When In Doubt — Try The Opposite
Often the way we do things is not the perfect way to do them. It’s the way we’re used to. And whenever you feel stuck, don’t wait.
Try the opposite.
Don’t Write Down Ideas
For a long time, I called myself “the collector of ideas.” I would be walking in a park, or going to sleep when a spontaneous idea hit me. To not forget, I’d immediately pull out my Evernote or Moleskine and write it down.
But then I noticed that my head would relax too much if I wrote down ideas. It’s as if my brain said:
“Ok, you wrote that down, let’s forget about it.”
Hence, the idea had no use.
I could write about it on Medium the next day because I wasn’t passionate about it anymore. And I often forgot what the idea was about in the first place.
My Evernote became a collection of naked ideas — not executed, not acted upon.
Recently, I’ve been trying the opposite: I stopped writing down ideas.
Now, whenever I have a breakthrough, I don’t rush for my phone. I smile. (To much delight of my sweetheart).
And I’ve noticed something cool: if I forget the idea, then it probably wasn’t that good. This natural process of elimination allows me to store only the best ideas in my head.
Because good ideas are tough to get rid of, they grow, like a giant snowball — until they get too big to be stored in your head. Then you know it’s time to do something with it: create a blog post, start a project, or give it away.
Don’t Quantify Your Life
I always knew that living 9–5 5/2 makes me feel like living in a straightjacket. But I couldn’t get rid of this routine. I told myself, “The whole world lives like this, it’s a natural way of working!”
But again, it’s natural because people are used to it. Nobody worked 9–5 5/2 300 years ago, before the Industrial Revolution. People were skilled artisans, working from home, and making things. It’s only after the world created factories that people got to work when the bell rang.
All changed when I moved to London.
Now I am working globally, not locally. People I work with live in 3 different time zones. Nobody cares about the hours. What matters is whether you get the work done.
So — I realized that I could stop quantifying my life.
I can try the opposite: not have a schedule at all.
I now don’t live Mon-Fri, 9–5 and I have a weird schedule, that looks like this:
- Wake up when I feel like it.
- Work creatively first (write or record personal podcasts).
- Do my job after lunch — until I get tired, given that I meet the self-imposed deadlines.
Now it doesn’t feel like a straightjacket anymore.
Don’t Drink coffee
I’ve been suffering from stomach pain from acid reflux and gastritis for the past five years. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get rid of the “hunger pains.”
I experimented with all kinds of diets, pills, and doctors. I quit smoking. I quit drinking. Nothing worked.
Sometimes these pains would give me anxiety, which made the pain worse. It’s a vicious cycle.
But recently — I noticed that I’ve been too addicted to coffee. So — I decided, as an experiment, to stop drinking coffee for a week.
My stomach pains vanished.
It turns out; the problem wasn’t in lifestyle, diets or food regimens. It was in one product: coffee — which gave me the pains.
No coffee — no pain.
Life Is a Continuous Experiment
People think that freedom is fantastic. It’s overwhelming. When you have more time on your hands than you know what to do with, it’s easy to get depressed. Or anxious.
But strict discipline is a bitch, too. It makes you stressed and feel like a prisoner.
The best way to live — have something in between. Do what you want within boundaries.
And that’s if you think about it, is nothing but an “experiment.”
The best way to experiment is to try the opposite. Because whatever you’re used to doing — is probably not the best (or the only) way.
I’ll send you a 70-page free PDF book.