Here's how it goes - there's an idea that you think is really nice, you start talking to people then you are hit with reality - no one gives a shit about your idea. Some do, but most of them are like meh. There comes the first punch and you either think they are all dumb or ascribe some positivity to what others are saying and start talking to more people or start working on a prototype. Then you realize you have to build a front end. Welcome to front end hell. You have no fucking clue how CSS has evolved over the last 6 months. The npm package you thought was useful is now outdated or not maintained. So by now you are more or less exhausted. What started as a fabulous idea in the head has now boiled down to 'shit let me get done with this CSS crap and move on'. At this time, I don't even want to think about CSS, let alone HTML. Rinse and repeat this until you find success.
At least, this has been my experience.
What I mean there is, simply, when you get the idea and your first instinct is to seek confirmation from others, you've already erred by basing the entire thing on the whims of others. Even if you get them to become stakeholders with a substantial interest, they are still most likely operating on their whims. They go to the meeting because they are obliged to have a meeting, and the extent that they care is simply the extent that you have entangled them in it. You cannot rely on others in this regard; they can be great friends in most aspects of life and still be utterly perplexed by your ideas, even if they start seeing them working in practice. We all fly to our comfort zones. But this means that being a good student, a hard worker or a loyal friend is not sufficient to cross the threshold into realizing something original.
What you can rely on to make that crossing are tools of logic and reason: first do some philosophy and determine your thesis. Find principles, themes and references to give it structure to hang the work off of. Make sure it coheres in an explicable way, with logical premises: compare everything pair-wise, make diagrams, whatever you have to do. There are a lot of possible "systems" but having one is the important thing. You do not want to be in a position of blind faith in the idea alone, and a strong high-level concept has the power of making it easier to rationalize, explain, and argue for a certain way of doing, thus eliminating your doubts.
Once you have some starting point, generate requirements with binary true/false factors: it must have this, it cannot have that. Sketching out requirements can tell you something about the principles you have in mind so it helps to cycle between the two a bit. But you don't build a solid project just on requirements because those are so often subject to whims: "why do it that way?" "meh, felt like it." You instead challenge each requirement against the broader idea to ensure that it works at scale.
From the aggregate of binary factors, key metrics to focus on also appear. And as you do requirement generation, the motivation to do the work appears naturally because you have to do it to answer the question!
And of course, doing this, it becomes a marathon, not a sprint, because it quickly takes you out of the space where you just grab off-the-shelf solutions and slap it together. You start going well out of the comfort zone to answer your question. Now you have experiments to run and research to follow up on. The principles and themes of the project never change once established, they only become more refined and nuanced as you evaluate what the best means of achieving them are.
And I think that is, in essence, how you do it. You can achieve something resembling a successful creative work by accident, but if you stick to a principled approach your chances improve sharply.
I spend my work time on embedded engineering. I like it well enough, but it's stressful because there are goals to be met and drudge work to be done. But I spend my free time working on classic sports cars. I fix what I want on the car and if I'm tired of it, I just get rid of it and move on to something else. No goal, no stress, just enjoyment.
Problem is - I have no idea what to do about it.
It's so hard to do anything fun in my free time because the moment I think about doing / starting something, goal oriented t thoughts follow, which means stress follows.
I wish I could just go into "kick the can" mode whenever I wanted and turn off the part of my brain that wants to see results, progress, and checkmarks.
Maybe you have absolutely no desire to be a painter or artist. Pick up a pencil and just doodle for 30 minutes. Get some cheap paint and a small canvas on your way home from work and just spend an hour going for it.
Maybe you've always wanted to try fencing. Find a place and take a couple classes just to see what it's like.
I'm also like that, anything I start as a side project almost immediately becomes "if I don't change the world with this, why am I wasting my time?" So I had to start doing things that I know will never amount to anything, and specifically tell myself "This will never matter." When you can accept that you're spending a little time on something that's just for its own sake, then you've done it - you're experiencing an honest-to-goodness leisure activity.
I think this was your first mistake. I believe the author's point is that whatever that thing is, it's important to you and potentially you alone. If it so happens to be interesting to others that's icing on the cake. And, there's at least some chance that that thing you find to be so important others, somewhere, will find it valuable too, more or less. But maybe not, and that's OK.
As a front end dev and someone who teaches front end stuff (React mainly), CSS really doesn’t change quickly, and when it does change, those changes are additive. CSS is very very good about backward compatibility.
To give a specific example, CSS Grid is a newer feature than Flexbox, but both are useful for layout, and in this case newer isn’t better, just different. (I know, newer == better is nearly a universal constant in the front end world, but CSS doesn’t suffer from that nearly as much as JS does).
I just wanted to mention this in case part of the problem is that you don’t know the “new” way to do something in CSS, and you don’t want to learn it, but you do know a way to do what you want... just do it the way you know, and it’ll very likely be fine.
You might enjoy a utility CSS framework like Tailwind  that relieves you from some decisions and gives you some nice shorthand without locking you in to a specific look or a specific JS framework. (I know, another thing to learn... but it’s worth a quick look, might save you time in the long run)
It’s a frustrating world.
What worked for me: make an absolutely minimal version of the idea (2 hours), and a webpage that describes its promise (9 hours). 500 people looked at it, one thought it was cool - that was enough for me.
