Getting Your Girl Into Shape: My Sister’s Extreme Methods

into shape

My sister has a low body fat.

I shared my sister’s blog with one of my friends, just to show her what my sister looks like – incidentally, she got interested in how did my sister achieve her results. So because so many of you won’t speak Finnish, I decided to trawl through my sister’s blog and pick out the key tips on weight loss, training and diet. 

Now I’m going to have to start with a disclaimer that this post is more or less a summary of my sister’s methods and I don’t approve or agree with all of it. Still, the results speak for themselves so I’m not going to argue with them. I’m going to throw in my couple of cents at the end anyway. But let’s delve right into it.

 Diet

First thing’s first, getting to that low fat body composition there’s really not going around it – Diet is the most important thing. No matter what you do exercise-wise, you can’t outtrain a bad diet.

Food pyramid

The food pyramid – eat a lot of foods from lower end, very little of the tip.

Besides just eating good foods that are very simply illustrated in the above picture, meal sizes and frequency is also important.

So what makes my sister’s methods extreme is the low calories. I remember a time when she was constantly on a 400 calories a day diet. Granted, she didn’t actually adhere to it 100 %, but still, it was intensely low calorie one. Even to date, citing her blog, she still uses a diet that includes 1000 calories on training days. I personally don’t advise going on that low calories, but if you are really passive, you can really look to limit calories – fact is, you can’t avoid losing weight if you are getting extremely low calories.

However if you lead an active lifestyle I’d advise you’d scale up at least some.

Example meals for an exercise day (1000 calories):

Meal 1:
1 egg (or 250g of yogurt mixed with fruit), a raw potato and an onion, a little bit of cheese.

Meal 2:
250g quark (creamy cheese, high protein) mixed with fruit and oats (20g), or 2 eggs and veggies.

Meal 3: 
Plate of fruit, for example: a kiwi fruit, tangerine, 10 grapes and a banana.

Focus on raw, clean foods – quality food

The key thing is to replace the quantity with the quality of food. Raw and fresh food, lot of fruit and veggies. Despite eating very little, she probably gets much more vitamins and enzymes from her food than the average person. Like everyone else, my sis also recommends supplementing omega-3′s.

My sister also utilizes intermittent fasting. 24-hour fast every few days does no harm, and it further increases the calorie deficit that causes a lot of the weight loss.

Exercise

My sister lists following equipment as essentials for home training:

  • Ab wheel
  • Exercise band
  • Foam roller
  • Small & Big exercise ball
  • Monkey bars etc. with a chin up bar.

My sister can slaughter the pull-up bar  and I think any girl should have some arm strength – you might as well aim for the nine my sister says she can do without any warm up – she’s relatively stronger than me! Overall she combined all kinds of bodyweight training with stuff like yoga and pilates. Here’s a fast example workout she gives:

  1. Chin-ups 3 x max
  2. Wide stance squats with a kettlebell / dumbbell 3 x 40
  3. Ab wheel rollout 3 x 15
  4. Push-ups 3 x 10
  5. Dip on the floor 3 x max

Ideally you want to involve your whole body, push yourself and get out of breath.  Doing various exercises keeps the monotony away as well.

Finally you might want to check out what kind of training my sister did earlier from her Youtube channel (purely bodyweight exercises). Her methods have changed a lot over the years so it is kind of hards to give you a concise summary of it all. Indeed she used to do a lot of training with free weights as well in the past. Check out also her butt workout post that’s illustrated in pictures.

Caveats

As said, my sister used to train with weights as well, but fact is that gaining muscle comes somewhat easy caused her to grow big thighs – now frankly I think muscular thighs on a woman is awesome, but not everyone agrees. That is why she advises low calories these days, to avoid any unwanted muscle gain.

However if you ask me, I think any muscle you gain will be positive, that’s why I’d never go as low calorie as that. Also keeping so low calories requires a lot of discipline. I do agree with intermittent fasting though, even if I’ve not personally done it in a long, long time.

