1. Stop Comparing Yourself Against Old Models
You might be unconsciously following the path of your parents like a doctor or lawyer. Don't.
Optimize for rate-of-learning and consciously reject the paths given to you.
Patrick Collison gives this advice:
If you're in the US and go to a good school, there are a lot of forces that will push you towards following train tracks laid by others rather than charting a course yourself. Make sure that the things you're pursuing are weird things that you want to pursue, not whatever the standard path is. Heuristic: do your friends at school think your path is a bit strange? If not, maybe it's too normal.
Compare leads to despair. Instead...
2. Create a Path For Yourself
Ask yourself: what do you value? Where do you want to be when you're 30, 50, and 80? Compare yourself against that.
I like to think of a few questions:
a. What is your life mission?
Where are you pointing? For me, this is co-creating the Wisdom Age.
b. What do you love to do? How would you like to contribute?
This is your day-to-day. What are your superpowers? For me, this is teaching, synthesizing, and community-building. This an -ing verb.
I like to think of this as a vector.
The direction is your life's mission. It's where you're pointed.
The magnitude (or the arrow line itself) is what you love to do. It's how you get there.
3. Compare Yourself Against New Models
Find new models to compare yourself.
Your brain will naturally compare. Instead of comparing to old models, find people who you respect and have your brain compare against them. This shows you that your path is normal.
An example for me: Tim Berners-Lee "sat out" of the web gold rush to build things like WWW and W3C.
Will Macaskill has these models:
On MacAskill’s desk in Oxford are portraits of three people: Mozi, the ancient Chinese moral philosopher who taught that morality should involve equal, impartial concern for all; Benjamin Lay, the Anglo American Quaker who was a prominent early opponent of slavery; and Irena Sendler, the Polish humanitarian who rescued Jews during the Second World War.
4. Increase Your Surface Area For Serendipity
From Evie Cottrell in Seven ways to become unstoppably agentic:
Increase Your Surface Area For Serendipity
This basically means increasing your exposure to new people and opportunities: deliberately setting yourself up for spontaneous stuff to happen. It’s really hard to predict when life-changing moments will occur – one conversation can drastically improve the trajectory of your life. However, you can increase the rate at which these types of conversations happen by increasing your surface area for serendipity.
This Twitter video is the best explanation of this idea, and I encourage you to watch it. I’ll summarise the key ideas below though.
1. You can increase your surface area for serendipity by creating ‘serendipity vehicles'. A serendipity vehicle is a thing that is out there in the world that allows you to manufacture serendipitous events.
2. It’s often hard to see the explicit benefits beforehand – putting yourself out there doesn’t have explicit CV points.
To me, creating serendipity vehicles looks like:
1. Having a low bar for sharing what you’re doing online. For example, if you are confused about an idea, consider writing a blog post about it.
2. Having a low bar for reaching out to people (e.g. by actively using Twitter and sending cold emails – see below!). For example, if you read a blog post that resonated, consider reaching out to the author and letting them know.
I like to think of this as creating microCollabs.
- microMorts are a one-in-a-million chance of death. (Bad!)
- microMarriages are a one-in-a-million chance of marriage. (Good!)
- microCollabs are a one-in-a-million chance of a great working collaboration.
You want to live your life in a way that increases your luck space for microCollabs that can turn into amazing collabs.
Patrick Collison gives similar advice here:
Figure out a way to travel to San Francisco and to meet other people who've moved there to pursue their dreams. Why San Francisco? San Francisco is the Schelling point for high-openness, smart, energetic, optimistic people. Global Weird HQ. Take advantage of opportunities to travel to other places too, of course.
These days, Twitter is also Global Weird HQ. Whether it's digital or physical, surround yourself with folks you might want to work with.
Hope this helps! Lmk if you have advice that has helped you find your path.