10 Ideas That Changed Our Lives
Today at a Glance
- Last Friday in London, my friend Ali Abdaal and I hosted a live event at the London School of Economics in front of a sold out crowd of 500 people.
- We covered 10 ideas that changed our lives, on areas ranging from careers to relationships and more.
- The 10 ideas we shared: (1) There's no such thing as a loser who wakes up at 5am and works out, (2) Energy is not finite, (3) No one has it all figured out, (4) Direction over destination, (5) Who not how, (6) Increase your luck surface area, (7) Default to trust, (8) The waiting room is always full, (9) The good old days are happening right now, and (10) Time is your most precious asset.
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Last Friday, my friend Ali Abdaal and I hosted a live event at the London School of Economics in front of a sold out crowd of over 500 people.
The topic: 10 ideas that changed our lives.
In the spirit of openness, I want to share those ideas with all of you here today. My hope is that one of them connects with you—the right idea at the right moment—and creates a positive chain reaction in your life.
Here are the 10 ideas that changed our lives (and may change yours)...
1. There's no such thing as a loser who wakes up at 5am and works out.
In 2023, a young reader reached out and asked me for advice on how he could improve his standing in life.
The first piece of advice I provided: For the next two weeks, wake up every single day at 5am and go to the gym.
He seemed (understandably) confused at my non-career-related advice, so I explained:
A lot of success in life is determined by your own beliefs about yourself. When you're in a negative place, the most impactful action is the one that makes you self-identify as a winner.
When you wake up early and work out, you're doing one very hard thing that's within your control and proves that you're someone who does what they say they're going to do.
You've manufactured one piece of evidence that you are a winner. Suddenly, you start to see more evidence all around you. Winning begets more winning.
If you want to change your life, wake up early and work out. It's one simple action that has ripple effects into all areas of your life.
2. Energy is not finite.
We have a tendency to believe that energy is fixed and finite—that we start the day with a single full bar and slowly see it deteriorate throughout the course of the day.
That belief is incorrect.
Energy expands and contracts as a function of the activities you're engaged in. Certain activities are energy creating, certain activities are energy neutral, and certain activities are energy draining.
Most of us spend too little time in our energy creating activities, so lose sight of the fact that we are capable of so much more output than we think.
Note: Use my Energy Calendar Technique to identify your energy creating and energy draining activities. Spend the next few months slowly progressing towards a better balance of creating to draining in your life.
3. No one has it all figured out.
I have had the great privilege to spend time with some of the world's greatest builders, thinkers, and doers.
One of the most surprising insights I have gleaned from the experience:
No one has it all figured out. No one knows what they want to be when they grow up. Some are just a bit better at putting on a brave face, following their curiosity, and marching courageously into the unknown.
I've found it very comforting to know that you aren’t really supposed to “figure it out” when it comes to your future.
4. Direction over destination.
When Christopher Columbus set sail on his famous voyage, he did not have a specific destination in mind. Instead, he reasoned that if he sailed west, he would eventually reach the east (given the world was round!).
"Wayfinding" is the idea that you, like Columbus, should focus on direction over destination.
It is impossible (and rather anxiety-inducing) to attempt to determine your exact destination in life.
Instead, focus on pointing your compass in the right direction. If you do that—and regularly adjust course as necessary—you'll wind up where you were meant to be.
5. Focus on the WHO, not the HOW.
This is something I've changed my mind on in the last year:
I no longer focus on the journey or the destination, I focus on the people.
When you surround yourself with inspiring people, the journeys become more beautiful and the destinations become more brilliant.
It's impossible to sit where you are and plan out the perfect journey.
Instead, focus on the company—the people you want to journey with—and you'll find that the journey reveals itself in due time.
Nothing bad has ever come from surrounding yourself with inspiring, positive sum individuals. Find your tribe. Cherish them.
6. Increase your luck surface area.
In 1978, a neurologist named Dr. James Austin proposed that there are four types of luck:
- Blind Luck
- Luck from Motion
- Luck from Awareness
- Luck from Uniqueness
Blind Luck may dictate the early years of your life, but your journey in the later years is determined by Luck from Motion, Awareness, and Uniqueness, all of which are within your control.
