We’ve all got different ideas about what’s reasonable. I think drinking a meat smoothie is a sign of the impending end of civilization, but I’m totally fine with wearing the same thing every day — a la Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, or Barack Obama — in order to save time. And we’ve all got a different appetite for work, a different sense of where to draw the line. However, as James Allworth pointed out in our own SXSW panel on why men work so many hours, it’s tough to stick to those limits when the rewards of work are immediate, and the rewards of life accrue more slowly. (To some parents of teenagers, these rewards may seem practically glacial.) It becomes tempting to reserve the best of ourselves for the short-term gains of work and “automate” the long game of life.
Still, I do think each of us has a Rubicon — wherever it is, and whenever we find it. On crossing it, we may start to see luxury not as having a personal assistant or a weekly massage, but as doing something useless simply because we felt like doing it — not because it made us smarter, or thinner, or more productive.