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032: Value-Based Decisions

How do you decide to take action to something that is a bit scary, exciting or just unknown? Do you flip a coin? Go with your gut or look for a divine inspiration?

Howdy folks,

I've just got back from a little trip over to Bangkok. I absolutely loved being in this city. From the food, and shopping malls to the crazy apartments you could live in. There's a lot to love about Bangkok and is somewhere that I'd love to visit again and spend a few months.

I shared some photos across my socials about the experience. But all in all, I see Bangkok as a top destination for anyone who's coming to SE Asia. Or if you're a Digital Nomad this would be my no.1 choice if you want the best value vs lifestyle option. (maybe even better than beloved Bali 👀)

But apart from this, I'm back in Bali feeling a bit more rested and recharged after a bit of a break.

The past week I've been thinking a lot about 'making big decisions' specifically when to take risks from the perspective of a non-risky person.

The idea that came to my head was Value Based Decision making.

Let's get into it, shall we?

Rather hear me ramble? I chatted about this idea live. The audio cuts out after 18min btw - live videos be like this 🤦‍♂️

How do you decide to take action to something that is a bit scary, exciting or just unknown?

Do you flip a coin? Go with your gut or look for a divine inspiration?

There are a lot of different ways to handle decision-making. What you choose is up to you. If reading your tea leaves helps guide your decisions then all power to you.

If you’re anything like me and are a bit unsure when it comes to making big decisions then I hope we can share a bit of time now going over an alternative option.

Let’s call it ‘value-based decision-making'. It’s something I’ve been thinking about over the past week and I’d love to share the idea with you.

We’ll go over the concept, give a real-life example of how it works & end with some actionable tips you can take with you today.

This isn’t about the risk of choosing the wrong restaurant for dinner tonight or getting a medium or large popcorn at the cinema.

This is about choices that have a direct impact on the path you’re taking in life. Think new jobs, moving countries, big investments of time or money.

How Do You Make Big Decisions?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not an impulsive kind of person.

You know the kind of people who can flip a coin, commit 100% instantly, go all in on the poker table or look for the feeling of adrenaline that comes through jumping out of a plane while skydiving. These things are awesome and if that’s you and it works - keep on rocking it.

But what if that’s not you?

What if you’re the kind of person who gets stuck, uncertain, and unsure of the choices that you have to make? When these decisions feel big, scary or uncertain it feels more like you’re an ostrich sticking your head in the ground.

Well, it’ll be no surprise when I say that I’m the latter. Big decisions don’t come easy. But at the same time, I had a bit of a think at some of the actions I’ve taken over the years. Leaving home, starting an online business, being a full-time remote digital nomad.

When I thought about it something didn’t add up. How can I have done these seemingly big scary things (at least for me)? At the same time, I am a pretty non-risky person.

What I realised was that this all came down to the idea of value-based risk taking.

But what is it and how can you try it out yourself if you’re a non-risky type of person like me?

What is Value-Based Decision Making?

Put simply it is the process in which you make a decision based on your values.

Some people might benefit from flipping a coin and leaving a decision to chance or divine intervention.

Value-based decision-making is the process in which you define the values which you truly care about and then use them as guidelines in what you decide.

Is that the same as making a Pros Vs Cons list?

Not exactly. Making a Pros vs Cons list is a great way to bring rational thinking into your decision-making process. It’s a list of rational ideas you see clearly. But it often doesn’t bring in the weight or importance of your feelings or what you genuinely care about in life.

Let me give you a personal example which will hopefully explain the difference.

When deciding to become a digital nomad I thought a lot about this. It took me 1 1/2 years from learning about it until I landed in Thailand.

During that time I had a lot of time to think things over, makes plans and take the actions needed to make this decision happen.

If I relied on just a Pro & Con list I would have never taken the chance. On paper, there were too many Pros to staying at home and too many Cons to leaving.

I already had a good job, I had friends, relationships, family, a foundation to life as a 24-year-old that I could build my life around.

By leaving Ireland I would be leaving all of this behind. I wouldn’t have a job, no friends, no support network, and no defined path in life. It would be just me on my own left to figure out what the hell am I trying to do.

This is where a value-based risk tool shaped. Even though I’m paper it made way more sense to stay home, play it safe and build a life around a way of life that was known.

Deep down this just didn’t align up to how I felt on the inside. In there I felt the need for change, to experience life on my own terms, to create freedom and to design a life on my own path.

If I could choose 3 values I cared about most back then it would be these.

  1. Freedom
  2. Autonomy
  3. Fun

Interestingly that spells out FAF 😅. Which is funny because that’s probably how it looks a lot of the time to people when I’m in the process of making these decisions.

FAF Approach

Most people live their lives based on values given to them. How to look, how to work, when to get married, when to buy a house, when to have babies.

