Friday 6 November, 2020.
You passed the point of burnout already a month ago. By now you went through almost all the phases: generalized anger and frustration, resignation, and now depression.... You have seen it many times.
You're about halfway through the fourth season of How I Met Your Mother when you ask yourself: "Wait, is this the fourth or the third rewatch?" A slight tingle in your stomach sends the signal. There it is, the last phase.
You cant't tell if guilt is better or worse than depression. What you can tell is that you are stuck in this quagmire and you should definitely get out of it. After all, that new site you planned to do is certainly not going to develop on its own.
You get out of bed, turn on the computer and... Void.
You tell yourself you can't do it. Unfortunately the browser is already open. You navigate to YouTube. Maybe some silent channel you used to love has finally published something. Yes, you are desperate.
Of course you don't find anything. Depression comes back just to check if everything is ok. Guilt slams the door in her face. You type in the search box: "How to find motivation".
An endless series of results appear on the screen, all essentially identical. You don't know what to choose.
You click on a random video from the list. A guy walks you through 3 surefire ways to get out of burnout. Final verdict: "trite and obvious".
You click on the next suggested video, this time there are 5 tips. You click on the third, the fourth... Final verdict: "the last one had some nice lighting, but it didn't tell me anything new".
You realise it's time for the big guns. You spend the next 5 hours jumping from ASMR podcasts to ninety minutes montages of the best speeches to graduates (with motivational soundtrack).
After a couple of weeks you found all the answers you already had. Your confirmation bias is satisfied and you are ready to get back on track. Let's close this ugly chapter for good.
See you in six months...
I know, I know. You are already familiar with burnout. But trust me, burnout is not the problem here. Like many others, I learned to come to terms with it. I can recognise it and each time I manage to stop it a little earlier. I haven't managed to fully prevent it yet, but one day... Until then I hope you can do the same.
Anyway, as I was saying the problem here is a different one. The problem is the Loop.
The Loop is a special condition that occurs in many situations. What I described above is just an example of it. The Loop is essentially that period of time in which you find yourself watching, reading or listening to the same things over and over again. Waiting for answers that you know will never come. Not because nobody knows them, but because YOU already know them. You keep consuming content, the same concepts, the same examples. It's like being trapped in a perpetual beginner level. You want to reach a goal at all costs but you never feel ready enough. You never feel motivated, educated or confident enough.
A part of you yearns to move forward, but the actions you take push you in a completely different direction.
I'm not sure how widespread this phenomenon is. I'm sure that I'm largely affected by it. I end up in the Loop with post-burnout motivational videos, iOS development tutorials or entrepreneurship books. Something is always missing. The drive to move from theory to practice. When you already know the theory, it's only through practice that you can overcome the beginner level.
Unfortunately for all my love for internet and the social media (just a couple actually), these are the first allies of the Loop. Their low friction generates too close distances between you and all possible contents. If you have nothing to consume the Loop is like a fire without oxygen. YouTube, my favourite platform, is the master who rule them all. Its suggestion algorithm gives you the same content in different shapes. Different lights, same concepts.
I don't know if you, like me, used to end up in the Loop. If you do, feel free to take this memento mori of mine as your own.
The truth is that nobody will ever be motivated, educated or confident enough. If you really want to achieve a goal, simply start and finish it. That next step you were craving for comes from the concrete results you achieve, not from the theory you already know.
Let me leave you with the only motivational quote you will ever need in order to get out of the Loop. By reductio ad absurdum the hypothesis is confirmed.
Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no
smartermore <WHAT YOU NEED> than you.