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I have a technique that I use to deal with a lot of situations that I call setting strong defaults. It started with dating as a means to eliminate the ridiculous and common "but where do YOU want to eat?" loop where each person keeps asking the other person where they want to eat, and tons of time an energy is wasted on a decision no one really cares about. Now I use it for many things, from dating to work.
There's a balance in relationships where women typically want a man to lead in decisions, but also want to be heard and to have the option of having input. Very often men don't realize this and they keep asking their girlfriend what they want to do, only to have the question flipped back to them. They think that they're being nice, but actually they're imposing the responsibility of having to choose on their girlfriend.
To solve this problem, I decided that I would always suggest something with the assumption it would be what we chose, but would always agree to counter-suggestions. So I'd say something like, "Hey, how about if we have dinner at Chipotle?"
If she says that she wants to go to a different restaurant, then I'd just accept and we'd go there, since I don't really care where we eat and my primary motives are to not spend a lot of time deciding where to eat, and to make it easy for her to not have to decide where to eat.
I'm about halfway through a transatlantic cruise, which means I'm also halfway through writing a new book. This time I'm writing a follow-up to Life Nomadic, since so much has changed about traveling and being a nomad since I wrote my first book. Also, the tech section in that book is embarrassingly out of date, so it's time for a refresh.
This time I'm focusing on what it takes to be a nomad in a sustainable way. I'm talking about maximizing points and miles, finding flight deals, beating jet lag, packing, gear, government programs like APEC and Nexus, how to make money, how to learn languages, cruising, and flight tricks. I'm also going to get into depth on what I think is the future of nomadism, which is buying properties with your friends.
I'm keeping this post super short because I have a ton more I have to write for the book today, but I wanted to ask for early feedback. What do you want to hear more about? What would make the book super valuable to you? My primary goal is to enable people to fit as much travel into their lives and budgets as they want.
When you travel most of the time and do it with only a small backpack, eventually all of your travel gear becomes very high quality. You buy something nice, love using it, and it retains its utility for a long time. If you buy something low quality, it breaks or frustrates you, and you end up replacing it with something high quality, which lasts.
Not everything I traveled with was of the highest quality at first, but through that process it became so. I noticed that my mindset changed as my belongings became higher quality, and that convinced me to extend that standard across the rest of my life. At this point nearly everything I use at home or while traveling is the best available.
First, a word about quality, as I often see people who have things they think are high quality, but are not. At least by my definition. Quality is derived from purity of design and from best materials.
When something is designed, I want for it to be designed to complete its function as perfectly as possible, requiring the least from me, and only then to take into account aesthetics. For example, my watch is decent looking, but not as good as other watches. However, the operation of it is a dream come true. Breitling clearly understood that a frequent traveler (they designed it for pilots) would want to be able to know the time anywhere around the world at a glance, but would also need a way to switch between time zones effortlessly. And maybe he'd need to time things.
Most people don't live a life that's in alignment with what they want to do. That's not a criticism of any of those people; for our entire history as a species we have had to spend most of our time doing things we don't want to do in order to survive.
All of us are going to have to do things which we don't want to do. Next week I have to file my taxes. Two days ago I had to wake up at four in the morning. The problem isn't that we sometimes have to do things we don't want to do, it's that we choose life paths that lead towards goals we don't actually want.
This creates a doubly bad situation, because progress towards any goal is filled with things you don't want to do. There's some strategy around minimizing that and finding enjoyment in mundane tasks, but let's not pretend that having people do things which they don't want to do is something to strive for. Then once you reach a goal you didn't actually want, you don't feel as satisfied as you expected you would, the lack of satisfaction creates disappointment, and you have to start on something new again.
I'm fortunate to have a life where I basically love everything I do. I love programming, I love working through problems with people in coaching, I love doing real estate deals with my friends, and I love writing. In my leisure time I do things which really satisfy me, like drink tea with friends, do escape rooms, go to operas and ballets and symphonies, work on little side projects, build things, etc.