These values are given by their culture, family, friends, religion or just societal norms.

When you have to create your own set of values it’s often a messy and scary process. At least it feels like for me.

Over the 1 1/2 years that I learnt about digital nomads and started to really believe that this was something I wanted to do. The time that followed was filled with doubt, fears, excitement, uncertainty, motivation & unknowns.

As you can probably tell I was a bit all over the show figuring out my values. It would be so much easier if someone else had done this that I knew or if someone told me the 1 big reason that I should do or not do this.

I tried to gauge how I felt by talking to people. I talked to my family, friends and work mates. I read articles, watched videos and listened to podcasts all from people who were already doing this.

This was all to find out if I could find a match to how I felt vs the big decisions I needed to make.

I’d love to tell you that it all changed when I watched this 1 video or read this 1 quote. “Whenever I heard the word YOLO, I knew that I just needed to book my 1-way ticket”

But this just didn’t happen. It was a gradual change over time. Or what would be more true would be it felt like a gradual discovering of what I really felt inside.

I’m short it probably felt like a big load of FAF over that 1 1/2 years to a lot of people.

Making the final decision

When I finally got dropped off at the airport by my brother in law and when I touched down in Thailand - stood outside a hostel with no job, no friends, and no real idea of what the next 12 months would look like.

You might think that this would be a time when having a meltdown might be appropriate.

But this was probably the easiest part of the whole process over the past 1 1/2 years.

So through that time, I was discovering what my true values were. What I cared about. What I wanted out of life.

After a whole lot of FAF when I finally made the leap and decision I knew deep down this was my only option.

Sure it might not work out, it all might go horribly wrong, I might have to go back home broke with no job, money and the feeling of having to start from scratch again.

But I knew deep down that I needed to do this. I needed to try my best to make something happen. In the end, the decision was not difficult at all.

Faced with the possibility of continuing the way I was living vs the chance of having a life that I dreamed of having. The decision was a no-brainer.

What now and what can you do?

Right now I feel similar to 7 years ago. I’ve been in FAF mode for 6+ months trying to find work that I love doing every daysoftware.

Only recently have I felt like I’ve figured that out all based on values. I want to feel excited, have a spark of curiosity daily, help people, share and give any ‘gifts’ I might have been given or created over the years.

Now that I feel I’ve got my values in check. I’ve been making bolder decisions, riskier decisions. Working solo now, investing a lot of money into softwareand , coaching, educational resources.

On one hand I’m terrified. I feel like I’m putting all my chips on the table and going all in for this chance to make this work.

But at the same time, I know that this is my only way forward. That again even if this new path of work doesn’t work out. That again I have to go back home no job, no money and I have to start all from scratch again now at the age of 32

I have the same feeling that I know this is my only way forward right now. Having this chance right now and the actions that I’m taking is a no-brainer. No matter how uncomfortable it is right now in the moment.

So here are some thoughts I’d like to leave you with if you’re in the same position as me or find yourself in this position in future.

  1. What do you value? Can you label it with a word or a few words?
  2. How would you feel if you didn’t do that thing? Would you feel ok and live with it? Or would it always play on the back of your mind.
  3. Have you tried running an experiment? Instead of YOLOing with a 1 way ticket to Thailand could you try 1 week of remote work?

Whatever you decide to do I genuinely hope that you do it for you and it feels awesome. Sometimes non-action can be the best form of action but only if you truly believe that it is the best option for you.

But that’s all for this week. I hope you got something from today's thoughts. More than that I’m wishing you a joyful, happy and fulfilling life in whatever shape or form you make it.

🔥 Interesting Finds

1. Dune 2

HAVE YOU SEEN DUNE 2? Yes? No? Well, you should. Ideally in an IMAX if you can. I got to see it last week while in Bangkok and was blown away but the visuals, music, story & acting.

There's chat that this is the current generation Star Wars and I can see why.

I've read 4 books of the series so far so I'm already wrapped up with tales of Arrakis but seeing the film on the big screen felt special. There are so few films that really feel like blockbusters worthy of the full cinema experience but this was hands down worth it.

As a sidenote, Vaidile & I went to see Kung Fu Panda 4 a few days later in the cinema. It was fun and it was nice to the cinema again but you just can't compare these films :)

2. Start Designing Life Social Media

Last week I finally got around to launching the Start Designing Life social media channels. It's been on my todo list for the longest time but I needed to figure out the branding and the ideas behind it first before launching. Alongside how I was going to create content for it long term.

Design a Life You Love Living by Learning from the Best in the World. Every day - in just 60 seconds or less.

What is it?

How to access?
Join wherever you hang out most!
Youtube | Instagram | Tiktok | Linkedin | Facebook | X

Why does this even matter?

