This is an important post for me. I have really been struggling for years with an inability to focus on things. I’m not talking about your everyday distractions but a truly mind-crushing, debilitating, ability to focus on things. I never had a problem when I was in high school or before that. It started in college and hasn’t let up until about a month ago.
I’ve been mulling over this stuff for almost a month now and I had planned a much longer post on this given it’s importance, going over everything in minute details, but that would be navel-gazing at this point. In a nutshell I have been struggling for a long time with starting and working on personal projects. Either I haven’t started them at all or I’ve started, worked for a short time, and then given up. Why? I can outline a ton of reasons but the three main points are:
- fear of failure
- too many sources of information coming in
There is a lot to be said for just making up your mind to do something, pick a direction, and go. Sounds pretty simple right? It sounds simple to me as well but if it’s so simple why haven’t I been able to do it for years now? Rhetorical question as the answer is buried in the three main points listed above. What kicked me into gear was two things: the Back to Work podcast from Dan Benjamin and Merlin Mann and my job.
Back to Work is an awesome podcast. Episode 4 is what really knocked me loose. It was really inspirational to hear the parts about worrying about what other people think/have and how it’s pointless. Why should we care? But the best part: talking about manning up and working on what’s important to you and stop complaining you don’t have time. We all can find time.
At work I’ve started moving into more of a development management role. I’ve learned that it’s time to let go and stop worrying that somehow I have to make the choices in technology. Most of those choices were made long before I was there and it’s time to stop struggling trying to change things outside of myself. That brings me back to my personal projects.
I’ve finally started working on two programming projects I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I’ve finally taught myself that I don’t have to have it perfect and all done in a day. I have a couple of hours a day available in which to work on these things and that is good enough. Allowing myself to work on something, a bit at a time, has been freeing. I can do what I want in manageable chunks. If something doesn’t work out that’s OK. I can start again in a different direction. The important thing is to keep moving forward!
These two projects are part of a bigger goal that I’ve wanted to attain for years but have been too damned afraid to try. I’m making progress and that’s awesome. But what is even more awesome is that I’ve even started at all and with the knowledge that I have the time and ability to do it. I can’t give an example of anything like that for years so this is really awesome. Yes it really is OK to learn and not already know something! Imagine that!
I’ve also really paired down how much stuff I let into my brain at any given moment. Gone are the long list of RSS feeds, people I follow on Twitter, etc. I really limit what I read on the web to a few good sources and the things to which they provide links. I pretty much avoid comments sections at all costs. I have yet to find comment sections worthy of attention on any major public site. They’re cesspools. The worst behavior comes out in those places. No thanks.
So that’s it. Thanks Dan and Merlin. You guys really gave me the kick I needed to finally get moving and that was no easy feat for a 40-year old guy with a fairly comfortable life. I appreciate that show more than you can know. Thanks again!