Do you want to live your best possible life? If so, then there is a danger related to it that you need to be aware of. To explain it, I’d like to use a concept in mathematics called local maxima.
In mathematics, you often try to find the maximum value of a function. One example is finding the maximum revenue that you can get by adjusting the price of a product.
In a three dimensional space, finding the maximum value is similar to finding your way to the peak of a hill. In fact, the name of a technique for solving this problem is ‘hill climbing’. The technique helps you get to the peak of the hill you are currently at.
There is a danger here, though: it’s possible that you reach the peak of the hill you are at but miss a higher peak elsewhere! Why? Because you are climbing the wrong hill! You are optimizing the wrong thing. In this case, you will only reach the local maxima (the peak of your current hill) but miss the global maxima (the peak of the highest hill).
There is a profound lesson here related to personal effectiveness:
You could miss your best possible life because you are too busy optimizing your current life.
If that happened, your life would be suboptimal. You would only reach a local maxima but miss the global maxima.
Scary, isn’t it? It is, and the danger is real.
So what can we do about it?
I’m still working on it myself, but here are four tips from what I have learned.
1. Think Out of the Box
Why do people keep climbing the wrong hill? Well, a big reason is that they can’t see other hills out there. They can’t see other possibilities for their lives. They think that their current life is the only one for them.
This is the reason why thinking out of the box is important. You need to see the alternatives to your current life. You need to imagine how your life would be if it’s different.
To think out of the box, first, you need to recognize your boxes. What are the things that limit your thinking? What are the things that you assume can’t be changed? Identify them. Then think beyond them.
2. Be Adventurous
In addition to thinking out of the box, you need to have an adventurous mindset. There are at least two reasons why this mindset is important:
- It makes you eager to try new, unfamiliar things. After all, doing something novel is what an adventure is all about. If it’s already familiar to you, then it’s not an adventure; it’s just a routine.
- It makes you enjoy your journey despite setbacks. There will be some setbacks along the way; they are inevitable. But if you have an adventurous mindset, you will not consider them failures. Instead, you will think of them as just part of the game. After all, a game needs to be challenging to be fun!
One way to have an adventurous mindset is to think of your life as a giant video game, complete with its traps and levels. Aim to be the best player that you can be.
3. Diversify Your Life
Being on just one hill is a good recipe to miss your global maxima. The antidote? Put yourself on various hills.
For this, my best advice is to diversify your life. Meet new people. Start a side project. Go to new places.
Diversity can help you find opportunities that you would miss otherwise. It can help you find the right hill to climb.
It doesn’t mean losing focus, though. You shouldn’t spread yourself too thin. Instead, you could apply a variant of the 80/20 rule: put 80% of your resources on your current focus and the rest 20% on trying new things. Then, when you find something promising, you can shift more resources there.
4. Take Risks
To find your best possible life, you need to take risks. You need to leave your comfort zone. That means you should be willing to experience setbacks along the way.
Your life is too precious to be spent in mediocrity. So think out of the box. Be adventurous. Diversify your life. And take risks. You will then find your best possible life.