Intermediate Stop on My Journey

It has been an enjoyment, albeit a humorous one, to have been reading my old blog posts. My inspiration does not always hit the times when I am free to write, so I have been browsing through my old posts in attempt to find ideas for new writings, or regurgitations of my old ideas in more mature format.

If one point of my blog has been to document my self-development journey, it has at least partially fulfilled that function. In my old posts I might have been still finding my own voice, and perhaps still am, but there was enough of it there to leave a permanent stamp of the mindset, the thought-patterns and emotions that I had at the times I have gone through.

Reading my old posts one sentiment stands out above all – I have come a long way. Long way from the guy who was just struggling through everything, desperately trying to make some money to go to Japan. The guy who was trying to work so hard but getting so little done, yet in the end beating himself. Reading my old posts, I can be proud that I have gotten over those times, to a happier and calmer time.

However I am not particularly filled with pride with the stagnation that has followed since. I feel like sometimes slowing down is appropriate, but stopping for too long just leads to everyone else being far ahead by the time you are ready to move. Then you have some catching up to do.

It has been interesting to reconnect with my old self through my old posts, and to wonder what that kid full of hopes and dreams would have done if he had my resources and situation at his disposal.

Cause back in the early days of the blog, in the early 2013, over three years ago, I had next to nothing. The perception of time here is bizarre too – I have been to over 10 countries since, had multiple failed relationships and other strong experiences, which makes it feel like it was a lifetime ago. On the other hand, though, you think it was 2013 so it was just recently. In this case, three years makes a big difference.

Makes me wonder, what would I have done differently if that guy had gotten access to what I have now. Then again, I needed to go through my journey to get it. I needed to learn to work harder. I needed to let go of attachments. I needed to go through uncomfortable situations to get to the current, calm mindset that I generally have.

But like I said, there is no room for stagnation. That same kid who was far off, much farther off his goals than I am now, set his sights far higher than where I wound up. It is comforting to see that a lot of goals me from three years ago set, I have achieved and that most of the ones I did not achieve turned out to not be so important anyway, but it is not like I am ready to rest on my laurels.

In fact, you never will be, but even if such a time existed I would be nowhere close to it. I still have anxieties, I still have struggles in my everyday life, but also progress has been made. It is funny to read my old posts how happy I was over simple things, how I was painting them to be this huge challenge where in reality they weren’t. But that is an important reminder of where I come from: It was a big deal at the time, it was a big challenge at the time.

For me to be relatively normal today I had to overcome massive resistance in the beginning, such that 95 % of people won’t even ever understand cause they don’t see how simple things had become difficult to me due to mental resistance. It is even hard for me to understand it, despite having lived through it. Like I said, that time feels like a different lifetime and it is hard to access even the memories of that time. Yet, I am not even that far off yet. I could easily slip back there, things have not changed that much.

Which is why this life-situation should be just a temporary, intermediate stop in my life. A plateau from which I can look below to my old life, but where I should just take a breather before gritting my teeth, looking atop of the peak I am going to and then start trodding along the path.

Not Everyone Should Have an Opinion About Everything

I have gotten stuck on some Social Media debates lately. A big mistake always. Really bad for your general happiness levels.

Long things short, what really drives me crazy is that ignorant people have a strong opinion about something they obviously have no real knowledge, first hand or second-hand, about. Just on impression, people have so strong opinion they are willing to stand by it even against all the logical evidence.

Here is the deal – unless you have a lot of experience and knowledge about something, you really should not have an opinion about it. At all. Let alone a strong opinion. I don’t get to have strong opinions of many things as a result of living by this paradigm. But the ones I have actually make sense for the most part and I feel deservedly firm about them.

It can kinda make me a boring conversationalist sometimes, cause for most things, I just don’t have a strong opinion, usually things that I don’t really care about. Thankfully it helps me avoid tedious and fruitless arguments with people and is a good price to pay for retaining my intellectual integrity.

But thing is, why should you have a strong opinion about something you really don’t know anything about? If you have never been in a fight, you should not act like you know how to do it. If you have never been in a gay relationship, you should not have a strong opinion about it. If you have never had an abortion, or understand completely the reasons and methodologies regarding it, you simply have no right to have an opinion. These are not subjects I have been arguing with people about, cause I really don’t have strong opinions about other people’s business, I just mentioned them cause lot of people do have a strong opinion on them even though they definitelys should not.

This is something that really should be taught in schools, cause it would clear a lot of dumb, loud people out of the social media, I mean man can dream that would be the effect anyway?

Whatever the case may be, the current society is ran exactly the opposite way. Places like social media encourage people to speak up even though they don’t know anything about things. It gives them platform to be widely heard and spread their views that might be completely out of touch with reality. This is not a ran against free speech – this is rant against intellectually rotten mindsets that are simply lazy to thoroughly think through their views.

Another form of encouragement for this “having an opinion despite knowing next to nothing” -phenomenon is democracy. How many of us really have a depth of knowledge about politics? How many of us have a depth of knowledge about how things should be run in our country or world in general? How many understand education, global economics, etc etc so deeply that they should have a right to opinion?

Truth is not many, but the whole idea of democracy is that it expects us ALL to have an opinion about it and all of our opinion counts the same towards the ultimate decisions. This is not an anti-democracy rant as such, it is just pointing out a fact how democracy is flawed at its root level. Hence we end up with political candidates that no one seems to want.

Everyone’s opinion does not count the same. If you haven’t at the bare minimum spent a long long time introspecting a matter from multiple different angles, please just shut up already. Your opinion is not worth shit. Even with just introspection, the validity of what you say is limited. As soon as someone with experience on the matter steps into the conversation, anyone who is not ego-invested should realize that their opinion just became second-class.

Once again we ran into the problem that just because you have some experience, you are automatically right. A small sample of experiences does not make you right. It is so common for people to make sweeping conclusions about things just based on one thing. It is just as invalid as just thinking about a matter.

