If you're behind because you were lazy, you can laugh about it. If you're behind because the stars didn't line up for you (E.g. the carpet got pulled from underneath you several times) then it's hard to laugh about it.
In retrospect, being lazy isn't too bad.
For many people, "trying to bend their personality into the shape [they] want it to be" is fruitless, totally counterproductive.
The first thing I had to learn was that in order to change my behavior, I had to change my environment, not my attitudes. My attitudes are fine, indeed, perhaps excessively eager.
It's possible that other people could take something away from that, ADHD or not, it's better to accept and appreciate who you are and the value you bring to the world, and instead seek to make changes to where you are, what is around you, and how you relate through that to the rest of the world.
Having severe ADHD, coupled with a seemingly unalterable indifferent outlook on life due to manic depressive disorder and childhood trauma has given me a morbid sense of satisfaction in making time to squander my time here on Earth... And intense salf hatred. I just hope I can consolidate these two aspects of my personality in a reasonable timeframe. One half of my role models are all polyglots, men of science and patrons of the arts, and the other half are all dead from speedballing or suicide.
Ok, so there's time travel in the future. But why did you come back? Did our goals all fail? Was global warming that bad? What are you trying to alter in the timeline?
Use the code-phrase I'm logging in my private folder on Keybase and get in touch.
(But seriously, damn our lives sound similar. Any advice for dealing with the problem?)
I wish I had some smidgen of life advice, but we're even more fucked up in the future than we are now, I'm afraid.
Jokes aside, what I've been doing is finding fun ways to strengthen my discipline while picking up useful skills. I picked up the Rubik's cube about a year ago, I'm now under a minute and a half and won't stop until I'm under ten seconds. Then I will learn how to balance things on my fingers and other body parts. Then I will learn how to juggle.
No, I'm not training to become a circus clown. Just noticing my weaknesses (visualization, dexterity, coordination, etc) and finding fun ways to mitigate them. The discipline involved in my incremental daily progress will hopefully carry over to other aspects of my life.
I keep a pack of index cards and a pen within arms reach, and make tons of lists and notes and keep them around my monitor so I see them ten hours a day. I try to take care of at least 1-3 things on these lists a day. I condense my daily soul-crushing feelings of loneliness and desperation to between 3-4am.
I have a million and one great ideas and I write them all down, but I only allow myself to focus on 1-2 projects at a time. This creates a small sense of embarrassment, as I love to work through my ideas by discussing them with others even if I don't actually plan on implementing them any time soon, but I worry it comes across to others as me talking about doing all sorts of things that I will never do, simply because I don't bother communicating that I'm just talking through these ideas to find their flaws. But that's ok, eventually I will have things to show for it.
I'm not satisfied with the speed of my progress, but that's ok. If I was, it means I'm not aiming for lofty enough goals. I should never be satisfied with the person I am, because I should never settle for what I have.
Anyway, that's what works for me for now, hope some of it helps.
(I ask because I had same experience, except now that I am diagnosed I am struggling to find what I am supposed to do... I am kinda spinning in place without going anywhere)
The biggest things, broadly, are:
Step 0: Get engaged medically - with diagnosis, collaboration, and medication. ADHD is not something you can manage on your own. It's literally "the disorder of not being able to fix the problems you can clearly see", so you need external feedback and assistance. Doctor(s), therapist, friends, family, co-workers, employer - gotta engage all of them.
Step 1: Figure out where the problems are. This means, before you make any changes, record when things go right / wrong and map out places that need change. (and I know, making ADHD people carefully analyze and wait it out is the most ridiculous thing ever but...)
Step 2: Change your environment and the way you live your life. Automate, externalize, or delegate all nonessential tasks and change your set/setting to accommodate you instead of struggling to behave. If it's not something you do without thought or effort, automate, externalize, or delegate it.
Step 3: Relax! You've made it, time to kick back and... Oh, no, sorry, continue to repeat steps 0-2 on a weekly/monthly/annual basis, largely for the rest of your life. It's a little bit like weight loss - getting there is only about 10% of the battle. Getting consistent about it is the other 90% and that's the part that clearly people with ADHD struggle with the most.
Anyway, it's really key to understand it as a process, a skill, and one that you can improve at over time. Don't let missing things or being unsuccessful get you down, just pick it back up and learn from where you made the problem. Don't blame yourself any more than you'd blame yourself for being colorblind or tall.
More about the changes in step 2:
a) I automate and delegate everything even more heavily than I did before. All bills go on autopayment, anything that can be set up to be routine is. Yard service, cleaning service, whatever it is, if it can take things off my plate, sold. Can't overstate how critical it is to not let your own execution problems trap you. Focus on strengths and accept your weaknesses.
b) Calendaring is absolutely essential. He recommends paper, I do it digitally, whatever works for you. I have things set to remind me, and I use it religiously. I have reminders for any recurring activity - daily, weekly, monthly, if it can't be automated, don't try to remember it, instead use reminders. It also must be with you 100% of the time. Literally chain it to your arm if you need to. Which sounds less ludicrous when you call it a 'smartwatch' but...
c) Externalize everything. Draw pictures, flowcharts, checklists, plans, or sketches; set timers, write notes, make boxes and organizers; put gold stars on a chart; whatever it takes, but you can't rely on your own brain to provide feedback. You need things to be concrete and outside of your own mind.
