Reopening

Yesterday was my first day back at the gym and my martial arts gym since they’ve opened up. It was strange, exhausting, and incredibly uplifting.

I can’t get into the politics of whether or not it’s okay to be in groups of people right now. All I can say is that I’m grateful to see and workout with my comrades.

Even with our masks on, you could tell everyone was smiling ear to ear.

I Wanted

I wanted an author I respected to come on my podcast; so I sent him an email.

I wanted to be fit; so I drove to the gym several times a week.

I wanted to stay close with my friends; so I called them each month.

I wanted to create; so I started typing, hit record, then hit publish…

Everything you need is at your disposal.

Your Greatest Superpower

Yesterday, a friend and I caught up as we ate Chipotle outside of a few restaurants. We chatted and laughed and it began to rain; so we decided to continue our conversation under the umbrellaed tables. Then it started pouring.

The half-inch, Five Guys-branded umbrella could only protect us so much. We were soaked. Yet we continued our discussion about stories and art.

We laughed our asses off; not at the fact that we were casually sitting outside during a violent and ominous downpour, or the fact that we were 5 feet away from perfectly fine indoor seating…but because we were both wearing sunglasses.

My point is, the weather wasn’t an obstruction to our catching up. In fact, it made it a much more light-hearted and memorable experience. It wasn’t an inconvenience because we didn’t see it as one.

Your greatest superpower is your ability to manipulate your perception.

“Just because your mind tells you that something is awful or evil or unplanned or otherwise negative doesn’t mean we have to agree. Just because other people say that something is hopeless or crazy or broken to pieces doesn’t mean it is. We decide what story to tell ourselves. Or whether we will tell one at all.”

Ryan Holiday

Top 5 Regrets

Collected from people on their deathbed. From least to most common.

  1. I wish I’d let myself be happier.
  2. I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  5. I wish I’d lived life true to myself; not the one others expected of me.

A thought came to me yesterday.

One day, I will die. We all know this (or at least we say we know this).

But I got the chills when I went a level deeper and wondered, “Will I die on a Saturday or a Tuesday…?”

Will it happen in the morning or at night? Will I be in pain? What will I be wearing?

Obviously I won’t know the answers to these questions until it’s time, but these questions have answers. There will be a date and time where everything stops. There are an exact number of days until that date. 6,000? 14,000? 30,000? Whatever the number, there are only so many.

What if you had a countdown of that number? How would you spend your days until it hit zero? That’s your life. Live that shit.

Fat Friends

If your best friend becomes obese, you’re 57% more likely to do the same.

That’s insane.

It hasn’t been easy, but I attribute much of my success in the past few years to two things:

  1. Surrounding myself and becoming close with people who crave improvement and success; feeding off their energy, ideas, and support.
  2. Allowing relationships with stagnant, negative, and uninterested people, to fade.

“In time, you begin to think, act, and even look a little like those you hang out with. But not only do their attitudes and health habits influence you, their relative success does too. If the people you spend your time with are high achievers, their achievements can influence your own.”

Whatever You Want

Casey Neistat once said:

“In life, you can get whatever you want; but you can’t want whatever you want.”

Sounds a little confusing, but I love it.

I interpret it as: If you really actually truly honestly want something, and you pour your entire being into it, you can achieve it.

You say you want something–a million dollars, maybe. But do you really want it? Like really want it?

Maybe you do. Maybe you envision a world where you can pay all your bills effortlessly, live comfortably, travel the world, eat at incredible restaurants, support your family, and be financially free…

Or maybe you just think it’d be cool to have a million dollars.

If the purpose behind our goals and aspirations are hollow, we are bound to come up short.

If the purpose behind our goals and aspirations are deep within our bones, after x amount of time and x amount of hard work, we are bound to make them a reality.

To end, some real life examples:

JK Rowling – Harry Potter series denied by first 12 publishers, while she just got divorced and was on welfare with her child.

Colonel Sanders – With only a $105 social security check in his hand, pitched his chicken recipe to restaurants. Rejected by the first 1,009.

Oprah Winfrey – Fired from one of her first jobs because the producer said she was “unfit for television.”

Clarity

The happiest I’ve ever been…

Has never been when I’ve had a certain amount of money,

Or had a certain job,

Or gone certain places,

Or had certain relationships.

The happiest I’ve ever been: when I’m utterly clear about what I want and don’t want.

That’s when all of the above seem to fall gracefully into place.

Sleepy Sleep

Good sleep is absolutely essential to a happy and healthy life. It affects energy, eating habits, endurance, focus, recovery, memory, and overall brain power. Why the hell would we sacrifice it?

