I saw this thread on Hacker News - "Failed entrepreneur, broke, unemployed, now taking care of aging parents. Help." The guy there is in a big rut. Basically, a lot of things aren't going right for him and he was asking for input/advice. Here's a small section -
Concurrently, I had to move back home to a relatively inactive area - no tech scene, no innovators, no night life, no forward-thinking, no excitement. People here are content with 9-5 jobs and staying home at night (edit, removed: want their safe, comfortable, 9-5 jobs, and their must-see-TV at night). There is no ecosystem to help drive and create new things. Local city and business "leaders" I talk to about doing something politely nod their head in agreement but it never leads to anything.
Now, I understand where this guy is at. Not 100%, everyone's situation is a little bit different. But the general place, yup, I get it. So I wrote up this reply for him -
Okay, there's a lot of things going on here, but most of them are (gradually) improvable. But it would be difficult to improve until you own responsibility for all of it.
Your post has a lot of "XYZ bad thing is happening because of ZYX external thing." Well, you don't have much control over ZYX external thing.
So, the first recommendation I have for you is to stop making that link. Instead of "XYZ bad thing is happening because of..." stop yourself there and instead say, "XYZ bad thing is happening. What would I like to have happen instead? What actions can I take to get there?"
This won't happen instantly, but try to get thinking like that. It'll be a constant battle of sorts to shift your thinking there. Stop pegging your problems to the environment and start thinking about what you'd actually like instead and what action you can take. This goes from disempowering to empowering.
Second recommendation - work on improving fundamental areas in your life. Pick one or two little things in a week, and try to make them a bit better. Spend a little more time in nature, a little more time exercising, a little more time working on a creative project, a little less time aimlessly surfing the net or watching TV, a little more time sending emails and trying to correspond with people you respect (btw, I'm in Outer Mongolia, you want somewhere with no "scene"? Try here. But it's okay because I correspond with a couple dozen interesting people. How'd I get to doing that? Slowly, by dropping a line to interesting people I respect, and encouraging others to drop me a line.)
Anyways, there's lots of things going on in your life. I've been in a similar place at one time. In total, it can be overwhelming. But if you trend upwards in a fundamental area each week, pretty quickly your life starts looking a lot better.
1. Stop attributing problems to external things. Just say, "XYZ isn't what I want. What do I want? What action can I take that might get me closer to it?"
2. Improve fundamental stuff a little bit each week. Don't beat yourself up if you don't make massive progress, because massive progress is rare. It's also unnecessary. Just trend upwards - eat a little better, a little more time in nature, a little more time corresponding with people you like, a little more time creating things, a little less time on distraction whatever. If you make these regular incremental improvements, your life improves dramatically within not too long.
You're not alone here, many people have been where you're at and have gotten out of it. Lots of people are rooting for you. Good luck and godspeed. Take responsibility for everything and trend upwards gradually and you'll have a pretty good life pretty fast.
A few questions from a reader today -
I've been in a slump recently where I have gotten very little done, and i was trying to figure out how to stop it. I could clearly see I was slacking off, falling into a pattern (probably an old one) of using my time more or less pointlessly and getting only the essentials done (which i was greatful for). I was able to turn a good portion of the wasted time toward something productive, but the time itself I still consider a waste, things I was doing without an intension to use the experience.
So I have two question here. Whats the best way to pull yourself out of a slump, to re-engage yourself and bring yourself back up to the projected level of prductivity (or at least a realistic level) ?
Fundamentals. Fundamentals are the only way out of slumps. A little exercise, a little eating well, enough sleep, some time in nature or breathing, some time with people you like, setting goals at the beginning of the day for the day, starting work on those right away, and sleeping on a decent schedule.
That's the only way I've found. There's no magic. When in a rut, work on fundamentals to get out. While that's not always easy, that seems to be the only way. Also, celebrate the small victories. If you're off-track and doing things even a little right, have a little celebration.
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When I turned 30 and I had a minor freak out… I thought, "I'll be 40 in not long, and then 50… there's things I want to do in my life, and they're not happening at this pace."
Before that, I had a general idea of things I wanted to do and have in my life, but I went about in an unstructured way. It was good in a lot of ways. It made be a broad process, but not much depth.