November 12, 2020

Sunk Costs and Change

Jason Zweig, the Wall Street Journal investment columnist, worked with psychologist Daniel Kahneman on writing Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow. Zweig once told a story about a personality quirk of Kahneman’s that served him well: Nothing amazed me more about Danny than his ability to detonate what we had just done,” Zweig wrote. He and Kahneman could work endlessly on a chapter, but:

The next thing you know, [Kahneman] sends a version so utterly transformed that it is unrecognizable: It begins differently, it ends differently, it incorporates anecdotes and evidence you never would have thought of, it draws on research that you’ve never heard of.

When I asked Danny how he could start again as if we had never written an earlier draft,” Zweig continued, he said the words I’ve never forgotten: I have no sunk costs.’”

Sunk costs—anchoring decisions to past efforts that can’t be refunded—are a devil in a world where people change over time. They make our future selves prisoners to our past, different, selves.

People change, and their goals change with them. This passage from the Psychology of Money [1] hit me like a truck. I have changed so much and my priorities now are so different. Yet, I still cling to past efforts and let them guide decisions for me.

The ability to have no sunk costs is crucial in a world of constant change. I had a conversation with a YC founder about this. We were talking about their ability to make drastic pivots upon product and vision. I asked them how they became bold enough to make those choices. They told me that it was a choice that seems right, and they don’t see it as bold. They made a comment that their immediate network praised them for that ability, but they saw it as normal.

I realized that their team have no sunk costs. They are willing to let go of their previous efforts in pursuit of a new idea, vision, or product.

Having no sunk costs is an asset. It ensures that as you change, you are willing to adjust your goals and priorities.

Notes

[1] Excerpt From: Morgan Housel. The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness.”

November 8, 2020

Personal Reflection On Internships: November 8th 2020

Right now it’s recruiting season. For many people in the CS industry, myself included, it’s a time of stress, anxiety, jealousy, and fear.

What if I don’t get a big internship this summer?”

I didn’t get an interview for any of the companies I wanted but my friends did. Does this mean I suck? Should I quit and give up?”

I’m so excited I got this internship offer, but another person I know got a more prestigious one. I don’t feel as happy anymore.”

The above statements are things that I’ve heard or told myself these past few months.

The reason I’m writing this post is to acknowledge something that I’m experiencing. Thinking about how others perceive me. Wondering about how my internship will impact my image. Narrowly focusing on a magical end result.

For many students, these are feelings that the internship hunt brings along.

To be honest, I don’t know how to solve this problem. I don’t know how to overcome getting caught up with my image, instead of what I actually want to be doing.

Speaking to a friend today, he told me that even when you get your big” internship it won’t be enough. There will always be something bigger to chase. Something more exclusive. Something better paying. Something with more perks.

I’m writing this to remind myself. There isn’t going to be a point where I will be satisfied with my career life if I think this way. If I obsess over an image, I’m going to keep chasing until I burn out.

The feel-good answer to my dilemma is that the valuable part is the process. That the experiences I will reminisce about are the challenges that I’ve overcome. Not the outcomes. It’s hard to think about it this way right now, because I have this perfect future in mind.

With internships what is my goal? Why am I even doing them in the first place? Thinking about these two things: I want to find out what problems I care about and the things I enjoy doing. I want to find what my strengths are and how I can use them to the best of my abilities. Right now, I should use my time to experiment.

November 3, 2020 Moment Reflection

Writing For Myself: Reflecting On Why I Didn’t Publish For Month

It has been exactly one month since my last post. I told myself that I was too busy to write. Simply overwhelmed by school, work, and internship hunting. The truth is, I lost the motivation to write.

On the phone today with James I realized that I stopped because I forgot why I started. I started this blog to have a body of work to represent me. To create something that represents me.

But, as time progressed the reason I was writing was to impress readers with my ideas. To be respected for my ideas. To sound smart.

It wasn’t about me anymore, it was about what other people thought of me.

This blog is a hobby. A public thought wall. Something to reflect on. A place to jot down my current headspace.

James told me that writing is not mutually exclusive with anything. It is something that can express any topic. Over the summer I was writing any idea in mind. The ideas did not stop. I became afraid to publish them because I felt that they weren’t groundbreaking or different.

I’m not trying to become a professional writer. I’m doing this for fun. That’s it. I don’t want to set that expectation upon myself, because then it becomes work. And for the most part, hobbies shouldn’t feel like work.

October 3, 2020

Reading Compounds

What habits compound?

The first thing that comes to mind is reading.

The foundation of learning is reading.” - Naval

Compound interest: Compound interest (or compounding interest) is the interest on a loan or deposit calculated based on both the initial principal and the accumulated interest from previous periods. Compound returns often cause exponential growth.

The act of reading compounds overtime.

Reading for 15 mins will probably feel insignificant. Over a large period of time though, consistently reading for 15 minutes everyday will heed exponential returns.

The fundamentals that you base your knowledge upon on will grow, and eventually you will be able to derive things from first principles.

Connecting The Dots

Steve Jobs famously took a typography class in college. 10 years later, that class inspired him to add different font faces to the first Macintosh.

What you learn now might not be useful in the moment. But eventually, it will all come together.

Believing the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your curiosities” - Steve Jobs

I’ve been reading a lot of Charlie Munger, Naval, and Farnam Street lately so kudos to them for inspiration.

September 25, 2020 Reflection

Be You: Some Thoughts On Self Improvement

A problem I had with self improvement is that I kept searching for the best way to do something, not the best thing for me.

I struggled with this for a while. I felt the need to mimic others because I saw their results. For example, I used to force myself to wake up at 5am. At first I felt productive”, however, I quickly realized that my social life consists of late nights.

The hard part of living in the digital age is that we see everyone all around us in instant time.

TLDR: Be you. Recognize when things don’t align with your lifestyle and personality.

September 13, 2020 Reflection

Self Belief: Achievement vs Honesty

Instead of attaching my self-belief to achievement, attach it to being honest with yourself.

If I acknowledge yourself for who I am, then I won’t be upset.

Then I won’t lie to myself. Then I won’t be arrogant. You think you’re already good enough when you’re arrogant. If I’m not good enough then why be bitter?

You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” - Jim Stockdale

September 6, 2020 School

The Best Way to Take in Information

This upcoming term I’m taking a few online courses.

Something I’ve learned is that I understand information faster when I read. To read something, I have to be fully focused. Videos, on the other hand, can be lazily watched.

August 29, 2020 World

Seeing The World in Grey

I feel that I’ve been conditioned to see the world in black and white. I’m either good or terrible. Life is either amazing or awful. A country is either good or evil.

The world is a grey place. There are many factors to consider when analyzing a situation, person, or decision.

August 23, 2020 Thoughts

Growth

Growth is admitting where one is wrong.
Growth is changing your beliefs.
Growth is challenging your beliefs.
Growth is rewriting your narrative.
Growth is unlearning.

August 22, 2020

Meeting New People

I used to be afraid of approaching new people. Now it’s different—I don’t have a hard time approaching new people.

I realized that everyone wants to have good conversations, so be the vessel and provide them.


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