Ambition changed my life over a year ago. I wanted to do great things — things that would change my life and those dear to me. No longer would playing video games every night satisfy me.
Ambition, even in a year’s time, has led to many great things. The amount I have learned in this short period of time puts any other equal interval of my life to shame — I’ve become a decent programmer, designer and app producer and I still work every day to learn more.
My ambition, however, was untamed, and it came with many nasty side effects. I wanted to succeed badly. Success, I have learned, does not equal working 80 hours per week among other things.
Twice I ended up hating what I was working on because of blind ambition to make it work — I did not take time to think about the repercussions of pouring all of my life into a project. I now have a few rules that I use to control my ambition, so that I can not only remain productive, but still love every second of what I do (well, almost every second).
First rule: Limit the time you spend each week on your work. While it seems pouring every hour of your day is a great way to get ahead, your ultimately only beating yourself. Your creativity will suffer, you will burn out, and you will begin to hate what you do.
Your leisure time will start to accumulate which leads us to the second rule — find some other things to enjoy. It may be surprising how much other fun activities you can still enjoy while still getting a lot of work done. My productivity has skyrocketed since I started spreading my interests. My love for the work stays high and I end up getting much more done in 6 hours than I used to in 10.
Ambition tends to make us feel more important. Your putting long hours into a game-changing project, you feel serious, you talk serious, and your percieved as.. boring.
Final rule: Stop taking yourself so damn seriously. Stop pretending that you are in this to take over the world. You are not changing but a minor fraction of the Earth’s population and you are only going to change a minor fraction of how they spend their time at most.
Seriously, you are scaring people. Cut it out.
You are much better off trying to be real. I’m sure you hate 90% of the people on there who appear to either be spambots or soulless marketers on Twitter. You want to build connections? Enjoy your time, try to speak your mind, and follow those who interest you.
I’m not out to change the world — I build products because I have one hell of a time doing it. I blog not because I want to hit the front page of Reddit or Hacker News, but because maybe, just maybe, someone like me will see this and I will build a great relationship with like-minded people.
Ambition is great when its tamed. Come clean with yourself, your ambition needs a harness because untamed ambition won’t make you happy.
Shot of the app (my first) that I’m working on. What do you think? I’m both designing and developing it =D.
A minor disclaimer: I do not attend a bigshot university. I speak from my own experience at colleges that are ‘just okay’ schools. However, I’m inclined to believe that what I believe holds true to 99%, if not all colleges.
Most people hate college because of the work. Not enough partying and chillin with homies, yo. ”College would be great without the actual work”. If the work itself doesn’t bother you, you may very much thrive and enjoy the college atmosphere.
Or you may be like me.
I actually love to work hard. The idea of working, in itself, is not intimidating. What does bother me is what I am working on, how I am taught it, what I am not learning, and how much I am paying.
There are, of course, many different specific areas of programming that one may choose to pursue. I have made my decision as a mobile developer, and I work hard every day to become a better one.
I don’t care what specialization you choose, no school will have the ability to teach you exactly what learning will be useful to you. My school tries to be all encompassing— so broad that it teaches you the very basics of generalized programming.
This not only doesn’t work well, it’s a complete waste of my time. I’ve wasted countless hours in class ‘learning’ things that I may never have to use again in my life.
By trying to teach me as generally as possible, you teach me as little as possible.
My second complaint is the severe disconnect between what you learn and what is actually relevant. I’ve been to two colleges and have found them teaching me things that haven’t been relevant for years.
Even if your school manages to keep up with the times, there will always be some minor lag. The programming world moves fast — new frameworks are coming out often and things are always moving forward — it’s really difficult to keep up with this when courses are taught in huge semester chunks.
I also really dislike how knowledge of a subject is strongly reliant on the competency of the teacher. Even if I have a lovely, hilarious teacher, he may not be teaching me what you really need to be learning.
The generalized nonsense that I am suppose to be learning is now more difficult because of unreliable teachers.
Yes, there are some really effective teachers. But that is not the point.
The point is that I am taking on debt for a institution that has easily been replaced by the internet. I have taught myself to be a pretty good programmer almost entirely through what the internet offers me.
StackOverflow helps me solve simple problems. #Iphonedev IRC at freenode helps with with the tougher ones. Amazon connects me easily with books containing more specific knowledge on detailed subjects.
I can learn just about anything I want, and I certainly don’t need school to help.