Getting Motivated Again

I’m sitting in a coffee shop (Machinery) here in Bali with a humidity and espresso induced glaze on my forehead, and feeling pretty good.  I’ve been a bit demotivated to blog lately, but I spent the last few days reading which always helps.


How do people blog on a daily basis?  It’s really hard for me to crank something out once a week, and even then I have to occasionally push myself to prioritize it.    


I’ve been fixing and doing minor tweaks to my latest financial algorithm, but it mostly runs fine in the background 24/7, and now all that can be done is observe how it does over the passing of time.  I’ve been in a micro-rut since I finished it that I’m just now seeing, hence extra reading, especially more motivational things. 


I didn’t anticipate any downtime after finishing this multi-month project which was naive.  The good thing is I don’t feel burnout, just more of a general sense of confusion in direction.  I have my money invested now, so barring any crazy superior performing strategies that I can find, I won’t have anything practical to do with them.  I did find a new strategy that I haven’t thoroughly vetted yet, and although it seems like a winning strategy as well as very different, the expected returns are lower than my best strategies, so it’s shelved for now.   


I can also work on my infrastructure, ditching Amazon Web Services for Google, which I plan to do eventually because Google is cheaper and less confusing, but everything works now after such a long grind of data engineering that I want to let that coast for a while.  


My third avenue of work is education, which is where I think I’m going to focus on while I reorganize.  I realized that I finally get almost no value from the “beginner” Data Science/Machine Learning/Computer Science tutorials.  It’s odd because for so long I felt like I didn’t really know what I was doing, and just hacking together slop that barely worked.  I would start a new basic data related tutorial, and feel like an amateur. Now I glance at these, and can often spot immediate mistakes the authors make, especially if it’s in regards to time series forecasting (using data to predict the future).  The bright note is that this gets rid of that huge slog of beginner education, and I can focus now on more advanced niche topics. I have some reinforcement learning (letting programs play games and create their own rules from trying things) in my que, which I think will be a key way to build strategies in the future.  I also have some classic algorithmic trading books that I’m coming back to now for more ideas and refinement.


On the productivity/life-design area I’ve been slowly re-working through one of my favorite books in that field: “The Pledge: Your Master Plan for an Abundant Life”.  The book and author aren’t well-known, and it’s got some unconventional ideas (which to me is a big plus), but I’m always surprised at how much I get every time I come back to it.  This might be my 5th time re-reading it now, and it’s been helpful for a variety of different careers/lifestyles that I’ve adopted. My thesis from it is that you can have a rich and rewarding life, but it doesn’t just happen without planning and effort.  You have to take a little of the mystery out of life having goals/routines/daily schedules, but in return you get more of what you want with less time going by where you find everything the same except for your age. The book has a holistic view (allocating daily time to your physical/mental health, as well as relationships, although the bulk of it is towards your work goals) which lines up with what I aspire towards as well.


Another thing I came across that I loved came courtesy of my friend Jeff (I have no clue where he got this from though, but he was the one to send it to me.  Sorry for no credit to the originator):


At least once a quarter I try to get 4-5 days mostly off devices and off of work. This acts like sort of a hard reset and reminds me of what really matters in life. I usually go somewhere a little remote and surprisingly don’t really do that much. Most people fill time off with more events and to-dos, I do the opposite an create space for a lot of reading, a lot of writing, and simple solitude. Time also allows for proper in-depth quarterly reviews of personal and work life, modifying any goals or actions that I want to implement for the upcoming few months.

I’m a firm believer that you can only make so many decisions around the direction of your life as a human until the momentum of life carries you wherever the hell it wants. Then you check in, recalibrate, and let the momentum take you again. If you’re not somewhat routinely (I do weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly like a psycho; there’s a lot of places I want to go in life) checking in, good luck ever getting where you want to be.

One of my favorite parts of these retreats is a lot of quality time with my fiancé, having ultra long chats (4+ hours) that normal life usually doesn’t afford. Her and I connecting for days on end is always a huge life upgrade.

The only rules are that wherever we go must have access to outdoors and solitude, somewhere to workout (can be outside or ample space inside), and healthy food. The first 1-2 days are really difficult for someone who stays pretty plugged in as it feels like I’m experiencing withdrawal from being productive, but days 3-5 are where the magic happens.



I’m planning to adopt this as well.  As much as I would like progress, motivation, and things I want to happen to improve linearly, I often go on little sideways tangents (like the past week or two) that I don’t even notice.  Depending on how busy I am with normal things it can take longer to get back on track than I would like.  The idea of an intentional getaway several times a year is genius.  I lose plenty of days of productivity when I get off-track anyway, and I’m sure there will be other great benefits to a proper work/rest cycle.


With that I’m going back to educating myself and going through some more of the self-improvement in my que (I’ve finished other books, but nothing else worthy of inclusion on here yet).  Leaving you with a few pics from life here in Canggu, Bali.  


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