0266 – beware the dark playground

(some repetition)

Let’s zoom back out– the point of this vomit was to think and talk about games that allow me to have a better sense of how to spend my time and money. How am I currently spending my time and money? More randomly than I’d like, less deliberately than I’d like. Like a child playing Grand Theft Auto just by mashing the buttons. (Oh god, we’re all button-mashing through life.) The goal is to figure out for myself how to frame my life in a way that allows me to do better, live better.

I feel like I’m starting to get warmer. I frame it as an energy maximization problem, pleasure maximization problem. (Regret minimization problem, says Jeff Bezos. Climb out of your current box, says Tobias Lutke. Be Less Suboptimal, says Dinesh Raju.) I want to be happier. I want to make more people happy. I want my wife to be happy. I want to enjoy more good moments out of time. To afford those things I need to be more focused and razorsharp in the work that I do. I need to be proactive, begin with the end in mind, and do first things first. So that motivation I think is pretty clear. Life is short and it ought to be pleasant. Sitting on my ass is not pleasant unless I’ve first done some good work. So I need to do good work to enjoy sitting on my ass, and I need to enjoy sitting on my ass so I can do good work.

What are the next steps? I feel like that’s solved the problem of motivation, I just need to write that down now and paste it everywhere. At home, at work, on my desk, in my wallet. I want to have a good time, damnit, and I know now that it’s impossible to have a sustainably good time in the dark playground. So I need to come into the light, painful and scary as that might initially be.

Okay, once I do that, now what? How do I stay here, and keep getting stuff done effectively, instead of sneaking back into the dark and then crawling out into the light and making all of these nice sounds and then repeating the cycle over and over again? People are going to lose patience with me eventually, and perhaps more importantly this cycle is just boring and painful and sad and I should break from it.

Okay, but how? I’m thinking it starts with sleep, and yes okay I will sleep early and take the cold shower and meditate and be-proactive and end-in-mind and first-things-first, okay, okay, awrite awrite awrite awrite awrite awrite awrite… then? Then for now I just stick to it. It’s literally the single most important thing and I just need to stick to it. Stick to it for 30 days. Let’s start with 10 days. Let’s make it a habit. Wake up early in the morning and drink some tea. And write down what I’m going to do the next day. Let’s make this literally the highest priority in my life, because once I change this I have an amazing bedrock to start changing more things. I’ve talked about this several times already.

What will stop me? If I’m inefficient at work and feel like I need to work late, and I’m not clear with my wife about how serious I am about this. Both of these things are entirely my fault, and entirely within my control. The first thing is to make sure that I be efficient at work so that I get the requisite things done. To do that I need to plan my day and chunk things very clearly. I need to figure out the single most important thing of the day and do it. I’ve been saying that a lot for two years, but I’ve been procrastinating on that because it never quite feels like I have no choice– as in, it always feels like I have a choice. It always feels like I might be able to start with something smaller, something less daunting. I’m starting to see this now as clearly bullshit. I have to start with the smallest chunk of the single most important thing and get that out of the way. It’s slightly counter-intuitive for me, I like to break the little things down first. I like to kill the little guys first. But in this case I need to understand that there will always be the little guys, there’s an endless stream of little guys. And I’m not judged by my ability to clear little guys, I’m judged by my ability to break down the big ones into manageable chunks so that I don’t get choked up and overwhelmed– which is what happens to me, which is what has been happening to me a lot.

I’m going to be giving a lecture the day after tomorrow. I’m going to prepare for it thoroughly tomorrow, so that I give a good one. I’m going to be early for it, and I’m going to look through everything the students need.

Before that– I have a meeting with my boss tomorrow. I’m going to prepare for it. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that I go for meetings without adequate preparation. I’m still improvising my way through life. Why the fuck am I doing that? Because I secretly think it’s fun. Because I secretly think it’s exciting. And then I meet folks for meetings and I say what I need to say to elicit sympathetic noises. And then I feel somewhat thankful, that nobody exposed me as a fraud.

But the question is why the fuck am I still being a fraud, then? I’m a fraud to myself, like it or not. There’s a part of me that judges me as a fraud. That judgement may or may not be valid. The trick to defeat it is to present it with clear, incontrovertible information that it’s wrong. Like how Chris Hadfield talked about reprogramming one’s fear of spiders by walking consciously into spider webs over and over again until it becomes familiar.

So I need to do that.

What are the other steps? We know that procrastination has 4 parts– expectancy, value, delay, impulsiveness. We can solve expectancy by breaking things down into littler tasks and writing down what’s hard about it. We can solve value by writing down my mission and purpose in life and how things fit into it. We can solve delay by having daily reviews, ideally with other people involved as well. We solve impulsiveness by having very clear demarcations between work and play. By getting a chunk of work done before anything else. I have this ugly saboteur thought that I have so much work to do that I’ll never be able to have any fun, so I better get my fun ahead of time while I still can.

This is very anxiety-inducing, setting sun sort of dark playground deal that I have learnt is not very useful. You don’t even really enjoy yourself, you just distract yourself from the fact that you haven’t done your work. (Which reminds me of “*browses Imgur stressfully*”).

So… I need to get little chunks of work done, and see them as great victories. Seriously, great fucking victories. They’re things I’ve been putting off forever and I’m sick and tired of being scared of them. I have nothing to goddamn fear. I have punished myself more than enough, I have died a thousand deaths already and I don’t have the time or energy to go through that internal bullshit drama anymore. I will rub up against reality with the best of what I’ve got.

Next steps- I’m going to go home, shower and sleep early. Then I’m going to wake up in the morning and plan for my meeting, and plan my tasks for the day.

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