Two Principles for 2014
I’ve been thinking about some people I really admire and how they got to the places where they are at. Throughout that process, I’ve settled on two principles I’d like to focus on this year. Call them resolutions if you want. Here they are:
1. Don’t consume. Create.
There’s a lot to consume in this world. Television, music, news, movies, podcasts, blog posts, and never-ending status updates. Sometimes, when I’m indulging in consumption (like, for example, checking out my website analytics or getting lost on Wikipedia) I justify my actions, saying “hey, at least it’s educational” (or at least edu-tainment). But if I’m honest with myself, I know it’s not true. Consumption is consumption and it’s an act of The Resistance. If learning was my goal then I’d be learning more effectively by actively doing, than passively consuming. Learning isn’t my aim when I’m consuming. Subtle, rationalizable work-avoidance is my aim.
I’d rather create.
It’s fulfilling, it’s rewarding, it’s exciting, and it’s hard (that’s four good reasons to do anything). I don’t care if it’s an open source contribution, a logo design, a blog post, or a tower made of legos. I want to walk away from this year with trail of creations in my wake. There are plenty of people in this world who are content to consume the work of others. I don’t want to be one of them.
2. Be the change that you want to see
This sounds somewhat glib, but I mean it in the most practical of terms. Odds are that if you want to see something, there are a lot of other people who want to see it too. Maybe it’s a blog post documenting how to set up a certain workflow, or a tool that would automate your process, or somebody you follow on twitter following you back. It could be anything. Projects like archive.org and stackoverflow.com started out with an absence in the world waiting to be filled. And I wouldn’t confine this principle the digital world. Do you wish you were part of a dinner group? Do you wish you had somebody to trade off babysitting with, instead of always paying for a babysitter? Make it happen. If you fill an absence out there, somebody, somewhere will be grateful.
These principles share a common idea: don’t settle. Don’t settle for complacency and don’t settle for less than you can give. That’s an ideal worth striving for this year.