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I have a surprising number of single friends who are in their 30s. I don't think that this is a problem by any means, but I know that a lot of them don't actually want to be single. I'm married and think that being married is pretty cool, but I could also see a great path being single or just dating, so this post is only for people who are single and don't want to be.
The biggest realization that single people in their 30s need to make is that what they have been doing is not working. Dating is hard, finding the right person is hard, but... you've been working at it for at least 15 years and many other people have been successful in that time. At this point, the problem is your approach, not the outside world.
I would (and did) make dating a top priority. Not in title, but in practice. I would be swiping Tinder and every other app every day, and if that wasn't getting me enough matches I'd be dusting off the boots and making myself approach people in person. It doesn't really make any sense to leave something as important as your life partner up to chance. You wouldn't do that with any other major area of your life.
You can argue that most people meet their significant others by chance, but that's because most people just wait years and hope something happens, not because that's the most effective method for finding love.
The normal financial path that's prescribed by our society is to get out of school, get a job, and then start making money and keep making as much money as you can until you retire. That works for some people, but it also leaves a lot of people unsatisfied and feeling trapped within the rat race. I've followed a different path, some parts deliberately and others by accident, and I think it could serve as a reasonable guide for anyone who doesn't want to have a job for life.
First Phase: Some Independent Income
The first phase is just to start making any independent income. The two best times to do this are when you are in school, and thus have few responsibilities but plenty of free time, or when you have a job that you're trying to escape.
Don't try to hit it out of the park, just try to make some money. If you can do it in a way that is perpetual, that's a lot better than something that takes up your time, but either one is good.
As I always say, I really do believe that I have the best group of friends that a guy could ask for. I use friends as a shorthand, but I really mean it to include everyone who surrounds me, including my wife and my family. The people in my life are truly incredible, and a day doesn't go by where I don't think about how lucky I am to have them in my life.
Across a lot of dimensions they're very different, but most or all of them have a few core things in common. I first realized this many years ago when I was so busy with Sett that I no longer had time to just hang out with everyone all the time. I thought about all the people I was friends with and wanted to become better friends with and distilled down what they had in common.
By far the top quality that is shared with everyone is that they are all very genuine and authentic. That can mean a few different things, but I mean it to say that none of them try to put on a front and pretend that they're someone they're not. They know who they are and they accept it.
This feels normal to me now, because I spend very little time with strangers, but on the rare occasion I spend time with someone who isn't as authentic it is plainly obvious immediately and I notice how much effort it takes for me to accomodate the difference. Someone who puts on a front is generally doing it to mask a big insecurity, and that insecurity needs to be walked around in conversation.
Living in an RV was one of the best things I could have possibly done for the eight or so years I did it. It allowed me freedom, both physical and financial, made it easy for me to travel, forced me to become minimalist, and taught me a lot. If I were still living in an RV today, that would probably be a mistake.
When I moved to LA for a year to learn how to date, I was out in clubs nearly every night. I dressed crazy and had few obligations that weren't social. I grew tremendously as a person during that time, but I couldn't be more glad that I'm not doing it anymore.
In 2008 I had a backpack worth of stuff and I left the US for nine months on a backpacking trip around the world. I don't know any other way I could have gained the perspective and learned as much as I did, but my possessions can't fit in a bag anymore and I'm in the US almost every month.
Those are three examples, but I could go on for days about all of the things that I did, especially things that defined who I was, that I no longer do. I don't regret any of them, but I am simultaneously glad that I am no longer doing them.
As I wrote (last week), it's very easy to criticize problems, and it's easy to categorize things as good or bad without any nuance. I think that it's a lot more productive to recognize the good in everything and everyone, and so in that spirit I'd like to challenge myself to share some positive things about things I don't like.
I never eat fast food myself, but I am impressed with how efficiently our system can bring people nutrition. It may not be ideal nutrition, but I think it's great that people who are struggling can get a quick and tasty meal for not much money.
Last week I posted about buying our fifth group property, an apartment in Tokyo. I got more emails and messages about this post than any in recent history, and people asked a lot of good questions, so rather than address them individually I will answer them all in a blog post. It's also worth mentioning that I go into more detail on the topic in my last book, Forever Nomad.
