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Category: Lifestyle (page 1 of 3)

The Stories We Tell

Everyone tells themselves stories, which form their identity, which shape their lives and how they live them.  A Christian missionary may tell themselves that their highest life priority is to spread the word of god to promote Christianity. A professional weight lifter may tell himself that weight lifting is fun and amazing and turning a career out of it is the best job in the world, and consider himself the luckiest man alive.  An American, with standard American values, may imagine working hard for most of his life to eventually retire to comfort with a nice house and family.

These are all stories, beliefs we have about how we see our role in the story we understand.  Most often the story is handed down from generation to generation, embedded in a culture we live in or that we’re raised in, and our role in the story is often a common role that others in our society play.

Our experience either reinforces our story and the role we play, or alters it, sometimes radically.  The realization many people have of discovering a story they believed wasn’t true can be moving.  Traveling to a different culture with people that have stories that differ from ours, sometimes drastically, can be enlightening.  Meeting a person that tells their story and why they do what they do can be convincing.  Nevertheless, everyone has a story – a picture they see of the world and how it operates, and the role they play within it.

Observing your story and your role can be useful.  Some stories cause more suffering than others, some stories are more fun than others.  Being open to new stories is challenging but can be rewarding.

The first step is identifying your story, realizing it actually is a story, and then deciding what kind of story you want to tell, and live by.  Though stories evolve, stories are seeded into us the moment we’re born and are clarified, or made complicated, through our experience as we grow older.  After recognizing that life really is just a story we each tell ourselves and each other, we can then choose to write the story as we wish.

“All stories are incomplete. Yet in order to construct a viable identity for myself and give meaning to my life, I don’t really need a complete story devoid of blind spots and internal contradictions. To give meaning to my life, a story needs to satisfy just two conditions: first, it must give me some role to play. A New Guinean tribesman is unlikely to believe in Zionism or in Serbian nationalism, because these stories don’t care at all about New Guinea and its people. Like movie stars, humans like only those scripts that reserve an important role for them. Second, whereas a good story need not extend to infinity, it must extend beyond my horizons.”
– 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

The key is recognizing that how we live and what we belief is all part of the story we tell ourselves.  While through meditation you can more easily recognize thoughts as just thoughts and nothing more, through paying close attention to how we form our beliefs we can recognize how what we do is just part of the story we tell ourselves, and nothing more.  Then again, the story we tell ourselves is perhaps the most important part of our lives.

“Your world is the outcome of what you pay attention to”

Make your story a good one.

2018 Year in Review

It’s already that time of the year again where we look back on the last year of our lives and look forward to the next.  It is useful because it allows us to review what we did right, and what we can improve on in the future. You can see my previous years here: 2010201120122013201420152016, 2017 . Here’s a look back in what I did in 2018.

SUMMARY

  • Rang in the New Year in Colorado at some friends house (Sam/Bryce), in the latter half of January drove to Sante Fe, New Mexico to visit friends (Richie and Tracy) down there.
  • In early February, we went to Las Vegas for the yearly Super Bowl party with my brothers and friends.  A week later, we flew back to Bangkok after 8 months on the road.
  • In March we visited Nan Province in northern Thailand, and in the latter half road-tripped to Kanchanaburi to do a 10 day silent retreat, but ended up cancelling last minute to the the air pollution from fires.  All of March we did a 30 day challenge by only eating vegetarian.
  • In April we spent two weeks on Koh Tao learning how to scuba dive and celebrating Songkran.
  • In May I rafted the Grand Canyon with my friend Andrew and his family.
  • In June my girlfriend flew out to Las Vegas and we road-tripped for a couple weeks through Utah, visiting my brother in Salt Lake City, and then onto Colorado, attending FIBARK festival in Salida.
  • In July my friend Richard and I hiked some of the Colorado Trail.  We didn’t finish it due to some issues with my boots, but otherwise was a fun challenge.  At the end of July I helped Richard move to Boulder, and went camping at Long Draw Reservoir with my uncle Tim.
  • In August flew back to Bangkok, and after getting back to Thailand went to Koh Samet with friends for a weekend.
  • In September we visited Jomtien, Pattaya after a solid month of work/routine.
  • In October we visited Japan for the first time with friends from the US for 2 weeks.  After the trip I started the Stronglifts 5×5 program.
  • In November we spent 10 days on Koh Chang with friends from Australia.
  • In the second half of December, we spent a couple weeks in northern Thailand, where we currently are in Chiang Rai.

WHAT WENT WELL THIS YEAR?

