0619 – focus on troubleshooting yourself

So here’s a bug in my mind that I’ve noticed. Very often when I’m bored or stuck or lost, I end up trawling the internet to pass the time. Maybe a part of me hopes that I’ll find some sort of inspiration or stimuli, but historically that doesn’t work out so well for me.

More often then not, something random catches my attention and I get involved in that. It might be something on /r/singapore, or on reddit at large, or something on Twitter or Facebook.

If it’s something that one of my friends is involved in, then it makes a little bit of sense to participate because it’s sort of a way of investing in that social relation. (But even that that’s a rather… weak way of doing things – but let’s leave that for now.)

But what totally doesn’t make sense is when it’s just a bunch of strangers talking or arguing about something or another. Then it really doesn’t make sense to get involved. But I do. I enjoy pointing out the mistakes in other people’s thinking, the assumptions that they’ve made, so on and so forth.

Why do I do this?

It’s cheap. It’s fun. It’s addictive. There’s no cost. I get this fake stimulation from getting Likes or upvotes when I get it right. I rationalise it as me getting better at the game of discourse, and I tell myself, “Oh, it’ll benefit me somewhere down the line when I eventually write essays or novels about this sort of thing.” Which might be true, maybe, but it’s definitely a suboptimal way of doing things. I shouldn’t be doing these things unless I deliberately want to. I have on occasion spent hours on such things. Worst of all is when I get angry and frustrated and invested in some internet argument with some stranger who doesn’t have anything to do with my life, at the expense of the things that I know actually matter to me.

Now – one way to approach this would be to try to stop doing it altogether. I’ve done that in the past by going cold turkey on social media, and I do recall that it felt pretty good.

Another thing I’ve been thinking though, is – why don’t I apply this sort of rigorous troubleshooting to myself, to my own mind? Why am I not questioning myself, evaluating my daily habits and routines, and so on? I do it in these word vomits a little bit from time to time, but it’s pretty obvious to me that I really ought to make it a bigger part of my life. I ought to be almost constantly troubleshooting myself, becoming a better, stronger version of myself that makes fewer mistakes, that moves faster. I want to refashion myself into Visa Prime, over and over again.

How do I do it? I know I have this body of work – these word vomits. I have over 600 of them. What do I do about them? Why don’t I spend more time re-reading them? It’s a little daunting, I suppose. How do I get myself to start reading them more regularly? Should I start from the start? God, that sounds boring and tedious. I’ve read the first few vomits over and over again, and I know they’re pretty crappy. I should start somewhere in the middle. I should start at, say, 200, or 300. I printed out a whole bunch of them a long time ago – I think I have bound copies of word vomits 1-500, or 1-550. I read the first few. I had some grand idea at some point of taking them all apart and moving them around, connecting the dots, putting the similar ones together. But I don’t have the right energy for that. And I suppose I’m not super clear what the final end state is supposed to be.

It’s tough to do something without a clear sense of what you’re doing it for. I think it doesn’t need to be like this grand larger vision with this epic payoff – I just need smaller, simpler reasons to revisit old word vomits and connect the dots. And I need to do it a little bit at a time, rather than pretend that I’m going to someday have this amazing productive day where it all comes together. I already know that’s a myth. Work needs to be done in the trenches of everyday life.

I’ve been on leave from work for a week and a half. Tomorrow’s my last day of leave, and then I’m going back to work. I think I had this vague intention of having this ‘personal productive week’ where I’d read and write a lot, and get all sorts of little niggling tasks done. I did very little of that. I spent most of it just decompressing. I spent hours playing video games. I don’t feel too guilty about that, I feel like it soothed me, calmed me down. I was having lunch a couple of days ago and I found myself just smiling and feeling really chill in the moment. I last felt that way when I was on holiday over a year ago, and prior to that I think I last felt that way when I had just completed national service.

A part of me wonders if – if I had another week off, or a month, would I start getting more productive after the ‘decompression’ phase is over? Or would I turn into a slob that didn’t get anything done? I’m guessing I’d have gotten a bit slobby. That’s a rather sad thought. I’m 26 years old (I keep thinking that I’m already 27, which is funny because when I was younger I’d often feel like I was younger than I was.) I need to make more progress in the next year than I have in any of my preceding years. And I believe that I have the capability. I just need to breathe deep and psyche myself up, manage my own psychology and motivations and challenge myself to do better. To break things down into little steps and to do one thing at a time. I have all the information I need, I just need to put it into practice.

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