“There are young kids out there that have been doing this since they were 10, and I couldn’t compete with that”.

When I was 24, I set myself some goals; things that if I didn’t achieve by the time I was 30, I’d do the decent thing, and end the misery.

There are many people that feel like this. Perhaps openly, but most probably secretly. I’ll call us types the Crippled-By-Ambition-Folks (CBAF).

CBAF have very high expectations of themselves, and are quite possibly considered more than a little talented by their friends and family.

Of course, CBAF are highly critical, not least of themselves, and if CBAF don’t feel like they’ve accomplished something by a certain age, they might as well not bother trying, “cos there are young kids out there that have been doing this since they were 10, and I couldn’t compete with that”.

Obviously many CBAF never get started doing what they want to do, because they are overcome by an abundance of self critique at every step.

Where to start?

I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do until I was 24. Suffering heavily from CBAF syndrome already, I had a lucky moment of confident clarity and set myself the following three goals:

1) Work with friends.

2) Work with PlayStation.

3) Get a record deal, and a track published.

The first one I managed quite early on, the second I managed to do in 2007 when I was 26, and the third I managed when I was 30, although the record wasn’t released until I was 31.

Suffice to say I was pretty chuffed that I’d managed to tick them all off, because the residue of my 24 year old self believed these three things to be the height of creative accomplishment.

Chill Pill

Strangely however, I’ve noticed a huge shift in my mental state since. I don’t take things anywhere near as seriously as I used to (this is probably due to age and a change of perspective), but the results of this shifted state of mind have meant that my productivity has accelerated hugely, because I’m not so worried about everything having to be perfect.

The best example I have for this is Coconut Dodge. Robin and I put it together over the course of five months as a first step on the game development ladder. As such we spent no time thinking about it up front – we just started making it without any notions of grandeur. It was never meant to be an awesomely fun game.

However, as I’ve said before on this blog, our natural creative instincts found a way of making the game special, without us really being conscious of what we were doing. Indeed, I was so busy working on other projects, that I had little time to think about improving the game. I even regarded it as a bit of a chore to work on. It wasn’t until the last few weeks of production that I actually started to believe the game was worth people’s money.


It’s very hard to listen to the words ‘don’t take things so seriously’ when you’re in your early 20’s. Perhaps it’s even impossible to heed such advice until you’ve experienced the smooth flow of creativity as a result of letting go.

But, I thought I’d try anyway 🙂

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