The Difference between Quitting and Giving Up

 

 

I’m usually really bad at quitting things. Once I’ve gotten into something deep, it’s hard to stop it; even if I really don’t like it or it otherwise isn’t giving me value. I just hate the idea of giving up on something.

Part of this probably has to do with the fact that, when I was younger, I had the exact opposite problem. I was giving up on things left and right. I would think of a new great idea for a website, or a project, or a book, get really excited, work on it for about 2 weeks, and then hit a wall. And then never came back from that wall. Repeat ad nauseum.

For veteran readers of the blog, this might sound familiar. It’s something I brought up in my final post on the #100DaysofCode challenge. In the post, I make a promise to myself to continue climbing even when I’ve hit that wall. And while I’ve done pretty good at continuing to hit on things now, I’m starting to wonder; is there anything that you should give up on? And if so, how do you figure out what it is?

About two months ago I read Seth Godin’s The Dip, which I would say touches on this subject better than anything I’ve previously read (it’s also only around 80 pages). Godin essentially fully describes this sort of wall idea that I mentioned in the 100DaysofCode, and gives some outlines on how to tell the difference between quitting for a good reason and quitting for a bad reason. I’ve decided to take a bit of a spin on these ideas and write out what I think are the key principles to think about:

Does this project give me joy?

As a good rule of thumb, Marie-Kondoing your project list will work pretty well. Now, there are a few exceptions to this rule (we’ll discuss them in the next point) but overall if over the full scope of the project you can’t think of a single redeeming feature about it that gives you confidence or excitement, then its pretty easy to see that its probably not worth it. This is the heuristic I probably use most often, although it does need to be used with restraint; just because something does not give you immediate satisfaction does not mean it is worthless in the long term.

What am I currently getting out of this project? What will I get when this project is completed?

Opportunity cost is also a pretty good heuristic for deciding whether something is worth it or not. To gauge opportunity cost, you’d have to look at both short term prospects and long term prospects to decide whether something is good. If something has only a few short-term rewards but many long-term rewards, then it’s a good investment. If there’s no short-term rewards and only a few long-term rewards, then you may want to at least consider other options. This is where the exception from earlier comes into play; something might not necessarily bring joy, but still give you better prospects if you complete it. Sometimes, if the rewards are high enough, I can understand slumping through a project at least temporarily to get into a better position later.

Will this project help me achieve my long-term goals?

Always focus with the end in mind. Not every single one of your current projects will involve one of your long-term goals (at least not obviously) but you should always make sure that the path you’re going down currently will at least lead you into hitting those markers. Don’t have long-term goals? Then make some, and follow them. Long-term goals have been the de-facto best way I have made sure to stay consistently on track, and I’ll probably continue to consistently refine it into the future.

 

Anyway, that’s all for this one. I do want to point out that we have a brand new newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on. You can subscribe to it here.

State of the Union 2018

Well, since it’s about the holiday season and I don’t know anyone who’s going to be out reading blogposts, I’ve decided to make one that is more for myself than anything else. A long time ago, I used to write these “State of the Union” posts at the beginning of each year that would go over what I planned to do for that year, as well as going over last year’s goals for what did/didn’t work. Not sure why I stopped; in my opinion, it’s still a pretty good idea. That is exactly why I’m going to try to bring it back with this post. Since I don’t have any goals to go over for last year, I’ll start this fresh by giving some new goals for 2019.

The Blog/Website

I definitely want to get back to writing on a weekly basis, and I’ve already started it back up a bit as of recently. I think the most important thing content wise for the blog is just to keep the posting consistent for all 52 weeks of next year; a feat I’ve never been able to accomplish, but would love to finally hit.

In terms of actual data on views and followers, it looks like the website has around 18 followers with 137 views for the year (and 76 unique visitors). As I began posting weekly only in September, I’d like to see an approximately 4x increase in these numbers for next year (correlating with the other 3-month periods). So, let’s go for ~550 views, ~300 visitors, and ~70 followers added on for next year. For the Medium blog, we currently have 370 views, 203 reads, and 7 fans. So, let’s apply the same logic as last time, and go for 1,480 views, ~820 reads, and ~30 fans.

