25 things I’ve learned about life the hard way before turning 25
I've decided to reflect on "what the heck have I actually understood in my life so far" and share some of the findings with you. #productivity #health #startups
Since I don't personally enjoy lengthy lists without any order, I've decided to break this down into a few categories:
Boring, but very important basics
Here we go, enjoy:
Boring but very important basics
Taking it easy. Life only makes sense if you're trying to enjoy it: pursuing curiosity, having fun, feeling happy, and spending time with people you have a special connection with, etc. We don't really know whether life is real or just a simulation/one of infinite multiverses. I try to remind myself of this every day because there is a choice.
You don't need much money to live comfortably, especially if you're not alone (have a partner) and don't have kids. Working in tech, you're likely able to save >50% of your earnings. Money is a resource, and you need it to be freer with what you want to do. Setting up "money goals" can make sense in the short term, but might not make life meaningful in the long run.
No one, except for maybe your family and a couple of friends/colleagues, really cares about you (as long as you don't cross societal norms). This is both bad (you're not special) and good (you're free to do whatever you want and make as many mistakes as you want). But mostly good because, when you break out of your mind, you break free from limitations.
Transferring thoughts from your mind/brain into reality. As a thinker, I have always struggled with holding a world of unrealized ideas in my head. Recently, I've started embodying the principle of taking action as much as possible, as trial and error is the fastest way to learn and grow.
Cultivating "present-moment awareness," or as some may call it, mindfulness. I've noticed that I feel best when I maximize this sensation throughout the days/weeks, whether through practicing deliberate meditation or other means of being intentional about what's going on within and around me (breathing exercises, sports, etc.).
Working with a psychotherapist. For most of my life, I was curious about therapy but felt like I didn't have an issue to address, so I never tried. When I did try, I discovered a hidden array of topics I was unaware of, mostly due to a lack of emotional sensitivity. Since then, I've learned a lot more about how I operate.
Everyone always has time, even if they say otherwise. It's just a matter of priorities. If someone tells you they don't have time to do X, they likely just don't want to do it or feel guilty about neglecting something else. The same applies to your own reasoning.
My notifications are always turned off (except for critical ones, like calls). I check things on my own terms, and it helps me with focus and concentration. More on this here.
Weekly reflection/planning with a set of predefined questions is a powerful way to track where your life is going. This is true both for yourself and for your business/startup if you have one. I usually do this first thing on Monday in a coffee shop, where I go right after waking up.
Every once in a while, go fully offline for a few days or better a week. It will help rewire your brain from "unconscious" addictions. I usually practice this during vacations and will write a separate post about it.
Sleep is your number one priority, and you shouldn't neglect it in favor of anything else. If you do, you'll be cognitively impaired and will actually produce less with more time. I try to spend a minimum of 8.5 hours per day in bed, cooling my room and removing any light. Overall, I'm a huge geek and track my sleep using Oura/Garmin.
You only need to eat twice per day — and say no to any kind of snacking. Not only is this a proven fasting technique (I eat breakfast around 9 am and lunch/dinner around 4 pm, leaving me with at least 16 hours of no food intake), but it's also easier on the brain (fewer decisions to make) and saves time.
Learning how to breathe through my nose most of the time (instead of using my mouth). If you open your mouth during the night, consider using mouth tapes. If you have a deviated septum, undergo septoplasty. Being able to breathe normally through the nose has been a significant factor in my day-to-day life enjoyment.
Solo-founding is a very challenging and bumpy road. If you can find one or multiple partners in crime, absolutely do it. Be intentional and cautious when choosing your co-founders. I usually suggest completing the "Co-founder questionnaire" and comparing answers side-by-side, discussing any points that stand out. I also favor doing trial projects together, as it's usually the best way to determine compatibility.
Raise funding only when you absolutely need it. It will be easier, on better terms, and you'll know precisely how to spend the money. If you're raising funds, make sure to seek help from founders in your network. More on this here.
Avoid over-hiring. Stay as lean as possible for as long as possible (at least before achieving product-market fit). Pivots become more complicated with more people involved.
AI will be the single most significant driving factor of change in the world. If we solve AGI (or achieve intelligence close to AGI), we'll likely solve most of the world's problems.
If you live in a large city, owning a car is a liability. I realized that I passionately dislike car-centric societies (like, for example, most of the US) and prefer the European "car-free" lifestyle. I still enjoy driving and mostly do so through car-sharing and rentals.
The notion of "owning your place in the world" is so old. I optimize for freedom of movement and lifestyle optimization rather than saving up for a long-term investment.
I love science fiction because of all the fantasizing about the future. Books like "Project Hail Mary" or "The Three-Body Problem" are among my favorites.
Since discovering pet sitting, I realized that it's an amazing alternative to Airbnb/hotels when traveling. Not only do you save on accommodation, but you also get a more nuanced local experience (and get to spend fun time with animals). More on this here.
A good breakfast is the foundation for a great day; it should be something you look forward to. Don't settle for a subpar breakfast—learn how to cook a proper one and experiment. Make breakfast a sacred time for spending time with your family.
Fashion is mostly made up. No one cares what you wear as long as you're a cool person. I strive for minimalism—having a diverse yet small wardrobe that allows me to comfortably dress for any occasion. Uniqlo is the best fashion brand, period.
The traditional educational system is already outdated. No one cares about your diploma (I have never shown it to anyone since finishing my bachelor's degree and don't even know where it is). Focus on learning, trying things, and making connections rather than striving for grades.
Don't be afraid to lose people as you grow and your paths diverge. You'll always find new friends if you're curious and willing to be proactive about connecting with others.
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