Independence and autonomy

I’ve thought a lot about motivation over the years.

When I was younger I thought my struggle to get something done was connected to not knowing enough, or being lazy. As I’ve gotten older though—and last week was my week on my 35th trip around the sun—I realize there’s more to it.

My motivation ties directly to autonomy. If I feel empowered to think independently about a thing, then my desire to do better grows in relation to how much independence I feel with the task in front of me. It’s not that I don’t like feedback, at different parts of the project it’s incredibly helpful; but I need to know that the choice to make a final decision can be mine. When the wrong elements are present I find myself counting down the time until I can get out of the situation. When I was younger I accepted an unideal state of things more readily. I assumed that I must be wrong, that others knew more than me, or that my way of doing things wasn’t correct. Now, though, I realize that my brain just likes to work a certain way, and if I can setup projects in that capacity I’ll do better.

Recently I listened to John Gruber on Really Specific Stories, and his discussion on the desire for independence struck a cord for me. If I have to make something for someone else I need to feel that I can have ownership over the outcome. That does, of course, mean accepting responsibilty for failure.