Health: While at home, I stayed in a great routine of exercising daily, stretching daily, and eating well.  At the end of this year, I’m the strongest I’ve ever been, more flexible than I’ve ever been, and have been eating better than ever.  I’ve also ensured that sleep is high priority as all other aspects of health stem off of it.  I bought a sleep tracker in October to measure my sleep cycles and quality of sleep, and will continue to monitor and tweak things as needed.
Knowledge: Learned a lot this year, though missed my Goodreads book-challenge.  I ended up reading countless blog posts, listening to countless podcasts, read around 20 books, and had great, insightful conversations with people I’m lucky to know.  My top books of the year were: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Harari,  How to Change Your Mind by Pollan,  Enlightenment Now by Pinker, and The Emerald Mile by Fedarko.
Social: I got the chance to spend a lot of time with friends this year, from rafting the Grand Canyon to hiking the Colorado Trail with friends, as well as visiting various friends around Thailand and the world.
Business: I launched several new projects this year, improved others, and learned a lot in 2018.  While my business grew, my main focus this year was learning more about the investing side of business and economics.

I think the biggest factors that affect the quality of life are: sleep, health, relationships, and freedom.  What derives out of these are meaning/purpose.  If you miss really any of these elements, it can make life not be enjoyable, so I think it is key to invest effort into improving each.

WHAT DIDN’T GO SO WELL THIS YEAR?

I like to do 30 day challenges, and this year I only did 1 challenge which was 30 days of being vegetarian.  I also planned to do a 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat but was called off last minute due to the air pollution in the area.   I planned to do a yearly water fast, but also ended up skipping it due to starting the 5×5 program and wanting to see how far I could go with it. The only other real complaint I have this year is probably a bit too much drinking.  I’m well aware of alcoholism that runs in my genes and in my family, and continually work to ensure I don’t end up in a bad place.  Aside from that, I’m very satisfied with how this year turned out.

WHAT AM I WORKING TOWARD?

Last year I wrote that I’d work on my health, specifically on mobility.  This year I spent more time in the gym, stretching, and being active outside than other years.  Next year I plan to keep this going.  Going into the new year, I want to work on my handstand and doing more running.

Business wise, I plan to learn a lot more and launch more projects as I see interest.

Knowledge wise, I want to get more reading in.  With all the travel this year, my Kindle dying, and many sporadic nights of partying, my reading schedule took a hit.  I didn’t remain consistent, so I will work on this more in 2019.

I haven’t yet made many plans for 2019, but want to add a few adventures in.  Perhaps climbing Kilimanjaro, some epic hiking, or more scuba diving.  Looking back on life and how so much of it is unplanned and unexpected if you’re open to new experiences, I think 2019 will largely be driven by such sporadic adventures.

ALL TOGETHER

With 2018 over and the years flying by, I’ve strived to make each day a step forward in the shortness of this one life we all have, and share.  The fact that we will all die one day is what motivates us to do things, as we know we don’t have forever.  Sam Harris has a great short passage on it here which is worth listening to.  His Waking Up app is phenomenal, especially listening to the short lessons on various aspects of the mind.

I wrote a post on Optimism earlier this year.  There are many reasons to be optimistic, and that post may help.  I’d also recommend Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now, which Bill Gates said was one of his all time favorites.  Well worth the time.

You can see all of my posts from 2018 herehttp://www.patjk.com/posts/2018

Thanks for reading. Happy New year, see you in 2019!

Note: You can follow what I’m reading and things I find interesting daily on my G+Twitter and/or Facebook page.

Small Improvements

We overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we do in a year.  This is because we are creatures of instant gratification.  That is to say, when we do something, we want to see the result shortly after.  The problem is that many things in life don’t have quick results, so we need to driven by enjoying the process or trusting the process is working.  In fact, most of the good things in life don’t have quick results – being healthy is a lifestyle over longer periods of time, saving money to retire happens over a lifetime, and building good relationships take experiences over time.  Delayed gratification, or delayed results from current action, is an important piece of life worth recognizing.

As defined, “”Delayed gratification, or deferred gratification, describes the process that the subject undergoes when the subject resists the temptation of an immediate reward in preference for a later reward. Generally, delayed gratification is associated with resisting a smaller but more immediate reward in order to receive a larger or more enduring reward later. A growing body of literature has linked the ability to delay gratification to a host of other positive outcomes, including academic success, physical health, psychological health, and social competence.”

