Fear & Discipline

Creating something new is always the easy part. It’s actually finishing the damned thing that is the challenge. I am especially guilty of this– enormously prone to begin half-a-dozen projects (day-trading, writing, data science) and finish/continue none of them. I’m not proud of it and this morning I’m going to take some time figuring out how to do better.

The root problem really isn’t difficult to grasp; put succinctly: I lack discipline. It’s natural to possess enormous enthusiasm at the beginning. A new idea or flight or fancy strikes you. And you’re off to the races, not sleeping or eating until you’ve finally If you examine my GitHub commit history, you’ll see that on most projects, the early days is when all of my commits happen. But then the weeks pass and that initial optimism wanes. Why?

Part of the problem is I’m drawn to novel challenges. When I examine my GitHub commit history, I see the times when I get a second wind on a long-gestating project is when I encounter a new technical challenge that requires new learning. For example, I recently received a new requirement for which I needed to learn BITFIELD and Sever-Sent Events. New stuff! Fun times! I was back to the races.

Instead of entirely being powered by novelty and love of learning and knowledge, the answer to my lack of discipline is fear, which I have found to be a particularly inspiring motivator. In particular: Bagel’s Wrath.

Over the years we’ve been together, she’s come to absolutely hate my undisciplined nature. She hates that I begin and never finish things and my very American, very accepting attitude of, “Fail fast and often; there is no shame!” She comes from a very different, “completest culture” that is very shame-driven. And so she’s developed a habit of randomly bursting into my man-cave to check up on me. If I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do (eg. programming), she will harangue me for about fifteen minutes and then whack me with an 18-inch long summer sausage that we keep in the refrigerator. The sausage is hard and cold; it hurts.

Of course, I’m still prone to distraction– like writing this blog post. But because of the Bagel Panopticon, I’m only allowed to indulge in my distractions when she’s either away at yoga class, shopping, or sleeping. So it’s really only under the cover of dark that I’m able to write these posts. The Eye of Bagel Sauron sleeps, but only barely.