This is what I used to tell myself. I’m still naturally like this, but I’m aggressively trying to move away from it.
Starting when I was in college up until a bit after my startup fuseGap closed (so roughly 2006 – 2013), this was my underlying life mantra. I didn’t care really care (or even truly consider) whether I was pushing myself too hard.
I was ‘ambitious.’ What that meant to me was being willing to pretty much push myself until I legit couldn’t work anymore – and then keep going anyway. It didn’t matter how much it sucked to work on whatever I was working on – as long as I thought there was good financial potential (spoiler: there wasn’t), I would burn hard. And for extended periods of time.
The problem, as is self-apparent to me now, is that’s not sustainable. As I get older, it gets harder to have effectively unlimited energy, but even I was younger, that perspective wasn’t sustainable.
I remember my Grandma telling me on Facebook how I needed to leave the office after she found out I was hanging out there at 10pm on a Saturday, and I just laughed. Silly Grandma. But…yeah she was very right. And I was a noob. Heck I still am; it’s a process.
I was thinking that, the ‘American Way’ is to just burn insanely hard, grind, and that’s your best chance at being mega-successful. I still believe that’s kind of true (albeit with some major caveats), but at least for me, it’s not how I look at it anymore.
Burnout is a very real thing, and recurring burnout is a great way to turn into a shell of your former self. Call it major depression or whatever else you want to call it, but I went through it. And the words I’m writing it here are not doing it justice, how bad it got after I just completely toasted myself over a 5+ year period.
I think I’m mostly recovered now, and I’m actively pursuing a different life perspective. Or at least I’m trying to – I keep naturally reverting back to my hardcore ways.
Now, my primary concern when choosing what to work on is not the financial potential aspect. Yes, for me I still need to believe that there is a chance that what I’m working on could make me money later, but an apparent direct pathway is not required. The main thing I look for now (and have to keep re-aligning myself with) is whether I think I would enjoy working on the project.
I hate outreach. I just hate waiting to hear back from people. I much prefer real-time conversations so my mind doesn’t get a chance to wander off and ruminate over all the possibilities of how that person might judge me, how I should conditionally react, whether I should send a follow up email, whether I should even be working on something that I clearly don’t enjoy, why is this making me feel so bad when I thought I was getting mentally stronger…and now I don’t even want to check my email because of how much I’d dreading the whole thing (for multiple days at a time). Which then makes me feel even worse.
I have gone through this cycle twice in the last week…which, considering each cycle lasts 2-3 days, is actually quite impressive.
So for those of you who I’ve reached out to and are reading this…yeah be aware it took a major effort for me to reach out to you (even if it’s not objectively a difficult task – it was just brutal for me). I’m working on trying to not make it so bad–but right now, for me, it is.
However, even though I hate outreach, if I want PL Philosophy to be successful, I know I have to spread the word. As much as I want to believe that my stuff is just pure fire…it’s not. At least right now.
And that’s my conundrum – the outreach is by far the part I like least about PLP, and so far, I seem to enjoy the other aspects (writing articles, actually talking with people about our mental challenges, getting a trickle of positive feedback, strategizing). So if I like PLP activities for the most part, but I just hate one of the core activities, should I still do it? I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out 😀