Archive - October, 2013

It Would Be Boring If Everything Went According to Plan

Sometimes things go wrong. In fact, it seems they go wrong often. I wish I would have good things to tell about  my newest challenge, but as it happened, I failed.

From Failure to Failure

I failed Spiral of Awesomeness, I failed the Hard Work Challenge. I’ve failed and I’ve failed. No matter. I keep trying. Fail better. Fail at bigger things.

For all my failures, I don’t deem myself a failure. In fact, I see that through all of these repeated attempts to smash my head against the wall I’ve developed a thicker skull and learned a lesson or two.

This won’t be my definitive post about you needing to fail, though that could and should be one of your takeaways from this message – we all need to fail so many times before we even start to have a clue what we are doing.

Things Don’t Go According To Plan – Good

I’m sure many are interested of how did I fail the Hard Work Challenge – I’ll get back to it later, but it is not how you think. In fact, you could say I was unfortunate.

Now though, I want to talk about what I reflected upon in those gutted moments standing at the ruin of the challenge.

Let’s think of a moment about movies. If the hero just completed his objective without any setbacks, it would be one hell of a boring movie. It works the same way in this regard – if I just went from strength to strength, it would be too easy. There would be no story there. The story is what makes us feel really alive, it is the setbacks and adversity that we deal with.

Adversity is good. It is what forces us to grow. It is what hardens us to deal with more of it.

I welcome my failure in the challenge. It makes for a better blog to have me fail my way to the top, or however high I’m going in the end. It makes for a better story to have to have gone through some bullshit. Most importantly, it makes succeeding, whenever it finally happens, be all the more rewarding.

But Did I Really Fail?

Yes I did – the terms of the original challenge were very clear. On Tuesday I completed my ten hours as I always did, but as the clock was approaching midnight with me already being exhausted, I had forgotten to write my daily 750 words*. Writing these were part of the challenge. It might be cruel to deem myself to have failed and miss out on a trip to New York (that I really, really wanted to do) for a thing that would have taken 15-20 minutes to complete, but a rule is a rule. I’ll have chances to visit the Big Apple some other time. I failed my commitment, and for the rewards to be real I can’t get them if I don’t succeed.

But let’s look deeper – did I really fail any of these times? Haven’t I repeatedly regarded Spiral of Awesomeness a positive experience, not a failure? Did I not complete two weeks of my Hard Work Challenge and learn a whole bunch of things? Things like focus and putting in long hours, among others?

I did learn all that, and that is the very fundamental piece of wisdom I’m going leave you with. There’s no failure – there’s either success or a lesson. Success or experience. If lucky, both. Certainly at least one of them – ain’t life beautiful like that?

What do you think? Drop a comment below.

*What made it even more brutal and gutting was that it also marked an end to an over 500-day streak - while writing 750 words every day is not that hard, it will still take me at least to early 2015 to even match that streak - oh well, streaks are meant to be broken.

The Hard Work Challenge – Half Way Report

What’s up, people? My Hard Work Challenge has already hit the halfway point – feels so funny to do this short challenge after how long the Spiral of Awesomeness ran. It feels still like it has only barely begun, yet I’m already halfway over. Nonetheless, as usual challenging myself has sparked some insights, and we are going to go over them next.

Week of Two Halves

In my past challenges my days would be very homogeneous. Every day would be very much alike given same daily requirements. But this challenge has been quite different. First four days of the week are a stark contrast to the latter three days of the week.

On the positive side, blasting away for ten hours every day for four days gives you plenty of momentum for rest of the week. After coming from that strain, doing a four-hour day – which would have been tough for me in itself in the past – just feels like a vacation. That’s only the beginning of the difference in the first and latter half of the week, though.

Another major difference I’ve noted is how hard it is to get moving on my off days. Since I don’t have that same urgency to just get up and start working as on ten hour days, I inevitably lack focus, indulge in procrastination and am just generally lazy. During my work days I absolutely have to get moving right away, otherwise I simply won’t have time to complete my ten hours a day.

In many ways the off days are like my life used to be for me – well, except doing a whole bunch of habits that I used to do.

Getting Used to It

I’ve had my moments of resistance to working so much, but at the same time I’m also starting to get used to it, even getting a bit of a high from it. You get up every morning with determination, a goal in your mind to accomplish that day, and at the end of the day you are tired and go to bed with satisfaction.

Almost, anyway. To be honest the only part I’ve been procrastinating about during the weekdays has been going to sleep. Instead, I just watch videos until I fall asleep at the laptop. I imagine this is actually what most people do anyway, but I’ve always been against stuff like that. I wish I had an answer to the inevitable question of why that is, but I’m still figuring out what makes me fail my personal standards and need watching videos when I am supposed to be sleeping – when I figure it out you guys will be the first to know.

