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I hope I'm in the right place.

Where do I even begin?

So I just turned the dreaded 30. I've made myself some huge promises for that age. 

From "I'm going to be a millionaire" I downgraded to "I am going to be a somewhat successful game developer" to "I'm going to be able to sustain myself from my own games" to "I'll just release a single title" and what do you know? I've failed at all of the above.

I endlessly jump from project to client to a job, back to a client and so on and so forth without being able to commit to anything and today I've realized that...well.. you know that feeling when you start doing something and you just get in the zone? It can be anything from work, cleaning, chores, even hobbies like video games. You just get into something and you do it for hours and enjoy yourself without getting distracted and without switching activities every 30 minutes?
So yeah... I can't get there anymore. I get anxious, bored and stressed during my work (which I, in all honesty, do love. Programming is amazing and programming games is even more amazing), during chores, even during video games and sex(!) I get bored in the middle of sex. That's just ridiculously sad.

Anyway... If I don't get my shit together I'll stay lost. And depressed. And Unfulfilled. I honestly believe that I can be a skilled game developer. Both programming and game design really do come easy to me, it's just that I cannot commit to a single activity without losing my goddamn mind!!

 Do any of you have any tips/tricks on how I can get myself in "the zone" and actually commit to the projects I love? I'd really appreciate that.



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Hello, Sen, welcome!

This sounds like a very frustrating, even worrying situation :( . Although the lowering of the expectations from your life you've described has probably been a good thing, feeling like loosing your concentration and interest in things you used to like or even love sounds like a problem to overcome.

I suppose you've already googled some advises, like, for instance:

https://zapier.com/blog/how-to-find-flow/ , https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-slow/200912/want-get-in-the-zone-its-easy-childs-play , http://www.businessinsider.com/concept-flow-help-get-in-zone-work-brad-stulberg-2017-9

If yes, I'd ask what you can identify as the problem that seem to prevent you from successfully using these techniques.

Also, can you say when this change happened and if it was abrupt or rather slow? Has, at that time, anything changed in your life?

For instance, could it be a consequence of too much (new) distractions that had shortened your attention span (as it often happens now to many kinds of "screen / internet users"), as new gadgets (as smartphones) and technologies became more present in your life?

Or was it linked to your 30th birthday? In that case, I would wonder if it isn't linked to this disappointment you mentioned at the beginning of your post. Might it be that you have (unconsciously?) "given up" your goals, but those goals used to motivate you, while now you feel overall pessimistic and some "little voice" is telling you (perhaps nonverbally, just by changing your attitudes) that "nothing really matters"? I hope I'm stretching my imagination too much here, but I'm just trying to look at it from different angles.

More importantly, I wonder how precisely you would describe those states of mind when you loose your concentration and become bored or agitated etc. What are you usually thinking of? 

Also, regarding your work; do you think it's, after all, possible to finish what you need to do even when switching activities "every 30 minutes"? Perhaps when you do two things (related to work) and you relatively often switch from one to the other, you could get both done without much "delay", despite lacking the long period of "flow / being in the zone" you were used to. I know it doesn't seem to function like this, according to what you've written, but perhaps you could try, for some time (few days?) to commit to an experimental work schedule: You'll be switching from one project to another when an alarm clock sounds (after, let's say, 30 min), so you "wouldn't have time to get bored with it", but then you'll try to be very focused on what you're doing, knowing you have "just a short time to get something done, so you'd better use it fully". Just an idea... (I know it disrupts any attempt at getting in the zone, but I imagine this kind of experiment could help you, at least, to learn more about the kinds of problems you actually have.)

Good luck!

Edited by LaLa
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Thanks LaLa,

I can try to describe the feeling more accurately but it's a strange feeling so it will be difficult.

