What drives you?

Madhusudhan Anand's Blog
8 min readDec 26, 2016

What drives you?

“We all have something that we are meant to do. Your genius will shine through, and happiness will fill your life, the instant you discover your higher purpose you will then direct all your energies towards it.” — Robin Sharma — The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

Life is about learning! And its a great time to start goals, plan for the new year. We plan but often that motivation runs out, or we give up half-way or get distracted.

I have been trying to learn GoLang. I keep talking about it to almost everyone I meet, but still I can’t get myself to spend time with it. I don’t have a reason why I want to learn GoLang, and no idea what I would do with it. But, this is perhaps how I learnt many other things, and a reason to implement it followed.

Just like — lets say: you don’t own a car, but for the love of it or ‘interest’ in it, you learn to drive it and because of that, someday a car will find you, or it would lead you to buying a new car; I am learning GoLang for a very similar reason.

But there are two things here, “Interest” and “Commitment”

If you are interested, you will work on it when you are comfortable or when things are convenient. But when you are committed, you will do it no matter what!

Very recently, I came across this thing called Moonshot Thinking!

Choosing to be bothered by something that is near to impossible and fighting that bother till you actually achieve what you want is about what sums up what living is all about.

“Star performers start with a well-defined and concrete “impossible” goal they care deeply about and then they build a through-line that clearly connects here with there.” — Robert K Cooper — The Other 90%

How do I define my goal, how do I validate the purpose of the goal and finally how to measure progress?

I keep observing how others learn and become experts at a topic/skill etc.,. Apart from practicing methods to train the brain, I also take note of feeding the right purpose as fuel to let a conviction build subconsciously.

How else are you going to fire your arrow without having to aim at something? If the aim is moving, hard to chase, etc., it becomes challenging and firing becomes more fun, isn’t it?

You now have something to aim at, something to challenge our skills against, something to measure the progress with, and something that gives all of the effort — purpose. All by adding in a simple target.

That’s what a goal does to a person’s life — It changes everything

I have met atleast a couple dozen people who want to learn Machine Learning, but do they know why they want to learn it?

I know that I’ve never learned anything nontrivial without having fun learning it. So, I have often wondered that if I trick myself to enjoy learning something new, I have almost, mostly learnt it.

Why Learn at all?

When the satisfaction from doing something becomes so powerful it starts to overshadows the whole utility of it. I have met about a few hundred developers who just want to keep working on cool things. Building automations, algorithms, messing around with Raspberry Pis, Machine learning, apps, etc., These developers roughly fall on a spectrum in terms of motivation: are they driven by delivering value or are they driven by the tool?

The State of development changes so rapidly that regardless of what technology you work with today, aspects of that technology will be different in five years, and may be gone completely in 10 years

What you learn today, may not be useful for all life! That’s why you have to keep learning, you have to keep travelling, keep meeting people, keep giving you the exposure you need so you can be contented with all that you do, did and will do with your life!

Do we need goals?

The problem with goals is that they are easy when setting them, difficult while working on them and easy to re-write another goal, because, again, it’s easy! Instead I would say we plan better, focus on one thing at a time that can practically be done in that hour, try to take on a realistic problem that can be solved, learn something in the process and we move on taking on the next one. Goal should be like this mirage but like a several goals will lead to victory, several victories will win a championship and several championships will lead to a winning career, a plan is what helps achieve that first goal and then the next and then the other.

Have a plan to accomplish one thing, and break it up into smaller things, dedicate time — stick with it no matter what. Many such plans may lead to a goal, although not necessary. The plan should have a purpose and an outcome. This method has always helped me and have observed many experts adopt a similar method. Sometime ago something that started as a learning exercise became a full fledged product, became a startup and that led to an acquisition and an incredible learning experience. I never had that in plan or that as my goal. I just kept working through one thing and that lead to another and it went on.

Investing in personal development is all we got. Nothing else will stay, not salary, not reputation, not even a programming language. So learn, all of it, as much as you can!

“You are essentially who you create yourself to be and all that occurs in your life is the result of your own making.” — Stephen Richards — Think Your way to Success: Let Your Dreams Run Free

How to Plan?

Follow this to learn any new programming language. This plan applies to everyone, non-tech, tech, wanna-be programmers, advanced coders etc., but most applicable to those who wants to learn a programming language.

Understand the learning process

Learning has to be made consistent, courageous(not give up) and continuous

Know this first — you cannot go through a 40 hours course and become a programmer/artist/painter/etc.,, or even a 400 hour course. Dont fall into that trap. My personal experience and observation is that you need to get your hands enough dirty that your hands smell of code you are learning. The handshake with another person, should make that other person feel you are learning code. In other sense, handshake with a blacksmith, a construction worker, or a carpenter you will instantly know that this man works on ONE thing and works HARD on it.

Then you need to understand the following learning turns.
1. Cruise — the first phase of learning from Udemy, or FreeCodeCamp or CodeCademy, Courseera etc., .You solve challenges, you feel good and you keep moving on

2. Equator — After about 6 months of coding you reach this phase — Humid, hot, lost, frustrated with a sense of giving up gaining on you, because there is no instructor, nobody to help, you even tried stackoverflow, still no go, when you are on your own, no one to help — Dont give up here, this is where you get the most learning.

3. Comeback — You finally found the solution to problem, then slowly you notice a pattern picking up, on how you run into a coding problem and how you solve it

4. Teach — To get better at what you learn you have to teach. Find a way to teach, blog, mentor, train someone and you will be surprised on how you would get better at it.

5. Excel — This is and only at this phase that you will reap the benefit. It takes time, it takes a lot of consistent doing and you WILL get there

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” — Lao Tzu — Tao Te Ching

We are in the age of distraction. Because of that, we need to pay special attention to what we spend our time on. Make careful, planned and thoughtful use of your time! It’s the single most valueable asset we all got! How and what we do with it is in our control. Let’s go make the most out of it!

What Drives You?

This is from 2016 plan and this is what got me where I am today.

My mental model is something like this: there are all these long term goals like become valuable, successful, more healthy etc., But planning for that would take an incredible amount of mental effort so we end up establishing some proxies for that. Proxies can be small and when broken up should lead to a plan. I usually plan to do something in a month, and then in a week and then in few days of the week. Daily plans require significant commitment, so I recommend against it unless you want to turn it to a habit, a habit that would give you long term results (I strongly advise this for self improvement), don’t go for it. In a day to day setting these proxies manifests themselves as a sense of accomplishment.

I met an old man at a product development event, he was about 60 plus and was here to learn Javascript! When I asked him about what drives him he said — Never forget that life is always under construction, there is always something challenging that you need to attend to and oneshould always be prepared for it, the only way to do so is to always chase something challenging that you need to improve on.

“What we call our destiny is truly our character and that character can be altered. The knowledge that we are responsible for our actions and attitudes does not need to be discouraging, because it also means that we are free to change this destiny.” — Anaïs Nin — The Diary of Anais Nin

In my next post I will help break down plans and goals for learning a new skill in particular and share stories of interviews from many successful people

Go on, make the most of your destiny! Happy New year!



Madhusudhan Anand's Blog

I write about Books, Climate, Air pollution, Research, Data Science, Entrepreneurship, Startups, Tech, Learning & Career