My workload is not a problem anymore. It is definitely still very challenging, but I’m very much capable of handling the strain. I’ve also found myself loving the whole four days of work, three days off rhythm. Helps washes off any resistance you might have when you know that it is only four days that you have to hustle, and then you are going to be off for three days. Not that I have a lot of resistance – as anyone should, I can find enjoyment in the work I do. However last week I did endure a bad bout of what I call “Sunday Resistance” – I’m sure many of you that work regular five day week or are still in school have experienced what I’m talking about – that feeling of dread on Sunday evening after a weekend of relaxation. The dread that you have to get back to work once tomorrow rolls around. Apart from that, I’ve been fairly resistance free though.

Now that my body and mind are getting accustomed to even higher workload, I’m trying to start to incorporate even more to the routine.

Pushing Yourself Never Ends

I don’t know about you, but I have to keep constantly pushing for the razor’s edge. If I start to relax and ease, I immediately plunge into the Spiral of Lame Shit. That’s why even within this challenge I’m not stopping for a moment to try to find a little bit more ways to input or output more. That’s not to say that I don’t relax – obviously I do, and as I said I succumb to procrastination constantly too. The point is that I never stop putting in the effort to improve my focus, to improve my discipline and get a bit more willpower out of myself.

So naturally I’m trying to re-incorporate all the habits that I would have in the past into my current routine. On the long-term I want to retain a high work output, but I also believe almost all of my daily habits that I had in my Spiral of Awesomeness Challenge are necessary. But let’s face it – you can’t do everything all the time. That’s fine. Doing stuff every day without fail was just an easy rule for myself to follow. Now I have to learn to do this stuff as I can, which doesn’t come as naturally to me. It is either all or nothing for me.

On top of working ten hours a day, there’s not really much you can do besides working out, stretching, writing a bit and talking to your girlfriend. On those other three days, I on the other hand much more room – that’s when I have to make the magic happen.

In other news, I’m also altering the initial “contract” of the challenge. I know, it’s lame, but this time there was an additional exception that I really should have taken into account – my eccentric sleeping patterns. Whenever I’m on a “transitioning” day on my sleeping pattern I can’t expect myself to work for 10 hours – so when it coincides with such work day, that will simply be a day of exception.

In the end, the key part of challenge is to have four ten hour days within a week and 12 hours of work besides that – how exactly that is spread out isn’t all that important.

Have any insights? Starting your own Hard Work Challenge? Let me know in the comments.

The Universal Awesomeness Score™

Today I have a massive post for you people, detailing the new self-tracking system I’ve devised by upgrading my old point system. This long post will bare that system to the bones, giving you every dirty detail of it, so you could use it for yourself. However, this is definitely something that’s not for anyone, as it is fit only for those who are really serious about succeeding. EDIT: I’ve updated this for 2015 a bit. Also I feel that as much as I call this “universal”, it’s not really for everyone. I’ve made it as one-size-fits-all as possible but for different people with different priorities, the weight of the scores would be a bit different. That said for people similar to me (lazy, kinda anti-social, slightly out of shape) this will give a simple comparable number on how people are living their life.

What’s This?

The Universal Awesomeness Score™ is a system I’m devising for quantifying how well you are building awesomeness into your life. It essentially measures how much right action you are taking towards getting an awesome life. It is an upgraded and more general version of my old point system. I wanted to create something anyone could use and then get a comparable score in the system, but as said, in these things one size never fits for all, but for a young guy like me this is a good system to compare people a bit.

While I wanted to create an universally applicable system, you need to realize that awesomeness in this system is still defined how I define it. While reading through the list of what gives you points and what decreases them, you already would get an idea how I define it, but I’ll define it here with a few sentence anyway. The awesome guy, in my definition of it, works hard on improving himself. He builds his knowledge base, expands his skillset and experiences a lot of stuff. He is walking a path to mastery in some craft. He respects his body by taking good care of it. He also works on his social skills and charisma. Finally he obviously has a lot of sex as well and cares for his friends and family.

For Universal Awesomeness Score, it doesn’t matter how much you earn. Money makes absolutely no difference on the system, just the action taken. Results generally don’t matter. It measures the process, not the results. Ultimately I’ve found in my life that if you regularly score high points, the results will eventually follow as well. High points scored could be seen as a compass that good things are about to come. Essentially best experiences of my life doesn’t produce the highest score days. Its more a measure of the process of getting to those experiences – high scores mean that you’re about to have good days as a reward.

Why’d You Wanna Do This??

Everyone who will look at the system below will only be overwhelmed and think it is way too much. My ex-girlfriend certainly didn’t understand the want to track everything or even point in making an effort to reduce your life into a simple score. I get that. There’s only very very small subset of people who will resonate with something like this, and I completely understand this is a superficial way of seeing life. The best weeks of my life would not score the highest points. That is not the point of this system.

The system doesn’t measure peak experiences, but it measures the work in between that goes to achieving those peak experiences – even so, it only measures the quantity of it. Quality you will have to remain aware of yourself. I have found that keeping this kind of a system has done a world of good in my life. In many ways it has been the engine of my self-development. It might not give an accurate depiction of your life, but it gives you a general idea of how well you are taking action on being on your purpose and path on this Earth. But besides even that, here’s a good few good reasons why would you want to deploy a system like this:

  • It creates awareness of where your days go. That alone will lead to improvement.
  • It gives you an easily comparable measurement of how much right actions are you taking.
  • Whatever gets measured, gets improved.
  • It gives you a shit ton of statistics about yourself.
  • It creates long-term focus in your life.

