Discipline? Probably just focused …
Oh the weird comments I get recently. If people understand at all what I’m trying to achieve and they are few. What I hear the most is “oh you’re home all day long, that must be nice” and then it’s shortly followed by “I wouldn’t be able to do that”… well …
I think I get it. A lot of people are fine with what they are doing right now and having to work for someone else removes a lot of pressure from your shoulders. You get pulled toward something instead of pushing against something. Much easier and I don’t say this in a bad way. My dream project requires me to work at home so if I want it to make happen the alarm clock has to ring every morning … or almost every morning and that’s the important part.
My background? Well I just got out of college (not the US kind of college it’s different in Canada) and I needed a job badly. That was right around everything techno collapsed in 2000-2001 … Great time to find a job. I found a great one for 25k a year. Every junior programmer I employed after that was always asking for a minimum of 35k-40j for the record … I was happy to get that job and I only had to drive 15 minutes to get to it every morning. I was living in a very small apartment in Montreal with my wife and I was working in Laval so in the opposite direction of traffic.
7 years later we bought a house. Houses in Montreal were way too expensive so we moved in not so far suburbs. Not so far but highways here in Quebec are so badly designed that it meant to spend about 3 and a half hours every day to get to the job and get back home. I know some people spend even more time than that driving every day but that was hell for me. I did that for 3 years.
10 years later instead of negotiating a salary raise I asked my boss to work from home at least 2 days a week. He agreed. That changed my life. I was so happy to not get more money but to get some more sleeping time. I became happier, less grumpy and finally appreciated having a house far from the big city. 6 months later I asked to work from home all the time and it was done. I was so appreciating that new quality of life that even the thought of trying to cheat over that was out of question. When you can’t stand that traffic every morning you don’t fool with that privilege of working from home.
The game developer side of me
I was mad. I can now admit it. Not that it was superhuman it was just unhealthy. With not much clue of what I was doing I was stacking up weeks of 80 hours of work. 40 hours for my day job and 40 hours for Golemizer. Again sure some people are doing more than that. Ask them how well they are feeling in the morning. I wouldn’t be surprised if they tell you they feel like throwing up. I’m not sure if I was doing that for the love of games or just for the love of building my own project. All I know is that it wasn’t the best way to do it. I’m glad I went through it but I would surely not tell anyone to do the same. Sure you get to do what you want without any financial risk but you also lose your life. Any free time you have you put into your project and if by any bad luck this project become a success then you might think it’s the only way to achieve anything.
I don’t believe in the “you have to suffer to be successful”. Well not anymore. Fact is you might be successful that way but you might also just die the day after. When you wake up in the middle of your 5 hours night with your heart beating like you were just sprinting it’s not good. When you turn everyone away from you because you have no patience at all you might just end up alone with your big pile of money. Maybe that if I had that big pile of money today I’d be telling people that “they don’t work hard enough” but who would listen to me other than fools. Now I’m happy to say that if I don’t have a small pile of money it’s because I wasn’t working well enough.
Learning to get stuff done
First you don’t work like crazy. You work when it matters. I have achieved more in the last month than I have achieved in 6 months working on Golemizer while working 80 hours a week. I do work on nights and on weekends but not when I’m exhausted. Not when I need to spend time with my wife. Not when I spent 4 hours on a single bug that drained all my energy. I have been lucky to solve many problems in my sleep or in my shower when I was working at my previous day job that I have learned to just let go problems for at least one night. Can’t figure it out? No problem. I know I can overcome those stupid problems so it just means I have to take a break. Yes it can be frustrating to go to sleep with that stupid bug still unresolved but it’s often the best thing to do. Things have been wrong all day long? Buy a bottle of wine and spend the evening with your wife. The next morning everything will make sense again.
To expect your brain to work at 100% every single day is just stupid. We’re not like that. Maybe there are family problems. Maybe you had an argument with your wife. Maybe something broke up in the house and you are worried about it. We are so good at getting worried about stupid things that we just have to accept that we won’t be doing our best every single day.
The frustrating part
Some people are machines … Or so they appear. You always try to be as good as them. If you are doing less than you fail … so you think. The truth is that you probably don’t live with them. Do they go to sleep alone? Do they have nobody to talk to when things go wrong? Do they have any plans for this big pile of money they might make? … Or maybe they do but there are few of them. They still don’t have the miracle recipe. Some just have the right idea at the right time. Some are just really good at what they do. But the chances are that you are just like me. Some ordinary guy that have a modest objective and moderate talents. You have to learn to admit that. Not that you must abandon but that you must learn to deal with what you are able to achieve.
Some months ago I wrote to a guy I very much respect that he was a game designer and that I was a game developer. It surely wasn’t to try to look good to him. It was just the truth. I like games and I want to make games for a living but that’s it. I have and I’ll still have to learn a lot. Some are just naturally good at it. They see things, understand them better, are able to write some great theoretical stuff that makes sense. That’s not me. I just try to build the kind of games I’d like to play and that’s it. Sure I do learn by doing stuff but it’s not natural for me. Or maybe it’s a matter of not having work at the right places for what I want to do. My background is “web developer”. Sure I can code but I have never learned about games while working for others. I do my own mistakes and must learn to deal with them on my own. And when I do things wrong I have very few people who will tell me what I should fix. It makes the whole process slower. But that’s still what I want. Do my own thing. Do my own mistakes. Do my own success. My pleasure comes from doing my own thing more than it comes from doing a successful project for someone else. That’s just me. Probably a lot harder but that’s what I have chosen.
So the question really is “how can you get where you want to and what is the most efficient way of getting there?”. When you can answer that question you have no problem of setting up the alarm clock to get up in the morning while your wife will spend hew entire day in the pool (she’s a teacher so she’s not working in the summer). There’s nothing difficult about that for me because if this works I know what I will get and I know what I will avoid.
I don’t work more I just work in a more efficient way. I know what I want and I just give me a little chance to get there. Not by sacrificing what I ultimately want until I “get there” but by making sure I enjoy every single day. Not that I don’t make some sacrifices but I surely don’t regret any day that goes by.