Momentum 1

Zan. October, 2021

600 words. 3 minutes

Dear reader,

I've fallen into a bit of a slump. I'm writing this to document my process of getting back on track and finding momentum again.

Momentum

Psychology
  1. The impetus and driving force gained by the development of a process or course of events: the investigation gathered momentum in the spring.

Whether it's working on personal projects, writing, making music or any other pursuit I have been finding that I am a creature of momentum. It's much easier to keep working and push myself if I'm already on a roll. Focussing when I'm in the swing of things is a breeze. If I fall off my habits, the virtuous cycle is broken, and I find myself starting from scratch.

This is inherently a problem about flywheels. Flywheels are heavy, rotating masses that take a long time to get up to speed. Once they do, however, it's very hard to slow them down. 2021 has been the first year that I have been able to effectively direct long-term, sustained effort into any project.

Inertia

Physics
  1. A property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

A few months ago I felt like my inertia was high. Small setbacks were absorbed and taken in stride. My creativity, output and fun were all running high. The current company I work at is being acquired. They're spinning up an internal team in another state to take over development, and I'll be redundant in February. While this is ultimately a good thing, marking time until the handover date is wreaking havoc on my motivation.

My work situation can be though of as an external force being applied to my creative and motivational flywheel, draining energy at a constant rate. So I'm writing this blog post, I find that small wins and having fun tends to kick-start a virtuous cycle.

Virtuous cycle ◍

Feedback Loops
  1. A complex chains of events that reinforce themselves through a feedback loop

Boundless.Garden is an outlet for me. It's a place I can explore how to hijack myself in two ways:

  1. Continuously foster an attitude where learning, development and exploration is happening
  2. Enjoy the process!

I'm very early in this exploration. It's a daunting and challenging task to understand one's motivations. It's even more daunting to create a system to encourage top performance. Luckily there's a lot of prior art on the matter.

According to The Art of Impossible it all starts with intrinsic motivation[-1]. It's vital to find something that captures interest. When I first started programming I saw the burgeoning embers of a possible future, and I've been successfully pursuing that ever since. It's not enough though, in order to capture my sustained attention I need to explore and create, be exposed to diverse ideas and challenges. Recently I've been finding a lot of satisfaction in synthesising written works.

I was set on my path of exploration, now I seek to build a framework of extrinsic motivation around me. In the words of Iroh, "while it is always best to believe in oneself, a little help from others can be a great blessing"[-1]. As hyper-social primates, social reinforcement can be an incredible motivational influence. While I try not to live my life for status or other people; it would be foolish to ignore such a powerful tool.

Understanding myself—what makes me tick, makes me effective—might take years. As I further understand myself and my motivational complex I plan on writing more on this topic, and thus I have aspirationally titled this post Momentum 1.

See you in the next one.

~ Zan

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