Lisa Grimm on Optimizing for Happiness

Lisa Grimm is Chief Product Officer of DEMI, a platform that connects communities through food. She is based in New York City.

On quiz results

I wasn’t familiar with the term “precrastinator” before, but when I heard it, it instantly made sense to me.

My official quiz result was “profound precrastinator,” but I don’t think it applies in all parts of my life. I had a hard time choosing answers for several of the questions. One of the questions was about traveling — do you plan your itinerary, pack everything in advance, etc.?

I would say that I approach trips really practically. There are elements that I prioritize and will plan ahead of time. But I also find it really easy to pack for a trip, so I can definitely do that last minute, and I hate waiting at the gate in an airport, so I always arrive just in time to board.

In my personal life, I actually feel quite laid back, though if there’s something unknown, I go out of my way to become more informed. I have certain habits I can rely on in order to prepare and prevent anxiety. Let’s say I’m going to a meeting — I’ll look up the address and make sure I know where I’m going, but I’m not crazy about it, and it’s not something that causes me anxiety. Staying on top of things keeps me from feeling anxiety.

Moseying along vs. scheduling every detail

When planning travel, I think about the intention behind the trip. One of my favorite travel experiences was a trip to Paris I took on my own. I had accumulated lots of input from friends ahead of time, but I purposely didn’t plan every detail. I wanted it to be a moseying kind of trip. I pinned all these recommended locations on Google Maps, and then when I found myself in a given neighborhood or choosing a route to walk, I was able to look and see what was around me. In the evenings, I would decide which museum I wanted to visit the next day and book my tickets ahead, just to save time the next day, but I definitely didn’t have every minute planned out.

A friend and I once went to Tokyo together, and on that trip, we collaborated to plan all of the details ahead of time. We knew we wouldn’t be back anytime soon and wanted to make the most of it. But at one point during the trip, I told her I just needed to sit and stare. I had tired of the back-to-back routine. It had become unpleasant.

How transitions impact precrastination

I’m more likely to precrastinate during transition phases of my life. A year ago I changed up my diet, and I found I had to plan everything really carefully — what to buy, what to make, when to make it. But now I’m accustomed to it, so I don’t need to plan nearly so much, and I’m more comfortable preparing meals spontaneously.

I also precrastinate when it comes to apartment hunting. Searching for real estate in NYC gives me a ton of anxiety, so I start very early. The stakes are really high in that situation.

On finding enjoyment in taking time

I enjoy cooking, and one of my favorite things to do is spend a day at the farmers market. I don’t need to have a plan for it. I can see what’s fresh, talk to the farmers, gather ideas, and improvise. It’s like a hobby. I’m not extreme with this hobby though — some weeks I’ll do really involved meals, whereas other times I’m content with cereal and eggs.

Leadership requires staying on top of things

In my professional life, I’m definitely a precrastinator. I’m so much more detail-oriented in work settings, largely because I’ve been in leadership roles. If I don’t do my job really properly, the stakes are higher. People are more reliant on me.

I don’t let things go to the last minute. That will bug me. Kicking the can down the road is something I don’t understand.

Life has been ups and downs, and that won’t change. I’ve learned that the onus is on me to find my happiness.

Lisa Grimm

Optimizing for happiness

For me, doing things early is about managing anxiety, and as a result, I’m not high anxiety. I’m constantly trying to optimize for happiness, and a big part of that is avoiding stress and anxiety in my personal life. I’m getting really happy with my presence, my ability to be present. I try to be aware of my present self, and carve out what my future self needs.

I attribute my ability to be present and optimize for happiness to the fact that I’ve dealt with some trauma at a pretty young age. Therapy has helped, and so has meditation. I don’t have a daily meditation practice, but learning how to meditate has helped me be in the present.

Riding the highs and lows is difficult. I feel like I’m in a moment of strong control right now, but I know I won’t always feel that way. Life has been ups and downs, and that won’t change. I’ve learned that the onus is on me to find my happiness.

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