How is this actually better?
A few people asked questions about how this is actually better than just renting an AirBnB. I think that this is a really good question and is the hardest one to answer. I've tried a few times and I think I've done a bad job at actually getting the idea across, so I'll try in a little more detail here.
For the past three years I've been actively searching for an apartment in Tokyo for my friends and I to buy. It was by far the most difficult city in which to find a suitable apartment, and even up until I got the notification a few minutes ago, I wasn't entirely sure that it would happen.
One of the biggest challenges in Tokyo is that you must buy a vacant apartment. An apartment that is occupied may take years to vacate, as apparently renters are entitled to renew their leases with no price increase. If you want them to leave or even to increase their rent, they must agree to it.
Location in Tokyo is not as simple as finding the center of the city and trying to get as close as possible. The ideal situation is to get an apartment that is a short walking distance away from a station that hosts lines that provide good coverage.
Last, most apartments in our price range (around $100k US) were not only small but only really had one room. I felt strongly that we would want to have two rooms so that two groups or individuals could each have a little privacy.
If you spend time in San Francisco, you hear a lot of startup ideas. A few of them sound really cool, but a lot of them sound pretty dumb. I used to fall into the trap of criticizing them, without the founder present, because it was easy and fun. He thinks he's going to rent blowup mattresses in people's living room? Ha!
You feel smart when you shoot down someone's idea, and that makes you want to do it more. If you look at a lot of popular media creators, you'll notice that they like to shoot everything down. Besides being fun and snarky, they will often be right. Most new ideas do fail and we live in a society where the price of testing new ideas is cheap, so we do it often.
The problem is that the best ideas all sound stupid at first, and few of us are good at predicting which dumb ideas will actually work. If you aren't going to be good at that part, I don't think you've earned the right to call out the ones you think will fail.
Even new amazing products will have flaws. There are no Apple products which I think are good enough to use, but I still try to find things about them that I like. For example, a friend watched a movie on his MacBook the other day and I was blown away by how good the speakers sounded. I'd rather talk about those positives than the negatives.
I just got off the phone with the last of the attendees of Superhuman 3 and am totally blown away. Every single attendee followed through with everything they said they would do and many of them made enormous progress that they previously thought was impossible. Best of all, several of them came into SH3 telling me that they couldn't ever follow through with anything. How things can change!
In other Superhuman Alumni news, the Superhuman 2 group has been in regular touch with each other and organized their own 1 year anniversarry with 100% of them attending.
I always knew that people would make huge progress from coming to these events (especially as I've gotten better at figuring out how to get everyone to follow through), but I didn't fully anticipate the bonds and community that would form. Many people have told me that the best thing they've gotten from the event is a group of peers who share their principles and help encourage them.
All that said, it's time to schedule another Superhuman event. This year Superhuman 4 will be in Las Vegas from April 10th-12th. The two mandatory days are the 11th and 12th, but I invite everyone to come over the night of the 10th to meet each other and chat so that we can hit the ground running the next morning.
Imagine that everyone has a bucket, and they fill it with tasks. At the bottom of the bucket is a hose that is constantly draining it at some rate, which represents completing tasks. The tasks are your obligations in life, your work, and your responsibilities.
We all know people with overflowing buckets. It almost doesn't matter what the size and rate of the outflows are through the hose, because things are sloshing around and falling over the edges of the buckets. Anything that falls over the edge is a missed deadline, a broken promise, or a lost opportunity. People with brimming buckets don't get to choose what falls over. They walk around with this big sloshing bucket, trying to keep everything inside, but things fall over the edge.
We also know people with empty buckets. They don't have too much to do and they aren't overwhelmed, but the hose at the bottom is just barely dripping.
In the middle are people with buckets that are about 1/2 or 2/3 full. They have things to do and obligations, but they also have spare capacity. No one can perfectly predict what will come in the future, so we all need a little bit of spare capacity. If you're at 100%, you can't capitalize on an unexpected opportunity, you can't take a day off, and you can't explore. You have to keep draining the bucket just to keep it from overflowing.