Delayed gratification, that is putting time and effort into something where the results won’t show for a period of time, is a positive trait of the human condition.  It means foregoing the instant gratification for a more longer term satisfaction.  It means passing on the donut and its instant gratification to live a longer, more healthy life.  It means saving more money now than buying a new car today.  It means being physically active today even if you don’t feel like it. Some more examples…

  • Going to to the gym once may make you feel great that day, but if you only go once the results are minute.  However, going daily for 2 months adds up to a lot.  20 pullups a day isn’t much, but in a month that is 600 pullups which is a lot and has an effect.  Going to the gym daily for the delayed gratification of a lifetime of good health is a huge benefit.
  • Writing 1 paragraph a day isn’t much, but consistently writing a paragraph each day for a month adds up to a 30 paragraph piece.  The delayed gratification of writing daily but after months seeing all your work and improvement in writing is gratifying.
  • Reading 30 minutes a day isn’t much, be amounts to between 20-40 books a year, which can have a drastic impact on your understanding, and therefore the outcome of your life.

Putting in the daily repetition is arguably one of the most life changing things you can do, because you are what you repeat (you are your habits), and a lifetime of repetition of anything will greatly change the outcome.

In the infamous “Marshmallow Experiment” in the late 1960’s, psychologists at Stanford performed various studies on delayed gratification…

In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned. (The reward was sometimes a marshmallow, but often a cookie or a pretzel.) In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores,[2] educational attainment,[3] body mass index (BMI),[4] and other life measures.[5]

Source: Wikipedia

James Clear wrote an excellent article “40 Years of Stanford Research Found That People With This One Quality Are More Likely to Succeed“, which goes into more detail on delayed gratification and the Marshmallow Experiment.

Success usually comes down to choosing the pain of discipline over the ease of distraction. And that’s exactly what delayed gratification is all about.

In his article he further says…

The studies above do make one thing clear: if you want to succeed at something, at some point you will need to find the ability to be disciplined and take action instead of becoming distracted and doing what’s easy. Success in nearly every field requires you to ignore doing something easier (delaying gratification) in favor of doing something harder (doing the work and putting in your reps).

But the key takeaway here is that even if you don’t feel like you’re good at delaying gratification now, you can train yourself to become better simply by making a few small improvements. In the case of the children in the study, this meant being exposed to a reliable environment where the researcher promised something and then delivered it.

You and I can do the same thing. We can train our ability to delay gratification, just like we can train our muscles in the gym. And you can do it in the same way as the child and the researcher: by promising something small and then delivering. Over and over again until your brain says, 1) yes, it’s worth it to wait and 2) yes, I have the capability to do this.

Over the years I’ve come to realize one of the best skills in life is time management. Managing time enables you to consistently make small gains, daily.  Small improvements make huge gains.  Time passes whether we make small improvements or not, hence why it’s important to manage time now and continuously.  Building habits enables us to spend our time more effectively, and live better lives.

Because we can’t predict the future or change the past, all we can do is focus on the moment and the day to day activities that makeup our lives.  Striving to be better than yesterday adds up to many small improvements each day which compound day after day, month after month, years after year.  We didn’t evolve to understand compound interest, but we can use reason to know it is incredibly powerful.  As James Clear says, “habits are the compound interest of self improvement.” The aggregation of marginal gains – small improvements add up to dramatic changes.  On the same token, small bad habits can add up to a massive decline in well being.

Aristotle once said “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act but a habit.” Let’s make each day a better day than the last.

If you liked this post, I’d recommend checking out Jame Clear’s new book “Atomic Habits“, and watching his talk, 1% Better Each Day.  You may also enjoy reading “The Power of Habit“.

Optimism and Pessimism

People like being around other happy people.  People don’t like being around negative people.  This is because we all seek well being, one where we feel good, feel like we have a purpose, and live meaningful lives.  Happy people, by definition, are successful because they are leading happy lives, and being around happy people increases your chances of being happy.  Being around people laughing increases your chances of laughing, and laughing is good.

Pessimism, as defined on Google is “a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future.” Considering all the great there is in the world, and all the progress we’ve made in the last couple hundreds years, the question is why are so many people pessimistic?

I’ve written before about how the media affects the mood and feeling of the people who consume it.  Even though by almost every metric we live in a better, healthier, happier, wealthier world than at any other time in human history, many people think the world is more dangerous and worse than ever before.  This is driven in large part by the news, which in modern day enables worldwide catastrophes to be broadcasted in real time to people all over the world.  This is a new trend, and it wasn’t always possible to see news like it is today.  The media is incentivized to broadcast sad, tragic, graphic, and scary news because scary news captures human attention, and they make money by capturing our attention, not by telling us what we should or need to know about how amazing the world actually is (?).

