One Thought for Two-Thousand-Eight

It's easy to get lost along the way. You get swept up in parents, siblings, teachers, co-workers, guidance counselors, even friends. A lot of them will tell you who they think you're supposed to be. You have to ignore them.

Every single thing in my life that has made me truly happy — I only got there by trusting myself and ignoring everyone else, even when it seemed insane. I can't tell you how many times this has paid off for me. It often pays off immediately, within an hour. If I just trust what feels right, everything seems to fall into place magically.

I know it sounds like you've heard this before, but focus on it. If you ever find yourself being pulled between what feels good and what other people (who you believe to be smarter than you) say, I think you should always choose what feels good. The idea that anyone has life and all of its little details figured out is a total illusion — especially when it comes to you.

I personally think that you won't spend the last few hours of your life regretting following your heart. I don't think anybody ever regrets that. You know what you're supposed to be doing and who you are. You know because it feels good and makes you happy. Everything that matters comes into focus, and the rest blurs out in the background.

Happiness, I think, is you telling yourself about your own nature. You can't fight happiness because it just doesn't want to fight. There's no way to defend against it. It's effortless perfection in motion.

And you owe it to the rest of us. The more you spend time around the people that make you feel good, and the more you do the things you love to do, the better off the rest of us are.

Where would Apple and Pixar be if Steve Jobs stayed in college to please his parents? Do what you love, because we all benefit.

So please, follow your bliss. No more waiting.
Design Element
One Thought for Two-Thousand-Eight
Posted Jan 8, 2008 — 22 comments below


Adam Wright — Jan 08, 08 5323

Thanks for that =) And no it doesn't sound like something I've heard before - mostly I'm accused of not listening to anyone but myself and that I'm too old to try to become a successful indie Mac developer (and I'm only 26 for Christ's sake!).

Stuart — Jan 08, 08 5324

Great advice. That's something I actually really needed to hear right now, thanks.

Scott Stevenson — Jan 08, 08 5325 Scotty the Leopard

@Adam Wright: I'm too old to try to become a successful indie Mac developer

Wow. Um, yeah. Don't listen to those people (or thoughts) anymore.

Joe Goh — Jan 08, 08 5326

Wonderful post Scott, a wonderfully inspirational way to kick off the 2nd week of 2008!

@Adam Wright: I quit my job to pursue life as an indie Mac developer when I was 26. :-) I'm nowhere near being financially successful, but i'm still doing it two years later, and in some ways, that's success for me.

You define what success means to you, not anyone else around you.

StuFF mc — Jan 08, 08 5327

@Scott: We go in the same direction, and I'm happy to read something like that at the precise moment where I'll give Pomcast, Wilogo, and some other (Indie Mac Dev one day?) Projects another try, after having worked a lot outside as a contractor (boooooring times, but it paid the rent more than once...) in 2007.

@All: Follow your heart. Trust it. And please, don't do things *just* for the money, seek the fun a bit, otherwhise life is sad :(

Robert King — Jan 08, 08 5328

Wow, this was the first thing I read this morning and was pleasantly surprised!

@Adam: If I had listened to what other people told me I would be sitting in a government job right now bored out of my mind, never have met my wife and wouldn't be looking at a painting one of my kids made for me.

I quit my day job to start a business of my own. Ten years later I'm starting out as an indie developer and will be forwarding this article to my 14 year old daughter. I'm 41.

Notice I never mentioned money?

Andy Lee — Jan 08, 08 5329

Thanks Scott, it's important for me to be reminded of these things. I'm 45 and I still think there are rabbits in my hat waiting to be pulled.

Joshua Pennington — Jan 08, 08 5330

Reminds me of the commencement speech Steve Jobs gave at Stanford. The video of it really inspired me:

YouTube - Steve Jobs Commencement Speech


"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma [...] Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

libre — Jan 08, 08 5331

That settles it. I'm going to learn Cocoa as much as I can in the next several years and begin a company! I just hope you don't inspire too many more people to do the same thing, because then my company might crash and burn.

Blain — Jan 08, 08 5332

But Wil Shipley promised we'd all be successful, happy,
fulfilled, and drive a hot car! (Read it; it's funny, insightful, and full of win.)

Kidding aside, think of it this way: given how fast this industry changes, and technologies are replaced, it actually means it's easier to transition. Things like design patterns, algorithms, and good programming techniques are language- and computer-independent, so they'll follow you no matter where you go. Things like Core Data and Core Animation are so recent that by definition, almost everyone's new to it, not just you.

