Learnings from being on my own

Ernest was a baller.

I’m always looking to learn and grow as much as I can, and so am now working for myself. I’m currently consulting for other businesses, doing product development and/or data analysis, since I have a generalist software + statistics background. I see it as a great way to work with different, awesome people, on different problems, while learning about different industries: it’s a way for me to take lots of little bets in my journey of doing interesting things, finding my passion/what I want to focus on, and becoming the best version of myself.

Here are some of the biggest things I’ve learned so far, even though it’s only been a short amount of time. Hopefully they are helpful and mostly generalizable, but everyone’s life is different so your mileage may vary.

1. Reflect on when in your life you’ve felt happiest and most fulfilled.

I looked back on my life and thought about when I really felt the most alive, happy, and fulfilled. For me, it came down to experiences where I manifested my dreams, despite any perceived risk. Of course, I could not have done it without the help and support of friends and family and partners-in-crime–I feel life is so much less meaningful without others–but it was not being dependent on anyone but myself in taking action to maximize my potential that made me feel fulfilled*.

For example, one of the first pieces of software I ever developed was a math flashcards application built in Visual Basic, with cheesy cartoon characters and everything. As a middle schooler who had just learned how to program, I was super proud of it and really excited whenever I got to work on it, because I had come up with the idea and it was up to me to manifest and build my own “dream”.

Another time when I felt happy and fulfilled was the period of a year or two of learning how to pick up girls. That itself is a story for another time, but again, I loved the experience of facing and overcoming perceived risk, via action, to become the best version of myself. There’s no doubt that I felt a lot of discomfort in a countless number of situations. But, especially in situations where the perceived risk is high but the real risk is low, the pain of regret usually hurts more than the pain of failure.

As a result, my overarching goal in life is to maximize the time I spend on these types of experiences.

What experiences have made you feel the most fulfilled in life?

2. Think about death.

Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, the ancient Stoics, and many others have used the tactic of thinking about death when examining life.

I like Bezos’s thought experiment the best for decision making, and I use it all the time: visualize that you are old and on your deathbed–would you regret having made decision A vs. decision B (vs. decision C, etc.)?

We all die someday. The inevitability is out of our control. So why not try to live the best life you can live?

3. Do things that make you happy, every day.

About a week after leaving my job, one random a day, I felt like I was in a deep rut: negative emotions like fear and self-doubt were spiraling out of control in my head. I needed to change things up–being in such a bad mood wasn’t moving me forward in life at all.

Taking 10 minutes to meditate helped (Tara Brach has some great guided meditations, Headspace is also great for beginners).

I hadn’t listened to any music in several days, so I put on some EDM, changed my environment a little, and cranked on work for a bit at a coffee shop. Those of you who’ve worked in a library and/or coffee shop before, it’s strangely motivating isn’t it?

I went to the gym in the late afternoon, which also helped because it took my mind off negative emotions and gave me sense of progress.

Later that night, I went to an event met new people. It was great to put myself in their shoes for a little and understand what they’re up to, and what they care about most.

Thanks for reading!

The new journey has only just begun, but those are the practices and mindsets I’ve implemented that have helped me so far. As always, advice is useless if you don’t internalize it, make it part of your mindset, and practice it.

Have a safe and relaxing holiday season!

 

*Reminds me of Rand’s Objectivism, I guess

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