Also I don’t exactly agree with the essential equipment she lists. To get great workouts all you need is a pull-up bar. Push ups, body weight squats, lunges, pull-ups, hanging leg raises… there’s too many great bodyweight exercises to list. You can really kick your ass with just those. However, I’m not 100 % proponent of just training with bodyweight. I think there’s no beating heavy squats and deadlifts. Now given this post is directed for girls, you might not want to load up 200kg and tear your spine trying to lift it off the ground, but I think some squatting with a barbell on your shoulders  won’t do any harm as long as you take care of your form.

Doesn’t look bad if you ask me..

I really communicated most of my thoughts regarding diet and healthy living in my book Healthy Eating so no need to get any further detail on what I think. The point of this post in the end was just to summarize my sister’s methods.

Let me know what you think, if this caused more questions than it answered, feel free to as. I could even ask your questions from my sister, if you have some. 

Living in Congruence to Your Values

Today’s topic is kind of all-important in the topic of creating a really fulfilling life. Not living in congruence to your values can lead you to a dark place, so it is of utmost importance that no-one half-asses this.

You are better than this shit, bro

I know my posts of late haven’t been that good quality. Rushed, maybe a little half-thought, not a very much effort put in. Is this what I want to come up when someone googles my name? Is mediocre content what I want to have with my name written all over it. This is Jarkko Helenius, a mediocrity.

Of course not. I always preach about how I strive to put in the maximum effort. And I’m not saying my content of late has been valueless – There’s some good shit there too. But the way I see it, I pay a limited attention to the actual fruit of the labor, and most of the focus is on the process itself. That matter is worth a post of its own, but for now I can definitely say that the process I’ve been engaged in when it comes to these blogposts has not the been the most solid one.

Obviously if you just slam a half-thought post up in half an hour just before Monday ends it is not going to be as good as a well-thought idea that you then craft into a post in five to ten hours. Man, I’d be fucking king of bloggers if I actually put in that time to my posts. Yet it is a thing I always talk about – putting the effort in, really doing as good a job as you can do in everything. So as you can tell, there’s an incongruence to my values right there.

But I don’t even know what I’m doing

I’m going to move to Malaysia very soon – a bit on that later – and I’m going to leverage the move as much as possible to clear off distractions that keep me from living up to my values. But is it really all there is, distractions? Is that really the thing that makes me not live in congruence to my values?

Frankly, I’m actually well off knowing where I have disparities between my values and what I actually do. For most people, they don’t even really know what they value. They’ve not even defined it. Sure, they have a vague sense of what they hold in high regard and what they don’t, but if they were to answer the question on the spot, the answers would be vague and floundering at best.

So the first step of getting there is to actually define your values. When you know them – when you REALLY know them – that’s when you can take a good hard look at your life and see where you are doing well and where you aren’t. Let’s see for instance my life.

One of my highest values is bravery – I admire courage and doing bold things is really something I aspire to. Yet, when you look at my life, I’ve not really done anything outrageously brave. Sure, bravery isn’t all about doing things just for the sake of being brave, but surely I’m not living up to this value to the fullest. There’s lot of fears that need to be faced head on, and to live up to this value to I need to just dive in.

Another one is the already mentioned industriousness. My work has not gone the best lately, I’m still far off from having the optimal focus and I manage time like shit. Again, while it doesn’t look so good, and it appears that I’m beating myself up for it, I just have a harsh kind of self-talk, and in the end I have that all important AWARENESS of myself not living up the value. I know I will get there. When you really know your true values that go deep within your core, seeing yourself not living up to them is really an auto-correcting process. It just takes some time.

Finally there’s creativity (there’s more, but I’m just raising these three as examples). This blog is one of the outlets for creativity that I have, yet one could easily argue that I’m not using it to the fullest. In fact, in many ways one could say that I’m not doing anything at all creative at the moment. Ever since my writing streak got killed, I’ve been completely halted in my writings. But again, there’s awareness, so the improvement is around the corner. I have so much ideas coursing through my brain, but my energy and time is being constantly misdirected.