I have to admit, the "Follow your Bliss" is what prompted me to attend Cocoaheads and start on cocoa programming in general, and I keep an audio copy of the commencement speech on my iPod. I haven't quit my day job yet, but I do have a hot car. You can do it, Adam.

Gus Mueller — Jan 08, 08 5333

@Adam Wright:

I'm 33, and started flying meat when I was 28-29ish. Brent Simmons is 39 (I think), and he started NNW in his mid 30's. Age has absolutely nothing to do with it.

It might be easier if you're used to living on ramen noodles- but there's no reason why you can't work your way into it over time (like what I did).

britt — Jan 08, 08 5334

I figure if I'm old and on my deathbed and I've got a bazillion bucks in the bank*, something is very wrong -- why the heck didn't I spend it while I could??? And what did I sacrifice to put it there???

OTOH, that doesn't mean that I'm against having a bazillion bucks before then, so if anybody wants to contribute to the fund... ;-)

(* -- Oh, and I consider trusts for kids, charities, etc to be spending it.)

Maureen — Jan 08, 08 5335

While I agree with the heart of what you are saying, there are (class/gender) problems inherent to this approach. Also, if the answer is to follow you heart, then perhaps the question is the question? A slightly fresher, and more interesting area of inquiry -- and social accountability is likely a key component.

Suggested reading: The Fever, by Wallace Shawn.

Scott Stevenson — Jan 09, 08 5336 Scotty the Leopard

@Maureen: While I agree with the heart of what you are saying

All I want people to do is follow what feels right to them.

Craig Hockenberry — Jan 10, 08 5339


Let's see: I was 37 when I first sold shareware online. I was 44 when I started doing indie development full-time. So, yeah, 26 is way too old.

Finding what makes you happy is the hard part in my experience. It's rarely obvious and always subject to external influences.


Holly — Jan 16, 08 5349

Thank you for this, Scott, a much appreciated reminder. I'm so happy to read this. In response to Maureen - the core of the heart will always guide you to the purest and most astonishing capacities of your potential, so long as you dig past all the knarly conditionings and layers of mediocrity that we all accrue and sometimes mistake for the 'heart'. I think that if people really, honestly did what was right for them, they would never do harmful things, only wonderful, amazing and beneficial things. Scott's missive reminds us to transcend our limited thinking.

Mark Boszko — Jan 18, 08 5352

Thanks for this thought, Scott--- it was really inspirational. I've found your tutorials hugely beneficial over the last couple of years--- and on this, the umpteenth time I've tried to learn Cocoa, I think it's all finally starting to click. I'm actually building the first Mac application that I've wanted to build for years. I'm so excited!

I never thought I watched all that much TV, but it turns out I did--- at least ten hours a week! However, it seems the one-two punch of dropping cable to do to iTunes/torrent downloads only, plus the timing of the writers' strike has gradually left me with little do in my free time than follow my dreams. Funny, that.

"I'm gonna go down to the basement and watch a new Daily Show," has turned slowly turned into "I'm gonna go down to the basement and write some code." I feel better about myself, having that sense of accomplishment, beating a tough puzzle of code into submission.

I'm secretly hoping the writers' strike doesn't end.

Scott Stevenson — Jan 18, 08 5354 Scotty the Leopard

@Mark Boszko: plus the timing of the writers' strike has gradually left me with little do in my free time than follow my dreams

Wow. I think that's one of my favorite comments here ever.

Amy — Jan 24, 08 5390

Dude, I hate it when people (women mostly, it seems) have to inject their feelings of being marginalized into everything.

Good article. And no, there are no gender and/or socioeconomic indicators to consider.

Everyone can work harder at doing / work harder towards the things that make them feel good in their soul. It's just a matter of wiggling every doorknob in sight til one starts to give, and then not letting go.

ty — Jan 27, 08 5401

Get rid of the TV - it eats your life a little at a time by eating up time. We dumped ours 14+ years ago and except for not seeing the olympics, I don't miss it.

I also know people who "bozo out" at computer games the same way I'd bozo out at the TV. So consider limiting their impact on your life as well.

My rule for my 11 year old son is - "1 hr per week total on computer games other people wrote. 10x that limit for games you've written." He's getting pretty good a pygame and doing ok learning Cocoa as well. :-)

Keith — Feb 08, 08 5463

YES, YES, said it! ...Right on!!!
Best Wishes with your blog/website,
Keith Johnson, Author
"365 Great Affirmations"

Jonathan Mead — Mar 10, 08 5616

This is such a beautiful post. Follow your heart and everything else will take care of itself.

Well worth a stumble for anyone else visiting. =)


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