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Florian's Challenge


Florian
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Hello everyone!

This is the time for me to get serious and to move my life forward. I heard about Cam in one of Mike Cernovich's podcasts on dangerandplay.com. He talked about his first Ted Talk, and I found his message so inspiring that I followed him online for a while. When there was a GameQuitters meeting in New York City, I jumped at the opportunity to meet him - and now I am here, talking about changing my life.

I am not a hardcore Gamer, I am not suffering from an addiction to Gaming. Yes, I know, that's what an addicted person often says as well, right? "I am not an alcoholic, I just drink a little bit here and there. I can contain myself." or "I only drink when others are there..." Funny story, by the way, a friend of mine told me about her neighbor: this neighbor was living alone with her parakeet. And when she went to the hospital, my friend had to take care of that parakeet. Now, when she let the bird out of its cage, it flew around the room for several rounds, saw a little empty schnapps glas on the table and dove right into it. After talking to her neighbor it turns out parakeets make great drinking buddies...

But I digress. This is not about being alcoholic, which is a real problem for some people, this is about me looking for a new direction in my life. I rarely drink. I also had my computer gaming days back 25 years when I was in high school.

I have been a scientist for 20 years. I studied biochemistry at Hannover University in Germany, then did my PhD in Dresden, Germany, went on to Princeton to do a postdoc and then followed it up with a second postdoc at New York University. That was a childhood dream coming true.

And after a while I started to realize that I wanted more out of life. I had always envisioned myself doing a career in science. I always wanted to be amongst other scientists and discuss with them, sharing new findings and be completely immersed formulas, microscopes and numbers. I should have listened to my room mate back in Hannover, when he told me that despite my dreams of being a lonely scientist/magician completely immersed in his studies in a remote tower, I am completely not made for being alone. Yes, I am an introvert, and I still enjoy having people around me.

Now, in Princeton, I gradually realized: I was surrounded, yes - by fruit flies, mice and zebrafish... but not so many people. And fruit flies are impressive, but less entertaining when they dive into a glass of schnapps.

So when Cam had his video of finding your purpose: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAm-1dnPzTI

- that rang a bell. We can use an addiction as our external source of validation, as something that gives us purpose. And we can also use our career for external validation. When I arrived in Princeton, I thought - wow, I made it.

Now what?

I did not want to give up and quit science, because I made it so far after a decade of hard work... but all of a sudden, I realized how much of a niche existence you really have when you stick to science for all your life. It's probably true to some extent of all professions. But when I looked at all those brillant scientists in Princeton, they certainly had an enjoyable life, but I was not sure if that was for me. Having a handful of people that could understand what I was doing while spending 60+ hours a week in the lab was NOT how I envisioned my future. My room mate was right.

I like science, and it has been my purpose for a long while, but if I can't share my passions with others and provide value... I am unhappy. 

And so I went along in the lab, appreciating the great opportunity I had as a scientist, but also not sure whether having a pure lab job is my real passion.

So I after finishing our latest manuscript, I decided to take a few months off, do a reset and then decide what the next steps are. Maybe back in the lab? Maybe science communication? As long as I find something to work towards my purpose, from which I can then further develop it, I'll be fine. Purpose does not magically fall from the sky.

And I saw that the GameQuitters challenge gives me a great framework to start something new while building on my past.

Many people tell you that being without a job is a big mistake, because you should never fall out of the labor market. On the other hand, there are also a lot of people who welcome this step. It all depends what you are doing with your time while you take a break.

As a friend once told me: for the hamster, spinning the wheel might just look like climbing the career ladder.

 

 

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So this is Day One of the Game Quitters challenge.

How do I think other people perceive me?

I am actually quite surprised at the positive reactions I am getting. A couple of years back when I got into "The Game" and socialized a lot, I found that 10% of people would never like me, 10% were on my side no matter what, and the rest was somewhere in between both extremes. I also realized something similar back in the lab. We were hosting a speaker, and during lunch I would try to make conversation, and this person was just closed off. Next week, I asked another speaker the very same questions, and he was completely friendly! There is only one conclusion: some people will always like you and you don't know who that is until you ask them.

