1 Exercise – Exercise is huge. I briefly touched on what happens to you in the short term but consider
also the long term effects of regular exercise. As you maintain a regiment of exercise your body fat percentage drops, your flexibility and strength increase (less chance of injury) your lifespan extends, your immune system is bolstered, you maintain your youth longer, you carry over a sustained vigor to other parts of your life, your resting heart rate goes down, and you have a general feeling of well being. Pretty sweet. Clearly exercising is very important; given both its short and long term benefits.
But do you have to do this every day? That seems strenuous. Try expanding your definition – You don’t give it your 100% every day. Some days may be 10 minutes of simple light stretching, just to keep the habit. Other days may be 2.5 hour monster gym sessions.
I use this habit to help me accomplish two other things very important to me, mediation and getting in nature. Often times my physical exertion is a one hour walk through the park or along the water front. Practicing a walking meditation is a great way to center yourself and help carry the skill over to everyday life. Being in nature has a similar balancing effect on your well being.
But you don’t need me to tell you to work out. The benefits are all clearly documented by scientists and people. There are networks and resources for support and endless sources of inspiration to motivate you.
2 Meditation – This habit is fucking HUGE. You need to meditate. Think about what part of the human experience spirituality addresses – the ego and fear – two concepts that are SO tied up with hitting on girls. I think a lot of people get messed up here because the benefits are very intangible at first. The “S curve” of Mastery that I described above has a very looong period of ‘sucking shit’. If you’re not experienced then your image of what meditation should be like is wrong. Fighting your expectations will be a constant battle as you learn to meditate. Here are some resources to help you learn. Reddit Article – Very concise introduction to meditation Mindfulness in Plain English – Amazing book that covers the topic clearly and in depth.
Meditation Retreat – 10 day intensive mediation retreat Holosync – Tapes that induce a meditative state (great training wheels) A fortuitous person may discover means of acquiring the audio. (make sure its .flac and not .mp3 format + listen with good headphones) Practice – Hurr durr. Start meditating everyday. The evidence is in by a landslide, both anecdotally and empirically. Meditation will change your life so start today, any reason your not is an excuse.
Once you get the hang of it you will leave your meditation sessions feeling centered, calm, and relaxed. It has an ego-lessening effect and awareness increasing effect that spills over to your everyday life. If you keep up the practice you’ll notice that your focus and attention span increases dramatically, as does your sight and sound sensitivity (think of the most visceral things you do – sex, eating, sports etc.) Brain regions associated with attention, interoception and sensory processing will literally [url=http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361002/ ]become thicker[/url].
In the long term, meditation offers a ‘profound transformation of how you experience reality’ It will bring you joy, peace, and happiness. This is real and you need to be doing it.
3 Reading – If you read the right books you will be moved, inspired, and motivated.
Think about what you expose yourself to. There’s a million shitty blogs on the internet written by whoever. But then theirs books out there that will change your life. Books that the most gifted human beings on earth have spent years writing. A lifetime of experience, insights, and lessons learned given to you in a nice handheld easily digestible form. 🙂
I started this habit at a half hour a day. Recently I’ve started reading about an hour a day and am burning through books. With a constant flow of information in you increase your ability for information to flow out (applying knowledge to your life)
Reading is an easy habit to put off and you need to make it a priority. If you’re not regularly reading then you may start to fall asleep as you pick up a book. Your mind is not conditioned properly and you need to force yourself through that period. Your reading speed and comprehension do pick up over time – just stick to it.
4 Creative Recreation – People are going to approach this one very differently but if there is something you can sit down and do purely for your enjoyment than that’s awesome. Think of a flow state activity that you can put your full expression into. For me it’s playing an instrument. If you’ve ever seen someone play the guitar or piano at an extremely high level in a non performance setting then you’ll know what I’m talking about. The “S” curve of learning an instrument is very, very, very long. But you get out what you put in. Your amusements will leave you feeling rejuvenated and can often break up and lighten the day. As you invest in your hobbies you will get more and more out of them
I generalized this habit as ‘creative recreation’ because I want to emphasize the fact that recreation is not a spectator sport. Vegetating on the couch watching commercials is not recreation.
5 Nutrition – As you build a productive life your ability to stay focused and have energy becomes very important. What you eat has a huge effect on how you feel. If you eat right you can avoid energy crashes, fight off sickness, and generally just feel ‘good’.
I know that I’m definitely not the best person to give nutrition advice but the resources are out there. It should be obvious that what you put in your body is very important. Do yourself a favor and learn how your body works. For me, I don’t eat sugar or processed food. I drink 1.5L of water a day and I make an extra effort to eat more plant based foods. I supplement my diet with fish oil etc. I think what’s most important though is that you proactively decide what you put in your body. Make the time to cook your meals, keep your fridge stocked, and don’t buy convenience food.
