Arbitrary Goals

“If your metric for the value of success by worldly standards is “buy a house” and “have a nice car” and you spend twenty years working your ass off to achieve it; once it’s achieved, the metric has nothing left to give you.

Its growth that generates happiness, not a long list of arbitrary achievements. In this sense, goals, as they are conventionally defined, “graduate from college,” “buy a lake house,” “lose 15 pounds” are limited in the amount of happiness they can produce in our lives. They may be helpful when pursuing quick short-term benefits, but as guides for the overall trajectory of our life, they suck.”

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
Mark Manson Chapter 7 – 7:48

Arbitrary – based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.

A meaningful goal would be to become smarter in order to identify what is meaningful.

Changing Your Mind

Let me paraphrase a world-renowned Stanford University psychologist in the fields of personality, social psychology, and developmental psychology.

Books with titles such as Seven Secrets of Successful People often contain disconnected pointers such as “Take more risks” or “Think Positive”, “Believe in yourself”, “Work Smarter” and just about every other successpiration you’ll see online, but its never clear how these things connect, not to mention, how to become that way.

So, you may feel inspired for a hot minute then you’re right back to your normal-self all-the-while successful people still hold their secrets.

Whatever it is that you want to call success, it begins with changing your mind.

Success is a state of mind, not an adjective. The ability to change your mind is probably one of the best life skills to develop. We should never hold any position so closely that we aren’t willing to change it.

Time Travel To The Future You

It is seemingly impossible to remember every single thing that pops in my head throughout the day so I take a lot of notes. The more you think about something, the more you might need to jot down on paper.

I never allow work to limit the process of recording my thoughts because I know how important it is to my future-self. I could be painting a 20 foot long wall and stop the roller dead-center and whip out my note app and speak the thought into memory. If I don’t stop right then and there, the chances of me remembering will vanish by the time I finish rolling the wall. It may get purged from memory in place of other thoughts. I’ll quickly jot down a thought on anything available so not to lose the thought.

Write it down.

This process of capturing thoughts needs to be quick and efficient to ensure whatever it is gets recorded before it vanishes from memory. This is such a crucial thing for me to ensure whatever it was gets attention in the future.

Future-Self
How this process works in simple terms can be demonstrated using 3 words, “Wendy’s Taco Salad.” However the three words popped in our head isn’t important. What’s important is that my future-self gets one. I will likely forget otherwise until maybe I hear it again on the radio. In this case the note serves as a reminder (to do something) albeit not very productive in this case, but nonetheless satisfying.

The Spark File
In addition to using notebooks for reminders, notebooks are used to shape our future-self where a single idea develops over time. We jot down the initial ‘spark idea’ and build from there. This process can happen over the span of a few hours, a day, week, months, or even years.

Just like the Taco Salad, if its important, we need to take appropriate measures to ensure our future-self sees it through. In my next post on this topic, I’ll focus on time travel because this is such a big deal with productivity. Is it possible to be in two places at once? Sure it is and I’ll show you how.

Notebooks & Time Travel

I’ll end up diving into the productivity list in greater detail but this post serves to shape the direction I’d like to take it. It can be used to witness how note-taking works real-time and how notes develop into something in the future.

This is a note.

On the list mentioned earlier about 15 Surprising Things Productive People Do Differently, #4 and #6 work hand-in-hand towards productivity.

The notebooks record our thoughts and visions for the near and distant future.

Notebooks ensure our future-self can be trusted to do the right thing.

Interruptions and distractions often allow something on our minds to be forgotten. The notebooks are used to capture thoughts and the direction we’re headed and make sure we get there in the future.

Secret #4: They beat procrastination with time travel.

Secret #6: They use a notebook.

I use the note app on the iPhone often, but my preference is pen and paper. I have notebooks within reach everywhere (bathroom, kitchen, garage, car, etc). Notebooks are a necessity! Notebooks are testimony to our productivity.