So what I have observed is that people appreciate when I tell them stories. I believe I have an outgoing, friendly nature, and people notice that. I also often act despite my social anxiety and talk to people - or talk back when someone tries to dress me down, and then friends look at that and think I am quite gutsy. On the other hand, I am not very good at deciphering social cues. When I was playing cello in an orchestra, one of the violinists seemed pretty cold and distant, and only after a couple of months she said she felt intimidated by my slightly darkish presence and just did not dare approaching. I am not always good at reading these situations. Only solution here: socializing more, over time I learn to navigate my way better and better.

So to summarize: People perceive me as friendly, open and outgoing, but they are also sometimes intimidated by my height (6' 4") and demeanor. But judge for yourself: here is a video from the New York Meetup. Shoutout to Clayton, Chris and Cam! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6pZvCg8OS4

 

How do I like to be perceived by others?

I don't want people to perceive me a certain way. If they think I am bad, or good, or just normal, that's all ok. I am not beholden to any status anxiety, because that means I am enslaving myself to a specific perception.

However, I do want to live my life to the fullest moreso than now, so I want to expose people to the "real me" and then be there for those people that like me. Ideally, my ideal persona is someone who enjoys making both deep connections to people - and is fun to be around.

 

What are three behaviors I'd like to change?

#1 - Taking too long to get going with a specific task and procrastinating. One way to get that under control is just focusing on the next steps. Once I have made the first push-up, I'll finish the rest. Once I talk to a stranger, I am continuing the conversation. Once I have started writing, I keep at it.

#2 - Using the internet in a "reactive" way. Still too often, I get lost in the "clickbait" rabbit hole, going from one site to the next. However, since I have my own website, I do want to use the internet to connect with people and promote my content. I think Social Media are a great tool to connect to others. The danger is just to mistake those connections for real connections. One way of doing that is to define beforehand what I am going to post on facebook. Post, check whether a friend has sent me a message, leave. That is what I mean by "active" instead of "reactive" use.

#3 - I often write down ideas that I get over the day, I also have a digital recorder to record my thoughts. However, I rarely check them out again afterwards, leading to a huge repository of ideas. If I have to spend a week digging through all my thoughts from a year, those ideas might as well be lost. That means reserving one hour of time each day to review the day's notes.

Bonus Mission: Watch Simon Sinek's talk on How Great Leaders Inspire Action.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp0HIF3SfI4

Great talk on our purpose. The Take Home Message is: People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. We inspire people by emotions, not fact.

I have observed that in myself as well: whenever I talk about my ideals and the enthusiasm that drives me, I can connect much better to people.

I think going through life with your purpose in mind, you will have a much easier time communicating with people. You also have an easier time to move forward with your day.

I am looking forward to this journey!

 

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Hi Florian nice to have you here :) my dad is a scientist as well haha. 
You've come to the right place, many people on this forum are here to improve themselves, it doesn't matter if you have a gaming addiction or not. I watched the video, you seem like a pretty cool guy. I am an introvert as well, but I'm working on it thanks to the information provided here. I'd say social skills are one of the most important skills you can get. If you haven't already, I recommend purchasing Respawn. It contains information on getting your life back together. Also, check out other journals if you're interested in how other people are doing to improve their lives. 
 

What are three behaviors I'd like to change?

#1 - Taking too long to get going with a specific task and procrastinating.

#2 - Using the internet in a "reactive" way. Still too often, I get lost in the "clickbait" rabbit hole, going from one site to the next.

This is something I struggle with as well. Often I find myself going from one site to the other, while not progressing with my daily acitives. I believe change doesn't happen over night, it may take weeks or months which may vary to individuals. I'm interested in how you will handle these issues. 
Looking forward to your next journal!

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Hey Florian, great posts. It comes up occasionally that quitting games is easy, and it's all the stuff that comes after that matters. So even if you're here specifically because of games, I'm sure you'll be going through a lot of the same stuff as the rest of us. Welcome.

I studied biology in college and considered doing graduate work but ultimately decided it wasn't for me. I was involved in undergraduate research and it was fun, but somehow it just didn't fully click. I ultimately didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I work in IT now, and I struggle with whether to become more technically specialized or stay a generalist. You make an interesting point in the most you specialize, the less you can relate your work to people. Certain roles give value to others more readily, I think. As a project manager I can deliver a project that achieves goals that people care about. If I were a programmer or someone who worked farther behind the scenes, I might not have that same experience necessarily. Not an exact comparison to your situation, but sort of along the same lines.

