Five Months After Japan

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

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

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

Check out my video below…

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

Squirming Free of the Self-Hypnosis

First week of Spiral of Awesomeness™ Challenge has passed, and it has lead to a pretty big epiphany as I were fast out of the blocks turning a rut that has lasted a whole year so far into my 2nd most productive week of all-time. 

Laziness is a Self-Hypnosis

It was kind of off-putting to realize few days into the Spiral of Awesomeness™ Challenge that all this time I have just been an unfocused, undisciplined little bitch. I mean on some level I have realized it all along, but when you all the sudden burst into near your past peak performance after having spent the whole year in a rut, it really only makes you realize one thing – inability to do things, laziness, lack of focus… it’s all a self-hypnosis. You just hypnotize telling yourself “it’s hard to write every day for three hours. ” “It’s hard to do 7 hours worth of things every day.”

But it really isn’t hard at all. What happens is just that you never really decided to do it. I’m not saying that you can just decide “oh I’m gonna work 8 hours a day from now on” when all you’ve been doing is smoking weed for past decade. What I am saying though is that the things that probably seem hard to you aren’t as hard as you think they are, if you just commit to it.

Committed Action

Whole idea of setting external rewards for me was ultimately needed to make my brain realize that this is what I’m doing now, and I’m fully committed to it. That’s what is needed – commitment. Real commitment, and by that I mean commitment to the extent that you can show your primitive brain that you are serious about this thing. For me it was rewards what ultimately worked here. In Japan I was on a difficult challenge without having external reward – the environment rooted me to the commitment I had. My brain realized that I was serious about this without external rewards needed.

I’m still by no means being hard-working enough, and my girlfriend who works in the corporate world keeps being baffled how little I get done with my days, but in the end at least now I’m approaching my best so far, and can keep pushing myself further. If anything it just goes to show that I’ve not really demanded enough of myself. Even looking at my dad I see it – my dad’s not the healthiest person in the world by any means, yet he works almost every single hour of the day. He comes home after 10+ hour days and then goes to his workshop to fix something, maybe after just napping.

Makes me see that there really isn’t any excuses. Simple people like my dad never needed personal development. If anything, all self-development can be squeezed into one sentence.

“Just do it.”

Constantly Pushing Yourself

If you just stick to your comfort zone, you’re just gonna set another self-hypnosis on yourself. Things will seem intimidating and difficult to you, and it’s all imaginary. That’s why you need to push yourself to the edge constantly. Remind yourself, time and time again, that it is just a self-hypnosis. I believe I can go much higher than I went last week now. It feels perhaps intimidating and uncomfortable to go for it, but thanks to the epiphany of it all being a self-hypnosis I feel more confident going for it.

You can reach amazing heights if you keep constantly pushing your edge. I’m not talking about productivity even, even though it is the context I’m talking of here. I’m talking of everything. Growing as a person. Pushing yourself is the foundation of really becoming awesome.

For me my new mp3-player is now finally earned, and I will keep pushing for further 7 weeks to earn my final reward as well. We will see if Spiral of Awesomeness™ ultimately is worthy of its name within few weeks.

So yeah, I hope my today’s post wasn’t too banal, as always let me know what you thought of it in the comments.

Train Your Brain

Alright, so as my mailing list members know, I have decided to start to post weekly to my blog, with new post guaranteed to come every Monday. Just wanting to see some consistency in my blog posting. Today I’m gonna talk about training your brain to make it more capable of surviving the demands becoming awesome requires from it and discuss stuff like brain chemistry, which I quite frankly don’t understand anything of. So should be entertaining at the very least!

Is Your Mind in a Haze?

Most people don’t have very clear thinking. I know cause I’ve personally experienced both the clearer thinking and the so-called “haze”. Most people simply have completely wrong state of mind to even think clearly. Their thinking is results-oriented and not process-oriented, which makes them look for shortcuts to get the result instead of fully embracing the process that it requires to get the result?

You still with me on this? No? Well let’s move on anyway. There’s another type of haze (though they often go hand in hand) as well, and that has to do with a lot of things I don’t understand much of, that relate to brain chemistry. With a combination of poor nutrition and other habits, people have messed up brain chemistry that makes their thinking fuzzy, unfocused, and essentially makes them completely lazy. Lack of self-discipline stems from here.

This is the complete opposite of awesomeness. I can’t explain you scientifically what this is based because I’ve not read much about brain chemistry, I just know that that’s the reason it stems from and I have experienced the effects.

