all posts tagged 'motivation'

Defensive and Skeptical

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

Where I have settled in my own work is to strive to keep some meaningful part of my mindset hungry and foolish. To continue to be open to new opportunities and eager to explore them. I don’t want to end up miserly defending what I have already achieved, I want a professional life still rich with tackling interesting problems.

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Dear Self; we need to talk about ambition

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

Like the programming path, the legible independent ambition path works for some people, but not you. The things you do when pushed to Think Big and Be Independent produce incidental learning at best, but never achieve anything directly. They can’t, because you made up the goals to impress other people. This becomes increasingly depressing, as you fail at your alleged goals and at your real goal of impressing people. 

So what do we do then? Give up on having goals? Only by their definition. What seems to work best for us is leaning into annoyance or even anger at problems in the world, and hate-fixing them. 

You’ve always hated people being wrong, and it turns out a lot of things can be defined as “wrong” if you have the right temperament. Women’s pants have tiny pockets that won’t fit my phone? Wrong. TSA eating hours of my life for no gain? Wrong. Medical-grade fatigue? Wrong. People dying of preventable diseases? Extremely wrong. And wrong things are satisfying to fix.

Yesterday, I was doing the dishes when I saw a mostly eaten yogurt cup laying in the sink.

As I started rinsing it out, I wondered whether I should throw it in the garbage or the recycling bin.

I thought about this quiz game that my county has on their website where they present various household items and you have to say whether it can go in the recycling, compost, or garbage.

The last time I played it, I found myself just getting mad.

Mad that I was getting questions wrong.

Mad that I can’t tell if this quiz is up to date with the latest recycling advice.

It occurred to me, while rinsing the cup, that I don’t really like learning most things for fun. I learn them because I like to ensure I have the best chance at complying with the rules.

I like passing through the hoops that were laid out for me.

I liked school so much because there was a clearly defined metric for success and failure.

But as I’m now 36 years old, success doesn’t really get defined in that way anymore.

I am glad this article surfaced in my Instapaper queue this morning, because I think it’s mostly the article I would’ve written for myself.

I really enjoyed the author’s advice on determining authentic motivation, viewing procrastination as a workers’ strike, and realizing that your taste will often outpace your abilities.

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'Anti-dopamine parenting' can curb a kid's craving for screens or sweets

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

Studies now show that dopamine primarily generates another feeling: desire. "Dopamine makes you want things," says neuroscientist Anne-Noël Samaha. A surge of dopamine in your brain makes you seek out something, she explains. Or continue doing what you're doing. It's all about motivation.

And it goes even further: Dopamine tells your brain to pay particular attention to whatever triggers the surge.

It's alerting you to something important, Samaha says. "So you should stay here, close to this thing, because there's something here for you to learn. That's what dopamine does."

And here's the surprising part: You might not even like the activity that triggers the dopamine surge. It might not be pleasurable. "That's relatively irrelevant to dopamine," Samaha says.

When I was a kid, dopamine was the "happiness molecule".

These findings (which position dopamine as a mechanism which forces you to pay attention to things) cause much of our lifestyles to make more sense.

You keep doom scrolling not because you like it. You do it because your brain keeps telling you "this is important stuff, you should pay attention."

It's not an excuse, to be certain... but as the 20th century laureate G.I. Joe said: "knowing is half the battle."

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Staying Productive on Distracted Days

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Cal Newport:

I don’t normally spend much time reading information online, so I definitely noticed this morning the unusual degree to which I was distracted by breaking election news. This points to an interesting question that I’ve seen discussed in some articles in recent days: what’s the best way to keep getting things done on truly distracting days?

My answer: don’t.

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To Run My Best Marathon at Age 44, I Had to Outrun My Past

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Can I go faster in my next marathon? I don't know, but I'll certainly try. All three of my kids, though, are realistic about what it means to try to get faster as the body gets weaker every day. They are excited about what they'll feel like at 18 or 28. They're climbing up the mountain as I'm walking down.

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