So what is what we want? I don’t want to aggrandise myself, but obviously I think I behave correctly in this matter. I am not saying I am perfect, I probably have un- or subconsciously strong opinions about things I know jack shit of, or about things I think I know a lot but really actually don’t, but I try my best to follow following guidelines:

  • Have a breadth of knowledge on the matter.
  • Have at least some real life experience or observation on it so I see how the ideas work in reality.
  • Carefully weigh the different sides of the matter in my mind over a long course of introspection.
  • Avoid subject matters I do not know anything of.
  • If I do venture to have an opinion about thing I am not so familiar with, admit right away my limited knowledge and not aggressively defend my opinion.
  • Be ready to let go of your opinion if someone shows in clear terms that you are wrong.
  • Learn new stuff.

These are not conscious guidelines that I have had, I just wrote that down first time trying to explain kinda the internal compass I have developed for these things.

There is the old measuring stick about people’s actions that “if everyone did that, then x” that is used mostly in attempt to invalidate some ways of life. I think it is stupid actually, but without digressing from the point I am making, this is one such mindset that if everyone adopted it we would have much less intellectual noise in our lives and more carefully weighed opinions from people who know what they are talking about. To stay true to what I just outlined above, I have to admit I do not know what else would everyone adopting this mindset would cause, but as it would never happen, it does not really matter either. I just think it is an easy way to make your mind a little bit clearer.

In the end though, you are best advised to avoid arguing with people online in the first place – even when you are right, you are gonna have a bad time. In fact, the less regard you have what the people and the society think, the happier you will be in your life.

Always a Way to Improve

I didn’t write a headline for this post, I will just kinda do a stream of consciousness and then just see what comes, then slap the general theme or whatever conclusions I might come to as the headline. So let’s go…

May Madness Challenge is now running on its second week, and so far I have been successful, even if just grazing the bar sometimes with my 50 points a day requirement. It could have been an easier landing to the challenge, though.

First setback obviously has been my erratic sleeping pattern, which makes consistency hard and planning of days tricky. I cannot complain about that too much, though, as that is entirely in my control. Bigger problem has been falling sick in the beginning and in fact I am still having health problems. Nothing severe, just a bit of a fever, but it does make putting in longer work hours bit tougher.

No cutting slack though. I would cut myself some slack if I set a really difficult target like 100 points per day, which gets borderline impossible if you are sick and feeling lethargic, but I precisely set the 50 point daily limit to have some room for manuevering. So no mercy on that. 50 points is not that hard to get, just put in few hours of concentrated work during the day, read a bit and do some other good shit, and you will get there. So I am not doing anything earth shattering here even though I am sick.

It just shows how much of our lives is just up to our decision, though. I am far from my best conditions, yet if I just commit to it, being that productive every day is not that hard. It is not an impressive level anyway, but it will lead to some improvements already in a person’s life, and to point out how rarely I reach even this measly levels, last time I scored 50 points on nine successive days was back in 2013 – unfortunately that is not something I cannot confirm as I lost all my old records expect the top-10 weeks of all time, but given I had scored multiple over 400 point weeks in a row it is likely I also stayed above the 50-point line.

In the end the points itself don’t matter – it is just a tool for measurement, something to show how much a simple decision and emotional leverage to stay disciplined can cause change in your life. My points increased by about 50 % from the average of previous few weeks. Was my life strictly speaking better? No, to be honest not, as I was still adjusting to the new limitations and hence not being as free to go out etc, as well as getting sick, but I got done a lot more than I have been getting done lately. Again, I am still on no impressive level, but you cannot jump from 1 to 100… Or maybe you can, who knows, but point is I am not trying to sell you on some magic pill that changes everything. I am still on the red on most individual things in my tracking spreadsheet – which means I am still not doing enough of almost everything by my own standards.

Few weeks of 400 points got a book done, and few weeks of 300-500 points that the challenge ought to bring would make me get shit done on more acceptable pace.

Thing is, what I am describing here is what the high-achievers will get on their worst weeks.For high-achievers, even when they are taking a break from working, stuff like meditation, reading, social relationships, etc. are such prevalent things in their life, that they would rack them up into the 300s easily every week.

Why is that? Well my first instinct was to phrase it above that it comes naturally to high-achievers, but I am sure that for lot of them it did not come naturally to begin with – but over time it became natural for them. It was all a matter of self-training. They had strong enough motivations to keep enduring in self-discipline for years and years to build habits that naturally support a good life. I have done it in the past too, but I have to admit that lately I have ceased to really actively build positive habits. Why that is would merit a whole another post pondering.

Thing is, always keep moving. You might have been standing still for past two years, and lament how you used to be sprinting ahead of the pack and now struggle to even keep up jogging pace. You gotta build it up again. Or you don’t have to – you can always choose mediocrity. I am not even being sarcastically motivating you with reverse psychology – for some people it really is satisfying choice and they can be happy just chilling their life. Not everyone has to push everything in their life to the max, you can also just chill it to the max and be happy, some people can certainly do that.

For me, the force that set me moving, the dissatisfaction, the knowing that I can do better than this, the need to prove to myself time and time again that I am awesome and can become awesome every day, is now counter-balanced with the force of feeling everything is good and right, chill and satisfactory. The good is the enemy of the best. Breaking the inertia of the chill and having all your basic needs met is a tricky thing, again worthy of a post of its own.

I have struck some chord within myself with this challenge though, cause for all the little nuisances I am still going and seem to have the mindset to keep going until the end. The first week is always the hardest, and with the added difficulty I have been enduring it is unlikely things would get harder – hope I won’t jinx it by saying that. Just goes to show how granted I have been taking my health and my time to not even match what I am now doing while healthy.

