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It's so easy to get carried away by enthusiam, ambition, pride, fear ... it happens to most of us all the time. Luckily I belong to the people who run out of energy fast. Therefore I need to stop and break and make a reality check for myself regularly.

I'm still driven by the ambition to achieve greatness (change the world, become famous, buy myself an island). We need to use our brains first to understand how wrong this motivation is, then to build great applications.

Edit: In my Python days I was a great admirerer of Jesse. The times he created the multiprocessing module. I hope he will get back on his feet.




I used to be one of the carried away people. Then I developed a really awesome relationship, and then I fell off of a bicycle and experienced a traumatic brain injury, and the lingering after effect of a head injury or a spinal cord injury is often chronic pain.

Luckily, I can still program. I didn't loose much mental capacity. But there's a thing in the chronic pain support community called the 'theory of spoons.' In short, you get a certain number of spoons when you wake up in the morning. Some days it's more, some days it's less. You give a spoon out for everything you do and every interaction you have. Most days, you'll run out of spoons midway through the day through normal interaction. But when you run out of spoons, you have nothing to stop yourself from just hurting. You don't have anything to give yourself to stop the pain, much less to give to anyone else to make them feel needed in the relationship you have, to make them feel valued at work, to make them feel happy or welcome to be in your home, to produce something awesome on your side project, to make a healthy dinner ... there just aren't enough spoons on any given day. But the worst part is that you end up in physical pain because you've given out all your spoons, and you know that the people around you are hurting emotionally because you don't have any spoons to give them.

Most people eventually learn to budget their spoons carefully. If you're SUPER cautious about it and you put many of your ambitions aside, you can get to a point where you still have a spoon left by the time you get home at night. But it means you're probably not going to be an astronaut, and you probably are very shallowly involved with your community, and you probably aren't going to leave much of a mark on the world outside of the people who love you. Recognizing that early in life is pretty important so that you do have people who love you.


> It's so easy to get carried away by enthusiasm, ambition, pride, fear ... it happens to most of us all the time. Luckily I belong to the people who run out of energy fast. Therefore I need to stop and break and make a reality check for myself regularly.

I recognize myself in the behavior that the writer describes. Going all-in on too many things, and all the negative consequences that result from that.

The feeling I felt as I read the article wasn't just recognition; it was envy. Because I am actually one of those people who run out of energy fast, my 'all-in' has not even resulted in a partner, kids, 'prominence' in any community, etc.

Basically, I am in much of the same place as the author, for the same reasons (to the degree that I can tell from one article, of course), except that I have nothing to show for it.

The best I can say about that, perhaps, is that by having less to 'show for it' I also have less to mess up or lose.

Small comfort.

Discovering that I also belong to the people that run out of energy fast, and that even operating at 'normal speed' can be disastrous for me in very particular contexts is a good thing though. If I learn to make these 'reality checks' regularly, I will most certainly be happier and more grounded, and in fact I'm pretty confident I'll even be able to 'achieve things' in the long run.

And that's a ray of hope, however small and however far off its source seems. Slow and steady wins the race, I think, applies very much to me.

My primary challenge is that I find it really, really difficult to 'make reality checks'. I have recently been diagnosed with (mild) autism, and apparently this inability is pretty typical.

How do you keep yourself from either going too much all-in, or hiding from the world too much, when much of the time you're barely aware of whether you're doing one or the other? How do you remind yourself to do a reality check when you forget about the reminder, because your brain is stuck on some random obsession?

Sometimes I feel that I live in a world that is fundamentally not suited to me. I don't think of eating unless someone else starts eating, but because I live alone in a big city with some flatmates I barely know, I am often not triggered. I don't think of leaving the house to socialize because there is no clear pattern or cohesive structure to my social world. It's all opt-in and based on personal initiative, mostly. I sometimes struggle doing work as a freelance developer, because my brain gets stuck in a loop and I just pace my room talking to myself. Or, the other way around, I work and work at the expense of everything else and end up in a pretty bad place because of this. It made me understand why weekends and vacations are important. If only I could remember this. I've tried for years.

I sometimes miss the period in my life where external structures provided me with a socialization pattern (student org.), where deadlines and tests forced me in some kind of rhythm, or, longer ago, where living with my family provided me with the triggers I need to engage in normal, healthy behavior (eat well, sleep regularly, get outside, talk to people, sit with people not talking, emotional 'cleanup' by talking to parents/siblings, etc).

Sorry about this reply getting off track. It sort of got away from me...


I'm someone who only has limited amounts of energy (as in, sustained hard thought and focus), combined with a tendency to get hung up on briefly fascinating, but ultimately irrelevant details. My approach to making progress on projects is to keep a very short list of things that I think I really can make progress on, along with a few footnotes about what imperfections to ignore, followed by a paragraph about why I think I can make progress on these items.

Then, on any day where circumstances are in my favor, I can look at the list, pick something, and start doing it. Or, if I disagree with the list, then the immediate task is to fix the list. Anything I no longer agree with, or don't have the means to pursue, is removed. It feels important to me that the list remains concise and focused.

I think that I'm now better at switching off, being able to do other things, being able to unwind, partly because the list gives me the confidence that I'll be able to pick things up again tomorrow, without needing to wear a furrow in my brain in the meantime.


Well said. The most industrious are those who live their lives by some form of checklist, and manage to at least check some of the items off. The only problem I have with checklists are those who obsessively try to achieve each task on the list and presuming each item is somehow not complete unless the others are completed.

A little known phrase that should be tattooed inside their skulls is "opportunity cost" which I learned from Mark Manson's blog, and it is a great phrase. Try to read "No you can't have it all".


One thing that I have started doing is planning out what I want to do in a day. Perhaps that could help you.


"I recognize myself in the behavior that the writer describes. Going all-in on too many things, and all the negative consequences that result from that."

It's addiction. :(


Considering that I struggled with, uh, 'self-medication' for quite a while, you might very well be right. Something to think about. Perhaps my cessation strategies can help with this too.




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