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.
Photo is a random street in Budapest.
I’ll be in Tokyo in mid-December. May do a meetup if people are interested…