One helpful mental model
Don’t choose the average. Do the really easy or the really hard.
This is because things have non-linear payoffs. The hard gives you disproportionately more than the average. The easy, hardly less.
A) Choosing College Courses
Choose either the easy, fun courses, or the hard behemoths. Don’t do the mediocre, not-even-boring courses.
Let’s say you have 40 hours to allocate for 4 course slots. Choose a 25 hour course with 3 easy 5 hour courses rather than 4 10 hour courses.
Do 5< reps or 20+ reps. The heavy lifts or the light, soul-crushingly painful stuff. Not the standard 12-rep that doesn’t go anywhere.
Go all-in on late night talks, or exchange pleasantries/witticisms. The drudgery of 10-20 minutes of small-talk is why we are all depressed.
Go uber-abstract and learn something academically, or get an overview through a blog or a podcast. Pseudo-scientific NYT bestsellers is the worst thing that has happened in the 20th century, discounting all the other terrible tragedies.
P.S. This idea is adapted from Nassim Taleb’s incomparable Antifragile. Go read it.