Tag: lifelong learning

The problem with perfectionism

The problem with perfectionism

Back in the days when I was a student going through my business communication module. There was a class on interviewing skills.

The instructor asked for volunteers and one of the questions went like this:

Instructor: Tell me about your biggest weakness.

Response: I’m a perfectionist. I spend too much time getting caught up in the little details…

Cringe.

This was a decade back where this response was considered the model answer for “what’s your biggest flaw” type of questions.

This poster, found on the walls of... - Facebook for Education | Facebook
Poster on walls of Facebook office

Today, with technology and best practices changing so rapidly, perfectionism would be crippling to most organizations.

Agile, Scrum and Kanban are the buzzwords for innovation for almost every organization nowadays. It focuses on incremental changes, testing, and modifications. Rather than in-depth planning right at the beginning.

“If you think that’s a big failure, we’re working on much bigger failures right now — and I am not kidding. Some of them are going to make the Fire Phone look like a tiny little blip.”

Jeff Bezos on the failure of the Fire Phone

Successful organizations are increasingly aware of the importance of trying out, going fast and making progress instead of executing only when there’s a ‘perfect’ idea.

What’s wrong with being a perfectionist?

It is paralyzing.

“Perfectionism is insecurity with lipstick on it”

Gary Vaynerchuk

The quest for perfectionism is a defense mechanism that prevents us from doing anything. It is the worst procrastination tool around.

The true perfectionist will not try new things, because they know it will never be perfect.

If you’re looking for a perfect life, you will never enjoy living.
If you’re looking for a perfect opportunity, you will never find it.
If you’re looking for the perfect investment, you will never invest.
If you’re looking for the perfect relationship, you will never find anyone.

Many knows that their life could be better by investing, getting insured, publish their content publicly, or pursue their dreams.

But would never do it.

“Investing is too risky, best left to professionals.”

“It has already been done by many others, I’m too late to try.”

“I don’t think I’m good enough.”

We are afraid that we have no talent. That we will be rejected, criticized, ridiculed or misunderstood or — worst of all — not be heard.

But we forget that the path to being good at anything is to start.

The gap between expectations & reality

We often look at our idols, be it Michael Jordan for basketball, Warren Buffett for investing, J.K. Rowling for writing or Jeff Bezos for running businesses and awe at how good they are.

We start setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves as amateurs and compare ourselves with our idols. With what we see on the surface — perfection.

Our perfectionism starts to torture us when we overlook how hard others had work or suffered before reaching ‘perfection’.

The original Amazon website (August 1995)
The original Amazon website (1995)

Amazon did not start out to be the e-commerce powerhouse it is today. Jeff Bezos was rejected multiple times when trying to raise funds in 1994.

He said, “I had to take 60 meetings to raise $1 million, and I raised it from 22 people at approximately $50,000 a person.”

In the book The Everything Store, Bezos started out packing books, rushing to meet customers orders, and struggled to find supplies.

Nothing was easy nor instant. Bezos achieve what he has today with a constant struggle of refining, testing, failing, and improving before Amazon became the number one e-commerce store.

What do we do?

Start the process by not judging yourself.

At least not in the short term. Don’t judge yourself in a day, or weeks, or months. Judge yourself in a life.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.

Focus on progress, not perfection.


Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

If you’re enjoying the content so far, I’m sure you’ll find 3 Bullet Sunday helpful. As an extension to the regular posts, I send out weekly newsletters sharing timeless ideas on life and finance.

I do not share these content elsewhere.

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Advice to my 20-year-old self

Advice to my 20-year-old self

In my early 20s, I remember asking older folks a bunch of questions. Trying to pick up some guiding principles for decision-making. Choosing the ‘right’ university, career and on how to manage money.

Fast forward a decade later, these are advice I wish I have heard back in my early 20s.

Try many things

Yen Liow of Aravt Global shared, “In your twenties, go try a lot of things. Skill up in your thirties. And in your forties, go for it and do everything, if you can, quicker.

