Help Me Refactor Myself I am Lost

post by Pausecafe · 2018-11-08T20:18:14.150Z · score: 13 (7 votes) · LW · GW · 14 comments

I am going to start with a simple description of who am I so any advice I get can be in context . I live in what economists call a third world country, jobs are meh , unemployment is high and for someone in his final year of undergraduate in an Applied Mathematics specialty the only job that exists is Teaching which really sucks as you'll get set in a place away from society and with the lack of infrastructure it's just not within my sight . Fortunately I have savings enough to let me go abroad to France my dream is to pursue a Masters in cryptography and study artificial intelligence by myself these two things are what lits my brain and find challenging enough to work on .

I am different to the rest of my classmates and few friends I have . I think it's because I am heavily influenced by things that to them seem irrelevant . I like philosophy a bit I've been reading a lot of stoic writings mainly Seneca,Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius's Meditations . I like reading and I spend a lot of my time doing it . And according to some personality tests I am an INTJ I don't know whether this is considered science but from what I've read about the personality type it's literally a copy paste of who am I so I believe in them .

I discovered MIRI 1.5 years ago and I was astonished by it's proportions so I immediately hoped on their study guide and picked up couple books I read them and worked trough few problems given I already study math I thought I'll supply myself with my other interests on the side so I somehow forgot about the whole thing and spent the time fumbling around .

I lack discipline and I don't know how to fix this one .

I have been programming and studying the topics of my interest in a chaotic way , jumping from one thing to the other and just consuming . After reading this particular Sequence [LW · GW] I was just mesmerized the discipline this person has is something I've always dreamed off . Recently I've been taking on a personal project which is big in size and complexity . But today I am officially burned-out .

I came to the conclusion that what I have been doing the past 3 years (since I discovered AI and later cryptography) is plainly wrong I have a bad learning habit and I've found myself spending countless hours consuming stuff without structure just filling my mind . I know I am burned out because the past two weeks I've done literally nothing productive except browsing the web and watching TV Shows . I want to change I feel like this lack of structure and motivation and purpose is too overwhelming I find myself dabbling between things . At this point I spent a 70% of my time multi-tasking and maybe 20% actually learning the 10% is spent dreaming about the infinite possibilities of life .

I don't know what kind of advice I am looking for , but if I believe my problem is that I am in a hurry , hurry of what I don't really know . I feel like I have to learn and do everything at once with 30 tabs spanning 10 subjects open at once , I have a passion for everything a legitimate passion that I feel like is never satisfied . This made me realize that I have been choosing velocity over direction and convincing myself that I am doing the opposite .

This makes me feel empty and dry and cynic , I don't have any friends to discuss this subject with and after discovering LessWrong sometime ago while searching for a curated textbook list I decided that this is the best place to ask for advice .

This also affected my school performance as I just feel lost . I want to fix this and I hope I'll find advice solace here and improve myself .

P.S : English is my third language therefore I apologize if there are any bad grammar and punctuation .

14 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Elo · 2018-11-08T21:33:32.518Z · score: 12 (9 votes) · LW · GW

third world country

consider leaving the country to earn money.

I’ve done literally nothing productive except browsing the web and watching TV Shows .

overt advice: Do actually nothing. The real literally nothing. Not even TV and web. And wait. And see what comes up for you in terms of feelings or ideas.

happy to connect and chat to get some faster ideas flowing. PM me.

comment by bfinn · 2018-11-09T11:14:33.048Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I found my thought processes improved dramatically recently when I stopped listening to the radio after waking in the morning, and in the shower. I now have excellent thinking & ideas at that time of day. Silence and no distractions are golden. (No wonder so many people have good ideas in the shower.)

I also recommend having a notepad by your bed. I've done this for years. Sometimes ideas (or things I forgot to do) occur to me shortly before going to sleep, or occasionally when waking in the night, and I write them down in the dark. It gets them out of your head, which helps you sleep too.

comment by ryan_b · 2018-11-08T20:51:38.116Z · score: 12 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Welcome to the site! You are in the right place, and we have just the thing.

Your English looks great, especially for a third language. What are the other two?

I daresay if you are in a challenging period, stoicism is among the best philosophies to be armed with. Everyone goes through burnout and cynical periods - I have every confidence you will make it through.

comment by moridinamael · 2018-11-09T18:08:15.513Z · score: 11 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Usually feeling unmotivated despite having goals which you consider intellectually important is a sign that your hominid brain is not getting important things that it wants, and/or doesn't think that it will get the important things that it wants if it pursues the target of your intellectual interest.

Some people's brains are different and they are capable of being motivated by pure intellectual pursuits. Most of us do not operate this way. We need to achieve ego-narratively-satisfying levels of safety, comfort, and belonging.

Almost everyone at your age struggles with meaning and a lack of a sense of belonging. In some sense this is a feature, not a bug, because it motivates the human animal to prioritize the acquisition of safety/comfort/belonging. Think about it this way - if you weren't miserable right now, you would never be motivated to do the uncomfortable things necessary to secure a stable life, much less a mate.

On the flip side, when you and/or your ego feel safe, secure, and socially relevant, motivation for abstract intellectual tasks will blossom on its own.