Incongruence – Worse than death

Awareness is the crucial first step on the path of repairing this disparity. Improvement is not an afterthought, though. You can’t just wait for the change to manifest in a beautiful, law of attraction-esque fashion. Nope, there needs to be a sense of urgency. If you lack a sense of urgency, you need to get deeper to your core with the values. When they really hit that heart, that’s when the urgency starts to happen. Another thing is never letting the momentum die. You need to keep your brain engaged with your values. That’s when they really get ingrained.

Not living in congruence with your values will lead to an ultimately unhappy life. You will be like one of those zombies, drudging through their days of nine to five in a daze, not really even alive. Numbing down the little emotions they have with alcohol and other depressants. On the other hand, when you start aligning yourself with your values, every single day becomes better than the last – not always, of course, but I can definitely say that the more I close in on that goal, the more fulfilling the days get.

Ultimately, I measure how my life correspond with my values with my Universal Awesomeness Score. While I self-righteously call it universal, it really is based on just my values. Tracking system like that is a good tool to add to that all-important awareness.

That’s what it all comes down to in the end. There’s a lot of things in the play, but the more you cast your eyes on the glaring difference between what you do and what you value, the more likely it becomes that you make the change. That’s how I got started on this journey of Becoming Awesome. Seeing how I was just vegetating in one corner of the world as the time of my life was dwindling down finally made me move. I’m glad it did.

When will you get moving? Hit me up with a comment.

Alright so I promised briefly get back to my move to Malaysia. I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it here yet, but yes, it is clinched. My girlfriend is coming to Finland on 10th, and nearly a month later I will shake the snows of Finland off my feet, stepping into the plane and into a new adventure on 7th of January.

Sufficed to say, 2014 will be something else. I can’t even predict what’s around the corner for me. Exciting times.

Meanwhile, I’m also hitting up Helsinki, Stockholm & Lapland soon and while I won’t do daily vlogs like in Japan, I’ll definitely use the change of scenery to get some video content up. However as opposed to Japan videos, that again where by their nature kind of rushed and on the spot material, I really want to create something that stands the test of time better. Even if it won’t I want to at least do my best – cause that of course would be living in accordance to my values.

See you next week!

Focus on Focus

Lately I’ve been experimenting with a bit of a mind-fuck – Focusing on my focus.

What Does That Even Mean?

Sounds crazy, this focusing on focus business, right? But hear me out – I noticed that this slight mental shift has really made a difference in my work. Indeed I’d go as far to say that it is the key thing to focus on if you have problems with your concentration.

But what does focusing on focus mean anyway?  Well what I do is simply shift my awareness from the task I’m doing to what I’m focused on. I get into a state of mind where I notice when my focus shift and my concentration breaks. When you notice it right away, you can immediately correct it. Which leads to improved focus, naturally, since you simply shift back into focused state as soon as you lose it. Eventually you just get used to being focused. That being said, I just presume it goes like that, I’m definitely not there yet.

However the immediate effect is already some improvement to how well you stay focused – that’s the beauty of it. You aren’t directly focused on work, instead you are focused on how well you are focused on your work – as a side effect you stay very focused on work. In the end it is the old lifting the awareness into a higher level kind of thing.

It’s All So Tollesque

I know that’s not a word. But in many ways this is the same stuff that Eckhart Tolle teaches, just in a more actionable and practical format. Tolle, if you are not familiar with his stuff, always talks about being present to the moment, aware, and “watching the watcher” so to speak. Focusing on focus is exactly that – watching the watcher, just expressed in different words.

So besides just making you focus better, the whole concept makes you more present to the moment as well.

Can Anyone Do This?

I wish I knew – like most of my blog posts, this is just one of those half-baked, mostly untested ideas that I’ve not really shared with anyone – even if, in many ways, it is just a rewording of Tolle’s more refined idea. I always try to approach my posts from the paradigm “would my 20-year-old self get anything out of this?” and I would be inclined to say that my 20-year-old self would definitely try this one out.

