Archive - August, 2013

Two Months Is Like A Drop in the Ocean

Everyone knows that it takes a long, extended effort to really achieve anything. Well, guess I have to concede that not everyone knows it – and certainly many people don’t seem to act like it is like that. In today’s post, I’ll show you that two months really is just a drop in the ocean.

My Achilles Tendon

water-drop_l That’s the most bizarre headline I’ve written for a while – but let’s get right to the subject itself. My achilles tendon. As you might have figured from some aspects of my blog, I’m an avid football (that’s soccer for you, you US buffoons) player. I love it. I’ve been playing it for two decades.

So you can imagine my guttedness when I’ve practically missed the whole summer of practicing because of a persistent achilles tendon injury. I’ve not practically played consistently in over two months. I feel frustrated, and I also feel like all that skill accumulation is going to waste. But the thing is… two months is a drop in the ocean. How many training months I’ve put in? It measures at 50+, if not at over 100 months worth of practice.

So how does missing out on two months measure up on that comparison? All it tells me is that I should just be patient, it is just a short-term hitch in a long-term project that is becoming as good a football player I can be.

Two Months? Pitiful

Of course, the equation works both ways. When I complete my Spiral of Awesomeness Challenge, I would have taken heavier action than usual for two months. What a pitiful amount of time! Even the most hastiest of us can’t expect to achieve anything substantial in that time. But that’s exactly what many of us do. Many are dabblers and when a few months of effort brings no feasible results, people give up and try something else instead.

What’s the lesson there? Well, if you ask me, I would not bother even trying anything that you’re not prepared to put at least couple of years into.

As always, of course, nothing exists in a vacuum and there is exception to every rule, but this is the general principle that works in the world. That is why challenges like Spiral of Awesomeness™ have to be followed up with consistent effort over longer period of time – it can, at best, work as a springboard to something else (yeah, that’s what I call my next challenge, Springboard of Awesomeness™ – but now I’m just thinking aloud), not an end goal in itself.

For many years, I was exactly like that – I’d get fired up for writing challenges like NaNoWriMo, blast that 50 000 words in one month (though it’s actually worse, I usually would do 95 % of it during last five days of the challenge), then fade out and be happy in my pseudo-productivity and the challenge I put on myself for rest of eleven months. Really I was just a lazy pussy.

Life Happens in the Long-Term

So as you can now see, the ramifications of the whole idea works both ways. Two months don’t really mean anything. If you’ve managed to do something difficult you’re aspiring to do for that long, good – that’s a good start. On the other hand, if you are struggling with a delay, like an injury in my case, realize that while it is frustrating, it still means very little in the grand scheme of things – everyone will get misfortune like this every now and then. It is how you deal with it that will make you stand out – in my case, I will just have to be patient, for rushing back into full practice would just re-injure me and  lead to even more delay.

In the end, it’s still important to remember that while the change really happens slowly over the months and years, you still make the change happen day by day, moment by moment. It all starts on what you do today.

Thanks for reading this week’s post, don’t hesitate to let me know what you thought in the comments!

 

Spiral of Awesomeness™: Halfway There

You got an extra update regarding my challenge in the midweek due to my failure, but as you know from that post, the challenge goes on and with last week ending, I’m now at halfway point of the challenge. So with nothing much else on my mind right now, I decided I’ll reflect back on the first half of the challenge.

Spiraling Towards Awesomeness?

The first four weeks of the challenge have very much been a success even though in the end the challenge has already failed. Still, out of the 28 days I’ve done so far I’ve successfully completed all the Challenge tasks on 27. In the process all the daily habits of writing for three hours, working out, meditating, stretching and reading have all ingrained themselves in my daily routine. Just forgetting about all the other changes in my life over the past month or so, my productivity rise has been the most distinct.

