I want to create a theme for myself. Some do this for a year. I am not sure if a year is the correct amount of time. Years are so engrained in everything, and they are everywhere. I think coupling a theme with a year would create unnecessary levels of stress when the year is coming to a close. And stress is not something that I want.
The idea of themes come - as far as I’m concerned - from CGP Grey and Myke Hurley on the the Cortex podcast. Although comparable to a new years resolution, a theme is more broad. Myke described it as “a north star” while Grey thought of it as a “Daemon process for the brain” (both paraphrased from memory).
In addition to being more broad, there is no fail state. Themes may change or turn out to be wrong. That’s not failure. On the contrary, it’s an achievement. It is recognising one was mistaken, and attempting to make adjustments in time.
I believe this comes from their less concrete and broad nature. New years resolutions are paths that must be followed. Themes are just lighting up the different paths ahead of you.
So - creation. What do I mean by that? I am not sure, but I am writing to find out. What follows is a description of my starting point.
I am coming close to finishing my bachelors degree, and I do not yet have any concrete plans for what to do next. The past two and a half years I have been very focused on studies. That was a deliberate decision, and I am happy it was made. The past two and a half years have been the best of my youth/adult life.
What made them great? I never quite came to terms with high school. I started to study right after leaving the place. A major quality of life improvement after the change was that i finally had gained control of my own time. I still had (have) to attend some lectures during the week, but just the fact that no one makes me go there (i.e. there is no punishment for not going) makes all the difference. In addition, lectures only make up ~8 hours every week, meaning that a large majority of the time is spent exactly as I see fit. This allows customisation of my work environment on a level that I have previously only been able to dream of.
I have also tried myself down the path of consulting and self employment; a bumpy, but enjoyable ride that I think has a lot of potential, given attention and a thoughtful approach.
During this time, I have had relatively clear goals in mind. Wether it was getting a job, getting good grades, getting experience being self employed or getting the bachelors degree.
With one exception, these goals have been reached. I still have half a year to - hopefully - get the degree. I am relieved that things have mostly gone my way. I have to find new goals. Goals keep me going and give me some sense of purpose. But that presupposes that the goals are good. Good goals brings purpose, bad ones do not.
I have been told that I seem most happy when I have projects that I am working on, and when I am creating things. This is a false perception, though not strictly untrue. I would not say that I become happy. Rather, I become engaged. Engagement is keeping me away from apathy, which in turn would make me unhappy.
My largest problem going forward is figuring out what to do after getting my bachelors degree. That struggle is not what this write-up is about. However, the theme is probably going to affect the way I view my options going forward and therefore relevant. I want to be self-driven, and I want to create something that I believe has inherent value.
In fact, I have some unexplainable urge to do something and express myself. Some people describe some irrational need to express themselves. I’m not sure it is irrational. It is more appropriate to call it moment-driven. And I want more of it. This is a real aspect of me, but it is sometimes neglected. The other part of me wants to make the “correct” and “reasonable” choices. The safe choice, that will guarantee a stable future. These two parts are in conflict with each other. I need them not to be.
These parts have strengths and weaknesses. The rational “play safe”-part of me should be allowed to dominate sometimes. During the time leading up to an exam or making me go through slides before the lecture.
The latter part has a tendency to dominate, and that has often been a huge benefit. But the moment-driven part of me is responsible for some decisions that I am very happy with. For example, studying Computer Science at a private university college known for being alternative and “creative”. This went agains almost all the advice I received, urging me towards a public, safe university. However, I am almost certain that I made the correct choice. Trusting some gut feeling has worked for me at times when the path has not been clear.
When goals are clear (e.g. before an upcoming exam), I should make reasonable and safe decisions. But without the clear goal, “want to” may be wiser than “should”. The difficulty lies in figuring out when to follow what side. As I am starting to lack concrete goals, I believe that I am at a similar point now. I should repeat the success I achieved when choosing between schools.
The difficult part about moment-driven side is that is is very unpredictable. It surfaces from time to time, and usually gives good insight. It may in fact give new goals. This is the reason I want to chase it in the upcoming season.
But how am I to chase it? How can it be provoked? I have to deviate slightly from the safe paths, and allow myself to focus on following the urges more than I have been doing in the past. And I think this can be done through creation. “Creation” is a broad term. Specifically, I am referring to the act of making things that feel meaningful to me at the time of creation, without necessarily thinking in the long term.
The bachelor project I will be working on is a large project, but it is just one project. My guess is that this will allow me to focus on more things as well, regardless of the bachelor projects size. Hopefully, I will have more space in my brain.
Exploration through creation is the key of the theme, in search of new goals.
Themes are meant to guide, not dictate. My plan going forward is to create what I want when I want to. And seek opportunities for creation.
Reaching new goals is the purpose, and this is an attempt at an approach.