The Value of Fringe Ideas

I’ve recently been thinking about getting a dog.

In doing hours of research about how I want to raise it, I stumbled upon this sub-culture of feeding called Raw Feeding. It’s essentially a philosophy/diet that states that dogs and cats are carnivores and need to derive their nutrients from meat. The diet derives from their natural history of having to hunt for their food and relying on animal proteins and nutrients, not having this overconsumption of carbohydrates (grains).

It sounds completely scary to many to feed your pets raw meat when you’ve been feeding them bags of those dried nuggets that last forever.

But thousands of owners have cited extremely positive results for their pets.  Better hair. Less smelly skin. Less health issues. Which is a lot better than the diseases that have historically been acquired with the recent invention of dry dog food.

And it’s really odd that no one’s talking about it. Whether it works or not, how come people just don’t want to investigate a solution that helps their dogs live healthier lives?

I realized why: it’s the same reason so many young adults are pushed into college.

We want the path of least resistance that gets us a sub-optimal result easily, rather than taking the time to get an optimal result.

It’s easy to go to college. That’s accepted culturally and no one will criticize you. But if you opt out of college and do something you’re interested in, people have all sorts of criticisms and questions for you.

It’s because it’s a fringe idea. People are scared of what they don’t take the time to understand.

And that’s your opportunity to capitalize on it.

I think you’ll find that digging just a little bit deeper into fringe ideas will give you the knowledge that the majority are just too lazy to dig into. And you will reap the benefits out of being a little more curious.

Are You A Perfectionist or Impulsive?

Are you using perfectionism as a cover-up for your impulsive nature?

Real perfectionists work really hard to make things perfect, and are continually dissatisfied with the product they put out.

But impulsive people… they just make the excuse that they’re perfectionists  to allow themselves to procrastinate and let their mind be distracted by various things. That way, they feel self-righteous while also being able to avoid responsibility.

If You Just Graduated, READ THIS

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To all the graduates: this week may be the first time you’ve ever had nothing planned in front of you.

In elementary school, you had middle school.
In middle school, you had high school.
In high school, you had college.

But after college then what?

There’s no structure in place anymore and I’ve seen it really worry some of my friends.

Part of this immense pressure is made up because of expectations from parents, from your peers, and from yourself. You feel like everyone knows what they are doing and everyone else expects you to know exactly what your next step is. I mean, every time you run into a family member or friend, they always ask about what you’re doing after graduation. So you can’t avoid this conversation.

I’ll let you in on a secret.

I don’t know what the path ahead looks for me. I have a general idea of how I want to approach the next two months after graduation, but that’s it.

I know that I:

  • want a job
  • am taking a summer physics class
  • want to optimize my fitness and health
  • have some personal projects I want to complete

But I don’t have the information of where I’ll be, who I’ll be working with, or what kind of money I’ll be making in two months.

And it’s that desire for information that causes such anxiety in a lot of people. We crave that information, but we have to be okay with that uncertainty.

Because like author Mark Manson of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck says: finding your path isn’t straightforward.

This is because:

  1.     Your path is constantly evolving.
  2.     Your personal skills and strengths will continue to evolve over time.
  3.     Your interests will shift as you grow.

Graduation is not some point where you’re supposed to know exactly what you want to do and have everything sorted out.

Graduation is a turning point.

The responsibility of every minute you live is now on you. The onus is on you to create the life you want. It’s your job to explore life and find meaning in ways that school could never show you.

Keep in mind, you’re only about 20% done with your life. You could fuck up for the next 10 years and STILL be young as fuck. This is the time to experiment.

Try that thing you were always scared to.

Try learning Japanese if you want to speak to locals during your two month stay in Tokyo. Try being a personal trainer to learn how to identify and solve clients’ problems. Try working in the service industry to pickup some customer service skills.

I know you have a chip on your shoulder because you have a college degree and that means certain things in society, but I need to remind you, don’t let ego dictate you away from good opportunities.

I don’t care if you have a college degree, you’re NOT too good to work a restaurant job. You’re NOT too good to work an unpaid internship with a really cool company. You’re NOT too good to be entitled to a certain salary.