So perhaps it all comes back to that old notion about life being short, thing that I have already taken multiple times to reiterate. It is a hard lesson to internalize. Easy to know as a thought, but to internalize so you really have understanding of it is a whole different ballgame. You love someone more when you almost lost them and know deep down you might lose them again. Every moment with them becomes precious. So too becomes life when you fully, deeply realize with every cell of your body that your life might be taken away from you any moment. We all lead a cushy existance that rarely pits us eye to eye with that reality of death, even death of our loved ones does not necessarily be enough to give us that deep understanding.

Thing is, I am about to slip into another monologue that would be worthy of its own post, so I am gonna cut this one here. As expected, this was exactly the kind of post you would think about after I said I will write a stream of consciouness; rambling, lacking focus, just generally all over the place. If there was any thread running through the post, it was that we all have to power to change our lives at any moment and all it takes is to find a way to get over ourselves.

May Madness Challenge

It has been a while I have wanted to put myself under a challenge. I have started and failed some challenges since the major success of Spiral of Awesomeness, but nothing has really concretely even started, which has at times even made me think that the whole model of making challenges for yourself is a bit contrived anyway.

Something about it appeals to me though and it can be hard for me to set my mind correctly to get started on some things if I just think I should do something. I guess I am a guy who reacts well to a set, simple target and working towards it. I don’t know what it is, and ultimately the results have been mixed anyway. Thing is, I am ready to try something again after spending last few months more or less stagnating.

After all, if any challenge can be as big of a success as Spiral of Awesomeness was, it is not just a gradual increase in the quality of my life, but a whole jump to another level. In the end it does not matter why something works, what matters is that I get a psychological leverage over my primitive brains. Competitiveness is one way to do that, as is this challenge mindset.

So with all that in mind, let’s delve right into what I want to do for my May Challenge.

May Madness

It was a long process trying to figure out what kind of a challenge I would set. Spiral of Awesomeness was very structured, and I tend to respond very well to that kind of parameters, because it is very black-and-white, very little thinking involved. However the way my life is at the moment would be at odds with the level of rigidity such challenge would require. I needed something more fluid. I am sure eventually I will try to put more structure back to my life, but I needed more of a challenge that involved mindset rather than specific actions.

In the end the answer came to me from closer than I even thought – my point system, the Universal Awesomeness Score. In short, UAS tries to condense my quality of life/productivity in one number. It does not actually necessarily tell how good my life is, but it does measure well how well I am using my time. If I score high? Might have been a shit day, but I at least put in a lot of effort that day and did things I consider to be valuable to me. So while not perfect, it is a decent yardstick and I did score my highest weeks during Spiral of Awesomeness challenge – and all that effort wound up changing my life. To put it short, I don’t see anyone scoring highly in it for an extended period of time and NOT getting some rewards from their hard effort.

The risk of course is that without clear guideline the daily actions become a bit muddled, but I will try and see what happens. Regardless, it gives me the fluidity to do whatever I want on any given day as long as it is accruing me more points.

The only thing to decide was what is the appropriate difficulty level. My first instinct was 30 points per day, which is something I have been doing fairly consistently over recent weeks. I realized in the end though that it is not much of a challenge. There should be difficulty, so I decided to hike it up to the upper limits of my ability. Scoring 50 points every day is fairly hard and takes lot of discipline and consistency. This year I have scored over fifty only on nine days, so stringing a month of going over it every day is gonna be challenging. However, if I can do it once in a while, I can do it repeatedly. If you can take one step, you can take thousand steps.

50 points a day translates to about 350 points per week. Right from the start this is more than I have scored in any week of the year so far, in fact I have gone over 350 points only 3 times since start of 2014. So it is very challenging, but as said, it is within reason to go for. To further challenge myself, I want to beat my old weekly record from 2013, and take my record to 500s, so one of the weeks of the challenge has to score 500 points for me to consider the challenge a success.

The Parameters in Short

  • Score 50 points every day (midnight to midnight Thai Time)
  • Starts May 3rd, lasts five weeks until June 5th.
  • One of the weeks has to score at least 500 points.

Rewards

Completing the challenge successfully, I will buy myself Muay Thai Pads to assist training. If not, I will not buy them for at least 6 months. This is the perfect kind of reward as it is something that I really do wanna get for myself, but don’t necessarily need so I can forego it in case I fail. This gives a real, tangible outcome for my subconscious to motivate me.

Click Publish More

You would be surprised but I actually have a lot of drafts in the works. I mean, I guess that is not too much of a surprise considering I have like 7 unreleased videos from early 2015 still in the works, but the point here is that I don’t press publish enough.

So I am gonna do what Seth Godin tells people to do about shipping more. Which in my case means clicking publish more often. I guess I have been bit of  purist when it comes to the blog, vetting the topics that are good enough etc. bit too hard.

The point of the blog is to be a place to dump my thoughts. A record of my journey. It has not been much of a record lately. It is not supposed to be a perfect resume of writing and life lessons, it is supposed to be bit gnarly and rough around the edges like the life it represents.

So I will click publish more. Post short posts, long stream of consciousness post with no points, and yes, the occasional home run post that actually makes sense as well. At least I hope so.

Time to abandon the perfectionism in any case, and ship more! So see ya next time :)

Competitive Spirit

I have always hated losing. I have always known myself to be competitive as well. I know competition brings the best out of me – that is what made me so good at Football, constantly competing with my brother who probably has similar mindset while growing up. Our competitiveness made us soar far above everyone else in that endeavor where I am from. How far above everyone else? Well, in the last game we played, me and my brother teamed up with two others to play against seven of the rest. That is four on seven. Surely we got our asses handed to us?

No way. We absolutely crushed them, the most devastating victory I can remember from the years of playing football in my home village – the final score was 49-8. Both me and my brother scored over 20 goals, the other two people in our team were mere fillers in comparison. So to say competition brings the best out of me would be an understatement to say the least.

I have always known that, but to what extent only dawned me yesterday. You see, my life has been kind of bereft of competition since I have left Finland. I guess the most important competition we have is the eternal me against me battle, but as said, it has always been pitting myself against others that has drawn all the resources out of me.