Those following my Twitter know that the week three of the challenge was my all-time record week in my productivity score. In many ways it is not completely accurate measure of productivity cause it only measures quantity for the most part, not quality, but since it’s all I have to measure it with, I will have to go by it. Last four weeks all reside in top-5 weeks of my life in my productivity all-time list, ever since I started keeping scores in 2011. So I’m now consistently keeping up the productivity level that was my absolute peak performance at 2012. So I think its safe to assume that whatever peak performance I achieve during the end of the year will become the norm at some point of 2014.

It is an exciting prospect to say the least.

Change Takes Time

That being said, for the most part my life is still the same. I’m still not working enough it seems as you always seem to uncover just more and more you should do, and I’m still not earning enough – that’s something that this newly found increased work ethic will improve, but it will take time for it to reflect on my income level, and with still such relatively low time investment (~20-30 hours of work a week) any improvements won’t be drastic. Essentially I’m merely starting to reach the hours that everyone working in the corporate world are putting in.

The advantage of course is that I don’t need a boss to whip me into action. Also, now that I’ve achieved this 20-30 hour work range, its easier to start going for the 40-hour weekly workload. Rome wasn’t build in a day, and you can’t just jump into the moon, yadiyadiyada. In other words, all improvement in gradual bar for some freak outlier cases.

There has been some changes I’ve immediately felt. Achieving the regular workout routine back has certainly lifted my strength levels back to near my peak condition and when I look myself in the mirror I think my physique is the best its ever been.

Also, reading. That has to be one of the best habits a young guy could have, to read high quality shit consistently. Your average thoughts become so much smarter as a result. Makes it also easier to keep on the narrow path to success and exposes you to new ideas, which again feeds your creativity. I never expected instant results, in fact to be smart I’ve in many ways relinquished any need for results. I know I will get exactly the results I deserve anyway.

12 Week Challenge

I originally set forth for 12-week challenge to write three hours every day. Now, after being on it for eight weeks, completing that challenge seems just like an afterthought. I’m yet to decide if I will keep doing the three hours of writing every day beyond the challenge, but there’s zero doubt in my mind that I will complete the original challenge. The upgraded version (Spiral of Awesomeness™) failed, but as I’m still going for the latter half of it I would expect to make it to the end as well.

Both of these challenges seemed difficult when I set forth for them. Both went from challenging to more-or-less normality after a while. I don’t feel intimidated by the second half of Spiral of Awesomeness™. I know I need to remain vigilant, but I am feeling confident I’ll complete the second half. At worst I will fail 1 or 2 days but bounce back.

In many ways I’m relating all this to my travel adventures so far. Both in terms of Malaysia and Japan the trips seemed scary and intimidating, but essentially while you were on the path it became normality.

This is the biggest part of the whole concept of it being a “spiral” of awesomeness. Internalizing that any difficult challenge can become just a normal thing if you stick to it for a while. Everyone knows this. But internalizing it is the part where the magic truly happens. That’s why the success of smaller challenges compounds into you daring to take on bigger and bigger challenges.

I hope it will compound in my case to huge successes. But in many ways my future still is in the dark for me. As I said in one of my Japan videos, I feel in many ways to still be searching my way. I’d like to present an image of a guy who knows what he is doing and where he is going, but frankly I don’t. Only thing I know at this point is that I’m pushing the limit of my capacity, for whatever I decide for the future pushing yourself to be the best you can be is never a wrong decision.

Did this post prompt any thoughts in you? If it did, please share in the comments.

Spiral of Awesomeness™: The Rising Phoenix™

Okay okay, I know I like ridiculous headlines. But here’s the gist of this post – I failed. I failed my Spiral of Awesomeness™ Challenge. After three full weeks of successfully adhering to it, my discipline finally slipped up, my willpower betrayed me, and well, here I am… gathering the pieces.

What Happened, Bro?

