(last edited on February 15, 2023 at 12:26 pm)
I’m a day late posting my Groundhog Day Resolutions for August 8. Happily, it marks the end of a month of burnout recovery; the combination of semi-adventurous travel and relentless goal-seeking did me in. Since then, I’ve been operating in a kind of limp-to-recovery mode while administering self-diagnosis.
I am feeling better today because I have a renewed clarity about my end game, shifting the emphasis from “what I have made” to “what I learn and document”. With this change, I think I may be better off.
Review of Last Month
To recap how I was feeling a month ago, here is a summary from last month’s post:
- I am not satisfied with the quality of my work
- I have been frustrated with my cluttered working environment
- I’m feeling creatively isolated and bummed
- …and yet I need creative isolation to do demanding programming work
- I am not making progress as efficiently as I believe I should be able to in anything
After mulling this over, I decided to give myself a break. I don’t need to work so hard to meet superhuman expectations of myself. While there is quite a lot I want to do, adjusting my expectations to accept that much is unknowable and uncertain ahead of time will reduce my frustration. Additionally, I can triage the massive project list by just focusing on the ones that will bring the most immediate benefit.
Alleviating my frustration and creative isolation seems to be the most pressing issue.
One insight I’ve had recently is that it’s not making things that is my passion. It’s knowing how things work so I can improve my experience. That is a shift from the production of tangible goods (things made) to elevating experience (which may involve the creating of things). I have been focusing on tangible goods because I believe that these are what people are most likely to notice and react to. However, creating tangible goods takes a lot of time and puts my mental focus on results rather than process. Because I am an impatient person, this means that most of the time I am going nuts waiting for results! Waiting sucks! Pursuing knowledge, on the other hand, pays off almost immediately because every experience teaches me something I didn’t know before.
While I do like having a body of work that shows what I have learned and applied, I’m realizing that my body of knowledge is the MAIN resource I want to develop. It’s the mysterious motivating force that has compelled me to share my innermost thoughts for all these years here on the blog. The body of work is useful, of course, as a resource that can be traded or invested. However, my day-to-day existence is spent expanding my body of knowledge. It’s an indirect resource that is made more tangible through curation.
So to this end, I’m making three adjustments:
Reorient the website toward research and development activities. Every day I do a TON of research on various interests that could be of use to other people. And yet, I don’t post about it because it takes too long to convert into blog form. The kind of continuity I need on my website is by project, not daily conversation. While I like conversing, the blog can be a separate stream of content. Getting out of WordPress and into a static site generator system will help with productivity there, I think. I HAVE MANY IDEAS on how to do this! This will alleviate my frustration about the quality of my work. And it will feel more efficient because my continuity in research will be public. Sharing stuff is important to me.
Redefine my end game. Before, I had the vague expectation that the successful completion of my goals would yield a sense of all-important ownership/authorship, which I thought was what I craved. What actually drives me is the pursuit of insight regarding superlative experiences. While it’s the tangible goods that tends to attract attention and dollars, it’s not my personal driver of action and therefore it isn’t my end game. I think my end game is actually seeing what knowledge I have collected by the time I die, possibly also to answer the question, how can a person like me be free to make a living without being a cog in someone else’s machine?
Designating the Living Room Cafe as my main social project. This will address creative isolation and improve my mood about the working environment. July’s pop-up restaurant helped confirm see that this will be a good thing moving forward, a catalyst for new social frontiers!
The general pattern is that I’m moving away from defining my sense of personal value away from what I make to what I can collect and share. Of course, making things will still be important, because they are the material resource that makes my mighty castle of knowledge possible. However, fixating on the castle itself is a mistake!!! While the castle is the facility that makes creative independence possible, its true role is to foster creative interdependence. A subtle distinction!
Since I’m just getting rolling again, spinning up the old productivity tricks that have served me well while maintaining a few of the new habits:
- The Chore Log – I’m writing down the “tedious” projects I’ve been working on in a reporter-style notebook. If I can write down one stupid-but-necessary thing I’ve done for the day, I feel better.
- Daily 15 Minute Unsticking – I’m doing my 15 minutes a day momentum exercise on the website this week, may keep it going longer. The wrinkle is livestreaming it on my youtube channel at around 715AM every day for the rest of this week.
I’m not going to plan more than that, as I’m still feeling pretty burned-out. We’ll see how I feel after a few weeks operating under this “Castle of Knowledge” direction.
I should note that I did get quite a lot done last month: cleaning out the basement so I could move my office downstairs, hosting my cousin Brian for two weeks of food exploration, repaired my PC, hosted a pop-up restaurant event in my living room, etc. However, my nameless dissatisfaction had robbed me of the joy of quite a lot of it. Here is hoping that the joy returns!
About this Article Series
For my 2016 Groundhog Day Resolutions, I'm challenging myself to make something goal-related every day from February 2nd through December 12. All the related posts (and more!) are gathered on the Challenge Page.
I haven’t visited your website in a while. I just happened to be on here today to get the link to share the Emergent Task Timer with a colleague. I’m feeling a bit blah, not excited about what I’m doing right now etc. While avoiding going back to my work, I read your post of August 9. Well done, Dave!! You expressed some of my thoughts and feelings very eloquently. You gave me some ideas on how to express myself and get these niggling thoughts out of my head and on to paper.
Thank you so much for your great work. I am very grateful.