We make promises to ourselves and to others. Some we keep, some we break. The sincere and intellectually honest life is one where you only make a promise when you absolutely know you can keep it based on “historical” evidence. You have to look at what you’ve done in the past, and if you’ve never done it before, don’t promise it.
I think I often make predictions based not on the person I have been up to this point, but based on the person I would like to be. That’s a natural thing to do in some sense, because I’d like to exist in a world where my hard work leads to gradual “improvement”. It’s similar to the natural folly of politicians and economists who base their predictions on the continued economic growth (as measured by U.S. GDP growth) of say 3%.
Running with the analogy of GDP growth… I’m learning more and more that you have to make promises in normal life based on 0% growth or even negative growth. However, set goals of 3% growth to yourself, just don’t announce them. Work your ass off to make it happen, and if you do, people will be happy, and if not, no one will be disappointed because of a broken promise.
I’ve pulled off some very challenging tasks in my life, and because I over-promised, those accomplishments were overshadowed by the small aspects of the promises that were broken.
In my experience, this is especially a big problem in the software engineering world, where programmers make estimates of project completion with the assumption that nothing anywhere will go wrong. Of course, they do, projects are delayed, and the incredibly hard work of the people involved is overshadowed by their failure to reach overly-steep expectations.
Diablo 3 will be released tomorrow, or as the following opening cinematic explains: “The powers of hell are on the way… It has begun…”
I have a long history with Diablo and Diablo 2, and so the pull of it is strong. I have very little time to play it, nor frankly does anyone have time to play it, because it’s not a game that you can play in moderation, unless you have some kind of superhuman self-restraint. Let’s be honest here.
That said… I told myself that I will play it but only if by the end of May I finish the journal paper I’m working on now, and also if I win a gold medal at the jiu jitsu World championship on May 31st. Both of these are difficult but achievable goals if I continue working hard. So I’m using the extremely addictive drug that is Diablo 3 as a reward to push myself.
Much like a drug addict who has beaten the habit, I have a certain approach to games like Diablo 3 that basically can be summed up with “will it really be worth it in the end?” In a way, the answer of course is no, but then again perhaps the same could be asked of life in general. Like many things we take on outside of work (and sometimes work itself), it’s an escape. It’s a chance to get away from the difficulties of the real world, whatever form they take, and immerse yourself in a universe where hacking away at demons with a giant sword somehow has meaning, and even more, can make you truly happy.
So, for at least another 2 weeks, I will let the fires of hell burn outside, and continue my peaceful life in academia, focused on publishing not slashing, occasionally running into a co-worker with dark circles under his eyes who has clearly given into the dark mystical attraction of another Blizzard title.