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I have two qualitative goals this year: 1) using words economically and 2) making better decisions.
What I mean by the latter is picking well and not questioning myself. What makes this challenging is that collecting data points is what makes you better at picking, but collecting data points is also exactly what kills your idealism. This is a shame since there’s a whole asset class of projects in life that only work if you are idealistic, fully believing there’s no way said thing won’t work: relationships, startups, religion, etc.
This is why serial dating usually doesn’t lead to your being a better long-term partner. It’s also why it’s useful to be delusional about your startup’s likelihood for success. Internalizing the odds is good only insofar as it helps you place and then race against yourself. It’s not helpful if it hinders your ability to believe unrealistic things and produce above-average outcomes. So the question becomes “How does one make good, grounded decisions without becoming jaded?”
I think the answer is with a little bit of faith and a whole lot of comfortability navigating tradeoffs. Instead of looking away when you’re faced with the fact that all paths will be hard, size them up, stare right back, and say “I choose this kind of hard.” Then it’s about not questioning yourself — which is mostly a matter of taking responsibility for the difficult emotions that arise (usually doubt in disguise). As Julian Barnes put it, everything “hurts as much as it is worth.”
I’m unconvinced that making better decisions necessitates knowing all of the options out there. In the areas of life where should an idea survive it will be against all odds, choosing wisely often looks more like carefully assessing the pros/cons of the options you’ve already collected and then committing to the fiction of one working fully.
To my first goal: what I’m really trying to say is that I refuse to live life on the fence.
Women See in Third Person
By me. I finally wrote this so that I can now shut up about the topic.
Joy by Zadie Smith
"We were heading toward all that makes life intolerable, feeling the only thing that makes it worthwhile. That was joy.”
Why is Everything so Ugly? by N+1
An oldie but a goodie since the question remains evergreen.
Energetic Aliens Among Us by Stephen Malina
Why are some people endowed with such exorbitant amounts of energy?
Learning by Writing by Holden Karnofsky
Writing is thinking and thinking is a craft that you can get better at.
A Normal Day in the Unusual Life of Michael Keaton by Tom Chiarella
Perfect subject <> form factor fit.
Paprika by Satoshi Kon (film)
Utterly insane anime movie. Reality-warping in the very best way.
Giorgio by Daft Punk (song)
Big fan of music that incorporates spoken word well and this is a prime example.
Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp
Don’t let the cover and blurb deter you — this book is about far more than eating disorders. It’s a vivid and shockingly accurate depiction of what it is to be female.
Desires that arise in agitation are more aligned with your ego. Desires that arise in stillness are more aligned with your soul.