He’s not strong enough to squeeze the orange (rails contributor life perks) so the juice must not be worth squeezing
Basically, that hard work ain’t worth it. Fun Uber Alles
But it’s like, the process of building a sexy body is not easy or fun. It’s gonna be at least a year, maybe more, till ppl start wondering what you look like shirtless. you’re telling us the Payoff isn’t worth it?
Becoming a rails contributor was a worthy goal, no one said it would be fun. plus, what about when your personal project gets bigger, you don’t like maintenance work? You can’t be a developer. Developers maintain software. Youre going to work on toy software and tutorials all your life?
You should enjoy your leisure time and you should not shy away from hard work and you should take care of your health above everything else. This guy even dropped a humblebrag about neglecting his personal life.
Some rich ppl wake up early. That had nothing to do with their success. Hard work doesn’t determine success either.
Basically what I’m trying to say is feeling productive will not guarantee success. Productivity is the new prayer
Not everyone wants to get swole or be a rails core maintainer.
Changing goal posts is cheating yourself. Self discipline a sin now?
It’s the American stigma of failure, deeply flawed national trait
The argument is that hard work saps energy and can damage your self esteem so therefore it’s evil. No matter the benefits, they’re not worth it if they don’t come easy.
This is like bizarro Silicon Valley
To be honest, I think you would agree with the author if you focused on the overall message rather than specific points in the post.
If your position is that changing your mind about anything ever is a sin, then what use is a 'lesson' to you? You can't learn it.
There is nothing that will keep you excited forever.
If the circumstances force you to eat shit, it's still not the right thing to do.
Sometimes you gotta eat shit because it’s the right thing to do. Changing the goals won’t fool anyone, not even yourself.
No ones born knowing how to code, it takes practice, it’s not fun, it can be deeply hurtful sometimes, hell all careers can hurt bad
Painful lessons aren’t worth it cus they’re painful? We’ve crossed the rubicon. Point of no return is way over yonder
But whatever myth you think there is for goals that require delayed gratification simply does not exist (at least for most people).
The journey is more important than the destination and all that. Reaching some arbitrary goal doesn't bring you lasting happiness.
No ones born knowing to code, but learning to code can also be fun. Like many other things. The worst thing you can say to somebody learning anything is that "this is very hard to learn".
If you have a pile of cash you can lead a life of not much. But lottery winners and multimillionaires almost invariably seem to get bored by constant holidays, permanent no-destination travel, and other kinds of freewheeling.
Most people need a goal and a focus. And as soon as you have one you're going to frustrate yourself by definition, because you don't have the skills or the character to reach your goal immediately.
Which means work is involved. And that's going to suck in at least some ways at least some of the time, because work does - even if you're financially self-sufficient and are doing it for passion not money.
In any case you should never prime for difficulty, it only decreases performance and motivation.
And since very few things are actually really, really necessary, I find it's very hard to pass morality about "the need to do more".
What I don't agree with is that everyone needs strong goal-oriented thinking and psychology to accomplish things.
Perhaps in the strictest sense everybody has goals but being goal-oriented is another thing.
Sorry. I guess I tend to think in a dualistic way.
This past week I've become obsessed with a video game idea. The week before I was obsessed with a design app that I'm working on.
One thing I've noticed though - regardless of whether or not I do something about my current top most exciting thing, these things come back. The same videogame idea has been visiting me regularly for the past six months. This means that even if I lose steam after a few days of working on something, it's not work lost - I'll probably resume it for a bit a few weeks or months down the line.
On top of that, I've learned to not consider any hard intellectual work as wasted. Things I've researched for random harebrained ideas I later flaked on often find a way to become useful in my dayjob, or a different harebrained idea.
I've also noticed that I become a lot more committed to a project when I bring other people on board.
But why? What was special about the video game idea that interested you, and the same about the design app?
In my experience I often fail to see things through because they only interest me superficially or are primarily orientated around making money (quickly!).
But I know what I actually want to do (and I'm working towards it), and the reason is that I feel that activity has merit on so many deeper levels than just making money or the intellectual challenge of solving a problem. It aligns more with a sense of purpose than anything else.
So for me now, that's my yardstick. I may still do side projects that don't align with that core goal, but I don't expect too much from them - in fact if they were to actually take off they may get in the way of my core goal which would make the "success" seem pointless.
Perhaps through questioning yourself and digging into your motivations you'll be able to find something that you'll be able to stick with when other things come along competing for your attention.
For example, my business is in the residential real estate industry. I think a lot about rent prices as a result. I have a pet theory that there's a bubble in the world of big building financing. I would love to spend weeks just digging into the data and trying to find out what's really going on, but that's not going to help my business succeed.
I resonate with what you said re: a sense of purpose. I think the way rental housing is done on the whole planet is a trainwreck, but a fixable one. I think it could improve the lives of millions of people if someone could shake off some dust and introduce some new ideas. It's huge and exciting.
I guess the fundamental problem is that there are many interesting and viable angles to solve the problem, but if you want to succeed, you really have to focus on a much smaller cohort of those angles (if not just one). So yeah, I don't think it's as simple as having a better sense of purpose unless your sense of purpose is extremely narrow in scope.
But many times, you will learn something on the way that you can recycle in a future project.
PS: if you don't tell anyone about your "failed" projects, this strategy will make you look like a genius.