Well, for fun, obviously. It’s more fun to say yes to staying up late with friends than it is to leave at 10 pm and go to bed.

Many people also feel that gaining more hours in their day adds to their productivity.

Surely sacrificing sleep every once in a while is excusable, but for many of us, it’s a habit; and such sacrifices actually do the opposite of what we hope for.

I woke up this morning at 4 am. Not on purpose. When I wake up it’s nearly impossible for me to go back to sleep. With 3 extra hours in my morning, I would be able to get so much more done, right? Wrong, Sally (or whatever your name is who’s reading).

My morning routine took an hour and 45 minutes as opposed to the usual 45 minutes. I couldn’t keep my focus on anything for more than 60 seconds. My mind would wander and no matter how captivating whatever I was reading or writing was, I inevitably found myself daydreaming about going back to bed.

Something similar happens when I have late nights with friends. Don’t get me wrong; I love them…on occasion. Having beautiful conversations, doing drugs, and drinking beers with my peoples until the sun rises are some of my fondest memories. However, if it happens every weekend, I feel the costs outweigh the benefits.

4 am euphoria leads to 11 am misery–or whenever the crash hits. A truly glorious morning evolves into pleas for death, and vows that I will never do that again.

Every decision is a tradeoff. We typically think about trading good sleep and a comfortable tomorrow for a long, fun evening tonight. But what if we considered other tradeoffs?

What if we sacrificed tonight’s hours for: making an early breakfast in the morning; going hiking when we wake up, or any other combination of plans you’d rather be alive and energetic for the day after?

We’re all human. It’s unreasonable to ask everyone to get great sleep every night…but if we only sacrificed it on rare occasions, we’d be shocked to see that it actually makes us more connected, more productive, and more willing to be adventurous.

Get some Zs.

An Unbalanced Life

Every day, why aren’t you:

• spending a ton of quality time with the friends and family you care about?

• putting in countless hours to master the skills you need for a successful personal life?

• devoting specific hours each day to your fitness and health habits?

• making a constant effort to learn new things and make new connections?

• traveling whenever you get the chance?

It’s simple…because it’s fucking impossible.

Everything is an opportunity cost. Giving time and energy to one thing means taking time and energy away from another. There’s no way around it. A ‘balanced life’ doesn’t exist.

But that’s okay. Once you realize that you can’t please 100% of people 100% of the time, a weight is sort of lifted.

My mindset: When I’m working, I’m fucking working. When I’m playing, I’m fucking playing.

Whatever I’m doing for those given hours, it has my full, present, mindful attention. Nothing else exists. It’s hell yes, or hell no.

Staying Up Till’ 4

Last night. Did it. Feel like death.

Went to see two friends I haven’t seen in a while. Talked and laughed for hours.

Wanted to leave and go to bed, but too good to see them.

Can’t live this way. Can’t do this all the time. But once in a while is worth it.

Today might suffer a bit, but there’s another memory in the jar.

Willpower is finite

In the past few weeks, I have been doing client work and web design in the first half of the day, then podcast and video editing in the evening.

Each time I switch over to my evening tasks, I become incredibly Resistant to work.

Thinking discipline was the problem, I forced myself to sit and suffer through. This made me nervous because I slowly began enjoying the work less and less–work I truly love.

We’ve heard it before (but humans are so good at progressively forgetting even the deepest truths); we only have a certain amount of willpower in the day.

Gary Keller in The One Thing reminds us that willpower is “depleted when we make decisions to focus our attention, suppress our feelings and impulses, or modify our behavior in pursuit of goals.”

It’s not a discipline issue; it’s a timing issue. Stretching your willpower thin throughout the day will almost certainly result in mediocre work on several tasks.

Gary argues that we must focus on a select few things and do them very well, as opposed to the alternative; what I was doing. He also urges (as one can surmise from his book’s title) people to do the most important thing as early as possible; when the battery of willpower is fully charged and before it gets drained.

I began theming (hyper-focusing) my days: “Today is client work. Tomorrow is podcasting. Thursday is web design and newsletter. Et cetera.” (Is it pretentious to write out the whole thing instead of just etc?)

My productivity has skyrocketed and my love for what I do feels recharged.

Time your willpower. Most important thing early. Et cetera.

50% Rule

Human beings are reliably awful at predicting how much time something will take.

“We all know that person who thinks it takes 5 minutes to get to the store because she made it there in 5 minutes once.”
– Greg McKeown, from his book Essentialism

Even if it does take 5 minutes to drive somewhere, how long does it take to: gather your things, turn the lights off, put on your jacket, lock the door, walk to the car, start it, pick your music…drive there…find a parking spot, get out of the car, and walk to your destination? Never 5 minutes.