That’s what I suggest you do too. It might be hard to grasp what I exactly even mean with this whole thing – as the difference between just focusing and focusing on the focus is very subtle – but if you can grasp it go for it. You might be surprised with the results.

Does it sound like I’ve gone off the deep end? Or does it make sense? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Staying on the Narrow Path to Success

Staying on the narrow path to success is one of the hardest things there is – it is so easy to veer away and it happens to everybody. That’s really the key skill in life in the end – just learning to avoid diverging off the path. In the end, the more you stay on the path, the longer way you are going to make on it.

Let’s face it – success is very, very simple. Deceptively simple, in fact. It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure it all out and often I’ve noticed when studying very successful people is that they aren’t necessarily remarkably smart people. Sometimes they are, but high intellect is definitely not a requirement for success. What these people had going their way though was that they stayed on their paths like motherfuckers. Just full-on tunnel vision to their goal, not stopping moving until they reach that goal.

There might be a million different guides online on how to make it in this and that, but universally success in anything  really is all about effort and consistency – staying on the path. But as said, it’s so easy to drop off that path. So easy to eat that junk food. So easy to spend that afternoon just playing games. So easy to not write a blog post, rather just do something easier than try to figure out something remotely insightful to tell other people.

Every time you do something that doesn’t take you closer to your goals, you go off the path. Sure, it might be just a small detour, but over the time it really adds up. That’s why the skill is to snap out of it.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with playing games, eating junk food, spending a night drinking beer, whatever it might be that is your vice. I’m all for going for it. As long as it happens with the full knowledge and acute consciousness of the fact that every time you do it, you are sacrificing your progress on the path. That in the end, this moment wasted will see you not make it as far on the path as you could have made. Just a little bit more of your potential won’t be reached. You leave some success on the table that you could have otherwise had.

What’s success anyway? For me it’s getting the things you want out of your life. You might want different things than me. If for you its all about hammering chips to your mouth and playing World of Warcraft, more power to you, you will get a lot of success in your life. If that’s really what you want, then you are better off already than 90 % of the people – you at least know what you really want. For me the goal is to “become awesome”, that might be just the overlaying idea that points to everything in my mind, but in the end that’s what I’m going for.

No one ever became awesome from eating garbage, getting wasted and destructive habits like that. Except Charlie Sheen. You become awesome by putting yourself to the test. By stepping up to the plate each and every day. Each and every hour. Each and every minute. Is that possible? Of course not. But the more you can avoid that reaction of stepping off the path, the longer way you are going to make in the end. To get ahead of most of the pack it doesn’t even take that much. The further along the path you get the lonelier it gets. “Come on, come check out these bushes” the other’s will say along the path, but you keep treading along. Only at times you will come across an another walker of the path. But it’s worth it just to see the new landscapes.

So resist that temptation. Leave your phone alone for a moment. Don’t read yet another blog post. Don’t watch any more videos. Get back moving. Get to work.

So yeah, that’s my today’s post, better give it a rest before I get too metaphorical. I hope reading this post helps you stay on your path instead of having just been another detour on it. Stay focused and keep at it! See you next week.

Liked the post? Tickled your mind? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Starting A Yet Another Challenge

I know, it’s getting boring, but that’s what happens…

I’ve been super busy working lately, so again you will have to settle for not so carefully crafted out message. My goal for this week is to re-evaluate my life after the pretty sobering realization last week that I’m not really knowing what I’m doing.

The challenge this time around will be very, very simple and to an extent somewhat easy as well. We could dub it the Consistency Challenge since I’ve been insisting on giving silly titles to all of my challenges.

The Consistency Challenge

I’m tired of constantly forcing myself into complicated schedules and stuff like that, so this time the challenge is really easy – just score at least 30 points in Universal Awesomeness Score every day. During the days that I work I always score that easily – what I’m looking for here is to maintain a level of doing useful stuff during those off days. Thus the name consistency challenge. Scoring 30 points in my system is nothing insane, it’s just decent, but I don’t need to go insane all the time.

