Sorry about the missed entry last week - too many things to do, not enough progress to talk about. Sorry again that this journal entry will be on the long side and picture free. I'll make it up to you by putting something fun at the end, I promise.
Lately I've been spending a lot of time on general planning - not just for Ice Slider or my new game library project but on everything in general. While I've spent a bit of time on the specific projects I've devoted most of my effort on general personal improvement - my main goal for January. The best way to improve my productivity is to shed off a bunch of bad habits and try to rewrite my own programming to make myself more effective.
It's taken me a bit longer than I'd initially thought; January is well mature now. But it's hard to change to a more organised frame of mind if you have to use your original inorganised mindset to make the switch! Plus given I went into a slump in the second half of 2006, combined with my general high restistance to organisational methods I suppose it's expected (I once scored a perfect zero out of twenty for organisation ability on a career psych test; the psychologist remarked it was the first she'd ever seen).
I've started reading "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey, and I've been spending a lot of time reading through the articles on Steve Pavilna's Personal Development website (formely runner of Dexterity Software, which he seems to have closed these days). After reading through some of these I've tried to go to the fundamentals and figure out exactly what my life purpose is. You might need to skim through a few of the articles over at the website to understand the context of what "purpose" is in this context.
According to both Covey and Pavlina, purpose is central to finding the right balance for your life, and after reading through their explanations I agree. It's something that subconsciously I find I'm questioning in my own choices, especially with the question of what I should do in life. Should I aim to stay in academia, or move back into games full-time. Or perhaps neither? Or maybe both in some sort of balance? I decided to brainstorm my purpose for a while to see what I really felt.
However, I found it very hard to separate out my preconceived notions about what I've always thought I should do from what deep down I beleive is my purpose. I've been hooked on being involved in games for decades, and given I'm nearing the end of my postgrad degree I'm also attached to academia. I can't seem to help noticing that my attempts to define a purpose tend to swing back to encompass both these areas. Is it just because I'm suited to these areas, or am I just retrofitting my present actions to what I think on the surface of my mind should be the answer? It's a difficult question to answer. I've spent a long time thinking about purpose - way longer than Steve Pavlina suggested in his "20 minute" exercise - and haven't yet experienced the "surge of emotion" he wrote signified finding the right answer. Of course, the heat fatigue doesn't help get in the right frame of mind for any emotions other than dog-tiredness [grin].
I also notice that most of the personal mottos or purposes that other people discover speak of stereotypical noble themes - self sacrfice, serving others, integrity etc., and I can't help wonder if they truly mean that or if they too are led to what we on the surface feel the answer should be, rather than what it actually is. Or it could just be I'm only a neophyte in personal development, and I haven't yet reached the stage where I can accurately guage my proper purpose?
Either way, I think it's best to stick with the best attempt at a purpose I've come up with and then regularly ponder the question to see if I can come up with anything better. My draft purpose is more about my own personal development - to develop the three areas of personal mastery; mind (thought and logic), body (general fitness and capability for action) and heart (dreams and passion), to combine and complement these three into a cohesive whole, and to help other achieve the same. Needs a lot of work to make it a more punchier motto before I can make it the basis of my own line of self-help books, but it's a start.
I've now moved onto a new book I've bought - David Allens' "How to Get Things Done", all about how you can organise yourself to become more productive. I figure if I can get the productivity side of things working well then the more advanced areas of personal development such as purpose might resolve themselves. Plus I really need to get my effectiveness sorted out ASAP while it's still early in 2007 and I'm relatively energised by the summer sun; that way I can keep things churning along nicely and not get a repeat of the slump of last year.
The Obligitory Fun Bit
This week has seen two GameDev competitions wrap up - the final scores for 4E5 (congratulations Drillan for Mop of Destiny, as well as everyone who entered!), and capn_midnight's three hours ASCII game comp. I find the competitions to be one of the best parts of the GameDev experiences, and am musing about setting one up myself some time later this year.
But until then, I'll restart and semi-formalise something I used to have in my journal; the Totally Pointless Competition!
What picture do I use as the desktop wallpaper for my home Windows XP computer?
Rules of the Competition
- Only open to those who have registered accounts at GameDev (no Anonymous Posters, sorry).
- Try to only answer once. If you answer more than once, I'll take your final answer as the one you want to keep.
- Describe the picture in 20 words or less.
- The first person to correctly guess what the picture is of will win the prize (unless they invalidate their guess with another try, in which case they get a "way to go, knucklehead" response. In the extremely unlikely event that no-one can guess correctly what the picture is exactly within the word limit, the prize will go to the closest guess as determined by the judge (i.e. me).
- The judge's decision is final. The judge also reserves the right to add as many new rules as he sees fit, whether to clarify unforseen issues with the competition or merely out of boredom
The Fabulous Prizes...
The winner of the competition will receive the following fabulous prizes:
- A complimentary congratulatory comment on their awesome achievement by yours truly.
- The everlasting adolation and respect of your peers (valid for as long as they read the complimentalary congratulatory comment).
- Your name listed as competition winner at the top of my journal until the completion of the next Totally Pointless Competition, as well as a link to your own journal if you are a fellow GDNet Journalteer.
And that's it!