Astukari & Friends

For the podcast, I think qualitatively I’d like to pin a solid structure for the show down and start consistently getting ~1 hour episodes in every week. When it comes to collecting data, this is a bit harder to pin down; there’s about 172 views in total for the new series for far, with 26 episodes (that’s an average 6.6 views per YT podcast). In contrast, the original AstukaGaming podcast had about 808 views with 36 episodes, bringing it at 22.4 average views per podcast. This increase can be seen due to a couple of more popular videos in the bunch as well as (I believe) the fact that the podcast was a YT exclusive compared to Astukari & Friends which is not just on YT but also on Twitch and Podbean. Incorporating Podbean views, we have 341 additional plays for a total of 513, bringing the average up to 19.7.

For next year, I’d like to see this average increase to go beyond the average views per podcast of the original. I feel like this is definitely possible – AG was around for two years with minimal advertising, vs. A&F which has only been around for a few months with some more focus on tagging – and I’ll try to keep best practices forward when it comes to the podcast and hopefully due to this we’ll see an average increase.

Social Media

There’s a few major focuses on the social media front: We have LinkedIn, my personal Twitter, the AG + BDC Twitters, and my Instagram. Honestly, not too sure what I want to do with the AstukaGaming twitter anymore, but it does have around 330 followers so I figure I might as well use it to retweet some of my other content. I feel like advertising LinkedIn content has been pretty helpful so far, so I’m not really interested in cutting it off either; though I don’t really have any defined goals set in place for it. That leaves the personal Twitter, BDC Twitter, and Instagram.

For the Instagram, my follower count has been levitating right over the 190 – 200 range for a few months now, and I’d love to break that sometime soon. To be fair I haven’t been posting as regularly recently, and that has caused it to fall into the 180s, but at the same time I feel like if I have to post on there every single day I’m going to go crazy, so I’m going to at least one post every week or so. For the BDC twitter, I’m not quite sure what I want; it’s been a few months since Season 1, and so I’ve mostly been advertising my podcast and blog content on there. However, as I prep for Season 2 (which I’ll go more in detail about in the “Other Projects” section) I’ll try to post specifically BDC content. Finally, for the personal Twitter, my main goal is focused on getting the follower count up to 200. It seems to have been increasing pretty nicely by itself, so I plan on adding a bit more advertising of it to content as well as using it more actively.

New Book

In terms of big projects, another book is on the way. This will not be a compilation piece like the one released a few years back, but rather a brand new full-length piece. I don’t have much to share about this just yet since I only just finished the first round draft of planning (not writing), but I’ll put out a tentative release date of summer 2020. More information on this can be expected soon.

BDC LLC

As I mentioned before, BDC Season 2 will be coming at some point; likely around November 2019, which will match up to about a year after Season 1. In the meantime, I plan on throwing on a few sales (or perhaps inter-Season shirts) and advertising them on the BDC twitter to try to get some more sales in. No specific milestones for this one either – just want to see what ends up cookin’.

Well, that’s all for now. As always, check out my personal Twitter for more content in the future!

The Dangers of Catastrophizing

 

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Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash

 

Fear rules most of the modern world. It is manifested in many forms, whether it be anger, sadness, or a range of other emotions. I have, for quite some time, come under the strict belief that fear prevents people from achieving happiness. That it prevents them from achieving success. And while I could write a book on the importance of overcoming fear, I wanted in this post to focus on one very specific detail of fear; that of catastrophizing.

For those unfamiliar, catastrophizing is a form of slippery slope bias which is exactly as it sounds. Essentially, it prevents a person from going down a path due to the fact that the person insists that the absolute worst possible events have the greatest chance of occurring. To give a more concrete example, I’ll focus on the classic case of entrepreneurship: “I can’t become an entrepreneur, because my startup will fail, and I’ll have to file for bankruptcy, and then I’ll become homeless and won’t be able to get a new job”. This is a (depressingly) common outlook on why people refuse to start their own company, and just by looking at it you can begin to see the faults in the logic. While it is true that most startups do fail, there is no reason to assume from the get-go that yours will fail as well. And from there, we dive into… bankruptcy? What? Most startup failures won’t result in a bankruptcy unless you’re highly leveraged, which most conservative founders refuse to do. And now, all of a sudden, we’re permanently homeless. How does this work?