Most importantly, the things you need have to be at where you perform the task, not in the office. I have 3 whiteboards in my house and they are constantly full with relevant, localized info, plans, lists, schedules, etc. I use painter's tape and markers to label everything. Do not label the cats. They do not like it. I routinely go through ~3 rolls of tape a month.
d) You need your environment to fit you, not the other way around. If you can't focus at work, either make changes to where / how you work or find a new job. If your home/neighborhood/city is the wrong size, shape, or activity level, change it. It's that simple, and that serious. A significant undertaking and one that I'm definitely still working on.
I feel this is the "take out all the brown M&Ms" moment in your reply. I did laugh a lot though - the timing was unexpected.
It may be more critical for someone with ADHD, but, even so, it's an outline of habits common to effective people. And frankly much of it is a great expression of what it means to be human (change your environment, delegate your efforts, planning and scheming, etc.)
So my project wasn't just me being complete nuts.
My parents put my computers near them after I moved back with them.
I kept insisting I needed one where I wanted... After sevearal months arguing and not getting anything done, I managed to get help to build a desk (I didn't have money to buy one...) bought computer chassis (computer was without one) on a junkyard, and setup it where I wanted.
This was recent, so I didn't started to get things done with it yet, but at same time the whole undertaking was feeling like I was just wasting time for no reason, like if I was procastinating, that maybe I should just try to get things done anyway in my parents office and deal with the noise and interruptions...
I got lucky and made some money in spite of my undiagnosed case. But my ignorance allowed me to make some bad life choices when it came to choosing the wrong spouse, and now we're divorced with 2 kids.
The role of environment is severely underrated. Not just in our failures, but in our successes as well.
Motivation runs dry, but environment can be set up to work in your favour.
For example, if you sold your couch and TV, you wouldn't watch TV first thing after getting home or on weekends.
This isn't to say that you'll magically become more productive, but to just illustrate how changing the environment can have a profound effect on your habits and therefore, your life.
If I want to check my phone I have to go get it and wait for it to turn on. If I want to check distracting sites on my computer, I'll have to log in first. They're small, but normally what happens is I will start to slip out of focus, by habit I will punch in the distracting site, realise I need to log in and go "Oh yeah, not now" and then get back to work. It's like a focus cue for when my brain goes on auto-pilot. I find I check far less often now because my brain knows there's no reward there.
Whenever I am in slouch mode, quick come up with the quickest home chore I haven't done. Vacuuming? Washing dishes? Cleaning dining table?
The quicker the chore could be done, the better. And as you about to finish it, come up with the 2nd one. After the 3rd time, your mind is awake and ready to do productive things, like a side project, etc.
It's like bicycle for your mind, the first couple strokes are always difficult.
What really changed for me was reading some Hindu philosophy. I'm Indian and Hindu by birth but have been agnostic pretty much all my life.
I looked into the philosophical component of Hinduism out of curiosity.
The heart of Hindu philosophy is in the Gita. The core idea of Gita is to "do your duty regardless of the results"
This is a belief I've now come to embrace wholeheartedly.
I've stopped bothering with the results. I've stopped bothering with what others are doing.
I only focus on what I CAN do - my duty - and forget about the rest.
Relinquishing control has been a great thing
The way I "quit" TV, and sugar, for that matter was to get them out of my day-to-day habit. For me that meant getting them out of the house. Sell the TV and dump cable if it is standing between you and your goals. Personally did that after a long period of travel after finding I did not miss it once.
With sugar, I stopped buying anything at the grocery with significant carbs. If I need a treat I turn to premium dark chocolate.
I still might partake a bit of either while out on the weekend but that is it. Now trying to push alcohol and caffeine to the same category but finding them more difficult.
I think accepting that you enjoy watching TV or other passive means of entertainment is more important than beating yourself up over not doing something more productive.
If working hard made a difference by itself, tons of minimum wage workers will be rich by now...
>In retrospect, being lazy isn't too bad.
Money isn't everything, especially "success" in the BS way the US rat race defines it. You don't need millions, heck not even one million. 99% of the world, and most of the US live their liveσ without ever having one in the bank anyway.
Find something you love, whether it's work related or something you find fun, and enjoy it. And/or enjoy the company of people, family, etc.
Having a pension is not in any way, shape, or form an excuse to not have private retirement savings. Other people can and do routinely decide to render pensions worthless, and there's nothing you can do about it.