My Experience in Hazy Thinking

I was on the top of my life last November. I had just finished a hard work stretch, working more than ever to finish my first ever Kindle book, Healthy Eating. After I finished, perhaps a sense of satisfaction creeped in, and I started to lose the focus that I had. I became lazier and because Christmas time approached, I started eating much more bad foods. I binged on stuff like chocolate and other sweets. Then I got FIFA13 as Christmas present. I was already on a downward spiral, and now even games entered the picture.

All these vices affected to my brain chemistry. As I said, I don’t exactly understand the mechanics, I only understand what I experienced. It has something to do with junk food, games and my other vices affecting my dopamine, which is the hormone in brains that makes sure you do stuff.

So I ended up becoming laziest I’ve ever been. I simply couldn’t fathom pulling myself back to working. I simply wanted to play more FIFA, or binge on junk food. My mind was loose. I was having hard time sitting down and even focusing on writing for a while, let alone for three hours like I do today. The slow process of pulling myself out of it started.

Pulling Out of the Defocused Mind

Like I said, lot comes down to your brain chemistry so things like nutrition help a lot. People who go vegan often cite that they experience much clearer thinking as a result. From what I gather its because of the added greens (veggies = brain food). I’ve not personally experienced this because frankly I don’t load up on greens as much as I even preached in my book. Needless to say, nutrition is a big piece of the puzzle to get your mind focused.

The other part is simply starting to take the right actions to get your brain working for you. My whole Spiral of Awesomeness™ challenge is based around this idea. I want to avoid the things that make my brains fry with instant gratification, such as masturbation and junk food, thus messing up my dopamine levels and probably much other stuff in my brain chemistry, while adding things that build my self-discipline and willpower.

Hard to understand stuff aside, the key distinction here is delayed gratification vs. instant gratification. You need to learn to love delayed gratification and avoid instant gratification. That’s not to say you should cut all instant gratification out of your life, but significantly decrease it. Ultimately learning to go for delayed gratification is better for you.

That’s why I’m strongly opposed to places like Facebook. Essentially Facebook is just this big machine that has millions of people plugged into it to receive small surges of instant gratification, making them inefficient to do much more work as a result.

The way I pulled out of my fucked up mode was to go completely cold turkey on FIFA and improving my nutrition. I found myself starting to write more. Even when I played games with my friend Niko, which we do a lot, I didn’t let my mind get dragged into that results-oriented haze. I focused on the process. Fully immersed myself in it.

This games thing is definitely something I need to look more into in the future, cause I believe that gaming is seriously impairing some of ours ability to work hard. But that’s for another post.

In a nutshell, to get your brain functioning better you need to load up on greens, cut processed shit out of your food intake, and after that just work on your mind. Best ways to train your brain is focused work on some big project, do meditation, and whatever you can do, fully immersed in the process. To get good at focus only way is to practice focus. Focus is essentially the key to training your loose brain into something that’s capable of big feats.

So I hope that made sense, of course let me know in the comments if it did. Speaking of lack of focus, for some reason I always feel my blog posts are haphazard and defocused. Maybe that will get better now that I settle into the weekly posting schedule. See you people next week. I’ll head to my three hours of daily writing again.

 

Spiral of Awesomeness™

I know many of you probably started thinking I failed my 12-week challenge since I’ve not been posting in over three weeks… Well, the fact is that I’ve been very much succeeding in my challenge and thus not simply had time to write to my blog. In today’s post I’m going to discuss how I’m upgrading 12-week challenge to a whole new Spiral of Awesomeness™ Challenge. 

The Six Hours of Everyday Awesomeness

For this challenge I started with the foundation that it should take 6 hours every day. That way, it is at least theoretically possible for me to do this on top of a 12-hour work day. I need to be capable of that, for those days will come along. So I didn’t add any more than 6 hours worth of habits to it.

While I have all the time on my hands, the challenge will still be difficult because of the time constraints. Let’s go through what the Spiral of Awesomeness ™ Challenge constitutes of. Half of the time goes to the “Path” I’m following, then there’s a good chunk of physical maintenance and one habit of mental maintenance. Ultimately this challenge is all about improving your mental patterns and clarity, as even physical activities improve that.

The Path ~3-4 hours

I’ll tell you a little secret here. For my three hours of writing, it actually takes me 4-5 hours. Why? Cause I’m unforgiving on myself. I actually go by the number I’ve actually written. As you might know, I write on this site called 750words.com – the site measures the time you’ve actually spent typing.

So if I’m not typing, the minutes won’t rack up. I will just be staring the screen.

