Life Guidelines For 2018

Guidelines for prioritising which projects to spend one's very precious time on.
Life Guidelines For 2018

Life can be confusing. It’s often hard to make good decisions, whether it’s choosing a career or deciding what to do this afternoon.

So I gave some thought to a brief set of guidelines that might help me in all my big and small decisions.

Guidelines that would stand the test of time, and that I wouldn’t be ashamed to show my children. They’ll probably laugh when they compare their imperfect (and sometimes grumpy) Dad to a man who lives by these guidelines, but at least I know where I’m trying to head.

Do things I love.

  • Time is the most precious asset, so never waste it.
  • Remember that motivation and enthusiasm are infectious.
  • Focus on intentions, not results. Long term results-oriented goals create rigidity and sap motivation. Instead, have a vision and immediate next steps - then do the first step.
  • Reinvent myself whenever I want to or need to.
  • Say “No” to things not in line with these values. Then I’ll have more time for focusing on the things I love.
  • No need to rush: enjoy the journey and celebrate the small successes.

“Make a list of the 25 things you want to do in life. Do the top 5. NEVER think about the other 20 again - this will just distract from the 5 most important”. Warren Buffett

Utilise my talents, improve my skills

  • No excuses. No blaming or complaining. Get on and do it: practice, work and improve, even if I’m not in the mood.
  • Passion more often follows competence than the other way around, so commit to the path of mastery and do great work through deliberate practice. “Deliberate practice” means:
    • Have envisioned outcome in mind.
    • Push beyond comfort zone, but not so much that I feel I don’t have the competence to achieve the goal.
    • Obtain/seek feedback obsessively and immediately.
  • Make mistakes. Turn discomfort into learning experience.
  • Improve 1% a day (or week or month - it doesn’t matter - either way it will compound to being huge).
  • But remember that in order to improve I must believe deep down that the positive results outweigh any negatives / sacrifices I make to get them.
  • Make myself rare and valuable. I earn a great career when I have rare and valuable skills to offer in return.

Help people.

  • Serve others: Listen, and have empathy and compassion.
  • Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Find the people who love my work and it will spread by word of mouth.
  • Teach what I learn (to solidify the learning).
  • Don’t forget about me: Eat well, sleep well.

“The best way to make a living is to do a lot of favors for people. Eventually you can start charging. Derek Sivers

Build relationships & trust.

  • Don’t be a grumpy old man; instead spread some happiness, fun and love for life.
  • Bond people by promoting shared experiences and appreciation of others.
  • Surround myself with people who are kind to me and give me energy. Move away from the others.
  • Make regular contact with family, friends and others important to me.

Be curious.

  • Read obsessively.
  • Find the best mentors or sources of knowledge.
  • Keep experimenting to find what works.
  • Follow up: write an email to that person the next day, with the next step.


  • The important questions:
    • What can I offer the world?
    • What good can I do?
    • What change can I make?
  • Work on new ideas, contemplate old ideas, and use 1+1=3 (blending 2 good ideas to make a great idea).
  • Challenge my brain every day. It gets stronger and better, like a muscle.
  • Offer new ideas, developments and perspectives that widen our appreciation of the world.
  • Focus on the questions, not the answers. The right questions are where the opportunities lie. Answers can be easily searched or outsourced.
  • Write every day, with compassion, even if it’s just for me. Don’t worry about writing bad stuff. People will only remember the good stuff.
  • Don’t forget to play.


  • Diversify to manage risks:
    • Don’t bet the farm until a safety net is in place.
    • Only leave one job when another has proven it can make money.
    • Diversify my investments … both time and money.
  • Diversify in life.
    • Have multiple interests.
    • Understand why other people may have a point of view different to my own.
    • This way, I can blend ideas to multiply their greatness.

Hat tip to Anais for the fantastic Venn diagram showing ‘Life Purpose’.