If you aren't the sole signer on the account where it's held, the money isn't yours. If anyone has the ability to pilfer it for their own purposes, they will, and you should act accordingly.
Accepting a pension in lieu of additional income is a staggeringly bad idea that no one should ever under any circumstances dream of considering. You wouldn't accept salary in a way that can be retroactively withdrawn, you shouldn't accept retirement savings that way either. As long as we live in a world where Republicans are allowed to exist, trusting a government to pay you is phenomenally stupid.
It's extremely good news that the US has mostly discarded the idea of giving out pensions.
I pay council tax of 120/month. 400 a month is far too high for 2 people - according to the ons  the average for a family of 4 is 56.80 (which seems a little on the low side to me, but is definitely enough for 2 people) - we spend a little less than that on breakfast/lunch/ 7 days, and dinner 6 nights for 2, and that includes our non food shopping expenses (e.g. toiletries, cleaning products).
Not to mention, if you're feeding two people, then the second person in the house presumably has an income. Presuming a pension, that now means your income is 1280/month. Remember that you get free travel, discount on heating (which reduces your £100/month bills)
Based on your comments in this thread, I can only assume that you like to indulge, and part of that indulgence is in price (seriously, 400 quid a month is exorbitant for 2 people), and that's perfectly fine. What's not ok is projecting your inability to live without sirloin steak, fresh fish, imported cheese on to everyone. You come across like an elitist snob.
Sure, but if you want to have real influence, you need lots of money. We are talking about things like owning media conglomerates and shaping the way the world thinks and behaves.
That to me is a lot more interesting than having your own tiny slice of the pie and going through the motions until you die.
Real influence for what? Power over people?
You can change the lives of people around you without "real influence" that comes from money. Not even need to do volunteer in some organization or whatever. Can start by being around for relatives and friends in need. Or some neighbor that has some problem -- perhaps they're old and nobody ever visits them, or can't afford even a basic medical procedure. Even political influence, if that's what was talked about, can be attained with almost no money at all -- just sticking to your ideas, telling people about them, organizing others to help, etc.
>We are talking about things like owning media conglomerates and shaping the way the world thinks and behaves.
Are we? Who the duck cares about "owning media conglomerates" -- if it wasn't for the money it implicitly also means that is?
TFA's author talks about feeling behind in his work/life progress, and the parent comment in this thread as well. How did that escalate to "owning media conglomerates"?
The idea that "owning media conglomerates" is really an actual important goal to achieve in life lest you just "run through the motions", is incredibly dismissive not billions of loving, caring, happy, heroic, etc people living totally normal lives. And even if it was valid, that just leaves around 100-200 positions in the world. Heck, 10,000 if you like. The rest 7 billion - 10,000 just go "through the motions", really?
Besides, the kind of people that do own "media conglomerates" were either already the scum of the earth to begin with, making their way up by being in bed with power etc, or become that in the process.
Ah, but you see, those people have Good and Neutral alignments. Lawful Evil requires a butt-ton of work.
But then those same empathetic people will speculate, "I can tell <famous person> is totally unhappy -- idiot!"
Personally I think these types of people are abnormal and their "success" isn't something I aspire to.
Lazy is a very loaded term - I'm hesitant to subscribe to the notion that keeping up with Game of Thrones is any less an investment of time. As examples of the value of such an investment, you can then discuss it with your friends and coworkers, facilitating social cohesion and acceptance. You can use it a tool to encourage you to take a step back, and look at other things you are doing from a different perspective.
Sleep is another investment, the value of which has been much-discussed here and elsewhere. I'd encourage you to invest in it.
Perhaps your investments have been commercially focused - this is no bad thing. You will have learned directly about the work you have been doing, people's behaviour around you and yourself. You have learned some of what you are capable of - working so hard in impressive in itself, this is a capability you can understand and rely on later!
You will have gained a reputation with some of the people you have been working with. If you are still on good terms with any of them, you can use this to better understand yourself, and you can seek recommendations from them.
That said, not all investments work out. I'm sorry your investment has not brought you what you expected.
Please try to focus on what you have learned and gained, and keep actively choosing your investments. You're almost certainly doing fine, and if not, please ask for help.
This, critically. The extrapolation of "most successful people have a long string of failures behind them" is that, from any point in time before your success, it looks like you're wasting your time.
The important thing then is to try and evaluate whether you're actually wasting your time or early but on the right path.
Many things are useful here. Evaluating incremental micro-goals: what are the things that will help you attain your larger goals and are your current actions checking these off? Soliciting feedback from trusted peers: recognizing that success usually looks a little crazy (otherwise, someone else would be doing it), do they believe you're on a plausibly successful path or have any feedback in changes you could make? Attending more meetings where people like you are sharing their successes and failures: thereby avoiding comparing yourself to the 100 one-in-a-millions we read about here on HN?