But yeah, that’s what I mean by the “path.” The skill or endeavour you’ve chosen as your life path, you do for at least three hours a day, every day, without fail.

During those three hours you just stay as focused on working the skill on your path. It doesn’t even matter that much if you’re working on your big projects. The important thing is to put the practice in, and not be just going through the motions. Focused quality practice.

As much as this activity trains you in whatever you’re doing, it trains your mind in general as well.

For me, writing three hours a day was something horrible initially. I’d rather put a bullet in my head than had to face writing for next three hours. It still doesn’t go smoothly. But the beating of the resistance in itself is what makes it worth it, and what really trains your mind. It brings a sense of accomplishment to every day.

Working out 20 minutes-2 hours

I counted working out as a two hour component, cause basically it takes me that much when I do really hard workouts, counting in all the warm-up etc. that belongs into the process. On those days I’m either physically wrecked from yesterday’s workout, work or from footy, or short on time, I can do just a 20 minute one. I don’t believe in having rest days in your workouts, better just to keep habit up and have active rest by doing easier workouts on those days the exercise regimen is starting to kick your ass.

Stretching/Yoga 30 minutes

For me, stretching works on both your mind and body. The whole idea of yoga is this – you’re fully focused on the movement. Whether its yoga or stretching won’t matter too much, though yoga is generally more effective, but the important thing is to just do this important piece of body maintenance. If I didn’t stretch, and I’ve had a lot of these patches of late, my generally sedentary lifestyle just destroys me.

Meditation 30 minutes

I’ve normally tried meditation only for 20 minutes a time, but people have said the effects are better on 30 minutes, so I will try that. I don’t really care what form of meditation you do. I sort of do it as explained on this video. Only difference I actually do my meditation standing (none of the seated positions feel quite right to me). For me, all it is is just focused presence. Not being caught in the mental chatter. It is still there, but I’m not caught in it. I am yet to ever fully cultivate this habit so I can’t speak for its benefits, but I a lot of people praise it, and its positive benefits are scientifically proven. I know I sound reeaally convincing, but just take my word for it. If you don’t believe in meditation I gotta direct you to this world famous picture of Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc.

Thich Quang Duc

You can’t deny effects of meditation when seeing that expression.

What strikes me in that picture is how calm and composed he is as he is burning to death. Now I’m not commenting on the act itself, but how focused, how peaceful in your mind you have to be to be burning to death yet not even flinch in pain or in fear? He didn’t move until his charred corpse fell on its back. I’m not saying self-immolation is necessarily admirable, but the way he did it is what really makes me go “I want to be able to do that.” I’m sure if he was here the Spiral of Awesomeness™ Challenge would have been just a joke to him, too easy.

I actually have the picture of him burning as my desktop wallpaper for daily inspiration. But now I’m starting to want to go on tangents, so lets move on.

Only cold showers not long cause you can’t stand it for long

I don’t know and I won’t look up the physiological effects of cold showers. I’d imagine it boosts up your circulation, or something. I don’t really care about that because we areI am only going to do this as a mental challenge for the duration of the challenge, and not as a permanent habit. I got the idea initially from Julien Smith’s excellent free book, The Flinch. He talked how we “flinch” getting under the cold water, and it is similar mental process as going for something that might be a bit scary, like talking to a pretty girl, or doing a video blog in public (speaking from experience here).

Taking only cold showers trains you to go against that mental process. To move forwards, as opposed to retreating when you feel the flinch. It really trains you to recognize it, and to just do it. Get the unpleasantness over with.

Even with as cold as the water is here, you get used to it in few seconds anyway. Well, except for the head. As cold as the  water is here, it cools your head too much so I think its unhealthy.

I couldn’t do this challenge in Malaysia, for the “cold showers” I got in there were actually much warmer than the middle setting is here.

Additional Challenge: 1 hour of reading a day

I admit right away I don’t read enough. So I will throw this challenge on as an “if there’s time” bonus for myself. It takes the theoretical time spending over the pre-designated 6 hours, but for me this is important.

I Will Stop Doing These

To further amp up the mental effects of the challenge, I am going to include some habits I have to stop, because they are messing up your mind and body. Abstaining from these temptations becomes easier because while very busy anyway, but that’s not to say many of these would be challenging on their own, let alone as a part of a bigger challenge like this. Let’s go through the things I want to abstain from.

