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On determination and #894

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Star of the Show

Joined: 08 Nov 2006
Posts: 1163
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:21 pm    Post subject: On determination and #894 Reply with quote

This is not a very big controversy at first glance, but when you see the consequnces it has, it may be considered one.

In #894, Nastajia is pestering Alex about his plans & desires in life.

Those happen to be a very complex matter, and not something you can just "make up your mind" about, or "decide".
(Much like "who you are going to fall in love with")

Even if you think it through really really well, weigh the pros and cons, set up goals, subgoals, and find the "motivators" to keep you on the right track, you will hate it every day. Every day you will wonder if you are doing the right thing, wonder what will happen if/when you fail, what other options you are missing out on (that could have REALLY worked) and after a while (months, years, decades), when you realize that you will never be any good at what you have set your mind on doing, and STILL keep doing it (because now, you no longer have any options), you are going to feel like sh*t about it.

I guess it feels like being gay and deciding to deny it and live a straight life (for religious reasons, for example). It will eat your soul out.

I have read in an article somewhere that in fact, only about 3% of all people have such an inner desire!
These people are however EXTREMELY successful in life! (At least economically.)

Scott mentioned in one of the #-pages that he has always known what he wanted to be - an artist. That must be wonderful, to never have any big choices to worry about - "I want to be an artist - so, I need to go to art school - end of thoughts!".

Scott, please explain how you have handled all the above worries that I have described - I really really want to become that determined too! But those are some of the hurdles that keep making me fall.
I bet others can come up with more, feel free to write here.
B cool.
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Star of the Show

Joined: 08 Nov 2006
Posts: 1163
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, I was searching for links to use as reference to my statements above, and instead I stumbled into this:

Source =

Personal Goals And Basic Values
Your personal goals must be aligned with your basic values. This means that you must set goals that are consistent with what you believe to be good, right and important.
What Are My Basic Values?
If you are unsure of what your basic values are, ask yourself questions such as…

    What do I really believe in?
    What am I passionate about?
    What is most important to me?

The answers to these questions are your basic values. They are the very essence of who you are. You must now align your future actions with these values, through the creation of goals.

Sounds familiar. I have given those type of questions LOTS of thinking, and my personal answers are:

* Really believe in? Nothing!
* Enjoying myself.
* Nothing.

Uh-oh. How do I set goals in accordance with that? :/
And things just go from bad to worse if you keep reading:

Personal Goals With The Wrong Basic Values
If you align your goals with the wrong values, it will be like working at a job you hate. You will feel drained of energy, demotivated and unhappy.
It’s highly unlikely you will succeed at something you do not enjoy, so take the time to think carefully about your basic values.

Yup, sounds a lot like life to me. Sorry though mr webpage creator, but taking the time and thinking carefully about it has not helped a bit.
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Deus Ex Machina

Joined: 07 Oct 2006
Posts: 1254
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bez, it sounds to me like you should have replied "enjoying myself" to all three questions. To put it another way, your philosophical outlook on things is hedonist. Whether or not this analysis helps is open to question, since it merely changes the question to, "what goals can I set such that my own personal enjoyment will be maximised?"

One of the ironies of life is that happiness can rarely be obtained as a direct goal: it is more often a side-effect of something else entirely. Excessive focus on one's own happiness tends to foster selfishness, and selfish people are rarely (if ever) happy: they focus so much on their own wants that (a) they become obsessed with what they lack, rather than what they have, and (b) they harm their relationships with other people, thereby sabotaging a likely source of happiness.

Of course, there's also a question as to whether the whole approach of setting personal goals is the right thing to do in the first place. There's a certain Western egocentricism behind the whole idea of personal goals aligned with personal values. Maybe the questions don't provide helpful answers because the questions are the wrong ones to ask in the first place. A more fundamental question to ask is, "why do I exist at all?" If you can answer that, it may well put the other things into perspective. However, if you hold to the popular modern materialist view that you are a fluke of the universe -- an unintended consequence of matter, energy, and the laws of physics -- you're unlikely to find helpful guidance there.

Personally, I'm like Scott in that I knew from a fairly early age exactly what I wanted to do with life. At age twelve I got my first computer -- a Commodore VIC-20 -- and I realised that computers embodied what I wanted to do with life: computers were My Thing. Unlike Scott, however, I was a complete and utter failure at achieving my goals.

In retrospect, this failure can be explained by a number of causes. One is that my plans were derailed when I found that the average job in the late 1980s computing industry was a "data processing" job, about as interesting as accountancy. Cool jobs existed (e.g. at Fairlight), but getting one was like becoming an astronaut or a rock star: determination is required, but not sufficient. So computers were My Thing, but jobs in the computer industry were the opposite of My Thing. Not good.

