This is the newsletter sent out to my mailing list at the start of November 2020. If any of these topics interest you and you’d like me to go more in-depth, let me know!
Perhaps the name “system design” is misleading, perhaps it should be “systems design” because the goal is not designing a single, all-encompassing system; or even to define a central system. It’s about understanding, modifying, and improving a multitude of systems within our lives that co-exist. It’s about learning to see both the individual systems that accomplish different goals, and how they all fit together in hopes of finding opportunities for synergy.
Regaining Balance Amidst Chaos
Life will always throw curveballs at us. Sometimes we’ll handle it no problem, and sometimes it’ll completely throw off our game. Our goal here is to create systems in our lives that are built to handle that stress and change, but also to support us when we get thrown off and help us find our way back to balance.
Structure we build in our lives must be flexible, modular, and dynamic. We must build it with change in mind, whether it’s the first or the third time.
In the past year or so, each time I fall into a slump I think hard about how it is I climb back out. Experience has shown me that I do always climb out of it, even if it takes some time. I’m trying to learn from these moments, to avoid what causes them, but most of all to learn how to best recover.
I’ve found that there’s a fairly simple recipe to tackling anything from a new project, to problems that come up, or even designing support systems from the ground up:
- Make your objective clear
- Identify your greatest obstacle
- Brainstorm solutions for that obstacle
- Test out your solution, adjust as needed
- Rinse and repeat until you’re satisfied
Keep Hold of Your Context
It’s incredibly important for us to keep a firm hold on our motivation and the context for our actions, projects, and goals. Neurodivergent people are way more likely than Neurotypicals to lose sight of those things and therefore lose motivation and/or direction while we work, resulting in us falling into a slump that can range from somewhat annoying to completely debilitating.
Identifying clearly not only what we hope to accomplish but why we’ve set out to do it and why it’s important to us can help. But it’s not enough to just write it down somewhere once, it must be kept with our project materials, where we can refresh our memory whenever we start to lose sight of the goal.
My Intentionality series has been on pause for some time now because I’ve slowly been developing the idea further. I’ll expand on this idea within that series in the coming months.
Branching Out Interests
It can be very easy for people (especially us Neurodivergent folk) to get very invested in a piece of media and allow it to take up a large portion of our energy and attention. When that happens, we leave ourselves vulnerable to disappointment when that piece of media inevitably fails to live up to our expectations.
And that’s not anybody’s fault. No piece of media can be everything we want it to be. There are always a multitude of factors that go into its creation, and chances are those things won’t align perfectly with our wishes.
That’s fine. But for those of us uniquely fixated on something, that disappointment can be particularly painful. Which is why I’ve found it incredibly helpful to branch out a bit.
I’m not talking about forcing attention away from what we love. Instead, we can let our love and excitement over one thing flow over into other, similar things. The goal here isn’t to give up the thing you currently like (even if it’s “problematic” for x,y, or z reason). The goal is to branch out and seek similar media we’re likely to enjoy as well, and to get our enjoyment from various different places so we can put less stock on a single thing and avoid that painful disappointment.
Pick Your Battle Station
Life should not have to be a battle, for anyone. All we want is to live, but until everyone can have that, the battle must continue. All for the hope that one day in the future, the war will be over.
While it’s always been true to some degree, over the last several years more of us have become intensely aware of the attacks on our livelihoods coming from so many sides. There are more battlefronts than we can keep track of.
And that’s just it. We can’t be everywhere at once. The battles must be fought, but we’re also not all suited for every type of battle. In order to be effective, we must learn to position ourselves strategically, where we’re needed most, and where we can bring out our very best.
It’s a new meaning to “pick your battles.” Not “pick your battles” because not all are worth fighting, but “pick your battles” because they must all be fought, and we best make the most of our strength.
How have you been coping with the uncertainty and changes of these times? What has worked? What hasn’t? What have you learned? And what are you still struggling with?