Call to action

Core knowl­edge: List of com­mon hu­man goals
Part 1: Ex­plo­ra­tion-Ex­ploita­tion
Part 1a: The ap­pli­ca­tion of the sec­re­tary prob­lem to real life dat­ing
Part 1b: adding and re­mov­ing com­plex­ity from mod­el­s
Part 2: Bar­gain­ing Trade-offs to your brain.
Part 2a.1: A strat­egy against the call of the void.
Part 2a.2: The call of the void
Part 2b.1: Em­piri­cal time man­age­men­t
Part 2b.2: Me­mory and notepad­s
Part 3: The time that you have
Part 3a: A pur­pose find­ing ex­er­cise
Part 3b: Schel­ling points, tra­jec­to­ries and iter­a­tion cy­cles
Part 4: What does that look like in prac­tice?
Part 4a: Lost pur­poses – Do­ing what’s easy or what’s im­por­tan­t
Part 4b.1: In sup­port of yak shav­ing
Part 4b.2: Yak shav­ing 2
Part 4c: Filter on the way in, Filter on the way out…
Part 4d.1: Scien­tific method­
Part 4d.2: Quan­tified self­
Part 5: Skin in the game
Part 6
: Call to action

A note about the con­tents list; you can find the list in the main parts, the a,b,c parts are linked to from the main posts. If you un­der­stand them in the con­text they are men­tioned you can prob­a­bly skip them, but if you need the ex­pla­na­tion, click through.


If you un­der­stand ex­plo­ra­tion and ex­ploita­tion, you re­al­ise that some­times you need to stop ex­plor­ing and take ad­van­tage of what you know based on the value of the in­for­ma­tion that you have. At other times you will find your ex­ploita­tions are giv­ing you diminish­ing re­turns, you are stag­nat­ing and you need to dive into the cur­rents again, take some risks. If you are ac­cu­rately cal­ibrated, you will know what to do, whether to sharpen the saw, ed­u­cate your­self more or cut down the tree right now.

If you are not cal­ibrated yet and you want to start, you might want to em­piri­cally as­sess your time. You might like to ask your­self in light of the in­for­ma­tion of your time use all on one page – Am I ex­plor­ing and ex­ploit­ing enough? Re­mem­ber­ing you prob­a­bly make the most mea­surable and on­go­ing re­turns in the Ex­ploita­tion phase, how­ever the ex­plo­ra­tion might be seem more fun (to find ex­cit­ing and new knowl­edge), and the place where you grow, but are you sure that’s what you want to be do­ing in re­gard to the value re­turn by ex­ploit­ing?

Why were you not already ex­plor­ing and ex­ploit­ing in the right ra­tio? Brains are tricky things. You might need to bar­gain trade-offs to your own brain. You might be deal­ing with a Sys­tem2!un­der­stand­ing of what you want to do and try­ing to carry out a Sys­tem1!mo­ti­vated_ac­tion. The best thing to do is to ask the in­ter­nal dis­agree­ing parts, “How could I re­solve this dis­agree­ment in my head?”, “How will I re­solve my in­de­ci­sion at this time?“, “How do I go about gath­er­ing ev­i­dence for bet­ter mak­ing this de­ci­sion?”. This all starts with notic­ing. Notic­ing that dis­agree­ment, notic­ing the chance to re­solve the stress in your head…

Some­times we do things for bad, dumb, silly, ir­ra­tional, frus­trat­ing, self-defeat­ing, or ir­rele­vant rea­sons. All you re­ally have is the time you have. Peo­ple take ac­tions based on their de­sires and goals. That’s fine. You have 168 hours a week. As long as you are happy with how you spend it. If you are not con­tent, that’s when you have the choice to do some­thing else.

Look at all the things that you are do­ing or not do­ing that does not con­tribute to a spe­cific goal (a pro­cess called the im­mu­nity to change). This fun­da­men­tally hits on a uni­ver­sal; Namely what you are do­ing with your time is ev­ery­thing you are choos­ing not to do with your time. There is an equal and op­po­site op­por­tu­nity cost to each thing that you do. And that’s where we come to re­vealed prefer­ences.

Re­vealed prefer­ences are differ­ent to prefer­ences, they are in fact dis­tinctly differ­ent. I would ar­gue that re­vealed prefer­ences are much more real and the only real prefer­ence, be­cause it’s made up of what ac­tu­ally hap­pens, not just what you say you want to hap­pen. It’s firmly grounded in re­al­ity. The re­al­ity of what you choose to do with your time (what you chose to do with your time yes­ter­day).