Masturbation

There’s a whole site dedicated on telling you what’s this all about, called YourBrainOnPorn. I didn’t know if what was said on the site was true when I discovered it in late 2011. It might have been just sensationalist propaganda. But I gave it a shot. I stopped masturbating and porn for two months (one of the hardest things I ever did) and hoo boy, let me tell you. It really had a strong effect on me and my mental clarity. I would imagine it is very individual as well, the effects.

Eight weeks will be almost that same two months so if I manage the challenge again (I’ve pretty much fallen back to my old habits) I should feel the same effects.

Eating junk food

For me, junk food means snack foods like chips and popcorn, all kinds of sweets and soda. Anything that has a lot of refined sugar, really. It all hazies up your mind and causes that same response in dopamine as excessive masturbation, making you lazy as a result (not that I claim I understand anything about brain chemistry. I just understand the effect from experiencing it).

Drinking anything but water

I know what you’re thinking now. “You gotta be kidding me, right?”

No. I’m not kidding.

I personally don’t drink any alcohol, and very rarely soda either. So this only means giving up juice and milk.

Think about it, what sense would it make to cut refined sugars out of your diet, if you still drank soda? What sense would it make to start meditating, if you’re still just re-blurring your mind by taking alcohol? It only makes sense to drink just water.

Water is the best drink. I’m talking pure water here. No carbonated water. No flavored water. Just plain old water. That is only thing that’s allowed.

No music

Look, I have nothing against music and personally love nothing else but obnoxiously listening to metal in public so loud that everyone else can hear what I’m listening in my headphones as well. That said, within the context of this challenge I want my full focus to be in whatever I’m doing. Even for working out I actually have experienced that music pumps you up into higher intensity, but I’m not allowing it for even workouts. For this challenge I want to shift my brain into a more process-oriented mode, where it doesn’t distract itself in any way at all. Normally I’d do stretching at least with music. Now it will just be focused silence.

Wrapping the Spiral of Awesomeness™ Challenge Up

That is the challenge, in a nutshell. Think its difficult enough? It is not as difficult as Self-Discipline Challenge, but there’s a lot of ways I can screw this thing up.

It is a very difficult challenge. I know it myself, and I know that there will be days where I will have spent 12 hours working with dad and come home, having this mountain of tasks waiting still ahead of me. I know that at those days, I’m liable to break.

But I’m going to go for it regardless. I know all these habits would just compound my awesomeness.

It would be impossible if I just started to go without any external motivators. I’m finishing fourth week of 12-week challenge. This was supposed to be the landmark where I earn the purchase of new mp3-player. Now I’m going to shift it’s earning to after first week of this Spiral of Awesomeness™ Challenge. I need it to get moving. Once I’m in the groove, it will get much easier, that’s what I found with the writing three hours challenge in itself. That said, you still need to put in effort every day. I allow myself forgetting couple of times something, cause this really is a lot to remember. During this week I’ve been warming up for the challenge, testing the habits already. I for example forgot I was supposed to drink only water and drank a glass of juice.

Stuff like that might happen once the challenge really starts tomorrow, so I allow myself two times of forgetting something, before counting the challenge failed. The challenge will run for the total of 8 weeks, the amount of time there was remaining in 12-week Challenge. My reward for completion will remain the same, though I don’t really know how I’m going to make another trip to Malaysia if I want to make it to World Cup in Brazil next year as well… But that’s a story for later on.

Ultimately the goal is to whip my mind into completely different shape. Into a more self-disciplined, more aware, more present and more focused shape. No more mental haze.

Let me know what you think of the challenge in the comments. Due to short notice and ridiculous difficulty level of the challenge, I don’t expect anyone to join me, but you might join me on individual habits.

12-Week Challenge

I’m back, and again preparing for some sort of mental challenge. This time it will be easier though, in a sense, cause I’m not stuffing myself up with a lot of things to do. So what is the 12-week challenge all about this time? Simple – the goal I set at the start of the year: to write 3 hours every day. 

External Motivation

I’ve learnt my lesson from the miserably failed Self-Discipline Challenge so as well as being easier, I’m making sure I’m being more motivated with this challenge by giving myself external rewards to strive for. How do I do this? By adding some carrots to different milestones along the way, thus also splitting the larger goal into smaller goals.

That’s one thing I definitely didn’t give for myself in terms of Self-Discipline Challenge. There wasn’t a clear reward to follow for sticking to the insane schedule I had designed myself, so it was no wonder I ended up failing. I also didn’t probably at any point fully believe I could achieve my goal of total adherence to the schedule, as it was a too big of a pill to swallow at once. Now not only will I start completing my goal day and a week at a time, I also have clear reward to strive for in the end, and even in the different parts of the way.

