Diving In and Running Away
Many of the problems I deal with in life are the same across the disciplines I pursue and the hobbies I have. Diving into things that excite me and then running away as soon as they overwhelm me is something that I have struggled with for as long as I’ve had some authority over how I spend my time.
It’s not a chicken and egg problem; the diving in portion has to come first. When I see something that I think is intrinsically good/cool/right, my monkey brain starts racing. I will think about how the hell I can do this thing just right so that I can be better; however, after getting into whatever it is I have an equal and opposite reaction: this thing is giving me anxiety and I need to back-off. How can I do this thing so that it doesn’t feel like I’m just doing it for the aesthetic? How can I find a healthier balance with this thing? How can I just do the minimum to effect a change and not worry about what’s optimal?
This brings me to the running away: I overwhelm myself with how much I want this new thing to be a part of my life, how much or how little I should pursue it, and then I start to run from it because I overanalyze how or how much to do it - I go towards trying not to worry myself so much about it because it doesn’t really matter and then I just stop entirely. This usually leaves me with anxiety about how I abandoned the goal I set out with and then at some point down the road the cycle repeats and I might try diving into the thing again, maybe with a little more oomph or a little less oomph depending on how exactly I feel about the last time.
I’ve gone through this cycle with:
- learning more for my job or side-projects (Swift, iOS frameworks, general software engineering principles)
- learning more about my hobby (my own strength training, learning about the process of writing and maintaining a training program, actually training people)
- doing things that I think of as making me a more optimal human (reading, healthier eating, being the early bird that gets the worm) and many more things.
It’s honestly exhausting and feels like a toxic relationship with myself and doing the thing, for lack of a better phrase. I’ve felt like this with writing on here too (“why don’t I write on my website more often, it’s a good way to be better at writing” and then “why should I write publicly, it’s just attention seeking anyways. just journal, asshole”).
What of it? #
I guess I do have somewhat of a specific goal with this. I’m trying to just be okay with kinda doing the thing and not going all-in and then freaking out and going all-out. Just not overthinking things as much and doing the thing to the point of happiness or satisfying curiosity.
- When I sit down to work I don’t want to feel like I have to complete an entire tutorial series to explore something. I want to have a good session of work and come away okay with whatever progress I made.
- When I find a book that seems interesting I don’t want to set an arbitrary goal of n pages/day or set a time of day I have to read. I want to read when it feels like a nice thing to do.
- I don’t want to feel like a sack of shit for not maximally pursuing a hobby. I want to feel better about doing something casually.
- I don’t want to be on social media all day. I want to find a healthy balance with it so that I can maintain the groups of friends I’ve made through it while not wasting too much time (maybe a different topic for a different day, but it feels kind of related to this)
Final note #
Part of this post feels like cynicism towards the ideas of productivity gurus and ideas regularly espoused by them, but even becoming accepting of some of those ideas and systems seems like a healthy part of whatever this progression may be. Having discipline is healthy and necessary - I’m grateful I’ve really found that with my own strength training and fitness habits. I want to find a balance and discipline that works for me with other activities too.
Writing out these thoughts for my own emotional hygiene felt like a nice little step in the right direction.