The quality of questions you’re asking yourself determines the quality of your life.
You may not be aware of it, but you’re asking yourself hundreds if not thousands of questions every single day. Most of them direct our intentions, focus, and energy.
Questions can open our minds or close them. They can lead our energy toward positive ideas or help us to form negative, limiting beliefs.
Today, I want to share my three favorite questions with you that I ask myself multiple times a day. Questions that improved my focus, productivity, and quality of everyday life.
The first question helps me catch myself when I’d go astray and do easy things that don’t matter instead of focusing on what’s important.
Every time I start working on something, I ask myself:
1. Is this essential?
Remember that time when you knew you should be doing that one thing that actually mattered and moved the needle, like launching that ad campaign, making that phone call, or signing that client. Still, instead, you’d be “productively” procrastinating by researching, thinking about the best ways to do that thing, or creating dashboards in Notion. It’s okay; we’ve all been there.
The question “Is this essential?” gives you clarity, saves time, and makes it easier to achieve your end goal.
The second question I like to ask first thing in the morning, and it works as a reminder throughout the day.
2. What’s the most important thing for the day?
The concept comes from Peter Thiel – co-founder of PayPal, Palantir, Founders Fund, and one of the most interesting people alive.
Most people tend to procrastinate on the most important and very difficult to solve A+ problems and work on B+ problems instead. So I ask myself, “what’s the one thing on my endless to-do list, that if I accomplished it today, would make the entire day a success?“.
Then I’d focus only on that thing until it’s done. And if after that I have time to tackle the second most important thing – great, I’d do that, and if not – the day is still a success, and I’d feel great about it.
The third question is all about peace of mind.
How often do you catch yourself thinking about some offhand comment that someone has made about you or your work? Going on and on in your mind about the fight that you’ve had with your friend or coworker? Or just getting angry about a canceled flight or a traffic jam?
Whenever I find myself in that downward spiral, I ask a simple question:
3. How am I going to feel about this in 15 minutes? 15 days? 15 years?
Answering this question helps me to almost immediately let go of what seemed to be an important problem that occupied all of my headspace just a second ago. And it works 100% of the time.
You’re not even going to remember that missed flight in 15 years, let alone care about it, so what’s the point of getting all worked up about it now?
Asking yourself helpful questions is great, but how do you remember to do that?
I’m a big fan of sticky notes, and I have a few of them with these questions, along with a few reminders around my workspace. So I’d actually see the questions multiple times a day without the need of reminding myself to ask them. You could also create a wallpaper for your phone or even a browser extension asking you a question whenever you open a new tab. That’d work just as well.
These questions gave me an entirely new perspective not just on my day but on my life, and I hope they’ll help you too.
What are some of your favorite questions that you ask yourself regularly? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!
How often do we find ourselves in a perpetual quest to discover something that excites us, something that we are passionate about?
The curious thing is that you can make yourself get excited about virtually anything. Once you realize that, the concept of “passion” becomes arbitrary.
The more excited you are about something -> the easier it is to learn about -> the easier it is to do -> the better you are at it -> the more excited you are about it. It’s a self-reinforcing loop.
By that logic, it is possible to use the excitement to get boring and tedious stuff done.
Don’t want to do taxes? Get excited about taxes. Don’t want to do the chores? Get excited about the chores.
The easiest way to get excited about a subject that you want to work on, chores, or habits you want to form is to over celebrate every time you do them.
Do boring stuff -> over celebrate it to get dopamine rush -> feel good about doing boring stuff -> get excited about doing it again.
That’s where the first loop kicks in if you’re using it to get excited about something you want to work on.
You can easily reverse this concept and use it to break bad habits.
If you want to break a bad habit or stop consuming something – sugar, coffee, alcohol, etc. – simply change your perception of it. Where the head goes, the body follows, and our perceptions precede actions.
