Is it better to be a driven or chilled out person.
May 8, 2009 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Is it better in the long run to be a driven person or a chilled out person?

I realise this is gonna be subjective...but would appreciate your view particularly if you've spent extended periods of your life doing either.

When I was younger, I always wanted to have a big dream and work hard towards it. Although due to various blocks and difficulties I didn't get very far towards pursuing dreams or actually put in all my time, it was nevertheless a big part of my personality to have something of this nature.

Now I'm entering my 30's I can appreciate the value of being chilled out, appreciating what's happening in the moment, not having a defined goal to work towards. Someone said to me 'you are your direction, you have a compass not a road map' or something like that. The problem is that you can be unfocussed, and not acheive anything that anyone will give you a pat on the back or loads of money for!

Right now I honestly don't know which is best. I could choose goals and work like hell to acheive them. Or I could carry on doing what I'm doing and be relatively happy but not achieve anything big.

Any arguments for and against either path? You could say a bit of both, but being driven doesnt seem to work like that, you give it your all.

Not gonna be able to read this for a while, but appreciate your views.
posted by Not Supplied to Work & Money (15 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: This is kind of hopelessy subjective as stated. I don't know if there's a non-chatfiltery way to approach this, but this really isn't it. -- cortex

You're going to piss-off and/or alienate a lot fewer people being chill. I've known several very chill folks who still had a very strong sense of where they were heading in the world.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:44 AM on May 8, 2009

posted by sanko at 10:44 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's possible to answer -- 'better' is subjective and dependent on the value system of the person in question. What's better for me might not be better for you.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:46 AM on May 8, 2009

I don't know, I think you can be a bit of both. I'm sort of a naturally chilled out (read: lazy) person, but I think for me being driven is a skill set I can put into place when I need it or when I really want to go after something. I really admire the people I know who are incredibly ambitious and driven, but I know a lot of Type As who are so high strung, anxious, and workaholics that its sad. Or just opportunistic who will dump you when there is no other need for you. It takes a special person to be driven, focused, and also mindful yet heartfelt.
posted by Rocket26 at 10:48 AM on May 8, 2009

I don't know that a lot of people who favor 'driven' will be hanging out answering AskMe questions on a Friday afternoon.
posted by box at 10:51 AM on May 8, 2009 [9 favorites]

This is subjective, but presumably you are looking to harness the wisdom of the crowd.

If so, the opinions expressed by those logging into a community board and offering advice on philosophy of life questions posed by strangers are likely to be a little skewed against the "driven" answer.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 10:51 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

box, this is a little disturbing.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 10:52 AM on May 8, 2009

I'd ask: Driven by what? For the sake of being "driven"? Or driven by a vision of the life you are making, a deep passion for something, or a some kind of impulse you just can't put your finger on?

Without understanding the reason you're being "driven" it's impossible to really evaluate it as something that you would/wouldn't want as part of your life, me thinks.

As for being "chilled out"--it's perfectly possible to be calm and relaxed and still be "driven" (by some things, anyway).
posted by donovan at 11:01 AM on May 8, 2009

As someone who is "driven" and married to someone who is "chilled out", I would say it's better to be "chilled out". Sometimes, I wish I could turn off my [brain, impatience, career aspirations, etc.] for a while so that I could just sit back and enjoy the ride. FWIW, I'm approximately your age, and I've found that with time it's become a little easier for me to relax. But (unfortunately) I would never call my state of mind "chilled out".
posted by Simon Barclay at 11:01 AM on May 8, 2009

When turning 30:s, it is good to think which one is better for long term maintenance of your body. If the stress of driven lifestyle affects your heart, blood pressure, stomach or sleep now, it will only be worse when you age, and all other perks you achieve with being driven get diminished if you lose your health. I've personally accepted that chilled is better for me, as being driven/stressed leads me to all kinds of gastro-intestinal problems.
posted by Free word order! at 11:06 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I grew up with extremely driven parents who always worked towards big goals, often at the expense of relationships and relaxation. It stressed them out a lot and they've both suffered health problems in life. However, now that they are retirement age, I will say that they've made a shitload of money and have the easy life. They can travel around as much as they want, own multiple homes in fabulous destinations, eat at fine restaurants every night, and can be smug in a lifetime of recognized accomplishments. But I also think they don't quite know what to do with themselves either.

My husband's parents are the opposite. They aren't lazy, but their values were different. A steady, decently paying job with good benefits. Family. Pride in the home. Friends. Church. They too are retired. They don't have the money that my parents have, but they have indulged in their own luxuries: buying an RV together, seeing at least the eastern half of the US, owning a nice if small home in quiet countryside. I have to say that they seem way net happier than my parents.

I personally have a little of both attitudes in me. I am a workaholic type A that kills myself to get things done. However, I am very lucky in that I found a profession (science) that I actually really enjoy. That doesn't make it not feel like work much of the time, though. Sometimes I need to self-indulge to balance it out. This means I often work 21 days straight and then take 4 days off to do absolutely nothing, smoking pot and playing video games, reading metafilter, hanging with my dog, drinking milkshakes, etc. I guess you could call it recovering from burn out, but it works for me in maintaining a balance between ultra-ambitious and chill. Your mileage may vary.
posted by sickinthehead at 11:09 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Is it better to be a driven or chilled out person.

sanko already said it, but the answer to your question is yes. You really want to be both.
posted by caddis at 11:13 AM on May 8, 2009

I'm currently in the middle of a long-term study of this subject with one of my cousins (he doesn't know this). I'm acting as the driven sample and he's acting as the chill sample.

When we were in high school, we had a conversation once about getting good grades. I was of the opinion that it was important to get good grades. He was of the opinion that getting good grades was a waste of time. Neither one of us could wrap our heads around the others worldview.

Fast forward 15 years. I'm doing the 9-5 thing. He works odd jobs and spends most of his time mountain biking, whitewater rafting, or skiing. He appears to be having more fun than I am. If you define "better" as "having more fun," then his lifestyle definitely has mine beat.

I think the advantages of the driven lifestyle take longer to make themselves apparent. For example, I can afford health insurance for my family. There will probably come a time when that becomes important to him. I'm also fairly confident that I won't be doing manual labor into my 70s. He's less assured of this outcome.

In another 30 years I'll let you know how it turns out.
posted by diogenes at 11:14 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I agree with donovan. There are different flavors of driven. I tend to hang out with scientists. Some are driven by curiosity. They seem happy. Some are driven by the joy of "winning". They actually appear to be pretty happy, too. Others are driven by fear of failure. They seem extremely unhappy. Successful in their careers, but not able to enjoy that success, and also unhappy at home because they really *should* be working all the time. They are great people to rely on at work, but horrible to befriend. I try to be driven by curiosity, because it seems the best way to also be happy, but sometimes it's hard not to get caught up in the other stuff.
posted by pizzazz at 11:14 AM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

false dichotomy.
driven => control => stability
chill => acceptance => flexibility
posted by forforf at 11:19 AM on May 8, 2009

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