Without knowing how the media and modern technology works, pessimism makes sense.  It feels like the world could be worse off.  But as I’ve written about before, overcoming our default state – our innate human intuitions – is what leads to us becoming conscious people, and better conscious people.  Knowing that our intuitions can often misguide us is important, and overcoming them can lead us to be more realistic when we realize that our intuitions are misguided.  It enables us to become optimistic when we’d otherwise be pessimistic.

So why be optimistic? To start, being optimistic feels good.  It makes you excited about the future, grateful for the moment, and privileged to exist today. But there are other benefits than just feeling good…
– Optimists are healthier and tend to live longer (?)
– Optimistics are less likely to get sick (?)
– Optimists make better partners (?)
– Optimists are perform better at their jobs (?)
– Optimists get more promotions and job offers (?)
– Optimists handle stress better than pessimists (?)

All of this shouldn’t come as a surprise, if you’re optimistic and you feel good, you’re more likely to take care of yourself, treat others better, be a positive person, and that attracts a better social circle, which is a key indicator and perhaps the most valuable aspect of living a good life (the longest study on happiness at Harvard ranked it as the #1 most important metric).

There is evidence that optimistic people present a higher quality of life compared to those with low levels of optimism or even pessimists. Optimism may significantly influence mental and physical well-being by the promotion of a healthy lifestyle as well as by adaptive behaviours and cognitive responses, associated with greater flexibility, problem-solving capacity and a more efficient elaboration of negative information.
US National Library of Health

And…

Optimists tend to view anything adverse as temporary, specific and external whilst pessimists will view an adverse situation as permanent, pervasive and personal.  These two styles produce very different outcomes.  Source: Psychology Today

What about the unknowns of the world? What about the daunting challenges we face as a society? Should we remain optimistic when things look cloudy? Yes. In situations where we don’t know what an outcome will be or we’re missing too many details to draw a fair conclusion, optimism is almost always better.  This is two-fold – if you’re optimistic and see problems as solvable (Beginning of Infinity), you’re far more likely to solve them than if you see problems as impossible to overcome and give up.  Secondly, optimism has tremendous benefits, so why not side on more beneficial end? Kant had a theory in philosophy: since many philosophical discussions don’t have a “right” answer, he argues to choose the side with most utility. That is to say to choose the most useful side during the unknown. Since so many things in life we don’t know, striving for optimism makes the most rational sense.

You find what you’re looking for.  If you look for all the negatives in the world, you’ll find them.  If you look for all the positives, you’ll find them.  And expectations influence outcomes.  They influence not only your perception, but very likely the outcome because your perceptions affect your actions.  Being optimistic and positive far increases your chances of finding the good in the world, whether it be good people, good places, or just a good feeling.  Optimism is key.

So in todays world what and how much should we be optimist about? The answer….nearly everything.

I recently finished reading Enlightenment Now, which is an excellent book written by the incredible Steven Pinker of Harvard.  He puts forward a sound perspective on science and reason which has created progress.  Progress at what? Progress at maximizing human flourishing, maximizing well being, reducing suffering, all core values of a humanistic view.  It is well worth the time to read, and if for no other reason, it will lead to be more optimistic about the state of the world, even if you already are optimistic.

Subjective Feeling vs Objective Truth

One of the big fallacies I think many people make in modern day is that they take their subjective view of reality and then assume it’s how the rest of the society or the rest of the world is.  For example, imagine you live in a town of 200,000 people and you notice most of your friends are chronically depressed, and a large amount of strangers you meet throughout your town express their concern about depression and how they also feel depressed.  A common conclusion to therefore draw is that society is broken and depression is a major issue.  The fallacy with this is that you’re relying on your intuitions about the state of society and using your subjective experience to therefore conclude that objectively society is broken.  However, you can easily look up various stats and studies to see objectively what the actual state of affairs is, and it is more often than not quite different than you subjectively may feel.  The world is diverse, and we can learn a lot by studying other cultures, places, and people.

This is why a book like Enlightenment Now is well worth your time, because it objectively looks at many aspects of society to see how it is performing, progressing, and changing, regardless of anyones specific subjective feelings. Pinker looks at worldwide data to show how collectively society is improving in almost every metric we care about – human flourishing, well being, reduced suffering, scientific progress, knowledge, education, etc.  The only way to make rational conclusions and decisions about life is to objectively understand what is working and what isn’t, and learn from the studies and data we have at our disposal.  If subjectively things feel pessimistic, a simple environmental change could change ones perspective, and lead to optimism.

