Earlier this year, I adopted the habit of reading something short before I go to bed and right upon waking up. The first book I used to build this habit was Seneca: Letters from a Stoic.
Seneca’s letters were short enough that this wasn’t a huge commitment. The trick is to find a book with really short chapters or small tidbits of wisdom or advice. My habit continues with Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss, as it also has short sections that can be read pretty quickly.
Recently, I read the section devoted to Derek Sivers. When asked what advice he would give to his 30 year old self, he responded with “Don’t be a donkey.”
This would have been wonderful advice for my 30 year old self, since it has only resonated with me in recent years.
The idea is this: the donkey is right in the middle (equidistant) of some hay and water, and is both thirsty and hungry. The donkey looks left, looks right, and repeats this as the donkey doesn’t know what need to satisfy first until it falls over dead from both thirst and hunger.
At whatever age we are, many of us want to do so much with the life that we have remaining. We’d like to try, learn, or experiment with so many new things, that we don’t know where to start. Sadly, because of this decision fatigue, we don’t start anywhere.
We, like the donkey, die of that decision fatigue, when all we needed to do is understand that if we choose something, there will be time in the future for that other thing as well!
Just last week, my friend Jonathan reminded me of a very important and related concept, that The Time Will Pass Anyway!
Quite some time ago, I remember wanting to learn or strengthen another language. But of what language should I learn more? I had a few years of Spanish in High School, a few semesters of German in college. I have visited France and want to return someday. I wanted to visit Scandinavia, but what country?
I finally made a decision to focus on Norwegian. “I’m going to learn Norwegian,” I told myself. This may take several years to get anywhere near fluent.
Those several years are going to pass me by, regardless of whether I had decided to learn a new language or not. Now that I’ve chosen a path, several years from now, I can choose another path.
I can go toward the hay, now that I’ve had that drink of water (or vice versa).
So what about you? Are you going to decide on something, or remain a confused ass?