Top of Your Todo List

Paul Graham is an expert in the Lisp programming language, co-founder of the tech incubator Y Combinator, and writes at paulgraham.com on entrepreneurship, hackers, and, in his last post, life: The Top of My Todo List.

It’s short and intersects with the spirit of my last three blog posts. Here is the punch line:

Don’t ignore your dreams; don’t work too much; say what you think; cultivate friendships; be happy.

I have heard that one of the big goals of life is essentially to die well: to lie on your death bed and know you’ve given your greatest gift. Paul sums this up: don’t be a cog. I like how Chris Guillebeau phrases it in ‘The $100 Startup’, which is actually from Steve Jobs: Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

Read Paul’s essay here.

Find Your Path via Dreamlining

Ah, Dreamlining. Putting a timeline to your dreams. Defining them and their costs, and then creating a plan to realize them within 6 months, the first step of which can be taken today. In ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss, he goes into detail about how to do this, providing a worksheet to fill out how you would realize ‘the four dreams that would change it all’.

Man, doesn’t that sound great? The four dreams that would change it all… How about just one dream – let’s start with that. Need a little help? (I want a motorcycle! I already have the jacket…) He provided some questions that should get that dream engine started. Ask yourself the following.

  • What if there was no way I could fail?
  • What if I were 10 times smarter than the rest of the world?
  • What would I do day to day if $100 million were in the bank?
  • What am I most excited to wake up to day to day?
  • What am I good at?
  • What could I be best at?
  • What makes me happy?
  • What excites me?
  • What makes me feel accomplished & good about myself?
  • Can I repeat or further develop what I’m most proud of having accomplished in my life?
  • What do I enjoy sharing or experiencing with other people?

So go ahead. I’m sure your gut has an answer. What are the four dreams that would change it all?

Find Your Path via Alignment

Steve Pavlina, at his website, StevePavlina.com (Personal Development for Smart People), covers a lot of deep and practical approaches to growing as a conscious human being. To find your purpose in life, he first advises you come to terms with your actions and beliefs, not what you think you believe or think you should believe. This is your context. If you want to change your context to a more empowering one, you first have to accept what you’ve got for a world view and what you really value.

I’m going to skip a few steps and get to something really juicy. He proposes the concept of living congruently, where each aspect/category of your life (work, family, fun, spirit, etc.) is in alignment because they follow the same set of values. In this sense, you are also living with clarity because once you’ve identified values that ring true with you, all aspects of your life work together towards your life purpose, the big example being what you do for work is also something you enjoy.

To get to this point, your answers to the following four questions should ideally be the same.

  • What SHOULD I do?
  • What MUST I do?
  • What CAN I do?
  • What do I WANT to do?

Align the answers to these questions, and you have alignment in your life.

Find Your Path via Unique Ability

The concept of ‘Unique Ability’ by Dan Sullivan was introduced to me via watching/listening to the DVD program ‘On Being A Man’ by David DeAngelo. David mentions this as one way to find your heart-centered purpose / path / mission in life. Just by going over how it’s defined here has seriously helped me confirm mine.

  • It Is A Superior Ability – other people notice it and value it
  • You Love Doing It – and want to do it as much as possible
  • It Energizes You – and others around you
  • You Keep Getting Better At It – there are always possibilities to improve

The next two posts will cover other sets of questions that have aided in uncovering my vision for myself, strategically critical as a Product Owner.

OK, so let’s read those four bullet points again.

Now… did you feel that? That click? That slight internal shifting of realization?

You know your unique ability. You know what it is.

Can you accept it?

Create & Connect, Supply & Demand

I just finished writing up my notes from ‘The $100 Startup’ by Chris Guillebeau. One of the points he stresses is the sequence of creating something of value, followed by connecting with people to share it.

The thing of value is something in which you are skilled, or is fully engaging, or elicits your passion, or is a combination of the three (ideally, no?). The connecting is sharing, or teaching, or somehow helping others, specifically helping others feel better (or less worse, he actually goes into this a little bit). And yes, this thing you’re sharing should also be what some others would want – go find your target market (…he later goes into it not mattering how many people don’t get it, but how many people do…).

This reframing of ‘Supply & Demand’ I find more… welcoming. Can you feel the humanity? You are no longer in a flea market.

Party A: Cool-looking old books, here! Man, do these suckers smell great, and they look damn vintage, too. You don’t even have to flipping read them – impress your friends when they check out your mantle!

Party B: Why, hello there, good sir! I was just passing through and recalled that my bookshelves do seem a little peckish. I will have five. And here, take some Shillings. There. Good day to you.

To ‘Create & Connect’ connotes effort and is more personal. Somebody created this thing. Somebody put time and energy and focus into making this thing, and now that somebody – me – I’ve manifested something that once wasn’t, and I want to make a connection with you. That’s right – I’m looking you in the eye – hey there – shake my hand. (Let’s bond over the possible commonality that is this thing I’ve created and you’re buying. Have you seen my mantle?)

Yes, ‘Supply & Demand’ allows for much easier plotting of curves on 2-D graphs, but ‘Create & Connect’ adds a human factor to the concept of exchanging value. You might make a friend. Hell, maybe a fan.