When I devised my first point system in 2010, I was a complete loser. Now as I’m designing this to be a template to more guys than just me, I’m still not what I would call awesome, but I have come light years in that time. It would be overly simplistic to credit it all to having some kind of personal tracking system, but it has played a significant part in it, that’s something I’m certain of.

Who’s This For?

As I said, I wanted to make the system as general and fitting for everyone as possible. But ultimately I also made it for myself. So essentially the weight of different actions and what I value is based on my values, not anyone else’s. The system fits best for people who are similar to me – really interested in tracking themselves and how their days go, obsessed with self-improvement and making their lives better, people who want to work hard and ones who think health are important. Essentially, guys wanting to become champs.

Hard work is the biggest individual metric to drive your score up, so you should be one to respect good hard work. It is definitely geared for 20-something guys like me. Or just losers who are fed up being losers and willing to start taking action to getting better. I guarantee that anyone who takes the steps to score higher points in this system will see an improvement in their life, no matter how they go about it. One final thing to note is that this is still a work in progress. While I’ve had experience in using a point system of some sort ever since 2010, I created this point system from scratch effectively. It is a complete re-haul from my old one.

The Universal Awesomeness Score™ System

Here’s the system as I’ve set it up on Joe’s Goals:

Universal Awesomeness Score

My complete system, set up in Joe’s Goals – Almost complete vision to my life.

Now, let’s go through each of these sections with more detail so I can explain what all of it means. I’ve split the goals into a few different sections:

Success

The Path +5 points / 30 minutes

The path refers to whatever vocation you have chosen to be your path. This doesn’t mean necessarily your profession, though if you are lucky it means. For instance, for me this is writing and blogging. I’ve not made a single buck out of that yet… well I have gotten some donations but that’s almost negligible… Anyway, as said, this can be anything that you have chosen to pour your heart into completely. Another thing it could be for me would be soccer, another thing I have an intense passion for. If you haven’t figured it out yet, you might try different paths and be changing this often, but keep at something at least a few weeks. Generally though the Path should be something you are ready to commit years of your life into, if not decades. That’s a huge commitment to make.

Skill Practice +4 points / 30 minutes

Acquiring skills is a big part of achieving a satisfying life. That’s why I want to encourage learning new skills in this system, so it is up there as one of the most valuable things you could do. The Path is also skill acquisition, but this section covers all those other skills you might be learning. For me this includes the mentioned soccer, learning new languages, learning to improve my speaking technique to strengthen my vocal projection… etc, it might be anything really, as long as it is clearly useful. Improving your skills in, say, some video game doesn’t count. Use your discretion, UAS will become redundant if its used stupidly.

Valuable Work +4 points / 30 minutes

For me, this would include stuff like writing articles, creating videos, or doing some other job that generally not just anyone can do. So writing this piece will go under this category. For many their profession would go under this bracket – it is something important that you have to do and that challenges you, but not exactly your biggest passion. Alternatively, it is something creative and challenging you do as a side project, but is not your main thing in life.

The Grind +3 points / 30 minutes

If you are really unlucky, your profession might go here. This is the tasks that are generally brainless and just anyone could do, that don’t really challenge you to grow or excite you. Say raking the leaves, shoveling snow, washing dishes, carrying boxes, cleaning… basic stuff like that. It still scores relatively high in my system cause in terms of becoming awesome, it still does more than rotting your brain with meme pictures or watching stupid internet videos. Which brings us to our next part…

Watching Useful Internet Videos / Listening to Podcasts / Listening to Audiobooks +2 points / 30 minutes

While I’m generally no fan of multitasking, these are exactly the kind of stuff you can do while doing the tasks in the above category, or while in transit, or while eating. Just load your mp3 player full of podcasts and audiobooks, forget about listening to that death metal for a while and keep educating yourself for a change. As examples of great, useful Youtube videos to watch are videos from Elliot Hulse, Joe DeFranco (jeez, from the video recommendations I give you you’d think I’m jacked), any kind of RSD videos, documentaries, etc. Your mileage may vary in this, you just have to use your judgment. There’s videos about just about anything online these days, figure out what resonates with you and learn from it.

Reading +3 points / 30 minutes

This is essentially same as above, but you can absorb content a lot faster by reading, so I want to reward it accordingly in terms of points scored. Nowadays it is so easy to have a huge library of useful content to read just within your tablet or even in your phone, that there’s no excuse to not read. This is intended mostly for reading good books, however there are great blogs as well out there that are valuable reads. Again, use your judgment. Reading fiction is okay too for this, as I want to encourage all kind of reading – some of the best insights are often indeed gained from reading fiction. Keep your head full of good ideas and read a plenty!

