A few of my hard earned lessons:
Time spent working does NOT necessarily = amount of work completed. It’s easy to get discouraged when you “sense” you’re not spending enough time on something. Two days ago, for example, I didn’t work much. But it was a very productive day! By the end of the day, I figured something out and the flood gates opened. That’s just how it works for hackers sometimes. If you don’t care anymore, that’s one thing. But being frustrated about time spent is a signal something else is wrong, not your commitment.
Some experts think we are either preprogrammed with “moving toward” or “moving away” internal metaprograms. OK, whatever. I’m a very positive optimistic person, so I just assumed I was a “moving toward” person. Wrong! I am HIGHLY motivated by that which I do not like, but I never realized it. If I see something I like, I think, “that’s cool”. But if I see something I don’t like, I think, “That sucks. I can do way better than that.” So I do. It may be one of the 7 deadly sins, but jealousy is a great motivator for “moving away” people. I’m older than every speaker at Startup Weekend, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and our president. But I’m just as smart as any of them, and I haven’t got mine yet. That just pisses me off! (See, it works, I’m ready to hack right now.) What about you? How are you programmed? What can you do to stoke yourself (or piss yourself off)?
“When do you know its time to call it quits?” Never. I realize most people will disagree with me. Walt Disney and Colonel Saunders went to a thousand banks before getting a loan. How soon would you have given up? When do you quit trying to teach you child how to walk because it’s not going as well as you’d like? Jerry Seinfield jokes that it took him 20 years to become an overnight success. I’ve seen the same thing with many hackers I know. If you know deep down inside that your project is a winner, you must do whatever it takes to get it to “walk”. If you’re not sure, then maybe you shouldn’t have started it in the first place. Only you can answer that one.