Fridge-magnet advice

Don’t wait until you feel like doing something.

Motivation follows action.

Oliver Burkeman


Hard Work (and Play)

To really get anywhere in mathematics requires hard work. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, and do not derive satisfaction from your contributions, it will be difficult to put in the sustained amounts of energy required to succeed in the long term.

Enjoy your work – Terry Tao


It doesn’t matter how smart you are, hard work can make all the difference.

“You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.” — The Music Man



Remedies for Procrastination

1. What "exactly" would success look like? [measurable goal, not vague]
2. What needs to be done to attain the goal? [resolve-falter-point]

But fantasy is a substitute for the real thing – an unconscious endeavor to fulfill impossible goals. But those goals may not be impossible.

Better still is if you can acquire the self-discipline to do the hardest bit of the job first.

Another question is why you don’t want to do what you need to do?

Tom Peters has this simple advice for sustained success: make a list of the things you hate doing and STOP doing them.

For instance, you are more likely to interview well if you prepare properly yet don’t care too much about the outcome. To paraphrase T. S. Elliot, the secret of success is mastering a contradiction: caring yet not caring.

“All success is by a winding stair,” said the philosopher Francis Bacon. In other words, do what you never expected to do such as taking a secondment or something else that takes you out of your comfort zone.

And, if you secretly hope that the coin comes down “heads” rather than tails (or vice versa) – you don’t need to flip it. There is your decision. Your emotions are telling you something.

They took their time – without being too slow. The proverb, more haste less speed applies to decision-making. Make haste slowly.



But that’s how success works. Fit people are fit because they work out a lot. Successful people are successful because they work incredibly hard. People whose family relationships are close-knit have put time and effort into building those relationships.

Nothing worth achieving comes without a price. To begrudge those who pay the price is unfair. To be unwilling to pay the price will always result in failure.

The next time you consider a goal you want to achieve, decide if you really want to pursue that goal. If the answer is yes, the rest isn’t easy but it is simple.

If you don’t have what you want, pay the price to get it. Don’t begrudge the success of others. Do what they do. It works for them and will work for you.

If you’re not willing to pay the price, recognize that fact and take that particular goal off your list. When you truly let go of a goal you say you want to achieve but really aren’t willing to work to achieve, you shrug off the mental drain of chronic frustration and get more energy to spend on the goals you really are willing to achieve.



Why would ever want to be the passenger in your own life, when you could be the driver?


[Great in entirety:]



Lack of confidence, sometimes alternating with unrealistic dreams of heroic success, often leads to procrastination, and many studies suggest that procrastinators are self-handicappers: rather than risk failure, they prefer to create conditions that make success impossible, a reflex that of course creates a vicious cycle. McClellan was also given to excessive planning, as if only the ideal battle plan were worth acting on. Procrastinators often succumb to this sort of perfectionism.

Viewed this way, procrastination starts to look less like a question of mere ignorance than like a complex mixture of weakness, ambition, and inner conflict.

a more radical explanation for the gap between what we want to do and what we end up doing: the person who makes plans and the person who fails to carry them out are not really the same person: they’re different parts of what the game theorist Thomas Schelling called “the divided self.”

In that sense, the first step to dealing with procrastination isn’t admitting that you have a problem. It’s admitting that your “you”s have a problem.

Procrastination is driven, in part, by the gap between effort (which is required now) and reward (which you reap only in the future, if ever). So narrowing that gap, by whatever means necessary, helps. Since open-ended tasks with distant deadlines are much easier to postpone than focused, short-term projects, dividing projects into smaller, more defined sections helps.

J K Rowling

There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.

I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.

… personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

Choosing to live in narrow spaces leads to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.

We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

[Seneca:] As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.


Links from Matt Might

Learn Perl by experiment
A quick overview of programming with bash
A short introduction to make
SSH hacks
Standalone lexers with lex: synopsis, examples, and pitfalls
Sculpting text with regex, grep, sed and awk
Relational shell programming
Settling into Unix
A survival guide for Unix beginners
Console productivity hack: Exploiting task frequency
HOWTO: Word, Excel and PowerPoint without MS Office
Tips, tricks and tools for Linux and Unix