(may have reached it. I got to get a family member on the phone. And that leads perfectly into digital minimalism. See also anything on Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle: first figure out the why, then the how, finally the what. It’s your brain crying out for help saying, “I’m not supposed to be doing this type of high octane, low bit rate digital interaction all day.” This isn’t what the brain is supposed to be doing. And he’s written some amazing books that have helped me a lot personally in getting things done that I really want to accomplish. There are better and worse monsters down there. While Christians obviously do not have an exclusive on hope and faith and love (and some self proclaimed Christians seem to celebrate judgement and hate and make the rest of us look bad), her statement resonated with me. It’s just going to make you les happy. Hopefully can find some of his books at the library. What do you want to do? We didn’t have these issues. People would post things about themselves. are badly served by the concept of a work/life balance. And it was right before we were going on a ski trip. And the message we get out of this experiment is that our brain is certainly not meant for this behavior. You’d think that the question of how to live would be more urgent today than ever before. We’re going on a ski trip, so I don’t care about technology at all if I’m going to be in the mountains, having fun. I mean, if there’s anyone out there that I think this digital minimalism type ideas might immediately makes sense for, it’s probably the people in this community. But don’t sell yourself short, Brandon – the same can be said for your work. One of the big advantages of never having a social media account is we have a drive to be social. Cal Newport: Yeah, yeah. I’m uncomfortable sharing my life in public. And probably I should actually get paid a very good rate at it, but on a schedule that’s entirely your control. But it like, yeah, these are absolutely perfect examples of how to do leisure right. It’s not often that I’m excited enough about an upcoming book to mark the release date on my calendar, but Cal Newport is one of my favorite authors. And Cal’s books have been really helpful to me in that regard. As might be expected of a computer science professor, Cal Newport is no technology-hating luddite. ), I am a Playwright. There’s no internal conflict. Great interview! His horrible and mind-melting realization was that there is only ever the abyss. It’s because it displaces the real world conversation. And so, that’s where digital minimalism came from. What we need is interesting and meaningful and hard activity. I figured some of you would be interested, too. I quit Facebook on Jan 1st of this year. What are your thoughts on that? I was skeptical, but intrigued. And that was such a nice surprise. But just removing the apps from my phone and shutting down all notifications have given me tremendous mindspace. ), I think that’s enough of that. And the forces were so powerful that just good advice, good intentions, small tips didn’t work. So yeah, it’s been hugely beneficial for me. I mean this is something that the social media companies hate because it really is true that once you start optimizing—. And two, we don’t have a lot of evidence that people’s job satisfaction is strongly determined by the match of that job to a pre-existing interest. And I talk about watching this documentary of him building a sword using Viking methodology. Brandon, I’d be interested to hear your perspective on social media as a very active FIRE podcaster / blogger. And so, that’s my one piece of advice, is look at your skill as one of the most important things that you could improve and leverage to gain financial independence. Honestly, I sometimes wish that I were a religious person for exactly the reasons you describe, and I increasingly think there is a ton of distilled wisdom in the teachings of Christ in particular. But aren’t these goals just as ego-driven as wanting to find your “passion” work? There’s all these famous thinkers and philosophers going back all the way to Aristotle to Arnold Binet more recently who all say we want to be doing important things. I mean, we’ve all read the same articles about turning off notifications or not having the phone in your room at night. I really wanted to know. All of this sounds kind of wanky, and very much in the realm of first-world problems. And it’s all anxiety and anxiety-related disorders.” So, what’s causing that? What a great article. And so, I’m hoping to plant some of these seeds into the minds of your listeners, that taking drastic steps in your technological life can have drastic benefits just like taking drastic steps to your financial life could have these drastic benefits. Guess you’re ahead of the game! Join over 100,000 others on the Mad Fientist email list and start tracking your progress in the FI Laboratory! But if you look closer, you find out that, actually, that behavior is largely contrived. The one lever that you also could give you this huge, huge return is the better you are at something that the market values, just the more control you have over almost all those factors. save. That turns out to be hugely cognitively inefficient. And then, obviously, I’ll link to the TEDTalk and all the books. But you know what, what are we going to do because cars are really convenient. You might as well ask if a hammer is good or bad. Instead, I want to use this review as a jumping-off point to sketch out some broader stuff I’ve been thinking about lately: on tradeoffs, personal identity, and following through on good intentions. To be a digital minimalist, you need to be hyper-aware of your relationship with technology. Cal Newport: Right! I haven’t