Whenever I decide I’m not going to do something I’d intended to do, whenever I decide to let myself off the hook, my jaw loosens. I don’t notice the tension until it’s gone. I put these burdens on myself and forget about their weight, but that weight adds up, and I get tired.

It’s often, these days, only after I give myself permission to give up that I find the energy to persevere. What a betrayal! That’s not how determination is supposed to work!

This is the way of things though. Once you’re on the hook, sometimes you have to step forward before stepping back if you’re trying to shake free. Though striding ceaselessly forward is admirable, that doesn’t make it intelligent or useful. Sometimes you must go the long way.

But who has the time for that shit?

It’s optimization. It’s calibrating my load to match my strength, and when that strength varies wildly from day to day it leaves me struggling to keep up. Since it’s uncommon for me (and, I think, most people) to take on extra work on days when I’m feeling exceptionally capable, that means that I need to calibrate my load rather high, and scale that back. But I’m afraid of setting a precedent, of taking things too easy on myself, of backsliding, further and further away from where I want to reach. It’s a balance between present and future, safety and happiness, and there’s no stable point of equilibrium. Every day is a new game of analysis.

The quest to find a long-term happiness for oneself can’t be divorced so easily from the quest to be happy day-to-day. There’s no point to burning the present in the hopes of fueling the future – but there’s no benefit to selling the future to pay for the present either, so this too is a balance.

Eventually I will master this skill. Eventually I will gain the vision to gauge my strength accurately, without being dazzled by my image of a better self, an inexhaustible, abundant, and infinite manifestation of my will. Eventually I will gain the discretion to know what tasks I can assign myself, how taxing they will be, and how quickly I will recover.

Until then, all I can do is forgive myself when I fall short. All I can do is remember to breathe, remember to loosing my jaw muscles, try not to be angry, try not to be irritated, try to keep moving, try to maintain an existence which justifies itself rather than one which seeks justification.

It don’t think it will ever be easy, but I’ll live, if can I let myself.

  1. It sounds like we suffer from the issue! I find that it helps to make physical lists of everything that I need to do, and as I finish them, I mark them off. Not only does making a list help clear up mental noise, it gives a physical reminder of what needs to be done. Better still, once I have them all finished, I have the list with all of its mark-offs to remind me of what all I accomplished with my time.

    I hope that you find your desired balance between development, work, and life. As an indie game developer, I’m trying to find that balance too.

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