So I learn very little, and often restart the same things over and over. Eventually I give up and play computer games because they steer the focus and drip-feed novelty and reward compared to actually doing anything more productive.
I've noticed my frustration tends to stem from a feeling of not progressing quickly enough, or getting bogged down in architectural details before strictly necessary and then abandoning the whole thing due to the assumption it's too complex for my knowledge level...
“I know everything, just not at the same time.” But for our most gifted engineers, it’s practically as if they know everything.
Some things will stick and some won’t. But I suggest testing each project you’re excited about for at least a month with a daily habit before moving onto another one.
The docs told me I have ADHD. Maybe you do, too?
I think the opposite is true. Most things that I hated doing when I was 20, I’m today at 49 happy that I did. Workout, do the homework, even my military service.
Many things I loved doing in the moment, play video games all through university, for example, I’m not so sure about.
This includes things like skipping military service and basically living as an outlaw for many years because of that.
I've also played a lot of video games and consider that time well spent.
> I wasn’t tired, I was excited afterwards. I've neglected my other habits because of it.
Let's see how you feel after cranking out your 10th side project after working 8-hour-or-more days. Who knows, you might absolutely love it, and decide to start a second business while working.
You might also discover that your partner is starting to feel neglected, your apartment is a mess, and you have gained 10 pounds, because exercise is not what you love.
Either way, I would not recommend the approach described in the article.
You need to do a lot of things you do not love before you have the skills, the vision and the attitude to actually do what you love, and accomplish the goals you want to accomplish...
As a millennial, I think this kind of attitude is the problem with our generation. I mean both simplifying things into instagram-quote-sized senteces like "always do what you love" and also convincing ourselves that if you are not doing what you love, you should be doing something else.
Maybe we should focus more on how to be able to still motivate one-self to do things you do not love so much, but that are necessary.
Often, things that I really do not want to do are necessary for me to achieve things I really want to achieve.
Articles like this, and the beliefs they seems to want to propagate, are probably a big source of depression and failure in young adults (and not so young adults) these days.
The amateur waits for inspiration,
the professional knows that it will come after he starts.
The professional therefore acts in the face of fear,
when the amateur fears a big creative endeavor he waits for the fear to disappear,
the professional knows this will never happen and starts anyway."
Basically, what it says is that you'll never feel like doing something that you don't want to do, and that's exactly the reason why you should just start doing and get it over with. That's my opinion
But your sub-conscious brain being able to link the results with the efforts is not a precondition to start working. It only facilitated the process, and does not act as a deciding factor.
EDIT: Hmmm... On checking the foreword again, I see it says that book one is actually "Defining the Enemy". I'm starting to think that these 3 "books" are actually sections of the physical book. I guess the physical book "Turning Pro" of the same author might be completely unrelated to the equally named book two the foreword mentions. That's pretty confusing if true.
As it happens I was looking at the book the other day and decided not to buy it. Maybe I should take another look.
I wouldn't consider myself a professional, but I know how to beat my own inner dialogues it seems
Sometimes I'm dealing with a problem that is really complicated and I tried to solve several times without success... I can feel the resistance in bed, when having breakfast and before I sit on my chair and fire up vim to go to that very block of code. It also tears me apart to go to work and leave it unsolved.
Resistance drags us down really, really bad. It makes it difficult to go back to working on a problem.
Not a professional here, but boy this is the point where amateurs quit and that's exactly where I feel the urge to quit too... but somehow I just don't. That's where it clicks "I have to find a solution to this somehow!". Maybe it's a bit of ego but I don't drop something I started and when I finally find the solution, it's almost orgasmic. I feel like I'm the biggest man in the world, and that's my drive to keep moving.
 Unless it becomes crucially destructive and is clearly harming people, but I guess you get what I mean.
 I don't want to make it over minimalist because there's a lot more to it, but I'm referring to this specific motivation building block (I believe motivation isn't just an isolated urge to accomplish thing, but rather several `blocks` that together compose this `will` to do things).
It sounds like the most fundamental and precise definition of (the reason of) procrastination.
Whether or not it was an intentional, what a magnificently oximoron-like answer! I tip my hat to you, sir! :D
If more people lived by it, the world could be a more productive and fluid experience, instead of all team members waiting for the last day before the deadline to actually start working or a project, I'm sure you all know how that feels...
I disagree with this, and I'm curious what long term goals you might have that aren't aligned with whatever it is you're doing now.
How do you suggest a millennial choose a "long term goal they really want to achieve" in the first place? In my experience, goals grow out of a person performing an activity and having a desire to master it, but you appear to be suggesting that a person start with a goal in mind and then work on doing things they aren't motivated to do with the hope that the goal will be worth it in the end. That, to me, sounds like a recipe for depression.
Now, I'm not suggesting one should avoid doing anything difficult. Learning hard things is difficult, after all. The problem, in my experience, is that people are initially curious about something, but then tell themselves they can't do it. That they don't have the brain for it, or whatever it is. They're curious about something and so they make an attempt at it, but they don't do a very good job, and so they say to themselves that they aren't good enough and then they quit. This, to me, is where resilience is necessary. This is where it's necessary to do something even though it's hard. But resilience to do something you don't even want to do in the first place because you've set some arbitrary far-off goal for yourself? That seems like a gamble to me.
