Procrastination is your antifragile mechanism (2021/Q3)

gui commited 2 years ago

It's tempting to feel bad when you stop doing something and jump to the next thing. What if I told you that it's just your intellectual defense system helping you filter what really matters?

Focus and flow are not something that you can just wish and create by yourself.

Actually, compelling yourself to focus on something would do more harm than good, because it would be literally you ignoring your own emotions (which were designed to help you), and closing yourself to other options (which might be better than your current object of focus).

That's why I don't feel bad (and you shouldn't either) when I switch focus, or when I jump to the next unknown thing, it's just my antifragile instinct sorting out inner matters.

🍸 What is antifragility and how it applies to focus?

"Antifragility" is a term coined by Nassim Taleb in a book of the same name (that you can buy here if you're curious), and making it short it means: "A characteristic of someone or something that gets stronger as it suffers harm - up to a certain point".

Just think about working out, you get stronger by harming your muscles πŸ’ͺ. Consider vaccines πŸ’‰, you protect your body by inserting bad agents (weakened) so your body knows them and learns how to protect itself.

Those are natural mechanisms that your body already supports and the only thing you can do is either:

Regarding focus (which is not physical, but a mental condition), I don't see any difference.

Would you be able to ignore a tiger πŸ… in front of you in mid of a forest? Well, what if it's in a zoo?

You don't feel bad when you ignore a tiger in the zoo for obvious reasons, but you give yourself a bad time when you stop that course, book, or goal that you've started.

This is your internal system trying to ask you something:

Tell me, why are you still reading?

You could have closed the tab or just skimmed over to the next section. You didn't because you're genuinely interested. Maybe you've found something that might be useful to you. You keep reading to find out!!!

And if you stop, that's equally fine, it means you got what you wanted already or you're just not interested enough.

Listen to your antifragile system!

🚧 Don't sabotage yourself

Every single time you punish yourself by telling yourself you never finish anything, or think that you're not good enough you're actually sabotaging your inner system.

You should not punish yourself for not being interested in the same reason you don't punish yourself when you feel sleepy or hungry, these symptoms are triggers to promote action, denying them (what you do when you put pressure on yourself) could maybe kill you.

Accepting your inner nature shouldn't be hard, but also shouldn't mean you must embrace every signal as a "commandment from nature". Feeling hungry is not a good excuse to eat all the chocolate from your cabinet. Remember, they're just signals.

Not sabotaging yourself should be simple, but for some reason, most people don't realize it. Life is all about experiencing. Tinkering, trying and messing up, struggling and achieving. You only realize you like chocolate when you taste it, so wouldn't it make sense to find our real focus or deeper interests only when we experience it?

That should be obvious. When looking for something to watch, if you start a bad Netflix series, you stop it right after a few minutes and look for the next that pleases you. You got the control, there's no reason to keep watching something you don't enjoy.

I simply can't see life any other way, if your book is boring, if there's a new course catching up your attention, if your job is not making you happy, why the hell you don't take your damn remote control, look for something else, and, who knows? Maybe you find something that you love.

Here's a question for you:

If another part of your life is stealing your focus, how far can you go pretending it doesn't matter?

Listen to your antifragile system, stop punishing yourself, jump more often across interests.

The only forbidden action is to mindlessly ignore it.

🦘 Short time goals set you free to jump more often

Considering you have this inner gut that works like a compass 🧭, pointing out to the direction you might want to follow and you can't control when it'll activate, makes sense (at least meanwhile you don't know where you want to be in 1, 2, 5, 10 years) to create shorter deadlines for your goals. As short as few months. You can do more than you think in a few months, and if you enjoy what you're doing you always can extend it.

See it like exploring the sea ⛡️, as you're headed in a certain direction you might find different islands 🏝, some of them might trigger your interest, and from there you decide whether to explore it or not. Maybe the wind πŸ’¨ is favorable to another direction, you might want to tweak it a bit too.

At the beginning of the year, I wanted to create a product as fast and minimum as I could. I did and felt not proud of it (with tough feedbacks from HN) due to the low quality and terrible UX, then I decided to do it all over again but better and with scalability in mind. I ended up creating a Python Linter (with better feedback from HN) instead.