You are one of 1.8 million other undergraduates who have gotten their degrees this year. Congratulations on getting your degree -- it’s been a hard four years of enduring boring lectures and frustrating team projects and you deserve some recognition for working through the pain.

But now it’s time for you to stand out.

Now it’s your job to make your degree the least interesting thing about you.

I'm Graduating In 2 Days

I took an unorthodox path, but the day is finally coming.

Now, there are two paradigms I see in my graduating friends:

  1. Oh my god I’m freaking out, I wish I was doing more school, because I don’t know what I’m doing.
  2. I can’t wait to just be done with school.

I understand both sides.

But the first thought process is what we want to avoid if we want to get anywhere.

You can’t avoid and procrastination on real life forever.

Although you are inheriting the necessary struggles and real life questioning of what you’re doing with your life, the rewards can be so much more fulfilling.

I for one am ready.

I’m ready to eat shit the next 7 years until I’m 30 if I have to. I’m ready to be let go from a job I like if I have to. I’m ready to try my hand at several different industries if the first few jobs out of college don’t work out. I’m ready to work like hell to provide value for whoever I do work with.

But most of all, I’m ready to continue living every day pursuing my mission: helping the world communicate more effectively. The more we chat with our neighbors, the more we honestly communicate with ourselves and others, the more we will understand each other and work together to solve greater problems.

The world is too quiet yet too loud, and too collective yet too segregated. These are the problems we must solve.

For now, this is the end of formal schooling for me. Time to solve some real problems.

Adapt when life tells you no

Imagine you’re on a date, when the perfect thing you set yourself up to do goes awry. The restaurant you wanted to visit is closed early when you arrive, or it starts raining and you can’t go hiking like you planned.

What do you do in this situation? Just call it a day and rain-check?

No. You improvise.

You come up with new plans. If the restaurant you visit is closed, you go on Google or Yelp to find another interesting restaurant nearby. If it’s raining, you plan a movie marathon inside with hot cocoa instead.

Whether it’s your date, or your boss, or your coworkers or your friends, people are counting on you to adapt to the situation. They’re looking to you to step up to the plate and come up with new ideas should the old ones fail.

So what if that great idea you came up doesn’t work in practice. You have more ideas. So you have to use them and learn how to adapt. You have to accept that life is going to tell you no — even when you really want things.

It’s all about reframing the past as an opportunity for the future.

Getting used to being told no when you wanted yes is a life-skill that will make you indispensable in the workplace and in life. People want to work with and be around people who know how to deal with setbacks and adapt to new situations with new variables.

Adapt.

Limit Your Options In Order To Get More

 Photo by  Matese Fields  on  Unsplash

All of our lives, people have told us that we can do anything we want to if we try. While great as an inspirational quote, a more realistic quote would be:

Choose 3-5 things to be really great at. Double down on getting better at them. Explore with your free time.

If you commit to a select few things, those things will grow exponentially. I know it may seem like you’re cutting off your potential options. Commitment is scary. But you will have a bunch of free time to explore while simultaneously growing expertise in a few areas.

Don’t be a transient being who half-asses their commitment to numerous groups and activities.

Be a whole-hearted being who pours all of their effort into a select few activities.

While you should be exploring as much as you can in your 20s, you shouldn’t forget to get good at something. Ironically, getting really good at something useful opens up multiple opportunities for you to do more exploration.

I Tried 3-Month Goals. Here's What Happened.

Some of us are born to be long-term goal makers (maybe those who work in health, or those who research with a large scope, or those who train for the olympics), while others are more short-term.

The way I will describe it is short-term goal makers set the scope of their goals to be 1-2 months each, while long-term goal makers can set their goals to be 3-12 months each. Neither is superior over the other. Just different for different stages of life.

My theory is that the younger you are, the more short-term you will be in order to be flexible and acquire as many unique experiences as you can. As you get older, you naturally look more long-term as responsibilities pile on.

At this current stage in my life, I happen to be a short-term person.

I like putting in lots of effort upfront on something, have a pressing deadline, and seeing the rewards soon after.

