How to do what you want

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Goals and methods

The overarching goal of this project is doing what you want.

Doing what you want is complicated and requires, at least, the following:

  • To do what you want, you must know what you want.
    • Sometimes you don't know what you want because you are repressing some of your desires—either because they are immoral, or because they are contradictory, etc.
    • Surprisingly, being afraid of acting immoral might make you a worse person than you would have been otherwise.
    • Also surprisingly, trying to always be consistent might prevent you from actually becoming more consistent—as long as you don't let yourself be inconsistent, the inconsistent desires might remain.
      • Not to mention that the fear of inconsistency makes you inefficient.
      • And unhappy.
  • To do what you want, you must have resources.
    • For instance, "slack"—having more free/extra resources than you think you need—is crucial for doing what you want. Learning about slack makes it easier for you to get slack.
  • To do what you want, you must be brave.
  • To get more of what you want, you must interact with other people.
    • And in particular—you must be a good playmate.
  • To get better at what you do, you must be getting feedback.

Reading lists

Threads and posts

For now, there's no manual to doing what you want—just a collection of loose observations.

20-03-27Fire and forget
Not having to remember about things is good for having less stress. Here's how to not have to remember about things.
20-04-18Moving past The Last Psychiatrist's narcissism
Narcissism is about a) not knowing yourself and b) not knowing what you want. Getting rid of narcissism and getting better at doing what you want go hand in hand.
20-05-10You need more slack
To do what you want, and to be a better person, you need to have more freedom and resources than you think you need
20-05-27A small note on how to close all tabs, achieve inbox zero, etc
Having 100 open tabs is a sign that you don't know what you want and cannot execute
20-06-05Moral Modes and subjugating humans
You have "bad" desires that you might be repressing
20-06-05How to enjoy submissiveness and domination
You have contradictory desires that you might be repressing because you are afraid of contradictions
20-06-10Create a separate identity for fun and profit
You can learn about the parts of yourself that you are repressing—and the desires that you have but don't let yourself to have—by creating a completely separate tulpa-like identity
20-06-14Against "act, don't complain"
There are good reasons to complain, and if you refuse to ever complain, you might not get what you want
20-06-10Social justice wars require self-mutilation
The woke culture requires you to repress yourself, and screws up its own goals in the process
20-06-05Chronic procrastination as a coping mechanism for guilt
Sometimes you can get rid of procrastination (and start doing what you want) if you find the guilt underlying the procrastination
20-06-27Welcome to space
Doing what you want requires not being afraid of others' spaces. This is easier if you are aware of the concept of space.
20-07-11How to be on top of the pecking order
20-07-16Judge everyone and everything
To figure out what you like and want, and to have more accurate self-assessment as well
20-07-16When you grow up, you can be any status you want to be
You want two incompatible things at once—how to deal with it?
20-09-08Treat things as slot machines more often⭐️
20-09-08Observe your failures⭐️
20-09-12Reasons to dislike reasons
Consistency and legibility can be harmful—and other people can use them to push you into doing things you don't want and that aren't good for you
20-09-15Don't ask to be understood 
20-09-16Classic style⭐️
20-09-16How do you feel about power? 
20-10-02Learn to be a mindless robot
Discipline is sometimes cool
20-10-03Peterson on emotional neglect and being a bad playmate
You have to be a good playmate to get things from people
20-10-04The best self-improvement trick I have found so far: keep all your problems in a giant board
Do it!
20-10-27Cursed problems⭐️⭐️
20-10-27Productivity systems are for learning, not productivity⭐️⭐️
20-11-01Misadaptation theory⭐️⭐️
20-11-02The selfishness constraint⭐️
21-01-23Seek recognition, improve digestion
Grabbing the useful bits out of gamification
21-01-29Precontemplation at scale
How to slowly coax yourself into doing a lot of scary things
21-02-01Expressions of unconsidered will⭐️


Thomas S. Kuhn — The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). Science does not progress in legible "we know more than we knew before" steps — every once in a while you get a paradigm shift, and initially the new paradigm is worse than the fully-refined paradigm before it. Read this book to internalize that simply doing incremental improvements is not enough, and that science is much much messier than you thought. This lesson generalizes to everything, including art, the tech industry, etc.

  • If you are interested in the details of how things are actually done (ethnomethodology), David Chapman's Meaningness reading list might help.

apenwarr — What do executives do, anyway? is an awesome short post on how to be an executive in a large company: "[The] job of an executive is: to define and enforce culture and values for their whole organization, and to ratify good decisions. [...] Just to sit in the room while the right people make good decisions in alignment with their values. And if they do, to endorse it. And if they don't, to send them back to try again."


