Should I be doing something greater, perhaps much greater, with my life? ⛰
Hello! This is Étienne and you’re reading the fourth issue of Light Gray Matters, the strange newsletter that doesn’t have a clear goal or aesthetic, but for which you apparently subscribed anyway.
(Or maybe you didn’t subscribe and are seeing this on the website, in which case you should remedy this with the following button:
…and now I’m adding words just so I can close the parenthetical paragraph.)
Lately, I’ve been contemplating the question of ambition.
I don’t really see myself as an ambitious person. I don’t have clear career goals, for instance. Or if I have some, they’re abstract: make a sufficient amount of money to support myself without having to do work I don’t want to do.
I’m currently working an absolutely decent job as a programmer. But I feel somewhat stuck in it. I have a faint notion that I could be doing something better. Perhaps much better. Perhaps yes-actually-if-I-do-this-and-succeed-it-would-change-the-world better.
What would that thing be? I have no idea. If I did, there’s a fair chance I would be doing it already.
But I think this feeling is a sign that I’m becoming more ambitious. Not ambitious for my career, but ambitious for my values. I want to make the world a kinder, more fun, more curious place.
A lot of my intellectual energy this year has been spent in a space that can be summarized with words like entrepreneurship, startups, Silicon Valley. This is a subculture that tends to think it can make the world better. Whether it really does is a separate question, but when you read a lot of stuff in that area, you end up wondering if maybe you should get bigger goals, too.
But meanwhile, I’m still working that job, and not doing anything special, except writing this newsletter and a few other things.
So how do I become truly more ambitious—to the point of actually working on ambitious things?
Well, an obvious answer would be to define my goals. I have some ideas, of course. But I think a more immediate first step is to find the right people. Find a social environment that will push me towards finding and achieving ambitious goals.
I’ve started making some progress on this front, thanks to some amazing online communities. I’ll write about those next week.
In the meantime, I remain
On Twitter: ‘Tis the Season for Poinsettias
You know when you have lots of important writing to write, and work to work on, and instead you spend an hour or two composing a tweetstorm on poinsettias? Yeah.
It didn’t even get a lot of likes. Tsk.
All right, thanks for reading! Button time:
On ambition vs need for self-study: https://swellandcut.com/2018/09/26/in-plain-sight/ https://alima.substack.com/p/midwits-and-the-office?s=r https://normielisation.substack.com/p/personal-cheems-mindset?s=r
On risk-balancing and barbell strategies: https://www.dwarkeshpatel.com/p/barbell-strategies?s=r https://www.mightyknowledge.com/use-the-barbell-strategy-for-risk-taking-in-your-life/ https://kadavy.net/blog/posts/barbell-strategy/ https://kadavy.net/blog/posts/barbell-strategy/ https://www.10ktom.com/post/barbell-strategy