The Anti-Portfolio of Life

Treat Thompson



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Investors and venture capital firms sometimes share their anti-portfolio. It's a portfolio of all the opportunities they passed on or missed.

It's a painful exercise, but a great mental model and reflective tool.

Bessemer Venture Partners said they had the chance to invest in Apple, Air BnB, and Snapchat, but let the opportunity slip away. These misses are now performing well in their anti-portfolio.

I like applying this concept to life.

With every decision we make there's a return that gets added to our portfolio and a return that gets added to our anti-portfolio.

Our minimum goal is to have the decisions we make perform better than the ones we could've made.

  • Reading a non-fiction book, meditating, and working on your personal project are examples of high-return decisions. These benefit your life and help you grow.
  • Eating a bag of chips, endlessly scrolling social media, and procrastinating are examples of low-return decisions. These are missed opportunities to grow; your anti-portfolio benefits from these.

The painful part of this exercise is looking at the daily decisions you make and examining how they've affected you long term. You may look at your physical health, mental health, personal projects, career, etc. and ask yourself:

  • Did I choose the beneficial decision more times than I didn't?
  • Would I be better off with the opportunities I didn't take than the ones I did?

Why do we contribute to our anti portfolio?

We accept these poor tradeoffs because of our emotions and behavior. We let fear, laziness, procrastination, distractions, and bad habits get the best of us.

They stop us from:

  • Starting businesses or personal projects
  • Being healthy or fit
  • Progressing in our careers
  • Getting good grades in school
  • Forming great relationships

and I'm sure many more.

Understanding and overcoming the forces that push us to poor decisions is the first step in making sure we outperform our anti-portfolio.

This weeks quote

Choices are the hinges of destiny - Edwin Markham

This simple quote illustrates that our actions determine our destiny. It's saying we have input over what is commonly known as predetermined.

We have the power to shape our lives through what we choose to do.

Questions to ask yourself

Do you choose the beneficial decision more times than you don't?

My answer:

I would say yes I do at around a 75% rate. There's still room for me to grow, but I make good choices with my time more often than not.

Could you do more with the time you spend procrastinating, being distracted, and being lazy than you do with the time you spend getting things done?

My answer:

All of 2020 has been a conversion of my answer changing from yes to no. I've improved a lot with managing my distractions and battling laziness. Now I spend more time working towards my goals than I spend not working towards them.