I won’t get to details, but if you’ve read the original post you notice that the challenge consists of 7 hours worth of things to do, and NOT doing some things. Well I failed in the latter department. Well, actually, after doing something that wasn’t part of the challenge, I also fell asleep before meditating so that also got not done – but sufficed to say had I not already failed the challenge that wouldn’t have happened.

I don’t like to dwell on failure but it’s always healthy to look at why it happened. If my challenge is called Spiral of Awesomeness™, then the day that ultimately lead to my failure would get called Spiral of Shit™. It’s funny how things always work as spirals or chain reactions. I basically woke up much later than usual, which would have been fine if I had just gotten to writing like I did for the three weeks prior that right away. But no, I was coming off a record week, feeling good, and perhaps a bit complacency crept in and I allowed myself to procrastinate for a few hours.

Then I ended up being even further behind on everything when I played games socially with my friends. So after we stopped playing games, I was already tired but with a mountain of tasks to do. My willpower didn’t yet fail though. I kept persevering and completed most of my tasks. But all the tiredness and upset for myself for letting my discipline slip up ultimately ended in a willpower failure. I’ve known it before – my willpower breaks if I let myself get too tired. The rationalization hamster for doing shit that I shouldn’t do takes charge of my mind when everything else is too tired to stick around.

Goodbye, Malaysia

I set my reward for completion of challenge to be a visit to Malaysia. Well obviously given I failed the challenge I can say my goodbyes to that plan. If I don’t follow through not giving myself the reward then it shouldn’t have been a reward in the first place. Now obviously I’m eventually going to go to Malaysia, it just won’t happen this year.

It was an enormously hard challenge and while  I am not going to be apologist for my own failure, or have a loser mentality of being satisfied with it, I can still say I did well by being on it for three weeks. But like I said, I obviously won’t settle for it.

The Phoenix Rises

So here I am, at the ashes of the Spiral of Awesomeness™ Challenge. But you know what? I’ve not stopped. Anything but. I’m going to go for the full length. I’m going to rise from the ashes like the fucking Phoenix and complete the rest of the five weeks.

Some changes will need to be made, though, as a reaction to my failure.

  • Absolute zero tolerance on any form of instant messaging & games before all the tasks are completed
  • Zero tolerance for anything for that matter that’s just a distraction from the tasks of the challenge
  • Get up the bed by 10 am. every morning
  • Get to bed by 1 am. every night
  • Only form of entertainment allowed during eating is reading

I am glad that I failed. No, you read that right. For I had noticed distinct lack of quality in the way I went about the challenge at times. I had denied myself music for instance while writing under the ruse of it hindering my focus to the task itself. Well, how do I think chatting with someone while writing is going to affect my focus? Very negatively. This kind of pattern repeated all the time and it really defeated the purpose of the challenge.

Not that awesomeness hasn’t been spiralling into my life, because it has, but had I been fully focused to the process, the way I intended it, this whole thing would be a total Whirlpool of Awesomeness™.

Well okay I admit now I’m bordering on the ridiculous. But remember, don’t take yourself too seriously, right?

Anyway, back to the point. Only way I’m going to avoid somehow distracting myself is to absolutely close off distractions from my life.

That’s not to say I will never chat again, or play games. Of course I will. But it will have to come after I’ve taken care of everything I set out to do. Not doing everything you decided to do with your day is pathetic. But for the duration of completing my Spiral of Awesomeness™ habits and other tasks I need to do that day, I’m going to close all chat programs, deny myself games, even close my phone. Not even watching videos is allowed (Youtubepoops have become my nemesis) – normally I watch videos while eating but no distraction won’t be allowed this time.

Notice how I’m slowly but surely slipping into more and more rigid challenge, similar to the vein of my earlier failure of Self-Discipline Challenge. It comes to the old discussion about flow vs. rigidity. Initially this challenge was more of “flow” challenge as I had certain things to do, but no set pattern to do them. Self-Discipline Challenge, on the other hand, had everything engraved in stone with no freedom in it – no wonder I failed miserably. Perhaps this form of my challenge will finally provide the perfect balance of freedom and structure.

