#91 — Don't wait for motivation. Act for momentum.
I lie in wait for the motivation to act. It never shows.
Time and time again, I sabotage my goals by telling myself I’ll do the thing when I’m “in the mood,” or when I have “the space to do it properly.”
The motivation game seems impossible to win. So, lately, I’ve been taking a different tact.
Instead of trying to motivate myself to do the big thing, I’ll ask myself to do the smallest thing, anything, just to get me moving.
If I’m lying on the couch and I want to go for a walk, I’ll tell myself, “Stand up,” instead of, “Go for a walk.” I’m more open to the request to stand, because I still retain control. I could stand up and still do nothing. I could sit down again. I could stare at my cats. The freedom of choice I retain with standing pleases me. It is an act, but not a commitment to a big thing. So, I comply.
Once I’m standing, I’m a different person. I’m not the same Salman that was lying on the couch. That was Lazing Salman. Now, I’m Standing Salman, and I’m willing to do stuff.
The idea of walking over to the kitchen doesn’t seem so bad, since I’m already standing. Putting on my socks and shoes is a reasonable request. Like a lighter that’s been sparked, I now carry a flame. It’s small, but if I use it with care, it can go quite far.
I shift from doing a tiny thing onto a medium thing. Next thing I know, I’m doing the big thing.
I sparked the start, but momentum took me the rest of the way. Once I was in the act, motivation magically appeared. “I’m already doing it,” I thought. “Might as well keep going.”
Once we exert the initial force to get started, we can ride our own momentum to keep going.
Don't wait for motivation. Act for momentum.
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I want to be an expert on many things, but my lifetime won’t be enough — This HackerNews thread was enjoyable to peruse. I related to a lot of the sentiment shared in the comments. A polymathic life is painful because your ambition exceeds the limits of time. Acceptance becomes the path forward, but it is not an easy path to walk. At the same time, by exploring different skillsets, you get to see many more sides of yourself before your time is up. To me, that’s what makes the polymathic game worth playing. A couple of quotes from the comments which stood out to me:
“It is a painful thing to say to oneself: by choosing one road I am turning my back on a thousand others. Everything is interesting; everything might be useful; everything attracts and charms a noble mind; but death is before us; mind and matter make their demands; willy-nilly we must submit and rest content as to things that time and wisdom deny us, with a glance of sympathy which is another act of our homage to the truth." —Antonin Sertillanges
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year, and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” —Derek Sivers
Metablogging — I love this concept of internal blogging: “written by members of the Metalabel squad detailing what they’re working on and thinking about.” I recently returned to a part-time gig at startup, and I’m excited to leverage writing as a way to express ideas. I’ve written up Notion documents to describe projects and summaries in the past, but I want to double down and create a loose internal blog that expresses ideas in essay-like formats. This could be a great way to have stronger integration between different worlds in my universe. In line with the ideas I shared in Polymath Playbook, I’d be combining skills from one area (writing for my blog and newsletter) and applying them to another (building software products as part of a startup.)
The Parable of Two Programmers — A classic story by Neil W. Rickert on the dangers of using experience is the only factor in evaluating people and projects.
I’ll leave you with some photos I took from my trip to Lake Tahoe this past weekend. The lake, the mountains and the beach were a beautiful sight.
The experience was elevated by nature’s timing. When we woke on the first morning, we looked out our window and and saw a gorgeous rainbow. (If you look closely, and you’ll see it’s actually a double rainbow!)
Finally, we visited Hope Valley to get a glimpse of some fall foliage. We were greeted with a surprise shower of hail and snow. All four seasons hit us in a single day. It was a rare treat to see snowfall under blue skies:
Thanks for sharing Salman. And I loved the hacker news thread and the Tahoe pics.