Let's say that I have an idea I want to work on. I try to think about the idea but it kind of feels like I can't even think in full sentences and the whole thing is just partial in my brain. When I try to fully think about it my brain sort of goes "yeah yeah get on with it, we know this, whats next?"
At that point I usually call a friend of mine and tell him about my idea. His feedback is valuable to me, but I feel it's mostly so I will force myself to say it out loud. I know what it is about, but I need to force myself to fully describe it so someone else will understand it as well. 

Then I try to sit and start working on the idea and there is, again, this persistent feeling of "get on with it! NEXT! NEXT!" like... for example I try to program a specific function and once I know what it'll do and how it will work, actually pushing the buttons on my keyboard and getting it into the program is a chore and is PAINFUL! My mind drifts into different things. Best case scenario is that it drifts onto the next task, while worst case scenario is I start thinking about something completely different in the middle of typing.

Then, after a few minutes, everything just feels wrong. The chair is uncomfortable, there is pain in my back, my hands are twitching, so I get up and walk a couple of minutes around the house. I try to use that time being productive in some other way, maybe do some laundry or clean something but it's rarely efficient (it's like... I'll clean a single shelf and sit back down).

After sitting back down, getting back into the flow is even harder so I start with the distractions. I'll go into facebook (which has ruined my mental state lately because EVERYONE is talking about politics non-stop), I'll open a video game (usually something with very short play sessions like "HearthStone") or I'll watch some google videos.

Eventually, if the thing I was working on is actual work that I HAVE to do because I have clients that rely on me and are paying me, I might finish what I had to do after an entire day of sitting down, getting up, working, facebooking and so on (even though the work itself would have probably taken me 3-4 hours top if I was ACTUALLY working), but if the thing is my own project, It'll very rarely get anywhere.

Even writing this paragraph is difficult to me. I kind of keep myself in by not planning what I'll be writing in advance. This way I surprise myself and so I don't get bored (which is probably a very shitty way of formulating my thoughts. If I would have written a small summary in advance I'm sure I'd be more coherent, but then I'd get bored and never finish this reply).

In regards to when did it start... It has kind of always been like this. But the severity varied through the years. It's hard to pin-point something specific that made it much worse, but yeah... distractions are definitely a problem. Back in my high school days, when I didn't have any friends, nor was there stuff like facebook or smart phones I was somewhat less distracted (at least from things I've enjoyed. School work was still a nightmare).

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Hi, Sen; sorry for not replying for such a long time.

I wonder if it has somewhat helped you to write here in more details about your problem. Sometimes new insights may lead to new strategies...

I understand that it was difficult for you to write this post, but I also see that you've managed to do it very well! 

Have you considered leaving Facebook? I know it may sound impossible, but there are already many people who've done it (including myself, years ago) and if you wouldn't know how to justify it to your friends, you might use also some of other people's reasons (like concerns about privacy) and you wouldn't seem "weird" to them as now so many people do it. Anyway; try to be very honest with yourself: What positives does FB bring you? Are they more important than all the inconveniences? 

And what about an app that blocks your internet access during some time, when you're supposed to work?

I know distractions are only a part of the problem, but that doesn't mean removing most of them wouldn't make a difference! And even some difference is better than none, isn't it?

It's great that you call a friend when you need to formulate clearly your new ideas! Many of us think better when we have to explain to someone the thoughts. I imagine that your work would be much easier for you to focus on if you had some 'student / newbie' with you all the time and you had to explain what you're doing and why to him/her. I don't know if that's an actual possibility for you, but I wonder if trying to imagine someone there with you and talking (murmuring or aloud) to that person all the time while you do something (explaining why and how do do it as if it was your student / apprentice) would help. I think you might try it for some days and see. (Don't feel weird about it - it's not "crazy" to "talk to an imaginary person" when it's a strategy supposed to help you!) 

It also seems to me that you enjoy the creative and new parts of work but struggle with the parts that are 'routine' and/or 'too easy', am I right? (That's also something that could be overcome with the strategy above - when you're teaching things to someone for whom they are new, you think about them in a new light and they don't seem boring anymore.)

What do you think?


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