Don’t be too obsessed with finding the ‘correct’ job. Or be influenced by peers gunning for the ‘glamorous jobs’. It is normal to not know what to do, to not want to be a consultant, investment banker or lawyer.

Your make-up is different from your peers. Turn inwards and listen to your heart. Let that lead you and try many different things — internships, side hustles, co-curricular activities, etc.

Spend your twenties understanding what work makes you tick and what turns you off.

80,000 working hours

We all have about 80,000 working hours in the course of our life. More importantly, work out how best to spend the 80,000 working hours, and reflect on what you’re doing at the moment.

You may be focusing on micro-optimization, ‘How can I ace my exams and build up my CV?’. But what you should spend more time thinking about is macro-optimization, “What are actually my ultimate goals in life, and how can I optimize toward them?”

Work backwards from there.

We spend at least 5% of our 2 weeks vacation planning for the vacation on how to spend that 95% of our time. It seems reasonable given that we would like to have a fulfilling vacation that energizes us.

If we did that with our careers, that would be 4,000 hours, or about 2 working years. And this is a pretty legitimate thing to do, spending this amount of time trying to work out how we should be spending the rest of our life.

A good guiding principle is that the biggest predictor of job satisfaction is mentally engaging work. It’s the nature of the job itself — whether it provides a lot of variety, gives good feedback, exercise autonomy, contributes to the world, is it actually meaningful, and does it allow you to exercise a skill that you’ve developed?

It’s never too late

Often times when embarking on new projects, many will tell you that it has been done before. That the market is too saturated. It is too competitive and what makes you think you can do it?

Do it anyway.

What matters is that you have not done it before. You never know where this project will lead you. New ideas, connections and opportunities will arise from taking action.

Before Facebook was MySpace, Google was Yahoo, Apple was Blackberry and Netflix was Blockbuster. Our lives would be drastically different if people stop trying when ‘it has been done before’.

Longevity is key to a good life

Borrowing this phrase from Shoban, a superb physiotherapist and friend who helped me recover from my ACL operation. Shoban also recommended the book ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker which changed the way I view sleep.

You can read Bill Gate’s review of the book here.

We live in a culture where we carry our ability to get by on very little sleep as a badge of honor. As though having very little sleep symbolizes work ethic, toughness, or some other virtue. In fact, it’s a total failure of priorities and lack of self-respect.

The same goes for training through pain. Our culture frames it as a pre-requisite to attaining greatness. When injured, focus on recovering. Equally important, include mobility exercises and corrective exercises into your routine.

As Naval Ravikant says “When you’re healthy you have 10000 needs, but when you’re sick you only have one need.”

Beware the perils of success

“The problems of failure are hard. The problems of success can be harder, because nobody warns you about them.

Neil Gaiman

I strongly recommend you to watch the writer Neil Gaiman’s 2012 graduation keynote address.

There is a lot of advice on how to deal with failure. Not so much on how to deal with success. However, success can also make you miserable.

The tabloids are nothing short of wealthy Hong Kong families suing each other. Or successful celebrities committing suicide.

Despite having insurmountable success and wealth which could last many generations, they were unfulfilled.

Make sure you pause and reflect on success, be it big or small. Decide if this is what you really want to do.

Never mistake achievement for fulfillment.

Be prepared to fail

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

J.K. Rowling

Uncertainty and the prospect of failure can be very scary noises in the shadows. Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.

Be prepared to fail. That’s how you are going to expand yourself and grow. If you are not failing at things, you are not pushing your limitations. You’ll be living a cautious life on a path that you know is guaranteed to likely work.

Failing and learning is how you’re going to expand and grow. It will bring out the potential within you.

What we fear most is usually what we need to do most.

A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. Resolve to do one thing you fear every day.

Financial Independence

Don’t forget to live in the present.

Your early experience with money problems will cause you to dwell excessively on the past and worry excessively about the future. Measuring life by wealth alone will not lead to a fulfilling life (refer to above ‘Beware the problems of success’).

A fulfilled life is measured by the quality of your relationships, a satisfying career, and your ability to give back.

