Tunnel vision

Fred Oliveira
Nov 6, 2017 · 2 min read

In code, product, design, video games, life, tunnel vision plays a role. You’re in the middle of something, and when you come back up for air, you realize the world has changed. Your code no longer makes sense. Your product doesn’t fit the market. Your design is outdated. Your past goals no longer represent you. Things changed, and you didn’t see them change. That is tunnel vision.

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Fushimi Inari-taisha, back in April 2017. Photo by Diana Borges.

In design and development, tunnel vision renders your skills irrelevant. You stopped learning new programming languages, or looking at what’s new in the world, because you were too busy building things. Your designs feel off because you haven’t been looking at inspiration as much, or experimenting with new ideas.

In product and product management, tunnel vision renders your work irrelevant. You go down one path, and the world shifts around you — a new technology comes out that revolutionizes how people see work and the world; a competitor product finds a way to mitigate the issues you are solving for; you spent too much time zigging while the world was zagging.

In life, tunnel vision disconnects you. You were too busy to spend time with your friends. You spent too long focusing on your work, while life chugged along. You were looking down while the world was right in front of you. You were hoping the clock would slow down just a little because, hey, a new sprint planning just ended and your task inbox just filled up again. But the clock didn’t really slow down — It just kept going, at the unreasonable pace of one second per second. Hold on — another email just came in, and I really have to check that.

I come bearing no true solutions.

I can’t tell you how to live your life — heck, this post is as much about me as it is about what I see in the world. What I can tell you is to come back up for air more often. In engineering, maybe that means spending a percentage of your time exploring new technologies. In design, maybe it is being inspired by the work of others a little more often. In product, maybe that is asking if your vision of the world still makes sense. In life, maybe that means spending more time with those you care about, and who care about you.

Look up.

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