No matter how far down the wrong road you’ve traveled, always turn back. People hate to lose time “invested” in a task they have miscalculated on. Time is the most scarce resource of life, yet its taken for granted by those who are too proud to admit they made a mistake. Not too long ago, I chased a girl I shouldn’t have. The warning signs were there from the start, but I ignored them because I was seduced with the idea of sleeping with her. By date five, I went so far in the wrong direction that turning back seemed like the harder route to take. I couldn’t just let go of all the money, time, and emotional energy I put in. The easy decision is to coast and let the mistake ride out, but it’s always the wrong decision. You must cut your losses. There is nothing wrong with making a mistake, but you make things worse by staying blind to your own error. Don’t bother trying to fix a situation you should have avoided in the first place. 2. Comfort is dangerous. Unless you are of old age and already a scholar of the world, your main focus should be growth. If you are comfortable with what you are doing, there is a good chance you are not stretching yourself to the limits of your ability. The director of my old department had a habit of putting up motivational quotes during his presentations. I had a favorite: “There is no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone.” You get drawn into comfort and habit because it offers you stability and peace of mind, but at the same time this decreases your motivation to take risks and learn other things. Unless you are ready to die, choose growth. 3. You learn the most when things go wrong. It’s hard to learn about yourself if everything goes right: there is no need for introspection or analysis. But when things go wrong, your body is put through stress and your mind is called up to perform. You are forced to break things down to come up with solutions, trying things you’ve never tried. This is the only time you really grow as a person. In my field of work, Murphy’s Law is the rule. Things always go wrong, and for hours I can be staring at a graph or piece of equipment, dissecting the problem to its component parts only to put it back together again. But when things go right, my day is pretty uneventful; I’m a zombie that just goes through the motions. Solve problems, learn from them, and then put that experience in your toolbox when you encounter something similar in the future. Because you will. 4. Always stand up for yourself. Don’t take bullshit from anyone, whether it be from your boss, lover, or friend. No one in this world is more important than you are. I have been disrespected by flakey women countless times. I accepted the disrespect because I thought it was normal to take a little bit of abuse to get something I wanted. But I no longer believe that. If you have a belief that it is okay to be treated negatively, it’s just a matter of time until it happens —

I was convinced that I would make an excellent bartender. and having a good time. things that will only lower your mood. the energy you put in is much less than what you get out. Have a project. 8. running a marathon. I used to go to clubs and watch how bartenders worked. In Venezuela I hiked up to some cabin so a Frenchman could take me on a horseback riding tour through the Andes mountains. rag on you. such as incompetent management. Always be working towards a near-term goal. Instead of aimlessly floating through life. whether it be from jobs. wondering what will happen to your body after decades of neglect or abuse. . cheap or rude customers. the journey is sure to teach you a bit about life. 7. complain. drama-loving coworkers. He spoke good English so we had the opportunity to talk during breaks. He asked me point-blank what my project was and I did not have an answer. These are things that are not normal. I quit and regained my weekend leisure time. eliminating credit card debt (through simpler living). where he told me his life story though his “projects”: short goals he would have that would usually lead to something else. learning the trade. I took a week off from work to go to bartending school and eventually got a job at a popular hotel bar. The project should be your passion… for a while. After you’ve hit the point of diminishing return. and don’t be afraid of confrontation. When a hurricane washed ashore his boat was destroyed and he wound up in a strange city where he met his future wife. by then you’ve waited too long. pick something interesting you like and drive towards it. Exercise and good nutrition are proven to prolong that life and make it more vibrant with less suffering. learning a second language. etc. So what’s your excuse? It’s a poor bet to let your body atrophy because you wanted to sit on the couch and eat a bag of potato chips. Things that you really wanted to do one month or one year ago may not be worth it for you today. or hobbies. But the initial rush hid things that I did not like. but pick some smaller goals that you can accomplish is a few years or less: buying a house. the more I wanted to be one. The project that led him to the Venezuela was the desire to build a boat from scratch. Even if it doesn’t lead you anywhere. Don’t nag. 5. You only one have one life to live. friendships. It’s nice to have one large purpose in life. Don’t be a pushover. 6. traveling the world. Don’t wait until things get stale. and odd hours. Know when to move on. There is no reason to treat yourself like a science experiment. or whine. Respect your health and body by exercising and eating right. relationships. don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. or put you down. waiting until something happens to you. The first couple months were incredible: I was meeting people. The most unfortunate thing that could happen to you is to get a disease or sickness that could have been prevented by doing something your body would have very much appreciated. Don’t let people flake.repeatedly. The more I watched them. By month nine I decided that my experience was complete.

