My 12 Favorite Problems

My 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 or read 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

Ever have the experience of a sudden bolt of clarity around a problem or decision? Our brains are capable of working in the background while we go about our daily lives, taking showers, doing chores, driving and even sleeping. But we need to prime the brain with the problems we care about.

What if we actually wrote down a dozen or so of our biggest interests, in the form of questions, to help structure our attention and navigate the sea of information we are subject to on a constant basis? I had to do this exercise for Tiago Forte's Building a Second Brain class and I've found it the best way clarify and organize what I'm truly after. And it makes a great framework for making decisions.

Here are my current favorite problems - there’s no particular order, and I’ll be updating to stay accountable, as I expect the list to change over time.

  1. How can i construct a portfolio of real and financial assets that protects principle, offers modest growth, and maintains optionality?
  2. How can I seamlessly incorporate exercise and nutrition to my daily life to look good, feel good and maximize health-span?
  3. How can I make enough income to support my family’s current lifestyle with minimal time commitment?
  4. How can I balance utilizing the leverage of the digital age while maintaining healthy real world connections with family and friends to maximize effectiveness, happiness and satisfaction?
  5. How can I use meditation and self knowledge to gain control over my attention, intentions and emotions?
  6. How can I improve my communication skills through writing and public speaking?
  7. How can I save or buy time for any and all tasks I cannot or do not want to do?
  8. How can I create a marriage that compounds in strength over time while maintaining attraction?
  9. How can I raise my children to be ready for whatever the world looks like in 20+ years? What are the core skills and how do you teach them?
  10. How can I recognize the narratives others are using while employing them myself for maximum leverage and power while maintaining my values?
  11. How do I organize my life so I see the connectedness among topics with less effort and serendipity arises naturally?
  12. What is my legacy? How and why does legacy actually matter?