Ikigai - by Sebastian Marshall

"Persuade thyself that imperfection and inconvenience are the natural lot of mortals, and there will be no room for discontent, neither for despair." Imperfection and inconvenience are part of the bargain of being human. Do not act rashly or impulsively. There's no reason to feel discontent or despair when things are going wrong. Things are never perfect. Acknowledge things as they are, always. Discontent and despair don't serve you. When bad feelings come over you, acknowledge them and dismiss them. Thinking, reflection, and self-control reigns. Keep building. Win.

Keep in mind you're going to die. It puts things into perspective. Mild discomfort? Who cares, you're going to fucking DIE at some point. DO SOME COOL STUFF BEFORE THAT HAPPENS. As far as I know, you get one bite at the apple that is life. Embarrassment? Dude, eternity stretches before and after us. Embarrassment is your neurochemistry in a mildly uncomfortable position. It doesn't matter at all. None of us are such a big deal that we can't be embarrassed. Do some cool stuff today, there's no reason not to. Thank some people, do some art, drop a line to an old mentor or teacher or to your family or whatever. Life is fleeting. I meditate on this daily, which helps put things in perspective. The worry of being embarrassed pales in comparison to the the very real concern with wasting my limited life energy. The worry of coming across poorly or un-genuine or fake pales in comparison to the very real concern of wasting my limited life energy.

If they don't get it, that means YOU didn't get it.

No, you don't get it. You did it wrong. Learn. Figure out where the decision/reaction came from, and do it better next time.

The mindset shift from being a consumer to being a producer is huge, even if what you produce doesn't see all that much use at first.

Your interests flit around to different stuff? Yeah, me too. But more and more, I'm looking to build/produce/ship things when I have a passing interest. Obviously you can't do that for everything, sometimes you can just be a consumer and be happy with that. But if you have a sincere interest, then why not try to write an analysis or critique or user guide or quick-start manual or observations or … something? Producing, shipping … it's cool. I think it's basically the way for people whose interests jump around to achieve lots of good stuff in the world.

You gotta remember, this is all a circus. Life is really a circus. Are you such a big deal that you can't be embarrassed, or make a mistake, or do something wrong? No, you're not. You're not a big deal.

I'd strongly recommend committing to writing every day. Every single day, write something. Even something small.

The work you just completed is never your best possible work.

  1. Stop theorizing.

  2. Write lots.

  3. Learn from your mistakes.

Quantity always trumps quality. Pick a schedule and stick with it. It's the only advice that matters, because until you've mentally committed to doing it over and over, you will not improve. You can't.

  • You decide to go faster because you'll do more meaningful things in your life.

  • You accept that you'll make more errors overall if you do more things.

  • You know that'll feel bad for a while, because humans are usually more loss-averse than gain-oriented.

  • You realize that your error rate will actually go down.

  • You figure that your emotional system will eventually catch up. And hey, if it doesn't, you'll at least have a ton more money you can go spend on hookers and things like that to make yourself feel better after a particularly tough day.

  • Whenever you're doing something, define "adequately complete"--then ask, "What's the fastest way to adequately complete?" Then do that.

  • After adequate, there's a whole no-man's-land of "slightly better but still not amazing"--don't bother going there. Get to adequate ASAP, and then either decide to go to the top of the game (like Apple's hardware) or just keep moving. "Slightly better" often takes twice as long, for 10% more gain.

  • Consult, advise, or work for other people. It's damn near impossible to evaluate your own projects correctly--you get emotionally attached, you get stupid, you get blindsided. This still happens to me. I'll probably do consulting forever, just so I'm working with other people and can be more clear-headed than when I'm doing my own thing. Whenever you give great advice to someone else about how much time to put into something or their decision making choices, write a note in your journal or diary and refer to it later when making the same decision.

  • Additionally, this is why executives and big companies hire consultants. So someone less emotionally attached can tell them what to do. It doesn't always work, but that's a big part of why they do it.

  • You can get a free version of consulting by laying out your requirements and choices to an intelligent colleague, and asking what you should do. Then just do it.

  • Increase your schedule or move up your deadlines so you must get things done faster, and you will. This quote from the "You and Your Research" talk by Richard Hamming at Bell Labs, 1986, is relevant: "I am an egotistical person; there is no doubt about it. I knew that most people who took a sabbatical to write a book, didn't finish it on time. So before I left, I told all my friends that when I come back, that book was going to be done! Yes, I would have it done--I'd have been ashamed to come back without it! I used my ego to make myself behave the way I wanted to. I bragged about something so I'd have to perform. I found out many times, like a cornered rat in a real trap, I was surprisingly capable. I have found that it paid to say, "Oh yes, I'll get the answer for you Tuesday," not having any idea how to do it. By Sunday night I was really hard thinking on how I was going to deliver by Tuesday. I often put my pride on the line and sometimes I failed, but as I said, like a cornered rat I'm surprised how often I did a good job."

You've just got to become comfortable with failing more often. Your failure and error rate will actually go down if you become a faster decision maker, but the total number of errors will obviously go up, so you accept that. It's the price to moving 5x to 10x faster in your life. But man, it's amazing moving so fast, even if failing feels bad in the moment.

Likewise, back when I wanted to start spending my mornings planning my day instead of just signing online, I'd turn off my laptop, unplug it, and turn it upside down. I did that as a reminder so I couldn't just turn it on and mindlessly surf. I'd see my laptop upside-down in the morning when I was tired, I'd think, "That's weird, why is--oh, right." And then I'd spend the morning in my planner.

I set goals every week. I aim for a 70% success rate. That means I fall short on 30% of my goals every week. I figure, if I succeeded at 100% my goals weren't set high enough. If I succeed below 70%, this might be too much to stay on the path. If I succeeded above 70%, I add more for next week. If less, I pare down to the most essential things and try to get my success rate up. Every week I want strife and struggle. I want challenge. I want to be always falling short of what I could be, and that is the way forwards.

Answering some "yes/no" questions at the end of the day is very good for me.

Set hard rule principles, and start acting on principle instead of tactically. That's my biggest piece of advice for having a better life.

Transactional relationships are about paying as little as you can for as much as you can get. Social relationships are about giving as much as you can and far exceeding what you get. Transactional relationships suck. Social relationships are good.