Surprisingly, our estimates are off time and time again; yet we continue this pattern of running late…of needlessly stressing as we rush to get ready or get work done.

I’m a punctual person but naturally I still fall into the traps of time delusion. I’ll give myself an hour to finish working on a web page and at 45 minutes I’ll think, “How the fuck did I think I could finish this in an hour?”

In order to remedy this, I’ve started implementing the 50% rule (also from Greg McKeown).

You simply give yourself an extra 50% of however long you think it will take you.

10 minutes become 15 minutes.
An hour becomes an hour and a half.
Two hours become three.
A week becomes a week and a half.

You get it. Worst case scenario: you have extra, stress-free time on your hands.

Try it out. And stop being 3 minutes late to everything.

Starting Over

This week, I had Carlos Catania on my podcast. He’s a fourth degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

As he took me through his journey through the belt system, he made a simple claim which completely changed the way I see improvement.

He said that each time he progressed to the next belt–purple belt to brown belt for example–he wasn’t climbing the totem pole; he was starting over.

“You may be the best purple belt in the tournament; beating everybody, winning every time…but once you get that brown belt, you’re the worst brown belt in the group. You’re starting over.”

This pattern continues even at the highest levels. Again, he is a fourth degree black belt (training for about 25 years), and admits he still has much to learn and that there are plenty of grapplers out there who could destroy him.

We can take this lesson and implement it in any skill we wish to improve.

I feel my content is improving: my videos are looking better, the podcast is sounding more captivating, my website looks more organized…With all of this, it literally feels as though I have ‘leveled up.’

But all evidence from the past tells me each time I feel this way, once the high is over, I feel the greatest amount of Resistance I’ve felt yet. Once that ‘tier’ is reached, the standards and responsibilities to maintain those standards ascend as well.

When you get better at something, you want to be consistent with your new skills and abilities. This experience can be inspiring, crippling, euphoric, and agonizing all at the same time.

The pain doesn’t go away. Learn to love it. Each time you get better, you’re just starting over.

Very Very Good

The tides ebb and flow. This past week, there were a few days where I felt stagnant in my business and personal life. I felt unmotivated and sluggish. I was on a low.

Yesterday, I recorded an amazing podcast that I can’t wait to publish, I posted an episode with my Brazilian JiuJitsu coach which I absolutely love, I made serious progress on my new website (releasing soon), and one of my best friends called me and we talked for 2 hours.

Recognize that life is lived in highs and lows. Appreciate and learn from both. Don’t attach yourself to either. Whatever state you’re in right now will not last.

Nothing very very good or very very bad ever lasts for very very long.”
-Unknown

5 am Frustration

The plan today was for me to workout with my buddy at his place. We usually start “ripping” (his term) at 8:30 in the morning. Today, however, his work obligations meant we had to start at 7am.

Shit, I thought. That’s usually when I wake up.

Excited for the challenge, I agreed. I went to bed early, woke up at 5:30, and wanted to die.

After sleepwalking through my morning routine and drinking a cup of coffee, I turned my phone on to see that he had to cancel. I sat there, eyes half closed, and wanted to throw my phone out the window.

I had wasted exhaustion for no payoff. I had a full day ahead of me. I couldn’t go back to sleep after chugging a cup of Joseph.

In the midst of my frustration, I sat back for a second and asked myself a few questions to accurately assess the situation.

Is there anything I can do about already being up and caffeinated? No.

Did my buddy give a shit about having to cancel? Yes. Super apologetic.

Did he tell me why he canceled? Yes. A client messed up and he had to fix the problem.

Do I know what kind of stress he’s going through? No.

Workout or no, would I be exhausted today anyway? Yes.

Will I make it through this? Yes.

I will make it through this, I’ll get my work done, and I’ll happily go to bed earlier tonight.

On the Beach with Mom

Today is a good day.

No work. No email. No social media.

Just sitting on a beach, reading a book next to Mom.

I was going to split the day; working in the morning, then squeezing family-time in somehow.

But no.

When my mom is no longer here, when we can no longer laugh together, I will be sad.

But I will think back to this day, and I will smile.

Because today is a good day.

‘Don’t Want’ List

Much of my peace in life can be attributed to making decisions based on this list. By no means am I perfect (I still live with my mom for God’s sake), but I’ve spent the last few years focusing on how I can mold the life I want to live. The best place to start that is by defining exactly what you don’t want.