Iffy? I know. I’m still trying to figure this one out. Maybe 40 year old Thomas care to chime in?

It is not a weakness to appreciate what’s good about this moment. Stop and enjoy the view. Life is fragile. Appreciate every day that goes by without a major disaster.

Being busy

All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Blaise Pascal

When you ask anyone how they are doing, the most common response is “Busy, so busy!”

Most people are not busy, they are tired. Busyness is usually a choice, driven by anxiety. Being busy is like a drug that makes you feel important and sought-after.

The truth is many dread what they might have to face in its absence. When the curtain falls, anxiety and guilt sets in.

Being constantly “busy” serves as a hedge against emptiness, a kind of existential reassurance. After all, if we are always busy, completely booked, in demand every minute of the day, our life can’t possibly be silly or meaningless. Right?

All that noise, rush and stress seems engineered to drown out some fear lurking at the core of our lives.

Space and quiet are necessary for standing back from life and seeing it whole. For making unexpected connections and waiting for the random strikes of inspiration. Paradoxically, this is key for achieving breakthroughs in personal growth and creative work.

We now live in a world where we’re connected to everything except ourselves. Continue to set aside time for reading and reflecting. And read books that stood the test of time.

When people ask you ‘how’s it going?’ Make an effort to tell them what is actually happening or the project you are working on.


Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

In my next post, I will be back to writing on investment topics!

If you’re enjoying the content so far, I’m sure you’ll find 3 Bullet Sunday helpful. As an extension to the regular posts, I send out weekly newsletters sharing timeless ideas on life and finance.

I do not share these content elsewhere.

Join others and subscribe to our newsletter today to receive a free investment checklist!

Becoming 30: Receiving a message from my younger self

Becoming 30: Receiving a message from my younger self

On 23 Jan 2020, I opened my inbox and read the subject title “WHAT’S NEXT?”

It was a delayed message sent by my younger self to pause and reflect. I set the delayed message years back when I got admitted into University and was awarded a scholarship.

Email of scholarship award back in 2012

Looking back at my journals, I was worried that I would lose my drive and hunger overtime after having mini-successes.

There were multiple questions my younger self wanted my present self to ponder:

Is this what you want to do?

What’s holding you back?

How can I overcome obstacles holding me back?

My early twenties

Through my growing up years, I have been always struggling to balance between 2 fears — the fear of cruising along my life and the fear of change.

That I may be settling for doing “just okay” because it has become comfortable. That I may let life escape past me, because I let my fear of change freeze me on my tracks.

But life is not long enough, for fear of change to take control.

There will always be very rational reasons why you shouldn’t leave a job that doesn’t excite you, a relationship that no longer works or to start saving and investing.

“The job market is bad.”

“I have invested too much into this, I can’t leave.”

“I don’t even have enough money to tide through this month.”

Underlying all these reasons are two fundamental cause — fear and homeostasis.

Fear

We fear the uncertainty that arises from change. Our mind is designed for survival. Fear is a natural response that helped our ancestors survive in the wild. In today’s world, this response if unregulated, can hold you back from living life to the fullest.

Certainty is the enemy of growth and perfectionism is a serial killer for joy, spontaneity and hope. The truth is we will never have clarity of our future. Fear and indecision are often the obstacles that prevent us from moving forward.

Ironically, the only way to work with fear is to take action. As Jack Canfield famously said, “everything you want in life is on the other side of fear.”

A question that I frequently reflect on is “What happens if I don’t do this?”

In many of his interviews, Jeff Bezos explained that our biggest regret in life usually stems from acts of omission. It is the paths not taken and they haunt us. Leaving us to wonder what would have happened.

When I’m 80 and reflecting back, I want to have minimized the number of regrets that I have in my life. And most of our regrets are acts of omission—the things we didn’t try, the paths untraveled. Those are the things that haunt us.

A life mainly guided by fear is a small, shrunken substitute for what it could have been.

That is not to say we should completely avoid fear. We should stop trying to overcome it, and work with it instead.