6 Reasonable Spending – Like nutrition, this habit is more of a choice you make rather than an active investment of your time. Its pretty straight forward, every day I try to manage my money reasonably.
Apply the concept of reactivity/proactively to your spending and you have an excellent framework for managing your money. Did you plan on making this purchase? If not then don’t do it. The nature of planning a purchase is that it is in line with your goals and budget. The nature of making an impulsive/reactive purchase is quite the opposite, ‘it is right here and will satisfy me right now’ (mostly consumer/convenience items )
7 Brain Buster + Current Events – Part of my morning routine is to check out the economist, my local news site, or the new york times and read two or three articles. Given my background and where I want to go in life it is going to serve me well to be informed and have the ability to notice trends and understand the complexity of global issues.
I also work very hard to develop my critical and lateral thinking. Every day I challenge myself to solve one extremely difficult problem. Actually I only figure them out about 30% of the time. On my computer I have a repository of IQ, Mensa, brain buster type books that would take a lifetime to work through. Some problems I solve in five minutes others take me thirty until I break down and look at the solution.
If you run a business or are any kind of decision making authority (or eventually want to be in that position) then I can’t vouch enough for this habit. You need to be sharp and informed. Period.
8 Social – Every day I make an effort to advance my social skills. Your ability to communicate effectively with human beings has so many implications in your personal and professional life. I’ve gone through experiments with this habit and I think the less your around people the more you need to make it a priority (my lifestyle right now has me around new people ALL the time, but there have been other times in my life when I actively had to make that happen)
I’ve tried a few different things. For a while I really focused on listening to people with the intent to understand, pushing the urge to get my point across aside and giving other people the floor when they were expressing themselves. I’ve done different experiments with eye contact and physicality while communicating as well. Regardless, going out and approaching trumps all when it comes to developing your social skills.
9 Personal Management – This is the easiest of all habits to implement. Just 10 minutes a day and your bachelor pad is looking clean and fresh. Not many long term benefits here except maybe you don’t lose your possessions as often and they have and increased lifespan. In the short term doing your laundry, not letting your dishes pile up, and making your bed can offer you a peace of mind and allow you to work unfestered on other projects.
10 Project 1, 2 or more times a week – For me I set aside a two hour block twice a week to work on a personal project. This could be fleshing out a business feasibility plan, recreating my weightlifting routine, catching up on some reading, creating a budget, doing research, or writing a mega post for rsd 🙂
At the beginning of each week I choose what two projects I plan to work on and within the week I find time to fit them in. Use this habit as a way of revitalizing old projects that are collecting dust or to begin something new that you’ve been thinking about but haven’t got around to.
The effects this habit has on your short and long term productivity are huge.
11 Podcast/TED Talk/University Lecture – If you’re a thinking human being with a desire for knowledge then you should be listening to podcasts, watching ted talks and viewing the thousands of lectures professors and researchers have on the internet.
This is a habit I integrated for both its short term and long term benefits. In the short term I find it interesting to learn about new topics. A lot of times it’s on a subject I’m interested in at the time, other times its something completely new. Either way I’m exposing myself to the best and brightest minds of today and expanding my understanding of the world.
If you engaged yourself with this material every day, what would the long term effects be? Besides a vast and varied wealth of knowledge you would begin to draw disciplines together. Your understanding and awareness would grow so large that the value and wisdom you could offer other people would be incredible.
*For a practical tip, throw a queue of talks you’re interested in on your ipod and listen while exercising.
12 Language – Every day I spend thirty minutes learning a new language. This is an ongoing task that I struggled to integrate. You realize almost no immediate benefit and that makes it exceptionally difficult to do every day. The “S” curve of mastery is very, very long (years).
But alas, the benefits in the long term must be exceptionally rewarding. I can only speculate as I currently only speak one language, but from my time studying in Italy I can tell you I would have got a lot more out of the experience had I spoke the language. Coming from a business perspective being bi/multilingual would likely be a huge advantage.
For me, I intend to spend a large part of my life traveling. If you expect to live another 50/60 years of life on this earth then imagine the lifetime of opportunities and experiences other languages may open you up to. Don’t cut yourself off.
For some practical advice getting started I recommend the Rosetta stone. It’s a visual program that is a great way for getting you started. Listen to talk radio (via internet) and get a language book with exercises to help you practice. Get a women your seeing to join in. It accelerates the process so much if you have someone to practice speaking with.
We are the first generation with ready access to the internet. The resources to help you pick up a language are out there and they are free – use them.