yet gone through the whole detox as suggested. Therefore, argument over, stop thinking about it. And I think that’s a big challenge for people that do walk away from work early in life because after you leave your job, the external motivation is gone. But haven’t Mr Money Mustache, Go Curry Cracker, Fiery Millennial, Nords, Frugalwoods and others done just that and love it? I’d never managed to get past the default setting (snark + tearing things down) to customise it in a way that aligned with my actual aspirational values (sincerity + building cool stuff). But also part of me, I think dies a little bit too because, you may not know this, but we both graduated in 2004 from college with—I assume you have a degree in Computer Science from your undergrad, is that right? But it’s actually not. It’s not even like, “Oh, I’m doing this, but I could be doing something else.”. That’s what this invention is for. I am Canadian. And you say that pursuing your passion is sort of overrated. And yeah, it’s made a huge difference. Mad Fientist: Yeah, absolutely. Changing your behavior for a set amount of time also helps to avoid hedonic adaptation. Get rid of your phones? And so, it’s so fascinating to learn that. And because of that, they really control what they do. And so, a lot of digital minimalist, they still need to engage in social media for professional reasons. So I was excited to get him on the show because even though he doesn’t write about early retirement specifically, everything that he does write about is applicable to early retirees—and it’s actually even more important for them. That type of autonomy plus impact and competence is something shows up a lot when I was researching that book, is that a lot of people who are really happy are very good at something. It’s not on their phone. Shallow Work, how to give your neurons a workout, cleaning up attention residue, the four rules of deep work, finding the routine that works for you and learning how to shut down completely. He talks about this in Born Standing Up, his memoir. I actually want to use social media more, and connect with more total strangers. This type of information is why I love the MadFientist blog and podcasts: financial experiments, tips for life after FI, new models and ways of thinking for you to improve and optimize your financial and otherwise life. There’s a reason why she’s doing that with physical possessions, is because you have to have dramatic break. All these years, I was using Twitter straight out of the box. It’s like we’re taking a reverse [neurotrophic] that makes us dumber. You get more leverage about what you work on, when you work on, how you work on it, where you work on it. The only domains in which I’ve managed to achieve any mastery over myself—say, finances and fitness—are the ones in which it’s become a core part of my identity. I think it’s a really important point. It’s completely different. And they also seem to be people that are pretty driven and self aware because it takes a lot of drive and self awareness to actually get to financial independence at an early age. I feel manipulated because of it.”, Mad Fientist: And it’s also harming people as well. This was a time when I was going to get a lot of leverage out of that knowledge. I like you….and…. When you talk about the abyss, it made me think of a quote that I recently read in a book by Rachel Held Evans. Or must replace it with something new/different that is meaningful. Glad the timing worked out so well. Just wanted to mention I liked this article a bunch! They basically re-engineered the whole social media experience into essentially a slot machine. I’m good. They would say, “Here’s a reason why it’s important. I love the fact that so much of the FIER community has remained blog-centric as opposed to just migrating into the larger social media platforms sort of conversations. I recently came across some threads by people I trust arguing that Twitter was not in fact a deranged hellsite, but a wondrous place to workshop interesting ideas. I’ve hidden things from Facebook, so that it’s just like the core friends that I want to keep in touch with and things like that. Secondly, you can try on new identities or value systems for size, and see how they feel. You would occasionally go out and check and say, “Hey, does anyone I know, you know, maybe they’ve updated something about themselves—like they’re on vacation, or their relationship status changed?” It didn’t really engender a lot of engagement—at least not on the level that they needed to make a lot of buddy. All of this is a long-winded way of saying: it’s really cool that Cal wrote Digital Minimalism with a focus on the importance of starting with the ‘why’, rather than the ‘how’ or the ‘what’: What all of us who struggle with these issues need […] is a philosophy of technology use, something that covers from the ground up which digital tools we allow into our life, for what reasons, and under what constraints. He doesn’t seem to explicitly state what success is to him in his research, but based on his examples it seems to be some kind of super-achieving in one’s field. But you start looking into this, and it becomes clear really quickly that that’s not really good advice. And also, I’ve gotten back into guitar playing. And so, this notion that you have these passions, if you could just get more time to spend on them, you’re going to be very happy really doesn’t match what the research tells us, which is that’s not a major source of satisfaction. So you’ve got potentially quite a big chunk of time after work. What a great podcast MadFI and Cal Newport! I must of created hundreds of accounts etc over the years and i want to know how to find them and delete them? That was their instinct, right? But even if you