We don’t do something that we don’t enjoy, let alone something that disgusts us. Let’s say spiders disgust you. You wouldn’t pet one every day or even enjoy looking at it, would you? Yet, what is this feeling of disgust towards spiders if not a simple matter of perception about them in your mind? After all, they are not that different from many other living creatures that we feel indifferent or even affectionate about.
If you can feel disgusted towards spiders, you can cultivate the same feeling towards anything else, including your bad habits.
One way to do that is by first learning about your bad habit’s negative effects and then vividly picturing those horrible effects every time you repeat that habit. Do that enough times, and these vivid images will begin to associate with the product/action, changing your perception. For example, when I stopped eating processed sugar, I’d anchored the image of clogged arteries to any product that contained it. Now, I don’t see a donut, but a clogged artery, making it difficult for me to want to eat it.
If it’s difficult for you to play with imagination, the other way is deliberate overconsumption. You could buy five chocolate bars, a couple of cakes, a pint of ice cream, a bottle of soda, and eat them all at once. You’d feel absolutely horrible afterward, which is perfect. Anchor that feeling, write it down in vivid detail, play it in your head, hammer it into your head. Then recall this feeling any time you’d have a sugar craving. Don’t eat sugar? Great. This method works for any other bad habit, just as well.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of how our minds and behavior can be shaped in almost any way we want. If there are any thoughts, believes, actions, or habits that are impossible to change, I have yet to find them.
Have you heard the story of Tyler Cowen in an ice cream shop? It’s a very short one, and I love it.
Once at an ice cream shop, Tyler asked for the very smallest size of chocolate ice cream, but even the small one was too big. Then he asked for the sample size, had three bites, and got to the point of diminishing returns on his ice cream.
Most of the value of consumption is either memory or anticipation.
Simply by choosing sample size, you’d get both – anticipation of ice cream and memory of eating it – but no negative effects of eating too much.
In other words, you’d get the maximum value at the lowest possible price.
If you think about it, it works not only for consumption but also in many other areas of life.
You don’t need to push 400 pounds at the gym. After a certain point, adding more weight not only won’t increase the health benefits of exercising but will hurt your body.
You don’t need to make that extra billion dollars. (Unless you’re using it to send people to Mars, in which case, go right ahead). After a certain point, adding more work would only hut other areas of your life while decreasing the value of having more money.
Will visiting that 71st country on your list add any more value to your life? Probably not.
Before starting anything, find your point of diminishing returns and make a decision not to go over it. Get the maximum value at the lowest possible price.
This fanfic by AI researcher and writer Eliezer Yudkowsky is the best book I’ve read this year, and it’s now in my top-30 books of all time.
It’s alternate-universe Harry Potter where Petunia has married an Oxford biochemistry professor, and young genius Harry grows up fascinated by science and science fiction. When he finds out that he is a wizard, he tries to apply scientific principles to his study of magic, with sometimes surprising results.
It’s not just a fanfiction, but also a platform where Yudkowsky bounces off complex ideas in a way that’s accessible and fun.
This book is brilliant and thought-provoking. You will laugh, you will want to cry, you will root for the characters. But more than anything, you will learn a lot.
As one of the reviewers said, “Anyone who is a Potter series fan and a rationalist, an economist, a libertarian, a devotee of reason and science, or just a nerd, will love this work,” and I couldn’t agree more.
Even though they are both masterpieces in their own right, “Peace Is Every Step” has had more impact on me this year.
It helped a great deal to go through a rough time, return to the fullness of the present moment, and gain back seemingly lost peace of mind.
It is a beautifully written book, a calming balm for the soul, and a rallying cry for compassion. If you’re looking for guidance in living a more mindful, peaceful life, and ready to see the world differently, read this.
Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication helped me to reflect deeply on how I use communication in my everyday life. Its core ideas sound obvious yet hard to implement without very conscious effort.
Every time that we communicate with other people, we can either build a deeper connection, understanding, and compassion or simply ignore them and create further disconnection.
He argues that all frustration and anger are about unfulfilled needs; hence our communication should be about getting to the core of those needs. And even though it sounds simple and obvious, it turns out to be incredibly difficult, since we not only cannot properly communicate those needs but often we don’t even know what needs do we have.