Fear is what protects and keeps us alive from dangerous situations.

But fear doesn’t know the difference between a genuinely dangerous situation and its irrational counterpart — casting self-doubt and raising anxiety.

Work with the irrational fear that is the culprit for causing anxiety and panic attacks.

In his TED Talk, Tim Ferriss shared that Fear-Setting is the most powerful exercise he does. Ferriss claimed it helped produced his biggest success, by allowing him to move onward despite fear and self-doubt.

Start by writing the thing that makes you uncomfortable on the top as the title. Split the page into 3 columns.

  1. In the first column: Define your nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you are considering. What doubt, fears, and “what-ifs” pop up as you consider the big changes you can—or need—to make? Envision them in painstaking detail. Would it be the end of your life? What would be the permanent impact, if any, on a scale of 1–10? Are these things really permanent? How likely do you think it is that they would actually happen?
  2. In the second column: List down the actions you could take today to reduce the likelihood of these events occurring.
  3. In the last column: Identify what steps could you take to repair the damage or get things back on the upswing, even if temporarily? Chances are, it’s easier than you imagine. How could you get things back under control?

By practicing Fear-Setting, it helps us rationalize our fears and use it as a tool for fulfilling our goals.

Homeostasis

Backsliding is a universal experience. Everyone resists significant change, no matter it’s for the worse or for the better. Our body, brain, and behavior have a built-in tendency to stay within narrow limits and snap back when changed.

As George Leonard discusses in his book Mastery, this condition of equilibrium, this resistance to change, is called homeostasis.

The simplest example of homeostasis can be found in your home heating system. The thermostat on the wall senses the room temperature; when the temperature on a winter’s day drops below the level you’ve set, the thermostat sends an electrical signal that turns the heater on. The heater completes the loop by sending heat to the room in which the thermostat is located. When the room temperature reaches the level you’ve set, the thermostat sends an electrical signal back to the heater, turning it off, thus maintaining homeostasis. Keeping a room at the right temperature takes only one feedback loop. Keeping even the simplest single-celled organism alive and well takes thousands. And maintaining a human being in a state of homeostasis takes billions of interweaving electrochemical signals pulsing in the brain, rushing along nerve fibers, coursing through the bloodstream. One example: each of us has about 150,000 tiny thermostats in the form of nerve endings close to the surface of the skin that are sensitive to the loss of heat from our bodies, and another sixteen thousand or so a little deeper in the skin that alert us to the entry of heat from without.

An even more sensitive thermostat resides in the hypothalamus at the base of the brain, close to branches of the main artery that brings blood from the heart to the head. This thermostat can pick up even the tiniest change of temperature in the blood. When you start getting cold, these thermostats signal the sweat glands, pores, and small blood vessels near the surface of the body to close down. Glandular activity and muscle tension cause you to shiver in order to produce more heat, and your senses send a very clear message to your brain, leading you to keep moving, to put on more clothes, to cuddle closer to someone, to seek shelter, or to build a fire.

After years of not exercising, your body regards a sedentary life as normal. The beginning of change, even if it is for the better, is interpreted as a threat.

Let’s say, for instance, that for the last twenty years—ever since high school, in fact—you’ve been almost entirely sedentary. Now most of your friends are working out, and you figure that if you can’t beat the fitness revolution, you’ll join it. Buying the tights and running shoes is fun, and so are the first few steps as you start jogging on the high school track near your house. Then, about a third of the way around the first lap, something terrible happens. Maybe you’re suddenly sick to your stomach. Maybe you’re dizzy. Maybe there’s a strange, panicky feeling in your chest. Maybe you’re going to die.

No, you’re going to die. What’s more, the particular sensations you’re feeling probably aren’t significant in themselves. What you’re really getting is a homeostatic alarm signal—bells clanging, lights flashing. Warning! Warning!  Significant changes in respiration, heart rate, metabolism. Whatever you’re doing, stop doing it immediately. Homeostasis, remember, doesn’t distinguish between what you would call change for the better and change for the worse. It resists all change. After twenty years without exercise, your body regards a sedentary style of life as “normal”; the beginning of a change for the better is interpreted as a threat. So you walk slowly back to your car, figuring you’ll look around for some other revolution to join.

