The Sweet Spot – Enjoyment Versus Achievement

A wise teacher once told me, “If you don’t enjoy it, you will never do it long-term“. And while he had the appearance of a homeless person and charged $25 for his seminar, I found this quote to be true.

Anytime I consider quitting something, I remind myself of this quote and instantly know what’s wrong. Take dating for example. Especially when it’s frustrating (almost the entire time), I know that it’s not the women, but how I approach things and what I am focusing on.

Nearly all of the people I know either struggle with or don’t enjoy dating – or gave up altogether. I can understand why, because nobody will actually persevere indefinitely in the absence of enjoyment. At some point, you will simply lower your standards or change your goal.

If you set out to find your dream girl and that doesn’t happen, despite your going through a process you hate for an extended period – eventually, you’ll settle for an okay girl that crosses your way.

A skill that takes years to master can’t be attained without a long-term commitment. And that in turn, is only possible with some sort of an enjoyment along the way, even if it’s just the small improvements that cheer you up.

If that’s not working, it’s probably time to shift the focus on to a different outcome. From getting laid to, let’s say, taking a certain action. At least something you feel good about afterwards and are able to self-generate positive emotions from on a regular basis.

Especially when it comes to women, I’ve been too focused on only doing things which have proven to work. Yet at the same time, they have made me feel miserable because I wasn’t doing what I would enjoy. For example, being rather direct is something I actually enjoy. It’s fun, easy and it actually feels good to speak your mind.

However, when it comes to dating, it’s more often than not better to think twice about what you say. Especially if you’re horny and want to get laid. Yet, I would love to just speak my mind – despite ruining it all.

That’s why I thought about doing different challenges simply to revive the fun. One could consist of always speaking my mind around any woman I am interested in for an entire month. I don’t care about whether I burn my interactions. (Which I probably will.)

Afterwards, I will judge how it felt and whether I want to continue going this route or take on a different challenge.

Instead of going up and doing the regular spiel of “You cute; want to meet you; let’s do drinks!“, (I don’t actually like drinks, nor going to bars.) I might say, “I want to meet you for X and then perhaps fuck at your place because I live with my friends and don’t want to bring girls back home.

Yes, most girls will probably turn down that offer because it’s quite polarizing. However, being so direct might also free up a lot of mental RAM, I never have to think ahead and it’s more authentic than anything else. I am wondering how it will feel.

Enjoying the process isn’t about putting achievement aside, it’s about customizing a skill set in a way that you enjoy taking action AND get results. My preference would certainly include a direct and blunt style of communication. It’s bold, and most importantly, I feel alive afterwards – no matter what the outcome.

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.