This book may save the relationship you have, improve the future ones, and make your life much better as a result.
Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries by Safi Bahcall
Lifespan: Why We Age—and Why We Don’t Have To by David Sinclair
Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David J. Epstein
That was the easiest pick of all because the sheer amount of wisdom packed into this episode is unmatchable by any other podcast known to me.
Even though it’s based on the tweet-storm from 2018, the podcast came out in 2019, and this updated version also includes all the Q&A episodes they did after the tweetstorm and 10 minutes of unreleased material on finding time to invest in yourself — at the end.
Each episode of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is a masterpiece. He takes you deeper into the subject matter than you could’ve ever hoped for.
Dan’s meticulousness, attention to detail, and his way of diving into the episodes of history and re-contextualizing them in a way that modern listeners can relate to, make this a must-listen for history aficionados.
The “Supernova in the East” series tells the story of Imperial Japan’s side of World War II, it offers a different perspective on Japan’s role in the notorious events of the war, including the Rape of Nanjing and the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Some of you may know that The Tim Ferriss Show is my favorite podcast. It was the first one I’ve subscribed to back in 2014, and I’ve listened to every single episode ever since.
This year, the most influential episode for me was Jim Collins’ interview.
They talk about tons of different fascinating concepts, including “who luck” – the luck of the right people that intersect your life plays in the journey, “the flywheel effect” – building momentum until a point of breakthrough and beyond (I even made the whiteboard notes about that and had it next to me during my three months in Mexico earlier this year), and many others.
I’m going to cheat here by adding another podcast, but I have to include “The Portal” by Eric Weinstein.
It is one of my recent finds, and it has quickly become one of my favorite podcasts.
Every single episode is fascinating, thought-provoking, and makes you feel dumb as you appreciate the sheer scope of knowledge and intellect of Eric and his guests.
I’ve had to choose only one episode, and it’s a wide-ranging (it truly is) conversation between Eric Weinstein and Tyler Cowen – the economist, author of MarginalRevolution.com, and one of my favorite thinkers. It starts rather slow, but then the interview format turns into a brilliant conversation.
Another easy pick for the top spot. Tim Urban’s Wait But Why is one of my favorite blogs, where each essay could easily be an excellent book on its own. His articles on procrastination, picking a life partner, AI, and, of course, the Elon Musk series, are absolutely brilliant, and my favorite reads on the internet.
“The Story of Us” series took him three years to write, currently has nine chapters, and appears to be his most ambitious project to date. He went deep into the “U.S. history, world history, evolutionary psychology, political theory, and neuroscience, through dozens of books, hundreds of datasets and articles, and into literally thousands of conversations” to write it, and I can certainly say the result was well worth it.
“Knowing the truth, that nothing matters, can actually save you in those moments. Once you get through the terrifying threshold of accepting that, then every place is the center of the universe, and every moment is the most important moment, and everything is the meaning of life.” – Dan Harmon.
This essay by Daniel Jeffries goes insanely deep into the meaning of life through the lens of “Rick and Morty” (and yes, I obviously love that show) by asking the classical question that is at the heart of all the great stories throughout all time:
“Will you crumple in despair knowing the terrifying truth that life is totally meaningless, or will you saddle up the universe and strike out for a life of fun and adventure?”
P.S. You can start with this video by Will Schoder.
These two long-form essays are remarkably well-written and present compelling arguments in a detailed way.
In “What the Hell is Going On?” David discusses how the shift from information scarcity to information abundance is reshaping commerce, education, and politics.
In the second essay, he is exploring the significance of religion through the lens of Peter Thiel – a person I’ve been particularly curious about this year. I’ve found an interesting introduction to Rene Girard and Mimetic Theory I wasn’t familiar with before, and lots of great points, such as:
“If you’re going to follow a role model, find one who you won’t compete with. Don’t look to your peers for answers. Find somebody in a different stage of life who you admire and respect. They should be somebody who defied the status quo and took an independent path.”
