Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

How to thrive in an unknowable future

(part of the “do this” directives)

1. Prepare for the worst.

Since you have no idea what the future may bring, be open to the best and the worst.

But the best case scenario doesn’t need your preparation or your attention.

So mentally and financially prepare for the worst case, instead.

Like insurance, don’t obsess on it. Just prepare, then carry on appreciating the good times.

2. Expect disaster.

Every biography of a successful person has that line, “And then, things took a turn for the worse.”

Fully expect that disaster to come to you at any time.

Completely assume it’s going to happen, and make your plans accordingly.

Not just money, but health, family, freedom. Expect it all to disappear.

Besides, you appreciate things more when you know this may be your last time seeing them.

3. Own as little as possible.

Depend on even less.

The less you own, the less you’re affected by disaster.

4. Choose opportunity, not loyalty.

Have no loyalty to location, corporation, or your past public statements.

Be an absolute opportunist, doing whatever is best for the future in the current situation, unbound by the past.

Have loyalty for only your most important human relationships.

5. Choose the plan with the most options.

The best plan is the one that lets you change your plans.

(Example: renting a house is buying the option to move at any time without losing money in a changing market.)

6. Avoid planning.

For maximum options, don’t plan at all.

Since you have no idea how the situation or your mood may change in the future, wait until the last moment to make each decision.