26 Jan 2015

Getting Off My Crutches

It has been just over two years to the day since I've posted anything here. I suppose it's because I didn't feel like I had much to say—to myself more than any (unlikely) reader.

I have been cautious these past four years. Complacent, to be fair. I had a couple jobs that I enjoyed for the majority of my employ. Ultimately, though, I left both feeling burnt out; that my work life had been largely zero-sum and that anything of value I'd created would have a brief shelf life.

I got off the startup roller coaster in the first place because it had profoundly burnt me out—a process which began even before my first co-founder killed himself. I initially felt it was ironic, then, that my "simple" salaried life had done the same. It took me a long time to realize that the only thing they all had in common was me, at which point the outcome became about as ironic as an Alanis Morissette song.

Used to be when I encountered a tough problem, was under a lot of stress, felt like putting something off for a few more minutes, or just needed some instant gratification, I'd smoke a cigarette. Smoking was relaxing, helped me concentrate, etc. These were not untrue statements, but it took reading a non-obvious explanation of addiction to understand why they were true. I realized then just how effective the mind can be at steering us toward "safe" and familiar territory, even when it's the least rational thing to do.

Over the years, I have developed a bad habit of using the avoidance of burnout as a crutch, a habit far more nuanced than a mild psychological addiction. In deference to the looming specter of burnout, I hedge. I cite truisms like "work/life balance" when making excuses for not pushing myself harder to turn wherever I'm at into where I want to be.

Something clicked recently and I realized I'm already starting to do it with my new company. Though these past few months have been more productive than any in years, I know I'm holding back, still hedging. I see now that the only way to burn myself out on this is to hold back. If I give it everything I have, meet every new challenge head-on, and accept that it shouldn't be easy, I can face my true fears—instead of the one I'm familiar with.

So, here it is, my solemn promise: I will make Rackmind a success—and if I fail, it won't be for lack of trying. I will create a product people—myself included—love to use. I will share and simultaneously reevaluate what I've learned about creating software over the past two decades. And I will be a good husband through it all, repaying the faith and support my wife has given me as I head once more into the breach.

It's time to stand on my own two legs.

Tagged: meta