The most important and true problems in the world are the ones that you create for yourself.
Luckily, there are many changes you can make to give you more power over your life. It starts with gaining control over the things that you can control. Because, yes, there are things you can do to make a real positive difference in your life - the question is if you’re willing to.
The work is there. The tools are there.
It’s up to you to make it happen.
It’s important to get a grip on your expectations.
They can get out of hand and too far from reality if you’re not careful.
And it leads to unnecessary disappointment in what otherwise might be a perfectly fine situation. Expectations are the root of all evil.
Don’t be so strict with what your life has to look like. Aim for greatness, sure, but be willing to redefine what that means as you go.
Leave the future open-ended.
There has to be room for surprise.
You want your future expectations to have some space for mystery. For magic to transform your hopes & dreams into something beyond your imagination. Because your specific desires will create unhappiness until they are met. The trap is when they either aren’t ever met or you keep moving the goalpost. (Something I’m guilty of too). Allow your expectations to be flexible, malleable, and updatable.
You never know what reality has up its sleeve.
The best thing you can do is focus instead on your everyday behaviors and all the mundane motions you go through.
Those reliable rhythms (that are largely unwavering) are a calling to craftsmanship. And it’s through mastering the everyday stuff that you can minimize the problems you create for yourself. You want to be operating from a principles-based approach, not a desires-based approach.
You want a deeper result, not just surface-level satisfaction.
Inside of you is a database of previous experiences.
It’s a rich resource of untapped insights, waiting for you to dig up & put to use. Hindsight - one of the most valuable skills to get better at.
That’s how you rapidly increase your rate of learning and iteration with life.
If you can get good at pulling value out of what you’ve done & been through before, you’ll be much more prepared for what’s to come.
Digging up these insights leads to clarity on your values.
It’d be much harder to determine what you truly care about and what principles you want to uphold if you’re only half-thinking about them in the present moment of new experience. It’s a miracle that we can reflect back on our past. We can see what the result of certain decisions was and use that information to course correct the next time a similar situation presents itself. This helps you create rules for yourself. From “I’ll never do that again” to “Always say yes when…”.
Clarity is the most scarce resource of our time.
If hindsight is free & available, why not give it more attention?
As Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
This is where you can create a powerful feedback loop between hindsight & foresight. It’s something we rarely give proper credence to.
Connecting the dots shows you what you’re trending towards. It teaches you so much about yourself. What you fall prey to, but also what you’re capable of.
The dots tell the story of you.
They give you access to enhanced foresight for the future dots coming into view and how to best adapt.
Short-sightedness is the enemy of success.
When you’re not considering the long-term view, you’ll sacrifice delayed gratification for immediate desires. And rarely are those decisions something you won’t regret soon after. Your future self is most proud when you actually think about them with what you’re doing.
Even something as silly as preparing for the very next day with a bit more intention and love for who you are tomorrow goes a long way.
Your ability to go without now so you can have more later is a potent skill to cultivate.
(It’s an area in my life needing constant improvement to be honest.)
When you focus on long-term winning, you take full advantage of time.
You want time to be an asset, not a liability. You want time to work in your favor, not against you. If you’re making good, solid decisions then the compounding results will be positive. Things like diet, exercise, investing in relationships, presence with your children, following your curiosities, etc. But if you’re making too many short-term decisions, you’ll constantly set up your future self for a more difficult starting point. Poor diet compounds. Poor financial decisions compound. Poor relationships compound. Ignoring your soul’s calling, compounds.
Unfortunately, society is working against you. Long-term thinking does not come naturally and the biggest companies in the world run on captured attention. It’s something you have to protect as much as possible because if you’re not owning it someone else definitely is.
Tons of obstacles stand in the way and will continue to stand in the way.
Plan for it.
There will never come a day when it’s going to be easy to delay your great reward. Don’t expect it. Our default behavior is to postpone our best selves to the future. To kick it down the timeline. “Tomorrow, I’ll get my act together. Today, it is what it is.” That statement can wreck you if you let it be true too often. At some point, you say enough is enough and start building towards something great. Something long-term.
Something your future self will thank you for.
What you want most is way more important than what you want now.
Turns out there can be a lot of overlap between building design and building a life. John Ruskin (unknowingly perhaps) tells us how to live life better.
It's never too late to stumble upon an underlying principle of reality. (Especially one that can be put to use immediately)