Other aspects of my failure can be explained by personal flaws and weaknesses, as opposed to environmental factors. Finding one's place in society requires a measure of social skill that I lacked almost completely, even if my technical skills were good. And even if my technical skills were good, I could not always be relied upon to apply myself. Furthermore -- and this took much longer to realise -- my initial evaluation of what was My Thing was probably wrong, in the sense that it was too narrow. At age twelve, I discovered that computers were My Thing, but in my thirties I have started to seriously reconsider how true that is. In fact, I no longer profess to know what My Thing is, although I do have a certain aptitude for computing (I'm doing a PhD in it, and I have worked as a software engineer).

The upshot of all the above is that by age 23 I was an unemployable, depressed university dropout. Obviously that's not the end of the story, since I'm not stuck in the Pit of Despair today, but it goes to show that a strong sense of direction in life is far from sufficient to produce anything that could be called remotely successful. The turn-around that followed my low point is interesting, but not necessarily helpful to those seeking a formula for success, because I can neither take credit for it nor suggest how someone else might reproduce it. A detailed account might be better suited to the "proof of God" topic.
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Star of the Show

Joined: 08 Nov 2006
Posts: 1163
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your input, TFBW.
I certainly would not respond with "enjoying myself" on all three, because I really don't believe that merely enjoying oneself is meaningful. And neither is it most important to me either.

I also read the page on Hedonism on Wikipedia that you linked to. Although there are some traits in that "philosophy" that I find appealing, I feel it does not... how should I say? It is not quite "me".

Also, I don't feel I lack anything in particular (except maybe a little more money, but who doesn't? Smile ), I am not very materialistic either, and I don't envy those that live a life in luxury.
In short, its not that I blame this and that, its just... a kind of "lack of happiness". Dunno how else I can describe it.

It is interesting to hear your thoughts and "becoming derailed", even though you had an early determination and goal.

oops, time flies (<--edited typo) - gotta go. I may write more later, but please everyone, feel free to enter your stories too!
B cool.
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Major Character

Joined: 28 May 2008
Posts: 269

PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TFBW, that looks like a gross oversimplification or misunderstanding of someone who I would say answered the question incorrectly.

Let's get back to the three questions. As an aside, scroll down to the picture of the elephant on the page Bezman linked. It sums that web site up nicely.

What do I really believe in?
What am I passionate about?
What is most important to me?

Questions like these are so vague as to be utterly useless.

Let's start with "What do I really believe in?" Most people will probably answer this with whatever religion they ascribe to, or answer "nothing" if they're not religious. Some might read this is "what cause would I like to support?" That's all well and good, but it's not easy figuring out how to translate a desire to build houses for the homeless into a 9-5 paying job. Volunteer jobs may be great for the single 20-something, but they're not exactly known for their family coverage medical benefits.

"What am I passionate about?" This question, at its core, is asking what you most enjoy doing, which makes Bezman's answer of "enjoying myself" an obvious, redundant non-answer. If you're someone like Scott and can answer this with something along the lines of art or comics, great. If you derive your enjoyment from, say, playing video games, but you don't enjoy or know how to make them, you're out of luck. Or you come up with an answer that doesn't pay well enough or you don't have the skills for, and you lack the money to acquire them.

And lastly, "What is most important to me?" Well, my personal answer to this question would be my wife and kids, and it's not exactly obvious how I translate that into a salary. They're important to me because they're mine. I don't particularly care about someone else's kids, and even if I try to spin this into some sort of child care career, I don't have the certification or experience required (and no, my own two kids don't count) to do so in a professional setting. I have no idea what I would need to become certified, and I don't even know who to ask to find out. In any case, finding out would be a mostly pointless exercise, because nowadays all men who are interested in children besides their own are predatory pedophiles anyway.
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Creator of "The Dreamland Chronicles"

Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 1122
Location: Franklin, TN

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey guys....
Great discussion. I wish I could apply more time to this. But must keep it brief.

As to your question Bez...
I think worrying about whether you'll be a failure or not is not a good start.
We all fail. Every day. For the rest of our lives.
I fail with every page of Dreamland. With everything I do.
I want Dreamland to be bigger than Harry Potter.
I can't even keep a number 1 spot from a comic that doesn't even update once a week. Ha.
We all fail. That's part of life.

Something TFBW said about Hedonists that got me thinking.
Am I one?

I pursue things that make me happy. I left my job 9 years ago. I do what I want now. We've made NO real money to support the family (other than advertising dollars) and I keep spending more on writing new books.

Should I give up this art? Should I take a "real job"?

As a husband and a parent. I have to consider these things.
It's very easy to get wrapped up in how "popular" your work is becoming. How "big" everyone says you'll be.
"just wait one more year and everything will be fine".

See? Even with a clear direction. With talent and even some success in my life. It still doesn't get easier.

