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9 Predictions for the Year 2050

Highlights: in the year 2050, we still haven't met the aliens, Zoom is like Myspace, and American football goes away. There's much more in the post.

Last year I read Remembrance of Earth's Past, a science fiction trilogy by Chinese author Liu Cixin. The total length runs to more than 1,300 pages, but I loved it so much I would have kept reading if there was another book in the series.

The story has several themes and takes place across tens of thousands of years. Repeatedly, scientists and political leaders living in one point of history are trying to plan for something that will occur hundreds of years later, long after they'll be dead.

It turns out that trying to predict the future is tough!

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Always Ask for What You Want: A Lesson in Asymmetrical Risk

TLDR: An asymmetrical risk is one where the potential reward greatly outweighs the potential loss. Identify and take more of these risks.

Every so often, a news article that offers "expert advice" on getting upgraded at the airport makes the rounds. Inevitably, the advice includes something about how you should "dress well and ask nicely."

Real travel experts always roll their eyes at such advice. These days, almost all upgrades are handled through computer systems based on elite status, travel disruptions, and other automated factors.

The travel experts then write their own articles explaining why the advice is dumb, and the process repeats a few months later.

I'm with the real travel experts: the advice on asking for upgrades is just clickbait. Yet I can't help but remember a time many years ago—way back in 2007, I think—when I was traveling from Copenhagen to Chicago.

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Develop Your Dominant Questions

One time, Will Smith was working on a film set in Toronto. It was the middle of winter and they were shooting night scenes, so the actors and crew worked 6pm to 6am. Brrr! 🥶

During breaks, Smith could have huddled in his trailer, complaining about the bitter cold. Instead, he ran around making jokes and delivering hot chocolate to crew members. He acted on a question that he later explained is constantly on his mind: How can I make this experience more magical?

Working in the cold sucks, but the job had to be done. Rather than complain about it, and rather than just endure it, Smith set out to make the experience better (or "more magical") for everyone else.

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Risky Decisions That Turned Out Well

Strategy: To increase your risk tolerance, remind yourself of risky decisions that have turned out well.

As with the list of things you've done that few other people have, this is not merely a list of accomplishments. The key point is to identify risks you've taken, bold moves, and other decisions you made that could have gone south but ended up paying off.

Of course, what's "bold" for you may be different from me, and vice versa. But here are a few of mine...

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Would You Live Your Same Life Over Again?

Among other things, the German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was known for an outrageous mustache that frightened away potential soulmates. He also said a lot of outrageous things, which caused him to be shunned by much of society at the time.

One of those things was a simple, provocative question: “What if I had to live this life over again—would I be able to stand it?”

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What to Do About That Thing You’ve Been Putting Off

You know how there's something you've been putting off? Maybe you've had it on your to-do list every day for the past fifteen days. Every morning, you think, "I'll finally do that thing today" ... but you don't. The next day, you dutifully carry it over again ... and you still don't complete the task.

Never underestimate the strength of psychic resistance. Dread is a powerful emotion.

I speak from experience, of course. And after I noticed I was spending a ton of energy worrying about something I had to do but not actually doing it—I made a plan. The plan is two-fold, and I offer it here for your use as well.

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Uncomfortable Is Not Unsafe

TLDR: Being uncomfortable is not the same as being unsafe. Avoid things that are fundamentally unsafe, but move in the direction of your discomfort.

When I think about my early years of world travel, there are a few times where I genuinely felt unsafe. Those aren't memories I care to relive, and overall I feel very fortunate to have been to all sorts of places that most travelers avoid: Libya, Syria, Somaliland, Afghanistan, and so on.

Most of the time—by an enormous margin—I felt safe everywhere I went. I was almost always treated well and helped by total strangers.

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The Latest in Travel Hacking

In what now feels like a previous life, I used to travel around the world almost every month. I slowed down a bit two years before the pandemic started, but I still took time for an international trip every six weeks at most.

I was also involved in the early days of the "travel hacking" world. I founded a service, the Travel Hacking Cartel, that served 12,000 members over nearly a decade. I also blogged regularly about credit card deals and other interesting opportunities: getting a hair-loss consultation to earn SkyMiles, for example, or spending $8,000 on useless stickers in exchange for 300,000 frequent flyer miles.

I don't do much work in that world any more, but I still benefit from everything I learned and all the mileage balances I accrued over the years.

If you originally found my blog for travel deals, you might miss hearing about them—so I figured I'd pop my head up to do an extended post for those who are interested.

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How to Talk to Someone Who Believes a Conspiracy Theory

I just came from the pizza parlor that doubles as a global headquarters for child trafficking. I counted up some ballots that proved the election was stolen.

On the way back, I stopped by the drugstore to get my microchip. I tried to tell the pharmacists about how 9/11 was an inside job, but they didn't seem interested.

Okay, let's slow down. I'd like to address a topic that has become increasingly relevant: how to talk to someone who believes in a conspiracy theory.

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How to Get Better at Saying No

Every request you accept comes with a cost.

If you want to be more effective, if you want to "get more done," or even if you just want some breathing room in your life, you need to say no more often.

For some of us, of course, this is easier said than done. The inability to say no is one of the things that contributes the most to overwhelm. It can even lead to feelings of guilt or shame—you feel guilty for “letting someone down” even though you’re struggling to keep up on your own.

What should you say no to? That's up to you! But here's a start: anything that you don't want to do.

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What is the bravest choice you can make right now?

If you want to be more courageous, you have to make brave choices. Sounds simple enough—but how do you know which of those choices to make next?

When I first thought about the question for myself—what’s the bravest choice I can make right now?—I didn’t have an obvious answer. And that felt a little discouraging!

It was like being in a room with inspiring people, all talking about the big important projects they’re working on, and when my turn comes I say something like “Oh, I don’t know … I’m pretty much doing the same stuff as always.”

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Do you feel anxious about time? Take this survey!

--> 5-minute survey on Time Anxiety

I received a flurry of responses to my initial post on time anxiety, and it's been interesting to hear lots of stories from readers. To recap:

Time anxiety is the fear of running out of time. You feel like there's something you should be doing, but you're not sure what it is.

I believe that time anxiety is the most pressing problem of the modern world. Once you work your way through Maslow’s hierarchy and your basic needs are taken care of, you start worrying about time—and you never stop.

  • You worry that time is passing you by
  • You worry you’re too late or you missed your chance for something important
  • You worry there’s something you should be doing right now, but you’re not sure what it is

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What’s something you’ve done that few other people have?

It's a simple question: what have you done that few other people have? Think about it.

Naturally you might start to list your accomplishments or achievements. Some of those might make the list, but many would fit in a different category. A lot of things you accomplish are things that other people have done as well. In addition, perhaps you've done something that isn't quite an accomplishment per se, but it's rare to meet someone else who's had the same experience.

Those are the things that should go on this list.

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The Great Resignation: If Your Job Sucks, Now Is the Time to Stop Doing It

If you don't like your job, what would happen if you walked away?

I've been asking this question off and on for over a decade. Unless you plan on living forever, why in the world should you devote the majority of your productive hours each week to something you don't enjoy?

All that time, I haven't exactly been speaking into a void. I hear from people almost every day who have followed through on some sort of exit plan.

It's clear, however, that something is different now. Very different. What's different is that millions of people are actually quitting their jobs! Four million Americans just in April 2021, according to government statistics, and many millions since.

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