How to be more optimistic

Changing from a pessimistic mindset to an optimistic one isn’t easy. Start with these tips:

  • Educate yourself about the problems we face, and the progress we’ve made (Enlightenment Now is a start).
  • Proactively work on solving some of the world’s challenges.  Seeing progress made is important, but actively helping solve the issues we face is more important.
  • Reframe how you define events – try to find the good in every situation, even at difficult moments. Look for the good in the world, not the bad.  Life is all about perspective and you see what you think/believe.
  • Understand that problems are solvable, and for each problem we solve, more will come. Read “Beginning of Infinity”.

  • Meditate, be mindful – focus on the here and now.
  • Notice negative self talk or complaints you make.  Set a timer, and each time you notice yourself complain (or get called out about complaining), reset the timer.   See how many hours you can go.
  • Focus on what you can control in life. Recognize when something isn’t within your control, and avoid letting it affect you (see meditation point above). Read “A Guide to a Good Life” on Stoic philosophy.
  • Pursue self-growth, work on improving everyday.  Small steps each day add up to a lot, it’s compound interest of the mind/body.  Help others, benefit society.  Strive to be better each day and solve the challenges we face as a society.
  • Strive to have positive experiences.  Seek things you enjoy and find joy in others.
  •  Be healthy.  Sleep well, eat well, and stay active.  The better you feel, the more positive outlook you’ll have in life.

Life is a string of the stories we tell ourselves.  It’s better to tell great stories.  Be optimistic.


Other Notes/Links:

Optimists Get Jobs More Easily — and Get Promoted More, Researchers Find

Can Optimism Make a Difference in Your Life?

How Optimism Boosts Productivity and Work-Life Balance

Optimism and your health

Thinking about Work Differently

I grew up rural America, knowing not much more than what I saw and experienced with the people around me. By sheer luck, I gained access to the internet at the age of 9 and my curiosity led me to the world outside of just rural America.  I traded baseball cards online, learned the basics of economics, used my dad’s credit card to open an eBay account, and shared a bank account with my brother.  Through enjoying the hobby of baseball card trading, combined with the power of the internet in connecting people, I learned the basics of money, business, and economics.

As time went on, I went through traditional school as assumed like any other kid from rural America.  Go to school, do well enough to get into college, and graduate and get a good job, meaning a job that pays the bills and interests you.  I didn’t particular enjoy school, though I understood it’s value and had parental pressure to succeed.  Again by sheer luck, I had the mindset that if I’m going to wake bright an early every morning to take a bus to school, spend most of my day at the school, and then bus back, I might as well make it worth it.  As a result, along with parental and sibling pressure, I tried quite hard to do well, meaning get good grades.

Naturally, after graduating high school and following the cultural and societal pressures of Western society, I went to college.  It was fun and challenging and met a lot of great people, but the big downside was the hefty bill it came with.  At the age of 18, it’s very easy to sign a loan for $20,000 with little understanding of what it really is, and with the feeling that it is totally normal.  Don’t get me wrong, having the loan enabled me to attend college and without it I wouldn’t have been able to go.  Because of this fact, most people in the world never get the chance to attend college.  As I write this in 2018, there is $1.48 trillion in student loan debt in the US, held by 44.2 million Americans (?).  Consumer debt is at an all time high, even though the US stock market is at an all time high.  The US government is in debt is over $21 trillion.  Even with the economy soaring over the last few years and wars have winded down, the US government has only gone further into debt.  How is this possible you may ask?

What I’ve seen regarding higher education in America is this: in the past, say 40 years ago, a college education was very valuable, meaning you gained a big advantage on society by having the degree, and at the same time, the cost was relatively cheap.  Fast forward to today, the value of a college education has dropped (meaning it doesn’t give you a big advantage on the rest of the society), and the cost has skyrocketed.  This has resulted in two key general trends: 1) students are graduating after going massively into debt and not being able to get a job (ie. society doesn’t value the degree) and 2) because of this, people begin to question whether going to college is worth it since going into debt and not being able to get a job is risky.

One of the reasons I think we’ve come to this point in history is due to the way we look at work.  Instead of looking at work as getting a nice resume and applying to various companies who like the resume you have, the question should be asked: what can I do to benefit society? What skills do I have or can I acquire which will benefit society? If people asked these questions, and then followed through in acquiring these skills, I’d argue society would not only be better off but far less people would be struggling to find work.