To what extent I am ready to go to achieve the victory? Well, as I learned yesterday, I want to win so bad I am willing to destroy my health in the process. I will ignore pain, total exhaustion, and drain myself completely just to not lose.

Bangkok is brutally hot at the moment so heading down to the park to practice a little bit footy is always gonna be bit tiring, but still when I am just doing tricks on my own with the ball on my own, it never gets close to being too much for me.

Enter few young guys asking me to play with them. There were three of them, and they looked like they were in their teens. I shrugged and thought why not. Its probably been two years since I played against other people due to my travels and then injuries following.

But the stage was set, 2 on 2 football just for fun – yet even that was enough of a stage for me to not allow myself to lose. I don’t know what it is, maybe it is an ego thing, but on one hand I don’t think so, cause it does not seem like there is no thinking involved in it. It is just that once I enter into competition, I just automatically will do everything to beat the others.

Now if you know anything about 2 on 2 football, it means there is no respite from running cause both sides only have two players. So the draining heat combined with the fact that I have not played regularly in a long time meant I was in for an epic gassing. Early on the game, I rounded off my opponent to slot in an easy goal to the empty goal, but after that sprint I already felt massive amounts of lactic acid in my muscles. If this was me in 2010, just few breaths, little jogging and it would have all cleared up. But this is not peak performance me, this is me slowly recovering from back injury -me that has not done any intensive cardio that induces such massive lactic acid build-up in years.

Yet, there was that competitive spirit that would not allow me to quit. Sure, I stopped running all the time and just gasped for breath, but if there was a hope of goal, hope of getting the ball, any glimpse of opportunity – it would be full sprint again. We were playing on the pavement, yet that did not stop me from throwing myself onto the ground in attempt to block a goal bound shot. Adrenaline made sure I did not feel the pain.

I am not writing this to brag about myself. It is more that yesterday was awakening of something that has been missing from my life for a long time. In the end there is not even anything to brag, for after my easily slotted opening goal, we conceded three goals and lost the match. I am not even sure if anyone else was counting them, but for me it has always mattered. Is it an ego thing? I don’t know. All I know is that it matters to me, and win or lose it makes me feel alive. I strive to compete, and I thrive in competition.

I heard a whistle, I did not know what it meant but the kids left. For once I did not lament losing too much, for chasing the win would have probably killed me. I was more relieved that the match ending would allow my pride to rest. I staggered to the stairs where I left my water bottle, took a sip of water and gathered my gear. For the next couple of hours I felt like I was gonna die from the heat. My face was red, and I don’t think it was sunburn (it being gone now and all). Cold shower and couple of hours later I finally started feeling normal again, but not without remembering how much more competition gets out of me. Perhaps too much in this case, when I do not know my limits in the extreme heat and bump up the intensity too much, but nonetheless it was a powerful moment of self-(re)discovery.

Since that moment last night I have been thinking about my competitiveness and relating it to most things I am good at. I love poker, for instance, and while I chose not to pursue that as my main path, it is a competitive thing that made it very natural for me to become competent at it.

I loved competing so much, I even made things like dream recall and lucid dreaming competitive things. I never made writing into such, guess my creativity flowed enough to not needing to compete to get it done – yet now I wonder if I would have gotten even more done if I was competitive about that though.

But I obviously don’t fully know myself yet. This competitive spirit is kind of elusive as well. If I am in direct competition like a football match, obviously it comes out. It also comes out when I am playing video games with my friends. But most of life, I don’t feel competitive. I don’t feel necessary to make more money than my neighbor, or whatever. I don’t feel competitive compared to the average man, or needing to compete in social status and material possessions. That is all intangible for my competitive spirit, and I think for sake of my overall happiness, that is good. As a logical guy, though, seeing how it really drives me to the next level, I start thinking of the applications of this competitiveness, and makes me wonder how to inject more of it into my life.

For instance, my work is already competitive to begin with. I am in direct competition with my teammates, as our quantity and quality of work is compared against each other. Yet, I do not feel the slightest inkling of a competitive spirit in my work, which is why my income has not increased over the years. So what blocks it? The feeling that I cannot beat them? Just not caring about this form of competing? Not knowing who I am against? I know them by name, but I have never personally met any of these people.

As said, usually I also feel competitive when playing video games with my friends. Yet lately even when I play a new game with my friend I have not felt much of a competitive spirit. Perhaps cause I am a beginner in the game and he has some experience, or maybe cause I haven’t quite gotten into it, but once again the competitive spirit has been elusive. If I don’t care, I don’t care. But what triggers me to care?

Ultimately I don’t have answers. I wish I had, cause I figure this is something that could change my life for the better. Having seen the power of this mysterious competitive spirit on me, I wish I could just turn it on at will, but it is some kind of subconscious trigger that I am yet to fully understand and manipulate.

 

Looking Back at Year 2015

Due to lack of time and general lack of activity on the blog, the year recap is going to also be a little bit different this time around.

Year of Blog Silence

To say it has been a year of complete silence on the blog would not be entirely true, but fact is I have not written much during 2015 – I only have 8 posts with timestamps on year 2015 so there won’t be top-5 posts of the year this time around…

So what happened? You could call me lazy, but that is not again the whole truth, though as you see from numbers recap later on I was overall less active and lazier this year. Real truth is though I just simply was much more pre-occupied with life. But again that would not be entirely accurate either – during 2014 I traveled to 8 countries, worked a lot and still managed to be very active on the blog.

2015 saw me only add two new countries to my “countries visited” list. I had perhaps more of a social life than in 2014, but even that does not explain it – as I know from 2014, it is possible to pull this all off.

The true explanation lies in being scattered, simply not prioritizing the blog, and due to the fact that I am not that fascinated with video editing – cause you know, there is at least 5 videos I shot almost full 12 months ago that I am yet to post on the blog cause I just haven’t gotten around to editing them! And because I know I have huge backlog of videos already waiting for release, I have held myself from making new videos – which in itself is not easy since it is always bit nerve-wrecking to put yourself in front of camera, especially when you do it in a public place.