In short, worry about whether your current trajectory has the highest likelihood of success you can achieve. Not whether you're already successful.
(And allow for a variety of end states that are successful. To some, a loving family is the highest success. And that's a valid choice.)
Think of your life as a sand castle. Sure, others have nicer ones (or worse
ones), but in the end they will all be swept away by the tide. The existence of
other castles in no way diminishes the value of your own. All that matters is
that you are happy with the castle are building, because that's the only person you
are building the castle for. Life is a game, but it does not have a high score screen at the end.
(Or, to sound more down-to-earth: no use crying over spilled milk.)
We do what we must because we can.
For the good of all of us
Except the ones who are dead.
But there's no sense crying over every mistake.
You just keep on trying till you run out of cake.
And the science gets done and you make a neat gun.
For the people who are still alive.
The point being, it shouldn't be about comparing castles, it should be about making everyone's castles ever better (until eventually, at some point, we discover concrete and the castles will no longer get swept away by the tide).
(And for those not knowing the context, the "gun" in the song is a tool, not a weapon.)
In addition, with 100 billion+ people existing throughout the entirety of the human race, it's unlikely I was the first to think of anything I've ever thought.
"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them,
I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew,
and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not,
shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew,
and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."
Matthew 7:24-27 KJV
The great thing about living frugally is you can actually have a great lifestyle while doing it. For example, I could re-create a fancy $10 breakfast sandwich from a local coffee shop in 10 minutes and for less than $1 per sandwich. You can eat like a king for a fraction of what eating out costs, and you'll probably get better quality.
If you're in the bay area, you should probably get out unless you're being paid enough to make it worth it (most aren't).
In ten years you can have far more security, money, and free time than the average person can even think of. And its really not that hard. For a techie, living paycheck to paycheck is very much a choice.
Retirement isn't good enough. By the time you retire you are in your 60s, which is too late for me.
The default outcome for startup founders is not "filthy rich" but rather "older and poorer".
If you try to break out and get thrown in solitary then sure, I guess you're worse off, but either way you're still trapped. What's really funny is that when your attempt fails it's the other prisoners who want to cut you down for trying & want to see you punished the most.
nxc18 offered pretty good advice, I'm not sure what your alternative is?
I like work because it has me doing stuff that's similar to what I want to do in my free time, but provides the necessary incentives to actually do it each day.
My job isn't perfect, but it has me doing productive, rewarding, mostly-interesting stuff with a bunch of smart people whom I like and can learn from.
It's worse than my dream life for my dream self, but it's better than my dream life for my actual self. I may not be behind, but I still like to feel like I'm moving forward, and work does that for me.
On the other hand, I did quite enjoy my ~1 month of working four-hour days a few years back, so there's probably a better balance than I have right now.
Meaningful work and a sense of accomplishment doesn't seem like it's caused by a culture of shame. I can get that from a hobby (painting, writing, programming, carpentry), or I can get it from a job (painting, writing, programming, carpentry). In either case, it seems normal beyond the boundaries of culture to derive satisfaction from this.
It might be a lot harder to derive satisfaction from hobbies with no "productive" output (my long bike ride, hiking in the woods) due to a culture insisting on productivity, but I don't think it's true that the productive ones would be valued less than non-productive ones if not for enculturation.
What I don't like is the routine, having to be at work at 8:00 AM M-F or otherwise losing my livelihood.
It's the requirement and forced interaction that bothers me.
The number of twenty (or even thirty) -somethings I've met who have been trying to make it in the bay area for years and still don't have more than a few month's worth of expenses saved up worries me. Y'all are in an incredibly vulnerable position, and it's not going to get easier to make wages the older you get.
I think a balance is important. It makes logical sense to cut down on fun and emotions to get more work done, but the human brain needs social relationships and fun to produce peak output. At least that is how my brain works
May be being a bit more lazy will help you be more creative and make the stars line up better for you. I am not being snarky here, be a bit more lazy, the brain needs fun and emotions.
Through, putting enough time away for sleep or needed rest/socialization is not being lazy. People are more effective when they sleep enough, meetings are shorter when people coming in don't feel lonely and so on and so forth. I mean, being lazy is bad, but spending some time watching a show, reading book or keeping friends does not make you lazy.
And I mean, I am pretty sure you learned something from the experience. If you try another project/business, your chances of success go up due to what you learned. If you would watched tv whole time, you would learned precisely zero.
I'm sure a lot of garage computer engineers in the '80s have a few boxes of boards that could well have been the Next Big Thing, if only X/Y/Z.
If you do try really hard, its maybe a 20% chance.
The question you have to ask is that 20% chance worth not being able to do other things with my time.
Nevertheless for all you know the knowledge you've gained so far will help you achieve the success you desire in the future.
Was this because individual projects or endeavors were not successful, or the companies you invested time in were not?
Also, the results of the last 10 years can help determine the approach of the next 10. Until you are too old or sick to move, there is always time for R&R.
