writing advice to yourself

Write advice to yourself or other people.  Review it regularly.  Edit it.  Refine it.  It worked for Marcus Aurelius and it worked for Bruce Lee.

I’ve started a list of advice or things I know.  Perhaps things I believe I know.  Some of these are lessons I’ve learned the hard way, others are lessons I’ve observed in others.

This process reminds us of what’s most important and helps us to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

I will edit and add to this over time.  Try making your own list and I think it will be worth your time.

Here is mine:


Go for a walk in the morning and decide what would make the day a successful day.

Get proximity to successful, happy, and rich people. Be cool. They will likely influence you automatically.

Look behind you. The Romans believed that the future comes from behind.

Do one thing really well. Solve one problem with one solution.

Work to reduce decision making for small tasks to reduce decision fatigue. Make decisions quickly.

Focus on the one thing most likely to get maximum results. Forget everything else.

Track your time manually so you have to see it and deal with it. Use a spreadsheet or paper.

Time however, is not our limitation.  It is mental space and attention.  Attention is what you’re managing.  There’s all kinds of time.  Attention is limited.  Track time to evaluate attention.

Use your phone to set reminders for really important things automatically.

Turn off push notifications for everything else.

Your phone should not be the first thing you see in the morning nor the last thing you see at night.

Spend the last hour of the day (or all day) without electronic devices.

Make decisions about what you want to do ideally on the front end rather than tracking what you do on the back end. Planning a diet vs. recording a diet. Making decisions under stress vs making decisions when relaxed and clear headed.

Stop clouding your mind with decisions that have to be made every day. What to wear, what to eat, etc. Make the decision once and let your mind work on more important tasks.

Wear the same thing every day. That same thing should make you feel good.

You mind is a made of physical things. Neurons, chemicals, electricity. Your physical state, capacity for physical stress, sleep, diet, experiences, determine the bulk of your mental state. Do not rely upon cognition to make change. Behavior and the physical world are your key to changing affect and cognition. Your mental performance IS physical performance.

You can’t perform under pain, stress, etc. without adequate capacity. That capacity is physical.

Control what you’re primed by, who you are around, the ideas and problems you focus on.

Stop preparing, and start doing. You can learn while you do it.

Just in time learning. You can learn faster if you have something your working on rather than some future idea that may or may not happen. Improves retention, wastes less time.

Do things manually at first.
You don’t have to build an elaborate system to get started. Get one client and do everything the hard way. Only after business is over running your ability to do things manually do you have to worry about automation.

Use scripts or software to do what you would normally do manually, but only after you have established success manually. Don’t put a bunch of effort in on the front end to find out there’s no demand. Then productize. Automate. Streamline. Checklists and procedures to remove any thought from the equation.

Do things in batch all at once. Interruption and switching between tasks costs too much.

Say no to things you aren’t really excited about doing. Hell yes or no. The mediocre robs you of the great.

When evaluating an idea make sure the math scales

  • If you’re looking for a restaurant location, look at how many seats, average price of meal, average turnover time, multiply it out. Will even max capacity pay the rent?
  • How many potential sales, how much does it cost to reach them, what is a conversion rate to expect?
  • How much can you produce in an hour, will that ever pay you enough?
  • Is the price high enough?
  • Are the costs low enough?

Sell first. Get paid up front. Test sales.
If something is worth doing, sales will come easy and dollars will be high. This makes delivery easy.

If you have to drag people along kicking and screaming, you’re wasting your time. Don’t go back to the same people over and over. If they were in, they’d be in on day one.

How hard is it to change your own behavior? Ok, how much time should you waste trying to change other people, whose behavior you can’t control?

You will waste your life trying to make those around into who you want them to be. Instead change who you are around.

Practice autonomy in small ways in order to inoculate yourself from the stress of making hard decisions when you need to.

You must have control over your work and you must enjoy it in order to be successful at it in the long term.

Live in accordance with your nature. If something is forced it will not be sustainable.

You weren’t made to spend 10 hours a day staring at a screen in a cubicle arguing over email. If you do this your body will fall apart. As your body falls apart so will your brain. As your brain goes so does your chances of success or happiness.

Focus more on what you’re naturally good at. If something is holding you back, recognize it and fix it, but you don’t have to be great at everything. You need to be good enough at the right thing, one time.

You only have to be really right once.

  • Mark Zuckerberg thought that facebook was going to be a college directory and that was it.
  • Bill Gates didn’t think the internet had any potential.  Seriously.
  • History is filled with examples of people like this.  They were right about one thing one time and made so much money that it allows them to be consistently wrong over and over again in big ways because their underlying model was right the first time. They had the resources to correct any mistakes and to try a lot of other things, most of which will fail.