11. Disfiguring acne breakout.No one wants to hear it. Money should not be your final goal. Read. Instead. If you are constantly negative. Car breaks down. You can panic like most people when confronted with a tough challenge. It was impossible to be around her. 10. Welcome to the human condition. A million books and a million different perspectives. Broken heart. Like housing prices or stocks. and I won’t be surprised if you tell me she has amassed a fine collection of cats by now. flowing effortlessly through your environment. . she could control how she acts around others. but it will limit your personal freedom and options in life. and leisure? When you live in a country whose government is funded through debt and whose economic health is judged through “comsumer” spending. you are blocking yourself from enjoying positive things. A weak person is easily affected by the daily problems of life. thoughtful. She could be lively. there will be peaks and valleys in your life that you probably cannot control. bad people and bad events always follow. That money is better spent finding things you love that give you fulfillment. Job layoff. shelter. I had a colleague who did not hit the genetic lottery. Absorb their ideas and see how they fit into your view of the world. Instead of fighting things that are sure to come up. Can you guess which one makes you more happy? If it’s so obvious. clothing. treat money as a means to providing you with experiences that have meaning and pleasure. While she could only do little to control her physical appearance. but the one most responsive to change. funny. Crime victim. Be like water. She chose to be constantly negative. why do people dedicate a large chunk of their waking hours every week in jobs that have long ago satisfied basic needs such as food. You could attempt to buffer yourself from these negative events. it’s not hard to see how one has to be deprogrammed from falling into the automatic habit of spending money on objects. and the negative will soon be a distant memory. adapt to them and solve them rationally. nor the most intelligent. Remember: your energy is tied into your future. and unattractive. accept that there will be both good and bad. But she was not. There are two things you could do with your money: accumulate material possessions or pursue life experiences.” Charles Darwin. complaining about everything and talking about how bad life is. Treat money as a means to an end. learn from the experience of others. Negative energy is contagious. She was short. Instead. Until you can learn from first-hand experience. how you react to both determines your character and resilience as a person. Things won’t always go your way. or you can sit down and visualize what it would be like to get out of the mess you are in. She did not hide the fact that she had trouble meeting men. 9. What’s the next step you should take? Time will go by. positive. and it makes you look like a miserable person. There may be comfort in a pile of cash but there is little lasting happiness. “It is not the strongest of the species that survive. sexy. stumpy.

These things are headaches and make life a little less enjoyable. Think of friendships as the foundation of your life.and enjoying it .disaster. 12. Instead of leaving things totally chance. By spending time with the right people. Think of a bookstore or library as a collection of brains from all the scholars of the history of the world. She assumed I wanted to be somewhere else other than the present. who have taken the time to write and teach what they know. It is not a good idea to experiment in critical situations. experienced most with people who match our personality. and analysis that helps define the world we live in. stressful days. For people who collect friends like trading cards. something that I would have closed myself off to if I had the usual in mind. What did happen next with her was something totally different from what I’m used to. 14. at least run the situation in your head. .5 miles away. information. As long as you are getting the most out of the current moment . Venezuela at 6:30 in the morning.what happens next should not be the dominant thought in your mind. You don’t want that built on slimey ground. especially since the streets are narrow and dangerous.One of the best uses of your time is spent reading non-fiction. memorizing key landmarks and noting potential danger spots. Have no expectations. Once I met a girl who warned me several times that I wasn’t going to get anywhere. My route was well-lighted and I got there in one piece without getting lost. blinding you towards different outcomes. I wonder if they have taken a look at the hidden cost to maintaining those friends: misunderstandings. gossip. but I wasn’t going to risk taking this walk without practice. I had to be at the airport an hour before. 13. at a time where I wasn’t sure if I could easily get a taxi. Having an idealized outcome in your mind beforehand closes yourself off to new experiences. guys who I trust and who I know I’m capable of having the most amount of fun with. do what you can to lessen the likelihood of failure. Having expectations put you into a linear and rigid mode of thinking. I can spend a lifetime traveling the world ten times over but not notice things that others have already written down. On any given night. fights. I couldn’t find a taxi and executed what I already rehearsed. When it was time to leave. we eliminate the drama that comes from more superficial friendships. there are only three guys I can call to go out with. My plane departed Merida. which has the knowledge. It’s our friendships that create the spontaneous happiness in our lives. The day before departure I took my time walking and found the safest route to the airport. Rehearse. or even worse . that what I was doing now was not what I really wanted to do. the constant that gets you through the long. Practice when it doesn’t matter so that you are preapred for the real deal. backstabbing. you limit your behavior and thinking. When you enter situations with expectations. I figured a good back-up plan was to walk to the airport. We already see the world through a filter. and expecting things to happen in the future distorts that filter even more. If you can’t get real-world practice. Only 1. Be very picky when choosing friends.

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