Instructions

Random instructions on living a fun, fulfilling, successful life. Updated regularly. Nothing is gospel, but this is the closest I’ve been able to discover in my reading, from courses, and through personal failures.

Every so often I do something successful. That informs me, too.

These are “what” without any “how” to dilute the instructions. Follow links where provided for more context. I will add links as I write more articles or read more books.

Last updated: 12th of February, 2024

Do hard things that you enjoy doing. You’ve found the sweet spot if it looks like work but feels like play.

Decide what’s important to you on your own. Don’t let other people (or society) decide for you.

Define what you think success is.

Is it the American Dream? (Big house, fancy car, fat bank account, retirement at 65, nice shoes and clothes, and probably lots of debt)

Or is it YOUR dream? (My personal example: A fun and creative career, putting my kids in bed every night, a robust network of friends, and a good book in my hand)

Make plans.

Know your plans will change as soon as reality happens, and welcome those changes. The plan isn’t about accomplishment, it’s about direction.

Joseph Campbell: “If you can see your whole life’s path laid out then it’s not your life’s path.”

Be present.

Keep looking for the next thing that feels “right.” This requires presence and curiosity. Think of your future like a tracker. Follow the tracks of things that spark your curiosity as a way to follow your bliss.

You’ll never know where you’re going. The tracker’s motto: “I don’t know where we’re going but I know exactly how to get there.”

Embrace flow. Allow it to happen. Stop chasing it, but prepare yourself to receive it – like a conduit. The muse finds you working. Or playing.

Default to removal. If there’s a problem, try to solve it by reduction before you add anything. What can you take away?

After elimination (removal), see what you can automate. Systems are consistent. How hands-off can you be? AI is making this possible for many things that would have been impossible in the past.

Finally – delegate. If someone else can do it better and cheaper, you’re losing money by doing it yourself.

What’s left is your unique contribution. Do that. A lot

Be generous. Be useful. Be smart. Have fun.

At the end of life, the most satisfied people who feared death the least knew their lives held value. Value is created by being useful to others.

In every interaction, ask yourself “How can I be useful to this person?” Sometimes it’s just cheering them up with a compliment.

Think leverage. Start with small leverage and keep building up. Eventually you can move mountains.

Especially leverage your time and money. Create systems, products, and things that you can re-sell infinitely. Invest your money in places where it will grow and compound.

Avoid hourly wages if possible. This limits your income. Salary is even worse, because your employer will exploit the free overtime.

Ideally, make products that earn a passive income. Invest your passive income into smart, diverse, and stable investments that compound your earnings. This is double-leverage.

Note: It is necessary to accept an hourly wage or salary while you build your products and systems. You may also be able to flip the tables and take advantage of a salary while avoiding overtime. This describes the ideal, not everyone’s reality. I will expand on this point in a longer article later.

Luck is a matter of positioning. If you’re positioned well enough to survive negative circumstances and take advantage of good opportunities, then you’re lucky. Do everything you can to get into a good position and stay there. And then always assume that your “luck” is bad.

When you assume you have bad luck, you’ll find the best position.

Keep a budget. If you don’t understand money, other people will take advantage of your ignorance.

Don’t hurry. If you think you’re “behind” you’ll never catch up. Just do the next step, whatever that is. It’s not a race and there’s no rush.

Compare down and to the past, not up and to the future. Live in the gain, not in the gap.

Accept reality as it is, then get to work on changing it.

Accept yourself as you are. Then get better.

It’s your duty as a citizen to cast a vote. Democracy fails when the extremes take over and nobody considers the opinions of others.

Also — your dollar counts more than a ballot. You vote with your dollars every day. You create power for others when you buy from them. Do you want the convenient billion-dollar company to be more powerful, or the friendly local business? Cast your voting-dollar wisely.

Food for thought.

Use your goals (plan) as a way to improve your happiness, not attain it.

Your goal doesn’t change your future. It changes your present. If you aren’t happy taking action toward your goal in the present, you won’t be happy if you reach it. You likely won’t be able to reach that goal, anyway.

Embarrassingly small habits lead to huge compound gains over time.

The trick is setting the bar low, then seeing how far you can clear the bar every day.

Some days you won’t be able to clear the bar by much. That’s alright.

Example – 5 Push-Ups, 5 Sit-Ups. That’s the minimum. But a half-hour workout is better.

Realize that your opinions aren’t “right” or “wrong” — and neither are anyone else’s. They’re just opinions.

When it comes to opinions, though, avoid anything that starts with “I really hate…”

Hate is a horrible opinion to have. At least, that’s my opinion.

The only way to stand up against hate is to speak up.

“Staying out of it” is the same as condoning hate.

Research something you disagree with. Dive into the opposite of your beliefs. Sometimes you’ll change your mind.

The worst that can happen is developing a better understanding of the opposite point of view.

The best thing that can happen is discovering that you were wrong about something. Because now you can be less wrong.

In almost every situation, curiosity is the correct approach. You can’t judge if you’re curious. But you can make better (informed) decisions.

Don’t be curious if you’re on fire or about to get hit by a bus. Take action immediately.

You can have a bias toward action while still being curious. Don’t let curiosity cause paralysis. Take action and be curious about the effects/results.

Avoid the extremes. A virtue is the balance between extremes of vice.

Learn how the rest of the world works. You may be a fish in water — unable to see the culture you grew up in because you’re too close.

Ask for other people’s opinions. Write your date in the format the rest of the world does. Measure yourself in cm and kg. Read your thermometer in ℃.