Perhaps also a big factor was getting a girlfriend, but at the same time no regrets there but integrating another person in your life will take hours and energy away from other endeavours no matter what you do.

But now that I have gotten the blog silence issue explained, let’s actually talk about the past year.

Cruisin’

What actually happened in the past year? Well, not a hell of a lot… and actually so much it is even hard to grasp. After rollercoaster ride of a 2014, anything would have felt pretty smooth sailing… or actually if I had pushed myself harder, I could have made this year into an even bigger rollescoaster, but I really didn’t. I was cruising the whole year, just coasting. In the end it feels like I had a gap year with nothing much happening.

But as I already said, actually a lot happened. I just did not document it much on the blog which changes how I look back into it, and I was not near the limits of my ability, which also made it less intense. I was not living on the razor’s edge, but I was not completely just sitting on my laurels either. I just fell short.

All this makes the year sound like a bad experience, but it was not. It was a great year. The problem actually is that things were too good. I was too satisfied.

When I started this blog in 2012 I had nothing going on for me. I had no money, I had no experiences, I was not a cool guy, I was just someone with a chip on my shoulder and lot to prove. This year showed me what happens when circumstances are different – I finally had reached a place of some satisfaction and lacked motivation to go further. I had money to comfortably do most things that I want to. I have more experiences than your average guy. Some people might even call me a cool guy. I live comfortably in a warm place, I live on my own terms and I have all my needs met.

So I took the gas off the pedal, for better and for worse. For most of the year I have been trying to find a way (and a reason) to kickstart myself into progress. I already proved to everyone I can turn my life around and it is pretty much as I want it right now, but can I reach my loftier long-term goals? Do I always have to be back against wall to really keep myself moving?

It is hard to call the year failure in any way when I finally have everything that I ever needed. After all…

  • I am living in a big city with a very nice room in prime location – more than I could have really even asked for.
  • I have absolutely no worry about my immediate finances, I can buy any normal items any time I need them without feeling stress about money.
  • I live my life almost completely on my own terms. If I wanna not do anything for a day or two, I can do it (or should I say, not do it?)
  • I don’t have to deal with people I dislike on a daily basis. I choose my circle of people entirely on my own. No coworkers or family members to deal with.
  • My life is almost completely stress-free. I am not preoccupied with any worries.
  • I don’t have to get up in the morning if I don’t want to.
  • I can eat delicious and healthy food on a daily basis.
  • I have everything I need for my daily habits close to me.
  • I am surrounded by people who respect me and treat me well.
  • I get all the physical affection I need.

Now, don’t get me wrong, my life has not suddenly turned perfect, but I have a whole host of reasons to feel satisfied. Especially considering I always seen myself on some level inherently flawed and probably deep down never believed I could get into this good situation. So is it any wonder I have been kind of cruising for the past year?

Unhappiness was my driving force. Now I barely feel any unhappiness, so the wind has died down and the sails are hanging still. Again, don’t get me wrong, I still get upset regularly and things are not perfect, but I am talking about deep level of dissatisfaction at life – there is none left.

So the next year’s story is going to be about finding a new source of thrust. My goals in life are much higher than just at selfish satisfaction – and deep down I know that if I coast long enough, I will lose also the satisfaction I feel now. I don’t want it to get down to that. I don’t want to always have to be back against wall. Even if my psychology only reacts to that, I don’t want to be reliant on that.

What exactly is my goal for life is not an exact thing, but there is an image of my head where I want myself as a person to be, where I want my finances to be, where I want this blog to be – and I am still short of that.

In short, what I have now is what I was wired to be happy with – I grew up in 50 square house and it was for 5-person family – that was no ghetto lifestyle of course but to go from that into living in 40 square room in center with my girlfriend just means it is no wonder I feel so abundant and satisfied – and that is just one thing out of many where I went from very little to a lot. I always was easy to please guy. Simple guy with simple joys. But the journey never stops and there is always the next level to go to.

But thing is, I don’t have midterm goals now, so I am just floating along, drifting around. I don’t plan ahead longer than 3 months. I know where I want to be at 35, but it still feels so distant I am lacking urgency. Lack of urgency has always been my problem. That is what got me onto this blog in the first place – turning 24 without having done a lot. Now I am turning 28 and while time is drawing short on my youth, there is not so many things I haven’t done that I always wanted to do in my youth.

2015 Goals

Basically my goals were set to expire on February, since at the time I originally set them for 18 months and 18 months from the time of originally setting them was February 2016. But since I tweaked the goals last year, might as well have a look about how I progressed towards them in the meantime. I won’t be setting new goals at this time yet anyway, will leave that to a later post and to bit more introspection.

Physical Goals

  • Gain weight until 85kg 80kg DONE
  • Run 3000m in 12-minute test FAIL
  • Deadlift 140kg FAIL
  • Bench press 85 kg FAIL
  • Free-standing handstand FAIL
  • Record in chin-ups FAIL
  • Become much more flexible FAIL
  • Get rid of back pain FAIL

On the physical side of things, it has been a spectacular failure. I mean when I look at the mirror, I am satisfied. I don’t think I am the fittest dude, but I am happy with how I look. But problem is that my preoccupation with other things has seen my physical health deteriorate. Most glaring example is that my backpain not was not ridden, it got much worse with me herniating a disc in July, a problem that has since been persisting.

I have no idea with how I would perform on fitness tests but I am quite sure I would not reach the levels I set as my goals. I have not gotten any stronger overall during past year. I am far from my record levels in chin-ups. It just has been all about lack of effort in this department.

Work Goals

  • Add $1000 / month to income FAIL
  • Get one raise over next 18 months FAIL
  • Add steady 10 hours / week of oDesk work 
  • Work your SEO site to earning 500 bucks a month FAIL
  • Start reading 2 hours a day every day (kinda indirectly related to this and didn’t really fit anywhere else) FAIL

All failure though as I discovered during the year, my present income goes longer way than I even imagined as long as I don’t leak too much money on excess expenses. Still, tells of distinct lack of focus that I have all these goals and I did not reach any of them… perhaps too many goals making me too scattered? Whatever may be the case, my approach for sure did not work.

