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20 Ideas That Changed My Life

5 min read

Here are 20 ideas that changed my life.

My hope is that these ideas will help you think better and live happier, more productive lives.

1. Via Negativa

Instead of adding things to solve your problems, remove negative things. What you don't do determines what you can do. For example, you can improve your diet by simply removing junk food. Addition by subtraction.

2. Systems over goals

You don't get results by setting goals. You get your results by sticking to a system. By focusing on what you must do, you'll achieve your goals. For example, you don't win a football match by thinking about your goals. You train and play well, and the score takes care of itself. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

3. Parkinson's Law

Work expands to fill the time allotted to it. If you have 1 week to complete a task, it will take 1 week. If you have 1 day to complete it, it will take 1 day. When you procrastinate, do you notice how you can complete a task the day before a deadline when you actually have a week to do it? Set proper deadlines.

4. 80/20 Rule

For most things in life, 80 per cent of the output comes from 20 per cent of the input. Sometimes this ratio is even more skewed into 85/15, 90/10. For optimisation, focus on the 20% of the input that brings 80% of the output. For example, 80% of your procrastination comes from 20% of your activities. My 20% includes Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and Netflix. By blocking them when I work, I'm 80% less likely to procrastinate. It's impractical to be 100% averse to distractions, so focus on the ones that have the highest impact instead.

5. Identity-based habits

You act according to your identity. If you believe that you are a healthy person, you will make healthier choices to preserve your identity. If you believe that you are studious, you will read every day.

Everything we do is to protect the stories they tell themselves. If you want to improve your health, ask yourself: what would a healthy person do?

Think about who you want to become and prove it to yourself by taking small steps towards your desired identity.

6. Four Laws of Behaviour Change

To build a good habit, make it obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. To break a bad habit, do make it invisible, unattractive, hard, and unsatisfying.

Trying to build a writing habit?

  • Make it obvious by scheduling a fixed time to write
  • Make it attractive by joining a community of writers
  • Make it easy by starting by writing for only 2 minutes a day
  • Make it satisfying by tracking your daily writing progress

7. Dichotomy of Control

2000 years ago, Epictetus said, "Happiness begins with one clear principle,"  focusing on what's within our control. If you want to be happy, focus on the two things you can control: your thoughts and actions. Don't let things outside of your control, such as your exam results or promotion, upset you.

For example, maybe you're working at a coffee shop, and someone is being loud and disturbing your focus. Instead of focusing on what you can't control, such as their actions, focus on what you can do. You can move to another seat or put some headphones on.

8. Active Recall

If you want to retain information better, you need to constantly test yourself. Studying for an exam? Do practice questions. Learned something in a lecture? Teach your peers after the lecture ends. Testing yourself is how you can see what you know and what you don't know. You learn by pulling things out of your brain, not by putting things inside your brain.

9. Spaced Repetition

To retain information infinitely, you need to repeat the review of the information over spread out sessions. Instead of doing a mass repetition of information such as cramming, space out the interval between each repetition. Using flashcard apps such as Anki or keeping a schedule such as the Leitner system can help you commit things to memory.

10. Read to learn from the mistakes of others

Humans have been recording their knowledge on paper for more than 5,000 years. Whatever problem you're facing now is probably addressed in a book by someone smarter than you. Instead of wasting your time by learning from trial and error, seek guidance in books.

11. Doing things that scale

If you want to increase your impact, do things that can scale. Writing, coding and selling products are all things that can easily scale thanks to the Internet. For example, by writing online, you can reach more people around the world.

12. Hell Yeah or No

When faced with an opportunity, do you go Hell Yeah? If not, then say no. Practice saying no more often so you can focus on the things that really matter - the things that make you go Hell Yeah!

13. Regret Minimization

Work on what you'd regret not doing when you're old and looking back at your life. This is how to maximise your long-term happiness.

14. First Law of Motion

Newton's First Law of Motion states that an object at rest will remain at rest. An object in motion will remain in motion. This applies to humans as well. If you want to get something done, start by doing something small and trust that your momentum will bring you forward.

15. Mind like water

Our brain is for having ideas, not for storing them. Capture all the thoughts in your head by writing them down or typing them instead of remembering them. You'll be able to focus more on the things at hand and not get distracted by the things in your head. By capturing your thoughts, you'll be at peace and can respond to whatever life throws at you, much like water.

16. Opportunity cost

By reading this post, you're choosing not to do something else. This applies to everything in life. Everything we do has a cost. By choosing to do something, you're actively choosing not to do another thing.

17. Environment is the invisible hand that shapes your behaviour

Losing weight is easier when you don't have access to junk food. Working out is easier when the gym is in front of your house. Quitting smoking is easier when you hang out with non-smokers. Your brain adjusts your behaviour based on your environment. Instead of relying on self-control, design a better environment. Change will happen.

18. Growth mindset

A growth mindset is a belief that everyone can achieve their goals if they work on them. People with a fixed mindset believe that their intelligence and talent are fixed and can't be improved. People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve their intelligence and talent through hard work. Turn fixed mindset statements such as "I can't swim" into "I don't know how to swim yet".

19. Play your own game

Instead of competing with others, play your own game. If you're building a startup, focus on problems no one has solved before. If you're a writer, make your writing unique from others. Winning is easier when you don't have competition.

20. The obstacle is the way

When faced with problems, ask yourself: How can I use this to my advantage? Look for the silver linings you can exploit to achieve success while others complain about the obstacle. Your path might be blocked, but your thoughts and actions are yours to control. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.



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