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Ask HN: How to deal with rapidly changing interests in life?
10 points by alexanderbergi 10 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 12 comments
I am in my early twenties and I'm on the path of self improvement. I haven't had the best of times lately and instead of putting all the improvements off, I have set myself achievable goals. One of the things I have a lot of trouble with is my interests seem to shift weekly. One week it's guitar next week it's cybersec, followed by a week of mobile app development etc. At some point the cycle repeats but, I can never commit to finishing something. I usually reach a point where I feel like I have done the challenging bit and I lose interest for a while. Whenever I do find something I only do that thing for hours on hours losing track of time and neglecting my other responsibilities. It's incredibly frustrating to never have something to show for what I have worked on and to not be able to commit to goals and projects over the long term. As a result my developer portfolio is full of simple projects rather than the unfinished more interesting projects.

I'm afraid my self-improvement track and my future professional life will be the victim of this. I Would love to hear some suggestions or experiences regarding this issue.

If you cycle too fast and abandon projects too quickly for your own liking perhaps you're suffering from ADHD.

In my early twenties I did similar things, thinking the world was wide and time was infinite until I realized I never finished any project at all or advanced beyond an absolute beginner stage. There is nothing wrong with trying out numerous things if you want to live an interesting life but if you can't ever commit to anything in the long-term maybe there's a reason for that.

I have been there.

I recommend the book: "Refuse to Choose!" by Barbara Sher.

Short intro: https://www.getmotivation.com/motivationblog/2017/04/barbara...

In short: get over the feeling of guilt first, then organize your multitudes of interests.

It's really scary reading those quotes, I will definitely have a look at the book.

Thanks to you and GP for posting this stuff. That article was written about me, too. I can't count my hobbies on two hands, and I spend a lot of time on HN precisely because the topics are so varied, and I'm interested in most of them.

Like the author says, I have spent most of my life wishing I was a Diver. That I could focus and become great at one thing.

How often are you just having fun with these interests instead of doing it for self-improvement?

I mean, guitar for instance. Regular practice is good, but if you aren't having fun while doing it, it just means you feel like you are working during your free time. If you program for a living, doing it in your free time might feel like work even if you enjoy it. And so on.

I'll also mention that when trying out new things, it doesn't matter if you finish a project. You tried something, might or might not have liked it, and possibly figured it wasn't for you or that you rather like spending free time doing other things.

I think a lot of times I am having fun, but when I do, I decide beforehand that I want to learn a certain thing and often times I don't finish what I wanted to finish. I'm not really working on self-improvement as a goal but, I went and looked at my life and what I wanted to see changed. Personal health is one of those and relieving frustration from my rapidly changing hobbies and interest is another.

I do program for a living as part of an internship currently. However, I want to try out the cybersecurity field and in an attempt to pursue that path I feel obligated to spend my free time working towards that path, but I can't seem to dose it, I commit to it 110% and burn out after 1-2 weeks. I think with most things I want a quick result, which I know I won't be able to get unless I pour everything I have into it.

I do share your last point, I often am enjoying myself while being invested in it, but the thing is I still enjoy it afterwards, I just can't seem to balance it with the other things I enjoy.

Ah. Honestly, I'd schedule and work on easing into things.

One of the things some folks teach with meditation is to manage time. Did you manage to sit for 5 minutes? If so, score, you did it. Also, many opt to introduce things slowly - so even if it going easily that day, once the timer goes off, you are done. That's it, that's all the time you get that day. It is similar with exercise: Ease into it so you don't hurt yourself. Perhaps this sort of attitude would help you with some of the more intense things - so, instead of putting 110% into two weeks, you are putting 110% into during the limited time you have for that activity and trying to set yourself up for better results long-term. It'll seem hard at first.

I think it's fine to shift. Some of my interests are seasonal. I think it's also good to note that things like guitar and cybersecurity are never finished. If you can even find 15 minutes a week to practice a couple riffs, that can at least keep you from completely forgetting it. Then you can spend more time in the future improving.

There have been many interests that I've had, and hobbies that I've partaken in, that I've stopped exploring for whatever reason. For a while I used to see this as a bad thing.

However, everything that I've explored has expanded my knowledge a bit. As an example, I used to draw years ago and although I don't anymore, if I'm asked to doodle something quickly (to show a diagram or if I'm playing Pictionary), I'm pretty adept at it. I wouldn't be this way if it weren't for sketching when I was younger.

I think it's fine to explore from one topic to the next. I'm 50 and I've done that all my life. I now have a deep and wide grasp of tech and how it functions together.

The downside? It took decades to get reasonably competent in it all.

On hindsight, if I had to do it all over again, I'd probably take the Derek Sivers route[1] of spending a year (or 6 months, or 3 months) on a particular subject before moving onto the next thing.

1. https://sive.rs/donkey

A way I try to manage various interests is to set a goal and think of that interest as a project. So if it's guitar, learn a tricky tab that will take a month or so to get the hang of, or mobile app development would be create an MVP, etc. I find that framing these as short projects helps me stick it for a while longer, achieve something, and gives me a better way to talk about it with other people.

Relax. Enjoy. Have fun flitting around the things you enjoy. Stop trying to achieve.

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