Daily Goal -10 points for not completing

I think everyone should have a clear idea what they want to accomplish on a said day. Yeah, I know there are guys like Leo Babauta big on goalless living, but you have to see it for what it is – these are already high level people, they can afford to not set their mind on one thing. If you are already a bit scattered 20-something guy (or ESPECIALLY a girl) in today’s ADD world, spending a few minutes to set a goal and then next couple of hours in completing it will pay huge dividends in your life over long-term – that’s what I’ve found out, anyway. Also you will feel much more satisfied with yourself as well.

Ideally as they day ends, spend a few minutes in planning the next day. Set a goal for the day. Make it according to your current level. If you are at a low level, just set something seemingly small. Even small drip will form a big puddle over time. As long as it is something that leans onto your edge, it is hard enough. Where I’m at, probably something that takes a few hours of work is a good challenge. It might not even be something that takes a lot of time or effort, it might just be something that takes a lot of willpower as well, say approaching ten strangers a day (one for the future for me, given I’m still so socially challenged). The key thing is that it doesn’t depend on any external factors. You can’t set a goal of earning 100 dollars today, cause essentially the result is out of your control (unless you have hourly rate & enough steady work so its just matter of working enough). But working 1 hour on a task, completing certain piece of work (like finishing this blog post) or setting a goal for some amount of work done (say writing 2000 words) is a great way to set the goal.

You could also set all the goals for the week at the start of the week, or just use a generic goal for every day of the week, like I used this week (working 10 hours every day Monday – Thursday). Last thing to note is that I greyed out the weekend, in other words the weekend is off. You don’t need to set goal for those days, at least if you want to use the system exactly as I use it. If you’re starting this goal-setting habit, I’d advice you keep doing it through the weekends as well to ingrain it.

Body

Exercise +6 or +12 per session, depending on the performance

Exercise is one of the most important things one could do. Leaving aside the health benefits and looking better, it also does a lot for the mind and energizes you. Needless to say, you detriment yourself a lot if you pass it up. I used to measure this with points given for every ten minutes of exercise, but I found that to be clunky. Instead, we are going to define exercise completed if you do a warm-up, then do minimum of twenty minutes of exercise, get out of breath and sweaty. That’s it. But for getting the double score of twelve points, you will have to have a really intense exercise session that leaves you completely drained afterwards, in a good way. If you feel that you really gave it your all, you’ve earned the double points. Again this takes some honesty and using of your own judgment, this system won’t work in giving accurate scores for dishonest people.

Not every day you should go for balls to the walls exercise, though, so ideally you won’t get a double mark every day – you are just going to burn yourself out that way, unless you are already at a high level. For athletes their regular training wouldn’t go under this section, it would go under the path. So say you are a soccer player, only gym training or such would go under this, whatever you spend on the field drilling your skills would go under The Path, or in my case under skill training.

Stretching / Foam Rolling / Yoga / Other Body Maintenance +2 / 15 minutes

In my old system this would score really, really high. But I had to reach a compromise as while these things are important for anyone, they are not as important to other people as they are for me. Scoring for every fifteen minutes seemed like a good compromise, and while doing this is a good chance to score even more if you listen to audiobooks while you are at it. I think body maintenance is extremely important to avoid developing aches and pain. It is also very important to remain as supple as possible.

The older you get, the more you need to do this shit, so it is good to start building habits early on (besides, makes you injure yourself less if you are highly active). For activities that you are not really doing yourself, half the points. Say if you have an hour-long massage, only give yourself two marks. The general principle through all these goals is that it is YOU who are expending the effort, not some masseuse. Not talking down on massages, they are awesome, but it would be wrong if you could gain high points just by having people massage you. Do have massages if you have access to that, of course.

Not Doing Any Body Maintenance -5 points

By body maintenance in this case I mean the two above categories – exercise and everything that was grouped in the other goal. I personally both exercise and do half an hour of the latter things EVERY DAY.  Both of those every day. However, for you there is no need to be that extreme. You could, say, work out four days out of a week and then do 15 minutes of body maintenance the other three and avoid these -5 points every day. I think it is very important to do SOMETHING every day, just to get into the habit of taking care of your body.

Eating Protein +1 point / 25 grams

Diet is one of the hardest things to quantify. It is way more complex than just eating a lot of protein. But this is just the way I chose to measure it, and even this takes somewhat of a lot of effort. One might even view this as an optional addition.

Eating All Organic +10 points / day

Like I said, diet is hard to quantify, but if you go a day eating nothing but organic food, you are doing a lot of things right. Combine with above “lot of protein” approach, and you are on a right path. Overly simplistic to the extreme, but at the same time I couldn’t completely disregard diet from the scores, but actually designing an accurate system is impossible.

Drinking Water +1 points / 0.5 litres

Another hard to track thing, but drinking pure water is a great habit. I’d advice using a half a litre container and just marking a point every time you empty it (then go for a refill)

Eating Crap -5 points / meal (up to 500 cal – anything above that one and it’s another -5)

There’s organic food, there’s standard food that’s not so good, and then there’s complete crap. I’m talking about stuff like junk food, all kinds of snacks, crackers, chocolate, sweets, cakes, and all kinds of sugary treats. You want to avoid these. You can see that if you are average overweight snacker, it makes getting even positive points in this system very hard if you just keep up with all the shit you eat. This is just how high I rank health as a pillar of awesomeness. Every separate instance of having crap food counts as a meal, so it is better to have a lot of crap at once than keep snacking away all day. Easiest way to avoid lot of negative points is just to stop buying that crap.

