comment by Viliam_Bur ·
2013-07-27T22:57:11.926Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Keep records, so that you can later evaluate what you achieved (and write about it on LW).
What format of records? Well, if you know what you are going to do, the best would be just writing numbers (for example if your goal is to make money, then how much money you made when), because that's no-nonsense, and you can do monthly statistics and reports. But you are probably going to try many new things, so you don't know yet which variables will seem important. Something like bullet-point diary could be a good compromise. For each day write very short messages, with some numbers if possible. For example: "Read a book XY, pages 150 to 190." "Met a friend Z; discussed business plans." These data can later be processed to graphs.
Once in a week or in a month try writing predictions about what will you achieve during the week or month. At the end make notes what you did and what you didn't do. Also, why is the outcome different from prediction: was there some unexpected situation, did you change your mind, were you just too optimistic, or did your plan lack something?
Should all time be devoted to the quickest increases in utility, or should energy be set aside for starting some long term goals early? Does it make more sense to improve yourself, so you can make more money? Or to make some money, and use it to improve yourself?
This is complicated, and it depends on your specific situation: what skills do you have, how is your family financially, what are your hobbies? Some things require preparation before they pay off. Learning the first lesson of a foreign language or the first lesson of programming does not bring any benefits, so if you focus on short-term maximizing, you will never learn anything like this. On the other hand, long-term plans have less feedback, so you are more likely to delude yourself. For example, you could spend a few months learning a foreign language, only to realize that you actually have no good plan where to use it.
When you are a beginner, getting more skills is better than getting more money, because you will probably not make a lot of money anyway; but until you try using your skills in real-life situations, you may have a bad idea about how good you are, or which parts are important to master. If your parents are okay with paying all the expenses you need, you can ignore the money, but you should have some way to measure your progress. For example you could try to win a competition in what you learn. You should compete even if you don't have a chance to win, because you will get the feedback, and if you try it again later, you will see how much did you actually improve.
what would you recommend that I do over the next year, to give me the biggest utility bonus the fastest, both in skill and wealth?
Really depends on where you are now. If you were my clone, which obviously you are not, I would recommend programming and social skills. For programming, start with Python, and when you can write algorithms (participate in a competition to verify that), learn something that allow you writing mobile applications; that gives you useful skills and allows you to make money in your free time. For social skills, watch The Blueprint Decoded, learn dancing, go to places where you can meet interesting people and talk with them (for example LW meetups). Don't procrastinate online.
I think this is actually enough work for one year; programming will take a lot of time. You also need some free time to meet with friends, read good books, and relax. (Seriously, relaxation is an important skill some people lack; actually it is a part of social skills. Also, try meditation.) Read the Sequences, but don't read all the comments.
comment by Ambition ·
2013-07-28T00:34:21.799Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Records definitely sound like a good idea. I've found that I'm very poor at judging how much progress I've made one something, (usually underestimate), and having some solid information sounds like the perfect solution to this problem. In addition, it should let me decide the next course of action off of numbers, rather than vague feelings on the situation.
As for social skills, it's already on my "High Priority" list of things to do. When researching things I try to collect information from a wide range of perspectives, and see what people agree on. Recently I've been looking into Con Artistry, the entire purpose of which is to make friends quickly and effectively, so you can exploit and subtly manipulate them. A very roundabout way of looking into psychology, but a lot of the things I've read on the topic match with demonstrated social experiments.
Programming has been recommended three times now, which marks it as something definitely worth looking into. Perhaps I can eventually get into one of those Prisoner's Dilemma competitions, after a long time studying of course.
Thank you for your advice, I will take it into consideration.