Life’s goal is not to win but to keep playing. Process over goal, etc. A strategy to keep playing is to chase what excites us. For long I struggled with finding out what truly excited me. I knew vaguely that I was interested in certain topics and that I had certain areas of interest but I had no further clarity than that. That was … until recently.

I found a framework proposed by Richard Feynman [1] that helped me “solidify” my areas of interests or rather questions that I was interested in. It’s called “12 favorite problems.”

You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while, there will be a hit, and people will say, ‘How did he do it? He must be a genius!” — Richard Feynman

Apart from bringing clarity to whatever it is that I was seeking, this framework (or is it a rather exercise?) also made me aware and focused. These days, information scarcity isn’t a problem, information abundance is AND by not being aware of what excited me was turning me into a hoarder of information. [2]

So, in the spirit of working with my garage door up, here are some of my favorite questions that excite me at the moment. I am not fixated on these questions and I will probably move on to the next interesting questions as I stumble upon them. But for now, these should do.

Favorite questions #

  1. How do I understand people better and connect with them at a deeper level?
  2. How do I ask better questions? [3]
  3. How do I generate (and maintain) enough wealth so that I can buy freedom? [4]
  4. How do I use Internet as a producer instead of a customer?
  5. How do I form and maintain good habits?
  6. How do I create more impactful output at work?
  7. How do I make myself more valuable as a designer? [5]
  8. How do I engineer flow in my day to day work? [6]
  9. How do I take care of my mental and physical health better?

And that’s it. If you intend to do this exercise, where you think about your own 12 favorite questions, let it be as broad or as narrow. The essence is to put things in writing and refine them as needed.

I’ll be curious to know what you come up with.

  1. May I recommend his book—“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” I enjoyed it throughly and I think you might too. ↩︎

  2. I don’t want to be a hoarder. I want to be a collector. Hoarders collect indiscriminately, artists collect selectively. They only collect things that they really love. ↩︎

  3. This might be somewhat related to the first question—i.e, when you ask better questions, better being considerate, empathetic—you connect with them at a deeper level. But this could also mean asking questions that make you better. Like asking a coach “What are some of the beginners’ mistake that I can avoid when starting out” can give more insight than anything else. ↩︎

  4. Freedom to do whatever I want, for how long I want. Freedom for me isn’t freedom from work. ↩︎

  5. This is very much related to creating more impactful output at work. However, this also includes learning skills that I don’t necessarily get to employ at work but learning them could benefit my career or make it more challenging. i.e., product management, user research, typography, graphic design etc. ↩︎

  6. The constraints being that I rarely get an uninterrupted 3-4hr block daily, so what can I do in those packets of time that set me up for optimal output. ↩︎