(Disclaimer: I'm approaching 50 and always feel behind)
All the startups I joined sounded promising but the tech environment in Australia was really tough back then (still is, I think).
I did manage to get a small number of shares in a startup which appears to be doing relatively well now but no exit yet (it's also the startup which I worked for the longest; 2 years)... All the other ones just failed. I really understand first-hand what it means when people say that 9 out of 10 startups fail. When I think that my experience of success/failure is probably 'normal' it really freaks me out how bad the odds are (versus what the media makes them look like).
The lesson I learned is that it appears to be completely random. It's just about being in the right place at the right time; the best you can do is just change companies a lot until you join one that's obviously going up like a rocket and try to get some shares.
I've met a few founders who got very lucky and they don't have the slightest clue how weird/unlikely their success is; they live in a different, much simpler world than me.
Throughout their lives, my students have felt that they were 'behind' and they are not good enough. This mindset creates adults with low self esteem, which then prevents them from learning. Many times, they nod their head in understanding when they really meant (I have no idea what is going on, but I'll burn the midnight oil and learn it on the Internet after the class). This mindset is incredibly destructive and forces people to memorize things instead of taking the time to understand things.
Recently, we have switched to a curriculum where everyone learns at their own pace. The ones who are ahead are tasked with teaching and helping others. The ones who are slower will teach the next batch of students and take their time to really learn the material. This works for us.
I wonder, ignoring for a moment the practicalities of this, if a freeform educational system, allowing students to "rank up" at their own pace, might be worth persuing. What's the benefit of forcing slower students to rush through their work, and requiring that faster students move only as fast as the rest of their class allows?
Could you expand on the reasoning behind this?
Presumably, they are not teaching material that they are still struggling with. Are they teaching the previous material, which they have understood?
If you are having students teach each other, I would have thought that quicker-to-learn students would be better candidates to teach the material.
I notice this myself when I'm teaching people things - in many cases I erroneously come off as "the expert" in things even when I mostly gained expertise in it by responding to the very questions that people are asking.
"Unconscious competence" is particularly rife in the functional programming community. An inability to explain does not necessarily mean you just "got it", but if you've understood it, you can't necessarily explain it.
I'll agree with you that the top part of the distribution that "just get it" are not going to be the best teachers. But, I doubt the bottom portion are either. Rather, students in the middle, who struggled to understand the material, but ultimately came to a good understanding are the best group.
Granted, I'm just speculating and leaning on my own experiences. So, I really am interested to hear otherwise.
Thats what really worries me, sure I like coding and learning now but what happens to me in my late 40's and 50's when I have to care for my parents and kids at the same time while tying to not become a IT dinosaur.
I think at all ages you have to leverage what you have. When you're young, you have a lot of energy, so you learn a lot and work a lot.
When you're older, hopefully you have a lot of money and a lot of experience, so you can (i) use the money to retire or pick what to work on, or bootstrap your own startup (ii) use the experience to become an Engineering Manager, Technical Product Manager, etc. That's _if_ you don't feel safe as an individual contributor, which is imo reasonable in areas where seniority has a short half-life (eg. front-end / web tech seems to be like this).
To borrow a phrase from finnthehuman above, this short-term regret is the fire lit under my ass. I think I'd better ignore Zack's article and keep feeding it. It drives my overall happiness.
- Bill Gates
This is important for measuring personal progress. I like to think about it like a stock chart. Would I ever measure a company's performance just by looking at the 1 day or 5 day view? Nope. I need a bigger picture to get a better idea of the overall trend. I think measuring yourself on areas of improvement is no different. Some days will be great and some won't. But how are you trending across months/years? Apply to learning art, exercising, etc.
If you got in 6 years ago, you might just have a different set of regrets and blessings.
Many famous investors and entrepreneurs who came to Silicon Valley in the early 1990s thought they had "missed it." Everything up until now is a sunk cost. Operate accordingly.
If someone needs a fire lit under their ass to get going, a sense of falling behind their expectations for themselves can be a perfectly useful motivating factor.
Of course it can become all-consuming if that's all they've got as a life planning system. It's a setup that will inevitably trigger the brain's way of telling them there is a contradiction between desires and perceived actions. Regret doesn't have to be stressful, but this guarantees it is.
Throwing it away for a self-evaluation system that nullifies regrets is jumping to another extreme. Best case scenario is lying to yourself long enough to let your actual value system catch up. Or maybe it'll make someone lazy and complacent in a way that they're content with and much later come to regret that too, or maybe it will lead to the clichéd cycle of a "fresh start" every few months.
Building and maintaining a system of motivation, discipline and self-evaluation that lets someone live their life while working towards their goals productively for decades requires good mental hygiene, a topic with suspiciously few quality resources.
