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July 29th, 2020
I turned 30 a month ago and I’m still procrastinating-ish on the article I had intended to write for it 😂 but it’s a productive kind of procrastination. It’s hard to explain how I know the difference, but I do. Part of it is that I’m thinking about it (the article) all the time
I want(ed) to do 30 bullet points for my younger self(ves). The first and most important point would be 1. breathwork. Take deep slow breaths and hold them. Look up box breathing. This is like “press F to regain mana”. Lowers anxiety symptoms. Tunes the guitar of your mind
2. seek excellent peers. The people you surround yourself with- both literally IRL, and online, and intellectually (books etc) shape your thinking, your beliefs, goals, everything. Be more proactive about this. You already know who’s excellent and who’s not. Adjust accordingly
3. Be more precise in your thinking and expression. What do you think? What do you mean? Tbh you got this part covered I’m not worried. Just write and journal like crazy (4) and you’ll figure it out. Excellent peers (2) will challenge you to be precise anyway
4. Be prolific. Write a lot. Take notes on everything. Don’t sweat the details, just write and write. Don’t worry about repeating yourself, that’s part of the process. Don’t worry about getting things wrong, you can correct as you go and the errors are useful/interesting anyway
5. Ok this is a powerful one, particularly in conjunction with (4): INDEX YOUR SHIT. the earlier you learn this the more you compound the value and interestingness of everything you do. I was 29. Start at like, 15, dude. Make a meta-index of yr indices
6. Don’t gossip about people behind their backs, even if you think it’s harmless. Word always gets around and it always looks bad. In fact, *praise* people behind their backs. If u have to criticize someone, do it in person, privately. Reputation gains bro
7. Do monthly reviews. I’d say weekly, but I know you. :-p Monthly is manageable. Like this. Last day of every month, just write what you remember doing. It’s great to look back on. you naturally start planning things so you can put them in your review.
8. Best thing you can do to get better as a musician is to practice playing melodies by ear. Jingle bells, happy birthday, everything. It’ll save you years of trial and error. I think there’s a general principle here about doing things in an organic way
9. When making todo lists, always make sure every item is a precise action. “Groceries” → “go to X and buy Y.” “Study” → “practice 20 questions from chapter 7”. This is really an elaboration of (3) but it’s worth a separate point. Vague things don’t get done. Design your tasks
10. You can only ever realistically be productive for about 4 hours a day. You’ll try to find a way around this and get into unnecessary trouble. Even 2-3 productive hours a day is a huge win. Accept this, kid- it’ll spare you a ton of grief. 4 hours of best effort then go play
11. be clear and honest with yourself about your reasons for doing things. You may be uncertain, and find over time that your stated reason was a decoy. That’s fine. revise it accordingly when that happens. Keep updating and you’ll develop clarity abt your goals and motivations
12. Travel as early and as often as you can. It’s not about seeing new things. It’s about experiencing different contexts, which will challenge and surprise you and get you questioning assumptions you don’t even realize you have. Also you never know when there’ll be a pandemic...
13. You already know why it’s worth being smart, and strong. It’s also worth being sensitive. Other people have interesting perspectives for you to learn from. People respond better to warmth and kindness. Be patient. Encourage them to talk. Listen. Rushing is counterproductive
14. Elaboration of 3, 4, 7: take notes after every significant event. After every movie you’ve watched, every good conversation you’ve had. Just write a few lines about what you thought. It’ll come in handy in unexpected ways and you’ll never regret it. Especially if u index them
15. Elaboration of 11: prioritize earning your own self-respect. You don’t have to frame it as a tradeoff between having fun and doing difficult/unpleasant things. See also: 10. True self-respect is a precious resource that will carry u thru everything. Ask for help from (2)
16. What are you afraid of? No really- be honest with yourself about this. Write it down. Be specific. Inquire. Explore. How are these fears manifest? How are they limiting you? How can you confront them? Hint: start small. Eg, you hate schedules? Make small plans + execute them
17. Your curiosity, earnestness and imagination are amongst your most powerful assets. Treasure them. Let them take the wheel. Use them to cultivate your taste. You won’t believe the extrinsic rewards that come from this, but it’s the intrinsic rewards that really matter anyway
18. I repeat: being rushed, edgy, anxious, etc isn’t helpful. Pressuring for specific outcomes tends to be counter-productive. Breathe (1). See the bigger picture, take the longer view. You don’t need everyone to agree with you. You don’t need to win every argument. Long game!
19. Your attention is *very* valuable currency; this isn’t obvious early on. Direct it mainly towards what you want to grow & see more of. You are the director of your movie. You can’t control every outcome but you choose what to focus on & what it means
20. You’ll feel compelled to insist that you’re “not emotional”. This is a trap. Emotions are at the heart of life, including yours. Don’t suppress them, face them. Dance with them. Once you learn to handle them, they are a *powerful* energy source
21. At some point, you’ll be depressed. The dark night of the soul, the total collapse of meaning. It will seem hopeless. But you are not the 1st person to go through it & you will not be the last. If you did a good job with (2) they will carry you through. You come out stronger
22. Be intentional about cultivating rituals and practices that are meaningful *to you*. Sit with a notebook in a cafe once a month and converse with all your past and future selves. Do it for all of us. Carve out time for friends outside of work. Convene with literature and art
23. elaboration of (2): always make some time to always be meeting new people. This is worth ritualizing, so much so that it’s worth rearranging other parts of your life around it. Every amazing opportunity comes from someone you know; so get out there and know people
24. Collect email addresses from your blog readers. I know, I know, you don’t like receiving email yourself, and you rarely signup for anything, so you’re hesitant to ask anybody else. But give people the option. If people want to opt-in, let them!
25. More broadly speaking, appreciate/realize that people are much more diverse and varied than you think. A low success rate should not discourage you from trying something if you can afford to try it many times. for important things, it’s worth enduring 99 no’s to get to a yes