Understand how power, manipulation, and psychology work on you and the rest of the world. Not so you can become powerful and manipulate others, but so you can recognize a sociopath when you meet one.

Understanding manipulation is also the antidote to being manipulated.

Some systems reward ruthlessness. Sociopaths win in those systems. Make or find systems that reward abundance, generosity, and kindness.

Use the Oxford comma.

You get to pick the games you play in life. If there are winners and losers, you’ll eventually take a loss.

If the game is about seeing how long you can play, you can potentially play forever.

Find the infinite games, not the zero-sum games.

Find a way to avoid debt but build credit. It’s a tricky thing to do. The best ways I’ve found? Put recurring bills on a credit card and pay it off in full every month. Take out a loan that you don’t need, put the money in a high-interest savings account, then pay off the loan in full six months later. Repeat.

Why build credit? Because it gives you purchasing power. Available power that you don’t use gives you room to maneuver.

Don’t go to college unless you need a degree to pursue your dream career.

If you’re set on being a doctor, lawyer, psychiatrist, or public educator — college is essential.

Otherwise, get to work on your dream as early as possible. Experience counts twice.

If you decide to go to college; apply for every scholarship, save every dime you can, and avoid college loans like your life depends on it.

Because your future life DOES depend on being debt free.

Take care of your body. Ignore fad diets. I did keto for years, which was great for my waistline and energy, horrible for my heart health. High cholesterol sucks.

Don’t default to weight loss surgery. Don’t resort pills to control your appetite or boost your metabolism. All lasting healthy change boils down to a few things:

    1. Move. Find fun ways to exercise, don’t sit on your ass all day. Make your exercise routine one of the most exciting parts of your day.

    1. Eat better. Specifically: avoid sugar and processed foods. The closer you can get to a whole food, the better the food is for you. Whole foods are also delicious. Salad is awesome. Olive oil is delicious. Red meat isn’t great for you, so eat it in moderation.

    1. Drink more water. Don’t drink calories. Water is fucking awesome.

You mind is a part of your body.

Having a healthy body helps you maintain a healthy mind. You’ll have energy to pursue your passions and a positive attitude to match.

Healthy bodies rarely have depressed or anxious minds.

Don’t have kids unless you’re ready to give them a great life. Having kids is selfish. You do it for you, because they don’t get to choose. They didn’t pick you as a parent.

That means they don’t owe you shit. They don’t owe you love. They don’t owe you respect. They don’t owe you a thing.

But you owe them everything. It’s the opposite of the way most people think of their kids; as an extension of themselves.

Your kids aren’t “yours.” Accept that, then support them however they need.

I could always be a better father, and I’ll always try to be. I was unknowingly selfish in having kids, but I’m doing my best to give them great lives.

Figure out what your kids need. Then give it to them.

This isn’t always what they want. But it’s your duty as a parent to ALWAYS give your kids what they need.

Hint – it’s usually your time and play.

Decide to make your spouse your best friend, and everything else becomes easier.

Every relationship you maintain should make your life better, not worse. This is 10x more true for a romantic relationship.

If maintaining your relationship feels like “work,” you’re doing it wrong. Either have a change of heart and decide to make your relationship better, or get out.

Establish a game as close to the beginning of any romantic relationship as you can. The game is this:

1. Try to out-love your partner every day. Do your best to “win” by giving your partner as much love as you can.

2. Don’t keep score.

     2B. Only continue playing as long as both people are playing. 

As much as you shouldn’t be keeping score, this only works when both people are putting in regular effort. One-sided relationships are draining instead of fulfilling.

You become the average of the people you spend the most time with, so choose that group deliberately.

Your associations shouldn’t happen by accident.

If your bestie is a toxic dick/bitch who gossips, makes horrible decisions, always plays a victim to life, or any other undesirable behavior — then you’re slowly becoming a mirror of them. Be careful.

Surround yourself with people who push you to be better, not who drag you down. That may mean you have to turn to figures in history and read their books or biographies.

Garbage in – garbage out. Gold in – gold out.

Any meaningful accomplishment in life needs other people to be successful. A business needs customers, a movement needs supporters, an organization needs members, an author needs readers.

So be nice to everyone.

Keep up with the people you really connect with.

I use a database. That might be overkill for some people, but having a way to organize and keep notes on your contacts will become the key to any success you pursue in the future.

The counter-point to the above (with a nuance) — if they won’t cry at your funeral, it doesn’t matter what they think about you. And almost nobody will cry at your funeral (even if hundreds of people show up).

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be nice, but you shouldn’t try to be who anyone else wants you to be, either.

Knowledge without action is completely useless. If you know the secret to life and get hit by a bus, knowing the secret did nothing.

Action creates value from knowledge. Create. Share. Repeat.

6 thoughts on “Instructions”

  1. “If your relationship takes “work,” you’re doing it wrong. Either have a change of heart and decide to make your relationship better, or get out.”

    I disagree. I am married to my very best friend, but that doesn’t mean that our relationship doesn’t need some maintenance now and then. Busy or rough times can result in us having to put US on hold to prioritize family or friends that need help. At such times, it is especially important to also do some work on our relationship – time-outs for a dinner out together or a walk or something else. Every relationship we have needs to be worked on, or it will wither and probably die.

    Reply
    • Thank you for the response and helping me clarify my thinking a bit. 🙂 I’m also married to my best friend, but I never have to “work” on our relationship to maintain it. The little things we do for each other make us feel happy in our relationship, so it doesn’t feel like work.

      I’ll edit the article to read as the following: “If maintaining your relationship feels like “work,” you’re doing it wrong.”

      Reply

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