  1. If you want to design a life you love living - you can start by self-educating and learn from the best. Experts, professors, researchers, billionaires. I'll be looking for & handing picking the best thought leaders in the world so that you can learn a little bit every day.
  2. Let's be honest, social media is not great 99% of the time. We all mindlessly scroll and don't feel great about it. The SDL social media channels are there to provide great information that you can actually learn from - guilt free scrolling
  3. If you're not on socials don't worry. I will be curating all the best bits from the week and putting it in the free weekly newsletter (join the waitlist

[Video] Figure, OpenAI & Elon Musk: What you need to know | Matt Lok posted on the topic | LinkedIn
🤖 Humanoids are arriving sooner than you think. Here's what you need to know about Figure, OpenAI & Elon Musk. A startup called Figure has partnered with…

3. Robots Are Coming

🤖 Humanoids are arriving sooner than you think. I posted some thoughts and and the latest collab between OpenAI and a robotics company Figure.

4. Spent Over $800+ On Software Last Week

I shared the 3 reasons why I spent so much and why this will continue. In short this is part of the journey of 'solopreneurship'. I was thinking today that I've probably spent $10,000-$20,000 over the past 6-12 months on "Finding what I love to do every day" goal.

Freelancers (video editors, designers, VA's), coaching, courses, software, templates.

I don't come from a rich family, I didn't get funding or investments. This is all money that was generated by my little online business that I bootstrapped from $4000 in savings 7 years ago. All done online remotely while living in low cost of living places (compared to Ireland).

I don't have endless funds to continue this pursuit - maybe I've got 6-month runway (more if I use investments) before I might have to call it quits. But business are a fine line. It's not easy. But for me it's 100% worth the long hours (sometimes sleepless nights).

My point isn't about how much I've spent (you can do online business with $0 or like $100). I guess I want to give transparency and real behind-the-scenes of what this journey is like. I've made $0 building out these new ideas.

It's a risk. But a calculated risk that is all based on the value-based decisions I made as talked about above. Investing in business or what feels more like investing in myself is scary no matter what stage of the journey you're at.

Sidenote: What's the end goal? To make a living doing what I love every day. I already have built an online business and live a life I love. The goal is to fund this life in a way that I love. Teaching, educating, helping people, learning new ideas, experimenting every day, and staying curious all while having fun & playful - these are values that I'm working towards. It's what I want to create with helping people with Start Designing Life & helping others sell online with metalabs

Side Sidenote: I continue making money through my previously built online businesses. I make sales every day on Amazon for example this helps fund my new pursuits & keep living this lifestyle.

📚 The Book Club

Here's what I've been reading or listening to lately alongside some little nuggets I've picked up through the week.

📗 NEW BOOK: A Short History of Nearly Everything

A Short History of Nearly Everything is Bill Bryson's fascinating and humorous quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization. He takes subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, like geology, chemistry, and particle physics, and aims to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science. In the company of some extraordinary scientists, Bill Bryson reveals the world in a way most of us have never seen it before.

📖 Mastery: Robert Greene

You must understand the following: In order to master a field, you must love the subject and feel a profound connection to it. Your interest must transcend the field itself and border on the religious.

📖 Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock

Pulling together the myths, legends and stories handed down from generation to generation, all around the world, Graham Hancock presents his own, unique interpretation of history in this fascinating audiobook.

🎵 Music I'm Loving

I love music. Listening, playing guitar & finding new music. Here's a cool song I've found and some Spotify playlists I've created to fit all types of moods. They're based on all the places I've travelled and the vibe I've felt there.

A little bit different this week. I had to show you Hans Zimmer talking about how he created music for Dune 2. He did this before with the 1st movie (that's actually more interesting so I'd recommend watching that first). But there's nothing cooler than seeing a master at their craft explaining the thinking behind their genius. The soundtrack to Dune is special (and great to work to btw)

1. 🧊 Vibe | Bali Beach Bar at Sunset

2. 🔋 Energy | London Rave at 3am

Check out this roof top gym that was included in the Bangkok Airbnb we rented. It was like $250 for 1 week 😍. (thinking I might move to Bangkok in a few months)

And that is it for this week's newsletter folks

Wishing you a great week ahead as always

Let's chat soon



Stay awesome ❤️


This week is the big Tony Robbins live event I paid $500 for a few weeks ago. I can't wait! I have no idea what to expect apart from it's like 4 days. It's going to be like 10pm-10am here in Bali time. So my sleep is going to be way off. But I'm so excited. You bet I'll let you know how it goes and share all the insights, tips and ideas that I get from it


028: Feeling Tired? Be More Selfish to Get More Energy

027: A $499 Zoom Call: Why I Bought Tony Robbin's UPW