Question the defaults

If something is a default, question why that is. Many people find defaults to be the safe choice. “Everyone is doing it, so I probably should to.”

Ever since I was young I’ve questioned defaults and common practices. The big ones being religion and spending money. These are two things I still question today. But I’ve always had that habit of going against what everyone else did, because I wanted to be different.

But, there are still many things which I didn’t question and probably should have: Going to college right after high school, needing to get straight As in middle school through college, having a prestigious job.

It’s interesting to look back on life and see all the missteps I took and how much my thinking has changed. Even just a few years ago I had a different mindset than I do now.

Stopping to question defaults is a good way to think for yourself rather than how society wants you to think.

One example for me is spending money on a big house. Most people get to a certain age and figure they’re around that time to settle down, but who says so? Then they figure the next move is to get a house. But why do they need one? They also want to get a decent-sized house and were told they could afford a $300,000 mortgage. But do they really want to be paying off that mortgage for the next 30 years?

For a lot of things, I opt out of the defaults because I’m already a bit weird. I don’t like to buy things, I am extremely frugal, I’m content having a 500 square foot house. So for me, buying a typical home with a mortgage is something I just don’t plan to do.

There are so many other defaults that should be questioned:

  • Marriage
  • Needing a car
  • Watching TV
  • Social media
  • Buying certain clothes

Something I try to think about is: Am I doing this for others or for myself? This is especially true when it comes to clothing. I rarely buy clothes unless I really need to. Many times I find myself looking at shoes or clothes in the store and thinking “Do I really need this?” and 99% of the time the answer is no. We like clothes because they make us feel good and they are a signal to others. And that’s typically why many of us want to buy new outfits. The most recent thing I bought was a pair of sneakers for a month-long trip. Did I by them to show off to others? No, I bought them to have comfortable shoes for walking around.

I find that many defaults revolve around big sums of money:

  • Going to college
  • Going to grad school or getting an MBA
  • Buying a nice car
  • Having a big wedding

These are many of the ways that people can go into debt. College is still a default for many high school students, as it was for me 8 years ago. But if you ask many of the students paying down big loans if they ever questioned going to college, the answer is probably no.

Tldr; If something seems like a default, take some time to question why that is and develop your own opinion on it. 


My favorite podcasts

Update June 2018

I’m addicted to podcasts. Anytime I’m not in the company of someone else, I’m probably listening to a podcast. I use the Podcast Addict app on my phone, a little buggy at times but it works.

Here are my favorite podcasts right now…

Made You Think
I’m obsessed with this podcast right now. Neil and Nat talk about interesting books and ideas. Two guys I’d like to hang out with, and this podcast makes it feel like I’m doing just that.

Nat Chat
Nat Eliason talks to interesting guests about their career paths and how they have gone out into the world after college by not following traditional paths.

Invisible Office Hours
Paul Jarvis and Jason Zook are just two interesting guys and they talk about interesting stuff. I could listen to a 5 hour podcast of them.

Rough Translation
Stories from other countries and cultures.

The Frontline Dispatch
I love Frontline documentaries so of course I love this podcast. The Child Marriage in America episode is well worth a listen.

The Kevin Rose Show
I’ve been following Kevin since Diggnation (my first podcast!). I don’t like all the episodes, but every once in a while he has someone interesting on like Tim Urban and Chris Hutchins.

I’ve read nearly all of Adam Grant’s books. His podcast is all about work like how to love criticism and faking emotions at work.

This American Life
One of the best podcasts out there still, just listen to it

If you like the books you’ll like this podcast.

Super interest stories about so many different things: color, figure skating, a beetle

99% Invisible
Stories about the hidden design aspects of our world

Reply All
Stories about the internet

The first season followed Alex Blumberg creating Gimlet Media, a podcast company. Subsequent seasons follow other businesses.

The podcast is OK, but I’d recommend just the first season.

Planet Money
Started off covering the financial crisis, now they discuss all aspects of business and the economy.

Leadpage’s podcast with interviews about different tactics to increase leads, clicks, etc.

I don’t think this is a podcast anymore, and I’m also getting tired of marketing podcasts.

Great show about different crimes. One was about people stealing petrified wood from a forest, while another was about a murder.

Listen to the one about the guy using echo location to “see” as a blind person.

Surprisingly Awesome
They take a boring topic and make it interesting: concrete, mattresses, free throws.

Not that interested anymore

Tim Ferriss Show
He always has great interviews and somehow finds people I’ve never heard of and gets me super interested in them. Lately I haven’t been liking the guests and I feel like Tim repeats himself a lot. So I don’t listen as much as I used to.

Zero to Scale
This is one I just got into recently because I heard an episode with Bryan Harris. All about the journey of two entrepreneurs where they actually talk about business, surprising right?

They stopped doing this podcast 🙁

How to look forward to the gym

I enjoy the gym. Ever since high school I’ve made it a habit to go daily just as a way to get out of the house and get moving.

Especially since I started working from home 4 years ago, the gym has become even more important to my daily schedule. I picked a time in the morning so it’s right after a big chunk of work. I can clear my head and start thinking of new ideas. And then I can come back and work a little bit more.

But as someone who doesn’t like the gym, how can you motivate yourself to go?

  1. Have a good book or audiobook and only consume it at the gym
    This is how I got through all of the A Song of Ice and Fire books (Game of Thrones) within a year in college.
  2. Have podcasts you only listen to at the gym
  3. Save your favorite show for the gym
  4. Have a set time to go (mine is around 10-11am every day)