If you fall off your horse, get right back on again. If you fail in your habits, do not let this spiral out of control, just get back into them as soon as possible. Avoid the thinking that goes like, 'well I have had a cake today, so I may as well eat crap for the rest of the day.' This leeches into 'well I was bad on Monday and Tuesday, so I may as well write this week off,' to 'well I was bad last week so I may as well just wait until next month to start again.'
Why are you trusting your future self to be better, to have fewer cravings, to have more motivation than your current self? Because you have felt motivated in the past, you think it will return? Possibly, but why take the risk? Why leave it up to fate? If you just did the thing you know you should do, the action itself will produce motivation, not the other way around.
There is no future, only what you are doing in the present. Right now.
The future is just a series of presents that stretch out in your mind. You do not delay breathing in such a manner. 'I can't be bothered to breathe right now, I think I'll wait until tomorrow.'
Bring your thoughts to your breath. Gather yourself in the present moment and then take action now. Get yourself back on track. Eat healthily, be silly with a loved one, open that stocks and shares account.
What would it look like if it was easy? Do that.
Will it make the boat go faster? Benjamin P. Hardy wrote a great article yesterday on how to keep focussing on the right things with a lesson from the British rowing team of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Read the whole article for context but my favourite excerpts are below:
They developed a one-question response to EVERY SINGLE DECISION they made. This one question allowed them to measure every situation, decision, and obstacle - and to not get derailed where most people do.
Find out what you want in life and for everything that gets in the way, ask yourself, will this help me hit my goal? If not, you know what to do...or not do.
Read the full article
James Clear just published a great blog post on Tendai Buddist monks and how this can relate you your own projects. It is well reading the whole article for context but my favourite excerpts are below:
If something is important to you, complete it. If not, kill it.
We all have things that we say are important to us. You might say that you want to lose weight or be a better parent or create work that matters or build a successful business or write a book - but do you make time for these goals above all else? Do your organize your day around accomplishing them?
It doesn't matter how long your goal will take, just get started.
Where do you want to get to? It could be getting promoted, passing an exam to get a qualification, it could be gaining a certain amount of money.
Why do you want that? This will help keep you going when the times get tough. Even if you stumble, it will act as your guiding light to get you back on track.
But the most important questions are needed to distil a habit:
What would a person who has already achieved the things you want BE like? How would they act? How would they think about things? What would be their outlook on life? How can you be like those things right now?
What do you think they would do each day? What would you need to do each day to be like them even if they do not need to do them each day? What would it look like if it was easy? Start with the smallest daily thing that you will be able to do no matter what. No matter if you are ill, if you are injured, if a crisis happens and you have no time. Something that is so small that it seems insignificant. Something that you are likely to do more than necessary because it seems too small.
Consistency over intensity is where habits build into greatness. Day by day by day. This is where the real change happens, inside yourself first before others will ever see it. This is where your focus should be.
Do the exercise. Find your habits and then get your head down and commit to them. Look up occasionally to see if you are still going in the right direction. Check in to see if your 'why' is strong enough. And then get your head back down and work.
Waiting for things to come to you. I read once a description of depression being someone that is too focused on the past and anxiety as someone who dwells on the future. I am not sure I agree with this completely although I do like it.
If you have good feelings about the past and think the current moment is worse than that, then I can see why this might be depressing. But what if the past was bad and 'now' is much better?
Similarly, by worrying about what might happen in the future and bringing those negative thoughts forward into the present, it makes sense that this would make a person anxious. But imagining a better, brighter future? I am not sure how this could cause anxiousness?
So then, it surely cannot solely be about the past or the future that cause these afflictions of the mind, but instead be about positivity and negativity.
Negativity can be thinking you are a victim, cannot see a way out, wanting things to be the way they were, not letting go.
Positive thinking is gratitude, not longing for material things, enjoying the journey, visualising a better future.
Being stuck in the past in a negative way is a result of negative thinking, which is a result of negative habits. You can create habits of gratitude, of visualisation, of mindfulness of the present. And these result in positive thinking, which results in thinking of the past as simply what got you to 'here' and thinking of the future as what is going to get you 'there.'
Trust the process and enjoy it along the way.
I need to be mindful today. Mindful of distractions both from myself and others that will divert me from my path. I need coping strategies; replacement habits for each type of distraction.
The best solution is to not get distracted in the first place. Turn off notifications, put your phone in airplane mode or do not disturb. Put iMac in the same mode. Turn off email.
Focus on the things that will make the biggest difference, even if those can only be partially done because they are so big. These are the ones to get done. These will move your life forward.
Why am I spending time on the minutiae?
Proactive in the morning. Reactive in the afternoon.
If I do get distracted, or find myself about to get distracted, I need a replacement habit. If I am about to get distracted, I may as well do something else productive instead. I could tidy clothes away, put a wash on, do some meditation or some quick yoga. These are good ideas but I need to be strong of will not to allow these themselves to be the distraction - only to help worse distraction.
Think back to revising at school how you used to tidy everything or make revision timetable or other planning in order to not start doing something important. Do not use coping mechanisms as a proactive excuse not to start the hard work. But also know when ten minutes of doing these will save hours from not doing some other distraction. Know when to choose the right path.
It all depends on what you drive joy from.