Now as for reward, I can’t obviously go for the Malaysia reward any more, so I will have to figure out something new. I’m not even sure if I do still need a reward – like I said, I’ve been doing this for three weeks now, so I have considerable momentum. But for those lower consciousness moments, when the rationalization hamster is running, its good to have something simple to aim for that even the brutish mode of your brain understands.

So for my Spiral of Awesomeness™ Challenge, reward for the Rising Phoenix™ segment (ie. the latter 5-week part I’m on now) is… Well, I will need to think about this cause I simply can’t come with anything that really compels me that I would need that I actually can get right now. But I’ll figure out a reward and continue without one until that!

Now if you excuse me, I’m going to get to the challenge.

As always, leave me comments!

Stop Taking Yourself Too Seriously

In today’s post I’m going to talk about the power of not taking yourself seriously. I also shot and cut a video about the topic, but as I have no time to upload it today I’ll add it in tomorrow. EDIT: And now it’s in!

Are You Taking Yourself Too Seriously?

When you start doing new things and to push your comfort zone, it is obvious that you’re going to encounter situations where you don’t do quite as well as you would wish. In fact, as you probably know, you quite often look very silly. This is a problem only if you’re taking yourself seriously. When you take yourself too seriously, every mistake hits at your ego and thus you tense up and start making even more mistakes.

For me personally particularly good example was when I was in the army. I was the worst shot of the company and it really bothered me. It made me wonder what is wrong with me. Every time we were at shooting range I lamented my failures, as opposed to just laughing at them and trying again. The thing became psychologically so big deal to me that instead of getting better with practice, my skills were deteriorating.

This is of course an extreme example of the case, but just goes to show that if you are on a journey to become awesome, you’re not going to last if you take yourself too seriously.

Treat Yourself as a Joke

This doesn’t mean that you lack self-respect – of course have self-respect, always try your best and don’t intentionally make a clown out of yourself (unless that is what you want from your life). But to really last on a journey that will deal you constant blows, you will have to learn to smile at yourself. Otherwise it will become simply too tempting to go back to your comfortable former life and never venture out of your comfort zone again. Only way to deal with constant discomfort and making mistakes is to give your self-image a rest and join the others in laughing at yourself.

Again using my army example, would laughing at myself actually improved my shooting ability? Probably not, but at least I would have been more at ease with myself and could have been more focused on the training itself, as opposed to focusing on fearing failure – which just brings more failure anyway.

Adopting the Right State of Mind

Just like any other change this will be down to the habits. You will simply have to learn to laugh at yourself at every chance possible, which will take focus.

I’m sure the guy I was at the army probably had the idea of not taking himself seriously in his mind, but its not that easy to actually remember in the moment. It takes years of cultivation to achieve that state of mind where you can take the life in a relaxed way, if it doesn’t come naturally to you. It is well worth it though and it’s a lesson becoming awesome really forces you to learn.

Let me know what you thought of today’s article in the comments!

Five Months After Japan

I’m still on my Spiral of Awesomeness™ Challenge, with two weeks completed now, but I’m not gonna talk about this today. Instead, I delved back into making a video first time in a while.

Youtube user Van Hohenheim suggested I’d do an update a longer time after Japan going through more how it affected me, so I took the bait and recorded a video for today discussing it. The end result is just about as vague video as the original conclusion was, with me also showing clear signs of lacking fundamentals in front of camera with poor eye contact, lot of stuttering and looking down.

That said you might find some value in the stuff I say. If you want to spare a few minutes the basic gist of the video is that travel is eye-opening, horizon-broadening experience, but one that doesn’t just flip your life around if you’re not having the right habits.

Check out my video below…

Made sense? Let me know in the comments. See you again next week, maybe this time I’ll spend all week trying to create a great video… then again, maybe not.