Omar Shehata


This is an evolving list of rules I use to guide my life.

I maintain this page mostly for myself. It makes it easier to make the right decisions under tough circumstances, or remember to stick to productive habits.

I also think it's a really interesting way to get to know someone – to read about their values, how they make the choices they do, and what drives them. I encourage you to publish your own (and if you do, and are comfortable sharing, let me know!)

Do Not Hoard

I've always been terrified of using consumables in games. I always relied completely on melee attacks regardless of how powerful the items/arrows/spells were. In fact the more useful it is the less likely I was to do anything with it. The idea was if I consistently relied on these finite resources, I'll one day find myself without any and be stuck.

The problem was that this fear of running out meant I ended up never using them at all, which made my experience significantly harder and less fun. If you see opportunities to make your life easier/better, you should sieze them now. Keep moving forward. Trust you'll find more in the future.

Trust Yourself – You're Not Stupid

I used to trust others a lot. If an expert said something, I trusted it, even if it didn't make complete sense, because, hey, I don't know everything about the world, and they probably know something I don't.

I think this stemmed from a lack of faith in my own abilities. I didn't trust that the conclusions I'd come up with were as valid as others. I accepted that I could see something for myself, and be sure of it, but still be wrong, still be missing something.

If you know something, and you've researched it and have proof of it, then you're probably right. The worst that can happen is someone corrects you if you are indeed missing something. Otherwise, no matter how smarter or how much of an expert they seem, they could very well be wrong.

You Don't Have a Lot of Time

It's easy to put off work that doesn't have a deadline. What's one more day if it's a side project you've been contemplating for years? Time always moves faster than you think, and before you know it the semester/summer/your-life will be over.

The work you do is rarely the end, but it opens up many more doors and opportunities to pursue. The sooner you finish it the more exciting things will be.

Do the Right Thing

Life isn't black and white, but sometimes it is. When you know what the right thing is, do it, even if you don't feel like it. No excuses. You'll feel much better later.

You know it's the right thing to resist the urge to watch just one more episode on a week night. You know it's the right thing to answer that email now instead of procrastinating.

Always Reach Out

I've missed out on so many opportunities because I was afraid of reaching out. Maybe the person was too famous and popular, or I just didn't think they'd be interested in talking to me.

At the same time I've also gotten so many amazing opportunities just because I sent that email or sought out a connection that I was sure wouldn't get a response.

Be Honest

I have a hard time saying no, and I can't help but trying to make everybody happy.

Remember that it will eventually blow up, and no one will be happy. Be honest with others but also with yourself, about what your limits and needs are.

If you're worried about saying the right thing because of the consequences, remember that not saying it doesn't change what it is.

Think About the End

This has been a really helpful technique when trying to make emotionally charged decisions. The trick is to just think through how I'm going to feel after I do what I'm considering doing, and then ask, "is this where I want to be?"

Doing this makes the choice no longer about whether to indulge or not, but about whether I want to put myself into a potentially undesirable state. It highlights my autonomy in my bringing about my misfortune, and thus, my ability to avoid it.

The Other Person is Not the Enemy

Conflicts arise in professional and personal relationships. I've often antagonized the other person as being the cause of this conflict. But often, they want to resolve it just as much as I do.

The other person rarely wants to cause you harm. Seeing yourself as on the same side against the conflict instead of on opposite sides is a very healthy and productive position to have.

Sleep with Airplane Mode On

Resist the urge to check your phone when you wake up.

The routine of scrolling through my email and social media feed in the earliest moments of consciousness almost always leaves me feeling lazy and unfulfilled. Every morning is a fresh start and how you get started really matters.

Figure out a reason to get out of bed before going to sleep. Plan out one exciting thing to look forward to to keep that momentum.

Take Action to Improve your Mood

You are not a machine. Trying to power through a bad mood or wallowing in your despair are not good choices.

Go for a bike ride or a swim. Read an inspiring book, talk to someone or play a game. Write down inspiring experiences and refer back to them when you're lacking motivation.

Do What's Hard

This is very important for three reasons:

  1. It makes you feel good. It builds confidence in your skills and ability to tackle a challenge, which is great for overall wellbeing.
  2. Less people do this. Just taking this road automatically puts you in a less crowded space and makes you stand out.
  3. You'll be surprised at what you can accomplish, and you'll rapidly improve.