“When we pursue optionality, we avoid bold decisions. Like anything meaningful, venturing into the unknown is an act of faith. It demands responsibility. You‘ll have to take a stand, trust your decision, and ignore the taunts of outside dissent. But a life without conviction is a life controlled by the futile winds of fashion. Or worse, the hollow echoes of the crowd.”
I’ve only got my hands on this ring this year, and I believe it’s the best and the most accurate consumer-level sleep tracker currently available on the market. It helped me immensely to understand better the importance of sleep and how my body works and reacts to certain activities so that I could have a better quality of life.
One of the ridiculous things I hear people say is, “I’d love to do that, but this market is too saturated; I won’t be able to compete.”
Every single market is “saturated,” in one way or another, but that shouldn’t stop you from entering it if it’s something you’re genuinely interested in.
And if the market seems to be saturated, the only thing you should take from it is that there’s money in that space.
So how do you enter what appears to be a saturated niche and win?
There are a few ways that I know of and that I used for my companies and some of my clients.
1. Be consistently 20% better than the average.
It’s easy to look, for example, at the pet niche and say that there’s no way that it’s still possible to enter it and compete against such giants as Chewy and PetSmart.
But if you dig deeper, you can always find at least one area where you can do at least 20% better.
In a pet market, one of such areas would be personalized customer service.
It’s one of those paradoxical markets with one of the most passionate types of customers on one side and one of the most faceless and commoditized suppliers on the other.
If you can show your customers that you genuinely care about their pets and consistently provide a 20% better service, you’ll establish yourself as a strong player with a steady stream of returning customers.
Another way to enter a saturated market is deep specialization.
Specialization galvanizes support. It’s easy to share and remember.
Instead of being a generic web agency, you can focus solely on designing high-converting Shopify stores and become a household name in the e-commerce space.
Instead of being a fitness apparel company and selling every piece of clothing imaginable, you can focus on creating the most comfortable pair of leggings.
Instead of being a graphic designer, focus on packaging design, know all ins and outs, and be the designer that people immediately think of when they create a new physical product.
Casper started by creating one great mattress instead of hundreds for every occasion; Spanx was born from the idea of footless pantyhose-shaper; Allbirds began by creating the most comfortable pair of merino wool shoes.
You get the idea.
3. Change the game, create your own niche.
Creating your own sub-niche is a twist on the previous point.
Think of your strong skills and qualities and how you can combine them to create your own niche.
As Scott Adams, creator of wildly popular comic Dilbert, says:
“I’m a poor artist. Through brute force, I brought myself up to mediocre. I’ve never taken a writing class, but I can write okay. If I have a party at my house, I’m not the funniest person in the room, but I’m a little bit funny, I can write a little bit, I can draw a little bit, and you put those three together, and you’ve got Dilbert, a fairly powerful force.”
Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort.
Let’s say you’re a good developer, have some marketing skills, and know how to write properly. By combining these skills, you’ll be ahead of most developers, marketers, and writers.
Good at design, know a thing or two about dogs, and have a passion for fashion? Then, why not create the Outdoor Voices of the dog market?
Combining two or more skills that you’re at the top 25% can propel you to the top 5%, and the better you are, the less competition there is.
The main point is that perfect competition only exists if you do the exact same thing as others are doing. Selling exactly the same product, providing exactly the same service, and creating exactly the same content.
And remember that “saturated” markets are good because they are harder to enter. And hard is good. The harder something is, the less competition you’ll have in the long term – everyone wants easy.
Over the past five years, I’ve traveled to over thirty different countries and lived for at least a month in each of them.
Many people do the same, but my definition of living in a new place is probably a bit different from the average one.
I don’t meet other travelers, I’m not trying to find people from my home country, and I’m not eating the supposedly safe food I’m used to.
Rather, I’m always trying to immerse myself into the local culture: learn at least a few words in a local language, walk everywhere, meet local people, eat local cuisine, and learn about the place not just from the travel websites, but directly from the people that live there.