Homeostasis is not entirely negative. It keeps systems alive and well. Our bodies wouldn’t work without it, nor would our social systems.

The problem is that homeostasis, like fear, is undirected and does not have a “value system” — it doesn’t keep what’s good and reject what’s bad.

It is up to us to work with homeostasis.

Leonard lays out 5 guidelines on how to approach the issue:

  1. Be aware of homeostasis. Expect resistance and backslash. Don’t give up at the first sign of trouble. In fact, take it as a positive indication that your life is definitely changing.
  2. Negotiate with your resistance to change. Use pain as a guide to performance. Be willing to take one step back for every two forward, sometimes vice versa. Have the determination to keep pushing, but not without awareness. Pushing your way through despite the warning signals raises the possibility of backsliding.
  3. Develop a support system. It helps a great deal to have other people with whom you can share the joys and challenges of the change you’re making. The best support system involves people we have gone through or are going through a similar process.
  4. Follow a regular practice. When embarking on change, gain stability and comfort through a routine. Practicing some worthwhile activity, not so much for the sake of achieving an external goal as simply for its own sake.
  5. Dedicate yourself to lifelong learning. To learn is to change. The lifelong learner learns to deal with homeostasis because he is doing it all the time.
Image for post

Conclusion

I don’t think that me in my early twenties would expect myself to still have to work with fear. I probably expected that I would have my sh*t sorted out and all. But I have learned the need to respect and work with both fear and homeostasis. To embrace our flaws and acknowledge that while we will not be perfect, we can be better.


Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

In my next post, I will be sharing advice I would like to give my younger self. These are lessons I have learned over the years which will be helpful to you. Especially if you are in your early twenties or going-through change.

If you’re enjoying the content so far, I’m sure you’ll find 3 Bullet Sunday helpful. As an extension to the regular posts, I send out weekly newsletters sharing timeless ideas on life and finance.

Join others and subscribe to our newsletter today to receive a free investment checklist!

What basketball taught me about life

What basketball taught me about life

#Attitude. It means giving your best on and off the court. It means showing up on time. It means out-hustling others even when your body is wearing out. It means treating your teammates and your coach with the utmost respect and care. It means to be the best version of yourself.

It has been almost 4 years since I graduated. If there’s one thing that’d define my university life, it’d be basketball. There were many challenging moments that we always overcome as a team. Time spent hustling with my teammates, growing together as a team are experiences I would always hold dear.

Being a student-athlete means spending most of our waking hours training. My day would start at 6:00 A.M. daily with a 5km run, followed by hitting the gym. Evening time would be reserved for basketball practice with the team. Everyone worked tirelessly towards a common goal – to become the best varsity team in Singapore.

I’m grateful for the many lessons and values being a student-athlete provided me. My coach, teammates, and the challenges we faced taught me many timeless lessons. I hope you will find these useful as well.

Deliberate practice

Popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, 10,000 hours of practice is the magic number to greatness. In the beginning, showing up on the court and in the gym to put in the reps is the most important thing. After a while, we tend to go through the motion. Carelessly overlooking minute errors and missing out on daily opportunities for improvement.

Our brain naturally converts repeated actions into habits. For example, when we practice shooting and aim to make 100 shots a day. After many repetitions it becomes muscle memory. And if our shooting form was flawed, it becomes a bad habit that we subsequently have to unlearn and retrain.

Deliberate practice is the opposite of mindless practice. Instead of simply putting in the repetitions. It requires us to break down the process into parts, set clear goals, identify our weaknesses, and then continuously tweak our learning process.

Listen to your voice

Fear and self-doubt always strike at the most untimely moments. Surround yourself with supportive and positive personalities who believe in you. Avoid negative people who love bringing others down. It will drain you emotionally, preventing you from achieving your goals.

