The biggest mistakes I’ve made came from committing to an opinion, decision or action without analyzing implications of being wrong or right. I invested in believing, saying or doing a certain thing on the basis of the opinion other people had of me or what I thought they’d expect me to do.
Needless to say, the outcomes that this led to were far from ideal.
I’ve learned it’s smart to:
- say I don’t know
- try things before criticizing
- change beliefs when wrong
I realize this sounds incredibly easy to do but ego makes it hard
Think of yourself. Do you do anything with anyone that you don’t do with other people? Do you say certain things, drink specific alcohol or act differently only when you are with your sister, father in law, colleagues?
The reality is, who we are is fluid and constantly changing to reflect the context that we are operating within. Do you drink red wine in public events because you truly enjoy the taste or because it conveys an image that you want other people to believe?
Social media has supercharged this phenomenon to an almost inconceivable extent. So many people willingly sacrifice their own happiness in pursuit of rewards that contribute little to their happiness. I’m talking about the way each of us manicures our virtual lives for external consumption. We take the most aesthetically pleasing photographs, from the best angle, in the most seductive pose. Only when we are 100% satisfied do we dare publish it to the wider world.
Other people do the same, but their lives become a point of reference we compare our own lives too. Everyone else is happier, leading more exciting lives than we can. So we compete to make our own lives look and sound better.
Ironically, that impression we all hold internally occurs in other people too.
Instead of recognizing that we dive more deeply, and invest more heavily in the charade that colors our own and everyone else’s perception.
We already live in virtual reality. Our perception that we have something missing spill into our physical world, the implication which is that the virtual world already contributes more to our physical disposition that the people we meet and talk to each day.
I recognized this in myself a while ago. My mobile phone had insidiously infected my physical world by hijacking my attention. Instead of investing in the things that made me happy, the people I love, and the things I should be focussed on, I became distracted by the continual pursuit of staying on top.
One more email
One more tweet.
One more of everything that didn’t matter
Since then I’ve ruthlessly optimized my life for the things that have mattered.
When I’m wrong I admit it willingly.
The most successful people, who should the hardest to reach and the most difficult to convince, are typically the easiest to talk to and more open to the boldest ambitious ideas.
There’s a reason these people are on top.
I’ve tried to incorporate that into everything I do.
I focus on habits rather than outcomes. Where do I want to be ten years from now instead of by the end of the week? Habits are like compound interest, you only benefit from investing every day, while the return is in a decade.
We don’t have enough time to waste it on worrying about other peoples expectations of what we should do, think or be. That is the conventional wisdom that leads you to waste a decade of your life on something you hate.
Find the things you love and do them.
Analyze that things that make you happy.
Get rid of the things holding you back
Social media is a tool that should only be used to broadcast and consume things you actually care about. Mindlessly scrolling a news feed is you being exploited to enrich billionaires profiting from your attention.
See the problems in your life then remove them.