a new opportunity. At times one must be guarded so bad influences don’t ruin that you have going on.

    • Kate Northrup

      I don’t think admiring someone else’s relationship and aspiring to something similar indicates jealousy at all. I find that celebrating what someone else has attracts it to use. I’ve never meant anyone ill-intent when I admire what they have. I think you’ll find that jealousy and desire are not the same thing.

  • I am currently overwhelmed with stuff that does not lead to income and do now know which ones to let go.
    I am thinking also now that I am writing about it that I make that as an excuse not to go out there and meet people so I can start my health coaching business. I am an introvert altho last night I attended a toastmaster meeting as a guest and it is very scary for me. English is my second language and just listening to their impromptu imaginative speaking exercise feels like way beyond my capacity.
    I will take time to digest this blog content and see

    • Kate Northrup

      Your body will tell you what to let go of. Which tasks make you feel the most stressed and tense? Those are the ones to release!

  • I am a web developer, I work round the clock to ensure I get the job done before deadline, but most times I don’t complete the task, But after I rest some hours, I fill refreshed and could think clear.

    Thanks Kate for this great article

  • I’m looking to optimize my pleasure even though i have a new baby and everything is crazy right now but I think you’re right. rather than finding examples of how I can never have any personal time for pleasure right now, I need to find examples of new moms making it work and then that will help get my creative juices flowing abpit how I might be able to do the same.

  • Thank you Kate for the great article! I work with business owners, and this is a pattern I see over and over — there is a strong belief we need to work long hours, make time and family sacrifices and run ragged in order to get results. I appreciate how you emphasize that this is simply not true. We can rest and get better results!

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