Friday night. I had a cup of tea on the desk, flipped open the iPad, and was gearing to spend the 2–3 hours it takes me to author another post on this blog to be posted the following Monday1. I navigated back to this blog to look up some past writings, and was unpleasantly surprised when the browser claimed that the entire thing is under maintenance and unavailable. Some emails and an investigation later, and I ended up committing the weekend to back up this blog’s contents, wiping away the malware that has apparently spread itself throughout my WordPress instance, and finally just giving up and nuking all of it to start again from scratch on a new web host2.
A 25-year-old me probably would have regarded this as a fun weekend project; when I started writing random posts online I built my own blog engine, and then did it again 3 times over for kicks. Hell, even the 30-year-old me may have enjoyed a detour into technical work, at a time when I was just starting out on the management track and longed for tangible, quantifiable results with a tighter feedback loop. In 2021 though, with the better part of a decade of work experience added on, maintaining servers now just feels like a chore, something that I’m increasingly glad to outsource to more competent services. As I grow with age—and theoretically, wisdom—it feels better to put my time and energy on things that leverage the accumulated experiences.
All of that is a roundabout way of saying that motivations change, and the things that made us tick 10 years ago may be very different than our preferences today and undecipherable 10 years from now. Bill Gates’s quote comes to mind:
We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.
And while he was referring to how the technology landscape had shifted in the 80s and 90s, the statement applies just as much to ourselves and these projections of our future selves. The book Die with Zero also emphasizes the very different states of mind that come with age, when things that used to matter fall off in importance, often to make room for things that now matter more in the present. Mid-life crises are the butt of jokes—until you encounter that ephemeral shift of priorities yourself3.
Maybe it’s just me recently reflecting on a decade of casual writing, but I’ve come to more appreciate how perspectives are shaped by time and are a product of that slice of time as well. The career path that I thought I was heading down, my hobbies and activities outside of work, the friends and family who were close at the time—a lot of it went in a different direction than I had anticipated at the time. In fact, since I started keeping a journal of my personal thoughts in parallel, I was able to look up exactly what my expectations were of myself in 2020, and I’ve done such a bad job of predicting the future, about the one thing that I really should know in-and-out, that I’m skeptical of efforts to look ahead even for a couple years.
It makes me admire those who can set an objective for themselves and work on it for 10, 20, sometimes 30+ years. Not only does it take tremendous discipline and planning to make progress over such a long period of time; implicit in the goal is an unwavering motivation, being able to identify that intrinsic preference that against all odds persists through all the mental changes that manifest through personal development and growth. The rest of us are merely fickle.
I guess when you get old enough, that description of a Friday night doesn’t sound as bad, plus there’s still that entire COVID thing.↩
It wasn’t strictly necessary to switch hosts, but I’ve been running into annoying limitations with shared hosting resourcing and figured I might as well make the upgrade.↩
Not that, uh, I have a ton of experience with this phenomenon or anything.↩