Connecting the Dots Forward and Backward

I don’t plan to do this often, but today I’m posting the same thing on both of my blogs, because these intriguing resources on procrastination and motivation—two shared by a friend on Facebook (thank you, Rebecca), one I’ve mentioned before, and one golden oldie from 2005—apply so well both to gifted intensity and to writing/writers. Enjoy (now or later)!

1. Procrastination: 5 Perspectives

From Brain Pickings, this collection of videos and thoughts by Johnny Kelly, Dan Ariely, Lev Yilmaz, Ellen Degeneres, and James Surowiecki will give you plenty to mull over when you should be doing other things.

2. Motivation: The Two Paths to Success

Paul Buchheit discusses extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation, using Amy Chua’s Tiger Mom example as a starting point. He also makes the important point near the end of his piece that “intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation isn’t a completely black and white distinction.”

3. Beyond an Intrinsic Utopia

The distinction between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation might be as problematic and artificial as that of nature vs. nurture, the dualism of which has, at least in developmental psychological, fallen by the wayside in recent years. On his blog, Study Hacks, Cal Newport discusses both procrastination and motivation in students from a perspective of complexity.

4. Trust That the Dots Will Connect

Finally, if you haven’t seen Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech, you won’t regret taking 22 minutes to watch it (and, if you haven’t seen it in awhile, you’ll appreciate viewing it again). As much as we try to plan our lives and our futures, Jobs reminds us:

“[Y]ou can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something–your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever–because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.” (full transcript)


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