Spiral of productive obsession

Hey friend, long time no talk, I have exciting news!!

In June 21 I wrote a post called Chasing something with everything you got is the best thing in life.

I started by saying “God I miss that feeling. I am rediscovering it luckily. You know, when you have this thing you want more than anything, and you give it your everything.

Today I HAVE A THING I GIVE MY EVERYTHING. I waited this moment for years! I thought I would never see this kind of passion and devotion of time again where I would spend 10 hours a day thinking and working for a single project. Last time I had it I was a HC teenage gamer.

The project is a little e-commerce store (lame), but it isn’t important. I want to talk about this spiral of productive obsession. I think it is super rare, but anyone can achieve it.

This spiral is characterized by positive feedback loops, where you do something, get feedback and this feedback now makes you want to do more. And I swear to god, this is the WEIRDEST thing:

THE THINGS I DO FOR THE PROJECT, ARE NOT FUN AT ALL. YET I LOVE IT.

It is the wildest thing, because for long I had this paradigm that you must enjoy the thing and have this intrinsic pleasure towards the thing you do. However, there is a thing that I missed:

When you care about something, the pleasure is irrelevant.

  • Saving your child from drowning is no fun, yet you would do everything to save her.

  • Mundane tasks of a startup are no fun, but if it is yours and you care about it a lot, you do them no questions asked.

  • Any deadline or exam you have, for which you start just the day before, you do it quickly without further questions. You have a fire up your ass. You don’t care about the exam itself, but when the worry realizes that you might actually fail, you start to care more.

The pleasure is assessed holistically, by the whole act of accomplishing the thing.
Not just by the process. Not just by the fun. Not just by the reward.

…But how it aligns with things you care about and the kind of person you perceive yourself as (self-image). The fun and reward gives weight, but it’s not the full picture.

I cared for starting a startup for the past year. So why wouldn’t I enter this manic state of productive obsession earlier? Did I lack the ideas? No. Didn’t I care enough? I cared a lot.

I think it came down to it just not being part of who I am, or who I perceived myself as. I just wasn’t the kind of guy who would work all that much. I wasn’t a man of action.

Sound familiar?

I’m just not good at maths”
”I’m just not that type of person who does that”
You not hugging your mother because you weren’t taught to do so. So hugging her would feel very strange to you, because it is a mismatch on how you perceive yourself.

After bunch of learning, and embodying lessons from old book called psycho-cybernetics on imagination, dreaming, modifying your self-image, it just clicked and I had to act for the thing I wanted for so long. Today I’m in the weird productive obsession, and couldn’t be happier.

All your actions, feelings, behaviors --even your abilities -- are always consistent with this self-image. In short, you will "act like" the sort of person you conceive yourself to be. Not only this, but you literally cannot act otherwise, in spite of all your conscious efforts or willpower. - Maxwell Maltz (psycho-cybernetics)

Today, I am the kind of guy who acts rather than juts sits and thinks. I had the caring part set already, but I lacked the action. I wasn’t man of action. I wanted to be, I believed to be, and today I am.

I think caring + alignment of the thing with the kind of person you perceive yourself to be determines your success or failure. If you nail those two, nothing can stop you my friend.

The more you care and the better it suits you, the more you will SMASH the goal.

Don’t care enough? Find a way, imagine, dream, read psycho-cybernetics or whatever self-help book that helps you visualize the unknown reward as a real thing.

Don’t believe there is a reward? Almost anything has a reward. Things expand. It is a law of nature. Just go play Civilization to see how things expand, given time and input. It is really hard to see what kind of turns the thing you do takes in the end, so you just need to trust the principle of things expanding.

Don’t think you are the kinda guy who does that? Find a way to fix your stubborn beliefs and emotional scars and improve your self-image. Psycho-cybernetics, I can vouch only for that… Lot of woo-woo stuff in that book, but the principles hold.

If you nail caring, self-image and just trust that things expand, I think you can accomplish anything.

Good luck mate!

Niko