“Invert, always invert.” That’s my go-to strategy for finding solutions to challenges in my life and career.
In fact, that’s how I got started with blogging. While most bloggers focused on the “habits of billionaires,” I focused on the habits of unsuccessful people.
It’s a common thinking error to assume one can replicate success. “Well, if I do the same things as Elon Musk, I’ll be successful too!” To some degree, I think many of us would want that to be true. But one look around you will tell you it’s not. There are simply not that many billionaire entrepreneurs.
You’re more likely to succeed in life by looking at what unsuccessful people do. And then, simply avoid doing those things.
It’s the thinking framework that’s often attributed to mathematician Carl Jacobi. Charlie Munger is the one who popularized it. He’s the one who said this in Seeking Wisdom:
“Invert, always invert: Turn a situation or problem upside down. Look at it backward. What happens if all our plans go wrong? Where don’t we want to go, and how do you get there? Instead of looking for success, make a list of how to fail instead – through sloth, envy, resentment, self-pity, entitlement, all the mental habits of self-defeat. Avoid these qualities and you will succeed. Tell me where I’m going to die, that is, so I don’t go there.”
“Tell me how I can avoid feeling lost.”
In today’s world, it’s easy to feel lost. There are literally a million opportunities that you can pursue. And if that’s not paralyzing enough, it seems like everyone you see and meet is lightyears ahead of you.
People are rewarded for success, not for hard work. And because we all see the success, we strive for the rewards—not the work.
If you feel lost, it’s not surprising at all. In fact, it’s common. I even think it’s part of our personal journey. At some point, we’ve all looked in the mirror and asked ourselves: “What am I doing?”
Look, I can’t tell you what to do. That’s not how life works. I wish I could give you a roadmap to success in life. But as Charlie Munger said, it’s more helpful to turn a problem upside down.
Ask yourself what things you should NOT do if you’re lost. Now, that’s something I can share with you. Here are six things you want to avoid:
1. Binge watch a tv show
You have access to instant entertainment through the internet—anywhere, anytime. I got to admit, there’s A LOT of great content available.
There are 82 items on my IMDB watch list. All good shows and movies. Will I watch them all? Of course not. It’s a waste of my time.
When you spend a whole day on the couch consuming content; you’re a zombie—not a human being. A human goes out and does things. So stop watching, start doing.
2. Eat junk food
It will make you feel like shit. You know this damned well. And yet, we keep on eating.
Why? Simply because we started. Look, I can’t stop either when I open a bag of M&Ms. What do I do? I don’t open the bag. I don’t even buy that junk.
3. Procrastinating your dreams
Not trying is easier than trying. Not caring is easier than caring. Not taking action is easier than taking action.
You get the point. Not chasing your dreams and goals is the easiest thing in the world. Millions of people live their life like that. Let me tell you the truth: There’s no honor in being someone who waits until tomorrow.
Today is the day. “For what?” you might wonder. For taking action.
4. Make an emotional decision
We’re complex creatures. When we feel lost, we have this “screw everything” mentality. We all of a sudden stop caring about a lot of things. But at the same time, we feel like we have no time left.
That’s why feeling lost is an emotional state of mind you need to get out of. The reality is that you’re probably not going to die tomorrow. There’s a high probability you will grow old.
So when you’re making decisions, put it in a long-term perspective. Don’t rush anything. Don’t feel like you’re under pressure. If you lose an opportunity, so what? There will be a new one tomorrow.
Hence, take your time to think. Never make an emotional decision. If you feel like you need more time, TAKE MORE TIME.
5. Spend your money on crap you don’t need
We’re all consumers. We love to buy shit we don’t need. Online shopping is a multi-billion dollar business thanks to all of us—mindless consumers.
I do it too. And I feel good when I’m on a shopping spree. But then the high disappears and I think, “why did I spend my money? I have enough sneakers!”
6. Blame others
In the past, I loved blaming others for my life circumstances. I gave it to everything and everyone: Co-workers, the economy, politicians, the weather, strangers who didn’t want to do business with me, you name it.
But when we blame others, what are we actually doing? We’re escaping our challenges.
You and I both know that escaping only makes things worse. No one in the history of the world ever figured out the answers by escaping their problems.
That’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned. When you feel lost, don’t try to numb that feeling. Don’t push it away.
Instead, confront it. Seek it out. If you can’t do it alone, seek help. You’re not alone. We’re all in this together.
Living is a hard job. So don’t make it harder by running away. Helen Keller, the legendary deaf-blind author, said it best:
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
If you haven’t read her autobiography, The Story Of My Life, I highly recommend it. Either way, treat life as an adventure.
What happens after you’re lost on an adventure?
That’s right: You find the way.