It wasn't until I started to spend time with people who I knew would ask hard questions and challenge me to keep going that I started to actually get shit done. Happy to chat if that'd help, but don't worry about time – my experience is that failed startups mean someone has a far broader level of experience than even they think they have.
And I'm one of those 27yo's who many people think have "made it" but still have the same sense of crippling "should I have done that differently" / "I squandered my youth" fear. It never goes away.
It is a little bit correct when it says that regret is not a useful reaction to a past you're unhappy with, but even that by itself is misleading. Regret is a useful emotion that helps you shape future actions. What is not useful is paralyzing regret, or any flavor of regret that keeps you wallowing in the past.
When he says "you are not behind", that is mostly wrong. If you're 25 and aren't yet doing anything individual and attemptedly groundbreaking with your life, you probably are behind, if that kind of thing is your goal. Sticking your head in the sand is not going to make this better. Being complacent and saying it's fine, I am only 25, no wait 26, no wait 27 until you are 40 isn't going to help either.
There is a reason the human mind is able to conjure phantasmal pictures of "where we should be" -- because that is useful. If you choose to ignore that in order to have a shallow feel-good time in the short term, you do so to your own detriment.
All that said, if you are genuinely content with where you are today, then everything is fine and you don't need externally-imposed images to tell you where you "should" be. This advice is only for people who deep-down want to build interesting new things.
My last comment is ... this seems like an excerpt from a self-help book written by someone who perhaps should gain further life experience before writing a self-help book. When you decide to write a self-help book you take upon yourself a substantial ethical burden, because if you give the wrong advice, you can affect many peoples' lives in a negative way. So you should make sure you really know what you are talking about.
I think this is the biggest take away. Feeling "behind" is always relative your goal. The feeling is also influenced by a "success bias" in which the examples/role models you see or hear about are the successful ones. Yes, compared to where Bill Gates was at your same age you're probably behind - but what about the other countless number of people your age with similar goals? How do you stack up to them? That should be your real metric rather than the 1 in a million success stories.
I agree in that regret is a useful emotion. But only as, as you said, a tool for evaluation and recalculation. Personally I believe it is better to make decisions based on asking your self "if I do/don't do x, will I be closer or further from my goals?" rather than making decisions based on "oh man if I only did x or y 10 years ago I would be where I want to be".
I think it can nicely be summed up with:
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."
also - I know it's become a bit of a meme at this point, but "pivoting" or changing your goals isn't as bad of a thing as people make it out to be. I don't find there is anything wrong with re-evaluating and changing future goals based on progress and failure. I find it's better to change your goal based on a previous failure rather than give up completely or become stuck in the paralyzing regret phase.
I disagree with that. Most people are not successful, so if your target is the average, you are aiming at a data point that represents lack of success. It is important to understand that most successful people are not normal, and the higher the level of success, the less normal they are.
> "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."
Common advice is "learn to be happy with what you have", but that will never work if your dream is to do something Great, for future generations to remember -- to not throw away your shot.
What noticeably cheers me up is reading about all the people who started doing interesting things only in their 30's and forward, or those who reinvented themselves at some point in their lives and went on to be famous only on their second (or third) wind. I wish we had more of their stories instead of the endless parade of young genius entrepreneurs. Learning about the breadth and diversity of human experience is always such a pleasure, and it helps me remember that shaping your life and personality to meet your intellectual goals can be a grueling, decades-long process.
(Incidentally, reading Show Stopper! about the NT kernel was really great for this: although Dave Cutler was clearly a very accomplished engineer at the start of the book, he was in his 40's and experienced mostly in "archaic" technology when Microsoft decided to hire him. This wasn't at all the focus of the book, but it was wonderful to witness the power of a competent mind so quickly and confidently adapting to new technologies and problem domains!)
* Adopting a more deliberately Stoicism-inspired philosophy - whether or not I'm succeeding at my goal there will be another struggle waiting after that, so there isn't really an endpoint here other than my death or permanent incapacity.
* Buying into feedback loops over goal-and-achievement systems. Feedback is more important to doing good work than any other thing - if you don't have it then you don't know if it's any good. But also, it's easy to miss what forms of feedback are available and sometimes it's as simple as critically thinking about whether or not an expected result happened(e.g. write software, add a feature: did it actually do what you expected?)
* Got a lot of money. I did this through crypto. I had no expectations about it, it was just a way of putting another iron in the fire. The amount of physical effort put in was, of course, clicking a few buttons, typing a few passwords. But the mental/emotional effort of "why bother" and "why study this" - that is why you aren't seeing everyone on the street talk about it(yet). I had to make a firm decision to get in for anything to happen. And there's a lot of random chance to that, just as with my game projects, which have hardly gone anywhere in years of trying. And now that I have the money my mind is rearranging things so that I will further devalue my work on games in a monetary sense.