That way, I can understand the place, the culture, and people on a far deeper level, while learning much more about myself in the process.
Here are the things that I’ve learned over the past five years of exploring the world and myself.
1. People are pretty much the same everywhere in the world.
It doesn’t matter which part of the globe they live in, their religion, and which language they speak. Most people are just like you and me, with more or less the same problems, aspirations, and values. The sooner you can understand that the better your travels will become.
2. Every country can be a new life.
You can try on a whole new personality in every country you visit. It’s challenging to build a new self around your family, coworkers, and old friends. The familiar places trigger the thought habits of the old you. This is why getting out of your comfort zone makes room for growth.
When you’re in a totally new context, surrounded by new people that never met you, you can be whoever you want and try on a whole new and unique personality.
There’s a chance you may end up finding something more suitable than the old skin that was projected mainly on you by your old environment.
3. Learning and speaking even a few sentences in a new language can help open some new and unexpected sides of your personality.
I noticed that language has an enormous influence on people’s character. The more facial muscles you need to engage in speaking the language and the wider you have to open your mouth, the more open you generally tend to be. And vice versa.
Examples? All Slavic languages can be spoken with the mouth almost closed, while you have to actively engage almost every facial muscle to speak proper American English. And the people are more closed off or open, respectively. The same goes for Brazilian Portuguese versus European Portuguese.
The best places I went to, the best experiences I’ve had, and the most interesting people I’ve met weren’t always a “hell yes” decision. In most cases, I’ve had doubts or straight up didn’t want to do that, go there, or meet with someone.
If you have a chance to do something you haven’t done before, or to see a new place, just do it, it’s not a life or death decision, but it could as well be one of the best in your life.
5. It’s generally safe in most places in the world.
I’ve heard many warnings and safety concerns when I went to Medellin, Cape Town, or Mexico City.
You’d be surprised, but the only two places where I felt unsafe and something has actually happened were the small town in Russia and San Francisco.
Use your common sense, be confident, act as you belong, and don’t flash any expensive items – 99.9% of the time, you’ll be okay.
6. You don’t really need a lot of stuff.
After packing your suitcase for the hundredth time, paying for the excess luggage, and taking hundreds of flights, you begin to understand that you actually don’t need that much. Take only the essentials, and if you really need something you didn’t bring, simply buy it on the road.
Yes, you can find any clothes, medicine, or an umbrella in almost any country.
7. Life is actually longer than you think. Don’t be afraid to try.
I’m astonished by how many things have changed and how many experiences I’ve had when I look back over the past five years.
Yet, it’s been only five years.
It’s okay to try to live in New York for a couple of years and see if it suits you. It’s okay to pursue a career you’ve always wanted to try and then switch to another if it doesn’t work out.
You don’t actually have to stick to things for your entire life, even if society tells you otherwise.
8. Experiences you have around the world can completely reform your whole identity.
Experiences change people. When you are in a different country every couple of months and constantly going out of your comfort zone, those experiences are happening regularly, compounding, changing your default set of beliefs, and reshaping you as a person much quicker than it may happen in regular life.
9. The best time to travel is right now.
You won’t believe how many people told me that they always wanted to do the same. If you actually want to do it, just do it.
10. Full-time travel is a part-time job.
What country to go to next? Which area is the best to stay in? For how long should I stay there – one, two, or three months? Most likely, you’ll spend about one-fifth of your time on planning, packing, flying, researching, and just thinking about all the organizational and unsexy things that no one talks about. A personal assistant helps, but you still have to be prepared.
11. Getting off Instagram is great for your mental health, making your travel experience better.
You have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes of those perfect pictures and videos of every “travel influencer.” So stop measuring yourself against other people posturing, and start measuring against your past self instead.
You’ll also avoid disappointment because the ridiculously unrealistic pictures won’t exaggerate your expectations for some places.
How will you know which places to visit? Ask locals – they always tend to have much better recommendations anyway.
