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Dealing with the fire

Published Jan 29 2020

I subscribe to the Paul Jarvis newsletter, author or the brilliant Company of One book. In a recent email, he wrote about the fire:

[…] Some days I feel like I can push hard […] I call this THE FIRE. When I have THE FIRE, I can push through hard workouts or cross the finish line with something I’m writing. THE FIRE gives me energy, drive and determination.

I really relate to this concept. The days I have the fire, I can write 5 blog posts in a row and code the rest of the day. I have fuel for everything.


In this photo there’s my actual fire at the time of writing

Some days instead I can’t do anything.

The problem is, THE FIRE isn’t always there. And I can’t call it at will […]

The fire cannot be lit on demand. You can create the perfect environment for it, but you can’t git it to burn like it burns on those days where it’s just there.

[…] stoking THE FIRE is a balancing act. THE FIRE will die out if I don’t recharge, but it will BURN EVERYTHING if I push for it constantly. This year I’m working at keeping THE FIRE burning at a healthy blaze.

Those days I have the fire I might sit at the desk for 14 hours with minimal activity. I am really grateful the fire is not there every day, it would really be unhealthy.

I do have a very active lifestyle and weight 60kg (~132 pounds), so I do not have weight issues. But staying long at the desk, even if the chair is very ergonomic, is something you can definitely feel in the evening.

The fire is awesome when it’s there, otherwise it would be impossible for me to do creative and productive work without burning out. Which is something I am really careful to, since I got to high levels of stress in the past and I know what that looks like.

So I’m equally grateful for the fire to not be there at times, and I am learning to recognize it when it is missing, so I can do things that are less intensive but still useful, like listening to podcasts, watching one of those videos I marked as “watch later”, doing less stressful work like replying to emails, doing chores or just reordering or cleaning things around the house. And as my schedule is flexible I might also just take a walk.

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