Social Goals

  • Approach people when abroad and get used to talking to strangers FAIL
  • Look to express yourself with less barriers, more freely. Knock people off the fence so that they either like you a lot or hate you. PARTIAL SUCCESS
  • Learn Portuguese at least to such extent you can have basic conversations. FAIL
  • Retain your freedom by not committing into anything yet. FAIL
  • Become calmer, kinder, less judgmental – generally just keep ironing out the personality flaws. WORK IN PROGRESS
  • Get a social circle of friends wherever my journey takes me next. Retain and deepen the existing friendships. PARTIAL SUCCESS

Well, lot of people for sure hate me, hahaha. To balance it out, there is also couple of people who do like me a lot as well. I have gotten better at social expression, but not at the rate that I was hoping for.

My goal I guess was not to have a relationship but obviously with my mindset that was impossible to achieve, or should say at least against the odds. The more girls I met, the more likely I was gonna meet someone who clicks with me well. My relationship to my gf is as non-committal as possible, but obviously there is a level of commitment always when you are with someone. I will talk about that in a future relationships post, for now that will be enough about it.

On social level the year was partial success but I did not really push it to the limit like I said earlier.

2015 in Numbers

I might have ceased to make aggressive progress, but I never stopped aggressively tracking myself. Every week keeping my UA Scores has become a habit that paces my life on a weekly basis. I wrote some parts this post last year in its separate post, now everything is gonna be done in same post.

Looking at the base numbers, for comparison’s sake I am gonna include 2014 numbers next to this year’s.

The Path activity 22.5  hours (2014 – 93 hours)

2014 was 25 % of 2013, and 2015 was 25 % of 2014. Are you telling me I am gonna do less than 6 hours of writing in 2016?

It is the typical struggle most people have. When you have nothing going on in your life, it is easy to find time for the things you are passionate about, but when you suddenly have commitments, it is hard to squeeze it in. Which is sad – I love writing and communicating my ideas, but I haven’t really found a way to integrate it into my life and when things get too hectic, it is so easy to drop it off. But aren’t I supposed to do work and other things to enable myself to do what I was put on this earth to do? That is what The Path is supposed to be, after all. Problem is that the only way to really do it is to monetize your passion somehow so you can do it full time and that is something that I have not managed to do.

Still, it is not like I work 80 hours a week – if I managed myself better, I could have sustained at least last year’s levels. In hindsight that would have already been satisfactory compared to this clusterfuck.

High Value Work 537.5 hours (2014 – 991 hours)

You would expect all the hours missing from the Path activity went to working more, but actually my workrate dropped to nearly half of what it was. It is baffling looking from distance, but knowing how I lived my life last year, I am not surprised that my workrate went so significantly down. I had crappy work habits almost whole year, just laziness, coasting as I called it earlier.

The Grind 27.5 hours (2014 – 31.5 hours)

I don’t feel too bad that this number kept dropping further down. After all, The Grind is the aspect of life that you should not strive to increase, it is just what you have to do. Of course, if you do not embrace the grind it might be the sign of negligence but in general I count as grind the things that you could delegate, so I am not feeling bad at all for having a low number here.

Total work 587.5 hours (1.61 hours / day) (2014 1115.5 hours, 3.05 hours / day)

No surprises here, working only 1.6 hours per day it is no wonder I felt so satisfied all year. But it is really inexcusably low and no one can get away with such laziness over longer term. I think even low amount like 3-4 hours is while not impressive, at least sufficient to keep your life together. So the idea is to rise to that level over the course of next year.

Footy 0.5 hours (2014 - 37.5 hours)

Just when I was all set to resume my passion, I popped a disc on my back which made all kinds of movements painful. It does not look good for my footy hobby. Other things just have eaten away all the time from it and when I finally am ready to resume, of course I get injured. Only positive sign is that I live close to places to practice at, so all hope is not lost if I ever manage to recover from having a shitty back.

Playing Games 154 hours (2014 – 140 hours)

I am surprised that this actually managed to increase considering I spent all year on different continent than people I play games with. But I don’t mind it – after all it is relatively low level so it is not a hindrance to reaching other goals.

More Numbers: Universal Awesomeness Score

Top-5 Weeks

Week 7 – 376 points

Week 52 – 340 points

Week 49 – 268 points

Week 46 – 247 points

Week 28 – 211 points

Last year 274 points was the cut off point to make it to practically top-10 % week of the year, but this year that cutoff was much lower. There was no week that broke 400 point barrier which really should not be as elusive as it has been for me, and even 300 points got broken only twice as opposed to 4 times of last year.

Average week: 114.4 points

Just like all the other numbers, my average week keeps plummetting. Seems like 2013 is still the year to beat, it was the latest time when I had urgency under my ass. Drop of 11 points is not that bad, but when the existing number was not that high in the first place, it does not bode well. I am only 27, I should still be steadily improving – this cannot be my peak level already, can it?

More UAS Analysis & Numbers Crunching

One significant change compared to last year was the strong days. My strong days in 2014 were heavily weighed to the end of the week, but this year my points came more evenly during the week. I would say it is one encouraging sign during a year that was mostly full of regression. Just like last year, saturday is the best day on the week in terms of average scores, but second best day this time around is tuesday, which last year was the worst day. Thursday proved to be the midweek lull as the weakest average score of 13.5 points, but compared to Saturday’s 21 point average even that was not so bad.

Sunday actually was the day that was lacking any top scores, with best Sunday being only 49 points – all other days breached 50 points at some point of the year.

I accomplished my daily goal only 23 % of the time. This could point to goals being too hard, but actually bigger problem is not setting them at all. It is just a habit that I have failed to settle so far. So coming year it should be one focus.