You can take actions that expand your luck surface area. You can remove things from your life that are anti-luck (negative people, environments, and beliefs).
Always consider my Luck Razor:
When choosing between two paths, always choose the path that has a larger luck surface area. Ask yourself: Which of the two paths is more likely to lead to me getting lucky? Act accordingly.
7. Default to trust.
In a famous study on luck, Dr. Richard Wiseman gave a newspaper to two groups of study participants and asked them to count the number of photographs in it.
One group had self-identified as lucky, while the other group had self-identified as unlucky.
The unlucky group averaged 2 minutes to complete the exercise, while the lucky group averaged mere seconds.
Well, on page 2 of the newspaper, there was an enormous bold font print that read, "Stop counting, there are 43 photographs in this newspaper."
The lucky people had seen the writing, stopped, and responded accordingly to end the timer, while the unlucky people, on the other hand, had not.
Part of this is about trust: The lucky people had defaulted to trust the writing in the newspaper, while the unlucky people may have seen it, but assumed it was a trick.
In life, we all have a choice of whether to default to trust or skepticism.
Always default to trust.
When you occasionally get burned, view it as a tiny tax against all of the incredible benefit you will experience from this default setting.
8. The waiting room is always full.
Ali shared a story from his time as a doctor about the constant anxiety of feeling like he could never put a dent in the backlog of patients in the waiting room.
Cautioning against this anxiety, a mentor told him, "The waiting room is always full."
This is sage wisdom for life:
Your "waiting room" of things to do, projects to tackle, opportunities to address, people to see, and ideas to pursue will always be full. You will never make a dent in it—and expecting otherwise will only serve to create anxiety.
Do your best, work on energy creating activities, and have faith in the process.
9. The good old days are happening right now.
"I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them." - Andy Bernard, The Office
The "good old days" are happening right now. You're literally living them.
The life you're living today is something that your younger self would have dreamed of.
You've done more than you think and reached higher heights than you appreciate.
Zoom out and reclaim perspective.
10. Time is your most precious asset.
"We are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it." - Seneca
When you're young, you are a Time Billionaire—literally rich with time.
We fail to realize the value of this asset until it is gone.
To me, being a “Time Billionaire” isn’t necessarily about having the actual time, but about the awareness of the precious nature of the time you do have. It is about embracing the shortness of life and finding joy in ordinary daily moments of beauty.
As ambitious people, we spend most of our lives playing a game: Everything we do is in anticipation of a future. When it comes, we just reset to the next one:
- "I can’t wait until I’m 18 so I can [X]."
- "I can’t wait until I’m 25 so I can [Y]."
- "I can’t wait until I’m 45 so I can [Z]."
It’s natural, but it’s a dangerous game—one that we will lose, eventually.
We waste a lot of energy on past and future when present is all that’s guaranteed. We push for more—but really, we need to find our enough.
Never let the quest for more distract you from the beauty of enough.
A simple closing reminder: Treat time as your ultimate currency—it’s all you have and you can never get it back. Spend it wisely, with those you love, in ways you’ll never regret.
How to Change Your Life
I'll leave you with one final thought: Your entire life can change in three years.
Three years of focused, daily effort. One year may create a dramatic shift, but three years will blow your mind.
Trust me, I've lived it.
Three years ago, I was walking down a very different path. A good path, but not my path. Not the one that I would find meaning in. Not the one that I was uniquely made to follow.
Three years of focused, daily effort, and here we are: 500+ people coming out on a Friday night to meet, listen, ask, and share.
My younger, insecure, nervous self would be blown way. My present self is simply filled with gratitude.
After the event, we got kicked out of the venue and took to the streets. I stood out in the cold for two hours to make sure I met and spoke to every single person that stayed.
I heard stories from people in all walks of life. From a 17-year-old deciding whether to go all in on his entrepreneurial dream to a 40-year-old who had tragically lost a child. There were smiles, tears, laughs, and more.
The experience reinvigorated my energy in my singular mission: To create positive ripples in the world.
I still don't know what my exact path looks like, but I'm certainly walking it.
"As you start to walk on the way, the way appears." - Rumi