Posted on Fri 03 October 2014

Periods of growth come in waves

I'm feeling tired and rundown this week. But I'm not too surprised about it. I've just come through a period of huge growth and productivity. I launched The List, set a weekly publishing schedule for this blog and stuck to it (I even got ahead, so I have a backlog of posts waiting to be published now), and started getting up at 6am to write four days a week.

I've been voraciously listening to podcasts, reading articles and brainstorming. I've turned to coloured sticky notes and index cards to get myself organised and I've been sticking to a schedule for Exist's content as well as fitting in my own freelance work.

It's an amazing feeling to be learning, growing, and thinking up new ideas constantly. I've been having a ball.

But I can feel this period coming to an end now. I've worn out the podcasts I was listening to. I'm struggling to come up with as many new ideas now. I'm still reading, but I'm not saying "wow" at every second article I find.

And that's okay.

In my experience, these periods of learning, growth, and excitement about what I'm doing come in waves. They don't usually end in such a dramatic period of tiredness, but perhaps that's just a sign that I'm getting older. They always end, though. I've been through many periods where my notebook doesn't get much written in it, I give average ratings to every book I read or movie I watch, and I struggle to find inspiration in anything.

It may not be quite so dramatic, but I can feel a period of ennui approaching. This post is for myself in the future, and you, if you ever feel this way.

I want my future self to remember how good the good periods are. How much fun it is to be learning and having new ideas constantly. How good it feels to wake up every day excited about what you're working on.

And I want to remind my future self that these periods come in waves, and another one will come. In the meantime, I want to advise myself to not give in to the boredom and listlessness. It's easy to not find motivation to try learning or doing anything I don't have to when that thrill is gone, but I think doing more could be exactly what I should do. I should keep reading—I should read more. I should keep listening to what other people have to say; I should see more theatre, listen to new music, write more. And all the time keep looking for a spark of inspiration, because you never know when it will come, and the less you expose yourself to, the fewer options you have to get inspiration from.

My other focus during this slow period (after around six weeks of a high period, I'm expecting months before another one comes along) will be to improve my health and fitness. In particular, building healthy habits, because when we're busy or tired we fall back on our habits—good or bad. Building up healthy habits now will mean I can fall back on them during my next high period when I'm busy thinking, learning, and creating, without worry that I'm not looking after myself.

Lofty goals, I know, but that's my plan. I hope my future self remembers it and sticks to it.

P.S. I make some stuff you might like: Exist, a personal analytics app to help you understand your life, and Larder, a bookmarking app for developers.

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