I feel so happy.

Building the first one made me feel sad, building a linter that I humbly believe might be useful to others made me happy. There's no way I could possibly plan that before, I just followed the wind.

That's huge. I'm one step closer to find out what I love, I don't waste my time wiping about the first πŸ’© shitty product, I jump sooner to the next thing, and if I'm not in the mood guess what? I just jump again. 🦘

The trick of making the deadline sooner (3 months over 12 months) allows you to reflect more, decide more, navigate more! ⛡️ Not defining a goal to me is like giving up on looking, or passively wait for nature (i.e. luck) to bring at your hands what you love, I have never been that lucky (except by when I met my wife).

You don't know what to do in the next 3 months? Great! Just randomly pick something, and if you don't enjoy it after a week: JUMP!

✨ What I've done from Q2/2021

You can see more details here.

Goal Result
I got strong foundations in programming 🟑 Progressed and modified
I can build an app that scales ❌ Failed and dropped
(built Tryceratops instead)

As long as I progress I'm happy, I don't care if I haven't achieved it fully! I got deeper into AWS event-related services, Algorithms and Data Structures, and Python.

But what really brought me joy besides learning was writing. I never realized that I enjoy writing. I'm very grateful that I read Show your work and started this blog (BTW I totally recommend you to read this book).

I loved writing about algorithms, python async, how I built tryceratops. I regret not taking the time to write more about what I learned regarding AWS. Such feeling makes me feel that I should pursue my growth as an engineer, but incorporate writing as part of my learning because I learn more when I write, I understand more when I teach.

If you enjoy laughing observing my mistakes, you might want to follow me @guilatrova. I constantly share books I'm currently reading, mistakes, learnings, and ideas.

πŸ”₯ What I'm committing during Q3/2021

🦘 (Still) Skipping

πŸ“ˆ My company's software is reliable and scalable

I guess I got bored again. In my personal pursuit of personal growth, I decided to join a startup in San Francisco πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ.

Joining a new company is always a big change. It encompasses a big context switch, new technology, new processes, new people. Make it a startup and you can double the required efforts and risk.

Although harder, I felt that I can learn a lot by joining a startup early. Being part of an early-stage startup is outstanding, mostly because you're responsible for a relevant part of the company's success (or failure).

By the way, we're hiring! If you're interested to join a very promising startup this early, get in touch.

As we grow our product and acquire more customers it's important that our services scale accordingly, and I've been in charge of increasing our robustness and observability. Given that I'm committed to being successful at my job, I'll dedicate a reasonable amount of my time to make it happen.

πŸ¦– Tryceratops is stable and easy to use

I got really interesting feedback from people on HackerNews resulting in around 100+ stars on GitHub in a single day.

Although I don't have enough time to give constant maintenance due to my work and other personal ambitions, I'm going to make a final push to:

β˜€οΈ Habits

I want to introduce a new habit:

πŸ— I actively share my learnings

It was great for me to push myself to read and learn more, and it made me realize I want to keep doing it, but making it more active (writing!) instead of passively (just consuming).

I'm committing to writing about:


I'll show the pros and cons of a few services (SQS, Kinesis, Event Bridge, SNS) with real code that you can run and play yourself. Maybe we can create a sample project together? Let's see.


I must get deeper into threading and multiprocessing the same way I did for async. Maybe if I do that I can have a very good excuse to learn Golang next quarter.

If you like how I write and explain, you might want to subscribe to this blog to receive the posts when I publish them. The subscription form is available at the end of this post.

πŸ“š Regarding my readings:

  1. The Lean Startup
  2. Show your work
  3. Antifragile πŸ‘ˆ
  4. No Rules Rules
  5. Atomic Habits
  6. Unit testing principles practices and patterns

Antifragile is very dense and sometimes hard to understand, but I'm enjoying every chapter. This post itself is an inspiration from this great book.

I share what I find valuable as I go, check out my twitter in case you're interested:

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