It's hard to get your mind around opportunity cost. It's kind of staggering when you realize you could be doing literally anything at this moment.
Intellectually, sure, easy to get the mind around. But the full depth of that statement is pretty intense.
And if you're pretty good at -- something, anything really -- then the time you spend screwing around comes at a rather high price. Hopefully you're genuinely enjoying it.
But above and beyond that, opportunity cost hits hard when you spend time finicking over something that's good enough. When you wind up doing only 1/3rd of the actions you could because you're overthinking/overacting, it's really expensive.
Really, really, really expensive.
But it's hard to get your mind around it, really, truly. Easy to get intellectually, hard to fully really truly grasp the implications of.
Aye, this is spot on.
I have three fundamentals in life and I know the exact success blueprint for each of them.
1. Get and stay lean. Success blueprint: paleo+IF diet, NEPA cardio every day (bike to/from work), 3-4 vigorous martial arts and/or barbell sessions every week, track weight.
2. Attain financial independence at an early age. Ie be able to live a somewhat frugal but still comfortable life indefinitely without having to work. Success blueprint: work full time as highly paid IT consultant, test software product (SaaS) ideas in spare time, pay off debts, invest in hedge funds with good risk/reward ratio, train myself to resist consumerism using good design patterns and social support (ie the whole minimalist movement and the ERE folks). And last but not least: get enough SLEEP that I can sustain all of this without having a nervous breakdown.
3. Enjoy life now AND in retrospect. Success blueprint: don't put things off, generate good experiences for memory bank (and record them so sneaky brain can't deny them later), reduce general anxiety by cutting down stimulants and dealing with neuroses/phobias in a sane way, increase hedonic sensitivity by meditation and having feeling good as a priority in life.
That's it. If I only do those things in the coming year it will be my best year ever. 2013 was my best year ever, largely due to being forced by work and other lifestyle factors to only focus on essentials.
I still have a huge problem with chasing non-fundamentals, though. I believe the reason is that I'm wired for novelty-seeking. Novelty-seeking makes me disparage common sense and tried & true success patterns. Novelty seeking makes me yearn for smart fixes and cool knowledge. Novelty seeking makes me bored with being on the right track and slowly-but-surely inching toward victory. Novelty seeking makes me tinker all the time with my schemes and goal. Novelty-seeking makes resent having to do mundane self-improvement. Novelty-seeking makes me stay up late reading blogs and ordering esoteric supplements and buying into the latest lifestyle design fad.
As you say, it's easy to realize intellectually the value of fundamentals and the bad trade-off of giving in to novelty-seeking. I find it's a must to frame the trade-off in emotional terms. Here a few ways I'm doing it:
Writing this comment could itself by viewed as an example of the novelty-seeking, and that would be a correct observation. But, writing this made me list my main anti-novelty mental defenses and saving them to a .txt file, so there was some lasting value at least :)
Random - do you have a social/dating blueprint? Lately I've been focused on the first two fundamentals (getting lean and FI) but haven't really been enjoying life and I think it's because I've neglected my social life. I moved to a new city so I don't have a social circle. Things are more enjoyable when spent with others. Any books or tips on strengthening my "social muscles" and bettering my dating game?
I haven't tested this, but I would say a decent success blueprint for dating would be:
-get off the couch and approach
-max out your looks as much as possible (fashion, body fat, muscle, etc)
-deprogram any PUA beliefs you might have, it's mostly bogus
-go out intelligently: don't go the same old venues all the time, and don't spend excessive time and money in any one of them - if you get stalled in one venue, then leave and go somewhere else
-don't get sucked in to dating sites, if you use them then focus on getting good pictures of yourself and perfecting conversations that lead to dates (as opposed to endless online chatting)
-find role models (on eg online forums) who are good with girls and hang out with them as much as possible in real life
-do whatever it takes to get more experience, don't be afraid of "cheating" by eg travelling to countries where it's easier to get girls
As for building a social circle in general: I really don't know. It's something I'm struggling with myself. I don't really have any friends (at least not where I live locally). My main problems are insanely high standards + not really being interested in socializing for its own sake. The former I don't really want to change. The latter I suspect is caused by neurological wiring, so any solution would probably involve tweaking that.
Thanks Random! Your first bit of advice is fitting as I am sitting on the couch with my laptop reading up on all this advice but not putting it into practice and testing it. I've been online dating for the past few months and I've done well at getting dates. My problem is my anxiety when thinking about escalating things. I know that sooner rather than later is the correct action; I just tend to freeze up. Could use some ice in my veins at that point (or alcohol).
Glad you're back, I missed those comments.
BTW, this is a huge heuristic: enjoy life now and in retrospect. Never thought about that, but it condenses so much in so little. Brilliant.
Cool. Feel free to write down what thoughts that sparked for you. I suspect you're seeing more angles to it than I am.
