Today was a good day, and one that I need to replicate a lot. It was simple and straightforward. I slept fully until I was ready to get out of bed- a little longer than that, actually. Then I did some small chores. Then I cooked breakfast with my wife’s help- beans, tomatoes, spinach and eggs. It was healthy, fresh and yummy. Then we watched a little bit of Connections by James Burke, chatted a bit, and then we napped again.
We each slept 3 hours. Then I woke up and transcribed (imperfectly) a talk by Ev Williams. I then watched a talk by Anita Sarkeesian at the same event. Then I chatted with my wife for a while, and then I washed the dishes while she made dinner– chicken, pasta and salad. Then I took another nap. (I’ve been very sleep deprived lately, so all this napping has been great for me.) Then we went for a walk. We had some ice cream, and then we had some prata, and then we walked more, and now we’re home. It’s 1am, and I feel the urge to crank out another word vomit before I go to bed.
Where am I? I was thinking a while ago- not sure if I wrote this down- that there’s an inwards journey that’s almost independent of journeying through time and/or space. I experienced this most strongly when I was in the shower after an early morning run. I experienced something akin to what Louis CK described when he was talking about when he discarded his old jokes and tried something a little strange and new. “I’m somewhere new now”, he said. I last felt this way about quitting smoking, and again when I quit social media. And I experienced that when I was in the shower. I looked at myself in the mirror, and thought, “I’m somewhere new now.”
I think it’s interesting to deconstruct that. I wasn’t somewhere new physically, and I hadn’t been anywhere new physically. I had gone downstairs, I had travelled a short line and a circle or two, and then I had come back, and I was in the shower. None of that was anything new. I was up at maybe 7am, which was unusual for my circumstances, but again, it’s not like I’ve never been awake at 7am in my life. I guess what was new was the fact that I had voluntarily woken up and left the house with the intention of going for a run, without any direct, extrinsic force acting on me. I was doing it because I wanted to do it. Which was new.
And I realize- or I got reminded of, rather- that there’s a choice that I get to make at every moment of every day. I get to do things as I’ve always done them, or I get to do things differently. One of the problems is that the fog tends to stop me from even realizing that I have a choice. It just keeps me running on autopilot. Why do I do that? Why don’t I do things differently?
The short answers aren’t all that interesting, though they’re true- as a human being I’m wired to do whatever’s simple and convenient, I’m wired to have habits. There’s no real survival-affecting reason why I should put in more effort to change the way I do things. (A quote that really stood out for me- can’t remember where I read it- was that humans aren’t evolved to be happy. Happy people don’t survive better than angry, anxious, nervous, paranoid people.)
But okay. I also have this problem where I over complicate things. What I really need to do is create more spaces for myself to make better decisions, rather than agonize over how shitty my decisions are when I’m tired and frustrated and overwhelmed. Turned out what I needed was some meditation (5-10 minutes can make a big difference), some naps (20 mins here, 20 mins there, again huge difference), healthier food (oh my god you have no idea), a couple of cabs to avoid shitty commutes (this costs $$– I’m not rich, but I can afford to spend a bit more than usual if it means better mental health), and some exercise (I just jog quickly to the nearby fitness corner and sprint as quickly as I can for a couple of rounds.)
Doing those things have greatly reduced the anxiety that was plaguing for quite a while. The source of my anxiety was my own inefficiency at work. I was hoping that I would’ve become effective at work because I quit smoking and I quit social media, the latter of which was a huge time sink. Surely if I had more time, I would be more efficient? Turns out that the answer is no. I just spend more time doing unnecessary research, and I spend more time trying to do impossible things at the expense of things that ought to be done.
I was talking to my content team and realizing that when I encounter something, a starting point, I tend to have a vision of version 999 that develops. And I tend to get a clearer and clearer sense of what that optimal, perfect case would look like. What I’m really, really bad at doing is figuring out what version 1 should be, and versions 2 through 10. I really ought to just ship a series of version 10s- and that’s how I ultimately get to version 999 of anything. What’s instead been happening is that I fixate on version 999, try to do it all at once, and I just get overwhelmed and I hate myself. I bite off more than I can chew. And this reduces my Expectancy of what can and cannot be done.
So this year I want to change all that. This year is the year of version 1s and version 10s instead of version 999. I’m going to ship lots of little shitty things and be okay with that. The hardest part, really, is prioritizing what’s the bare minimum necessary for something to function effectively. Turns out that a lot of the time, I don’t actually know. I think this might be the most important skill I have to develop. (Incidentally, the next most important thing is that I publish this vomit and go to bed, so goodnight.)