With all of these stats about record high student loan debt, record high credit card debt, record highs in consumer debt, there is perhaps more opportunity than ever to create wealth in the world today.  And not just create wealth, but acquire the skills needed to benefit the world in whatever way you see fit.  I feel for the people who are struggling to find work, but it is important to look at a society more objectively.  As I heard recently, if it feels like the world is fucked up, maybe it’s not the world that’s fucked up but you that’s fucked up.  Not to say there is bad luck, and bad timing which leads to these situations, but the world is what you perceive of it.  To think that the world is awful is purely an illusion in our own heads, as in another’s mind it is absolute bliss.  The key takeaway here is to be careful how to interpret the world, because it becomes your world.  And in times of crisis in life it’s easy to misinterpret the world you’re living in.

There was a guy I came across maybe 4 years ago who just graduated from college and was traveling around Asia building websites on the internet, learning as many skills as possible along the way.  He decided to build a site about connecting digital nomads and finding the best places to live and work in the world.  Today, just a few years later, the site is making $30,000+/month passively.   People pay to use his site because it’s valuable to them – it connects like-minded people traveling outside their home countries. He also decided to build out a single index.php site for people to post remote jobs, and that site at present is making nearly $20,000+/month, again passively.  And this story is becoming a common one. The point of this isn’t to cherry pick a success, but to demonstrate the sheer amount of opportunity and potential in the world today, just on the internet alone.  While so many struggle in the West to get work, others are creating incredible websites, pieces of software, and movements which benefit society, and in turn make a lot of money.

Sure, I’m biased towards the internet as it’s what I’ve spent most of my life studying and working on, but it is something that is available in many places in the world, has more collective human knowledge than human kind has ever seen, and enables anyone in the world interested or motivated enough to acquire skills, create movements, to build things that benefit society, and to share their voices.  The opportunity is without a doubt there, it’s just a matter of seizing it.

The point being is that instead of looking at work as a resume and applying to companies, look at work as acquiring skills and building things that society values.  This way you’re a valuable asset to society and in turn will be rewarded for it.

Don’t Create Goals

People often talk about creating goals as a means of progress. A challenge.  Challenging ourselves to move forward, setting deadlines to avoid taking too much time, and feeling satisfaction of reaching milestones. With each new milestone, another one comes about, a new goal is created.

I long believed in goals.  I enjoyed seeing myself accomplishing goals. It was fulfilling, enlightening, and challenging.  But what I’ve found is that by focusing on the result and not the process, it makes things less sustainable, less fun, and less likely to succeed.  I was focusing on the shiny object at the end, not in the day to day actions and time I spent getting there.  As a result, I’d often fail.

Instead, build processes and systems.  Again, don’t create goals, create systems.

A few examples:

  • Goal may be: Squat 500 lbs
    System: Go to the gym everyday and squat a tiny bit more each day than you did before.
  • Goal may be: Make $10,000/month
    System: Work on improving skills, making connections, and providing more value to society each day.
  • Goal may be: Lose 25 lbs
    System: Improve diet each day and reduce caloric intake, go for a run each day, eat vegetables every meal
  • Goal may be: Read 40 books this year
    System: Focus on reading 30 minutes each day consistently.

The big point here is that a goal is a milestone, but it doesn’t have a strategy of how to reach the goal.  Because big goals are hard to reach, coming up with a strategy can save you time, energy, money, and willpower, and make you far more likely to reach the goal.

A goal without a path to the goal is a goal that is typically not reached.  Systems are daily routines and habits you build which move you in the direction of your goal, which enables you to build habits that last long after you’ve reached your goal.  Remember, for each goal you reach, another goal then awaits.  It is never ending.

In Scott Adams’ book “How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big”, the brilliant Adams talks about systems and processes.  A system or process that steers you in the direction of where you want to go is never ending.  As you continually refine your processes and systems, you build habits, enjoy the journey each day, and inevitably reach the would-be goals.

As the Stoics found out 2,000 years ago, for each thing you think you want, once you get it, you may realize it wasn’t what you wanted/expected, or if it was what you expected, you inevitably get used to it and long for someone more, or something different – a new goal.

Goals focus on the end result.  They say nothing about how to get there.  Systems are the processes that can lead to a result. Fall in love with the process, not the result.

Life is a journey, enjoy the ride.

If you enjoy this way of thinking, you’ll probably enjoy James Clear’s article Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead. 

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