Question from a reader --
Great find with the investment principles document, thanks for posting about that on your blog. I just had a quick question I'd appreciate your opinion on, as you seem like someone who's constantly coming up with new ideas and taking on lots of projects.
What do you do when you have too many ideas? I've been looking into doing a few different things since my last company was acquired, and feel a bit confused by how many ideas (about 5 I really like) I have and how many things I want to do. How do you deal with that?
Hope all's well man,
If you liked that, I'd also highly recommend Ray Dalio's "Principles". Dalio is a brilliant investor (he built Bridgewater into the largest hedge fund in the world), but also a pretty good philosopher.
He's got a useful take on page 26 on the "too many ideas" problem:
Here's Dalio --
You can have virtually anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want.
The first, most important, and typically most difficult step in the 5-Step Process is setting goals, because it forces you to decide what you really want and therefore what you can possibly get out of life. This is the step where you face the fundamental limit: life is like a giant smorgasbord of more delicious alternatives than you can ever hope to taste. So you have to reject having some things you want in order to get other things you want more.
Some people fail at this point, afraid to reject a good alternative for fear that the loss will deprive them of some essential ingredient to their personal happiness. As a result, they pursue too many goals at the same time, achieving few or none of them.
So it’s important to remember: it doesn’t really matter if some things are unavailable to you, because the selection of what IS available is so great. (That is why many people who had major losses—e.g., who lost their ability to walk, to see, etc.—and who didn’t narrow-mindedly obsess about their loss but rather open- mindedly accepted and enjoyed what remained, had equally happy lives as those who didn’t ever have these losses.)
In other words, you can have an enormous amount: much, much more than what you need to have for a happy life. So don’t get discouraged by not being able to have everything you want, and for God’s sake, don’t be paralyzed by the choices. That’s nonsensical and unproductive. Get on with making your choices.
Beyond that, I find that when I've got multiple projects that are equally attractive, I like to do one that I can get to "totally finished" the fastest -- so if 4 of your projects are multiple-year commitments, and one of them will take two months... do the two-monther, and then see where you're at. It's not so much having lots of stuff on your plate that kills you, it's having lots of stuff on your plate that's all very long term that kills you. G'luck, and send us an update eh?