Throughout life, many will provide advice and opinions on how you should do things. Many of them are well-intended. With experience, you will learn how to filter out those that don’t sit right with your values and goals.

There will always be players who play dirty. Risking the safety of others and potentially inflicting career-ending injuries. They will convince you to do the same and they will rationalize their behaviors. In times like this, listen to your inner voice. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.

This brings us to the next point on team culture.

Team culture

The speed and extent to which a team is able to grow together is largely dependent on its culture. A great team culture encourages open communication, promotes constructive feedback, and fosters a desire amongst teammates to see each other become better.

Our team set aside 10 – 15 minutes after every practice. Talking about what went well and what could be done better. A good advice would be to praise by name, criticize by category.

Alumnus would often be present to share their experiences. Every new batch of players did not start from ground zero. Under this environment, we were able to build on the experiences of seniors and alumnus quickly.

We never shunned difficult topics after every loss. As a team, we will trash it out and be critical of our performance. To find out how we can overcome challenges as a team. This form of candidness must be nurtured over time. And setting this tone starts from the top. Never let a loss go to waste, for setbacks provides the best opportunity to learn and grow.

Life isn’t a straight line

Life does not always move in straight lines. Sometimes you hit a plateau and move sideways for awhile. Other times you backtrack a little. It is tempting to think that everything moves in a linear fashion. As time pass, your career gets better, your relationships get better, and you become more fulfilled.

But the truth is that life will always throw you curveballs. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’ve gotten anywhere. Mid last year I had my ACL reconstruction surgery. Something that is dreadful to any athlete. Having to go through that prolonged rehabilitation process.

What matters though, is to focus on making tomorrow better than today. As the saying goes – if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Don’t be too hard yourself and focus on planning your next step. Get yourself out of that hole, one step at a time.

What you can’t count matters

What isn’t counted doesn’t count. That is how the saying goes and it is true that much of life is a numbers game. Headlines of sports articles are filled with how much points a player scored. How many rebounds were snatched. And how many assists and steals did a player achieved for the game. Was it a double-double or triple-double?

What counts can’t always be counted; what can be counted doesn’t always count.

Albert Einstein

Numbers, however, are incomplete. They don’t always paint the full picture. The points recorded for the game will not capture team players who fought for every loose ball. Hustled back for every defense. Team players who communicated on the court. And especially, selfless players on reserve who spent all their heart and energy cheering their teammates on the court.

All these added together create a lollapalooza effect. And it is what makes a winning team. This experience helps me appreciate beyond what is measurable. At work, in life, and with investments.

#Attitude

Having the right attitude counts. It is what makes a team succeed. And it is what makes a team complete. Attitude means to be the best version of yourself. Only with the right attitude, can our experience in life be satisfying.

I end off with my favorite pictures, which encapsulates much of my love for the game, and for my team.

On retirement, happiness and life

On retirement, happiness and life

Listened Navel Ravikant’s podcast and his interview with Joe Rogan, and Shane Parrish this week. The interviews were absolutely mind-blowing. Throughout both interviews, Navel delivered compelling wisdom on almost all aspects of life – retirement, happiness, education, etc.

In today’s post I will share my biggest takeaways and my thoughts.

On Retirement

“Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for some imaginary tomorrow. When today is complete in and of itself, you are retired”

I don’t care how rich you are. I don’t care whether you’re a top Wall Street banker. If somebody has to tell you when to be at work, what to wear and how to behave, you’re not a free person. You’re not actually rich.

Navel Ravikant

For Navel, retirement is not receiving a cheque every month at 65 years old. Retirement is achieved when you can be fully present, today. And there are 3 ways we can achieve retirement:

  1. Save up so much money that your passive income covers your burn rate
  2. Drive your burn rate down to zero and become a monk
  3. Make a living doing something you love

There are multiple ways to achieve retirement. Most of us don’t give much consideration, or have the courage to pursue option 2 or 3.