12. A set of rules always helps and saves a lot of time.
For example, I don’t stay in studios because I know that I feel much better when I have separate spaces for work, sleep, cooking, eating, and lounging.
Or I always try to take either the first flight of the day or the last one, because later I’ll feel bad about wasting the entire day on flying if I don’t.
These little things add up and make the quality of your traveling life much better.
13. Don’t count the countries you’ve visited. Count experiences.
Counting countries doesn’t mean anything. You haven’t actually been to the country if you only had a stopover for 12 hours and went on a city sightseeing bus tour. You probably won’t even remember that after a year.
Do you know what you will remember, though, even after a decade? The experiences that you’ve had.
I’m a big fan of Jesse’s Itzler idea of building a life resume instead of a work resume, and what’s a better time to do that than while you travel?
14. It’s easy to get carried away. Get your priorities straight and keep a schedule.
I’ve met far too many people on both sides of the spectrum: the ones that go out and explore all the time while not getting any work done, and the ones that move to another country, and the only thing they do is work.
Needless to say that neither approach is sustainable long-term, so the best thing to do is to have a schedule.
I tend to explore the surroundings on Saturdays and Sundays and work during the weekdays. It may sound boring, but it works for me.
15. It’s important to know when to stop and settle down.
At some point, the law of diminishing returns will kick in, and it won’t make any sense to continue changing countries every month. You need to catch that moment and start a new chapter of your life.
16. Wherever you go, you’ll probably spend the same amount of money as you usually do.
Many people think that if they move to some country in South East Asia, they’ll automatically be spending way less money.
And while this is true in some cases, most likely, you’ll end up adjusting your lifestyle instead and spending the same amount you were back home, which is you in your comfort zone. For example, in Tel Aviv, I’d go out to eat a couple of times per week, but somewhere in Bali, I’d do that two or three times per day and end up spending roughly the same amount of money.
17. Know why you are doing this.
There were quite a few times when I wanted to move to another country, but after questioning myself about the reasons, the one thing that came up way too often was “to escape.”
Escape from the problem I’ve had to deal with, escape from the unpleasant feeling I’ve been having lately, escape from the decision that I had to make.
Moving is rarely the answer. You have to face these hard things and deal with them. If, on the other hand, the answer is to widen your perspective and shake the mundane, then, by all means, go for it.
But know why you are doing this.
18. Don’t try to “see it all.”
In some places, it’s almost impossible to see all of the exciting things the country/city has to offer, and it’s okay. Remember that you can always come back or stay a bit longer.
19. Not traveling is often harder than traveling.
This may not be true for everyone, but it sure is for me and some people who’ve been doing that for a while.
It’s hard to stop and not hop on a plane to another exciting destination, but instead spend that time and energy on the exciting project that offers more long-term benefits or with the great people that you’ve met in that place.
When you continuously travel, moving becomes your default, and considering other factors takes a conscious effort.
20. Make an effort to keep in touch with the best people you’ve met.
Too often, people forget about someone they’ve met on a trip simply because they are from a different country.
While it would’ve made some sense twenty years ago, the chances are that today, you spend most of the time with the people closest to you, online – on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, over email, or any other corner of the interweb.
So why limit your circle of friends geographically if you can surround yourself with the best people from all over the world?
21. Imagine yourself as the first explorer of the world.
When you read dozens of travel blogs and watch a bunch of YouTube videos about the country you’re planning to visit, you set certain expectations that may or may not ruin the experience.
For your next trip, try to go blindfolded while keeping an open mind and see what happens.
The less you’re expecting, the more you can enjoy what actually happens.
22. Learn to enjoy transient relationships.
Most of the relationships formed on the road will be very brief, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy every minute of them.
Smile first, ask deeper questions, and be more open – that way, these short interactions will not only be a great way to learn about the country but may as well become the highlight of your trip.
23. Keep a diary.
There’s a hundred percent chance that you will forget almost all of the precious moments you have experienced and all of the lessons you’ve learned from your travels.