Unhealthy Habits -10 points per instance

I just grouped all the rest things under this. In my old system these were completely disregarded. Why? Because I’ve never in my life smoked, I’ve never drank any alcohol, let alone used drugs. I never even thought about needing to track stuff like that. However, since this is trying to be “Universal Awesomeness Score”, I realized I need to add these things that many people ultimately have. Use this part as you see fit. I’d personally use it like this:

  • One mark for drinking alcohol (maybe a couple of glasses of wine could be negligible, but more than that is definitely worth point decrease)
  • Two marks for really getting wasted
  • One mark for smoking
  • Two marks for smoking a pack a day
  • One mark for smoking pot
  • Three marks for using harder drugs

Then again, people using harder drugs rarely are into self-development like this let alone tracking their own habits in this manner – but just in case there’s one of you out there, I want to include it in the system, even if I never need this section myself.

Mind

Meditation +3 points / 20 minute session

I don’t care how you do it, just do it, there’s so much evidence of it being highly beneficial. Especially if you are a scatter-brain like most kids these days, it will help your focus immensely. It is very difficult in the beginning, I know, but it is very worth it.

Visiting a New Place +10 points / place

There never was a section like this in my old system. Which means that say during my Japan trip, I scored very modest points with my system. While this addition would not turn even those weeks into as high-scoring as they are awesome, but it becomes a closer representation. Now you might think that “dude, isn’t this encouraging me to become a wandering nomad just never staying in one place for a long time?” And you’d be kind of right. But you still need to see that visiting a new place is only as valuable as an hour of work on your path.

So really, the ultimate way to score a lot of points in this system is not to just travel all the time. But what constitutes a new place, anyway? Again, my answer is the same as all the time during this long-ass post – use your judgment. This is an easy rule of thumb – if you’d be writing a list of all the places you’ve been to, would you list it as a separate entry? Then it counts. I personally would list all the different cities I’ve been to, possibly some smaller locations also if they were distinctly different. I wouldn’t count different separate tourist attractions. That’d be for a whole another list.

Visiting a New Country +10 points / country

Everyone knows I’m a big advocate of travel, so this is just an extension of that. Experiencing a new culture will always broaden your horizons. Again, comparatively it is not a huge amounts of points you get anyway, given travel takes a lot of effort.

Watching A Movie +2 points / film

I admit, this has to be the stupidest little piece in here, but I really like to track how many movies I’ve seen. Also a great movie can really give you good insights. It could even change your life. But as said, there’s movies that are complete wastes of resources and kill more brain cells than there was dollars in their budget, like The Avengers, so I don’t want to make this a highly rewarding task. If average movie lasts for two hours, it means this scores you an average of 1 point / hour, which is really low compared to 10 points an hour you can earn from being on your path. Still, at least having this will give you the total number of movies seen on a given year on Joe’s Goals. Also, no, short films don’t count.

Social / Sexual

Going Out +4 points / 30 minutes Cold Approach +4 points / approach

This one’s going to be tough to explain. Essentially this is another skill building goal. It doesn’t mean hanging out with your friends, though you could do this with your friends. Also doesn’t mean dinners out with your girlfriend. No, I mean going out with the intention of building up your social skills. Doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, but it has to be also mentally stimulating and challenging, not just talking shit with your friends and sucking a beer after a tough day’s work.

Essentially this has two purposes – besides just building your social skills, it is also intended to expand your social network. So going out should essentially have talking to new people as an integral part. Why doesn’t going out with your gf / significant other or friends score points? It does, just not as high as it is qualitatively very different. EDIT: As you can see from the header, I completely changed this up. The old definition as you can see is kinda vague, but simply chatting up a new person gives you kind of a clear, hard line. And if you’re out just hanging out with your friends and talk to no strangers (or only to people who have approached you), you still score points in the below categories so its all good. I just wanted to make the distinction clear and reward willpower-intensive actions.

Not Going Out -10 points

Even just going out for a half an hour and socializing with people is better than just being a cave troll. Trust me, I know, I’ve experienced both. Other people can enrich your life. I’ve been a recluse for the past decade, I know what it is like. Only marks in above category count to remove negative mark from this.  EDIT: Any form of being social is fine to remove this mark, as long as you get out of the house. Reason I didn’t go for metric like points per people approach is because valuable social interactions have so many different forms. Yes, it might be all about spending all night approaching strangers, but it might also be going out for a date with that girl that you met yesterday – then it would be just talking mostly to one person all night so the approach metric would not work. Besides, that would be just a pain in the ass to track. Now it is as easy as looking at the clock and seeing how much time you just spent.