For me, it just means: my perception of whether I have a good life comes down to my current enjoyment AND my "average memory snapshot" of the past if that makes sense. The brain is very, very selective, and it's like a kaleidoscope: a lot of coloring and distorting going on.
I suspect this has to do with cognitive style: when recalling a gone-by year I don't immediately launch into a verbal narrative; rather, I get a visual flash and a general feeling. So, for me at least, it's very important to optimize that "mental snapshot".
I had a wake-up call when I looked back at 2013 and narrated logically that it was my best year ever yet I couldn't recall a single happy memory. In fact, my "average memory" was of misery and struggle. Surely that's not completely objective.
That's why a big priority now for me is to have more happy experiences AND also lock them down by recording them (diary and photos). I don't want to look back at 2014 and say "man I achieved a lot but I can't remember a single happy day and my average mental snapshot of the year is just pain".
But like I said, it seems that line sparked some interesting thoughts for you, so feel free to share.
Yeah, I mean, it's more like a condensed form of the beliefs I have about happiness.
For example, I don't try to optimize for that mental flash you just mentioned. I too had the problem of looking back at 2013 and not feeling exactly happy about it, but when I went through my notes and checked how much awesome cool stuff I was able to do, I changed my view. I felt I had a meaningful year, which is the most important thing for me.
Trying to optimize for present and remembered happiness is great because it acts like a filter: you won't engage in purely recreational stuff (pleasure based) because you know you won't be proud of them a couple of months down the road.
So, yeah, I guess I'm with Sebastian here: enough low-level happiness to live by and more focused on remembered happiness.
This is an excellent post. Of course, knowledge is rarely the issue, as you have noted. The fundamentals are well-known. The biggest benefits I have gleaned are from reflecting on lists like this at regular intervals to make it stick.
Tracking and maintaining good notes on your tests is also a pretty decent way to get that "brag" hit if you still want to pursue it. When you have solid information about what worked and what didn't, people will want to learn about that.
I know most people would recommend you steer away from that ego-gratification, but I find that putting material together for others to consume inspires me to make it more thorough and higher quality than notes I just put together for myself.
Yeah, that's a good point. I would get more value from weird esoteric experiments if I shared them.
We could create an open thread called "Experiment lab" where list all of our current experiments as well as those on our "wishlist".
These days I'm trying to limit myself to things which are inexpensive (see my money reframe above, which now makes me hate cash outlays) and quick to test if they work.
A few which have survived that pruning:
Note: I am not endorsing any of these. They are merely on my to-try list.
Interesting meta-analysis Dual n-back.
And I think you shoud try to vet at least stuff confirmed in double-blind experiments. Aromatheraphy seems like a whacky little thing you shouldn't even bother with.
It's okay self-experiment, but at least with stuff we have any evidence on; otherwise we're wasting time.
Hi Paulo, In 2011, I did Dual N Back 19 straight days for 20 sessions which range from 20-45 minutes long. It is hard to judge one's performance whether or not it works, but I can tell you that:
A) My brain started to hurt in the last few days, it became very taxing on my mind while I was doing n6 and failing horribly at n7. It felt like brain weightlifting.
B) I just tried it today for the hell of it after a long absence and I seem to have retained some of the nBack progress from before.
C) I may try adding this into my routine, perhaps 5-10 minutes a few times a week. I believe it could help in concentration and stress relief.
I find that scheduled reflection helps improve your opportunity cost. It's a cycle. When you find yourself not hitting that 70%, stop, reflect. Do an 80/20 analysis.
Usually this happens either weekly or bi-weekly.
This reflection may be considered to be a waste, but it's 20 minutes to make your next week so much better. Even if it improves your opportunity cost by 10%, it's worthwhile.
Really enjoyed your most recent blog post on quitting things that will kill you. I am curious about this section:
But with training (and not all that much training), I think it’s possible to get all of that without drinking. I do all kinds of idiot absurd shit, and then, as an added bonus, I’m sober in case I’ve got to fix the idiot shit I did. While dead sober, I say the things that most people need to get 5-6 drinks in them to say. And you know what? It’s alright, nothing irreparably bad happens.
What steps/training did you use to remove your inhibitions?
It's great to have money. Money can buy you many of the finest things and experiences in life. Sure, there are some things you can't get for money, but there really aren't that many.
When I was a kid, I used to dream about having a yacht. I could spend hours researching different luxury yacht models, looking at pretty photos of what I thought represented a happy life.
I guess I was spoiled by our materialistic world from an early age. Or maybe I was born that way. But now I've learned that materialistic goods don't add much happiness to our lives.
I used to think that owning a Retina Macbook Pro would make me so much happier than having my two-year-old laptop. So I worked really hard and saved up some money until I could finally afford to buy it. It's by far the most expensive thing I ever bought.