Daily dairy in any format you prefer – text, video, audio – can not only help to remember those moments and lessons better but also help to understand and experience them on a deeper level.
24. Getting to know fewer countries well is better than visit more countries knowing nothing about them.
25. Find out the most popular area of the city you’re staying in, and never go there.
In most cases, this will be the part that was surrendered to tourists, which is never a good thing.
Find out where the locals go (the easiest way to start is by asking your Airbnb host), explore the residential areas, visit the local markets – that’s where the actual life happens, and that’s where you’ll start to understand the city you’re in.
26. High-end travel gear and clothes are worth it.
I’ve been wearing the same set of t-shirts from Outlier and Wool&Prince for three years now, while I would’ve had to buy a new t-shirt from Zara or Uniqlo every couple of months. Oh, and they also lighter, need less washing, and don’t take up as much space in your suitcase.
Those $300 backpacks? Also worth every penny for the peace of mind and the comfort they bring.
27. Some people don’t like to travel. And it’s okay.
Don’t try to impose your traveling religion upon everybody.
Just as CrossFit is not the best sport for everyone or keto isn’t the diet that fits all, traveling isn’t the most appealing activity for lots of people. Leave them alone.
28. Traveling alone is underrated.
Nothing comes close to how well you can get to know yourself than while traveling alone. The best ideas came to me while I was walking the streets of a new city by myself. Fascinating adventures happened when I got lost while traveling alone. It’s also harder to build a deep connection with the city when you’re with someone.
29. Create rituals along the way.
I take my parents to wherever I am in the world for a month once or twice every year. I eat at the same restaurant on the first day I’m back in Cape Town. And I still buy magnets in every country I visit.
The memories of those rituals you’ve created along the way will put a warm smile on your face down the road.
30. The magical country that will make you a new person doesn’t exist.
There’s a great piece on traveling by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Traveling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home, I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican, and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go.”
“You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear or read a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while, there will be a hit, and people will say, ‘How did he do it? He must be a genius!” — Richard Feynman
These are the questions that keep me up at night, inspire, and captivate me. The hard problems that I don’t yet have the answers to.
What are the most effective ways to slow down aging and increase healthspan — the number of healthy and high-quality years of life? How can I create new ways to achieve that?
What are the most cost-effective (monetary, energy, and time-wise) ways of starting and scaling new projects? What are the ways to automate it?
How can I fully automate the decision-making process that will make the right choice, at least 80% of the time?
How far into the future is it the most optimal to plan?
What are the best solutions to a transportation problem within the urban areas and between the cities and countries?
What are the most effective ways to harness the potential of space exploration during my lifetime?
How can I increase the number of books I’m reading while maintaining the same high retention level?
How can I achieve a “work-life balance” so that both work (main and side projects) and personal life (family and hobbies) can benefit from it?
How to pick a life partner?
How can I foster a sense of equanimity in any life situation?
How can I increase the daily deep-work hours without losing the quality of sleep?
I always feel great right when I am starting to run.
First mile – “awesome, I did it!”. Second – “maybe it’s enough? I don’t feel very well”. Third mile past – “I’ll probably die if I’d run a 100 feet more. That’s enough!”.
Some of the times I’d stop there, feeling pretty awful, without any intention to repeat the same process the next day. But what if I keep going? Nine out of ten times, after passing a 3.5-4 miles mark, I’d open a so-called “second breath,” catch the “momentum” and finish my workout feeling even better than after the first mile, feeling accomplished and ready to run the next day.Mileage may change depending on one’s physical condition, but you get the idea.
Most of the blogs out there disappear into the silence after the first few posts.
Roughly 90% of all the podcasts on iTunes never get more than three episodes.
Your first 3-5 meditate sessions would almost always feel “meh, I don’t get it,” and most of the people would quit after that (or even after the very first one) and never try again.
What important is to keep going no matter how you feel.
Perseverance is your best friend in case if you want to achieve that “run every day” or “learn Spanish” or whatever else you have on that goal list of yours.
Catch the momentum and keep it going.
You’ll love the results.