I’d been feeling down for a few months now. My girlfriend was worried I was depressed, I likely was.
My productivity was barely 30% of what it could be. I would work a couple of hours, feel exhausted and go home to play computer games or watch TV shows. There was a whole variety of work that I WANTED to do, but wasn’t doing.
I’d read enough life hacking books, like The Willpower Instinct, to know that the issue was a mindset issue. Actually I haven’t so much read a book, as listened to them. In the last few weeks I’ve cranked through a mass of audiobooks. I knew I needed to make a decision and consciously change my mindset, but I didn’t know what that decision was, nor how to work it out. I love learning and went through a string of biographies, I would marvel at the extreme productiveness of the people around me and my idols, people like Elon Musk, Joss Whedon, Felicia Day, amongst others. really knew how to work hard, but where had my drive gone? Why was I so exhausted all of the time?
Actually, during some of the worse times when I needed excessive amounts of sleep I had some blood tests done just to be sure I was physically fine and the only thing they detected was out of the norm was that my cholesterol was slightly low. Not too shabby.
Then last night I was listening to Mastery, by Robert Greene and he talked about Buckminster Fuller, another one of my idols. Apparently Buckminster had tried helping with a number of entrepreneurial endeavours but had failed in them, causing grief to his family who had been involved. He was looking to commit suicide when he changed his mind. He realised that the things he’d failed at were what other people wanted him to do, not what he wanted to do. He made the choice to do what he was passionate about, instead of doing what other’s wanted him to do, which would provide immediate money. It worked and whilst his family had to scrape by for a while, not only did he become successful and develop a great array of new inventions, including the geodesic dome, he also became quite wealthy.
This really struck me to the core. Something in me went ‘click’. I listened to myself and realised that focusing on what I’m passionate about not what I can get immediately paid for is something I’ve been wanting to do for while, but from now onwards I knew that I would be focusing on my passions first, filling in the gaps with paid work for others, instead of vice versa. The vice versa in reality involved me being too burnt out to do much of anything and wasting way too much time.
Today is the end of that first day since that ‘click’ and I worked over 9hrs on e-Motion the education startup I co-founded with Steve Hall. That’s more than I’ve worked on it in the last 2 months! Bam, suddenly I feel more energetic and excited and I’m working at 90% productivity. I’ve chosen to work on what I want and with that change in mindset I feel like everything has changed. I even look at problems that I haven’t touched in ages and now have a reason to work on them, including cleaning up my room (which is a particularly bad mess) and doing my taxes, which are years overdue. I want to clean up my room, have shorter showers whilst brushing my teeth, to save time, that way I can be working on eMotion and my own passion projects.
That said, when I review my history of actions I’ve been heading in this direction for ages and planned this many months ago and in fact 2 weeks ago I handed in my 2 weeks notice to Svelte Studios, the digital agency I’ve been doing the majority of my work for over the last 3 years or so. Unfortunately 2 days after I emailed my resignation, my step-dad, Allan had a heart attack and I spent the following week at the Flinders Medical Centre maximising my time with him and the amazing family that come to support him. He made a miraculous recovery and is at home recovering. During this time my girlfriend’s Sassy cat (well the house’s cat) died and Flik also moved out to living just a few doors down from me. Of course, all of this, plus the lack of any real drive means that I’d done barely any coding or handover work for Svelte nor for a number of other clients. Things will be delayed, but that’s OK. I know now that I can fit it around my primary passion which comes first, instead of trying to do the other work as my first priority and burning myself out.
Fingers crossed my revived sense of drive will last for more than a month, as then it’ll be setting new habits and be around to stay. I’ve got too many important things to do, for me not be working on them.