A lot of "striver porn" - worrying about productivity and getting ahead and making Right Decisions - stops making sense post-success. If you end up with the success, great, but I wouldn't try to impose a narrative arc on it. The actual factors involved are just mindboggling. The feedback loops, on the other hand, those are something you can improve from nearly any life status. And they tend to vastly differ from productivity tropes because they're about optimizing a whole cross-section of life, not just quantifiable output. E.g. if you do less but your stress level is lower, do you end up ahead on health later?
I did want to signal boost the stoicism part, though. There are a lot of good mental health practices available in modern stoicism that tend to appeal highly to nerds and other logical types. I can't recommend the following book enough: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0195374614/ref=pd_aw_sim_14_1...
I reread it every couple years and it has definitely helped a lot with my feelings of loss and "wasted time."
Oh, and getting older. It's incredible how much more mellow I feel at 37 than at 27.
You've mentioned fame and being remembered by others. Is your main desire to do things or to be celebrated for having done things? Which one of those scenarios appears in your mind when you fantasize about your future? The answer to this question can sometimes be the difference between a miserable life and a happy one.
It's a bit depressing how many currently billion dollar ideas I've had myself over that time too. Makes you feel that given different circumstances it could've been you.
Way behind he was.
And don't get me started on that slouch Cezanne . What with becoming a master in his 60s and all that.
I don't think I read it that way. There are many reasons why someone was not able to or capable of doing something at age 25; finances, experience, whatever. Maybe you just didn't discover the thing you were passionate enough to follow. Maybe you had to care for an ailing family member for 10-15 years, should they not still not follow their own path?
The age at which you discover passion is irrespective of deciding to follow it. And you act like 40 is the end of the road, when in fact for many 40 is just the beginning of when they are financially secure enough to strike out on their own.
People should stop focusing so much on age, and if there was any good message in this article, that's it. Forget about what you haven't done, stop comparing yourself to others, and follow your own path.
(In comparison, fellow eccentric Howard Hughes had his entire public career - aviation records, hit movies, plane designs, business moves, social life, by the same age Musk is now).
Tesla on the other hand was always struggling for money (much of that could be attributed to poor management of what he had).
I really don't think you guys disagree that much. You're talking about different perspectives (not behind yourself vs not behind others) and a different focus (you on regret, him on forgiveness). Otherwise you both have some great wisdom in what you've said, don't think it's necessary to put him down so thoroughly.
For me personally I've had a lot more free time than most people because I've worked part time freelance for the last few years, and I could probably reach my goals faster if I "kick it into gear" a bit. As I think Derek Sivers said, advice often reflects the state of the giver of said advice more than anything.
Most people won't end up in that situation (as a prodigy who'll change the world before they're 30), and that's perfectly fine. Go ahead and put in more effort if you think you're not doing as well as you could be, but also remember that one in a billion success stories are outliers rather than the norm. Remember that what's in the news is there because it's unusual. Man bites dog stories are obviously going to be more common than the other way around, despite the other one being a few thousand times more likely.
TLDR: Don't compare yourself to extreme outliers, at least if you don't want to feel like a complete failure.
(Personally I think it's insane, especially when many of these sites have ads which reshuffle content much more violently than any FOUT. Also now you have hacks to enforce the old behaviour: https://css-tricks.com/fout-foit-foft/ )
This helps me value the content accordingly.
How long was I supposed to wait for this fade-in? I skim/read the HN comments, went back and the body was still blank.
"Too cute to read."
It never did for me. I was able to read the article only after suspending my ad blocker (uBlock Origin).
Stumbling across some philosophy stuff about "thick concepts" led me to the answer I wanted.
I did this because I am behind (my Christian School was just awful for the most part, physics was God's love and math was for liars and moneylenders), and I'll probably never, ever catch up.
But still, I am trying to improve. But sometimes I talk to folks who don't work as hard at my tradecraft. They make fun of other folks who do. They try and shape the field to suit their lazy "this didn't outright fail so it's success" mindset.
Odds are, if you're a programmer you ARE behind. The field moves fast, no one does post-graduate teaching. Conferences are hit or miss and taught by the same folks. You need to work hard to fix it.
The people who are making a strong effort like you seem to be, but that think they aren't very good still, probably actually are quite good. I'd ask what you feel like you are behind of. There will always be someone ahead and (what we might forget) tons of people behind you.
I look at my own life - I am pretty bad with women as a nearly 30 year old because I was raised in a strange puritanical culture and never learned how to woo effectively, but I also am currently working on starting my business full time which I couldn't have done with a family. I also was never taught evolution in school, but now I've become interested in it and by reading many books on the subject probably know quite a bit more about it than most people even if they did learn about it in school.
Everything is a tradeoff. I wish you the best!
There are tons of videos about learning to learn and I've watched a few. Their message is as obvious as it is vague.
1. Set concrete learnig goals. Keep those goals small and reasonable.
2. Reinforce your learning with practical work.
3. Pace yourself. Take a week off every 3 or whatever works. If you burn out you'll lose more time. Similarly, learning is an expensive activity and if you're not well you can't do it effectively, so think about your health.