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Hi Florian. Welcome :)

I used to work with a chemist with a background very similar to yours. She "escaped the lab" and joined my former company as a technical service and development consultant. Then she moved to marketing development management.

If you enjoy helping people understand the true value of something and help them make informed choices, consultative technical selling could be a great career path for you. And since it's hard to find somebody having both technical and social skills, there are always plenty of vacancies.

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Welcome Florian!

What are three behaviors I'd like to change? <<< Oh right I also wanted to do that... I should include this in my own journal.

I think I know your feeling and I am in the same situation - Even if I am just SAYING that I want to quit my job for some time someday... since I am doing my field of study in IT for the next 3 years... As a kid I wanted to become an IT guy.  Today I sometimes wished I had something else to turn on in the morning than a computer... So I hope you can clear your mind and find what really makes you happy!

 

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Thanks guys for all the feedback!

I forgot to add yesterday: as of now, I have 15,797 days left to live.

People often say that with 40 years, half your life is gone. While that may be, people build up their own lives all the time.

Mark Ptashne is a biological research professor in New York and started to learn the violin fairly late (during his adolescence). In an interview with the New Yorker he commented:

"They say you can't really learn at that age," he said. "Like so much else 'they' say, that's bullshit."

And now he has his own records out.

I thought this is a great statement. Never listen to what others tell you is possible or not, always follow what you like to do.

To answer what Cam wondered about: I am 6' 4". Maybe I am the tallest, probably I am the most German on this forum? ;-)

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Something else I realized today. It may sound crazy, but I went way back to my high school days. I know I have a passion for science, and I really enjoyed math, so I went back to read up on some algebra and calculus - and I was excited again and could really sink myself into the matter. Somewhere along the line during my following research career, the passion got lost a bit. And now I know that it's still there, and I can look back on the last years and better understand which direction I want to head in. I also remember that I liked teaching and advising people.

Tom, thanks for your comment. Do you have more info on how to get involved with technical consultative selling? I have seen some info on LinkedIn, and it would be great to know which specific skills people are looking for. Plus, I am definitely interested in learning how to sell as well.

 

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Kortheo, I think everyone specializes in their professions at one point. As long as you still stay connected to the "big picture", it's probably not such a big problem. How do you do that though?

Thanks to internet, we have the incredible chance to connect to so many people now, world-wide. We just have to find a way to bring our message out. How to find the best way to do that, that is something I am thinking about.

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Phoenix, I just purchased Respawn. Thanks for reminding me!

I realized that most tasks often only take 2 - 5 minutes. For example, doing the dishes takes me rarely longer than 5 minutes. Even if there are more plates and pots to wash - 15 minutes max. That's not bad, right? And those tasks that take longer, they only require a couple minutes warm-up, and then you continue. Sometimes I hate going to the gym, but once I am sitting at the machines or doing my first push-ups, the rest just follows naturally. So I guess the motto is: "Close your eyes and get through!" And think about how happy you are when you have done it. I actually have a list of "projects done", where I note everything I have done for the day. That helps you get momentum, and then one success makes the next action easier.

As for the internet, I often bookmark certain links in a folder called "reading list", so I can look at it later in the day. I won't get distracted by it, but I also don't forget a potentially useful link. Most often though - I forget about those links, so they can't have been that important in the first place.

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Day 2

What are the three goals I want to pursue right now?

#1 - Getting down to 8% body fat by the end of 2016.

I am currently at 27%, and I want to change that. I expect that not only my appearance will change, but also the way I conduct myself. With less weight, I will feel that much more relieved and healthy. Losing body fat is for me the equivalent of getting out of a mind fog.

#2 - Having my blog running by end of 2016.

To put a clear number on this - I'd like to have 10,000 monthly visitors on my blog in a little more than a year. Right now, my traffic is around 200 visitors a month, not really that much. The more article I write and value I provide, the more people will come.

#3 - Being more social.

I am an introvert, so I don't often feel the need to mingle with others... however, once I start talking to someone, I can actually go on for hours. Some of my happiest moments I have shared with other people. So I will get into the habit of being a social person.

How will I divide these goals up into projects?

#1 - Getting down to 8% body fat

It's basically simple: 27% - 8% = 19%... 14 months from now. That means losing ca. 1.4% each month. It won't work that linear, and I will have plateaus. I know that beforehand, and I am measuring my body fat every day and track that in an Excel file. I know from the past that the day-to-day value can fluctuate quite distinctly. Over time though, the values go down. That has already taught me that despite some highs and lows in any process of improvement, the long term tendency is still good when you stick to the fundamentals.