Today I woke up to the alarm I set on my phone. My bedroom curtains opened automatically, triggered by the alarm. I walked into the bathroom to brush my teeth. On my mirror, which has a 40" LCD hidden behind it, I saw my agenda and noticed that one of my coaching clients had booked a session for Monday.
I made myself some tea, packed my bag, and headed out to the airport. As I left, my door and security door locked themselves, my water heater turned off (valve and power), the thermostat adjusted its setpoints, and the lights turned off. I hit one button and my vacuum left its dock and started vacuuming.
In that half hour, a lot of things happened automatically.
I haven't tracked it, but I'm guessing that having my curtains open automatically makes me get out of bed faster. It's much easier to pop out of bed when the sun is streaming in than when room darkening curtains are drawn. Let's say that saves me five minutes.
When I first bought my place in Vegas, I did it only because it was an incredible deal. As a frequent visitor to Vegas I assumed that I'd stay there once in a while, and AirBnb it out to recoup my costs. Or if it turned out that I really came to dislike Vegas after spending more time there, I could sell the condo with a small percentage loss that would amount to very little.
Fast forward two years and now I live here, as much as I live anywhere. I haven't analyzed my time, but I'd guess that I spend about half my year here, usually in one or two week chunks.
What strikes me most about Vegas is that it's certainly a place that more people should live. It's not for everyone, of course, but cultural assumptions about it are certainly keeping people out who should be in.
Here are some of the things I love about Vegas:
It's easy to analyze when things go poorly, but that it doesn't come as naturally when things are going well. When things are good it's very easy to just brush it away by assuming that the success was somehow due to you. I know I've thought that many times, especially when I was younger.
As I've thought about some recent successes, I've thought about the value of putting myself out there, making myself vulnerable to failure, with the aim of increasing my exposure to good things happening.
There are a lot of things that you can do to increase the chance of good things happening to you.
If you're dating, you're going to have the best chance at meeting someone good if you're on every dating site, always messaging people, and strike up conversations in real life with strangers you find attractive. You're going to face a lot of rejection that way, but that's the (relatively low) cost you pay to drastically increase your chances at meeting someone good.
I'm not sure exactly what causes it. Maybe it's the exponential rise in options that all of us have in nearly every aspect of life. Maybe it's the simplification of entertainment and the desire for a fairy-tale ending. Or maybe it's something else I can't think of.
We are way too focused on perfection. We want to do things at the perfect time, find the perfect job, and meet the perfect person.
Is the result that everything becomes perfect in our life? No, it's that we fail to pull the trigger, often keeping ourselves further from perfection than we'd otherwise be.
A while ago I was talking with one of my aunts and she made an offhand comment that these days it seems like everyone is trying to date someone perfect. When she was dating, she said, people were trying to find a good person and build a good relationship with them.
To simplify, we could say that there are three phases in which one's life can be. Sometimes everything is going wrong, or at least everything is statically in a bad place, and the goal is to find one area to fix to create a foundation on which to build.
Maybe most common is a scenario where one's life is going well but there are one or two big things on which to work. Life is good but you need to make more money, or just find a boyfriend or girlfriend. That's a pretty obvious one to work on.
But what do you do when everything is going right? A few things.
Appreciate and Accept it. Sounds trite, but so many people don't do it. Whether through skill, luck, persistence, or all three, you've reached a high point. Enjoy it and be grateful for it. If you aren't able to fully appreciate the things you achieve, there's not all that much point in striving for them.
Sometimes it feels like I take my blog a little too seriously, probably because so many people read it and some of the topics I cover are serious. When it started I literally wrote strange rambles about every nap I took, and now I feel like every post has to have some practical use.
As I try to come up with something to write about (I half-finished a post about the Bachelor), I found that I had a lot of little things I wanted to write about. So here are a few life updates on what I'm doing.
I'm now up nine coaching clients and am slowly making my way through the waitlist. I originally said I wanted to take on two people because I didn't think I'd get more than five or so, and that number would be awkward because it's enough to impact my schedule but not enough to justify building systems around. I'm not sure if that makes sense.