At any rate, you stated yourself that goals come form performing something and getting the desire to master it.
Would you say that such a desire sprouts in everyone the very first time they try something?
I doubt it. It sounds like "love at first sight" and I believe it is very rare, to say the least.
I am saying that, even to get to the point where you know what you love, you need to "push through" a lot of difficult moment that will make you think you hate that very "thing" that you might -through persevering- find out you love.
I think what we both agree on is that "find your passion" is not good advice by itself. The mistake people make is thinking that their "passion" will be something they have a natural aptitude for, and that once they stumble across it, it will feel natural and fun and they'll never find it hard or challenging. Most of the time, it does not work this way.
My reading of the article is that rather than seek out activites that are lucrative we should instead follow the thing that make us curious -- pay attention to the little voice in the back of our minds that says "I wonder if I could make something like that", and then go make that thing. When you do that, in my experience, you find yourself energised by your hobbies rather than depleted. And if you do your work in a place where other people can see, you start to meet people who are curious about the same things you're curious about, and that's a truly wonderful thing.
Generational division is also nothing new.
Please try to respond to the bad advice, and not provide generational troll bait. I'm not saying this with any authority, I just want to keep the level of discourse on HN from devolving.
Please don't respond to this if you disagree, just give it a down vote so the discussion stays on topic.
This is a person of generation X talking about a problem of the same generation (i.e. X).
> Please don't respond to this if you disagree, just give it a down vote so the discussion stays on topic.
Down vote trolls, not people you disagree with. Down voting for disagreeing leads to negative experience with the whole discussion platform.
Using downvotes to disagree has always been ok (and encouraged) on HN.
And for example, unlike Reddit, you can't downvote items on the main page, just comments.
I'd be curious to hear an updated discussion on this, but I've seen salient points being downvoted into obscurity simply because it accrued a lot of downvotes, and I'll find myself upvoting posts I disagree with just to keep the post alive.
Yes, pg doesn't make a point of reiterating it every year. Is the community really different? I've been around for some time and I haven't noticed. dang is a mod/admin. Here he is repeating it again a year and a half ago:
So we have a community manager repeatedly saying "yes, this is intended", and a random user saying it's not. The downvote button on articles is a completely separate issue.
I do think HN is much bigger now. There's less discussion on philosophy of startups in general. PG himself rarely blogs about it any more. It also seems like political topics get more frequently introduced on the front page. Also there's frequent toxicity and negativity about certain technologies which do warrant intellectual discussion, but get dog piled by naysayers. Maybe that's always been there and it's my imagination but it does seem like some of the "hacker ethos" has faded.
Upvote or downvote comments, not people.
Upvote comments not because you agree with them, but because you feel they contribute to the topic at hand, for those who read the thread after you did. Especially if they make you stop even just for a few seconds and consider a new point of view, even if you end up discarding that point of view.
Downvote comments not because you disagree, but because they are of low quality (for various reasons) and a waste of time to read, given the topic at hand. Comments you disagree with can often seem that way, and it takes self-control and, shall I say, maturity, to see which is it.
Oh yes, and feel free to downvote this comment if you must, I did hijack the topic somewhat rudely here. :)
But sometimes I up-vote comments that I mostly disagree with, but that I think make such an excellent point that others still might find them interesting. Or if a comment is greyed-out but I think it still contributes, I'll upvote it to counteract someone else's downvote, even if I don't necessarily agree with the comment.
Ultimately, users can do whatever they want with the up and down arrows.
So that the forum stays an echo-chamber? That's not why I come to hackernews. On HN (and sometimes, but less on Reddit) I can be sure there will be a respectful conversation of the all the viewpoints. That doesn't take away from the discussion, it adds to it.
I am a millennial myself (I do not know if the author is, and I do not think it is relevant) and I truly think this kind of attitude is damaging us. It sure has damaged me and and a big portion of people I know.
Besides... I did, as you say, try to respond to the bad advice. "We should focus on how to motivate ourselves to do things that we do not love, but that are necessary".
I am well aware that I might be wrong, and I think HN is a good place to debate different, and interesting, ideas. I also prefer to argument my disagreement in words rather than downvotes, because there is no discussion, otherwise :)
I think that's an important distinction. He's not giving diligent work short shrift, just trying to exclude drudgery from leisure time specifically.
Then again if "Dance Monkey" won't stop playing in your head... doesn't mean it's great art.
as many other commenters wrote, if one is just supposed to wait to get inspired, wait to have something to love and be unable to stop thinking about, a wide majority of people will wait forever.
I have a much better time when I try something new, give it everything I got, and try to learn everything I can from it, even when I do not like it. This includes hobbies.
That being said, I wont force myself into doing something I hate. It's just the absolute approach of the article that I have a problem with.
My sister in law went to college and started working in the job she wanted at the company she wanted but at a location she didn’t want. She couldn’t get a transfer to the more prestigious location within her first year of working so she said it was a waste of her time and everyone was holding her career back. She’s now stocking shelves at a grocery store at 29 years old.
You gotta shovel a lot of shit before you get to the top, but that stuff isn’t Instagram friendly so it’s not glorified in the media.
Yes, you have to shovel a lot of shit to get to the top. But you also have to dump a lot of people (and jobs, and interests, and homes) to find people and places that really complement you.