Most of the rest of the numbers were quite even with last year, but not a single digit went up from last year. That is something that will need to change if my quality of life is to go up, I have zero belief that my current level of effort is enough to even sustain my current life.

Leaning on Others

Over that past 10 months I have recorded a number of videos, but I have been engaged in procrastination of epic proportions – and as a result, these videos are yet to be posted on the blog.

Today’s video has been actually just sitting on Youtube for many months already as a hidden video. It was shot at the start of the current year while I was still in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Let’s check it out>

I am actually glad that I get to look back on lot of these videos, cause my life has changed a lot over the course of last 10 months, and it is like getting a view on my old self that had his own viewpoint that fit into his life situation and then I have my own that is also laced with many months of more experience of living based on those ideas that few months ago were in his head. This is gonna be a recurring theme as I one by one post these old videos up – this whole glut of videos I have already done has made me stop recording new ones and I will not intend to get to that until I have everything out, despite coursing with ideas for new videos.

So with all that intro, let’s talk about what I said on the video.

What strikes me in the video is how absorbed around the events involving me I am at the time of making of the video – looking back now it is easy to make connections to broader ideas.

There is no ill in leaning on others in itself – I think it is healthy to lean on others to certain extent, in fact as a social creature we are bound to do that. Hell, when you go to a restaurant you are dependent of the cooks to prepare the meal for you and for waiters to serve it. But obviously that is not what I mean in the video. I talk more in the context of relationships.

As a person in a relationship, you have to be your own individual first before you can even get started. So when you are just leaning on the other person, adopting her goals, going along with it, it is gonna wear down on the other person ultimately – that is, unless it is in the first place their wish that you just are along for the ride. However most girls do not want that, they want to be the one to be along for the ride with you – to be part of your experience, not you being part of her experience.

Which is why you have to have your own shit handled first on your own. Once you are at that point and you know what you want, then sure, you can start integrating other people in your life. I can lean on my girlfriend to do my laundry and cook for me now, and it creates a mutually beneficial relationship. A good life has lot of people you can lean on, but in the end, you have to be able to stand on your own two feet first, before two people can start propelling each other.

It is really a simple concept in the end, but when you are a young guy figuring shit out, you are bound to get it wrong. Nothing wrong with that while you mature.

I remember in my 3 things learned from 200 days of travel I recommended knowing someone local to show you around. That is form of leaning on the other person too. Am I telling you now to not do it? Contradicting myself? Well to be honest, I am still like that – if I go to a place, I would be better off being shown around by someone. In the end, it all depends from the mindset you are coming from. If it is just someone helping you to reach whatever you want to achieve, go for it. But if you do not even know what you want, even vaguely, it is not gonna be a good experience.

So in the end my overleaning pushed the person on the video away from me, it is something we will dissect more with my next video update, that hopefully will not take too long to put out.

In conclusion, stop leaning on others, be the one others lean on.

Addiction of Distraction

Back when I wrote the Focus on Focus post I was in a fairly focused state of mind to begin with. I had been productive at work, and focus on focus was really the next level – something to help me notice when I was veering off.

Since then, as I have recently stated, I have fallen increasingly off the wagon. I have become similar to most people in today’s world – my life is not only dominated by constant, endless distraction and short attention span – we actually start to actively crave it.

When you fall deep into this state of mind, focus on focus kind of methods are simply beyond your reach. You start doing something like work, and after only a brief moment of it you habitually start seeking distraction. Okay, can I check Facebook? Maybe I have gotten a new mail, or maybe I should check if there is any football news. It is like a clockwork – you get that craving constantly. It is truly an addiction of distraction.

It is so easy to succumb to it as well. Facebook and smartphones heavily stack the odds against you. But hell, you don’t even need those. All that is needed is that you have anything unrelated to work open that you can quickly glance, whether it is some website you are reading, a book, folder of vacation photos, whatever. Anything that gives you your fix of distraction. Double points if you can lie to yourself that it is actually good – like reading a book or something.

It is not that reading a book is bad, it can indeed be good and it definitely is much healthier to get distracted to an informative book than to useless social media feed, but the condition itself is still present. You are not in control, you are still feeding the addiction to distraction. Sure, if we have to get distracted, it is much better to get distracted to semi-productive things, but ideally to get where you want to go in life you have to employ some intense focus.

So this addiction is something we have to start treating to become awesome. Given we are all distraction junkies, it is probably a fact that none of us will be ever completely clean again, especially in a world that is full of what we crave, but we can become better.

First step is simply starting to notice that this thing exists, and here is where this ties nicely with focus on focus post. It is a similar mental process.

Close off all the distractions. Leave nothing on that could distract you from what you have done. This is really the only way you even have a chance. Start doing whatever it is that you have to do. I don’t care if its homework, work project, some menial task that you have to do, anything goes as long as it is important and doing it doesn’t just naturally flow out of you. If it does, well even then you might notice when you get distracted.

As soon as you start doing it, you might indeed have some focused time at first, but eventually the craving for distraction comes. You really don’t notice it during day-to-day life, because you always have a handy distraction to immediately satisfy the craving. But when you do everything you can to remove the distractions, all the sudden the craving is there and there is nothing to satisfy it – not at least the things it is used to. That makes it easy to identify – oh shit it is true, I am WANTING to be distracted. You crave for it, you need the fix. Only by training you back into ignoring the craving is the way you can treat the impulse.

But it never will be fully gone. I wrote the Focus on Focus post a good while ago. I had good focus then, at least compared to what I have now. But as with any addiction, you can fall off the wagon and then you have to clean up your act again.

Achieving success, however you might define it, is easier than ever before. Want money? There is so much wealth in the world you don’t have to work nearly as hard as 100 years ago to accumulate comfortable wealth. Emotional satisfaction? Life is generally easy so if you just master your emotions, you can be happy as well easier than before.  Really the key thing to anything like that is gonna be this ongoing battle against distraction in this increasingly clickbait-filled world. The problem is that losing this battle is often more gratifying on the short-term.

