The thing about life is that there are always times when you question yourself.
You question your choices. You question your past decisions. You question the path you are on.
It’s all a matter of perspective.
One moment you are feeling good about yourself. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, the big bad monster called Comparison creeps up on you and engulfs you in his darkness.
I’ve been thinking lately about how we can live life without getting ourselves in a muddle caused by comparison. Getting off Facebook is not the answer. Especially now that videos load automatically.
I hit upon a philosophy that I call the ‘options theory of life’.
Options theory, at least in finance, is the study of financial options. These are contracts where you bet on a certain outcome, and make money if your bet pays off. If the outcome you wanted doesn’t happen, then you lose money.
The trick is to place yourself in situations where the amount of uncertain gain is far greater than the certain loss. If this experiment were to be repeated many times, you would end up in a situation where you profit in a big way at least a few times.
I don’t refer to loss and profit in this sense only in the form of money.
In life too, every major decision you make can be viewed as an option.
Whether you take up a job or start a company is an option. The job offers a steady paycheck, but you have very little chance of becoming rich. If that’s what you want.
The company on the other hand has a very slight chance of making you rich, but if the bet pays off, then you win handsomely.
Working in a field for which you have a lot of passion but no skills is another kind of option. You have the potential to experience unlimited joy by doing something you love, but you will have to spend a lot of time equipping yourself with the skills needed for success.
I have been thinking a lot about something 4 Hour Tim said:
“I view my life as a series of experiments. Some of them are crazy, but that doesn’t matter. They’re my dreams, and that doesn’t make them better or worse than anybody else’s. They just make them mine”.
An experiment is usually something with a certain outlay in terms of effort, time and resources. But its outcome is highly uncertain.
The key to a great life is, in my opinion, a series of experiments, most of which will fail. But your life will be defined by the few successes.
So the trick is to choose experiments at regular intervals where the outcome can change your life dramatically if it succeeds, but doesn’t leave you homeless, broke or dead if it doesn’t.
As long as such experimentation is not being conducted at the cost of making the people closest to you uncomfortable, unhappy or upset, it should definitely become a regular part of your life. It can take you and your life to very unexpected places.
Coming back to options, a philosophy of constant experimentation will force you to focus on yourself. How? Because when your focus is on the experiment, you should only be worried about how YOU can get to a successful outcome. If the experiment is something unique to you and your circumstances, then you won’ t have too many other people to compare yourself with. Comparison won’t help at all with getting you to where you need to go.
Your focus on your experiment will ensure that you don’t get bogged down, and give you all the energy you need to get to a successful outcome.
Ryan is an entrepreneur based in Bangalore who believes that the most rewarding learning experiences are driven by curiosity. He runs a school in Bangalore called Jigyasa The School, where the emphasis is on allowing children ample opportunity to learn by doing, making and collaborating in an environment which nurtures the freedom of movement and expression. Additionally, he is one of the lead instructors at The Crypto University, an online school where he teaches people from all over the world about the various quirks and innovations in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. He holds a BSc from Loughborough University, MFIN from University of Cambridge and has passed the CFA exams.