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Know when to change course
One of the patterns I noticed in smart people is that they pivot decisively.
Andrew Yang left his job at a law firm in less than a year.1 Morgan Housel didn’t even complete his internship at an investment bank.2 Both jobs earn good money, but they were quick to realize those jobs are not for them, even though they’ve spent years pursuing them.
People with Asian parents like me are often told to make the best of what’s available. Exercise your perseverance, and one day you’ll see the light (fireworks maybe) at the end of the tunnel.
But what if that’s not the place I want to go? What if I don’t care about the fireworks other people set up for me?
People say it’s a problem of costs and benefits. You pivot when the cost of staying course is too high. We all know that.
But if the alternative is obvious, everyone will pivot. Competition increases. Benefits decreases. It’s not fun anymore.
The hard thing is to change course when you don’t know what the better options are. And even harder is to step back and start again.
How can we let go of the current option and pursue something different?
Leap of faith, maybe?
I think we need to see the world differently.
When we’re presented with an opportunity that earns us money and social esteem but we don’t like it, we’re afraid we’ll go broke and get rejected by society when we quit. We don’t want to admit we spend years pursuing something we don’t end up liking. We worry we may never find a better opportunity again.
But these are just prehistoric humans talking in our heads. We no longer live in a world of scarcity. Our identity and survival are no longer determined by a small tribe. The modern world is abundant and full of opportunities.
Why am I so sure?
Look what smart people do. Understand why they do what they do.
Ignore what most people tell you. It takes generations for new ideas to become mainstream. And when they do, they’re no longer the best for the new environment.
More importantly, generate evidence from your experiments.
My confidence comes from small wins. I never thought someone would read what I write. The universe will help you if you truly want it.
We need a bit of optimism. And I’ll continue to convince myself by putting myself out in this abundant world.
Ideas behind these thoughts
⛰️ If we want to climb to the highest hill, nobody would start by climbing the lower ones. But in life, it’s much more difficult to see the terrain and know what we actually want. Even if we know, the lure of the current hill can be too strong to ignore.
Chris Dixon writes,
There is a natural human tendency to make the next step an upward one. He ends up falling for a common trap highlighted by behavioral economists: people tend to systematically overvalue near term over long term rewards. This effect seems to be even stronger in more ambitious people. Their ambition seems to make it hard for them to forgo the nearby upward step.
🤔 One article I kept coming back to in the past months is Quit Your Job by Wolf Tivy. It’s my favorite article of the year.
The world is full of ideas and opportunities to explore, but it takes time outside of structure to even adjust your eyes to the landscape of possibility…
If all you end up doing is nursing the money, without ever exercising the authority to decide on which future it shall be spent, it might as well be someone else’s…
Quitting your job, in the full sense I have described here, is a bit like quitting that agricultural life to return to a life of adventure on the wild frontier. It is a much less certain existence and a more violent one. But the combination of leisurely surplus, mortal intensity, and demand for novel virtue is where you will find life at its healthiest and highest. It is where we will find the most important destinies.
A Tiny Thought
Writing is a continued self-education.
I always got reminded of the things I’ve written.
When I first wrote about something, my understanding was not deep enough. I did not have direct experience. I did not act on what I suggested. Or I didn’t see how it could be applied to other areas in my life.
But as time goes by, I start to pick up those ideas more and apply them to new situations.
If I have not written them down, I would have forgotten.
It’s not about how much we consume, but how much we digest. Derek Sivers says, “If more information was the answer, then we'd all be billionaires with perfect abs.”
What I’m pondering
I find myself using ChatGPT a lot this week for learning. The quality of information is much higher than what I googled. And I like that I can ask follow-up questions.
It will transform the way we consume information. I keep asking myself, “What value am I providing if AI can give better answers?”
Seth Godin says, “If your work isn’t more useful or insightful or urgent than GPT can create in 12 seconds, don’t interrupt people with it.”
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Have a great week,
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Smart People Should Build Things by Andrew Yang
The Psychology of Money By Morgan Housel