Loud thinking
thoughts on life, tech, design & art by Josh Fontecha

torvald's law

“Begin at the beginning… and go on till you come to the end: then stop” - Lewis Carroll

Sometimes, one of life’s hardest questions to answer is, WHAT SHOULD I FOCUS MY TIME ON? For some of us, the answers will be forced upon us by society (e.g. get a job), our parents (e.g. go to college!), or perhaps even the circumstances we find ourselves in (e.g. survive). For those of us, needing a compass or a guiding principle, I’ve always found that Torvald’s Law is a good place to start looking for answers. I first came upon this small principle through Linus Torvald’s autobiographical book Just for Fun (a fantastic read BTW).

The law basically states that every motivation that makes a person do something, will fall under one of the following categories:

1. survival
2. social
3. entertainment\fun

In essence, this is a simplified version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. (NOTE: in my own personal version all categories are superseded by WILL & DISCIPLINE. Because without willpower and discipline, you will even struggle to survive).

So why am I writing about this? Because, if you don’t know where to start, going through the above categories incrementally, will probably help you find an answer or get the right motivation. Need to pay the bills? Then you might need to find a job or create something society deems valuable enough to pay for. Found a job but are currently unhappy? Try doing something just for fun. Paint. Write. Take an acting class. Learn to sing. Make a videogame. Make a movie. Just make sure that you find the right motivation, work hard, persevere and are consistent in your endeavors.

If all this worked for people like Linus, Feynmann, Elon Musk, Schwarzenegger, Steve Jobs and many many other successful people, it might just work for you.