Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

The Compelling Reason

I talk about having a compelling reason quite a lot. In fact, I use that as the basis for whether or not I embark on learning something new or when deciding to tackle something new.

Unless I have a compelling reason to do something, I generally don’t bother. Why? Unless I have that compelling reason, my interest will waver. My passion for what I’m undertaking will evaporate.

For me, the compelling reason revolves around what I need to learn. What I really, really, want to learn. Not learning something for the sake of learning it (well, not always), but learning something because I have a need or a deep-seated desire to learn it.

Without the compelling reason, undertaking something is often a waste of time and effort. That’s time and effort that you could better spend doing something else.

A Pair of Examples

A year ago, I started learning Python (a programming language). But a variety of factors knocked my off the rails. Only recently have I reset enough to consider starting it again. And I have a compelling reason. Two of them, really. The first is to apply a knowledge of Python to my interest in data journalism. The second is that I have ideas for a few Python scripts that I want to create. Scripts that will help me better perform certain tasks. At the moment, my knowledge of Python isn’t enough to do that.

On the other hand, there’s learning a foreign language. Over the years, I’ve tried and failed to learn French, Spanish, and Japanese. I reached anywhere from a rudimentary to basic level of proficiency, then all progress stopped. Still, some of my friends and my wife have been trying to get me back on that horse. In fact, the last time that my wife tried to convince me to try to learn a language, she claimed that it will be fun. Probably not … But I have no compelling reason to do so. I’m not going to be travelling any time soon, and I don’t work in any languages other than English. And it will be a long time before I’m able (if at all) to understand a movie, TV show, radio broadcast, book or periodical in a foreign language.

Listen to the Compelling Reason

The compelling reason keeps you interested. The compelling reason fuels your passion. The compelling reason keeps you going when things become difficult.

Without the compelling reason, you might start off strong but you’ll soon wind up going through the motions. You won’t be getting the most out of what you’re doing. You probably won’t enjoy it as much as you should.

And if you’re not enjoying something, if you’re not getting much out of it, then what’s the point?

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