Saif Ali Shaik

April 6, 2021

The success illusion

For a long time, I have immersed myself in many success quotes that are biased or irrelevant. In different contexts, success is felt in different ways. In the current generation, motivational content is a well-performing segment of social media and elsewhere. 

So no wonder we consume so-called 'Success Quotes' and ending up nowhere. I wanted to look at it rationally. With some of the best thinkers I follow, I guess I can connect the dots.

The Hard Limits

We will probably need to understand what we actually have in our hands to be felt for this success. That why let's look at lifetime. You are going to live for 90 years. That is ~52 weeks a year. All you have is around ~ 4,680 weeks in your life to be filled.

  1. 275 weeks are spent learning to become part of human culture as a child. 312 weeks are spent in Elementary School. 364 in high school and junior college. Finally, 208 in university. Or another 104 if you plan to do post-graduation.
  2. All in all, you spend about ~1196 weeks just before realizing what life means to you. Amongst those 90 years, the last 26 years (~1352 weeks) is simply Retirement.

That means for the rest of life, most of us have only ~2132 weeks left in which we get most control over situations. Tick Tok.

I want you to look at this in weeks but not in hours or days because a week seems a sweet spot to contain tangible experiences, and emotions associated would last a maximum of a week for most of us.

So what should an ideal week look like?

Screenshot 2021-05-31 at 7.38.12 PM.png


All of us would wait for that one festival or trip that you've been waiting for a long time. But to make the best use of ~2132 weeks, those are in your hands; it always doesn't have to be that way. The Ideal-ness in above picture for a specific week can come from family, career, health, friends, interests or community.

Yearning Octopus

Depending on who you are and what's important to you, you could probably imagine an octopus that yearns for satisfaction as described in its tentacles,

Screenshot 2021-05-31 at 7.36.38 PM.png



That is you. All those mixed feelings mentioned on the tentacles are solely yours. You own them. But should you try to satisfy with just ~2132 weeks you have in your hands? Although you may want to, you don't have to.

Be OK with 3 factors

When was the last time you thought, "Maybe he is not replying to me, I am not of importance to him? "

Forget that teenage attitude at the doorstep before you read on.

Have empathy for people who realize a lot of things at different points in life. Situations might be different for different people. This world is not fair; not everyone is in a race starting from the same starting point. By the time one realizes a thing or two, she may not have ~2132 weeks left. I don't either. The idea is to try and best utilize what we have to spend the rest of the weeks.

So what contributes? What that contribution makes me feel successful?

  1. Family
  2. Career
  3. Health
  4. Friends
  5. Interests
  6. Community

Having the freedom to spend all the ~2132 weeks on top 3 priorities among the above which satisfy the wanted tentacles of owned yearning octopus will make you successful.

It's OK to not perform well at all 6 factors

Enjoying the Journey

Who did not hear this famous quote? - Success is a Journey

I found myself breaking my head to what exactly 'Journey' means. For example, I chose the top 3 priorities for the rest of ~2132 weeks. How does this freedom actually look like? What should I know about the snacks, smell, and everything else of this journey?

Screenshot 2021-05-31 at 7.36.02 PM.png



  1. You should know what you should be changing when you reflect and adjust. Yields Evolution.
  2. You should know reality is a changing world where you need to learn and adjust. Yields Education. (Not talking about your B.tech degree here)
  3. You should know an assumed strategy to make your tentacle happy requires action and adjustment. Yields experience.
  4. Goal Pool is a set of things you plan every week, giving the top 3 priorities among the six aforementioned factors.

Excitement & Outliers

Every time Apple launch event happens, they start by saying, "We are excited to launch the best iPhone.."

The fact is, they are not excited. At least not visible in their faces. Excitement is when you get to go to the amusement park on a school trip with classmates when you're in 8th standard during schooling.

Nevertheless, how do you keep yourself excited, motivated every day? The fact is you don't.

A thing? An idea? Possibilities? Direction? Vision? The final package? Maybe that's worth retrospecting and applying the best bet for the next ~2132 weeks to come!



Credits to Tim Urban for those diagrams. The excitement & outliers part is from Jason Fried. The priorities part advice from Shreyas Doshi and James Clear. I guess I connected the dots as I see they connect very well. :)