I've decided I'm not starting another startup.

Thread: How to tell when you're working on the wrong thing.
Here's what happened. I spent an hour listing out everything I care about: 

Human connection, self-education, leverage, and so on. 

In the process, I surprised myself: for me, there's a much better way to achieve these goals than starting another startup.
So I'm sharing the framework I used—to maybe help others come to similar realizations.


What should you actually be working on in life?
What I did was take pen to paper to list all the values I care about.

My goal was to articulate how I subconsciously assess the value of a new project.
The values I listed:

• Using my talents: Deploying skills
• Adventure: Accruing novel experiences
• Being social: Connect with others
• Knowledge: Become more knowledgeable
• ‍Leverage: Acquire resources and connections
• ‍Fame: Build an audience
• Money: Increase wealth
It took 15 minutes to confront that those are the things I care about—to varying degrees.

What's crazy is that I didn’t do this exercise until a few years ago.

Throughout ~30 years, I had never taken 15 minutes to be more deliberate about my pursuit of... life itself.
This blindness emerges because our core values shift slowly over time. They quietly reach a tipping point where what we were just doing is no longer the best thing for our future selves.

It's not self-evident when this happens.

We're like frogs in boiling water.
Which means we need the discipline to periodically break out of life's momentum to reflect on what we should be doing today.

Personally, my goal was to decide between startups or doubling down on content creation.

Which pursuit better satisfies my values these days?
In short, for everything you currently spend time on, ask: What's the core value I care about attaining? Add that to your values list.

Again, my list:

• Use Talent
• Adventure
• Be social
• Knowledge
• ‍Leverage
• ‍Fame
• Money

Yours will differ. We're not the same.
Next, I followed these steps:

• I ordered my values by what I care most about today.

• I drew checkmarks next to values that were fulfilled by two projects: startups and writing.

• It was eye opening: turns out that writing has far more top-ranked checks than startups do.
But ranking the values was difficult. What goes at the top?

I had to keep three things in mind:

• Order Money low on the list
• Don't inherit my social circle's values as my own
• Order Knowledge and Using Talents very highly

I believe these are where people may go wrong.
Knowledge and Using Talent should be ranked highly because I feel they're required for sustaining enthusiasm for long-term projects:

• Knowledge leads to personal growth

• Exercising talents leads to being challenged and entering a flow state
This is important because success isn't an end state. Success is having the freedom to focus on the grind you actually enjoy.
For me, writing satisfies both of these objectives.

The more guides I write, the better I navigate the world's knowledge and can meaningfully reshape it.
Now, for the bigger caution: Try to avoid adopting your social bubble's values as your own. This is groupthink.

The people surrounding you may distort the perception of your own values.

E.g. If friends are talking about startups all the time... that will seep into your brain.
Let me paint with SUPER broad strokes (don't shoot me) to show you what I mean.

Here are the types of people you might have in your bubble:

• Entrepreneurs might think “making the most out of life” means having the biggest impact on the world and getting rich while doing it.
• Hustlers might think that “making the most out of life” means exploiting resources to gain as much wealth, power, and fame as they can.

• Academics might think it means researching and experimenting to surface insights and advance understanding.
• Artists might think it means fully expressing themselves and connecting with people or nature as profoundly as they can.

Again, these are silly broad strokes just to make the point that you should probably ask yourself:
"Has my social circle caused me to overvalue certain definitions of life's purpose?"

To break from this groupthink, I ask myself:

What would I do with my life if I could start all over again?
"I’ve noticed that many people compete in games they don’t understand because they are modeling the behavior of people around them. Most common is the competition for wealth as a proxy for happiness." —Michael Seibel
Now for my final unsolicited advice on ordering values:

Money 😂

I pursued startups for longer than I should have because they have unparalleled potential for generating stupid amounts of money and impact, and that's what my old self wanted.
But what would huge amounts of money do for me?

I guess it would help me fulfill more of the values I care about. Meaning, I can convert money into Knowledge, Fame, Leverage, Adventure, and so on.
But, if writing gets me more of those values IMMEDIATELY...

... then what's the point of taking a decades-long detour to simply turn Money back into my top-ranked values?
Frankly, after observing friends who’ve sold startups and made millions: After a year, they’re back to toying with their old side projects.

They used their money to buy a nice home and eat well.

That’s mostly it. They’re otherwise back to who they were.
Okay, so getting rich may be an unnecessary detour for many. (Not to all, to each their own!)

But it's not as if this exercise somehow extinguished my passion for startups.

How can I kill my momentum and not feel like part of my identity is being thrown into the garbage?
By remembering that the exercise is for identifying what to do based on my values TODAY.

My values may change again. Perhaps they’ll drift back to startups.

If so, that’s when I’ll do one.

But not one minute before. Otherwise I'm putting my values on hold, and life is short.
To summarize:

• Try listing values you care about when pursuing projects
• Order them from most to least important today
• For each project you're considering, place a check next to the value it's likely to fulfill
• Rank Knowledge + Use Talents high
• Maybe rank Money low?
If this exercise doesn't help you today, that's okay. I think what matters is that you establish a routine of periodic self-assessment.

That's the takeaway of this thread:

We fundamentally change over time, but it's not obvious unless we pause to self-assess.
Once you uncover what you should actually be doing—and you can wholeheartedly justify it to yourself—there's nothing more empowering.

Most of us just never sit down to confront who we are today.
Next thread is on how to break out of your social bubble.

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We bail on ideas that we lack high conviction for. So, internalize the importance of a project before starting it.

You can do this by confronting the outcomes you care about when pursuing a project:
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