Hanging out with your friends / gf / family +2 points / 30 min

I couldn’t disregard hanging out with friends and stuff in my system. It is important to keep nurturing those existing relationships, as opposed to just cultivating new ones. You still gotta go out, though. Also, only time you actually engage with these people counts. Even if that engagement is just staring at their eyes, there has to be interaction, just watching TV together doesn’t count. To me an awesome relationship isn’t about merely existing together, but experiencing and interacting.

Having Sex +3 points / 30 minutes

No one needs motivation for having sex anyway, but if you are having a lot of sex, it is awesome, so I think it should account for some points. Also, I talked about not getting points for spending time with your girlfriend… well here is a great way to get some points with her… That being said, sex should always happen as a result of natural desire, not cause you needed three points more to get a record day. If you do that, son… well you suck, regardless of what score you get. Again, I’m a bit hesitant even including stuff like this on this system, but I think having a lot of sex is an indicative of an awesome life, so I think it needs to be a factor in the Universal Awesomeness Score. After all, sex is one of the most universally fun things you could do. As for the time metric, don’t get it wrong and be all weird with a stopwatch while having sex, just be rough with it…

Masturbation -3 points / ejaculation

If there’s some women wanting to use this system, they can disregard this point or even flip it because of male and female sexuality being completely different. I’m not having anything really against masturbation here – it is great, really. But talking about being awesome, expending your sexual energy alone… well it is kind of a waste, no? Sex is better, so you should build your life to always have a willing partner/s.

Porn -5 points / usage during masturbation

I’ve not really talked about this in length on this blog, but more through other mediums. I’m not gonna go to detail but porn has detrimented my own sex life. You can read the effects it has on your brain here. The cliff notes is that it makes you less aroused during your day-to-day life cause you have fried your brain with sexual overstimulation using your online videos/pictures. Again, real sex is better and I have nothing against using porn occasionally as an enhancement when having sex, but if you have to jerk off alone to porn anyway, that’s kind of pathetic. Even more pathetic case that I know to exist is having a girlfriend, and rather watching porn than having sex with her. That should be a big red flag that you should cut down on porn.

There was one more bit here but I’ve since removed it cause it was not good addition.

Applying The System

Note that I started tracking my goals in 2010 using Joe’s Goals. My system was astoundingly different back then, very simple and crude and I would score maybe 50 points on an average week cause I really only tracked a few things. This complex and massive system has evolved over the years to track everything, bit by bit expanding like a cancer. As I re-hauled the system, I really tried to cut down as much things as possible while still retaining all the things that I think are useful to keep a track of.

In the end though this is a system that would be overwhelming for you to try to apply right away. I can see you configuring it on Joe’s Goals excited of trying it, which in itself takes a bit of time, but the tough part is really trying to apply it in your day-to-day life. Like I said, I’ve built the habit of marking everything up slowly over the years. In the beginning what will happen to you is that you forget about marking stuff up for few hours, or even few days, and then, because you are not even as aware of how you spend your days, you can’t even remember what you did so your score will ultimately be inaccurate.

I personally probably could even not mark my scores for couple of days and I still would be able to backtrack because a) I’m highly aware of what I do every day thanks to being conscious of it for years and b) most of my days are very consistent, again thanks to being conscious of it for years. So if you choose to try using this system – or a system similar to it – realize that you probably won’t get it all right right away. In fact, I’d advise you to just pick a one section like Success and just applying it at first. You won’t get a comparable score, but you will start building awareness and the habit of tracking the stuff you do. Over time you will be able to add all segments and compare your scores to mine, and perhaps to your delight notice that you’re doing much better than me.

It might seem like a lot of work, but really in total making the marks in your system will maybe take a five minutes a day, max, unless you want to make more notes. Only work there really is, is just getting used to doing it. For me it was definitely worth it because just becoming more aware of the stuff you are doing makes you automatically improve on how you spend your days. It will definitely elicit a habit change in you, when you constantly notice some flaws in yourself. This really makes you confront the fact if you are not using your time well and gives you no room for excuses.

Only thing that really matters in the Awesomeness Score is the time you put in. Generally speaking it is all about effort, not about anything else. So if your score is low, it is really your own fault. Once you get used to it, it becomes automatic. You don’t even have to think of it. Like after I finish writing this post, I will grab my phone, open Joe’s Goals, and press eight marks on Valuable Work tab. Or something. I’m still not sure how long writing this post in total will take.

You will just need to remember you are not going to get it right away. Another thing you might find is that my system is not really compatible with your values or goals. As I said, I tried to make it as universal and applicable to everyone as possible, but the fact of the matter is that it still defines Awesomeness as I define it – which is a guy who works hard, goes for his goals, challenges himself, lives healthy, sees the world and enjoys the better things in life. It really is just a score of living how I think a guy should live it.

You should definitely have your own values. One alternate way, instead of setting up Joe’s Goals account and all the goals, is to simply guesstimate what your score would be on a given day, then compare it to my scores. I ultimately created this post for the guys who share the similar values as me and want to have some sort of idea in how they are doing in terms of creating the life they want. You could say I wrote it for the five years younger version of myself. If I could have stumbled onto this post back then, it would have been a great resource for him – then again, given how stubborn I was and still am, I would have probably still ignored it mostly and just used the idea of creating a point system.