know what’s good for you—and most people do—that’s not the same thing as actually acting upon those intentions. So I decided to create a list of folks who were using the platform in a particular way: no dunking, a minimum of hot takes, less relentless waging of the culture war. I stood onstage in this big theater. Take care. So I definitely recommend people check out the book and go through the whole digital declutter and everything. I have been removing social media from my life, but I don’t think I’ve gone far enough. Cal Newport: Alright, I look forward to it. Your email address will not be published. I’ve followed Cal’s blog for a decade now and have enjoyed watching his blog’s theme transition from college productivity to passion cultivation to workplace productivity now to digital minimalism. Cal Newport: Like, “What am I supposed to do when I don’t have this to click and look on?”. Digital minimalists are all around us. So this is a real pleasure to talk to you. So while his interpretation provides a necessary counter-point to the “follow your passion” advice I think it can work for some people, as can a FIRE and pursue hobbies lifestyle, and many other options; there are plenty of ways to live a happy life. Once we got these highly palatable processed foods in the second half of the 20th century, we had a huge rise in obesity. And it was a wide variety,” you know, the standard distribution of mental health issues you see in society at large. “Digital minimalism is a philosophy that helps you question what digital communication tools (and behaviors surrounding these tools) add the most value to your life. What could be important than figuring out how to allocate them, and towards what purpose? I will definitely be exploring the books in more detail. Sounds like you found a lot of value in unplugging completely. And it’s not just anxiety and anxiety-related disorders. Interesting to note that fasting/temporary self-deprivation is baked into a lot of religious practice – more distilled wisdom! That’s not actually socializing.”. What types of quality leisure do you regularly enjoy? So it’s an idea that’s been around a long time. We don’t actually need the constant companion model. In fact, that could be energizing, not draining. It's the key to living a focused life in an increasingly noisy world. I mean I’m a long time follower of the FIER community. Thanks! And yet you’ve gone on to—and this is going to be a long list, so bear with me. Download Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport PDF free. And I know Pete’s talked about this as well. So rather than think, “Oh, I need to find this perfect thing, like my soul mate job or whatever,” you instead just start working. In 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled the future: the iPhone 3 and, along with it, the App Store. Hey Rez, thanks for sharing your experience. Because it was another social approval indicator. We used to get a relatively small number of students committed with mental health issues. It's the key to living a focused life in an increasingly noisy world. Thanks for that! And so, they had this big issue: “How do we get our revenue numbers way up?” They had a pretty good user base, but they weren’t making enough money. Is this aligned with my sense of identity? It’s interesting to consider Taleb as an example—I have never come across anyone whose ideas resonate more, but his personal style couldn’t be more jarring: I hate conflict to the point of avoiding it, always try to carefully hedge what I’m saying, and am generally a mild person. They’re the calm, happy people who can hold long conversations without furtive glances at … For one thing, you might end up reverse-engineering or rediscovering your existing values, entirely by accident. I felt that this interview made a lot of that very clear and, as such, was very refreshing. At the top of my pristine new feed, I saw a post from someone I admire very much, but had never thought to engage with directly. She worked six months on an engagement, and then spent six months doing something else. Honestly: it’s poorly-written and grates in various ways. We made some big tech cut-backs years ago (such as downgrading to dumb phones, allowing no screen time for the kids, installing the stay-focused app to block us from social media after 20 mins per day, and turning off computers at least an hour before bed. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World* Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in A Distracted World* So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love* How to Be a High School Superstar: A Revolutionary Plan to Get into College by Standing Out (Without Burning Out)* And this is a problem. Jean Twenge is a professor who’s an expert in essentially measuring attributes that change over generations. They learned about that from Las Vegas casino gambling where decades earlier, when slot machines were computerized, so they could actually hard code in reinforcement schedules—they did all this research in Las Vegas to figure out what’s the optimal schedule of rewards and how big should those rewards be to keep people pulling the lever way more than they want to. As you mentioned, it also lets you try on new behaviors to see if they fit. But they’re the right examples. And so, you’re absolutely right. hmmmm. Yeah I’m high Extraversion, Super-Low conscientiousness, low agreeableness, medium neurtocism, high openess. One of the things I appreciate most about Digital Minimalism is the care he takes in unpicking the various tradeoffs involved. Instead of being, All of this is a long-winded way of saying: it’s really cool that Cal wrote. I could try to summarise the main points, but that wouldn’t be any fun. There’s nothing that we have to do that for in order to get some sort of deep value. I like you. http://traffic.libsyn.com/madfientist/cal-newport-interview.mp3, Cal’s TED Talk – Why You Should Quit Social Media, Leave a review for the Financial Independence Podcast on iTunes, http://calnewport.com/blog/category/features-rethinking-passion/, What is “Focused FIRE” and why it’s likely the best option, Why you should replace relaxation with difficult, meaningful activity, The importance (and increasing rarity) of deep work, Why skillful management of attention is the key to a good life, The importance of high-quality leisure activities, Why technology could be ruining your personal life and how to stop it. So, I got your book. