When people ask me for a framework to decide what to do in life, I ask them to imagine themselves in their 40s, and then ask what would their ideal life look like then.

If they can’t think of anything, I ask them to think of a person who is in their 40s and whose life they admire the most.

Then I ask them what are the aspects of this person’s life they admire and want to have.

I did this exercise with a junior from college recently who was super confused about what to do next and was asking my opinion on whether to go for higher studies, stay at his current job or switch to a better paying one.

His answer to my question was Patrick McKenzie; being able to work on cool stuff, have time to write, contribute to open source.

All of a sudden it was clearer to him what he wanted in life. Disclaimer: If you want the life of any person at 40, you should be able to do all the things they did to reach there. You can’t aspire for a life like Musk’s if you are not working 15-20 hours/ day.

For me, instead of aspiring to live the life of a specific person, I think of the traits I want to have by the time I am 50.

Some of them which I can think of right now are

  • Being strategic like Ben Thompson
  • Operating like Keith Rabois
  • Storytelling like Seth Godin
  • Being as fit as Rabois, who is not just a world class operator, but also a VC and a fitness enthusiast
  • Thinking and writing like Paul Graham
  • Picking up multiple things like Sahil Lavingia: startup he can leave in cruise control if he wants, painting, writing
  • Taste in photography and life like Bijan Sabet
  • VC like Bill Gurley (if I ever go down this path)
  • Public investing and writing memos like Howard Marks

My aim is to close the gaps (where I am right now vs where I want to be) over the next decade or so.

Thanks for reading!