12 Life Lessons from 2021


Hey friends,

2021 was a pretty wild ride. I quit medicine, moved city, hit 2M subscribers, got covid, and my team grew from 3 people to almost 20. Here are some things I learned along the way (that I haven’t mentioned in the newsletter).

1. 🩹 Stay scrappy – This is a concept I got from The Minimalist Entrepreneur: have a strong bias towards action and just getting stuff done, no matter how successful you get. The bigger my YouTube business gets, the easier it’s been to go into perfectionist mode and agonise over every little thing because ‘the stakes are higher’. I’m trying to recapture that scrappy mentality I had at the beginning.

2. ⛔️ Steven Bartlett’s quitting framework – Quitting isn’t for losers, it’s for winners. Knowing when to quit something is a big life skill. Here’s how it works:

3. 📈 The gap and the gain – If we want to motivate ourselves, we should look back at the gain we’ve made (’wow I’m looking way more hench compared to last year’), instead of judging ourselves by the gap between us and our ideal outcome(’😢 I still don’t look like Zac Efron’).

4. 📅 Optimise for the life you want to lead day-to-day – Regularly stop to ask yourself what you really want from life – maybe by journaling or doing weekly reviews. It’s easy to spend our life running on a never-ending treadmill (school → uni → good job → big savings account → safe retirement), without doing the things that actually bring us happiness or contentment.

5. 📤 Delegation is hard but changes the game – If someone else can do something better or quicker than you, and you can afford it, it’s a no-brainer.

6. 🤢 Embrace the suck – Whenever I struggle with procrastination (eg writing my book), I lower the bar by telling myself that ‘I just need to write 500 crappy words for a crappy first draft of chapter three’. Repeating ‘crappy’ two times helps to neutralise my inner perfectionist. I always get more done that way, and I’m usually pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

7. ⚖️ Separation of tasks – This is from The Courage to be Disliked. The basic idea is that it’s my task to have good intentions, control my own thoughts, and act in a way that I think is right. Whatever other people do (cut me off on the road, be mean to me, judge me negatively) is their thing to deal with. When I focus on stuff that’s within my control instead of getting angry or stressed about other people’s tasks, I feel a lot more tranquil. #Stoicism.

8. 😘 Be yourself when dating – Sure, we can change as people. But there’s a point at which self-improvement goes too far in dating, and it feels more like putting on an act. Generally, the more I act like my normal self on dates, the happier I am with the outcome. If we don’t end up together, great: we didn’t really match. If we do end up together, also great: my partner likes me, not some fantasy version of myself, and I don’t need to ‘keep up appearances’ during the relationship.

9. 📖 Keep your friends close, but your Kindle closer – I lost my Kindle while moving house a few months ago, and my sleep quality went massively downhill. I was Insta-scrolling at 1am, when usually I’d be reading books using the warm-light setting. Now, I always have a Kindle to hand – one in my backpack, the other by my bedside table.

10. 🇯🇵 Learning languages through audiobooks is fun & easy – A while ago I got my Japanese to a reasonable standard in just 2 months by (fairly passively) listening to a learner audiobook of words, phrases and sentences for 20 minutes each night. I’m trying the same thing this year with Paul Noble’s Learn Mandarin Chinese (practising while driving in the car), and I’m having a blast.

11. 🪄 Sometimes magic = investing a ton of time – The amazing tech YouTuber Arun Maini (MrWhoseTheBoss) was on my podcast recently, and I was pretty shocked by how much time he spends on his videos: up to 50hrs of solid work for 20mins of footage. It reminded me of something the magicians Penn and Teller say: sometimes magic is what happens if you put more time into something than any reasonable person would do. Heavily investing your time can be what it takes to succeed at a high level.

12. 🧐 Question your assumptions – It dawned on me recently that I’ve been living with a bunch of incorrect assumptions for years and years. Stuff like: ‘people won’t follow my channel if I stop being a doctor’, ‘I need to put out 2 videos a week’, or ‘people value me for what I do, not who I am’. It’s only recently that I’ve started examining these assumptions, and found out how wrong they are. Think of your assumptions like packets of food in the cupboard – have a rummage every now and then, and if you find anything that’s a bit funky or past its sell-by-date: chuck it out.

  • 🥡 BONUS LESSON: If you’re worried about your belly, stop ordering takeaway everyday. 2021 was a year of takeaway carnage for me, so I’m going to cut down a bit.

If you like, check out my full video on this – 21 Life Lessons I Learned in 2021. It’s very long though.

Have a great week!

Ali xx

💪 Transformational Creator Workshop

If you’re thinking of starting your first business in 2022, the authors of The Unfair Advantage are holding a free workshop for Transformational Creators on the 13th of January, about finding your unfair advantage and getting started in business for the first time. They’re both good friends of mine now (we first met through an interview for their book) and their stuff is always very good.

♥️ My Favourite Things

🎧 Audiobook – Twelve and a Half, by Gary Vee. Been listening to this on Audible – it’s all about the emotional ingredients for business success. Here are some book notes I posted to Twitter.

📚 Book – Poor Charlie’s Almanack, by Charlie Munger/Peter D. Kaufman. Collection of speeches/writings by Charlie Munger, the vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. Lots of investing wisdom. I loved this: “The best source of new legal work is the work on your desk”.

🎿 Skiing – I’m hitting the slopes in Zermatt, Switzerland, and it’s absolutely sick so far.

✍️ Quote of the Week

Most events in life can be categorised in one of two ways: a good time, or a good story.

From Long Story Short: The Only Storytelling Guide You’ll Ever Need, by Margot Leitman. Resurfaced using Readwise.

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