I’ve been considering starting a blog for weeks now, but only recently managed to sit down and finally start writing. So here it is: my first post! It took me a long time to concisely formulate an appropriate theme for my blog: Achieving Success with Minimal Effort. I’m lazy, and I aspire to be successful. Wouldn’t it be great if someone could just give you a simple guide to being awesome without actually doing much work?
It’s not that I’m opposed to working hard – I’m a 25 year old software developer with an engineering degree, but I’ve observed that hard work is only loosely correlated with success. Plenty of people are extremely talented and work very hard without achieving success proportional to their input effort. A few of these very intelligent and hard working individuals are almost complete failures with miserable finances, and troubled personal lives. What are they doing wrong, and how can I avoid being a sucker?
The funny thing about life is that you only get one shot at living it. There’s no saving your game so you can load it later when things go horribly wrong. You cannot start over to explore a different career path that you might have enjoyed, or to have those kids you thought you would never want. It’s actually quite a scary thought, as a single lifetime doesn’t leave a lot of time for fixing your blunders, or practising something before doing it for real. Just how competent can you get at anything?
I was thinking about this recently in the context of farming. Assume a crop takes one year to go from planting to harvest. How many crops can a person reasonably grow in a lifetime? If I were to start farming now at my current age of 25, I could get maybe 50 crops done before I retire. That’s it?! Ok, even if I was learning farming as a child, add another 20 crops. Somehow growing 70 crops doesn’t seem like enough time to practise sufficiently, let alone give me confidence in having a successful life as a farmer. Maybe if I include time spent on Farmville as practise time, I could massage the statistic into something more confidence inspiring…
As a kid, I looked at adults and assumed they were a bunch of generally competent wise elders. Now that I’m 25, I can say with certainty that a utopia of competent adults is a complete fiction. Adults are often as clueless as children, much worse listeners, have developed egos, bad habits, and are practised at self-delusion. As far as I can tell, almost no one knows what’s going on anywhere, and even those rare people who do seem powerless to start, stop, or significantly influence the tide of events that sweeps us all along the path of history.
The more I think, read, and discuss with friends, the more questions I have:
How do you define success in the first place? Are some measures objectively better than others?
Why does hard work often not yield success? Why do we expect it to?
Why is it so difficult to help people?
Why does it seem like one person’s life and actions are largely irrelevant?
It quickly became clear to me that I would not be able to answer these questions easily within a short period of time. Certainly attempting to address any of these questions in sufficient detail requires a great deal of thought, reading, debate, alcohol, and cigarettes.
For now, I will leave you with a beginning… the beginning of this blog as a life-long record of my thoughts and actions on living a successful life. Maybe someone out there can avoid my mistakes and failures, and adopt or improve on my successes. Be patient as this project will take time to evolve, and be careful: I have no idea what’s going on.