Finally, after several weeks, I have managed to complete this article series describing my “boom and bust” working cycle. The article series covered six different steps:
- Decide to Start A New Project
- Plan the Scope Too Wide
- Work Myself Too Hard
- Burn Myself Out
- Abandon My Project
- Re-Evaluate and Repeat
This final article will serve as a conclusion that will round off this series. Instead of going over everything that has been discussed so far, since you can just go back and click the links to those articles, this conclusion will focus on my own self-discoveries and decisions as I have gone over each step, updating them with a look towards other possible projects that I am considering. After all, I have mentioned my past and my present approaches, and now that we have the full cycle covered, it seems only right that I should add my future planned approach here as well.
As I stated in the second article of this series, I used to destroy all my old work, or otherwise look for a way to get that “fresh start” approach that fires me up when I begin a project. I decided that in future, I would instead archive my work, so that I could look towards deciding if I wanted to return to previous projects. As of yet, I have not returned to any previous projects, so I don’t know if this is going to be beneficial in the future, but I feel that as I archive more and more material, the opportunities to go back to previous projects will increase.
In the third article of this series, I admitted that my plans are often too wide in their scope, becoming nebulous due to lack of concrete boundaries. Addressing this issue, I detailed a narrow plan that I was intending to use for this series – a series of eight articles based around each of the steps of my cycle, capped with an introduction and a conclusion.
Looking back, I have managed to stick to this plan, and as such, I have managed to complete this series, and for the first time in a long time I have finally completed a project. It feels great to be finally reaching this stage, and I am able to look towards moving on to other projects.
As I also stated, I have no plans to progress or propagate this series further, besides general social media techniques. While there are opportunities, such as embellishing further on various issues, addressing certain questions, and looking back in the future at similar examples, there really is no need for me to continue what is basically a one-off series.
What I can say is that the plan worked, helping me stay focused and reducing the chances of burning out and abandoning this project. It wasn’t easy, but by covering what I was doing and how I was going to do it beforehand, I could bring myself back to task, despite the waning enthusiasm for the project as I slowly burnt out.
In the fourth article of this series, I asked myself if I was overworking myself, and what could I do about it. Given the issues with my low work tolerance, thanks largely to my Crohn’s disease, the answer was a resounding “Yes.”
This would become evident to me the further that I progressed along the series, as I would be writing later and later during each week, to the point that I was sometimes writing my post the day before it was due. Yet, I managed to keep things focused and get each article scheduled and posted on time.
I also started exploring my own issues of self-worth, particularly based on my desire to prove myself as a games designer. Although I admit that it might take some time for me to resolve these issues, acknowledging them as a driving factor in overworking is a good start.
So, what did I do about these facts, when I found myself overworking? Well, I could have started slowing down the project, even abandoning it for a brief time, but instead I found that I could sacrifice other chores in order to complete this series.
For example, I reduced the amount of housework and other daily chores that I felt needed to be done, to give me the time I needed for the all important leisure time which allowed me to recuperate from overworking easier. In addition, this article series allowed my fiancé to see some of the issues that I faced, and she helped support me by not pressuring me to overwork, and picking some of the slack by trying to do more herself.
Ultimately, it was, is, and still will be, the little things and the little differences that are important – slight changes here and there, that will have significant influence over the outcome of events. Hopefully, I will be able to continue this trend of positive change to improve things for myself as time goes on.
In the fifth article of the series, I discussed how I often neglect my own downtime, and how this significantly affected my ability to recuperate from overworking. This would become evident as I found myself needing more downtime, and thus was finding myself able to write later and later during the week between articles.
I addressed this by increasing my downtime, and trying to make better use of that time. However, despite the positive effects of this, I still found myself struggling, and may need to admit defeat here – a week simply might not be enough time between articles for me.
Most importantly, I did my best to counter my desire to work in my downtime, because of my drive to prove myself as a games designer. I didn’t force myself to adhere to unrealistic levels of perfection, or to achieve overly demanding content production goals. By sticking to my plan, and trying to keep this project as simple as it required, I found that I was able to finish this project in a timely manner.
