Ultimate Life Plan – Keeping Death In Mind

Every once in a while something reminds me of death. Whether it’s somebody passing away, or simply the presence of disease. And, without fail, I almost always tend to shift into a different state of consciousness. One where I am not caught up in petty thinking, but contemplate about how short and fragile life actually is.

I mean, how is anything anyone ever does relevant in the bigger picture? In short, it isn’t.

Even if I were to cure cancer and save generations of people to come, it would still fade in comparison to the vast and inconceivable dimensions of the universe. A short blink on the radar of universe’s existence.

Given I continue to take care of myself and with a bit of luck in the generic lottery, I might hit age 90. From any human’s perspective, that seems like a damn long time. (Especially if you’re waiting to retire.)

Compare that to the measured age of the universe: 13.82 billion years.

Case closed.

Yet, I have to admit that death has something relieving about it. In a way, it releases you from many burdens when you realize that, ultimately all of life is pointless, insignificant and more like a games console. All that really matters is which game you put in. And it better has multiplayer mode.

On an average day, I am usually caught up with day-to-day activities. Which is fine, as I work on my goals most of the time and know the purpose. However, an element of urgency is certainly missing.

That manifests itself in the lack of risk I take in certain areas and that I rarely focus on actually enjoying life in the moment. (Versus postponing feeling good for when I have achieved a certain goal.).

We’ve all read the quote, “Live each day as if it was your last.” I would like to know how much damage this single quote has done. I can only imagine how many lives have been ruined.

Plain stupid. What does it suppose anyway?

Blowing all your money? Quitting your job today?

Really not in any way useful advice to conducting life.

In rare moments where I can almost feel the shortness of life, I take a step back and ponder about what I actually want in this lifetime – beyond my monthly and yearly goals.

One of my role models has recently been asked about how he plans his days. His answer?

If you’re waiting to plan the day, you’re in trouble. I plan what I want to accomplish in this decade.

He basically has a rough outline for every decade of his life, up until his 80ties.

What a great idea to direct your life.

It’s not about being super anal about every year – nobody knows what might happen along the way – but all about having a general idea about what you want. 5, 10, 20, 40 years from now. Being less of a leaf in the wind.

Having thought about this before, my objection has been, “How can I possibly plan ahead further than a year? I wouldn’t know what I want 5 or 10 years from now.

But again, it’s not about putting a life plan in stone, just having direction.

The way this is done is based on the same principles as yearly planning. Only this time, thinking unrealistically is a must. A lifetime is a long time and compared to a year (pretty much) anything is possible. It doesn’t have to be very specific, just something, you can create long-term and eventually a yearly goal off.

Then from there, it’s as simply as planning your week and achieving certain outcomes on a daily basis.

I have also found this to be the best way to counter distractions. Prior I might have thought I am missing out on something but now when I compare it against my life goals, I realize – going out on a certain day, etc. – has no importance at all.

Beyond helping to plan life long-term, death also serves as a powerful reminder that I always need to step it up a notch and need to make and implement decisions faster. Time is limited and thinking about something insignificant for too long is a poor investment of this resource.

I’ll end this article with the best quote I’ve come across on this topic.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

How To Recover Your Body – Easy, Painless And Minimalist

When it comes to taking care of my body, I like to following the same approach as in most other endeavors in life: aiming for the minimum effective dose and staying minimalistic at all times.

Thus, in practice, this really comes down to sleep and diet.

These are the 2 big players in rejuvenating the body and making growth happen. Yes, growth is stimulated during a phase of demand – e.g. during a workout – but without proper rest, growth can’t manifest. I’ve been working out in the gym for over a year know and don’t experience muscle soreness much anymore (other than when I take a break for a week or two).

Recovery is mainly about the physical part, yet the mind always has the power of veto. Meaning, without taking care of the mental health, fundamental things such as sleep issues can tear you up.

However, using proven ways to rest body and mind, life can certainly be experienced at a higher level, and so can productivity.

Obviously, in order to improve anything here, routines need to be established for the following:

  • Sleep
  • Diet
  • Exercise

Once these 3 are taken care of, I really do stick to the basics.

For the physical part, it’s pretty straight-forward and I do a variety of these.