After Getting Used To It

Once using the system has become automatic, that’s where the magic happens. You can start trying to beat your own scores, gain much more awareness as to what you are doing or compare them against my scores, should you use exactly the same or very similar system to mine. The number you get from using this system isn’t the end-all, be-all number to worship, but it gives you a rough indication as to how well you are doing in terms of becoming awesome. It doesn’t tell you anything about the quality of the stuff you are doing, as it only measures the quantity. The quality you will have to focus on yourself.

Also, it doesn’t measure happiness at all – though given walking on your path is the most valuable thing points wise, I think it’s hard to be awfully unhappy while scoring a lot of points – if you do, then perhaps you are not walking the path that is right to you. Alternatively, it could be a mindset issue, but that’s really something to discuss in another post.

One of the most awesome things that using a system exactly as I described it, it gives you a lot of data about what you did during the year at the end of the year. Remember those statistics I shared on my post about wrapping 2012 up? I wouldn’t have had those if I wasn’t using my previous point system on Joe’s Goals. I personally just love to keep track of the stuff I do. Numbers excite me. If you are not like that, I understand and then perhaps going this elaborate with your goal tracking is unneeded. Still, it would be exciting to hear about other people trying this out, even if just to see how do they compare against me.

I know I’m fairly easy to beat on this goal, given my Awesomeness Score is still fairly low. What is a good score, anyway? I just used this current, completely re-hauled system for the first time last week, which also was the last week I used my old point system. For my old system, last week was my all-time highest score, so you could say it is the best I could do at the moment. I scored 475 points on The Universal Awesomeness Score, and my best day was 114 points. But lets forget about me for a moment.

Let’s build an idealization of a man using the parameters set in the system. The Ultimate Awesome Guy™ gets up in the morning and has an organic breakfast with 50 grams of protein and drinks half a litre of water (+3 points). Then he works on his path for four hours (+40 points). His path is not his profession though, so after having organic lunch of 25 grams of protein and another half a litre of water (+2 points), he still needs to work another four hours to make money (+32 points). While working, he drinks a litre of water (+2 pts), then he heads for the gym for an intense workout (+12 pts). He drinks another half a litre of water while working out (+1 pt). He has a big organic dinner of 50 g protein (+2 pts), then heads out to approach girls. After couple of hours (+16 pts), he comes home with a cute girl and they wind up having sex for an hour (+16 pts). After the girl leaves, he meditates 20 minutes, reads for an hour and drinks one final half a litre of water (+10 points). Then he goes to bed, having scored 146 (136+10 for having eaten all organic)  points during that day.

Now of course, that’s a total cartoon character we formed there. That’s like the kind of top day you might expect of yourself, once in a month maybe. Just gives you some perspective as to what’s a great score to expect of yourself. If you are nowhere near that level, no worries, it is all a process that takes time. Consistently scoring about a hundred a day is a good goal to strive for, and my ultimate holy grail will be reaching a thousand point week with this system, however it will be extremely hard.

Quick Reference for level you are at based on weekly / daily score:

1000 / 150 = A Champ

800 / 100 = Great

600 / 80 = Good

400 / 65 = Decent

350 / 50 = Alright

200 / 25 = Mediocre

0 / below zero = Trainwreck, you gotta start doing simple things right – commit half an hour a day to your path and stop bad habits.

As I mentioned this is still a work in progress and I will probably tweak the system over the coming years as I keep using it. Give me any comments and improvement suggestions if you have any. If you try out the system, I’d love to hear how your results as well.

The Hard Work Challenge

I just won’t give myself any respite – all the previous challenges have barely ended, when I’m already ready to put myself to the next ultimate test. Let’s get right to it – no sexy names this time, the challenge for the next four weeks is called simply “The Hard Work Challenge”.  Both the challenge and the stakes are huge this time…

An Exercise of Single-Mindedness

When I started Spiral of Awesomeness Challenge, it seemed quite hard initially, and many aspects of it indeed were very challenging. The thing about it was though that in its very nature, it was a challenge that required me to do “a bit of everything” every day. Sure, there wasn’t a million different things to do every day, but there was multiple habits to keep up with.

It was a very balanced way of life, in a way, but ultimately it is also something that will wear you down a bit, even when every habit of the challenge starts to become automatic. So completing the challenge was no easy feat in the end. This time, though, I will go for something completely different. The challenge this time will be completely opposite, yet in many ways much more challenging.

So if Spiral of Awesomeness was “a bit of everything” type of challenge, The Hard Work Challenge will be an exercise of single-mindedness. After all, that’s what so often you see cited in successful people’s principles to succeed – single-minded approach in whatever they are doing.

The Gist of the Challenge

So let’s not circle around the topic any more – what is the Hard Work Challenge all about?

Simply put, there’s only one parameter that I really care about – hours of work put in. Yes, I won’t let myself drop some key habits from Spiral of Awesomeness, but key thing here is work.

For the next four weeks, I am committing to working ten hours every day from Monday to Thursday. For Friday, Saturday and Sunday I’ll give myself days “off” so to speak – I will only work four hours a day on those days.

