A teacher of mine used to tell me that “perfection is the enemy of done”. I suppose that’s a good mantra to keep in mind as I start this journey.
I’ve become inspired, recently, to steel myself and develop self-discipline. This inspiration has resulted from a lot of listening to people such as Jocko Willink, Jordan Peterson, and David Goggins. Of course, they’ll all say that motivation is a false god, and discipline is where it’s really at. I agree, but inspiration can lead to motivation, and a spark of motivation can light a fire of discipline. If managed properly, discipline can burn on through much adversity, and is far more permanent and enduring than the fleeting glimpse of greatness that motivation offers. That said, inspiration/motivation is a great way to start.
The holiday season often hits me with Seasonal Affective Disorder - a result of the dark and grey nature of the northern European winters. This year is no better, and it doesn’t help that I’ve been working and traveling quite a lot lately (while still feeling that I’m unproductive). The life I’ve been living is one of thick molasses, and I’m struggling to churn forward while being slowly embalmed alive in the gunk that my lack of discipline has put me in.
My health has decayed, my mental state is less than perfect, I feel unsatisfied with the level of work-related output I am able to produce, and I am struggling to make progress. In fact, with the brevity of the days and bleak weather, I sometimes feel that I’m moving backward. The world is slipping away into darkness, and I am complicit. Here, in my insulated comfort I wither away into nothingness, and I am not saving the world – perhaps I am even doing the opposite!
But to be sad is a fool’s game, to be a defeatist is to voluntarily bring about the degeneration of the world. For my own sake, I cannot let the flippant seasons dictate how I comport myself. This is the realization I’ve come to, and the next step is to compose some sort of action plan.
From what I know, the steps to a healthy life are relatively simple. I also know that physical health impacts nearly everything else. How can I become physically healthy, and then mentally healthy?
As I see it, I need to start with these action points:
Action points to physical health:
- Adopt a regular sleep schedule
- Start eating a clean diet
- Exercise (aerobic and resistance) daily
- Stretch daily
- Perform breathing Exercises, and
- Practice cold exposure (ala Wim Hof)
Action points to mental health:
- Meditate regularly
- Take extreme ownership of everything (ala Jocko Willink)
- Contemplate the day upon its close
- Practice prayer (from an agnostic standpoint)
- Address issues as they present themselves
I will try to take the remaining time of the advent season to address these action points and get everything done that I possibly can. Every night, I will recite an evening gatha. And every morning I will recite it as well. I will read the version that follows:
“Let me respectfully remind you:
Life and Death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost.
On this night (or morning), the days of our lives are decreased by one.
Each of us should strive to awaken.
Awaken! Take heed! Do not squander your lives.”
In addition, I will be listening to David Goggins, Jocko Willink, and Jordan Peterson on repeat, probably through Meaningwave. If you aren’t familiar with Meaningwave, it’s a great series of music-backed speeches by many different, fascinating people, produced by Akira the Don. I find that, when listening to Meaningwave, I am far more productive and less prone to distraction. I usually turn them off after about two hours of listening, but for the next few weeks, I’ll listen to them as much as possible… Who knows what could happen – maybe I’ll mutate, maybe I’ll become godlike.
For now perhaps the best point of action is to do what Jocko would do. In his words, “Sometimes, you get overwhelmed. There’s just too many things going on, and you start to feel like you’re getting beat, like you’re losing the battle. And when that happens to me, what I like to do is go on the hardcore offense.”
He continues, “I’ll take the things that I have to get done [and] pile them up, and I’ll work two or three sixteen to eighteen hour days, to get caught up. It’s a lot better for me to suffer hard for three days, and grind, than to suffer the continual burden weighing on my back for months on end. If you get a little bit behind and you need to get caught up, hit the turbo button, go hard for three or four days, [and] get yourself where you need to be.”
I’ll try to do that, Jocko. Wish me the best.