Why most people can’t optimize their life

Most people don’t get a chance to optimize their life because they’re too busy working a job.

This struck me when I was listening to Soman Chainani. He was talking about how he played tennis every morning at 7:00. Then he’d write from about 8:30 to 1:00, eat, and then work out for about an hour and half starting at 2:00 before getting back into his second block of work time until about 7:00.

He emphasized the importance of these two physical activities, playing tennis and working out. Keeping these habits solid in his life allowed him more creativity during the blocks of time between physical activities.

I thought about this for myself. It can be done, but the obvious difficulty is my work schedule.

Which brings me back to the beginning: most people don’t get a chance to optimize their life because they’re too busy working a job.


Superfoods for thought

The idea of superfoods for thought sparked a list of helpful tools:

  • Being able to spot patterns in one domain, understand the general principle at work, and reapply the principle in another domain.
  • Being able learn from other people’s successes and failures. This requires both empathy (to be able to really understand what the other person was thinking and feeling, not just the steps taken) and also initiative to be able to get into other people’s lives to understand them enough to even know their successes and failures (this could be through books, asking them questions in person, watching them, etc.).
  • Being able to accurately predict what plan will actually be achieved (vs. the optimal plan, in many cases). A good plan followed is better than the best plan neglected.

This clearly isn’t an exhaustive list of ideas, just a handful that came to mind.


If you leave your guitar out on a stand…

…you’ll play it more often. You’ll get better at it. You’ll enjoy it more. My dad taught me this.

If you leave your computer on and accessible, you’ll write more often. You’ll also get on Facebook more often. If you set a strict limit to only get on Facebook on your phone and leave the computer for writing, you’ll write more without getting on Facebook, at least not on the computer.

I learned this extrapolating off the lesson from the guitar.

And there’s a lesson as well. If you pay attention, you can transfer knowledge and skills from one domain (guitar practice) to others (writing practice).

This is one of the biggest superfoods for thought: being able to spot a pattern in one domain, understand the general principle at work, and then reapply the lesson to a different domain.


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