0299 – let go of your guilt, shame and bad estimates

A: I feel like I’ve accumulated a lot of baggage that’s wearing me down and keeping me from living my life.

B: Why not put it down?

A: I don’t know how.

B: Okay. What is this baggage?

A: There’s a bunch of stuff I feel guilty and ashamed about.

B: Such as?

A: I wasn’t a good student. I wasn’t really a great son. I disappointed a lot of people. I let a lot of people down.

B: You know, people don’t care about you nearly as much as you think they do. They’ve all got their own shit to worry about.

A: I know, and I was a part of that shit. I gave people shit. I’m responsible for that.

B: Well, good on you for being self-aware, but so what? What are you going to do about it?

A: I should make amends.

B: How?

A: Well… I should reach out to all the people I let down, and make things better.

B: Such as?

A: My teachers? I feel like I was a nuisance in class and I never got to apologize for that.

B: That’s fairly easy. Just call them up, look them up on Facebook, buy them drinks, say sorry.

A: That’s true. I can do that.

B: What else?

A: I think my parents always wanted me to be educated, to go to University. I never did.

B: Does that bother you?

A: Kinda. Also they spent a lot of money, I’m sure, and I’d like to pay that back.

B: You know they don’t really care, as long as you’re happy and safe.

A: I suppose. But I feel like I owe a debt of some sort.

B: How do you think you’ll pay that stuff back?

A: I suppose I should just be thrifty, save money, and if there are instances where I can help them, I should reach out and help them. They’re going to get older and they’re going to die one day, and I’d like them to see that they raised a responsible adult who can take care of them.

B: What do you need to do in order to get that done?

A: I need to save money. And if possible I’d like to make more money.

B: How much money do you actually need?

A: I don’t know. I’ve been telling myself things like, I want to be a millionaire. I want to pay off my housing loan as fast as possible so that I can be totally free. But I’m starting to see how that can be a bit of a trap. That’s how people become bankers and lawyers and then spend so much time in their careers that they realize 5-10 years later that they’ve paid off their homes, but they never really nourished their relationships with anybody and they feel desperate and anxious and alone… and then they buy themselves a fancy car.

B: Yeah. How’re you going to avoid that?

A: I realize that I should think about it in terms of managing resource flows, rather than trying to strive for an absolute number. It’s like managing your resources in Starcraft or some other RTS. It’s not about saving up a ton of minerals from the moment you start the game– because then you get slaughtered by the enemy who’s been building troops and whatnot. Rather you have to protect your flows, and always be producing.

B: That makes sense. So what should you be producing, you think?

A: Well, these word vomits are a part of it. I should be writing my whole life, before and after I become financially independent. And I don’t need to be magnificently independent overnight, or over the next couple of years. I just need to have enough freedom to do the things I want to do, I need to have have a bit more security each day, a bit more knowledge, a bit more freedom.

B: That makes sense. So you’re going to pay attention to your cashflows, resource flows, etc?

A: Yeah. I’m not sure if I’ve ever done that effectively before. But I need to learn, right? It’s just a game, like any video game I’ve played.

B: Sure. You said things were boring and predictable. Well, this is an opportunity for things to get interesting and unpredictable. You’re going to do something you haven’t done before, you have little to no experience. What’s more interesting and unpredictable than that?

A: You have a point. I don’t know.

B: So it sounds like… you’re surveying the reality that you’re already familiar with, and then dismissing it as boring. Of course it’s boring. The first time you do something it’s science, then it’s engineering, then it’s just going through the motions. Of course it’s going through the motions– you’re revisiting stuff that you’ve figured out already!

A: That… sounds true.

B: So if you want life to be interesting you have to step out of your comfort zone and do things you’ve never done before. Like maybe go to the gym right now, in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday when you know it won’t be crowded.

A: That… sounds true.

B: What else are you guilty and ashamed about?

A: I suppose I feel like I’m not contributing as much as I should be. I feel like I am capable of more, but I’m not measuring up to that.

B: How do you know your measurements are valid? Didn’t you say a while ago that you have a problem of underestimating problems and overestimating your ability?

A: Yeah…

B: So. If you underestimate problems and overestimate your ability, isn’t it fair to say that you’re contributing as much as you’re actually capable of? The current high-water mark of your current output is your ability. So– for example, take your word vomits. You like to fantasize and think you might be able to write 30,000 or 40,000 words in a day. Realistically, the most you’ve ever written is 11,000. You did 21,000 over two days.

Yes, if you were more focused, if you managed your time better, there is nothing in the laws of physics and the universe that says you can’t write 40,000 words in a day. (That’s over 40 words per waking minute, by the way. If you sleep 8 hours.) But all we really know for a fact is that your current personal best is 11,000 in one day, 21,000 in two. You will ALWAYS produce less than what you THINK you can maximally produce, if you work from first principles. That’s just reality. You’re a human that needs to breath and eat and piss and shit, and your brain isn’t a machine.

A: Yeah.

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