I get a certain motivation at having pressing deadlines. It might be that last minute procrastination technique that so many students use to accomplish their work.

My effort is best managed when used at the start of an exciting new project. Maintaining effort during a project is possible, but more difficult over a certain period (over 8 weeks?). Then effort begins to ween.

The rewards that come after give me satisfaction and motivation for the next challenge. I bring in all of the ideas I had learning from the previous projects to innovate on the new projects or goals I create.

The Test

But I wanted to try something new. I spent the first quarter of this year attacking my goals in a 3-month chunk. This was a test of my ability to challenge my goals in a long-term frame.

Some things I noticed:

  1. the quarter felt extremely long
  2. I began losing motivation halfway through
  3. My results suffered, aka I procrastinated things because I had “90 days to finish”
  4. Iteration was difficult because I didn’t want to stray too far from my initial goals
  5. I felt stuck on many things

So it’s safe to say that I’m more short-term than long-term right now.

Rather than chastise myself for being more short-term than long-term, I believe that I should simply adapt to the kind of person I am now. If future thoughts or events convince me to be more long-term, then I will adapt for that as well. But I accept who I am in this present moment.

It was a great learning experience for me, and I think it would be interesting  for anyone else to experiment with 1 month, 2 month, and 3 month goals, to see where they fall on the spectrum.

From here on out, I’ll be attempting a 2-month goal scope in order to transform my health, exceed at my career, and create amazing content for my audience.

I’m excited to share more as I experiment!

Why I’m Done Chasing a Happy Life

I was recently listening to an episode of the Art of Manliness Podcast, which hosted renowned professor Jordan B. Peterson on his book the 12 Rules Of Life.

About 40 minutes into the conversation Peterson says something that resonates with me strongly (and this is slightly paraphrased):

To pursue a happy life is childish.

There’s going to be suffering anyways. You want a goal that makes your life worth it. To live your life in a manner that justifies its suffering.

If you’re looking for meaning in your life, it’s simple: there’s chaos to confront, order to establish and revivify, and evil to constrain.

And I think that relates with Simon Sinek’s idea of Finding Your Why. Your Why is the reason that justifies all of the setbacks. It keeps you motivated throughout the struggle of life.

Pursuing happiness and a stress-free life is impossible. There will always be struggle, and pain to attain the things that are truly valuable. We have to explore life, practice our crafts, build discipline, and be courageous in our moments of fear so that we can live honestly.

These are sacrifices we must make to have a fulfilling life.

To quote Bruce Lee, “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”.

Let's struggle together towards a future worth living.

Why A Former Night Owl Became an Early Bird

 Photo by  Chris Spiegl  on  Unsplash

When I was a kid, I loved staying up late.

I would play video games and get my homework done at the same time. Super efficient I know.

I think this is how I tricked myself into thinking I was a night person.

Middle school me thought cool people stayed up at night and lame adults slept early and woke up early.

But that was just culture playing a trick on me. As a kid, I wanted to rebel against the norm, so if the norm was waking up early and doing my job, then I wanted the opposite of that: aka fighting against my natural circadian rhythm as a human.

But I suffered for this.

I wasn’t getting the things I wanted done. I felt tired throughout the day. The human body was designed to react to the chemicals that sunlight releases to wake us up. When computer screens interfere with that natural chemical reaction, we end up unlocking the ability to work late at night — but that doesn’t mean we should.

Advantages of Being an Early Bird

Early Birds have more discipline. Try waking up sometime between 5-7 AM every day. It’s a challenge that early birds adhere to consistently. And in conquering a mini-challenge every day, we train our discipline to handle more difficult things.

I understand it sounds awful to some people “what ew, I don’t want to wake up that early”. But discipline gets you what you want, and getting up early helps you get more discipline.

Early Birds have more quiet time to focus. When you wake up earlier than the norm, you have this period of quiet in the morning that is beautiful. No one is rushing you, no one is bothering you. It’s just you doing what you want to do.

This is the perfect time to write, exercise, meditate, or work on that passion project of yours. No one will ask you to run an errand or text you at this time.