Trauma leading to oppression:, "see this free online book Power-Under: Trauma & Nonviolent Social Change"

Bits and pieces for future posts

Universal morality


How do you find out what you want? You don't know yet. You can't derive it from first principles. It's not even about discovering what you like to do, it's literally about — your values haven't shaped themselves yet. Not until you have played for a while.

You need to do things for a while and observe the consequences. Then you will find out more about this world. It in itself requires doing what you want, though — a circle.


On fighting:

Also on fighting:


Bravery by example:

  • Advertising on pages ("this page is made with Brick" etc)
  • Putting half-baked versions out (Dhall etc)
  • Status-blindness

Changing yourself

The "think it, then do something to internalize it" cycle.

Also, sometimes you have to finish fucking up in order to learn from fucking up.

Clarity of goals

Having clarity feels good — but does it help? (Given that enlightenment might not have any effects on behavior.)

Clarity ("why exactly am I writing", etc) might help a lot, but how to achieve it? So far I have failed.

Some programming languages don't have goals. Education doesn't have goals.

What are todo lists actually for? How to use one? How can a todo list lead to doing what you want, if at all?

Radiate intent

If you signal what you want, years in advance, you will get what you want much more often. Cf. "radiate intent".

Live shows are 'working with your garage door up' and they shouldn't even be replicas of studio material

Be flexible

Close your Twitter forever. Then reopen it.

Being certain doesn't mean that things have to be forever. Be certain, and be flexible.


Synthesis is a great technique for resolving conflicts. I have not written about it yet. See Psychotherapy as a Developmental Process.

I am conscious, and I am also unconscious. I am a Christian, and I am also not a Christian. I am in relationship to others, and I am also an interior experience that can never be fully shared. I am not obligated to be or do anything, and I am also fully sovereign and responsible for everything of which I am aware. I welcome everything arising within myself as good, and also hold desires and intentions to grow and cultivate new patterns. "The world is perfect as it is, including my desire to change it."

Learn that good and bad coexist.

Own your likes and dislikes

Laugh heartily.


I showed off clumsily yesterday

And now I was feeling like “why did I have to show off at all

Until I realized that I *wanted* to show off, so my true wish is “I want to show off more elegantly”

Going in the other direction — how being kind to people can be in the shadow.

Know who you don't want to be

I think clearly knowing whose fate you want to avoid repeating is very important

“Yeah, I really want to avoid ending up where Yan is.” (even typing these (probably inaccurate) words made my stomach ache. I get that feeling very rarely. It reminded me of heartbreak or tilting away hundreds of dollars on a poker hand: Sickness. “Why?” Regret. Anger.)

Then, just to twist the knife a bit, another SPARC alum nodded and agreed with him. “Yeah I know what you mean.” Countless things flooded my mind: My high school contest successes. My “elite” degrees. When I got my teaching award. When a colleague belittled my award..

Use different spaces

Separate things. Different browsers for different stuff. Different rooms, laptops, etc. To do what you want, you need to get your stuff to stop telling you what to do.

Structure is good

Standups are good, structure is good.

Why wanting things is good for others

How to learn to accept help:

  • Think of anybody you know who has any kind of problem, and if you’d want to help them.
  • Not “for the sake of convincing yourself”, but just explore the feeling of wanting to help, when you notice that you want to help anyone with anything.
  • Don’t try, at all, to translate it into “and therefore, they could want to help me”. Just keep feeling how *you* want to help them. And only when somebody actually offers to help (or if you remember how somebody offered to help and you didn’t believe them) you can try to do a translation.

Re/ wanting something from people: the annoyed conversation man sketch from Mitchell and Webb: He isn't talking to anybody because he doesn't have anything of his own he wants people to comment on

It can be good for others when you do what you want, if only you become a happier person this way. Or because it's easier to deal with you — somebody can have an actual fight with you, a fight they can win, instead of having to play in the twisted maze of your morality. "I want X and you want Y" is a game with simple rules. "I think X is wrong" is a game with complicated rules.


Current hypothesis: *all* cringe is insufficient self-compassion/integration.

To be kind, you need to stop e.g. cringing, and to stop cringing you need to figure out what hurts you about seeing someone do something cringy.

Prioritize improving over winning

Do the real thing:

Live on hard mode

Prioritize improving over winning:

Have opinions

I want to be able to comment on everything.

Being around minorities or just 'woke Twitter' can cause self-mutilation if you're afraid to hurt people and at the same time have different views/priorities. Avoid self-mutilation at all costs

Having to justify yourself is dangerous. The need to have explicit reasons for everything is dangerous.