Especially at this point of my life. In a month, my GF is going to come to Finland to visit me, and I definitely don’t want to be working brutally hard during that time. Besides, my move away to Malaysia is finally finalized. I will leave my home behind on January 7th. It took me almost two years to achieve, but I’m finally at a place financially and in terms of my capabilities, that I can make the move happen.

What happens now is just enjoying the final few weeks at home. I’m excited for the move cause that will be a total life transition, but I already know it won’t be easy either. That’s why this challenge will run until January 7th. Once that day rolls around, there will be challenge enough in my life without anything self-inflicted.

As for the reward for my challenge… I can’t really think of any. I hope a challenge this easy will be weathered through with just the intrinsic motivation of completing it.

Planning for the Future

As said, I’m choosing to use the time that I have to weigh the options for the future. To think what exactly I’m striving for in the long-term, and what will be my focus on the short-term, what piece of the jigsaw I choose to concentrate for now. I have a general idea of course in my head already, now I need to flesh it out and clarify.

I’m not sure whether I should write out my plans to my blog publicly, whether it would be an useful exercise or not, so let me know what you think.

Throw the comment below!

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

Let’s be honest here. You put on a brave face, talk with conviction, remind yourself of your purpose… but in the end, I have no fucking idea what I’m doing.

Let me elaborate. I’m not saying I’m being insincere when I’m talking about being on a path and whatnot, or that I don’t believe in my own words when I write about “Becoming Awesome”, as I so eloquently have put it in the past. Or something. But really, do I know what I’m talking about? Does anyone know?

I was just on a walk/workout. I sometimes do these when I feel I don’t have the energy for a proper workout – I just go for a mix of jogging, running hard and walking around the village I live in, stop by at the school playground to do a few pull-ups etc. Just enough to break a sweat and get some work for my muscles, but nothing that really gets you jacked.

During my way back, I have a lot of time to think in tranquility. Today I knew I still have a blog post to write, and I kept trying to think of what to write about. Yet my mind would veer into the higher level all the time. Why the fuck am I doing this in the first place. Now let me interfere here, it wasn’t a resentful “why the fuck?” I love my blog. In fact, many of the thoughts I had were of starting to write much more. Which just made me ask, is writing fiction and stories really what I want to be, as I call it, my path? If it’s not that, then what it is?

So you can probably guess I wasn’t really able to put my finger on any good ideas for blog post topics. Not that I’m short of ideas. As said, I want to start writing for this blog much more – but for tonight I needed something I could write quickly. That brings me to writing about how I have no fucking clue about anything. Cause I don’t. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know where I’m going. Sometimes I just feel like my life is just a succession of short-term projects and challenges with barely any overarching goals.

But bro, isn’t your goal to “Become Awesome” anyway?

Sure, but what does that even mean? All I have in my mind is a vague idea of myself in the future that I’m unlikely to ever achieve.

Of course, none of this is news. I admitted kind of just floating around without a clear sense of where I’m going in this video I made in Japan:

The challenges I’ve made in the past have given me a sense of purpose. I wake up every day to complete every point on the challenge. The challenge keeps changing often enough for me to not start to question what I’m doing. Is that good or bad? I’ve said many times I think my challenges are a positive thing. I’m totally not stopping doing them. But there comes a time where you should know the bigger picture that the challenges are building towards.

Or should you? In this famous speech, Steve Jobs tells us to trust that at some point the dots will start to connect.

I find the message inspiring, but in the end it just leaves me thinking that I’ve barely started to see the dots that I’m supposed to start connecting. 

In the end, we are all lost, no one really has a clue where he is going, and the only purpose you have on this Earth is the one you construct for yourself.

I don’t know if this post made any sense, just like I don’t really know anything else, but perhaps your comment might enlighten me. Drop it below.

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 :)

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