Holding the line
Posted on 2016-08-06 Edit on GitHub
Monday, August 1st was my last day at my current job. I've worked at Epic for just over three years, and it's time to move on to other opportunities.
I may write up a summary of my experiences at Epic some time in the future; in the mean time, interested readers may be pleased to learn that I maintain another blog1, Health Tech Reality, about my experiences working in the healthcare IT industry in general and at Epic in particular.
In the week or so since quitting, I've found that my motivation and productivity have significantly declined. While working full time, I'd come home eager to fire up Coursera, or go over lessons on Udemy, or even just hack a bit of Emacs Lisp. Since quitting, however, I've struggled to get anything done.
This is not the first time I've experienced this phenomenon; nor am I the only person to experience it. It's encapsulated in an old saying:
If you want a task done, give it to a busy person
The removal of responsibility–going to work, holding meetings, addressing deadlines–can be disorienting, and may lead to a sudden loss of self-discipline. Instead of having more time, I feel that I have less. Being responsible for all of my time is a shock; I end up squandering it in ways I wouldn't if I had an external responsibility like a full-time job.
John has addressed this issue with a very practical piece of advice: hold the line.
Everyone has days when they're feeling unmotivated. During these days, you know that you won't be making any progress towards your personal goals, whatever they may be.
The important thing is to avoid panicking and to understand that while you won't be making progress, you can avoid regress. Keep doing what you're doing, don't try to set new goals or plan new activities, but continue doing the things you're already committed to doing.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to hold the line perfectly. I've continued to update my blogs, but I haven't studied any Coursera or Udemy, and haven't worked on any side-projects at all. I know what the right thing to do is: start working on whatever it is I'm supposed to work on. Once something has been started, continuing it is easy. It's the getting started that's difficult.
Knowing what I'm supposed to do doesn't necessarily make it easier, but I'm determined to get back on track starting tomorrow.
I started Health Tech Reality as part of John Sonmez's free blogging course. John is a "programmer life coach" who runs a great website, Simple Programmer, filled with articles, videos, and courses teaching programmers how to improve their personal and professional lives.