The most successful, in monetary terms, and probably achievement, enjoy working, grinding, moving closer towards something meaningful. For the person that achieves longevity, the money is usually a side-effect. They like doing what they are doing and they need to do it to be who they are. On the flip side, you could die crossing the street tomorrow. Is it really worth putting yourself unnecessarily through all that hardships rather than going to that party, buying that car, spending time with your family?
Well, probably not. However, what if you do not die tomorrow? What if you live to be 100 plus? You have a lot of time left AND it is going to go quickly. What are you going to do with it? Why not do it all?
Just like tasks, you can batch things. Why not spend some amount of time, that could be a week, a month or a year, solely focussed on building your business, then take some time off? Or, like eating healthy, focus on being how you want to behave 80% of the time and take one day a week off to do anything that you want.
In the hyper-connected world that we live, the reality is that you can probably do it all. The only thing that will stop you is not doing anything at all or spending too much time on one thing at the expense of the rest.
You can still keep up to date on binge-watching Netflix as long as this is not the only thing you do. You can go travelling and party as long as you are working on something for the future too.
There are examples of success all around you of how different people did it. All with different balances. The common thread? No one did it without hard work. If you love what you do, then you are halfway there.
What a difference a smile makes. I have just tried the guided meditations that come with Tara Brach's Radical Acceptance and one of them makes you visualise a smile. It is pretty difficult to not start smiling from even just imagining a smile in your mind - even before you are supposed to put a smile on your lips. The joy that it gives to see my four-month-old boy smile is amazing - the first time he smiled was heart melting.
I have also been reading Win Bigly, about persuasion and how reality can be split as everyone interprets it differently. Someone going around with a frown all day is likely to perceive those around them as unkind and unfriendly. Those that go around with a smile on their face all day are likely to perceive the world as a happy, helpful place. Because reality is not fixed. It is in our own minds and our actions rub off on other people.
This also reminds me of Gaby Reece who says, "go first". When you go into a lift, don't expect others to speak to you - go first. At a party or a conference, don't expect others to approach you - go first. Want others to be kind to you? Go first.
This resonates a lot with me as I have tried to be less introverted over the years. Smiling is also going first. It is amazing how contagious it is, and it also starts to build the realisation that we can make our reality anything that we want it to be. It is in our thoughts that we have complete control. We must realise that the world around us, and even our own bodies (as the Stoics would say as we can be struck down by illness), is out of our control. But there is no reality, only our perception of it. We definitely have control over our own thoughts and choices and so we are more powerful than we imagine. We have the ability to shape our own reality through our perception of it.
Why do humans argue?
Because we have it too good? Because there are so many options and interpretations? Because we think people should see the world the way that we see the world? Because we are rational and they are not? Because our way is right and their way is wrong?
I gave up quite a lot in January. Alcohol, caffeine, sugar, fast carbs, meat, fish, gluten and all grains (I tried to Aldo go vegan but cracked on cheese!).
I didn't shout about it, but it came up in conversation and the person I was talking to asked, "is there any evidence that giving up all these things is actually healthy?"
The real question is, will this make a difference if I answer you?
For any similar questions: What evidence do you have that this thing is the right thing? What actual proof do you have that giving up x is good for you?
Well, rather than arguing. Ask, "what could I say that would persuade you?"
Again, this question assumes we are rational.
A better question, "if there were irrefutable evidence, would you try it today, right now? Would you give up that steak that is sitting in front of you, what about that toasted bacon bagel?"
What evidence would you need to be convinced?
If it is that an expert has some data then you can probably find it if you needed to and looked. But what is an expert?
More likely, the threshold for most people is that it is accepted into popular opinion, although they would not like to admit it.
Getting something into popular opinion is very slow. Changing the masses behaviour is very slow.
Not that we should throw out science, but to understand that to consider science separately from politics and persuasion could be considered by some as quite naive.
You are taught in school that science is reason. However, when you grow up you realise that humans have biases. Biases in results, in statistics, in storytelling, in politics, in what gets funded and in who listens to whom.
A better marker, like Nassim Taleb says, is where should the burden of proof be? Why wait to see if fucking with food until it is not food anymore hurts humans over three generations? This study will never get funded, and even if it finds results will need political influence to get past the trillions of dollars in interests counter to these results.
If it is not natural, it is probably bad. A much simpler way to navigate life.
When you are out of inspiration to write the best solution is to just write. With no hang ups or expectations over whether it is good or not. Tim Ferriss said of one of his mentors when writing a book the goal should be to write one crappy page per day. Similarly, morning pages is just a practice of writing three pages each and every morning. No agenda, no purpose, just write.
This gets you into the habit of doing. And it is amazing what you can achieve when you make a habit of doing something small every single day.
James Altucher has a list of things that he needs to do in order to avoid himself falling off the precipice (as he has been bankrupt a number of times). One of them is to write ten ideas per day. They can be random ideas or ideas about a theme. For example, ten businesses I could start today or ten products for cats. The goal is to do the doing, not to come up with a great idea to run with. Of course, this is likely a side benefit. In having no expectations your mind will be free and will likely hit a great idea after doing this practice for a while. When you can let your mind be free, great things can happen.
How much of your current situation is a result of your current thinking and actions? All of it.
You are what you consistently do. And you do what you consistently think about becoming.
Get into daily practices that open your mind and the rest will follow.
I recently tried a flotation tank and the owner said that you rarely get out of a float what you want but you always get what you need. Some people have experiences like being on psychedelics. But if you are burned out and do not have the time to be creative then this is what you need - time and space. Or maybe just a sleep.