Almost four years ago I started a new career in a new town. Now I'm doing it again. The last one worked out pretty okay, but I can do better this time. Examples:
- In Seattle, I aspired to live minimalistically, in terms of stuff. I would avoid acquiring most things, mostly because I'd have to move them someday. This was usually smart, but led to me not getting some things I'd quite like and be able to use. (also because of white person eco-guilt, which I now realize I carried too far.)
- I looked at time like money. I was a time miser. There was a pretty high bar for me to spend my precious time on something. But time doesn't work like money. Time works like... music. Like a constant stream of music coming out of your mouth. It'll happen no matter what, it's just up to you whether you make it sound good or not.
- I didn't appreciate physical good feelings. I rode my bike because it's the best way to get around. I didn't play any sports or lift weights or anything because they're mentally boring, and because modern society has made the word "exercise" so goddamn depressing. But you know what? Endorphins feel great. If we had a drug that made you feel like you do after a good run or bike, it would be popular/illegal. I didn't appreciate the good side of physical activity; I just avoided it because sometimes it's a little unpleasant.
(interesting side note: what if we could market physical activity as if it were a drug? sure, it's got unpleasant side effects in that you have to work hard, but alcohol has unpleasant side effects in hangovers, and people drink all the time.)
- I tried to minimize my job. I took the Google job in part because of the "great work-life balance." Sure, I never had to work more than maybe a 45-hour week. But I'm not sure anymore that this is a good way to look at your work. Aggressively segregating your work from your life can make you think you don't like your work. Then it becomes a Dilbert job.
Do you see the pattern? In all these cases, I've been defining my life negatively, saying "I don't want to do that" and then cutting it out. Far better to decide what I want to do, and arrange my life so I can do it. And do more: try more stuff for longer and don't quit because of discomfort.