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.


Wear the uniform
Think long term (like 30 years from now)
Build stories and languages, not things
Create your own universe (or join ours)
Collect samples
Be a sample for somebody else
Look for loyalty, not for a skill set
Do not build utilitarian products. However, use them as a medium to express yourself
Do not exploit introverts — doesn't work long term. Learn to be an introvert yourself
Travel more
Do not work for corporations. Old corporations were meaningful when their founders were alive, but now, they have outlived their relevancy. They exist only to keep their numbers growing
New corporations are no better. They have scaled up features, and today’s founders want hyper-growth for growth’s sake (it seems like every line of code, every feature deserves its own corporation — it sure doesn't)
So, fuck the corporations
Tell the truth (bullshit never works long term)
Study and research fashion
Your phone is a temporary feature — don’t spend your life on it (like you wouldn’t spend it on a fax machine)
Fuck likes, followers, fake lives, fake friends
Remake your environment. Build it for yourself, and people will come
Only trust those who make things you love
Move to LA
Don’t buy property
Don’t go to Mars (just yet)
Use only one font, just a few colors, and just a few shapes
Use spreadsheets, but only to map out 30 cells — one for each year of the rest of your life
The next three are the most important
The past doesn’t exist — don’t get stuck in it
Don’t go to Silicon Valley (it’s not for you if you’re still reading this)
Remind yourself daily: you and everyone you know will die
We must build the most beautiful things
We are 2046 kids