Early Birds have guilt-free nights to do what they want. If you deliberately push your hardest work towards the early morning, then by the time night time rolls around, you can celebrate each night fully. Night Owls push things off until it’s late at night, whereas Early Birds get their work done immediately as soon as they wake up.

They are allowed the spontaneous nights while also making progress on their responsibilities/goals.

Early Birds will make more consistent progress on their goals. When you have the discipline and time in the morning to prioritize your tasks, you tend to get sustained success. Simply taking a step every day to improve is a surefire way to long-term benefits.

Disadvantages of Being an Early Bird

Early Birds can’t always spend crazy nights out. If you have friends who like to go out on late night adventures and taco runs, you’re going to miss out on these.

Early Birds put in more effort upfront. It takes time to build discipline and habits. It’s hard to stick to it when you want to sleep in.

Conclusion

I hope that helped explain why I’m an Early Bird now.

You don’t have to be an Early Bird to get your best work done, but it has a lot of advantages over being a Night Owl.

If you are serious about losing weight, getting fit, or writing your first novel, then I don’t think there’s a better way to do it than getting it done in the morning.

Balancing Chaos and Routine

 Photo by  Linus Nylund  on  Unsplash

A topic that has come up often recently in my life has been the balance between taking a leap of faith, and staying with the predictable.

Some interesting examples:

  • My sister, who wants to take a nomadic approach to her job for a year
  • My friend who wakes up every morning without a plan or routine, and
  • Myself who has sometimes skirted with trying to make my entire life routine and “optimized”

In each day we can choose how much chaos we invite into our life.

Chaos in itself is not bad.

Chaos to me is simply the unpredictable. The things we can’t plan for. The spontaneous dates. The job opportunity you didn’t think would respond to you. The girl you meet at the coffee shop randomly. There are things in our life that we cannot control and for that reason, when we do try to control them, life will smack us down and remind us that we can’t.

We have to make room in our lives for the spontaneous events. We have to be comfortable with the chaos, because that’s just how life is. If we try to resist chaos, we decline the world’s best opportunities because we aren’t willing to take a chance outside of efficiency.

However, too much chaos leads to lack of focus and mental instability. The human brain — when it doesn’t know when it’s going to get its next meal or next sleep — will constantly be on alert. The ability to innovate or create will be stifled because of a worry about other things that don’t matter. We don’t need to focus on the chaotic nature of bills, chores, and errands if we plan ahead. We can focus on the task at hand when we introduce more order into our lives.

I feel that too many college students in particular are swept along the chaos without order at all in their lives. They adjust their lives based on outside forces.

On the other side of the coin, there are others like me who try to make their whole life routine in order to be efficient, and invite no chaos at all. They adjust their lives to predictably effective, but not necessarily exciting. This is also potentially harmful to the human psyche.

Too much order results in resistance to something out of routine, and a generally restrictive response to your curiosity in life. You push down your own mind’s natural desire to take risks and innovate. It means staying in and saving money because you don’t want to accept the chaotic nature of the potential fun of a night out.

Over the years, I’ve swayed away from the highly ordered life.

I suggest now that a truly free life needs a balance of both: chaos and routine.

You need enough routine where you get what you want to get accomplished, but not too much where it restricts your growth.

You need enough chaos where you get to experience the spontaneous nature of life, but not too much where it drags you along a path that you can’t control.

You need both.

I find that having a morning routine with gym, meditation, and breakfast helps you be chaotic in other parts of your life (such as innovating at work, or going out at night guilt-free). Grounding myself in routine habits such as these allows me the freedom and flexibility to partake in chaos, confident that I did what I wanted to do today with complete control. Whatever else happens, happens. I won’t try to control the outcome for those events.

That’s what it all comes down to.

You need to understand what activities whose outcomes you want to control, and willingly abandon control of other activities.

When you understand this principle, you’ll gain the sense of confidence that comes with knowing you are on your path to a better you. And without being restrictive of the burning desire to ensure that everything in your life has a payoff.

With chaos, you don’t know if the result is going to be good or bad — but the good that comes from chaos can be so good, that the bad isn’t even that bad when you think about it.

Take risks. Embrace chaos. Ground yourself in routine.

It’s how you get the best of both worlds.