On the one hand you can in­tro­spect, con­sider your ex­ist­ing re­vealed prefer­ences and let that in­form your fu­ture judge­ments and fu­ture ac­tions. As a per­son who has always watched ev­ery sea­son of your favourite TV show, you might de­cide to be the type of per­son for which TV shows mat­ter more than <ex­er­cise|re­la­tion­ships|learn­ing> or any num­ber of things. Good! Make that de­ci­sion with pride! What you cared about can be what you want to care about in the fu­ture, but it also might not be. That’s why you might want to take stock of what you are do­ing and al­ign what you are do­ing with your de­sired goals. Change what you re­veal with your on­go­ing ac­tions so that they re­flect who you want to be as a per­son.

Do you have skin in the game? Who do you want to be as a per­son? It’s a hard prob­lem. You want to figure out your de­sired goals. I don’t know how ex­actly to do that but I have some ideas. You can look around you at how other peo­ple do it, you can con­sider com­mon hu­man goals. Without ex­plain­ing why, “know­ing what your goals are” is im­por­tant, even if it takes a while to work that out.

If you know what your goals are you can com­pare your goals and the list of your em­piri­cal time use. Real­ise that ev­ery­thing that you do will take time. If these were your re­vealed prefer­ences, what do you re­veal that you care about? But wait, don’t stop there, con­sider your po­ten­tial:

Po­ten­tial To:

  • Dis­cover/​Define/​De­clare what you re­ally care about.

  • Define what re­sults you think you can aim for within what you re­ally care about.

  • Define what ac­tions you can take to yield a tra­jec­tory to­wards those re­sults.

  • Stick to it be­cause it’s what you re­ally want to do. What you care about.

That’s what’s im­por­tant right? Do­ing the work you value be­cause it leads to­wards your goals (which are the things you care about). If you are not do­ing that, then maybe your re­vealed prefer­ences are show­ing that you are not a very strate­gic hu­man. There is a solu­tion to that. Keep­ing your­self on track looks pretty easy when you think about it.

And If you find parts of your brain do­ing what they want at the detri­ment of other parts of your goals, you need to rea­son with them. This whole; define what you re­ally care about and then head to­wards it, you should know that it needs do­ing ASAP, or you are already mak­ing bad trade offs with your time.

Con­sider this post a call to ac­tion as a chance to be the you that you re­ally want to be! Get to it! With pas­sion and joy!


Core knowl­edge: List of com­mon hu­man goals
Part 1: Ex­plo­ra­tion-Ex­ploita­tion
Part 1a: The ap­pli­ca­tion of the sec­re­tary prob­lem to real life dat­ing
Part 1b: adding and re­mov­ing com­plex­ity from mod­el­s
Part 2: Bar­gain­ing Trade-offs to your brain.
Part 2a.1: A strat­egy against the call of the void.
Part 2a.2: The call of the void
Part 2b.1: Em­piri­cal time man­age­men­t
Part 2b.2: Me­mory and notepad­s
Part 3: The time that you have
Part 3a: A pur­pose find­ing ex­er­cise
Part 3b: Schel­ling points, tra­jec­to­ries and iter­a­tion cy­cles
Part 4: What does that look like in prac­tice?
Part 4a: Lost pur­poses – Do­ing what’s easy or what’s im­por­tan­t
Part 4b.1: In sup­port of yak shav­ing
Part 4b.2: Yak shav­ing 2
Part 4c: Filter on the way in, Filter on the way out…
Part 4d.1: Scien­tific method­
Part 4d.2: Quan­tified self­
Part 5: Skin in the game
Part 6
: Call to action

A note about the con­tents list; you can find the list in the main parts, the a,b,c parts are linked to from the main posts. If you un­der­stand them in the con­text they are men­tioned you can prob­a­bly skip them, but if you need the ex­pla­na­tion, click through.


Meta: This took about 3 hours to write, and was held up by many dis­trac­tions in my life.

I am not done. Not by any means. I feel like I left some unan­swered ques­tions along the way. Things like:

  • “I don’t know what is good, am I some­how bound by a duty to go seek­ing out what is good or truly im­por­tant to go do that?”

  • “So maybe I know what’s good, but I keep won­der­ing if it is the best thing to do. How can I be sure?”

  • “I am sure it is the best thing but I don’t seem to be do­ing it. What’s up?”

  • “I am do­ing the things I thing are right but other peo­ple keep try­ing to tell me I am not. What now?”

  • “I have a track record of get­ting it wrong a lot. How do I even trust my­self this time?”

  • “I am do­ing the thing but I feel wrong, what should I do about that?”

And many more. But I see other prob­lems worth writ­ing about first.