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Writing things down (how to know what to do next) (manythingsblue.com)
162 points by tc7 35 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments



I feel the same debilitating anxiety when it comes to planning out career. It's become so bad that I have started ignoring it and instead checking emails and Hacker News for solace. Questions that keep me up:

1. What to learn next?

2. Is this the right career?

3. Shouldn't I be a CTO by now? What a failure!

4. Dude, you forgot about your family!! (Gasping for air)

so on and so forth...


Life is not a race. Either nobody is judging you for your choices or whoever is judging you doesn't have the right to do so.

If you ask yourself what you want to do instead of asking yourself what you want to achieve, the conflicts that demand solace should be gone.

That said, it's still a nice game to try to achieve the most. But that's stressful and you should be in a position of choosing that stress, not submitting to it.


This might also be a good time to pitch the 'Meditations' by Marcus Aurelius again (a time-honoured classic that pops up very often in HN discussions). I cannot stress how much insight is contained in this book---it may help you achieve a healthy detachment from these things.


>If you ask yourself what you want to do instead of asking yourself what you want to achieve, the conflicts that demand solace should be gone.

Easier said than done. A decade into my career, I still have no idea. I just kinda go with the flow.


Yep, this resonates a lot. Not fun.

I think it's something in those steps, starting with "What to do next", that leads down that rabbit hole.

Maybe try working backwards -- "what do I want my life to be like in a year/2 years?" I think working back helps narrow down the infinite immediate options - some things become obvious must-dos, others not so much.

Years go by really fast. This sucks on one hand, because anxiety and lack of direction can easily suck up a whole year with nothing to show for it. But it's also awesome to view things on longer scales, because you don't have to "be" anything next week, or next month, just slightly better than the week before, and at the end of a year, a lot has changed.

Best of luck!


Thanks, this helps.


>3. Shouldn't I be a CTO by now? What a failure!

Compared to how many billion people on earth?


no compared to a pool of peers that is measured in the tens of thousands(if i'm being generous). in that case it genuinely becomes a case of "you fucked up at this point in your career and that person didn't"


>it genuinely becomes a case of "you fucked up at this point in your career and that person didn't"

Of you know, the peers are tens of thousands (including people out of good schools and such), but the positions are like a few hundred or thousand, so statistically you're far less likely to be in that position than to not be.

The key is that even if nobody had "screwed up", there would still be fewer CTO/CEOs that people qualified similarly for that job.


I've learned a similar lesson, and incorporate a high-quality mechanical pencil and quad-ruled notepad in my personal workflow / productivity system. Thanks for sharing your insight, and good luck w/ ProjectPoll!


Thanks! I appreciate the comment, and the good wishes :).


What you describe sounds very similar to my take on the Rubber Ducky method, except with writing things down instead of talking out loud. I think what works is the act of putting your thoughts out into a form you can then turn out and think of as external, then respond to. This enables you to look at it from an "outside perspective" even if it's literally your own perspective. It's hard to challenge your own ideas if you don't put yourself into that seat.


Yeah, agree there's a perspective shift there.

I also find that typing doesn't work as well as hand-writing for me. I think my brain is in a different mode (publish), so it's judging/editing things as I type -- vs handwriting, where maybe the mechanics are so unconscious the brain can mull the thought over instead of trying to edit it. Maybe talking out loud has the same benefit.


You captured the dilemma of "build the best product and launch it and feel that you've done it when you have not done anything towards finding the users Versus. go without a clean product and get into the act of finding users" very nicely. Again, this is something like moving towards the real goal versus acknowledging the real goal but still continuing to stay where you are.


ProjectPoll.io is an outstanding idea.

I think your homepage copy buries the lede though.

For me, this was the a-ha moment: "ProjectPoll sends anonymous weekly surveys, that give you unprecedented insight into your teams and projects. We help you find and tackle the problems you didn't even know existed"


Thanks very much! I'll definitely move this up. I've spent a lot of time rewriting/moving/mangling copy in the past few weeks -- reasonably sure I've made it worse. ;)


Should link ProjectPoll in your post every-time you mention it, had to manually search :P


Very valid, thanks ;). I just added links, should be updated momentarily.




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