So in effect, I’m committing to 52 hours a week. Seems simple, right? Doesn’t seem too impossible either. After all, most people work forty hour weeks anyway. It is just the relentless ten hour days, ones that I’ve certainly not used to and ones that I have never before done that will be very difficult. You should note that today, the first day of the challenge, will certainly be my all-time most productive day if I just complete my goal. I’ve never worked equivalent of ten hours a day (it is worth 140 points alone, just the work, and my record is only 114 points). Again, if the last sentence didn’t make any sense check the point system post (though I will be completely re-hauling and publishing my complete productivity tracking system in the near future, probably at the change of year).

The point is this – I’m basically expecting my record hard-working days every day.

What’s at Stake?

So for me to dare to publicly put such a challenge on myself, I must feel confident at completing it, right… RIGHT? Well no, I’m not at all confident, but this is going to really push me to my far limit and it is the feeling that I’ve started to learn to yearn for this latter part of the year.

You might notice this is much harder challenge than the Self-Discipline Challenge I put on myself early on in the year. Some of you who still remember are probably yawning by this point of the post, fully expecting me to fail this one. I’m not thinking of that though.

Not only has my willpower reserves greatly expanded, I now have an external structure that will keep me working hard, and I am also going to set a massive reward for myself to make sure I won’t allow myself to fail. When you remove the option to fail, you are bound to succeed.

So what is this massive reward? Well you know I’m all about travel, and my financial situation has improved, so I’ve been starting to plan in my mind a trip to New York and generally exploring the East Coast of US in December. But no, I’m not going to just allow myself to do it – that will be at stake for this challenge. It is here in the public now, so should I fail in my simple, short four-week challenge, that trip is off. Considering how much I’m wanting to make it, in my mind that should make success a no-brainer. Let’s make a simple rule listing of the trip to kind of wrap it all together:

Rules and exceptions of the challenge

  • Put in ten hours of work every day Mon-Thu (“Word days”), and four hours every day Fri-Sun (“Off days”) for next four weeks. Exceptions allowed if…
    • Dad needs me to work – I can put my 10 hours in some other day of the week (yes working for dad doesn’t count as work within context of this challenge)
    • My brother comes over and wants me involved in some activities during the day (happens EXTREMELY rarely).
    • My friends want me to be involved in some online gaming (has not happened in nearly a month).
  • The exceptions can be applied maximum of two times per week. So say Tuesday and Thursday can be turned to off days, as long as I then work Friday and Saturday for 10 hours.
  • Same exceptions apply to off days, if the two allowed exception days haven’t been already used for work days. Then whatever work is left undone just has to be covered on other days, so that the total work done during the week still reaches 52 hours for the week)
  • What constitutes as work for the challenge during work days:
    • Any paid work done for someone else but dad.
  • What constitutes as work during the off days:
    • Any paid work done for someone else but dad.
    • Blog writing
    • Fiction writing
    • Working on ebooks
    • Creating videos
    • Other work related to this blog or my other websites or my book.
  • Besides just completing my work hours according to the above terms, I still commit to maintaining the following daily habits:
    • Working out (minimum of 20 minutes a day)
    • Writing fiction (minimum of 750 words a day)
    • Stretching / Yoga & Foam rolling (minimum of 30 minutes a day)
    • Eating minimum of 100 grams of protein every day.

Should I fail the above terms, I commit to:

  • Not travelling to New York
  • Not travelling outside Finland until my move to Malaysia.

Should I succeed in keeping up with that for next four weeks, I am allowed to:

  • Complete my plan of doing a trip to New York in December, pending my finances allow it (and if I work total of roughly 200 hours in coming next four weeks, I fail to see how they would not allow it).

Unbalanced Approach

So yeah, as you can see, it is not balanced at all. Gone is meditation, gone is hours of writing every day, and gone is reading as well. Instead there’s just single-minded work, every day from waking up almost to going back to sleep. Sure, there’s sixteen awake hours per day, but if you want to spend some talking to your significant other and other friends, eat a few meals, work out, stretch and write in addition of working ten hours, it won’t allow much time for dilly-dallying around. Furthermore, winter is around the corner, which means that I will have to take care of heating up the house as well, which again will sap my already limited time reserves.

I have never been as busy in my life as I will soon be, but I already have no sympathy for people who are bored. How can you be bored? How do you have time to be bored? I wish I had that luxury! But oh wait, I do have that luxury, I just choose to not use it. I choose to not have any time for boredom.

After the four weeks I will have much better insights as well from two different approaches – of well-rounded and balanced approach and of more single-minded, pig-headed approach that doesn’t leave much room for anything. I mean the difficulty level increase is significant – from ~7 hours a day commitment of Spiral of Awesomeness to ~12 hour a day commitment of The Hard Work Challenge.

Time will tell if I am able to pull it off, but as you can see from the 1,4k words written, I’m determined, excited and a bit intimidated (that one’s always a sign of a good goal).

Let me know what you think in the comments, as always. I reply to every comment. At least when I have the time. Which might be until weekend in this case :)