Create more, consume less

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, it’s no secret that most New Year’s resolutions fail, but this year it just so happens that the New Year coincided with one of those moments you feel you have the personal courage to change course.

2015

2015 was a good year, but I’m always self critical knowing I can achieve more, grow more, give more and help others a little more. If I look at some of the things I achieved in 2015 most people would say it was a pretty productive year, ranging from writing and delivering 2 best man speeches, officially releasing version 2 of Football Foresight, winning a football hack and having some huge achievements at a personal and professional level, but I feel like the balance between creating and consuming was heavily weighted in favour of consumption. It’s important not be too critical, but I’m a firm believer in that being determined and hard on oneself is the key to growth, there’s a great essay on the crux of this by Paul Graham entitled ‘Determination’ which is well worth a read, Paul being Paul will sum it up far better than I ever could.

“Being strong-willed is not enough, however. You also have to be hard on yourself. Someone who was strong-willed but self-indulgent would not be called determined. Determination implies your wilfulness is balanced by discipline.”
— Paul Graham

Consumption

A heavy dose of consumption is not to be scoffed at, after all it’s what many of the most privileged people in the world have been brought up on, the education system is built on the foundation of consumption, it’s probably only until university that the ratios of consumption vs. creation get skewed in the right direction.

Consumption is how we spend our early years developing, it’s what we’re used to, but creation is how we grow, Gladwell touts 10,000 hours of practice is the required number to become an expert, while the concept of “practice” certainly includes an element of consumption (books, videos, mentorship etc.), it’s heavily weighted in favour of creation — the ratios have to be right to effectively grow.

2016 (and beyond)

So the new mantra is simple, “Create more, consume less” and while I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions (the analytical part of me says a 5% growth a month, compounded, is probably a much better strategy) I’ll indulge a little, but in true software engineering fashion I’ll treat it like a sprint retrospective and model it using the start / stop / continue method.

Start

Talking (listening) more — cut back on frivolous conversations, focus on listening to the people I care about most, even the not-so interesting parts.

Blogging — I’m determined to spend more time learning to write well, it’s something that most of us rely heavily on in our day-to-day lives, but we never have a chance (or desire) to improve it, I want to change that. The side effect is not only improved writing skills, but a great opportunity to share knowledge and distill / refine my own thoughts and feelings.

Stop

Social media FOMO’ing — I’m not on Facebook, but I spend far too much of my idle time (commutes, waits, just before bed, waking up etc.) browsing Twitter or Quora to keep on top of tech news or interesting posts, the reality is this isn’t required, it’s now a habit. My aim is to cut back on phone usage just after waking and just before bed.

Football betting — well not stop, as it’s a useful form of additional income (most weeks), but at least cut back. The time it takes to analyse stats, check lineups, see who’s injured, use Football Foresight, all add up, and could be better spent doing other things (see start and continue). I’ll stick to Saturday only bets for now.

Continue

Designing and building apps — I’ve built apps/websites for upwards of 10 years, lots of concepts and code never see the light of day, but creating and developing apps in my own time is when I’m most content and where I grow. This year I want to turn it up a notch, I’m focusing on building apps for things I’m truly passionate about and which I think can have a positive impact on the world. Watch this space.

Avoiding most tech events — while I don’t doubt there’s extremely useful events and networking opportunities in London, it becomes really hard to work out which ones to attend when there’s several dozen great events each week — instead I’d like to focus on meeting interesting people directly over a coffee, I’ve found this far more valuable than most tech events.

Let’s go…

So that’s it, at the very least from writing this I’ve managed to complete one of the first New Year’s resolutions of writing a blog post, so meta. More than anything this post will be a nice recap of progress next year, which I’m already looking forward to reading.

Happy New Year.