How to figure it out
Inspired by our friend Bill, here in Walker who years ago said "you can figure it out now or you can figure out later but you'll be much happier if you can figure it out now.
1. Be curious
Always strive to learn new things, find new interests or take on new hobbies. This stimulates/challenges the mind and makes life more fun.
2. Know when to keep your mouth shut
Is what you're going to say going to make it better? Can you add value? Was your opinion asked for? Answering no to those are all good reasons to keep quiet. Also you can always weigh in later but there are plenty of times where keeping your cards close (not saying anything) gives you an advantage or spares you from looking foolish and having to walk something back.
3. Help others any way you can
I could have said be a good person but I think help others is more action oriented, having a larger impact. I also could have called this one "do the right thing."
4. Play the long game
I talk about this all the time as doing favors for your future self. A couple of good decisions related to habits in your 20's will make your 40's and 50's great. There is a balance to be struck here between now and your future but your future will come fast. If you're in your 40's now you are either benefitting or suffering the consequences of what you did or did not do 20 years ago. I think this concept can apply to anything.
5. Learn how to explain things in simple, jargon free terms
This is both about understanding topics and relating to people. A former senior member of our fire department seemed to have a need to sound very smart, anytime he spoke is was a jargon festival and very few people knew what he was talking about. I routinely would ask, what something means or tell him to keep it jargon free. Talking over people is a losing game.
6. Let ergodicity work for you
Ergodicity is a fancy word for going with the flow. An easy example is the stock market. The US stock market has an up year about 72% of the time and depending on the time you look at, the average annual return ranges from 7%-10%.
The link below is to a Twitter thread titled "Day in the Life of a Hedge Fund Analyst" which describes what sounds like miserable 14 hour days. One comment quipped "that's a lot of time to underperform the S&P 500." I believe in some amount of active management but at some point, too much activity leads to diminishing returns and even becomes a drag on actual returns. When things can mostly work for you, let them.
7. Know when to do the tough thing
In the gym, do the tough thing.
In school, do the tough thing.
If it will take you all day to fix something broken in your house but would only take a pro an hour, do the easy thing, pay the pro.
Maybe a hyperbolic example, don't drive an hour out of your way to save ten cents on a gallon of gas.
8. Lose the need for external validation
Get rid of envy, get rid of caring what others might think of you. There are very few people in your life who's opinion counts for anything. Don't compare yourself to others. When someone succeeds, accept that they are either smarter, worked harder, was lucky or some combo of the three and be genuinely happy for them.
9. Be self-aware/introspective
Understanding your flaws is how you improve. This also how you come to realize you might be more in the wrong about something.
10. Give your full effort to things
Half-assing frequently leads to regret. Giving your best result won't always lead to success but you can't try harder than giving your best. You won't regret giving your best effort to something.
11. Time and optionality are the most precious assets we have
Once you cover the basics of a roof over head and food in the refrigerator, having the time to do what we want and the ability to choose what we want to do become the most valuable assets we have. Embedded in both time and optionality is health. Living longer is literally having more time. Able bodied for longer to do what you enjoy (healthspan) is also a literal application of having more time. Not spending time being sick and at the Dr is a literal application of having more time.
Being able bodied is also where a lot of optionality comes from. Good habits started young is also where optionality comes from. Someone who at 25 takes up the good habits of living below their means and exercising regularly could find themselves at 50 and wanting to make a big career change. Having a little money in the bank and being physically capable gives them the optionality, gives them the choice, to do whatever they want. 50 and fit can be very young so better to have a little in the bank if at all possible.
12. Be positive
This might come naturally for you or you might have to train yourself but I am telling you things like The Secret or manifestation work.
Also, when you are genuinely positive, you will have less negativity in your life. At some point negativity consumes us, makes us unhappy and even makes us sick.
I talk about this all the time. Know when to move away from crowd behavior. This requires a combination of knowing when to be skeptical and being comfortable appearing to be different or maybe actually being different.