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On Friction

warning. self-indulgeant diatribe coming. I generally try to avoid these, but it’s my website, and I can write what I want.

We’re rapidly approaching the end of the year, and I’ve got a few dozen ideas rolling around my head that I want to solidify my thoughts on.

One of the reasons I write these words on this little corner of the internet is simply to clarify my own thinking on a given topic. I try to not overthink them

This is known as rubber duck debugging and I’ve found it to be enormously effective.

I’ve found myself to be often giving the advice of “write more” to people. One of my favorite past-times is helping people get new/better jobs, and a common thread throughout that process is “write something” or “write more”. But in the same breath as I recommend writing as a means to a better job, I underscore that writing has endless value beyond the fairly transactional purpose of demonstrating competence.

This act (of pen to paper/fingers to keyboard) clarifies your thinking. On anything.

I’ve been resisting writing because much of my attention is unwillingly drawn to things that frustrate me. (Please reference: politics, marketing). The internet certainly doesn’t need another screed about the injustices of {unjust thing}, and I don’t plan to add another one.

I’m trying to choose to spend my attention entirely within the zone of things I can control. I’m trying to reduce my area of awareness down to that which I can control. When my awareness expands far beyond that which I can control, I spend my day angry and frustrated.

Me being angry and upset at things happening in a realm I cannot control (like politics) wears on those those around me. (Ask my wife about the last time I launched into a monologue about racist zoning policies.)

The low-friction path in life seems to be outrage, loss of attention, and consumption. (Ads, commercials, billboards, clickbait articles, etc.)

I don’t want to live that way, though, so I have to go to great effort to reduce the friction I face in doing more valuable things. If I’m confronted with a choice, in some ways, I’ve already lost. I don’t want to have to make decisions about important and good things. If they are really important and valuable, I’ll find a way to automate them, or fit them into a system.

(This is why regular automatic deductions of money from a checking account to an investment account are so powerful. If it’s important, automate it)

OK, I get it Josh. Why are you still going on and on about friction, then? Get to the point.

Ah, great point, provocative voice inside my own head. Good point.

I’m writing here about reducing friction… to get back in the groove of writing things I want to write about. Writing (and publishing) sometimes feels similar to replying to a long-neglected email in an inbox.

I would be honored, but I know I don't belong in your network. The person you invited was someone who had not yet inflicted this two-year ordeal upon you. I'm no longer that person. Image caption: “I would be honored, but I know I don’t belong in your network. The person you invited was someone who had not yet inflicted this two-year ordeal upon you. I’m no longer that person.”


I think my these words have helped shepherd my brain towards my point:

I’ve recently spent great effort getting other people to think certain things about me. I was actively job hunting (but not anymore!) AND I was running for city council in Golden. I didn’t realize how much self-censure I was doing throughout that process, so I only wrote a little tiny bit, and at that, it was mostly technical posts.

I’m employed, and am not on Golden’s city council, so I can go back to treating these posts as a simple indulgence.

Ahhh… that feels great.

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