Rewarding Myself

So I’ve established I’m set to write 3 hours (of fiction) every day for the next 12 weeks. How I’m going to reward myself for all of this? I always believed stuff like this should be something that you just do out of internal motivation, but looking back at almost everything “great” (your mileage may vary) I’ve achieved in the past, it has almost always come through external pressure/motivation. Let’s go through some of those, it’s an amusing exercise to say the least:

  • I juice-fasted (max 400 cal/day) for 5½ days in 2011. External motivation: Competition against my sister. I won.
  • I watched all Simpsons episodes (about 450 at the time) in one month in 2010. External motivation: Just to be able to say that… though in hindsight its something I never bragged about, watching 10 hours a day of terrible episodes towards the back end of it isn’t that cool…
  • I completed a march of about 50 km with full battle gear and having to stay hidden. External motivation: Well it was in the army.
  • I did a complex skill practice challenge regarding football, requiring certain minimums every day for over two months (in total I practiced for over 400 days in a row). External motivation: I promised to buy myself a Javier Zanetti (my favorite player) jersey as a reward… and I did – that said if anything on my list is also internally motivated its this – I wouldn’t have done 400 days in a row without that.
  • I worked hard and completed my first niche site in early 2012. External motivation: I needed money for Malaysia trip. Ironically the site started bringing money much later.
  • I worked hard and completed my first Kindle ebook in late 2012. External motivation: I needed money for the Japan trip. Ironically I only received my first cheque after the trip, even if it immediately started making sales.

Well, I’d think you get the point. I’d say in the end most of the things we do are somehow externally motivated, so my previous paradigm of kind of resenting it was very flawed indeed. Whatever gets you moving should be used, especially when you want to create the life you want. I mean lets face it, I’m not doing 3 hours of writing for whatever rewards I set for myself. I’m doing it to change my life for the better, to engrain the professional attitude towards writing into me, to write a lot more than I’m currently writing, and to get a lot of shit done that ultimately will lead to a better life.

Your Brain Needs to Actually Believe It

So why can’t you just say: “Okay, I’m gonna write 3 hours every day to improve my life.” Shouldn’t that be easily sufficient motivation? Well anyone who has tried to just adopt a habit like that knows it doesn’t quite work that way. Your brain can’t grasp after completing few days how it’s going to change your life. It’s not seeing any change. So you rationalize and eventually fall off the habit. So you have to set another perk for it to complete the desired task. Think of your brain as a different entity to you altogether. Kind of like a dog to train. I mean that’s what your brain ultimately still is – you’re just an animal capable of thinking. That brain is still very primal and primitive. So you gotta treat it that way.

Set tangible rewards, for goals it actually believes it can achieve. I’m going to set my rewards here and provide a little bit of explanation for it all.

Day 1

Reward: Night of gaming various games.

After completing the day 1 and starting my challenge on the right path, I’m going to start training the animal that is my brain with a gaming session. As you might know I’m a recovering video game addict, that said I’ve managed to wean off of that lately so I’m not worried of a relapse if I use games as a reward after completing my daily quota.

Week 1

Reward: Get myself a mini ball.

One week in and the challenge will be off to a promising start. The first few days are among the hardest to slog out, but the first tangible reward will be only a few days away. I’ve needed a mini ball for a while, for something that you can easily carry with you anywhere and do some skill practice if you have some downtime. Would be awesome, so should keep me very motivated for first week – for these to be real rewards, I can’t get one if I don’t succeed in this.

Week 2

Reward: As I can’t come up with anything, I’ll let my gf come up with something.

Now the challenge will be starting to gain momentum, yet during the second week the brain will easily start to rationalize – no letting it do such things, as the eyes will be firmly on the second reward.

Week 4

Reward: A new mp3 player.

One third in and since we are near the month mark, the animal that is my brain is slowly starting to get used to writing 3 hours a day. Its time to reward it big time. My bit over year-old iPod Nano go busted recently and while I never really needed nor wanted an mp3 player (got mine for Christmas), I kinda got used to it during the year I had it. So if I make it to the four week mark, I’ll get myself a new one – probably will not go Apple way, since the new Nano sucks for what I use it for and rest of the iPods have excessive features (and price) for what I need.

Week 8

Reward: Will figure it out later.

Two thirds completed and I’m nearing the end of the challenge. This is the final intermediate goal needed as momentum and seeing final reward within my grasp should see me through.