The truth is that while its hard to believe when it’s all laid out, catastrophizing works in waves. First, a person learns to believe in the first phase. Then, they learn to believe the second. And it continues in such a way that when we finally reach the bottom, each step in the process seems perfectly reasonable.

The one way to really get out of this method of thinking is to step back and look at why you won’t do something with new eyes. Try readdressing the scenario under different circumstances. Would this fall apply then? Also, try to understand the logic behind each one of your beliefs. Why do you really think you’re going to fail this hard? Finally, try to do some more, active research on the topic. Get opinions and data from people from both sides of the aisle – not just stories that try to confirm your apocalyptic assumptions.

Hopefully, this helps if you have been feeling similar to this about something. As always, give this blog a like if you enjoyed it, and remember to follow both the blog and my Twitter for updates on posts.

Getting Past the Bump

 

 

 

I wanted to talk about something that I noticed in both of my previous projects: the 100DaysofCode and Startup Challenge. It’s about the Bump.

The bump goes something like this: you’ve decided to learn a new skill. As you always do, you check out the tutorials for it online. Things go very smoothly. This thing goes there, this goes here, and it all fits. You can even apply it to! It actually works outside the tutorial! Wow, this is fantastic; you feel productive, valuable, all sorts of… wait… what the hell? What is that thing? How are you supposed to do that? Is that even possible? Well, what if you put in… nope, that didn’t work. It’s not how to learn, but you can always copy and paste from the tutorial and … oh my. This is not an error that the tutorial mentioned. And looking it up in google gives zero results. Wow. This sucks.

Everyone’s had to deal with the Bump at some point. Perhaps not like that specific example, but the same idea applies. I’ve been dealing with the Bump when it comes to programming for quite a while now, in various shapes and forms. I know that programming isn’t my strong suit; at the same time, I recognize programming as an essential skill for the future. So, how do I get past the Bump?

 

For the most part, I’ve found the one thing that’s been the most helpful to also be the most ironic: brute force. Trying out as many problems, tutorials, etc. that I can find and trying to complete each one until I hit a point where its truly impossible to complete. Still, I’ll be the first to say that this isn’t the best strategy to go for. Building up momentum for a short while only to have it all collapse again can make you demotivated to finish the job as well as further lower your opinion of your own abilities. So, post-100DaysofCode, I’ve decided to draft up a new theory when it comes to tackling the Bump.

The first thing is this: execution matters above all. I now believe that it matters less that you spread out on a bunch of different tutorials and learn bits and pieces from each. When you hit a roadblock in a project and then actually get past that roadblock¸ it feels INFINITELY more rewarding and grants you with much more knowledge. Instead of avoiding roadblocks, you should focus on tackling them head-on. Make the goal less of finishing the project, and more of beating the roadblock. Once you realign your focus on the challenge like this, I hypothesize, you’ll come in with a much healthier mindset.

A second major piece of it is that just because you struggle doesn’t mean you can’t come out the other side. I think programming is one of the most notorious things out there in terms of the struggle. I see a constant stream of posts on Medium, Reddit, etc. about people banging their head on the wall because they just can’t get coding. This makes me feel a lot better about my own position. What also makes me feel good is recognizing that, when they stuck to it, the majority of these people successfully ended up making it to the other side. And if they can do it, why can’t we?

Overall, I’d still say that my level of programming mastery is novice. I left 100DaysofCode disappointed in expecting more progress, but at the same time I got a new goal out of it: to break past the Bump and get on to the next level.

That’s all for now. Feel free to follow this blog or my Twitter if you wish to see more. New posts should be up every Monday!