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The theory of limited resources

I read 45 books last year. That's my highest ever in a year (although I'm optimistic about beating it this year). At that pace, I will read about 3000 books in my lifetime.

Last year alone, there were over 3 million books published. And the number is only growing by the year. This means that I can only ever read about 0.001% of the books that are ever published. That's one in a hundred thousand.

If I have to be an expert at any skill - programming in Go, designing scalable data warehouses, doing stand-up comedy, building spaceships, writing fiction, building Internet products, playing football - it takes five to fifteen years of dedicated effort. And there are over a million such things that I could choose to be an expert in.

The limited resource here, of course, is time. At least that's what it feels like at the surface of it. But, in reality, it isn't time. Because if all of us had the ability to live for ten thousand years, then the creation rates go up proportionally and what we can consume in the ten thousand years that we live for will still be around the same (in relation to the total that is created) as it is today.

This makes me realise the importance of choice. What books I choose to read, what skills I choose to invest in getting better at, what people I spend my time with, what products I use, what places I travel to, etc.

Because every time I'm choosing something, I'm not choosing a hundred thousand other things.

Since time isn't the real constraint, it is not about figuring out how to do more in the same time. Instead, it is about choosing the things to do with my time that I find value in, things that bring me joy, things that help me learn, things that push me to get better, things that help me realise and extend my potential.

This is the theory of limited resources.

It is about making choices with the understanding that every choice that we make is a choice against doing a hundred thousand other things. So, is the choice we are making really worth it?

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