0418 – do periodic reviews at multiple timescales

“How do I design checks and balances into my routines?”

I’ve been writing word vomits pretty regularly because I want to be done with them as quickly as reasonably possible. I’ve been doing my work updates because I’ve attached stakes to them, and again, because it feels important enough that I ought to succeed. Once I’ve really succeeded at it, I’d have levelled up as a person who can get things done, and be able to move on to th next level– doing better things, doing things more effectively.

When I say checks and balances, what I think I really need is reviews. I do daily work reviews. Word vomit reviews right now are really straightforward– just making sure one gets published each day. Sometimes more, but I don’t feel a need to overanalyze that. I guess it’s important to make sure a review task fits the context– trying to do major life reviews everyday or every week is overwhelming and frustrating and sets things up for failure. You want to be able to look at each review and see actionable steps that need to be taken, little things that can make for progress.

I think the next thing I need to introduce to my daily review is to check my personal trello board every day. I haven’t been doing that nearly as rigorously as I ought to, considering that it allows me to move forward and make progress on practically all fronts. Maybe I’m not sufficiently precise about what the things are that I should be reviewing. So I’m going to create a task “figure out what should go into a daily trello review”. I need to review what I did each day, and then plan what I’m going to do the next day. If I just do that every day, I should be a lot better off than I am now. And then I’ll figure out the next layer.

“22– why is it hard to reevaluate at fractal scales”

Is it? Well, I suppose it’s because we tend to get stuck on whatever frame of reference we’re currently using to make sense of any particular thing. Shifting between frames of reference requires cognitive effort and can be tedious or painful. And whatever the case, it’s always tempting to stick to the existing flow… I overstay my welcome on almost everything. I drag everything on for too long. The solution to this is to find a way to systematically take breaks, and then meditate– because when you’re meditative, again, the dust settles and you don’t need to make a deliberate conscious effort to see everything in perspective. The perspective sort of reveals itself. Whatever is important arises to meet you, once you stop running away. It’s hard because I try too hard, or think that I should try harder, but the solution doesn’t involve “trying” in the grasping sense. You have to make space for it and allow it to come to you. Sounds cheesy but I think it’s true. I’ll continue with my daily practice and see how that plays out, what that looks like.

“24– how to create a believable narrative for yourself”

Hoo, boy. This is a question that now sounds like a parlor game, something silly or meaningless. But it must have meant a lot to me at some point, and I’d like to take a moment to reflect on that. I think by “believable narrative”, I mean… how do you chart a course of sorts, how do you pick a direction to work towards, when you don’t really know very much about yourself or the world? And what’s implicit but not stated in the question is– not only does it have to be believable, it has to be interesting, compelling, exciting. “You’re an average person who’s going to live an average life, achieving not very much, just doing and saying what boring ordinary people have always been doing and saying, and you’re just running out the clock on your existence.” That’s believable. And it’s also underwhelming, boring. It doesn’t make for a very interesting life experience. And I want an interesting life experience. How much interesting-ness am I entitled to? That’s not quite the right question– the only limitations are physics and biology, and those are both tremendously grand. Unless you have truly crippling disabilities, or are born in crippling circumstances. Neither of those is a problem for me. So I’m limited only by my assumptions, beliefs, fears, and basic physics and biology– sleep, time and so on. (This is actually a great starting point for another word vomit.)

I can’t give generalized answers for this, I can only speak about my own experience. And in my experience I’ve witnessed myself growing and developing as a writer– first in terms of the quality and quantity of writing I produce, but secondly and more importantly, in terms of my own (changing, recalibrating) expectations and beliefs about what I can achieve as a writer, or what I might want to achieve. Initially I was just a guy who seemed to do quite well at English in school, probably because I read more books than the average person. Then I got into the GEP, which made me believe that I might be significantly better at it than other people. Then I got into Knowledge&Inquiry in JC, which made me believe that I might be good with abstract concepts and philosophy and such. Then I started blogging about local politics and was quoted and cited by others as an example of good analysis, which made me believe I could do that. Then I became a Quora Top Writer, which made me decide to double down on the writing thing– I had gotten acknowledgement from the greater world/internet. Then I’ve had pieces go viral on Hacker News and Medium and such, and I continue to develop and nurture this belief that I can be a writer in the grandest sense. A bunch of high-Likes, high-shares posts on Facebook reinforced this. And finally, about 350 to 400 word vomits into this project, I’m starting to think that I can and should write short stories, and eventually books. I am now starting to feel really good about the idea of books with my name on it, and with the idea of my name on bestseller lists. I really don’t see why not. I’m doing the reading. I’m putting in the hours. If I continue with this at this pace, or more intensely, I will keep compounding my ‘gains’ and keep getting better, and eventually I’ll be so good they can’t ignore me. (Also, somewhere along the line I began to deconstruct my own beliefs, or at least recognize that most beliefs are mostly inherited, and the real question of whether something is possible or not is best understood from first principles, from physics.)

So to answer the question directly– a believable, exciting narrative comes from regular attempts to create data points that allow you to expand your imagination of what is possible. Along the way at some point you’ll realize that the reality of what is possible VASTLY exceeds your imagination, to a degree that is itself beyond your imagination.

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