I get called weird a lot. Not usually in a bad way, usually as a term of endearment. Looking at it objectively, I see the argument — I'm definitely a strange person who does unusual things.
The thing is, I don't feel weird. My day to day life feels pretty normal, and the decisions that I make also feel very standard. Take in input, process it, make the best decision possible, move on.
The disconnect, I think, is because of how I make those decisions. When I think about why I often end up doing very different things than most people, it boils down to one key distinction: I completely disregard decisions that others have made in similar scenarios.
Here's why. While everyone obviously has a ton in common with each other, we also have enough differences that decisions can't be made in a one-size-fits-all manner. You and I could be in the exact same scenario, but because we value different things and have different abilities, the correct decision for each of us could be opposite.
Maybe you unexpectedly have a free week appear on your calendar. You've been working a lot recently and have been making a lot of money, so you decide to go on a last minute trip to Hawaii. Sounds like a good decision. I have an unexpected free week pop up, but I've been socializing too much. So I go to Vegas, hunker down, and work for a week. Also a good decision.
That's a simple one, but life throws all sorts of complexity at us.
People think it's weird that I travel so much, but given my situation it is an obvious choice. I have close friends all over the world, four or five cities feel equally like home to me, I've adapted to do really well on airplanes and across time zones, and I've specialized in getting cheap and free flights.
Even though that's an obvious choice given the inputs, it may not be a decision most people in a similar situation would make. That's because many people make decisions by looking at the inputs and then thinking about what other people have done in that scenario. And since almost no one travels constantly, the idea would either not surface, or if it did it would be dismissed as "too crazy".
There are times to think about other people's decisions. If I'm having a computer issue, I'll always see how other people fixed it. That's because the inputs are the same and so is the goal: fix the computer. But for more complex things, I prohibit myself from considering what others have done or will do, because I find that it interferes with my ability to find the right solution.
Making decisions is a lot more fun this way, because it's a process of discovery and invention rather than of selection. I'm not trying to choose from three imperfect solutions, I'm trying to create my own. I love thinking about all of the factors and my goal and finding something no one else has found yet. That's how I moved to a somewhat-run-down neighborhood in Vegas and it's how I've begun locking down home bases around the world. It's also why I don't drink, why I eat sardines and Chipotle every day, why I avoid having acquaintances, why I didn't date for three years, and any number of other things.
Next time you have a problem, think about what actually needs to happen to solve it. Don't think about solutions others have found. Try creating your own. Think about the resources you have at your disposal that you can uniquely put to work. Think about what the ideal solution to the problem would be. Maybe you'll come across the same solution that others did, or maybe you'll come up with one that fits you perfectly.
One of the more helpful habits I've developed is taking responsibility for everything in my life. This is a strong contrast to the average victim / "things happen to me" mentality that a lot of people have.
Basically I assume that anything "bad" that happens in my life is a direct result of actions I took. If I lose money in the stock market I don't think, "Oh man... I'm so unlucky... the stocks went down."
Instead I think, "I bought those stocks and I lost money because of a decision I made."
One of my favorite quotes says " The quality of your life is determined by the questions you ask yourself". Nothing could be more true.
I was going to make this a detailed post about productivity and the like. I was going to talk about how I've been swinging between intense productivity and mild productivity and how far I've come from the days of playing hours of video games or mindless socializing where it would either be mild productivity or no productivity Of course productivity is subjective. For some making one killer design or writing one killer program a year is insanely productive, for others they want to make various designs and programs. Some prefer to pour their heart out into a business and kindle it, while others are fine getting it to an "okay position" and focusing on building more business. Ultimately thought, productivity is gauged by the quantity and quality of time your are allotting to achieve your goals.
Frankly, being productive isn't hard. I've written posts about how to be productive. If you want to do something, no one is stopping you. I've come to believe the true thing stopping must people from being insanely productive is their inability to make decisions. This happens to me all the time. I made the decision to learn German. But that doesn't really matter. What matter is the decisions you make now-- Decisions can only be made in the present--. You must decide in the present, in the now, to pick up that book, to close Facebook to turn off the TV to uninstall that game, to open up a learn-to program or start a course, to right that article or to run that mile. So many times I might want to go to the Gym or read a book, but I am not taking action. I then ask myself,"Alexis why I'm I not doing X?" But the fact is I haven't even made the decision to do X yet. And thus I consciously say " I am going to go to the gym right now". Right now I'm going to read 10 pages of that book. If you come up with excuses like I have to do Y first or whatever; ask yourself is Y more important than X? does Y or X require constant attention? in other words can you do X while you do Y in the background (happens a lot when you have to write an email or maybe wait for a phone call). Constantly force
In the end the broad decisions we all make are too vague to spur action. That explains why goals like "run three times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes" are much more effective than "lose weight" : the first one spells out exactly the decisions that must be made in the present, in this case run 30 minutes, the second one doesn't. Ultimately the easier you make it to make the decision in real-time, The more likely you'll be to succeed. This is why things like making your environment conducive to success to, dissecting your goals and surrounding yourself with people on the same boat is so effective.
Of course sometimes what to do isn't always obvious. There was a time when I was unmotivated, kind of just going with the flow. I would play video games, socialize, watch you tube videos. Then, for some inexplicable reason, I would invest hours into Japanese (only to later find I was learning it in an extremely ineffective way), I learned everything about nutrition and exercise and start getting into business. Most of my motivation came to me passively. Personally I find most people who don't know what to invest their time into have the wrong mentality. They don't say yes to enough things, and thus they never find their passion. Lower your expectations for yourself, lower your barrier to entry. Go to meetup.com and join and participate in 5 random groups. Travel to a nearby city and just walk around thoughtless and walk into random stores and see what you like and don't like. Some suggest your write, this never worked for me, but your mileage may vary.