← Back to the journal

Add or Subtract. Whichever gives you more options

Posted on Oct 20, 2020Mohamed Said
Life can be improved by adding, or by subtracting. The world pushes us to add, because that benefits them. But the secret is to focus on subtracting.

Says Derek Sivers in his article titled "Subtract".

I think it boils down to what gives you more options; if adding gives you more options, then add. If subtracting gives you more options, then subtract. The worst thing in the world is to run out of options.

Recently, I've been in a situation where I ran out of options. I decided to never put myself—and my family—in this situation again.

Making more money gives more options, but working more results in less options. It's hard to find the balance and make the wise decision, but at least we should all try.

Here's how Daniel Vassallo puts it:

The fewer options you have, the better you have to be at predicting the future. And unfortunately, you’re not good at predicting the future. Pursuing optionality is not glamorous — results may take a long time to materialize. But getting squeezed by fate is not much fun either.


You're bound to be harmed by fate when you only have one narrow path to success. A small unexpected disruption can unravel everything. You're bound to benefit from fate when you hold many options (the opportunity to take a new course, but not the obligation).