Maximum progress is made by people who can both trust their inner voice, AND can grit their teeth. The really hard part is using the former to know when to apply the latter.
The only thing I wish someone had told me is you only get one chance to start those “we were here together from the start” relationships. So before you set off on that big search, really think about whether there is something or someone around you that you might want to know in the end, alpha to omega, and stay in touch with those people or places. Because if you disappear for 10 years, you won’t be able to go back.
Part of this is having an educated inner voice. IME one does best with the intersection of ones passions and demand for those skills.
My younger inner voice craved to make videogames. Until gritting through the process a few years and learning about industry norms re-educated that voice. University also helped me discover some other passions that paid better and had better work-life balance, all with less risk. (Albeit none of the prestige.)
I knew a girl who wanted to be an astrophysicist. She could’ve done it too. But she started rock climbing (I was mentoring her), and eventually gave up college so she could be a climbing guide because “it’s what I love.” I tried my best to remind her that she also loves physics and can participate in BOTH if she pursued physics. But now she’s working to be a guide somewhere.
I’m not saying being a guide is a bad thing, but I know more than a handful of people who’ve guided most their life and wish they had just put in the time to get skills to get jobs that pay more and have more longevity. This anecdote is just one example (there are more) of my experience with the next generation that I haven’t quite seen in millennials. However, I’m not the most social of person, and I’m rarely on social media other than here so I could definitely be wrong.
>"However, I’m not the most social of person, and I’m rarely on social media other than here so I could definitely be wrong."
Do you people of the HN consider HN as a social media?
I personally don't, to me it feels more like an aggregator of knowledge and useful opinions.
The way I read HN is that I first look at the comments, and then based on that decided if I'll read the article.
I understand why social medias exist, but to me they feel useless and quite often they have many serious negative effects. None of which are present here on HN.
At times when I'm really busy, I'll even occasionally blacklist it to avoid distractions. The feelings HN gives me are very similar to the feelings that Reddit/Facebook would give me. I think that platforms like Reddit have additional downsides that HN has managed to avoid, but HN is a social forum.
It is well-moderated (thanks dang!), it doesn't have the critical mass of users which leads to wider adoption, it has a narrow focus on thought-provoking material, it is pseudonymous, and you don't need to download an app to use it.
But even though I occasionally learn useful things from HN, I still think it fits the definition of "social media": it is a way to waste time when you are otherwise lonely and bored, and it involves interacting with other people.
Maybe random forums are better, but I don’t consider those social media really.
Choose that thing as your job and make the rest your hobbies.
if astrophysics is anything like most of academia, there are a lot of low-paying, unstable short-term positions as everybody scrambles for the few permanent jobs. i'm sure there are a lot of astrophysicists struggling to survive in adjunct/lecturer/lab assistant positions who wish they had just gotten a normal job that pays more rather than pursuing what they love.
Couple that with the commercializing of pretty much everything that the sun bares down upon, such that nothing around you has much authenticity, which leads you to have bizarre situations like humans who think brands are their friends, and there being no non-commercial spaces to meet new people at. It's no wonder there are so many confused Millennials who don't really get how to fit into society anymore.
Of course you won’t love every task, some might even be downright terrible, but if you can’t stop thinking of the overall goal, then keep going.
But if you find yourself not caring about the end goal, time to reconsider.
> To the experts, what looks like hard work from the outside, is play from the inside.
People who are obsessed with "motivation" point to people like Elon Musk who work extreme hours, and recommend others do the same. But they have cause and effect backwards.
You start working insane hours when your own personal talents align with society's rewards, and you are blessed/cursed with ambition that demands to be satisfied.
Elon Musk didn't start off saying, "I'd rather spend time with my family and play video games, but I'm going to start working 80 hours a week to get rich." No, it started with a spark within him. How did it get there? I can't say.
They say talent is rare, but I don't think that's true. I believe what is rare is the intersection of talent and ambition.
I've been on both sides of this -- I've been very ambitious, and I've been not very ambitious in different parts of my life. It's hard to work your butt off when you don't feel particularly ambitious, and it's hard not to when you do.
Some days I can put in hours. Though in practice I have too much else going on. So the baby steps help maintain momentum without feeling like I can't finish anything.
It also helps to look back at milestones that were satisfying to me even if no one else noticed. And to remind myself it's OK to walk away if my original goals proved too far out of reach.
My point is that to get me where I am today, so that I can even put a finger on WHAT it is that I love, i had to go through many hours of doing things I did not love.
The "do what you love" narrative that our generation has been fed, I am not sure how and by whom, caused me to doubt my decisions much more than I think it's healthy, just because "I am not loving this, is this what I should be doing?". This applied to my university career, to my profession, to the jobs I took.
Luckily through lots of work on myself I am able now to look at these feelings with more lucidity and to work through them.
Thanks for sharing.
> You need to do a lot of things you do not love before you have the skills, the vision and the attitude to actually do what you love, and accomplish the goals you want to accomplish.
It will be very difficult for you to get the skills/attitude/vision you need if you don't have a clear vision of where you're going and why you're getting them -- and if you're struggling with motivation, asking yourself if you really care about the end goal can be valuable.