What are the fundamentals? A low-carb diet, with additional workout - calisthenics and/or weight-lifting. I will also try whether cardio helps or hinders the process.

#2 - Setting up my blog

I want my blog to be a "Chose Yourself" guide for scientists, to give other researchers the chance to chose the career that really makes them happy. The problem is, for an academic career, it seems you invariably need a PhD and some years of independent research experience working in a lab. That's a long education, and you may realize that you don't really want to become a research group leader. Thus, maybe you don't need a PhD or postdoc to become a teacher or consultant, yet the "sunk cost fallacy" makes you "stick it out". What if there was a resource out there where you can already see from the getgo that you don't need to even have a PhD to become a science teacher? Or whatever else you really want to do? Or maybe you do want to become a scientist, but you did not realize when you started that you are not a big fan of working in the lab after all - it would be great if there was a resource where people feel they can still stay in science and see all those other options.

So how do I go about this goal?

1. Upgrade the design, add some plugins and improve the presentation of my blog.

I already have a long list of plugins and certain ideas to upgrade the design etc. that I can implement within the next weeks.

2. "200 outreach"

That was an idea I got from smartpassiveincome.com. To get a better view on what is going on in your niche and make more contacts to other people working on similar projects, I will make a list of 200 other websites, twitter accounts, facebook pages etc. Then reach out to as many people as possible and see whether there are potential possibilties for collaboration.

3. Have a small booklet to download for free for newsletter subscribers.

It's already halfway drafted, I need to improve the design.

4. Write new articles and edit the old ones to make them more helpful and accessible for people.

Those are the next steps that come to my mind.

The most important part is, I think, to dedicate a fixed time each day to work on the blog.

#3 - Becoming more social

As an introvert, it is all too simple to not search contact with people. To break that habit, I will have a little "project" every time I am out of the house. I will talk to 3 different people just a little longer than "Hey", "that'd be $2.50", "ok, here you go, have a nice day". Just attempt to keep a little conversation going longer than 2 minutes is an easy way to becoming more social.

I will also make sure that even when I am not out of the house, I am calling or talking to a friend or family member in person every day.

What will be the one project I am focusing on for this month?

It will be my blog. This is the biggest one of the three, and secondly, I can lose body fat and become social as well. I can commit to my diet and do some calisthenics in the morning, and talking to people every day I am out of the house will also not take that much additional time.

My whiteboard

I already had a whiteboard for quite some time now, I have a picture attached.

My Impossibility List

#1 - Own a sports car - or have enough funds to afford one.

#2 - Be able to live well in any big city being able to work on whatever I want without needing to make money.

#3 - Chosing my partner because I want to, not because I think I would not get anyone else.

#4 - Being able to completely focus with all my resources on raising a family.

#5 - Be at 8 - 12 % body fat and 225 lbs while being able to deadlift/benchpress/squat 400 lbs each.

#6 - Living on my own island.

#7 - Seeing Wagner's "Ring" in all 5 different continents and 10 different countries.

#8 - Becoming dual German/American citizen.

#9 - Living in a mediterranean French fishing village.

#10 - Diving with a submarine into the Deep Sea (ca. 10,000 miles under the sea).

#11 - Living on a military submarine for one month.

#12 - Go treasure hunting on a pirate ship. Ideally in the original route Blackbeard or any other pirate used in the Caribbean, if possible, using the original boats (or repliques of them).

Hmmm... apparently, I like being close to the sea. Did not realize that before I made this list!

 

 

IMG_0398.jpg

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Awesome! Love following your missions! Don't get too caught up in the design yet. I'd love to have my products designed that much better but then they wouldn't be out there for the world. Now I'm working on upgrading design but that's an evolution. Better to have a product out (minimal viable product) getting feedback from users (and providing value) than procrastinating on the design side. Look at what the next level would be for you design wise and get that done. Let the rest come later.

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Day 3

Thanks, Cam, for the advice. I think the best design will also grow out of the content I produce.

Day 3 is all about reading Jeff Olson's "Slight Edge". It is a book which I had read in the past. An absolute favorite of mine.