Week 12 – The Completion

Reward: Return to Malaysia + Bungee Jumping

I’ve won the challenge, and earnt the ultimate reward. I ignore whatever the financial constraints I have and just reward myself with a return to Malaysia. My finances at that point will determine if I can stay for extended period or if it will just be another short-term visit, but regardless to further amp myself up for the trip I’ve decided I’ll do reward myself with a bungee jump.

Now that might seem cruel and unusual punishment to most of you, so how come I’m using it as a reward? Well, the idea excites me, so it just might be the kind of thing that will push me through resistance when I am having hard time. Time will tell if it is a good potential reward.

This is the first time I use external rewards in such structured manner. Will see how this goes. My life has been slowly recovering after horrible start of the year (nothing bad has happened – I’ve just been out of whack and having completely lost my productivity) and I’m certain this challenge will go better than Self-Discipline Challenge.

Now if you will excuse me, I’ll go play games after having just finished my first three-hours of daily writing!

If this post invoked any thoughts, share them in the comments!

Scrapping the Self-Discipline Challenge

Well, this was a tad predictable, wasn’t it? Sergio was right in the end, and I knew it was going to be hard – too hard in the end. Maybe I’ll try this again when I have built up my willpower, for now it really wasn’t working. Week three was better than first two weeks in some regards, but in terms of actually following the schedule… none of it was happening. Sure I had patches of productivity but none of it was along my schedule. So it is pretty worthless to have one if you’re not going along it.

In the end all of the posts, writing and thinking relating to it was a bit of a waste. But nothing really is ultimately a complete was, even failures are lessons. For me the lesson is that my life is in too much of a flow at the moment for me to try to adhere to anything rigid.

But I can’t just be completely undisciplined either. What I will focus on from now on is just fighting those small battles with my willpower to get work done daily, to get my fitness back in order. I should be at the peak shape of my life, and I probably can hit the peak shape of my life this year, but I need to start working out to do that. Work and work out, that should be my mantra from now on. Doesn’t matter what time is it, as long as I keep doing it.

I’m intending to start posting much more frequently here as well, but that’s something I’m always intending, isn’t it? We will see what happens. Ultimately I thank you if you’ve followed along me on this ultimately fruitless journey, lets hope to something better in the future.

Self-Discipline Challenge Week 2 Review

Well, before we look at the stats (and there isn’t much to look at), I gotta say that this was the ultimate embarrasment of a week, and also that this is exactly what happened between my numerous restarts while I wasn’t posting. Basically what happens is that I just fall off the wagon… completely. There’s not just minor fumbling for me either, I fully crash when things don’t go well.

Daily goals completed 0 / 5

Morning routines completed 0 / 7

Evening routines completed 0 / 7

Points scored -483

I know. You didn’t know that much minus points is even possible in my point system. It shouldn’t be, either. It would have been borderline impossible last year for me to score that much negative even during my bad weeks. But you know, I’ve made punishment for my vices much more severe this year, and last week was all about indulging in them.

I’m not going to throw excuses. I just never even tried. That’s the worst way to fail, right? Regardless, if this week is a similar catastrophe, I am going to simply give up on this challenge and look for some alternative way to kick-start my productivity (though obviously it is clear that no matter what I do, I always will have to use self-discipline – it’s just that I’d give up on this challenge).

For next week, I’ll simplify my daily goals a bit. I will have to establish certain culture of completing them, other wise I might as well not make goals. So for next week they are very simple and straight forward for every day:

Daily goal for EVERY DAY: Add 500 words to my novel and add 500 words to some other story you’re working on.

1000 words of writing a day. Simple enough, you’d think. At least it would mean 7000 words of progress towards my goals every week. I need to become eventually much more prolific to realize the vision I have in my mind, but that will do for a start to get me out of this funk.

Thanks for reading, let me know if you have anything to say in the comments.

Self-Discipline Challenge – Week 1 After Restart

Alright, first week since restarting has passed and it’s time to see what kind of results the first week yielded – I can say right off the cuff that while the improvement over recent weeks was distinct, overall it was very modest, especially compared to last year. I need to improve vastly to even reach those levels. With that being said, let’s delve into the numbers.

Daily goals completed 1 / 5

Morning routines completed 4 / 7

Evening routines completed 4 / 7

Points scored 38

Not perfect indeed, anything but. Every day I managed positive points despite being at lowest nearly 70 points on the negative side on some days, due to indulging in my vices. I ended up not tracking my work that well, so no hourly reports. The most miserable thing of course here is that I didn’t even manage to complete fairly simple daily goals, not until Friday when I absolutely had to complete my goal, just to not make rising back from negative points impossible. Which is actually what I’m facing today as well – I just like digging myself into trouble.