My Body, My Temple

Sleep obviously is the most important part, with the criteria being length, depth and consistency. Once these are taken care of, it’s all about fine tuning the rest. (Sleep can often be an issue, which is most likely mind-related – see suggestions later in this article.)

I honestly can’t be bothered doing a lot on rest days – most of it would probably be counter-productive anyway. As a cheap alternative to massages, I am using my BlackRoll, which I’ve found to be a great investment.

Cold Baths? Yeah, here and there.

Cardio? Nope. I actually considered this one, but talking to a couple of coaches, I’ve learned that it isn’t recommended during recovery between weight lifting days.

Water is another big item on my list, on a typical day that can amount to up to 5 liters (170 oz.). I’ve used a rebounder occasionally in the past, but wasn’t quite convinced. It’s a great way to getting started in the morning and supposed to be very healthy. I recommend everyone giving it a try though, since a low-end rebounder only sets you back around $40.

Epson salt is also pretty cheap – I’ve done these baths regularly a while ago and want to get started again. Cheap, painless and great to release stress and detox the body.

Control Center: Shutdown

Getting the mind to calm down can sometimes always be tricky.

Even before meditation, I feel the most important strategy is getting stuff out of my head. That means planning (goal planning and daily scheduling), journaling and consistently putting ideas and thoughts on paper. There should be nothing bothering me that I haven’t written down already before going to bed.

Right after that, meditation has it’s place to calm the mind and ground myself in the present moment. It can quickly seem like a huge waste of time, but is actually quite productive given the overwhelming amount of benefits related to meditation.

There are various ways such as simply sitting still and focusing each breath, TM meditation and countless others. I simply set the timer for 20 minutes and count breaths. (At this point, I sometimes do it without the timer and simply count breaths to 250+, which is 20+ minutes anyway.)

Nonetheless, to stay sane, I’ve also found that there needs to be a certain amount of social engagements and/or variety. Socializing or simply talking to friends also helps getting my mind off things and change focus. Especially when I’ve worked at something for an extended period of time – it helps going back at it refreshed!

Mastering Sleep – Fixing Sleep Problems, Waking Up Refreshed

Sleep hasn’t been much of an issue in previous years, but lately I’ve been suffering from lack of sleep – occasionally severe sleep deprivation. This has not only been the result of poor sleep hygiene, but mostly of my own inability to deal with a variety of issues head-on.

There have been numerous occasions – something everyone has probably experienced – where I couldn’t fall asleep simply because I was worried about something or just couldn’t stop thinking. In fact, this is probably the primary cause behind most of my restless nights.

I’ve noticed that when things are going well in life and I feel content, falling asleep – quickly and without any problems – is pretty much automatic. I wake up the next day perfectly relaxed and ready to take on new challenges.

The issue really becomes alarming when there’s something really, really bothering me and I don’t want to let go. Where I feel like I constantly need to thing about it in order to find a solution. Staying up late then results in a screwed up sleep pattern, naps during the day and issues falling asleep at night.

Yes, I could skip taking a nap and go to bed at the regular time. That does work, but only occasionally.

The real challenge is getting all my thoughts and worries out of my head and on paper. Then dealing with it appropriately.

The simply act of writing down all of the things that I am thinking about does help a lot, and so does setting goals. I will cover both of these in more detail in upcoming articles. Goal setting and then writing out the actual action steps that will lead to the desired result has been the most helpful approach.

That is the way to deal with emotional issues related to sleep. And yes, it’s the more difficult part to deal with. The other part is the physical one, and the solutions that have worked for me are pretty straight-forward.

Lying in bed for sometimes more than an hour, waiting to fall asleep is pretty frustrating. I’ve learned to just get up and STAY up until I am really tired and then go to bed. That really has been the only solution that worked.

I can’t just go to bed based on the time of the day. Yes, it might be 2 a.m. but if I am not tired enough, there’s no point going to bed.

Just last week, I’ve decided to give L-Theanine a try, which is supposed to help with relaxation. I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t respond to this supplement at all, given that I had tried many others before that didn’t work. Still, the best way I’ve found is to get up and only go back to bed when I really do feel tired.

The single best book I’ve read on the topic of sleep clearly has been “Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance“, which helped me realize that I had plenty of misconceptions about what good sleep actually looks like.