I have reread everything up to the first chapter again, and here are my impressions:

 

What I have learnt from "The Slight Edge" so far

1. To achieve a goal, you do not need huge amounts of willpower. You just need to consistently commit to action every day.

2. Simple daily actions can be small and need not be overwhelming.

3. Don't focus on the big goal. As we have seen yesterday, that can feel empty. Focus on small steps every day, thus turn your goals into daily projects. And get them done one after the other.

4. Interestingly, Olson says in the introduction that the "Slight Edge" was not promoted in a big frenzy, but "went viral" by word of mouth. I believe those were small actions, done consistently by more and more people, so that the book eventually became huge.

5. Everyone has it in him or her to be a "beach bum" or a "millionaire". Fail or succeed in business.

6. We can not really change who we are. We can only change what we do.

7. You can rarely "lock in" success. Nothing stays the same. You have to put consistent energy in, if gently, but still... to stay on top, lest you sink down again.

8. Doing small steps consistently is not difficult, but it is also not easy. Small steps are easy to do, but also easy to forget or defer to the next day. No. You gotta do them now, the point is actually doing them daily, otherwise you won't anchor your habits into your mind.

 

Where I have had similar experiences in my life (in reference to the points I made above)

1. I have written 750+ words every morning since more than seven months straight. Writing has now become an integral part of my life. I can easily think of something to write. No writer's block.

5. I had successful times in my past as well as periods that left much to be desired.

6. At the end of the day, I am always one and the same person. I look back and can really see - everything I did today is me and nobody else.

 

What I will include in my life.

1. For anything else I want to achieve, I will include daily practises. Even if I don't feel like doing it one day, I will still do it in some form. For example, I did not feel like doing my calisthenics yesterday - so I still did them, just less energetic than I had before. Which actually ties in #2 as well - you don't always need to go above and beyond on whatever you do.

2. Any goal I have, I break into small daily steps that i can easily do on a consistent base.

3. Projects instead of goals. Manifest your purpose every day.

4. Whenever you want to build up a large readership or become better known, invest 30 minutes every day into reaching out to the community. For my blog, that means I will spend 30 minutes each day on building links and reaching out to people. 

5. I can always start new at any point of my life. Now. It is never too late to start with consistent action.

7. As soon as I have defined my next steps on my path towards purpose, I am moving forward easily.

 

Additional thoughts

1. Don't forget that if you truly want to become great, you need to challenge yourself every day. If you use your car to commute to work every day, you will become a proficient driver, but you won't become a race car driver. For that goal, you'd need to challenge yourself every day and drive parcours, for example.

Likewise, if your goal is to lift 400 lbs, you won't get there by lifting 100 lbs every day. You have to gradually increase the weight you are lifting.

2. Compounding effects are at work in our interactions with others as well. I once read about an interesting observation. Sometimes people "explode" or "snap" at someone, with "no warning" before. That sudden action? Can be a result of consistently bad actions or negligence in our communications over time. Similarly, if we find ourselves "all of a sudden" in a hole, then often we have brought ourselves there by consistent failure to do what is good for us.

 

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Tom, thanks for your comment. Do you have more info on how to get involved with technical consultative selling? I have seen some info on LinkedIn, and it would be great to know which specific skills people are looking for. Plus, I am definitely interested in learning how to sell as well.

Check LinkedIn for Technical Sales, Sales Engineer, Technical Consultant, variations on the theme, and read the job descriptions. That should give you an idea if it's something you'd like to do.

It basically comes down to this: know your subject deeply and be able to explain it to a child. You must be comfortable talking with peers at your level of knowledge, middle managers, CxOs, purchasers. In RPG terms you must be a high-level multiclass technician/salesman ;) 

My best advice on how to sell (that's actually my job) is this: be empathetic. Understand how you can make your prospect/customer happy. Don't talk features, talk benefits!

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Thanks Tom, that's really helpful. Reminds me of Simon Sinek's talk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA

Don't tell the customer what products he can have, paint a picture on how his life will become better or more interesting, right?

I found another point about the Slight Edge. I think you also have to have a sustainable rhythm in what you do. I think Olson used the example of a millstone. If you don't push it, of course it won't turn. But if you push it too fast, you will slip and any initial movement will come to a grinding halt. So you want to find the force that just gets it moving, and then over time, it will pick up speed.