I don’t want:

• To look forward to the weekend

• To be on someone else’s schedule everyday

• To spend money on things just to make my life look more interesting

• To be tied down to a certain place (living or work)

• Friends who aren’t pursuing something

• To look back one day and ask why I didn’t go for the things I wanted

• A body that looks and feels weak and slow

• To save money for 40 years, have fun when I can, retire, and then enjoy my life

Real Regret

When discussing regrets, I’ve never heard anyone say that they regret taking a certain action.

People regret the areas in which they didn’t take action; we regret the things we didn’t do…even if it’s disguised as something else.

For example, I can say I regret going to college; but what I really regret is not spending that time and those tens of thousands of dollars on other things (e.g. travel, investing in myself, making mistakes which won’t put me in decades of debt, building skills, etc).

When you think about the regret you’ll feel by doing something, ask yourself: how will I feel if I don’t do this?

Essentialism

1. What are the most important things to you? What do you want most out of life and yourself? What value do you want to provide others?

2. What do you do too much of which gets in the way of pursuing these values? What is nonessential that fills your schedule?

3. What don’t you do enough of to give light to what matters most? How can you eliminate these from your day to day?

Quarterly Reflection

Every 3 months or so, I do a goal-setting exercise. Over the course of a year, I can easily see what is consistently important to me and what would be okay if I let go.

On a regular sheet of paper (lined or otherwise), I make two rows and three columns. The top row is Short-term, and the bottom Long-term.

The vertical columns are Finance (goals for my money), Stuff (things I want to buy), and Personal Development (skills or habits I’d like to acquire).

I fill each section out for both the short-term (the next 2 years or so) and long-term.

It takes about 10 minutes and is a therapeutic way to analyze what you want and pave the way forward.

Double Your Reading Speed in 12 Minutes

Not shitting you. This works. It will take practice, which loses a lot of people. But who wouldn’t want to double their reading speed (without losing comprehension)??

  1. Read comfortably(using your finger or a visual pacer) for 4 minutes. Set a timer and read as you normally would. When the timer goes off, mark where you stopped with a pencil.

  2. Now, set your alarm for 3 minutes. (Again using a visual pacer) Try to reach where you stopped at step 1 before the 3 minutes are up

  3. Set your alarm for 2 minutes. This time, don’t worry about comprehension Try to get to that same point in 2 minutes. Go line by line and have your eyes follow your visual pacer as fast as possible.

  4. Set your timer for 1 minute. Same thing. Don’t skip and lines and don’t worry about comprehension at all. Just follow the pacer with your eyes line by line as fast as you can to get to the same ending point.

  5. Chill. Set your timer for 2 minutes again. Start from where you made the pencil mark. Read comfortably with your visual pacer for 2 minutes with comprehension. Count the number of lines you read, multiply that by the amount of words per line (add up the words from three lines then divide by three to average them out), then divide that number by two. This is your new reading rate per minute.

    I got this from Jim Kwik’s book Limitless. It increased my reading speed by 52%.

The Other Side of Fear

Jamie Foxx asks his kids, “What’s on the other side of fear?”

A simple concept. Why are you nervous? Why are you afraid? What’s going to happen to you?

We get anxious as if someone is going to come out and stab us.

I thought that when I failed out of college, I would suddenly sink into a black hole and drift for eternity…

Instead, I just woke up the next morning and started my day.

What’s on the other side of fear? Nothing.

Get up and start your day.

What Can You Do?

People really don’t care about what you can’t do. They only care about what you can do.

How often do you spend time thinking about the value people don’t bring you? You probably never think about those people at all. Why would you?

If I said your best friend’s name, I doubt your first few thoughts would be, “They’re my best friend, but they don’t make me laugh as much as I would like, and they could be more organized in their professional life, oh and also their sense of style isn’t that great…”

That’s psychotic. Instead, you’d probably flash to a memory or think about how they make you feel when you’re in a room with them.

The same is true with your goals or pursuits. People don’t give a shit about your obstacles or failures. They really only care about what you produce and the value you provide.

College Dropout Who Sucks With Computers

Man, this sounds so cliche; but you really can learn how to do anything.

I’ve stated countless times in my life: I struggle with retaining information; I’m not a tech guy; I’m not business savvy. This is all following the fixed mindset.

The only reason these claims were true was because they paralyzed me with fear so I didn’t even try to debunk them. It’s like saying, “I suck at drawing,” but never trying to practice it. Yeah, of course you suck at drawing. You don’t draw!

In the past two weeks, I have started my own business, taught myself basic coding languages, built two new websites, and learned a new video-editing software.

This is not a brag. The point is: there’s nothing special about me. I don’t have some innate talent or skill. The fixed mindset says that some people can and some people can’t. That’s bullshit.

