27 April 2020

What did you not do? Finding motivation

Leonardo da Vinci - Adorazione dei Magi - Google Art Project
The adoration of the magi (unfinished), Leonardo Da Vinci.

Yeah, Leo had trouble finishing things too.

It's tough working from home. Independently. Socially distantly.

But you have unique advantages too.

You have youthful energy, ideas and goals.

You have a great excuse in case of entrepreneurial failure: it's the 2020 economy!

You've got the internet, the greatest global information distribution and marketing network in history, for free! You can learn anything, for free!

But motivation is tough.

Here's some productivity and motivation DO's and DON'Ts:


1. DO: Just start!

It's better to start creating something instead of just thinking about starting.

Write some code, even if it's wrong. You can always fix it later. But if you don't code, there'd be nothing to fix.

Creative ideas are just conversations you have with yourself. Productive creative action is something you do in reality. There's no way to account for reality without just starting.

What is there to account for in reality? Reality might involve getting a computer screen tan; a need for great code to be wrapped by terrible code just to get it to work; hunger, tiredness; loneliness, boredom; a desire for better; impostor syndrome and self-doubt; not having everything "figured out"; a need to make dinner.

Real success doesn't bypass reality; it goes right through it.


2. DON'T: "I just need a better place to work!"

Your energy spent on finding/creating a fantasy work space is better spent creating something of value.

"If only I found the perfect work music... a better laptop... the weather wasn't so nice / terrible..."

Let's hear from Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft):

"For years I dreamed of having the sort of massive oak slab that would dominate a room --- no more child’s desk in a trailer laundry-closet... In 1981 I got the one I wanted and placed it in the middle of a spacious, skylighted study... For six years I sat behind that desk either drunk or wrecked out of my mind, like a ship’s captain in charge of a voyage to nowhere.

"A year or two after I sobered up, I got rid of that monstrosity... got another desk... half the size of the T. rex desk. I put it at the far west end of the office, in a corner... I'm sitting under it now, a fifty-three-year-old man with bad eyes, a gimp leg, and no hangover...

"It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around."


3. DO: Reduce distraction, and totally annihilate interruption

Having Netflix on in the background might be distracting, but that's still better than being interrupted every minute by messages on messenger, FB, Discord, or ..., demanding you to reply, post, tell your powerful story in 280 character tweets, or express yourself in 60 second videos. Sometimes, you even interrupt yourself by checking Twitter, IG, whatever...

A whole generation of computing scientists and software development engineers have gone into making web sites and apps ever more "engaging" (née addictive).

Hundreds of millions of consumers post photos and videos on IG, youTube, etc. Guess who profited $18.5 billion USD in 2019? Facebook, owner of Instagram. BTW, Alphabet, owner of Google and YouTube, made $34.3 billion USD in 2019 profits.

IG or profit aren't bad (e.g. if you own stock). And we're told we should seek "balance", and learn to "manage" the distractions/interruptions, but just remember: stopping you from productive action by interrupting you with engaging apps is literally driven by their ~50 billion dollar profit motive.

It's "a strange game. The only winning move is not to play."

Productive creation requires concentration and focus; Interruptions block it.

And if you're very good at creating software, you too can join FB and GOOG.


4. DO: You have to *decide* to finish things

Finishing things can be scary.

Not finishing means your options are still open, anything can still happen, you don't have to worry about having it assessed and judged.

Remember that you are responsible for what you do. You are not responsible, and actually you have no control, over other's perception of it. So go ahead and just decide to start and finish things.

Yes, you have to *decide* that it's finished and done. If you don't decide to finish, creative work can go on forever and unfinished. The work won't tell you it's finished either; *you* have to make the decision that it's done.

Big projects can be tough to start, and even tougher to decide to finish. So break it down into small weekly/daily pieces with deliverable weekly/daily end-products that must exist in reality.

That way you can *feel* the progress being made. And when you get a chain of everyday progress, then just "Don't break the chain" (Jerry Seinfeld).


5. DON'T: "I just need to figure out what I want to do first / today / this week / with my life"

Stop trying to "figure out" what you want to do, and just start doing something. If you don't understand this, see point 1.


Bibliography
The inspiration for this was written by someone who wanted to remain anonymous: their literary posts is amazing.  Un/Fortunately, this post must stand alone.

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