For example. If we go to the gym with the hypermotivated goal to really push ourselves extra hard and stay in there 5 hours per day, we fail after a short while. I think our mind does not process that much commitment all of a sudden. At least mine doesn't. So it works best if I start slowly. Half an hour workout each day, and when I find that I can do that with ease, I'll add another 5 minutes, until I have found the rhythm or time with which I improve most.

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Day 4

Defining a Morning Success Routine

Ah... morning routines. I love them!

When you look at advice on personal finance, people often tell you that you should "pay yourself first". This means that before you do anything else, you set money aside to grow yourself, your own business etc. 

Well, time is an even more important resource, I think. And at the beginning of the day, you have a premium chance to work on something exclusively for yourself. When 9 am comes around and the day gets going, you are already up and swinging for several hours (of course, if you work better in the evening, then it's the inverse). Whatever the case may be, I do believe in starting the day with the right mindset. I thought myself I was a late worker, tried out getting up early and have - to my surprise - never looked back since. I love it when the sun comes up while I am already working. I have also come to love the delivery truck for the little deli around the corner. The truck stops by at 6 am without fail, 6 days a week.

According to Cam's suggestion, the morning routine includes a 10 minute meditation with the headspace app and 30 minutes reading. I add my own routine to that and go one step further, while I am at it: calling a friend and writing down 10 ideas. 

 

So here is the routine in detail.

#1 - Getting up at 5 am.

The earlier the better, and I am going back to realizing getting into bed at 10 pm is a necessary prerequisite. There is nothing for me that beats getting up early. Simply nothing. You are up while everyone else is sleeping. I am also simply more energetic in the morning. The evening, I am getting tired and I won't be as productive.

#2 - Headspace.

10 minutes. It feels weird to me to do that first thing of the day, because I am full of energy in the morning and don't really want to sit still, but that's probably the point. Plus, I finally get to test out how meditation feels!

#3 - Taking measurements, taking supplements etc.

That's simply tracking my weight and body fat loss and supplementing with some vitamin pills, sometimes also with a fat burner.

#4 - Word of the day.

There is this website from Merriam Webster. http://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day/

I am introduced to a new word every morning, and get to guess another word, which is a fun little game. I do expand my vocabulary. Who knew about that infrangible skulduggery that put a word like bailiwick into existence? I got the idea from Robert Koch at 30 days to x. http://30daystox.com/weekend-challenge1/

#5 - Writing 1,700+ words.

This is my little space where I can just brainstorm and write down ideas. I am completely free in what I write. No thought is banned. I am writing for myself. Originally, the idea came from a book called "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. 750 words correspond to three pages of free-written content, and writing slightly more than twice that amount will see me to 50,000 words by the end of the month. It's a form of meditation, where I actually have a product in the end. Producing something new is one thing that makes me happy. So I am doing that early in the day. If all else fails, I can still say: I wrote a couple of words this morning.

Here is the second part in which this writing space is useful. I will use it to draft articles for my blog. Chose a topic the night before, then write about it the next day... whatever is in my mind, I throw it on the screen.

#6 - 10 ideas

This is something James Altucher suggested. Come up with 10 ideas to a specific topic - really any topic on your mind. Do that daily for a couple of months, and you will never lack solutions to any given topic. Some ideas will be great. Others won't, but the point is that after e.g. 6 months you will have had close to 2,000 ideas, some of which are bound to be good.

#7 - Calisthenics

This is where I do 120 push-ups, 120 squats and 120 sit-ups. Break out some sweat in the morning! I believe I want to be active to get my blood flowing. It's also great to have a readout on my efforts. Calisthenics can function as a proxy for my progress. Some mornings it will be easy, others it won't. Over the long run, I will improve though, and I expect that my efforts in other areas of my life will be similar. Right now, I can do 120 push-ups halfway down and a couple of them with complete movement. Over time, I will replace more and more with real push-ups. Then, I can replace the full extension ones with diamond ones etc. Step by step. The Slight Edge.

#8 - Cold shower.

I am doing that now already since more than a year and have not skipped any single day. I have actually done contrast showers (cold-warm-cold) since New Year's Day 1997 or so. Last year I changed it to completely cold. It gets me up and running, and I will never spend too long in the shower. That was a frequent problem in the past, and then getting out of the house - especially in winter - was always a hassle. Now, I am just going through the shower for not more than 5 minutes, and I am starting the day in an invigorated manner.