Option 1 has been the most popular choice for most of us – trading in hours to make more money in a linear fashion. Because most of us were taught to work for other people and climb our way up the ladder. And hopefully, we will reach that promised land.

There’s a great story to illustrate this – the Mexican Fisherman.

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.  Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.  The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos.  I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part.  When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire.  Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

This story reminds me not to lose sight of the forest for the tree. One of the biggest mistakes people make in their careers is to treat work primarily as a means to an end. Whether that end is money, power, or prestige, this instrumentalization of work leads to unhappiness.

Since young, I have always practiced delayed gratification to eventually arrive at the promised land – to be able to spend more time with loved ones, pursue meaningful work, and to be present.

This is a reminder to me that the time is now. That doesn’t mean that everything has to change immediately, but start building joy into your life today.

On keeping up with the Joneses

Social media has degenerated into a deafening cacophony of groups signaling and repeating their shared myths.

Navel Ravikant

In today’s day and age of technology, the impact of signaling has been amplified. Posting on social media when we go on holidays, fancy restaurants, working out, volunteering, or reading books.

Rather than looking at ourselves, we are looking at how other people look at us. It builds up a strong self-image based on likes and compliments. Which could easily be torn down. It doesn’t take many insults to drown out all the compliments.

“As you get older, you just realize that there’s no happiness in material possessions.

“I think a lot of us learn as we get older that happiness is internal.”

Navel Ravikant

Happiness and fulfillment come from within. When we are trapped thinking all about how others view us, we stop living our lives. It disrupts our journey to retirement and prevents us from being present. To quote Dave Ramsey – We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.

Acknowledging that I have been guilty of this as well and to stop myself from falling into this trap, I have refrained from posting on social media. To avoid subconsciously doing things for the sake of signaling.

A good question to ponder when making any spending decision – Would I do this if no one else will know of it?

“The eyes of other people are the eyes that ruin us. If all but myself were blind, I should want neither fine clothes, fine houses, nor fine furniture”

Ben Franklin

On education

“The ability to learn, the means of learning, the tools of learning, are abundant and infinite. It’s the desire that’s incredibly scarce.

Naval Ravikant

For Naval, our current education system has been made obsolete. Today, we have the internet. If we have the desire to learn, we can attend online courses from Khan Academy, MIT, and Yale online lectures. We can read blogs and books published by brilliant people. If it is purely learning we are after, it can be done through the internet or by uniting through the internet with like-minded groups.

In the age of Google and smartphones, memorization is obsolete. Our education system still places undue weight on it just because that’s the way it has always been done in the pre-Google world.

As a one-size-fits-all model, the current education system is like a cookie-cutter. Many who don’t fit into this mold would feel inadequate at a young age. Everyone has to go through this model regardless of their strengths and interests.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Albert Einstein

On being yourself

“Looking forward to holidays takes the joy out of every day.”

Naval Ravikant

Many of us will tell ourselves we need to do this.. we need to do that. But what we should be doing more often is asking ourselves what we want to do. If we can’t wait for work to end or if we find ourselves always looking forward to the next holiday, we may want to stop and listen.

Stop trying to figure out how to do things the way other people want you to do. Listen to that little voice inside your head that wants to do things a certain way and then you get to be you.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Steve Jobs

No one in the world is going to beat you at being you. To Naval, our goal in life is to find the people, business, project, and art that needs you the most. There is something out there just for us. And we need to discover that for ourselves.

On compounding interest

“Play long-term games with long-term people. All returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.”

Naval Ravikant

Compounding is a concept at the very heart of this blog. This applies not just to wealth. But to everything else in life – relationships, business, knowledge, and fitness.

Establishing long term relationships – be it romantic or business – makes life easier because you know that person’s got your back covered. If we want to be successful, we have to work with other people. And trust is the core for any successful partnership. Mutual trust makes it easy to do business.

This applies to health and fitness as well. The fitter and healthier you are, the easier it is to stay that way. Whereas the more you disregard your body, the harder it is to come back. Even clawing back to the baseline would require insurmountable efforts and willpower.

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