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to somebody on pursuing financial independence? alone time in the company of the one person who drags you harder than anyone else on earth doesn’t seem like such a great idea. A formula that does not work well is when you sprinkle your day with appointments. I think a pretty healthy heft of digital minimalism and daily walks /runs without headphones is good enough. I hardly ever use Facebook. I mean we don’t really have a lot of evidence that that’s the case. These are great concepts that Cal brings to light. She’s an expert. AFAIK you can purge everything on major social media sites, and run a script on e.g. And he ended up getting in touch with me after the book came out, so it was cool to talk to him. It started for psychological reasons- wanting to preserve the peace and mental health of my family. AND….. If you want to take steps to cut down on screen time and digital connection, the first question to ask is: what’s on the other side of the trade? How does he do it?”, The good news is you don’t hide your secrets. You don’t write specifically for the FIER crowd, but there’s so much that applies. They wanted to be manipulating nature and the natural world and engaging. I think Cal brings some great ideas to the table, but I don’t think he has all the answers either. , where all the cute hacks and tricks so often fail. Thanks for a great podcast! Brandon and Cal, I’m believer in the FI part, but I don’t warm up to RE. And now, she’s on Facebook constantly—hours a day. Jocko would probably just say no factor, and forget it. And yeah, hopefully, I’ll see you at some point and can buy you a beer to thank you for coming on the show. This interview in particular fascinated me because you discuss things I have really been pondering in the last few months. My account is still deactivated. But to you, it’s not a big deal the notion of doing something that’s different and drastic. As for ‘frugality’, I love it more than just about anyone, but it still conjures up faint associations of stealing ketchup packets from Burger King. A five month break is impressive, congratulations! I set up my porch a lot. That’s an admission of defeat, right out of the gates. You’re very, very social.”. It’s just relatively arbitrary. We don’t look at our screens that much. makes a case for why each of these things is worth pursuing. We get into the weeds of it, but at a high level, there’s two main issues with it. So there’s nothing fundamental about it. Resonates on many levels for me, not just FI. All these things that help build satisfaction come from having the leverage of being good at something that’s very valuable. They can have fun with friends and family without the obsessive urge to document the experience. And so, when you did start talking to people, people who love what they do, and you say—not giving your advice. It’s not like, okay, cars are really convenient, but a side effect is there’s going to be car crashes that people are going to die. There is so much here to unpack, digest and put to use in one’s daily life – especially for FIers. And so, what happens as you look into this—Facebook took the lead in this because they were early—they’re getting to a point where their IPO was coming up, and they really had to get their revenue numbers up, or they weren’t going to get the type of valuation that was going to get their early seed investors the 100x returns that they were expecting. His writing has had a major impact on me, especially Deep Work, so I asked him for an advance copy. Now know a couple of key points. So she spent one of those six month periods back in Vietnam. As recently as the 1990s, there’d be all sorts of occasions throughout the day where you had nothing to do but twiddle your thumbs and think. God is dead, and we have killed him. I thought it would get easier over time, but it hasn’t. So I replied. I'm the author of six books, including, most recently, the New York Times bestseller, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. It’s not like, yeah, this is what this tech is. And so, I talk about them in the book as being the digital canary in the coal mine because they’re taking this behavior that we’re all doing, but they push it to an extreme. That’s what it should be like when you’re trying to build up a skill in the knowledge world. Cal wades through the mess, and concludes that the value of any given tool depends entirely upon how we use it. I can’t wait to read this book. It’s pretty hard to make deliberate tradeoffs. Should we call it the focused FIER or something like that, right? https://www.calnewport.com/blog/2020/06/13/ancient-complications-to-modern-career-advice/. You could talk to the original engineering team from the original iPhone to confirm this had nothing to do with that. And so, I definitely learned this working on this book. I’m laughing at myself now…enough “conspiracy talk”! No, it’s been the most effective thing for me. And so, I think your experience is quite common actually. share. 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