So while I figure out MY life...I'd suggest you do the same, Bez.

We'll figure it out together.

I still think life is still as easy as finding what you love. And trying to make a living doing it.
It may take a while. I just turned 40...remember?
And I've still not "made it" yet.

But I do love going to work each day. I love what I do.
I'm just not financially successful at it yet.

But. I'd rather make little to no money doing what I love...than making lots at a job I hate.
I did that (you should try it too). It's not fulfilling.

I have to also say....I have some friends who's main focus is making money.
They have no desires. No dreams. No talents. Just a plan to make as much money as possible. Then retire young.

Not my thing. I want to feel that I made an impact on the world to some degree.

I'm rambling here. Maybe some of this is making sense?
Maybe none of it...ha ha

Scott Christian Sava

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Supporting Role

Joined: 28 Nov 2008
Posts: 80
Location: Switzerland

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bezman wrote:
-What do I really believe in?
-What am I passionate about?
-What is most important to me?

In my opinion, you have first to be clear about which answers you're looking for. This list of questions may be useful to generally steer your life, but not so much for specifics.
Obvious: you need to live according to your beliefs (kind of automatic, I guess, as long as they are really your beliefs and not beliefs imposed by the surrounding society).
You need to leave space for your passions in your life (which does not mean it has to be your main activity).
You will struggle for what is important for you (again, general choices - do I accept a promotion that will earn me nice money but put me away from my familly a lot).

So it's always good to have a clear thinking about yourself, but this is still not a guide to select what you'll do in your professional life - at best it will allow you to discard some grossly incompatible jobs (e.g. my passion is surfing, so I don't aim at getting a job in Alaska; or I am a pacifist, so I won't work in nuclear weapons manufacture).

Now what? I guess to pick up your future (first - we always evolve) profession, the best is to come to a compromise between:
- What you like to do,
- What you are able to do (or able to learn to do),
- What you have reasonable chances of making a living of.

The first one is important, because you will spend about 1/2 of your life at work. So you must like it. Now, no job is 100% cool, so you'll have to compromise for a kind of job you'll find mostly interesting. Think not only of "hard skills" (Do you like programming? Do you like mecanics?), but also "soft skills" (Do you like negociating? Do you like solving problems?).
You can sort of draw a list of jobs where you think you may enjoy it. Underline your favorites, but keep the others in sight. Just don't write down something you are sure will bore you. Think out of the box. Consider the whole job. For instance what does an optician do: manage a shop, customer contact, technical work to make the glasses. If one or two of these components interests you, you'll already have a good start to enjoy your job.
Don't make the mistake of "ranking" the options - it will always give you the impression to settle for the second choice. Consider it as a list of attractive options. When it's nice weather I have the option to go swimming, or to go hiking, or to stay lazily reading a book in the shade. None of them is a "second option", all are attractive and I won't regret swimming if I decide for hiking (tomorrow's a new day full of attractive options again!)

Second step: what are you able to do/learn doing. That's where you will match your qualities with your desires. Be ambitious, but remain realist (and consider time - if you're 20, you can consider a 5-year cursus; if you're 35 with 3 kids, you can probably not afford unpaid years of school). You circle all the jobs on your list you think you can manage. You may doubly circle the jobs you know you can manage.

Last step: take the list, and cross all the jobs where you cannot expect to make a decent living of. Now first, "decent living" is dependant on your situation. If you are 20, single, and live at your parent's place, almost anything can provide a decent living and you can always try something else if it fails to fulfill your expectations. But if you plan on having a family soon (or already have it), you need to be more conservative.
At this point, you will end up crossing most of the "childhood dreams". Unless you are exceptionally gifted (and it must have shown already!), becoming the new "King of Pop" goes out at this point. Probably becoming a surf teacher also goes out (keep it as hobby) unless you know there are full paid jobs for that. This step is critical and you should not be unhappy about it: remember it is often better to keep your passion as a hobby, because when it becomes a job, than you loose much of your freedom! Personally I like playing music, but having to play music even when I'm not in the mood sort of decrease the fun... it becomes like, you know, a job?
You have to consider how many people actually make a living with this particuliar profession. For instance we have a very interesting forensic studies in my university, topic that I considered. But then I looked: about 25 students/year. About 50 positions in the whole country, including the german and italian speaking areas (I am french speaking). Conclusion: with about 40 years of career, you can see that only 5% of a class will get an appropriate job (that is only 1 student /year!). Most end up studying a second job. So I discarded this option.

Now you have a list where circled, uncrossed jobs are remaining. That's your pick! You have an underlined, double circled, uncrossed job remaining? You lucky b@st@rd! Don't go for it, run for it!

I guess it shows again that I am an engineer, not much space for dreams... but much less risks and probably a good chance of making something you like.
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