It can be awkward to admit the degree to which your human-animal self is uninterested in or actively sabotaging your intellectual pursuits. You still have to make the human-animal self happy if you want to free up the cognitive energy to do important things. This may be frustrating it, but I suggest re-framing it as part of the challenge and fun of life.

tl;dr: Take care of yourself, treat yourself as somebody for whom you are responsible, and under these conditions, motivation and ambition grow on their own.

comment by Pausecafe · 2018-11-09T19:24:15.521Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

After reading lukeprog article "Build small skills in the right order" I came to understand that another reason why I am overworked is that I tackle big things without an effective plan for example a large chunk of the code I am building is built upon a peer to peer network even though I have wrote webserver code before and understand the inner workings of protocols I never built a toy p2p application. What happens then is not only my reward is delayed again because I face technical difficulties but this makes me procrastinate because the problem is just too large. I don't know if this is how it works but the last night and today were spent reading blogposts here and somehow all the explanations and advice I wanted fell into piece it's like the puzzle of the why I am lost is in front of my eyes and I wasn't even looking at it. I think this falls right under things that I need to fix. Thanks again for your reply it was very enlightening.

comment by cousin_it · 2018-11-08T23:22:54.881Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Focus on finishing your degree with a good GPA and applying to schools/internships/jobs abroad (which you should probably start now, deadlines can be surprisingly early). You can read about MIRI, philosophy etc. in your fun time, but if your car is drifting off the road, you must get it back on the road first.

comment by Pausecafe · 2018-11-09T08:12:00.544Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Definitely I should focus on my GPA as it is my best way to leave the country by apply for MS abroad.

comment by ChristianKl · 2018-11-09T12:54:39.076Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One of your problems is that your lack structure and a decent peer group. The best way to get that is to go abroad and as a result it makes sense to focus on what you need to successfully move abroad.

If you are really burned out in a clinical way then it's important for you to cut out stress besides the work you need to do for university.

comment by Pausecafe · 2018-11-09T18:11:18.986Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I am currently taking time off from my side project which was taking quite some time from me , I am going to focus on the most important things now such as university course work and independent science study . Thanks

comment by rosyatrandom · 2018-11-09T04:23:33.994Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

> according to some personality tests I am an INTJ I don't know whether this is considered science but from what I've read about the personality type it's literally a copy paste of who am I so I believe in them .

I know this is tangential to your question, but that is _not_ a scientific/rational approach you are taking w.r.t. Myers-Briggs.

comment by ESRogs · 2018-11-09T09:44:40.094Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW
that is _not_ a scientific/rational approach you are taking w.r.t. Myers-Briggs.

What's wrong with it? "Descriptions of the INTJ type seem to match me" seems like a meaningful statement.

Perhaps you wanted to know whether they read all the other type descriptions too?

I thought Scott had a pretty good post on this:

My MBTI type is “the type of person who did some looking into it years ago and knows that the MBTI is neither particularly scientific nor particularly consistently applied”. Or, as it’s also called, INTJ
tropylium.tumblr.com
I’m sick of people hating on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
The argument against Myers-Briggs is that it’s not scientific. The argument for Myers-Briggs is that I’m also the kind of person who did some looking into it and realizes that MBTI is neither scientific nor consistently applied, and I also test consistently as INTJ, so clearly something is going on here. And every time I read a description of INTJ I have to facepalm because I so consistently recognize myself in it.
(Yes, I’m familiar with the Forer effect and have compared it to descriptions of different types. Yes, I could totally believe their is a Forer + placebo effect where knowing that you have been assigned a certain type makes it sound more relevant to you than other types you read. Yes, I’m still impressed with how well descriptions of INTJs fit me. Also, I notice that people on Less Wrong, ie people like me, are seven times more likely to be INTJ than the general population. That seems like a nice objective result.)
I think it’s easy to reconcile “Myers-Briggs is not scientific” with “Myers-Briggs is a useful and real descriptive tool”...

http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/05/27/on-types-of-typologies/

comment by Pausecafe · 2018-11-09T10:15:27.560Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for this link it really cleared my thoughts a bit on the subject but here goes my interpretation. Personality Types are real because we are framed to be one of the two things, the way you answer those tests is binary even if you are given a spectrum to choose from hence I think that if everyone does take a personality test it will end up being one of the 16. I think that what we consider scientific or not can't necessarily be generalized. Unlike physics or mathematics where the foundations are axioms that were based on experimentation for the first and logic for the latter personality tests dont fit any. Let's say we invent a decision framework for psychology to decide whether something is scientific or not and let's say human experimentation is the way to confirm that then yes personality tests are scientific because first you experiment by answering and you end up finding that the results do actually fit you. I don't know why people find the Myers Briggs test unscientific but to say that it's unscientific needs to have some sort of proof or framework that explains why you think it's that way. I agree with both of you and I think Scott nailed the analogy with types and countries.

comment by ChristianKl · 2018-11-09T12:58:44.251Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · LW · GW
Let's say we invent a decision framework for psychology to decide whether something is scientific or not and let's say human experimentation is the way to confirm that then yes personality tests are scientific because first you experiment by answering and you end up finding that the results do actually fit you.

The problem with that standard is that you are going to find with it that astrology is scientific

comment by Pattern · 2018-11-09T18:11:06.146Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW
test consistently as

People also change over time.