Meditation really is the ultimate distraction addiction cure. Meditation is all about doing nothing and not getting distracted, and when you are attempting to do and thing nothing, literally everything becomes a distraction from it. Aside that, anything can be an active meditation.

Drop me a line below as to how you deal with your Addiction of Distraction.

New Challenge

I’m back.

Its been a long time without posting, but all the while I have still been endlessly introspecting, and even made a few videos – but now I am officially 6 months behind with uploading them.

As of writing this, its start of the July. Year is halfway. I have about as little to show for first 6 months of 2015 as blog would suggest. I mean its not all bad, I still have visited two new countries and developed my relationships, but I have let bad habits and complacency seep back into my life. As a result I have been lazier than in two years.

But I know I have to change and this post will be one of those building blocks of that change.

You guessed it, another challenge coming up. Doesn’t this blog already look enough of a graveyard of failed challenges? Indeed the latest post prior to this is one of those.

Well, it is true that I have failed (and miserably so) most of my challenges, but the way I see them is that they are experiments, not all of which are supposed to even succeed.

Besides, this time I am highly motivated (as was the case with Spiral of Awesomeness), and I have designed a challenge that is very flexible and not too challenging. Furthermore, I have good incentive to do well in the challenge.

What Is Behind This Challenge?

I have been living in Bangkok for good few months now, and life has been very comfortable – too comfortable you could say. I have stopped pushing myself consistently. Lately I have been asking myself why did I wanna stay in Bangkok in the first place?

Primarily it was to work on my social skills.  Well, the work on my social skills has kind of stagnated as I am not going out as much as I hoped for. And why is that? Well aside lack of willpower which definitely is partial reason, as well as laziness, the real reason is that my weeks have lacked structure.

So I either have to have that, or I have to change my life situation. Which is where the reward/punishment of the challenge comes in. If I cant get my life more structured and start to get more of a social life going, I have to change something or go home – there would be little point staying. So should I fail this challenge, I have decided that I will start a long low-budget travel tour around for at least few months.

Not much of a punishment, you say? Sounds more like a reward. Well, it is definitely not as unpleasant outcome as there could be, for many people would kill to be able to do something like that.

Thing is, I have had my travels already. I have been to 13 countries – not saying that its particularly big number or anything to brag about, but I have been around and seen travel, it is not as big of a novelty for me any more. And while I love the awakeness of the traveling constantly, there was obvious reasons I chose to settle to one place for a while in the first place.

So if I am not executing those reasons in the first place, there is no reason to settle in one place. Therefore in terms of growth it is better to get back moving and stop again when you appreciate the more stable life more again.

However, if I succeed in this challenge it means I am doing better job in those reasons that I originally chose to stop – therefore it makes more sense to stay put.

So instead of straightforward punishment/reward, its more of just logical conclusion of the prior events. Both outcomes have their good sides and bad sides. But obviously the “fear” of having to do many month long travel tour is that it is kind of scary after having been in same place for so long to again have to go to new places and figure out how to make the basic logistics of your life happen (though to be honest this is not very hard any more pretty much anywhere) kind of works as a punishment for the hindbrain.

The Challenge

Daily Components

There is not as many daily components in this challenge as there was in Spiral of Awesomeness – this is slightly differently structured challenge. There is only few daily parts:

  • Wake up at 5 am.
  • Perform morning workout and eat breakfast before 8 am.
  • Work 8 am to noon, keeping all social media & other distractions off until that.
  • No junk food
  • Nofap

I thought about adding more to the daily parts of the challenge, but as I want to keep the difficulty level in check I decided to keep the consistent things to just a few. I can always just keep adding on the challenge as it goes on.

Those in itself would form a decently difficult challenge, but cause I want to hit the sweet spot I want to add the difficulty by also specializing some days. Only some though – I don’t want to live my whole life rigidly following a schedule, but regimenting some of my days sounds right.

We will see how it all will work in practice.

Monday

Monday is the start of the week and over my couple of years of doing the current job it has become my de facto day off. After all, I have 7 days to complete my weekly work and I just finished an exhausting end of the week rush to complete my work. I deserve a little break!

Well spending Monday off often lead to chain reaction of also being haphazard with work the following couple of days – leading to a pile-up of work and you guessed it – end of the week rush to finish work.

This steady pattern of spending weekend working arduously and taking Monday off has gone long enough. I am sick of it. So we are going to flip the script. Monday is gonna be “The Work Day”. I am not going to turn any social media on all day, and the whole day from dawn to dusk is dedicated just for work. The aim is to complete 10 hours of work and also prepare a blog post ready.

So instead of just wasting my Monday and setting everything up for rushing all week, let’s flip the script completely. Spend all Monday working and then start the whole week on the right foot, easing the whole stress for rest of the week knowing that I am not gonna have to rush again.

Tuesday

Tuesday is the exercise day. Problem with my old daily exercise was that I was kind of phoning it in most days – I mean its better than nothing, but best results come from  working out hard. So I am going to require on day of going balls to the walls with exercise. I do morning exercise just like normal but also carve out few hours in the evening/afternoon for really blasting away hard and getting my body sore.

Friday

Friday is the optimal day for social activity so I want to be going out on Friday.

Saturday

As most of my work ought to be done by now for the week, I want to have a little reading day on Saturday. Reading will replace the work portion of the regular day routine, pending I am done or almost done with work for the week.

Sunday

Sunday is my day off. I still wake up at 5 and do the morning exercise, but aside that I dedicate this day to spending my time with my girl and chilling it out. Eating junk food also has green light for this day (as my gf likes ice cream and cakes and other stuff like that). So it is essentially a cheat day.

So there is the challenge in its wholeness. Starting tomorrow, this challenge will run until my current visa runs out in September. After that I will have to do some travel anyway, but if I succeed I will have a good reason to come back for another three month stint after only a short trip.

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