Overall, I failed to avoid burnout, but I did manage to limit it to a certain degree, and as such, I believe that this is the way to go forward for me. Shorter projects may be more suitable for bigger ones right now, as I continue to develop the ability to limit, and hopefully avoid, overworking and burning out completely.
In the sixth article of this series, I tackled the somewhat dark topic of “crashes” and the stress and trauma that they can cause. By talking candidly about this subject, I was able to address my own self-destructive behaviours evident from my own crashes – the most distinctive of these being the urge to abandon my projects.
I must admit, addressing these issues was heard, particularly as I found myself overworking and burning out during this project. However, writing this article series turned out to be a form of therapy in it’s own right, as I was able to ask myself questions, tackle my feelings, and talk about them in an open manner which meant that they were not simply cluttering my mind with endless stress.
In addition, by engaging in other less impactful desperation actions, I was able to stave off the bigger crash – abandoning this project. There were times when I was tired and exhausted, feeling like life was an endless battle that simply wasn’t worth fighting any more, while wondering why I was even bothering to finishing this article series.
However, I found that by not denying these feelings, but instead accepting and processing them, while allowing myself respite in a place of sanctuary – which, in most cases, is my bed – I was able to cope with them. Such times simply become downtime, where I would accept that I needed a break and would go and do something which, if it couldn’t make me feel better and more positive, allowed me to feel less negative.
So overall, I managed to succeed in avoiding a crash – this time. In that regard, this step, and this project, was and is a success. However, the question still remains whether or not I have managed to break the cycle, or whether I have just managed to put off the inevitable.
Regardless, now is a positive moment, and will remain thus, and that is a milestone that is sure to come in handy in the future. As such, I will continue this method of catharsis as a means of dealing with my thoughts and emotions, as part of the bigger plan of positive change. It may be a long time until I achieve serenity permanently, but for now, brief visits that get longer each time seems like a good way to get there.
The seventh article in the series covered what happens after a crash. However, since I didn’t crash, it might seem a bit odd that I am recapping and looking at my success with this step. How can I possibly write about a step that I haven’t taken yet?
This is a good question, but as I came very close to crashing while writing this series, I realised that my behaviour could be seen a cycle of mini-crashes. By allowing myself to engage in minor desperation behaviours, I realised that I was actually triggering the recovery process earlier, before a more significant crash could occur.
This seems like a good thing, even if it is just a matter of perspective. Triggering the recovery process meant that I would recuperate more efficiently, than I might have done otherwise. I don’t know if this is a good long-term solution, but hopefully if I can increase the time between these mini-crashes, or even start developing the ability to use the recovery process without crashing, then that might be a solution.
In addition, I tackled more questions about why this is a cycle for me, particularly my instinct to prove myself worthy, particularly as a games designer. These questions still have no concrete answers yet, but by verbalising the questions to myself, I at least have a place to start.
So, did I succeed in my ultimate goal – to break my “boom and bust” cycle? In a manner, yes I have succeeded, as I have not yet crashed and managed to complete this article series. However, whether this is because I have truly broken the cycle and changed my behaviour, or whether this is simply a case that I never reached Step 5 in this project, remains to be seen.
Either way, I have completed this article series, and that is a positive thing. This article got deep at times, and certainly got very meta, but it appears to have been worth it to reach this point. I might not have proved myself as a games designer, but I certainly proved something – that I am capable of asking myself questions and trying to learn from them. That, in itself, gives me some worth as a philosopher. However, whether or not society values philosophers remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, I can try to tackle my self-worth issues, and move on to other projects in the future, hoping that this self-analysis of my own working process and the changes that I have looked into as a result will serve me in the future. if not, well, I can always try again, looking for better solutions next time.
So, what have I got planned for the future? I can’t say at this time. I intend to take some time off for a few weeks – July, August, and September are busy times for me, for various reasons, including a summer holiday. It is time for me to start projects in some of the other arenas in my life, including finally doing the housework!
In the meantime, I get to ponder my next project, including questions like why I want to prove myself as a games designer and how I intend to do that. Until then, continue to stay AWESOME!