All of these things came to me simply from intentionally placing my time and energy into them. Anyone can do it; even a college dropout who sucks with computers.

Layers

Last night, I had an in-depth conversation with my good friend about him and his high school sweetheart. We talked about threesomes.

It was not at all where I thought the discussion would go, but it was honest and thought-provoking nonetheless. He stated that it was something they’ve never told anyone else, and I certainly had never gone down that rabbit hole with any couple who had done it.

Point is: everyone has layers to them you don’t even know exist. This layer was uncovered not because I pried and prodded; I merely asked curious questions.

Kind Words

It is such a cliche, but you have no idea how powerful a compliment can be to someone.

Reaching out and saying that you noticed their efforts, or simply noting that you enjoyed something of theirs…

This could be the difference between them slowly fading or building momentum and becoming limitless.

Multitasking

…is the bane of getting shit done.

Our brains are not designed to focus on more than one task at a time. Even people who claim to be great multitaskers; all they’re doing is rapidly shifting attention from one thing to another. Nothing is happening simultaneously.

I built a website for a client last week. It was an arduous, ungraceful process. I thought that was because I had to teach myself a set of skills of which I wasn’t privy. However, looking back, I realize my inefficiency was due to a weak process.

I would start my work at 9am, look at my schedule, and read “Work on Website.” It was chaos.

What the hell does that mean? Work on Website???

I would be working on the layout of the home page, realize I need more interesting buttons, then need the social links to those buttons, then proper descriptions of those social accounts, then the right picture placements…until eventually, 4 hours would go by.

Rather than feeling accomplished for working on several aspects of the site, I felt tired and confused because I did maybe 20% of each task. Looking up, the site barely felt any different.

What if I just focused on the layout of the home page? Well, I certainly would’ve completed it. Then, with that real sense of accomplishment, I could build momentum and carry that with me to the next step.

Multitasking is not productive; it’s the exact opposite (unless you’re a server). Spend quality, mindful time focusing on the one thing you’re doing…and it’ll get done (well).

3 Questions

These are questions I ask myself and write down at least once a month:

• What are the most important things in my life right now?

• What am I doing each day to put effort into those things?

• What is getting in the way of these efforts?

Fade

“If you study even the smallest bit of science, you will realize that, for practical purposes, we are nothing. We’re basically monkeys on a small rock orbiting a small, backwards star in a huge galaxy, which is in an absolutely staggeringly gigantic universe, which itself may be part of a gigantic multiverse.

This universe has been around for probably 10 billion years or more, and will be around for tens of billions of years afterwards. So your existence, my existence, is just infinitesimal. It is like a firefly blinking once in the night. Nothing that we do lasts. Eventually you will fade, your works will fade, your children will fade, your thoughts will fade, this planet will fade, the sun will fade…it will all be gone.

There are entire civilizations that we remember now with just one or two words like ‘Sumerian’ or ‘Mayan.’ Do you know any Sumerians or Mayans? Do you hold any of them in high regard or esteem? Have they outlived their natural lifespan somehow? No.

If you don’t believe in an afterlife, then you should realize that this is such a short and precious life, it is really important that you don’t spend it being unhappy. There is no excuse for spending most of your life in misery. You’ve only got around 70 years out of the 50 billion or however long the universe is going to be around.”

  • Naval Ravikant, from Tools of Titans (552)

TL; DR – Chill. Enjoy it.

Cold Showers

I know, I know…

For the years in which I’ve been obsessing over personal development, taking cold showers was the one thing people preached that I easily brushed aside. I tried it once and promptly decided, “fuck that.”

But for whatever reason, I decided to give it another go this past week. I’ve done it everyday.

Cold therapy boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation. I don’t really know what the hell that means.

Instead, the benefits I’ve taken away have been much more psychological. When you step forward and the freezing cold water hits your skin, your fight or flight instincts kick in. Obviously, our tendency is to go “oh fuck,” and step away as quickly as possible. Some people develop mental toughness by just enduring the freezing discomfort; but I’ve taken a different approach.

Before embracing the water, I take a deep inhale. Stepping into the shower, I release an even deeper exhale. If I focus solely on the breath at that moment, as if I’m breathing into the areas of discomfort, I can barely feel the cold sensations.

When guys or gals who aren’t trained in martial arts try to fight, you often see them flinching and flailing their arms around spastically. Again, this is them losing control to their flight or flight mechanics. Trained fighters however, are much calmer and more composed under such instinctual strains. Time seems to move at a slower pace for them.

This is what happens in a cold shower. You’re basically training yourself to slow down time when your mind wants your body to go crazy and escape.

Pain is not the same as suffering. Suffering is often a choice.