As an example:
I've been working on the same game for almost 2 years. There's a lot of boring stuff that goes into that, there are a lot of just multi-hour, multi-day coding sessions that are not spent on cool gameplay stuff, they're spent on optimizations and infrastructure, and signing up for conferences and writing blog posts. Stuff I don't really enjoy. I've spent 8 hour weekends just working on this, to the point that I struggled with insomnia at some points. And there's some stuff there that's really not fun.
BUT, every day I get up I'm still excited about the game. Every day I get up I desperately want the game to be completed. So it's not actually all that hard to work on boring, mundane things that will get me to that goal. I know, with 100% certainty, baring some kind of horrible accident I will finish this game -- because even with all of the mundane and difficult work, finishing the game is easier for me mentally than living in a world where I have not finished the game.
On the other hand, there are side projects I've tried to invest a lot of time into and when it got to the boring stuff, I couldn't be motivated to work on it. And I spent a long time trying to figure out what the difference was and why I couldn't pull off the same 8-hour practice sessions before realizing that I did not care enough about the final goals of these projects to put in the work. I am not a very good piano player. I'd like to be, but I don't care enough to put in the time and practice. I'd like to be the type of person who's an excellent piano player, but I don't actually love playing the piano.
If you really, genuinely love something, you will be able to put in the time on the boring stuff. If you do not genuinely love something, putting in the time on the boring stuff will be exponentially harder. So while being able to preserver is important, I also advise people who are trying to do hard things to first find hard things that they really, really care about.
Some motivational problems do come down to perspective, not character. I do believe that some people have problems with maintenance and work. But I also believe that sometimes people who can't preserver are in that state specifically because they have convinced themselves that they love something that they don't actually care about.
If I wasn't working on my current game, I would go insane. Motivation does not factor into it; I just do whatever needs to happen next regardless of whatever it is, regardless of whether or not it's fun, because that's what needs to happen next and I emotionally need the game to be finished eventually. To me, that's what working on something that I love means: caring about something so much that you're willing to do hard or mundane things.
If I'm going to spend 3-5 years on game, maybe even longer, I need to know up-front that I care about it on that level. So one of my tests when I start working on a game is exactly what the article asks: "can I stop thinking about this?" If I can stop thinking about it, then I probably am not going to have the motivation 4 years from now to spend a bunch of consecutive weekends debugging stack traces.
After the War, there were kids everywhere. So, so many kids. They had to open schools. Whole industries about kids exploded into existence. But as one of those kids? There must have been ten other people wanting to be what you wanted to be and half of them were better at it than you could hope to be. That, my theory states, fucked them up badly.
When they had kids, they pressured us into being unique snowflakes, to be exceptional. It was too goddamned much pressure, and that fucked us up. So the next cohort started congratulating their kids for doing absolutely nothing at all. Which fucked them up worst of all.
So, like, we are very sorry, but we were just trying not to pass our neuroses down and ended up giving you different ones. Same as our parents.
I definitely think the pressure was one of the top factors in fucking us up :D
Whatever you might think of the author's age or number of data points or whatever other platform you choose to berate him on, he still has a very solid argument: there are things that simply exhaust you when you are doing them. That's a fact.
Haven't you all ever experienced this?
And no, I never grew to like doing the dishes or cleaning the apartment. At 40, I still need some good music and a hole in the schedule of both me and my wife for us to actually not grind our teeth while doing it. So yeah, please only talk for yourself, guys.
I think this all turns to reddit (the comments are very much Reddit like) because this is the 20billionth article about 'following you passion' basically. And this title really seems to annoy people who have seen it all before; most people cannot just drop everything and do whatever. No matter if you are thinking 24/7 about playing in a bluesband; most (by far and wide) people cannot and will never be able to do that unless they win the lottery. And then you have all the negative thoughts; the anxiety attacks and the cravings that you really should not give into... It is all not so surprising response wise, but I thought it would just drop out and be dead before this went so much Reddit. That usually does not happen.
Sure, I get that, but this bring the nuance of the point of view of a working programmer.
For a long time I had a hustling voice inside me that was very toxic and insisted on me working on things it thought were useful but I hated doing (sadly I was used to hate doing everything in my life back then so I couldn't tune out the noise and pinpoint any particular problem). Took me like 10 years until I finally said "f that crap" and just started working on whatever I found interesting. Almost immediately, I felt better (even with a health condition that I now have to actively fight to cure).
So okay, we've all seen such posts and maybe we grew cynical about it but anything that adds a bit of a further nuance might help others reduce the toxicity in their lives by at least commanding some happiness in their leisure time.
> And this title really seems to annoy people who have seen it all before; most people cannot just drop everything and do whatever. No matter if you are thinking 24/7 about playing in a bluesband; most (by far and wide) people cannot and will never be able to do that unless they win the lottery.
Not many have the chance to make a U-turn late in their careers, true. The eternal pessimism and cynicism don't help as well though; and they might even set your brain up on a path where it doesn't actively look for opportunities to give you a better life. Depression in general desensitizes you so if you can avoid that you're already ahead compared to many.
> And then you have all the negative thoughts; the anxiety attacks and the cravings that you really should not give into...
Here I can agree (if I got you correctly) -- giving in to fantasies is very toxic and makes your landing back in reality extremely painful. But we shouldn't cut it off entirely; some day-dreaming helps us push forward.
I have often found myself trying to start side-projects that I didn't really
care about, because I had some abstract, perhaps irrational idea that I
"should" be working on this particular thing. Usually it's something that will
teach me a new skill.
