Huzzah, it's Report Day for Groundhog Day Resolutions, my ongoing journey to achieve creative freedom and financial self-determination. The starting formula for 2023 was to get some product out there for sale on a new marketplace (Shopify) and continue to improve software development chops so I could make some new products that I liked!
While this is the closest I've come yet to having a sustainable action plan that takes my interests and strengths into account, the big challenge still is having the energy to follow-through with it. This month I have a new theory based on the Autism+ADHD research and being introduced to a new webcomic. The theory? Basically I am "putting the cart before the horse" by focusing on tasks rather than support.
My Task Completion Challenges
I have known for quite some time that I have difficulty getting enough energySri Energy Level is my reserve of 'activation energy' to be motivated to act. so I can start tasksSri task starts are difficult unless I can identify curiosity, immediate reward, or engaged people.. It's also difficult for me to remain motivated by deferred rewardFor me, an energizing reward is one that builds my understanding and brings happiness to others in a way I can see or feel. Nothing else is as motivating.. These are all related to ADHD executive dysfunction and autistic processing traits. The mitigations for them are, respectively:
- Externalized support of tasks and accountability using actual people. This is not possible to do by someone with ADHD by themselves without tremendous strain.
- Finding people who want to discuss the purpose and meaning of work in a way compatible with how my combined Autism+ADHD affect me.
Previously, I had thought of having a "community" of like-minded people collaborating to make a colony where we could all thrive. This was to be the reason why I wanted to make money in the first place, but I can now see that it's probably a precondition for me to have the energy to do boring tasks related to software development, e-commerce, marketing, and other things that I find a bit boring. They are not immediately rewarding. And without people who are highly interested in what I'd like to make, it's also very lonely.
Community as Primary Job
I'm constantly fighting low energy. I think the best way to overcome it low energy is to recognize that I thrive when directly engaged with people to solve problems and cheer our progress together. That suggests that for me to work, I need to actually think of community as a necessary resource that makes quality work even possible.
I also see and understand the world quite differently than people who are immersed in "mainstream society and cultural norms". I see myself having more of an autistic lived experience, based on the reading I've done. The kind of direct engagement I need must be "culturally autistic"Here's a quickie description of how I'm modeling neurodivergent vs neurotypical culture. This is a very different way to live. Conflict is inevitable, but relations between neurodivergent and mainstream cultures don't have to be dehumanizing or hostile!
My takeaway is that if I want the kind of community that will power my motivation to finish tasks, I do need to put a lot of effort into finding and attracting people with compatible cultureWhile I'm thinking specifically of finding neurodivergent people with a strong desire to share and support each other, the community should also appeal to those who are not on the spectrum. The kind of accepting and supporting community that can handle our needs with empathy and conscientious consideration is good for everyone!.
Changes to the Community Plan
I do have a few things going on:
I already spend a great deal of time thinking about community by running the Coworking Discord as a place where people can find "the level of distraction" they need to do their work while getting to know their own hopes, dreams, and aspirations. We are starting to pool our energies to create more ways to share hobbies and interests, which is a great start!
The concepts of The Colony and The Public Square are intended to provide activity-focused groups operating for the benefit of everyone. I haven't put the time into creating the mission statement and calls to action to help people see what they could be a part of. It's a big branding exercise!
I am trying to put together a neurodivergent transgender/queer discussion group where I live to see if I can connect with people socially. I see this as a spin-off of the tribe. It's like a special interest group.
I am starting to reframe team-building success as assuming you have the best people to work with and just need to connect their strengths to the right rewarding activity. At the same time, one needs also be promoting compatible and kind cultural norms within the team.
The Challenge of Being My Authentic Self
I was introduced to the webcomic El Goonish Shive through my friend Mroo when they shared a Dungeons & Dragons themed strip featuring a vaguely-described "fancy chicken" that the Game Master did have a ready description for during the campaign. This was quite relatable on a number of peculiarly Sri-like ways, so I was naturally curious about the rest of the comic:
- Hm, the dungeon master is perhaps transgender?
- What, this girl is from another universe but is keeping it a secret?
- There is magical kung-fu?
- There are a broad range of LGBTQ+ characters that are written like actual (very silly) people?
- There are alien squirrel-human hybrids that can transform?
- There are video game and sci-fi references scattered throughout the plot?
So I went back to the 2004 archives and read through the whole thing, and to my amazement I found all the characters very relatable. Not only did I feel I was represented by a group of characters that shared my own principles, I was encouraged to know that there ARE people like me. The author Dana Dan Shive (they/them) even seems to have diagnosed themselves as neurodivergent through comments left by their readers. This is very encouraging.
I have an improved model of autism for myself from all the reading/viewing I've been doing. I'm collecting the "lived experience" examples I've come across on my ASD Disorder Diagnosis page.
I have accepted my energy limits. It's a mix of autistic-patterned executive functional needs (purpose, meaning) and innate demand avoidance. Community is a way to push past those limits through injection of energy from other interested people as well as collaboration toward building something magically purposeful.
Software Ascendancy - The new project has kicked off and we've had a code summit. This will be my primary external project, so it will now be the secondary priority after community building.
Online Product Business - Backburnered due to low energy, but I am slowly trying to add more listing to the Shopify Store.
Writing Ascendancy - Backburnered the "write polished professional work" goal for now. I'll still be doing a lot of writing every day to help me think.
The Month Ahead
I have about 80 hours of work to do between now and the July GHDR report. To get that much work done, though, I need to prioritize the community building so I have the energy and motivation to see it through without burning out. Ultimately, my end game isn't wealth itself: I want to use the financial resources to build a clubhouse for like-minded souls to have an enriching life together, helping each other navigate the challenges of the world given our unique perspectives on being curious and empowered people (who are also super nice).
I think a pragmatic approach will be to think of community building as an umbrella for community- and team-oriented process development. For example, developing ways for the freelance project team be the best possible and joyful team is certainly part of the community building directive! I just need to write about it, or figure out a way to harvest the learnings somewhere into this website.
That's it for now! This report took a long time to think-through and write even it its stripped-down form. I'll likely be adding to it as I think more of what "community building" even means as a measureable project.