Don't be a donkey!


I’ve stumbled upon a brilliant blog post by Derek Sivers titled Trying to pursue many different directions at once. The writing aims to showcase the importance of long-term over short-term thinking by comparing it to Buridan’s ass paradox.

I am a person that loves starting out new things. For some reason, finishing assignments don’t give me similar satisfaction as starting new adventures. As a result, I start many initiatives but never bother to finish all of them. Such behavior eventually leads to frustration, because there is no value in incomplete drafts or mediocre products. According to Derek, I am a donkey.

Buridan’s donkey is standing halfway between a pile of hay and a bucket of water. It keeps looking left and right, trying to decide between hay and water. Unable to make a choice, it eventually falls over and dies of hunger and thirst.

By focusing on many items at the same time, I am equally unwise as a donkey, who is doing nothing.

A donkey can’t think of the future. If he could, he’d clearly realize he could first drink the water, then go eat the hay. Don’t be a donkey. You can do everything you want to do. You just need foresight and patience. - Derek Sivers

A year ago I released a single podcast. I felt like doing it then. I even considered buying a better microphone, because microphone on my smartphone left a lot to be desired. I’ve created a list of ideas for my podcast, but I’ve not recorded the second episode since then.

Sporadically I think about starting my own business. “Leaving a corporate job to work for yourself” sounds cool, but all other arguments are against it for now. Nonetheless, the thought of building a company keeps distracting me.

The list could go on. I am a donkey who is not able to focus entirely on long-term goals. Derek Sivers suggests using a simple trick each time we act short-sighted. When you catch yourself working on many things - whisper to yourself:

Don't be a donkey


Trying to pursue many different directions at once? by Derek Sivers

Tim Ferriss on Super Learning and Pushing the Limits by Impact Theory

Buridan’s ass on Wikipedia

The first and only my podcast episode in Lithuanian

I'm Valdas Maksimavicius. I write about data, cloud technologies and personal development. You can find more about me here.