Still, it’s a start and a step towards better direction. Despite only lowly 38 points, it actually was my 4th best week of the year. While it just tells that my year has been pathetic so far, it still points to me slowly getting back from the rut I’ve been in.

So in the end, my weekly goal didn’t get completed. Thus my weekly goal for this week is completion of 3 stories and further progress on my book project.

Daily goals:

Monday: Finish one Fiverr article + publish this post

Tuesday: Finish the long overdue story and start two others, picked from brainstormed ideas or started from scratch.

Wednesday: Add 1000 words to the book and another thousand to one of the stories.

Thursday: Finish the second story of the week, and add further 1000 words on the book.

Friday: Finish the third story, and add 1000 words to the book.

Another Restart of Self-Discipline Challenge

Alright, so I’ve kept failing with my schedule numerous times, and as the week is changing again, I’m going to have an another attempt. I’ve seen my productivity take a slight turn for the better over last few days, so I have feel I might be turning a corner from this slump that, in reality, has been going on since early December. There’s a lot of stuff I’m having to focus on so I should finally be able to crank up the productivity to be able to deal with it.

I’ve made another few tweaks to my schedule. As I said in the original post, the schedule is sound and I like it, but naturally real life experimentation has prompted me to change a few things.

One of the key changes is changing my sleeping pattern a little bit. You see, my most productive times in general coincide with me taking up some polyphasic sleeping pattern that sets the structure for my life. I used to experiment with polyphasic sleep a lot in the past and while I never found a working schedule, I learned a lot about sleep and wrote of my experiences back in the day at blogger. If you want to read some really old stuff I wrote half-delirious under serious sleep deprivation, perhaps that’s something you’d like to check out.

Anyway, I’m not going to go balls out back to polyphasic sleep like I did back in the day. I’m not looking to sleep deprive myself AT ALL. I’m merely forcing a sleeping schedule on me that’s both sustainable and rigid. The sleep schedule will be the skeleton that the day’s will be worked around. At the same time I need it to be more flexible than going to bed at elevenish and waking up at nine. So simple answer is getting up at the same time every day and having two slots for powernaps.

During my polyphasic efforts I learned I could consistently sleep as little as 3½ hours a night, if I just took a nap during the day. Now eventually after few weeks this led to crashing, but the key point is that I functioned. That’s what I’m looking for here – maintaining my ability to function even if sometimes night’s sleep  gets short, yet achieving regularity in my schedule.

For this I’m using flexible polyphasic schedule that I’ve devised based on my experience with polyphasic sleep.

Core: As long as possible but at least 5.5 hours. Wake up at 7 am.

Nap 1: 11.30 – 12.00 am.

Nap 2: 17.30 – 18.00 pm.

That means, that even if I for some reason decide to stay up late, 1.30 am. is the deadzone I will have to be in the bed by. Core sleep can be full night’s sleep as well and ideally it should be that. As for naps, notice how they coincide well with my original schedule, one of them at the end of morning routine, other at the end of work mode.

In polyphasic community 4.5 hours + 2 naps is a very commonly accepted schedule. My minimum core sleep is even longer than that though. Why’s that? Two reasons: First, adding more sleep obviously helps if something doesn’t go as planned. Second, I’ve noticed my sleep cycles are a bit longer than for general population, so that’s why the adjustment. Finally remember this is a new schedule even to me that I’ve not tried, so we will see how my body reacts to it. Again, real life testing might end up with me tweaking it.

In any case, neither of the naps are mandatory. If I’ve slept full night and feel fresh once noon rolls out, no reason to go bed. But if I instead had a long night and slept poorly and feel destroyed, then I’ll take that half an hour respite any day. From my experience just that one nap might be incredibly invigorating. That said, it’s not failsafe either, so sometimes it makes you even more tired. The same rules go for second nap as well.

This schedule has one significant advantage that it shares with other polyphasic schedules – you’re never too far from another sleeptime if you’re tired, making it easier to push through. But in general polyphasic sleeping patterns are rigid – this doesn’t have that problem. If I don’t feel like taking a nap, I simply won’t. Generally speaking polyphasic sleeping patterns are for limiting sleep time while maintaining functionality, but for me the time I sleep doesn’t matter too much. I merely am looking for it to create the structure for me to form my days around.

While this is the only major change, I’ve made minor tweaks to both morning routine and evening routine.