Recently, I've gotten a lot better about evaluating whether or not something
is worth doing in my free time, but I still don't really have a good criterion
for when I should pick one thing over another: When should I spend my free time
learning about X, and when should I learn about Y instead?
One suggestion may be to pick whatever is the most useful or the most likely to
help you earn money in the future, and indeed this is more or less the rule I
have been using in the past.
I posted this article because I thought it gave some remarkably actionable
advice for picking between different side-projects, namely:
> The basic idea of personal energy management is that you should focus on
increasing your personal energy and lifting up your mood in your leisure
time, instead of working on things that drain your personal energy. Hobbies
should lift your mood, not drain you. This makes you better perform all the
This is a different outlook from what you usually hear, but it makes a lot
of sense to me when presented in those terms.
Any behavior that I engage in that has productivity as a side effect that I rely on, ie to be paid money or to retrieve food or to nurture relationships, even if that productivity is not a conscious focus or stress, is inherently upsetting and painful to me.
If I had complete financial and commitment freedom, I literally would not do anything (and that sounds amazing). I know myself well and have introspected on it very much, and truly I would not do anything if I could. I would just sit there like a bump on a log and watch nature. I would not spend time with people. I would not busy my mind on any kind of puzzle or reductionist exploration of nature or myself. I would just sit there for years and years and years. That’s all I want to do.
Realizing your dream into reality will entail hundreds if not thousands of hours of suffering, in some form or another. It will cost you, there ain't nothing coming to just drop your dream lifestyle into your lap. Even if you have skin in the game, you will lose battles and you'll be forced to remember the war, you'll be tested boundlessly, endlessly.
That being said, whatever you are fixated on, that may be a good place to discover what direction to work in. If you dream of writing a groundbreaking video game, I can promise you that you'll spend a lot of time coding it all, but you must also consider your rent, your car note, your family, etc.
It ain't simple, but you CAN dream your dream. And if you feel, you SHOULD.
Something like "find your passion" implies that you have a single passion hidden away inside you that you need to unearth. Once you find that thing -- knitting, sailing, whatever it is -- then you can do that activity for the rest of your life and be happy. This, in my experience, is wrong.
If rather than searching for your passion you instead focus on following your curiosity, you give yourself permission to play. This may end up leading you from domain to domain, but you'll find yourself energised and intrinsically motivated to do the work. This is the feeling I personally try to cultivate. It lifted me out of a depression 10 years ago and has seen me grow my skill set considerably since then.
I think the problem with this generation is not that they don't want to do hard things, but that they've lost touch with what they're even curious about.
A mind shouldn’t be what controls your life, because really your mind isn’t you. Your mind is mostly noise and chatter and sometimes we observe that and think we must do what our mind says, but it’s not true. We must do what we must.
The way to live is to discipline yourself to do the things that must be done. This requires pulling in context from the world and people around you. You know what you have to do, so do it, and lay down whatever excuses or distractions your mind is thinking about. Let instincts and intuition guide you, not “thoughts”. They are not the same thing. Iron sharpens iron.
I didn’t think much about this post, I just posted it because I knew I had to, so I did, and now I will probably never think of it again. That’s how it is.
This happens for me when solving hard problems. I can't stop thinking about it and work from the moment I wake up to when I go to bed. It looks like hard work, but it's energizing.
> Here’s a little hint from someone whose been there and back: Avoid the Zone. This state of consciousness is not really hyper-productive and is certainly not infallible. It’s really just a mild meditative state in which certain rational faculties are diminished in favor of a sense of speed.
Maybe it should be do whatever you're most scared of. Obviously if it's driving across Syria might want to give that one a miss but I mean more if it's public speaking attend a Toastmasters, if it's job interviewing stick your CV up on Hired and attend at least one interview, if it's selling do some prospecting on LinkedIn or it could be that hairy bug on your backlog which you keep putting off.
What if you can't stop thinking about 'that tall, slim blonde from Accounting'? The #me-too crowd will have something to say to you if you decide to go and 'do' her.
What if you can't stop thinking about how to commit the perfect murder? Same problem. The cops would soon have a few questions for you.
Note that the two examples I have given you above are also perfect examples of 'side projects' and have nothing to do with your day-to-day job. <grin>
What if the thing “you can’t stop thinking about” would lead to regret later?
In my case, the project I really want to do right now is to start a blog and write about video games. But, I worry if I look back on this time later, I will regret spending time writing about what others have built when I could have been building something myself.
So, I’m trying to balance my time between the writing, and also a programming project that isn’t as enjoyable, but which will hopefully be more fulfilling long-term.
Original vs higher contrast, objectively, one is easier to read
But that image I've attached is a software screenshot, not a picture of my screen, so calibration should have no effect when you view it on your screen.
Maybe it's just superior macos/ios having font/color rendering and not the display itself.
Edit: Opened it up on Android, it's better there than pc for sure. Might just be font rendering on on system that's crap.
However modern capitalism isn’t structured in a way that enables most people to think this way. Many people don’t have time outside of work to think of anything but their dependents and getting enough sleep. Many more have it much worse: working in Bataou or in a Foxconn factory; any hope of a life writing the next great novel or chasing proofs is not even a possibility.
