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Steve Keogh
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Some of the comments here are pretty funny. I especially like the ones that basically imply (or outright say) that "science doesn't apply here." That's a bit like saying "reality doesn't apply here." That is an opinion. I like Carl Sagan's metaphor of science as a candle in the dark, it can illuminate only what it is directed towards - but it is not the only tool for uncovering truth. Science is the search for facts, philosophy is the search for reality, one can and should be informed by the other but not exclusively. You are conflating science, the pure theory of science, with our cultural scientific-materialism. There is a lot of arrogance in that, especially when you confuse that with reality. There is a mistake, and you make it, in conflating what directions our society chooses to point scientific research with the nature of truth. Science is used to further our cultural values, and of course the truths therein continue to bolster that (and when, in the case of global warming, in contradicts it we furiously undermine it, or ignore it). If you point science in the direction of more productivity it will scientifically tell you how to be more productive, in a particular area (though it's worth noting science's poor track record with social relationships, the economy etc.). If you start with the premise values that work "is good" and a career should be "developed" and come up with some "scientific" answers to achieve that, you will (and do) mistakenly believe that science is telling you to fix what you are doing wrong. Knowing reality can only come from within the person, science is a useful tool but don't turn it into a God, and don't bastardize it to make you feel better about your own values - that's backwards thinking.
Why does this self-help book work when so many others fail? In a word, science! And what do you do when you find the science isn't applicable either? To look to science for the problems behind procrastination and unhappiness with your work is folly. It has to be about a deep life philosophy (some of which you outline above). The truth is most people in any given career are deeply unsuited to it, and many of those are deeply unsuited to any career, especially one that demands you spend 40+ hours a week in front of a computer at work to be competent and another 20+ outside of work to be good. Psychologically, we are not suited to work this long, motivate ourselves this far and concentrate on one thing so intensely. Of course we have plenty of famous examples that buck this trend; you are one Jeff, I am not. The view from a (dare I say it) enlightened sodomite is that I enjoy programming, but not enough to be an all-singing-all-dancing-guru, I cannot motivate myself enough because I want to be working a twenty hour week and spending the rest of the time with family and friends. That's me, but before you try to find out what's wrong with yourself and why you cannot motivate yourself, take a look at whether computers are for you, or if the rat-race is for you, and if you wouldn't rather be doing lots of varied things with your life rather than banging your head against the wall in a mode of life that is deeply unsuitable for the vast majority of us.
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Jul 27, 2011