For example, I always thought that you should fall asleep right away when you lie down. That’s the ideal scenario. Wrong! If you fall asleep immediately, that would most likely mean you are already sleep deprived. The norm should be to lie there for 10, even 15 minutes and then fall asleep.

I never thought that sleep would make much of a difference until I made the resolution to go to bed at the same time for 2 weeks straight.

The difference between lack of sleep and a well rested night/regular sleep pattern – incomparable!

Many of the problems – such as lack of motivation, feeling that nothing makes sense, brain fog – were actually just symptoms of massive sleep deprivation. Prior to shaking things up, I thought that’s how things ought to be.

Another realization I’ve had was that I generally do better staying up late and then waking up almost around noon. Perhaps it’s simply because I enjoy this time of the day much more – it’s quiet, nobody’s bothering you and there’s really nothing else to do then to be productive.

Stephen Guise – Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results Book Review

A couple of months ago, I came across the book “Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results” and was quite surprised that there’s a self help book that is void of motivational fillers and actually contains useful information.

That book and it’s concepts presented really hit home, I have rarely resonated with so many ideas presented in a single book.

Quite simply put, this book recognized how we humans really work and what the actual challenges are. Instead of “motivating”, I’ve learned strategies on how to get going even in face of strong, habitual procrastination.

I have personally experienced procrastination and the barrier of starting a certain task far too often. Hell, I experience it every day, even in the process of writing this article.

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The main idea presented in “Mini Habits” is nothing new, but explained in detail and backed up with scientific research about why it works.

  • If you procrastinate, start with something stupid small.

That pretty much sums up the entire concept behind of book. Of course, there’s more to it.

If you want to do 100 push ups every day, you might be able to do that for a couple of days, but eventually you’ll break down. Motivation might help you to get started initially, but it never last. At some point, you won’t feel inspired or motivated and decide to abandon this new habit you were so eager to adopt.

The problem is that the task hasn’t become automatic, doing 100 push ups daily isn’t a habit yet.

Mini Habits recommends to take a different approach. Instead of going all in, you start with 1 push up and once that has become a habit, you simply increase the number.

You can do this with …

  • Writing – Start With 100 Words Per Day
  • Socializing – Talk To 1 Stranger Per Day
  • Working Out – Go For A 5 Minute Run
  • Reading – Start With 5 Pages Per Day

The possibilities are endless and once the task has become habitual, you won’t need much willpower anymore. Then you can use your willpower resources to up the ante or adopt an entirely new habit.

Willpower is a finite resource that needs to be managed carefully, that’s why you should only adopt 2-3 new habits at a time, otherwise it can quickly become overwhelming.

Another cornerstone of the “Mini Habits” approach is that you have to perform you habit daily. Every single day, without exception or cheating. Only then will it really become ingrained.

[thrive_headline_focus title=”Reading ‘Mini Habits'” orientation=”center”]

Mini Habits” is available as a book (which I’ve bought), but also as video course on Udemy. I honestly preferred the written version, however the video course does a better job at demonstrating the key concepts. There’s also plenty of bonus material included which is not part of the book. Visual demonstrations are obviously a benefit of the video course.

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Overall, I really enjoyed this book, mainly because it was really straight-forward and entirely B.S. free, which is a problem with many other books. The advice is solid and can be used immediately.

The only thing I’ve personally experienced is that this concept doesn’t work in all areas. For example taking baby steps when socializing – talking to salespeople – doesn’t really make it easier to approach women. I’ve found that the only way that works for me is to go directly for what I want.

However, I also have friends for whom baby steps work perfectly well. They talk to random people and then they are socially lubricated enough easily talk to any women. So, I guess this more of a personal thing and can vary. Where I’ve found this approach work to work well is when it comes to approaching girls in the club and I’ve used it plenty of times.

Another point that the author addressed was “not wanting to want”. I cracked up reading this part, simply because I could relate to it so well. You know, when you are supposed to do something, but you don’t feel like doing it. And further, you don’t want to want to want doing it. This idea was used to demonstrate how far remove we can sometimes be from actually doing something and that taking a tiny step, rather than relying motivation is the way to go.

This book is about strategy on how to condition your brain to do the things you want to do. It recognizes the volatility of motivation and willpower. If there’s one self help book I had to recommend, it would be “Mini Habits”.