If you do have the privilege though: use it as much as you can. We never know where the next breakthrough comes from. And maybe think about the layers of people, processes, and externalities that have come together to put you where you are.
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
Depending on how literally one takes that, you’re going to be one sorry motherfucker when you’re old. I like taking a shit, but I don’t love it. But I gotta do it, my Yelp review on “taking a shit” notwithstanding.
Personally, I quit being so spoiled that every moment must be filled with things I “love” and have a “passion” for. Oh, I pursue those things. But I’ve also learned to love the mundane. There’s more to washing dishes than you think.
But enough shit talking the post, the take away stands: if you’re not being paid, select your activities carefully. I would add that one select from those one is willing to commit to, if only for a little bit. Keeps you from being flakey: “do not love, next!”
When I was looking for an entry-level New York studio apartment four years ago, one thing I absolutely insisted on having was a dishwasher. Screw the overall size of the kitchen or the square footage of the apartment, or even whether I had a stove or an oven—I needed a dishwasher god damn it!
My parents and a lot of my friends told me I was being silly. Washing dishes doesn't take that long, they said, and dishwashers take up a lot of space you'll want to have in a tiny kitchen.
Every day when I use my dishwasher, I'm glad I didn't listen to them. I do have exceedingly little space in my kitchen, but I don't mind, as long as I don't have to wash dishes.
My point here is, there's a lot of ways to cut down on mundane tasks, and it's really worth prioritizing that effort over other concerns.
I went for a few years without using it in my newest apartment because my adapter didn't fit my new faucet. For some reason it took me a few years to think to look for a different adapter.
Anyway I very much appreciate using my dishwasher. It feels like it makes an impact on my life in a way that most other tech doesn't. It feels like magic. You put in dirty dishes and out come clean ones. I liken it to having a washing machine that you put dirty clothes in and they come out clean, dry, and folded.
Washing dishes is a zen-like experience. As the utensils, glassware, cups, plates and whatever pile up, you start to feel the itch to clean up the mess. As you finally get to it, you contemplate on what a pig you've been. And when the work is FINALLY done you can admire the cleanness. Then you say to yourself that you will only use ONE plate and ONE cup and wash them straight after, only to find yourself again in the same situation a couple of days later.
This is exactly the reason why we went and bought a Roomba. It doesn't clean as thoroughly as a human would, but it does it every day, and each time with the same robotic determination.
I currently have a more polished apartment than I ever cared for and at the same time am dedicating less time to keep it that way. What's not to love about that?
If you were single, it definitely takes less time than putting and maintaining the diskwasher.
Because I'm single, and I've done both, and the dishwasher is very clearly easier and faster to me. Maybe you have a secret dishwashing technique that I don't know?
A decent dishwasher doesn't require much maintenance at all. And the very, very little that it does is generally a more interesting use of time than washing dishes is anyway. But I started using dishwashers maybe 5-6 years ago, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've needed to mess around with fixing one.
You're not being wasteful: when the dishwasher is full, it doesn't work as well. Which means you need to pre-rinse dishes, which wastes water versus just running the dishwasher more often.
Sometimes getting that little meaningless thing you want in your life is very important. If you can't even get a simple dishwasher when you _want_ it, then what's the point?
Just getting the thing is probably more advantegous from a psychological standpoint.
Of course the future 80 year you would love it if you made every effort to make his life better, but the current you may value comfort more than going on terrifying adventures that make for amusing reminiscing if you survive them.
Our 20-25 year old influences our education/career based on our interests at that age. But shouldn't we make those decisions based on what our 40 year old will be like?
Of course a career change at 40 is totally doable but wouldn't it be better if we had been working 15-20 years towards that goal instead of starting from scratch at 40?
Impossible, I know, but something interesting to think about.
I'm almost 40 changing careers and can confirm, in spite of how doable may or may not be I can't stop thinking how things would have been different if my father said "yes" to purchasing a personal computer when I was fawning over them through computer magazines as a kid.
By 80, I should be so satisfied in my cynicism, I should not regret not having done anything in particular.
I also find it quite relaxing, perhaps even therapeutic
For example, I don't want to waste much time on lunch break doing dishes. I usually try to clean my plate and utensils, but sometimes even that has to wait. After work, I might just want to grab a coffee and something to eat and go relax with music & books (or HN..). After that, I might have more pressing chores -- go buy milk and coffee and something to eat for the next couple days. Exercise. Shower. Hmm, do I need to do the laundry today too? Try to put some time into a personal project, as if 30 minutes here and there were enough to ever bring them to completion.
What ends up happening often enough is a pile of dishes and no motivation to go relax with them because there's more pressing (or more relaxing) stuff at hand.
I'm glad I have a washing machine, and I hope my next home will be big enough for a dishwasher.
I mostly only do a subset of dishes like pots and pans, or an odd plate / knife from making a sandwich here or there, mostly on the weekends. But still, after cooking a big meal on the weekends, it's nice to find time to just not think for a while and decompress while feeling the water in my hands, listening to the silence...
You can learn to love what you do, no matter the task. You can foster love and appreciation with anything.
Learn first to love what you do, no matter the task.
Ha yes, how will you find anything if you already have everything figured out?
Hm, so that means I should live in an underground bunker with filtered air, hydroponics, and a decade long cache of provisions until the pandemic passes.