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The struggle with apathy

I like many people struggle1 with apathy, it's not that I'm depressed or that I don't find enjoyment in doing things. I still get that hacker like thirst for knowledge, that need to solve a problem or to understand what makes something tick. But sometimes I think it would be so easy to spend a whole day on the couch just watching weak sitcoms and eating Cheezels, I could pass a lot of time watching funny YouTube videos.

One of the reasons I update this blog with a new post published at the same time every week is that I've made a commitment to my self, a schedule that I can stick to, a dead line that I need to meet. If I just updated this blog on an adhoc basis whenever I was in the mood I'd probably have about 4 post on here. It's not that I don't enjoy writing posts but that without some self imposed pressure I'd never get done.

Generally when I see self help style things that are meant to be motivational they seem sickly sweet to me and put my right off. If you search positive motivational on Google and seeing things like "Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you're going to live your life." and that makes you feel good, and it helps you achieve your goals that's awesome! Good for you.2

But for me it makes me feel a little nauseous. I don't really know how to explain, but the closest I can get is: It's like it's too happy to the point where it feels fake, and fake happiness feels worse than just feeling neutral.

Yan Zhu wrote an good post about apathy.

But there are some motivational things that I like;

Matt Grey and Tom Scott recently did a bit on how they manage to do so much stuff, the whole video is pretty decent but there is a bit where Tom says "Find someone who you can't let down". I like that, it could be a friend, family or or whatever but if you feel like you will disappoint or inconvenience someone you care about by not doing something they you're more likely to make the effort to do it.

I like goals that are very specific, attainable and very easy to evaluate. Now I know that has a faint whiff of bovine manure, but what I mean by that is don't say "I'd like to learn to use Metasploit". That's way too open ended and it won't happen. What does it mean to 'use'? to what level of proficiency? by when? how will you know when you can 'use Metasploit' well enough. Instead be very, very specific, say "I'm going to finish one chapter of this book on Metasploit every week for the next 17 weeks, I'll do it by doing an hours study every Sunday between 10:00 and 11:00 and if something comes up I'll move my hours study to Wednesday nights." That's much more achievable and you will know if you have failed or succeeded.

  1. Struggle may be too strong a word, I was going to call this post 'The war on apathy' which is a much snappier title. But I have a strong objection to people declaring 'war' on everything. So I spent some time on and eventually gave up and went with struggle because I couldn't be bothered looking any more. The irony of that is not lost on me. 

  2. Incase your unsure, I mean that sincerely. We are not all the same and what works for one person doesn't for another. If those motivational posters are for you, then that's great. 

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