Notes to Self on Self

This document should be amended as you age.

  1. Your values are implemented in action. Act towards the things you value—generosity, empathy, kindness, energy, efficacy, avoiding excess, acceptance, sustainability, interestingness, etc.

  2. Do what you say you will. The best way to start working in this direction is being very, very careful about what you say “yes” to. Be liberal and gentle with saying “no”.

  3. Seek out primary sources whenever possible. This goes for oral and printed media. A newspaper is a secondary source. Don’t read the science digest, read the science. If you can’t understand a primary source, this is a great learning opportunity. Study what you need to understand.

  4. Aim for a balanced life. Don’t find balance by standing in the middle of everything—instead, hit the extremes and let them stabilize each other. (Some exceptions apply.) Balance is active, not a static state.

  5. Constantly sewing seeds is a good way to promote a garden. Start projects and conversations. Ask yourself leading questions and learn new things relentlessly. The flip side of this is that things need to die as well, so that new things can emerge.

  6. Have a borrowing mindset. Treat things and people with kindness and agility. Stay liquid and don’t buy until you’ve tried. Don’t get something until you’ll need it, and celebrate what you have.

  7. Take good care of your body and mind, they need to last your entire life. This means both working them hard and allowing them to relax.
    6a. Don’t overeat. Eat good food. Sleep enough. Stretch. This is not a place for extremes, contrary to item number 3.
    6b. This also includes a judicious intellectual diet. Don’t read it unless you think it will be good or important.

  8. Keep a beginner’s spirit but don’t be afraid to fold inwards when necessary.

  9. Make it easy to act well, and do not dwell in previous actions; just apply learned lessons to those ahead. Think slowly and act quickly.

  10. Work towards an experimental reality. Push edges of what you think about and how you think about it. Break rules when necessary. Use your life as n=1.

  11. The thoughts you have, actions you take, people you talk to, and culture you immerse yourself in make permanent marks on you and your identities. Your experiences and thoughts are objects of their own right, and deserve attention.
    10a. “Everything you can imagine is real.” - Picasso

  12. Invest in entropy. Work towards antifragility. A fairly minimal lifestyle assists in this.

  13. Whenever possible, use your time, energy, and money to learn, educate, and act to the benefit of those without the ability to do the same for others.

  14. Regularly reflect and reflect-in-action. You know about many healthy patterns and need to self-check yourself into enacting them, in real time.

  15. ”Solving for” beats “Planning for”—as in, planning is frequently a way to delay action. Start immediately and consider it part of the process.

  16. Recognize the value in habits. Build habits that work with your strengths and weaknesses and construct reflection time. Doing big things requires a lot of time—best achievable through regular small chunks of time.

    15a. Note the cost of context-switching! Block your time.
    15b. Routines and serendipity are not mutually exclusive.

  17. You shouldn’t read without writing, nor observe without note-taking. Synthesis comes through making.

  18. Do stuff with your friends. That's why you have them. Talk and start projects; generate energy between yourselves. Go to events. Entertain questions. And laugh.