As said, I’ll get up earlier now. However, instead of adding to my morning routine, I’ve taken things off from it. I no longer force myself to work out in addition to playing football. I mean think about it. Football alone suffices for physical exercise. I don’t mean that I stop working out – I just don’t require myself to do it in the morning any more. However, I will still keep doing it most days. Just not every day.

To evening routine I’ve added 10 minutes of cleaning up my room for every day. I’m a chaotic, dirty and messy person. That’s why taking just few minutes at the end of the day to tidy up the places will be a major help to keeping my environment from getting cluttered.

Week 1 Preview

So that all being said, let’s talk about the forthcoming week. As earlier, I will keep tracking the following metrics to measure my progress with my self-discipline challenge:

Daily goals completed ? / 5

Morning routines completed ? / 7

Evening routines completed ? / 7

Points scored ?

Also, I’ll be adding a measurement of hours worked during the week, as the points scored don’t always tell the whole truth. I could score amazing points by just doing yoga all day, which is all fine and dandy, and probably would be really beneficial for me actually… but it doesn’t get stuff done. So that’s why I’ll also follow the work I do.

Another change I’ve decided to do is to start pre-deciding the daily goals before the week and to publish them here – that ought to make me post here at least once a week.

My overall goal is to get to Malaysia by end of the summer, and to achieve that I’ve been looking to build passive income by writing books for Kindle. That’s why my focus is going to keep that way for next week. Cause this is the first week I’m not looking to have very intense daily goals – I just need to start building the habit of succeeding on them, instead of trying to reach for too far. So here goes:

Week’s goal:  Add two finished stories to your platform and keep growing it.

Monday: Finish up the story currently on the works, proofread, edit and upload it to your platform (preparing book launch with free content).

Tuesday: Do some mailing list tweaks, brainstorm at least 15 story ideas.

Wednesday: Add at least 2000 words to your upcoming book.

Thursday: Write a full, short story for your platform.

Friday:  Add 1000 words to your upcoming book, pick 3 story ideas out of earlier brainstormed ones and further prepare them for next week.

I’m intentionally bit vague as this list is primarily just for me. I think I mentioned the reasons why I’m being a bit secretive about this in one of my earlier posts.

In any case, I hope this was interesting, if not, just as well, as I needed to write this to get a bit clearer on my own ideas anyway.

 

Back After Falling Out

What’s up? It’s been nearly a month since my last post, and I haven’t even posted updates on my self-discipline challenge. Why’s that? Well, simply put, I failed miserably.

Also I didn’t just fail my challenge miserably, my whole life fell out of hinges. I fell off all important habits that keep me on track like working out, stretching, meditation… My sleeping pattern flipped around and I was doing nothing productive all day or night. So I’m no closer to getting to Malaysia than a month ago, and I do feel disappointed with myself.

I’m not gonna give off excuses as to why this happened, in fact I think I should look into it more after the fact, now all I need to focus is getting back to track. I’ve been contemplating a few days whether I should get back to my self-discipline challenge, and I think I am going to, at least to some extent. However on some days life just really gets into way of trying to follow a tight schedule like that.

So I’m not going to obsess over making it perfectly every day, instead what I’m aiming for is simply returning to at least basic levels of productivity. I need to stop striving for perfection on 10 % of the days and being completely off on 90 % of the days, and instead maintain consistent effort on 100 % of the days, even if it isn’t perfection.

Some might say that they saw this coming, that a schedule like that is impossible anyway – but I really went beyond just failing that. At the moment, I’m completely failing life and I’m not okay with it. Basically it feels that I’ve returned back to 2010 – it wasn’t any longer than that when all I’d do during my days would be reading blogs, playing games and maybe occasionally writing something. I’m not in a much better place now, let me tell you.

But just like when I don’t stretch for few weeks and restart I feel as stiff as I was years ago and I’m dismayed of it seeming like I’ve lost all the gains of the years of doing it, it only takes a few weeks to come back to that old peak level. It just takes some consistent effort. Any positive effects Japan trip could have had on me were killed off by the fact that I wasn’t putting enough effort in to sustain that momentum.

Another thing that needs changing for me is overthinking where to be productive. Fact is, any productivity is better than no productivity.  So for instance, I hope to post more on this blog as well, even if this blog is anything but a priority to me right now. In any case, it’s time to start hustling my ass off.

On another note, I’ve also kept pounding out record negative point weeks on my points system… Yeah. Tells exactly how unproductive I’ve been. To beat 2012 weekly average I really need to find a whole another level of self-discipline soon.

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