#9 - Have breakfast and read 30 minutes of a book.

This is important as well. Instead of watching some youtube videos, I am reading a book. That will get my mood settled into the day as well.

#10 - Call a friend or family member.

Nobody is an island. Contact people as soon as possible, especially if you work from home.

Bonus - Tony Robbins interview on the Tim Ferriss podcast.

Tony Robbins is all about "state control", so it was interesting to see that he bases his morning routine on that as well.

Instead of meditation (which he says it's tough for him to do because he is extremely active), he does a process called "priming" in the morning. This is what he does:

1. Get up and drink a glass of water.

2. Cold water bath.

3. Specific pattern of breathing while listening to music.

4. Feeling grateful - allowing your soul be filled with gratefulness for three things, one of which connected to nature.

5. Focusing on inner presence and getting into a state where you feel everything is going to be solved.

6. Focusing on three things he is going top make happen that day.

He does his routine even if he had little to no sleep. 10 - 20 minutes is all you need - priming: courage, love, joy, gratitude, strength, service, achievement and care for your loved ones.

It's great that meditation can really come in so many different colors. You can do priming, you can write, you can reflect about your mindset - I think the important part is that you take charge of your life the first thing in the morning, reflect and appreciate in any way about what this new day is giving you.

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Wookyshark, thanks for the kind words.

I really think specificity is helpful, because it enables us to track and measure our progress. I'd even go one step further and define three alternative versions of one goal. For example, losing body fat could have 

a) one minimum goal: 1.3% loss per month, so in three months I should be down from 27% to 23%.

b) A goal that is realistic or "normal": 2.4% loss per month (I was able to do that in the past). 3 months -> 20%.

c) One awesome goal: What if I could double the loss by going to a proper gym instead of only calisthenics? Maybe I could lose 4% per month, then I would be at 15%.

With a triplet of results, I can set my goals as high as possible while knowing that even if I don't get ahead as planned, I have still reached them.

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Great to read your Day 4 mission. Your attitude is in the right place and with some of your foundation already set (writing, cold showers) optimizing a little bit more will be that much easier.

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Day 5

Thanks, Cam, for the encouragement!

I solved a mystery today.

First of all, the morning routine went well. I even got up after 6 hours of sleep without an alarm clock at 5 am.

Now... here is the mystery. I also realized why I sometimes never heard the alarm in the past. I would set my alarm clock and simply wake up 1.5 hours after the time. Did I simply outslept the alarm until it mercifully quit after 1 hour by itself? Or did I hear the alarm, switched it off while continuing to sleep?

Today, as I got up a couple minutes before 5 am, I realized I had switched off the alarm beforehand. The most likely scenario: I get up in the middle of the night - that sometimes happens - and then switch off the alarm. God knows why.

How can I protect myself against fooling myself? Making sure I get 7 hours of sleep, so if all else fails, I'll be up at 5 am anyways.

My gratitude habit for today:

What am I grateful for today?

1. Books.

2. Getting up early.

3. Writing.

4. Meditation.

5. Family and friends.

6. Being in the US.

7. Calisthenics.

8. Money.

9. My space heater.

10. Sleep.

Meditation with head space went well. I was able to follow through on everything else too.

My vision board follows in the next post.

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How can I protect myself against fooling myself? Making sure I get 7 hours of sleep, so if all else fails, I'll be up at 5 am anyways

I used to do exactly the same.

It was three stages for me. 

1.Diagnose a medical problem. I snored all my life and always complained of sleeping awfully. A few years ago I found out I have sleep apnea and started treating it. That night my life changed. 

2. Sleep enough. We are terrible at evaluating our level of performance when sleep deprived. Like when somebody is drunk and overestimates his ability to drive. 7 hours are generally too little. 7.5 is a bare minimum for most of us. 8 to 9 should be the norm.

3. Trick yourself out of bed . I use an Android app called I Can't Wake Up. I set it so that it won't stop ringing unless I scan a barcode. The barcode is on a box in the living room. So every morning I stand up, start shaking my phone to keep it quiet, go to the living room, switch on the lights, reach up to scan the barcode. I'm up. Mission accomplished.

Bonus. Have at least one activity to look forward to right after waking up. Getting first to the gym, writing a dream journal, resuming your book. Something good for you that you can do every morning. 

Edited by Tom
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