If you only have to be right once, your goal must be to allow yourself many opportunities to be wrong and still keep going.

Be famous. Do everything in public. Record what you’re working on, the challenges you face, the cool things you do. Other people are facing the same problems. They not only will identify you, by doing things in public, they can provide you with solutions.

Do things worthy of making you famous.

The audience you build allows you to multiply everything you do across all those people. In increases your impact. It makes it easy to sell something. It makes it easy to come up with products and services. They will ask you or you can ask them.

Ask yourself first what you would like to be famous for, and then go learn that.

As a famous person you will be drawn towards the large number of people in the center.  It is those on the tails that are the most valuable.  Don’t let the average dilute you.

Spend the time most people spend watching TV, paying attention to the news, and doing other unimportant things, learning something useful or doing something in real life.

Don’t concern yourself with the news. It makes other people’s stories more interesting when you don’t know what’s going on outside your world. The news causes completely unnecessary stress and it’s negatively biased.

Refuse to work with people you don’t like.
Fire customers that cause you to much stress or that cost too much to service.

It takes a very small number of people (one) to ruin an environment. One person in the office is all it takes to make everyone miserable. Don’t tolerate these people.  Take it as far as you need to take it.

When someone is out of line, don’t let it slide too far.
If you let someone treat your poorly for too long in order to avoid conflict, things will get so bad that you then have to have a huge fight in order to correct them. What could have been very small is now a real problem that may compromise your relationship, business, etc.

Always be clear and specific about what you expect from other people. You can not expect from them what you haven’t articulated…usually many times and in writing.  Also plan for them to fail you.

Negotiate contracts in minute detail on the front end so that you aren’t negotiating after work is done, investments are made, and you have no bargaining power. This is especially important if the relationship between people is important as it avoids conflict later on.

Pay all bills automatically. Over pay them.
Paying an extra $5 on your phone bill every month means that you don’t have to worry about a check getting lost or a billing error as you build up a credit over time.
Paying them automatically means you won’t be late and you free up your mental energy to focus on other things.

Pay too much for everything.  The effort spent getting a deal is only a distraction and attention is your most limited resource.

Decide in advance what your time is worth. Do not let others tell you how much you will be paid. They may make offers, but it is never their decision. It is yours.

Keep separate bank accounts.
Spouses should have the freedom and autonomy to buy what they want, but only after bills are automatically paid. People value things differently. Having to justify every expense makes you feel like you’re being watched. This breeds resentment. Most marriages end in divorce, most of them over money.

Don’t choose a career path that is both unfulfilling and doesn’t pay well. People choose random careers based on mostly what has been put in front of them. Being paid well doesn’t necessarily mean working harder or longer. Doing fulfilling work doesn’t mean you have to take a pay cut.

In order to be successful you will probably have to build a team of successful people to support you. You need them to be paid well and well taken care of. You must make it easy for them to succeed and you must teach them how to do it. You won’t do it alone.

Put employees before customers.

Owners make more than employees in the long run.

Volume usually outpaces intensity. You can’t just put in a huge effort a few times. You must do things over and over, usually the hard way.  This applies to working out, learning, etc.

You must have consistency. Consistency doesn’t come from effort, it comes from systems.  It comes from your environment.  Practice must be built in, automatic, thoughtless, effortless.

What do you really want?

  • What do the actions of your past suggest is most important to you?
  • What desires do you have that don’t align with your past behavior.
  • What future path does your past behavior suggest rather than your imagination?
  • If you don’t like these answers, change your existing behavior.

What skills are you missing to be able to do what you want?  What skills do others have who possess what you want?

Use social media as an output not as entertainment.

How much time do you consume vs produce? Are you watching others do things you could be doing if you weren’t watching them.

Practice doing without things you think you need.

The purpose of high education is first and foremost to meet other people and build relationships. You won’t use most of what you learn in the classroom, but you will use everything you learn outside it.

The people you know and whether they like you will determine what opportunities you get.

Spend more time doing the things you really want to do.

Getting very clear about what is important allows you to stop caring so much about things that are unimportant.

Most people are basically afraid of their superiors. Someone’s position does not make them important. You can replace them as quickly as they can replace you. There is infinite opportunity right in front of you. You do not need them. You are choosing to do business with them as they are choosing to do business with you, making you both equals.

Many problems can be solved by graded exposure over time.

There are few actual rules. The police aren’t coming for you. No one is watching you. Do what you want.


Spend time outside.

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