Fear of Success
Posted by Trixter on December 19, 2016
When I have an exceptionally good idea, I think about it endlessly until it gets fleshed out and fully realized inside my head. This is fun. I like to work on these projects every night as a way to get to sleep. It rarely results in actual sleep, but at least I have something to think about during bouts of insomnia.
The problem with this is that it leads to obsessing over the implementation of the idea, to the point where it manifests in a really unhealthy way. When I coded some of my best demos, I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning multiple nights in a row to take advantage of the +2 INT bonus you get from hyperfocusing without distractions. This led to being inefficient at work, being short with my family, and occasionally getting sick. When I was fleshing out MobyGames with Brian Hirt, I spent every moment of my free time working on it for nearly two years, which damaged my relationship with my wife and my young children.
I’ve reconciled with my family for that period in our lives, but ever since then, I’ve been very careful about how I spend my time fleshing out my ideas. If it looks like I’ll have enough pockets of free time that don’t impact anyone that needs me, or said project doesn’t require intense focus, only then can I actually work on a project. This is a balancing act. It took several planets to align for 8088 MPH to happen, complicated by not just my own time, but the time of everyone involved. I’m amazed we pulled it off. I’m also positively thrilled we pulled it off.
I have a new idea that is just begging to get out of my head and into the real world. It’s a project that has an audience of thousands — not the largest audience, but it will make a real impact with that audience and save them thousands of hours of time, and that’s enough to make converting this idea into a concrete project. It will require me to learn a new programming language, adopt community programming practices, use collaborative platforms, and will overall be a positive learning experience.
But, it will require a large amount of discipline, focus, and study. So I’m afraid to start, because I know once I start, I won’t be able to stop. I’m afraid of causing collateral damage by being unavailable to those around me.
So, I haven’t started.