My Supplements – Closing Deficiencies, Boosting Health

The simple act of eating healthy, or investing time or money into my health makes me feel great. I would argue it’s one of the best feelings I experience on a regular basis. That moment after a great workout is finished – priceless.

Food choices and supplements have been a focus for quite a while. Now that I have pretty much worked out my meal plan and switched to mostly Vegan food choices, I decided to zoom in on supplements in order to close any deficiencies and boost various health markers (if safely possible).

I could probably do my own research, but have resorted to sticking to a quality resource, where all the work is already done: Examine.com – I discovered this site a while ago and also bought their supplements goal guide.

My online diet coach also recommended Examine, which is basically a team of experts and doctors that collects and evaluates studies done on a variety of supplements and health questions.

They don’t sell any supplements, their products are these reports where you see how, or if a certain supplement works. To my surprise, I learned that most don’t and therefore are simply expensive urine.

The Foundation

For most of the popular supplements, the team of Examine also offers a recommendation on whether this is a fundamental supplement that should be in everyone’s stack and how to take it.

After reading through their website, I concluded that it would be smart to invest in the following supplement choices.

  • Fish Oil (180mg EPA, 120mg DHA)
  • 5,000IU Vitamin D3
  • Vitamin K (1000mcg K1/K2 as menaquinone-4, 200mcg K2 as menaquinone-7)
  • 5g Creatine Monohydrate
  • Vegan BCAA

Wild salmon is the only animal product I currently consume, so the fish oil supplement might be an overkill. Other than that, I consider the other vitamins essentials as I wouldn’t be able to get them in high doses any other way.

Vegan BCAA is something I recently started taking on prior to workout sessions in a fastened stated. (Especially important for muscle protection now that I am on a cut.)

The only other vitamin I would consider taking, but will have to do further research on is B12. Supposedly people that don’t eat meat should use a supplement here.

Now all of this is just to cover the basics and isn’t a huge investment. More precisely, these supplements and vitamins cost me less than $25 per month combined.

Bonus Supplements

The supplements mentioned above are nice and I would consider them essential, but why not take it up a notch and improve performance or specific health markers? Other than money and safety, I see no objection.

However, this is also were things get a bit more complicated. Most of these “nonessential” supplements are not well-research, at the same time their promised effect only shows after long-term usage. Lacking research studies, it is sometimes difficult to prove that any of them actually work.

Especially so if they are taken over longer periods and subtle changes occur over the course of weeks.

I am looking to test the following in the future. Yes, I have already taken all of them, but only occasionally and not over longer periods.

  • Horny Goat Weed (60% Icariin) – Testosterone/Sex Drive
  • Maca Powder –  Testosterone/Sex Drive
  • Caffeine + L-Theanine – Focus
  • Wheatgrass Powder – Health
  • Phenibut – Relaxation
  • Kratom – Relaxation
  • Various Pre Workout Booster – Focus/Power

The caffeine/l-theanine stack is something I have recently tested over the course of a couple of days, but didn’t really notice ANY effect. Which is surprising since the doses were pretty high at 400mg caffeine. Very, very subtle on an empty stomach, but still not as expected.

I will probably expand the list of supplements/smart drugs/nootropics that I am willing to consider as I am doing more research. The important criteria is that it can be used long-term and don’t interfere with my ambitions health- and fitness-wise. The need to be relatively safe, yet potent at the same time. (Which I realize is probably a contradiction.)

I don’t really want to go the route of drinking alcohol. It’s expensive, more unhealthy that most people think and the state I will get into doesn’t really help me to be more pro-social. I am still thinking and acting the same way, and would need to binge drink  to really change my state of mind.

Still, I am looking for ways to improve performance in the following areas.

  • Pro-Social/Going Out/Clubbing
  • Power Output
  • Focus/Mental Clarify
  • Sleep (Too many sleepless nights; to get back to my regular sleep cycle after a weekend of partying.)

After trying the caffeine stack, I realize that taking supplements and finding the right doses involves some self experimentation. Some people reported experiencing a crazy strong heart beat after taking caffeine, even feeling a bit sick at half the doses I was tacking. I, on the other hand, noticed absolutely nothing.