It's like music. Play a lot, listen a lot, and you'll build up a mental library of riffs and sounds that you can use to build a song or phrase. If you play with software a lot then you'll see those patterns and become a better composer, and you'll also be comfortable answering questions about optimization, architecture etc.
But not huge on blog posts. Not engaging enough.
And now you start feeling bad about it not happening tomorrow. Better advice is to feel who you are, not who you're going to be, because the latter is simply a change after applied force, but the former is the force itself. Talking to my succesful friends I realized they're no more happy nor sad than me or themselves in the past. Success doesn't make relationships better, even worse. Success doesn't answer any fundamental questions you have, because it is about acceptance, not about the force that reasonably stops you every time you attempt to be "nice player". Not researching/admitting your inner true state is just a colorful way to a personal exhaust, such loved by those who convert people to wealth which they also don't need.
Above said doesn't apply to those who are "succesful" by design and maybe some groups out of my (pretty narrow) focus.
Yeah it's a little pop culture but the way he talks about things is very accessible.
This will matter much more later in life, when the reasons for being behind aren't laziness, but other life events. Accidents, injuries, getting derailed if you have children and go without sleep for what feels like 5 years. The normal trials and tribulations of life that everyone goes through. And then when they are over, having to get back on track. Getting in the habit of just stepping up, dusting yourself off, and getting going again is a good habit to make as soon as possible.
Perhaps the best mindset is to always forgive yourself for past mistakes and believe that you can accomplish everything that you want - but only if you get to work right now. After all, if you don't, you'll regret it.
"Zack Kanter, Boulder, CO-based entrepreneur, speaker, futurist, and writer, CEO of Proforged, amateur chef, all-around nerd."
I don't think that's the Proforged (http://proforged.com/) that makes suspension parts.
Or maybe it is. https://github.com/Proforged
- Accept this very moment, and all the moments before this one as unchangeable. Since any additional decision or action will take place in the future, this moment is the only possible state of the world I currently live in. Fate/environment/god/entropy/myself (whatever one believes in) led me here, and it could not have happened in any other way, or it would have.
- What I can have an effect on is the future (as the article says) - I can STRIVE to make a certain improvement or reach a goal.
- Whether or not I reach a goal is almost always not entirely dependent on me, and is therefore uncertain, and it would not make sense to expect it 100% to happen. So I don't fully rely on it, and have a Plan B and maybe C available. Fate/environment/god/entropy always has the last word on my reaching a goal, and since I cannot change that, I also have to accept it.
Not accepting unchangeable situations is IMO a major source of suffering. Finding out what I can or can not, or maybe should not change is an ongoing struggle.
What a great analogy!
Wow. Literally read this while watching an episode of Game of Thrones, and I just started two weeks ago, and I'm in the middle of the sixth season.
In the past five years, I've started and sold a company. Bought a house on a golf course, purchased expensive foreign cars and went on insane trips all over the world.
Last year, my wife woke up one morning and told me that she no longer wanted to be married (that's a story for another time). Got divorced and lost almost everything except the stock that I still own in the acquiring company that may never have an exit. The house, the cars and the trips vanished.
I guess my take away from this is that life is a series of ebbs and flows and it's our responsibility to gain greater self-awareness each day that we wake up. If you feel like you're behind then that is actually an amazing step in the right direction. Ask yourself why you're you're feeling behind and work through those emotions with yourself.(Literally talk out loud to yourself. It's weird but it works)
Are you biased because your former co-founder still has his house and a new baby? Are you biased because your closest friend just took his company public?
What I noticed about myself is that envy tends to create the anxiety that leads to feeling behind and the inadequacies associated with that emotion.
If you understand and even accept those emotions then you can reverse it by playing devils advocate to your feeling of insecurity (everyone needs a little self-love) then you start to be grateful for the things that you are doing well and doubling down on those strengths.
Although, I find him at times to be utterly unbearable. Gary Vaynerchuk does has some very sage advice for anyone feeling behind. His content about playing the long game has had the greatest effect on me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsB9U9kSXUc
I struggle with debilitating depression but I've created mental models that enable me to get out of bed on those days and get to work. I'm hyper-aware of my state of mind and when I'm feeling depressed or sorry for myself I let myself become aware of it and work through it instead of falling into the recursive emotion that is feeling depressed about being depressed which leads to feeling even more depressed.
Once those issues are ironed out then I do my best to break up my day into very small tasks that I can accomplish in order to keep the serotonin levels high.
Today for instance, I needed to finish some financial modeling
for the new company that I started but I had serious FOMO because it's labor day weekend and everyone's at the beach. I recognized it so I took a pen and paper to the beach and did some work at the beach.
Now I've created some momentum for my self-esteem and I'll end up having an exceptionally productive Sunday. ; )