Unconditional positive self-regard

Anxiety is often not "something bad will happen", but "what will happen will confirm that something is wrong with me". It's not in itself bad that a Tinder girl will reject me. The terrible thing is that it will confirm that I am dull; or that something else, unidentified, is wrong with me and I don't know how to fix it. Not knowing yourself => anxiety.

Take stands against good things

Taking a stand:

This makes it even more important to publicly take a stand against (some) good things and good people

Get comfortable with personal judgments. "X may or may not be alright, but I personally detest it and will not smth it."

Don't be a conduit of universal morality in the world

There is an idea that "you can't be angry at someone for not doing something, unless they promised they would, or unless there was a societal expectation they would". E.g. you can't be angry at your parents for not being better parents. Generally you must always accept "I didn't know" as a valid excuse. It seems to be a bad idea. Partly because it encourages people to not be careful.

you need to disentangle "someone's angry at me" and "I'm a bad person". yes, you made someone's life difficult. yes, they are angry at you. the easy way to do it is to let yourself be angry at people who make your life difficult. fight them. fighting is very hard when fighting is about Universal Morality. fighting is easy when it's about getting-what-you-want.

I used not to tip anyone because I was opposed to tips. "I must be a conduit of the system I want to win", again

I used to react really badly to being attacked and now I think it's shifting. That was because I was using others' anger as a guide. "If someone's angry it means I did something wrong, unless I can prove they are an idiot / need to chill / a troll / something".

  • Now I have allowed to let myself be angry at others without treating it as a universal morality thing. I.e. I can get angry at someone not because they are Objectively Bad, but because they make my life difficult, even though their point of view is relatable and not bad per se.
  • And this makes it much easier to accept others' anger — because I /can/ agree that I made someone's life difficult, without "and therefore I'm a bad person" automatically following from it.


Fun sex is play. What else is play? The theory of playing ("interaction with others where the fun is in the interaction").

In sex, doing what you want, and being alright with what you want, is good for others.


Without passing judgment on schools in general: schools are very bad for doing what you want. You are punished for not being interested in things that you don't want to learn and that you personally judge as useless.

Allow yourself to be suboptimal

An important skill is actually doing what you want. Sometimes you have to allow it to yourself. "Yes, it's fine to not look at Twitter." Counterintuitively. Isn't Twitter a reward, not a punishment? You need permission to take garbage out instead of doing something more important. Do the dishes, too.

Sometimes you need to accept that you can't do something, like, it just won't get done if you keep being responsible for it, and therefore you need to delegate it if you want it to be done at all. This requires acceptance.


How to become high status?


Own the space. Cf. Impro


"but" is the enemy because it requires you to make a choice. To fight yourself. If you don't make a choice, you can do both things and get MORE done instead of LESS.

Be larger than life

Be a large person, in the "larger than life" sense.


Notice childhood contempt. E.g. dad going "you'll grow out of this music you currently like".

Children in a food court

Children are running in a food court. Nobody's paying attention to them. Some people, like me, are mildly amused. The children are having fun.

Nothing is stopping adults from having the same fun, except that every other adult will disapprove. And why will every other adult disapprove? Because they have learned, as children, that having fun is bad, and now it's in their shadow, and the badness they feel is projected unto others. "Why do I feel resentful? Must be caused by this child."

It's possible to do weird things

I can commission covers of songs I like.

I want to make transparent wood. (a vacuum pump costs only $100)

People to emulate

Lebedev re/ self-therapy

Elon Musk

Carrot In The Box

Jon went for what made the game interesting, not for what he thought, probably, and that is great

To make a good thing, you need the technical skill so that you can iterate quickly

Composing is much easier when you can hit the keys.

Being consistent prevents you from learning what you want

Being honest and not keeping any thoughts, even damaging ones, to yourself, also prevents you from learning what you want

(Though sometimes keeping damaging thoughts to yourself also prevents you from learning what you want. So — share thoughts with others but not with the subjects of the thoughts.)


“As businessman Hank Rearden philosophizes in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged: “People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked. . . . The man who lies to the world is the world’s slave from then on.”

Excerpt From: Anneli Rufus. “Unworthy.” Apple Books. 

Extraversion is a slot machine


This thread on women is great

Active doing

Here's the mistake: doing what you want is not an ACTIVE doing, it's a passive allowing. "Giving in to temptation." You don't DO sleep, you allow yourself to fall asleep.

Active doing is for coercion.

The active doing mechanism is for coercing others and/or for saying NO to ideas generated. But you are exapting it to make it say no to everything but the thing you "decided" which is why you feel so coerced. You've overtaken the judging mechanism and it can't compute.


why do you feel bad? BECAUSE YOU COERCE YOURSELF