2 min read

What am I going to write about? What will people want to read?

You’re such an idiot – staying out until 4am without planning for what to write today. It’s past noon EST – you’re losing your touch and you’re going to lose people.

I’ll just be honest.

I woke up this morning with a host of competing emotions. This is day three of SXSW for me, the second time I’ve traveled to Austin for the tech, film, and music festival.

I struggle with vacations. On the one hand, they are an excellent way to let off some steam and refill the tank. When I’m feeling burnt out, it’s great to say, “OK, I’m going to really lean into relaxing and not doing anything.”

But the reality is, this only creates a new and more insidious stress: a sort of cognitive dissonance with myself as shown from some of my first conscious thoughts of the day above.

I’ve gotten better at recognizing destructive and negative thoughts. For example, when I’m doubting or tearing myself down, I disassociate. See above where my inner monologue becomes second person point of view instead of first person. When I’m upset with myself, it’s changes from sentiment of, “I am an idiot” to “you are an idiot.”

As a product manager, I see the biggest responsibilities of my job as pushing the ball forward and/or getting the ball out of my court as quickly as possible. If something is on me to move forward, I take the baton and run so that I can once again hand it off to someone else.

That work never really stops. And it’s especially true for my personal projects, which I’m very excited to share with you. There is no handoff of the baton – it’s all on me. If things aren’t moving forward, it’s because I’m not running with them.

But, I don’t make progress on that while I’m stopping by the Twix house at SXSW and trying out their VR experience.

I don’t expect to ever completely eradicate negativity or self doubt. For now, it’s true progress to recognize it, thank it for being a motivator, and cut myself some slack.

I will probably always have this balancing act of periods of productive reclusion (e.g. every evening last week) and periods of active relaxation (e.g. these four days at SXSW). They aren’t always as extreme – sometimes that balancing comes in the same day.

But when you believe that your advantage is time, it’s hard to feel comfortable leaning into the relaxation.