Because you look and feel like a damn fool when you don’t…
Good morning everyone! Today is a momentous occasion – it is the very last day of July, marking the end of my Pursuit of Individual Excellence (PIE).
Throughout this month-long journey, there have been some interesting lessons learned, skills developed, and a fair amount of stress. Overall, I am grateful that I took the time and energy to perform this challenge and to stick with it. I think that I have definitely learned what aspects of my life should be prioritized going forward, as well as a concrete method to hold me accountable for trying new things (public shame).
First and foremost, here are some of the lessons I learned on this month-long journey:
- Being healthy is the best investment you can make. As a keystone habit, its qualities often translate to other aspects of your life. If you have the willpower to eat clean and exercise, you will be more likely to adhere to other goals.
- Being healthy feels incredible and is well worth the expenditure in the willpower department. There were many times that I was tempted to eat something outside of my diet or skip hitting the gym, but each time that I was able to overcome the small amount of psychological resistance, I reaped the benefits of feeling amazing.
- Binge drinking is terrible in almost every single way. I felt infinitely less social, had no willpower, and had the worst hangovers on the days I binged this month. When your body is used to being clean, the effects of the toxins in alcohol are amplified, for me at least. This is something I really want to avoid in the future.
- With that being said, there were many nights that it would have been easier to abstain than to just have a couple drinks. My advice: if you don’t want to binge drink on the weekends, do not have a single drink. Once you have a small amount of alcohol in your system and are tempted by a social atmosphere, it will be hard not to keep pounding beverages.
- Reading is best done in chunks, for me. I found it extremely tough to slowly progress through a book (e.g., 50 pages a night). I made the most progress on my books during long flights or dedicated reading periods. Once I reached a certain level of depth into the book, it was easy to keep going, but the initial push of a long session was always helpful.
- I love spending time with friends, having deep conversations. I would say that my happiness is directly correlated to the number of fascinating conversations that I had this month. Also, the fact that I have been blogging has improved my vulnerability and has given me confidence to speak my mind, independent of judgement.
- I love writing. It is an amazing way to structure my thoughts, build creativity, and share messages. I will continue to write for the immediate future, undoubtedly.
- While I love writing, I cannot wait to stop having the intense deadline of producing an article each day for public view. This was quite demanding and led to sub-par work. I aspire to produce something each day, but look forward to not having to show the world each and every day.
- Self reliance. Ultimately, I was the only one holding myself accountable during the entire month. If I failed, I was the only one accountable and affected; I had no cheerleader. This led to an extreme amount of independence and confidence. I know that I have a great deal more to learn about myself, but this month was a great learning experience.
- Fortune favors the bold. Be bold in everything you do. As long as you are honest with your intentions and true to yourself, the chips will end up in your favor most of the time. But, when they don’t, learn from your mistakes and don’t make the same one twice.
These are some of the first things that come to my mind with the challenge. Now for the results.
Intellectual – Met goal
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (read about a quarter of this and had to put it down for the sake of the challenge)
The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?
I Will Teach You To Be Rich
Captivate: Conversational Secrets
Overall, I was a fan of all of the books I read this month and would recommend any of them. The Icarus Deception was probably my favorite and a very quick read.
Amount owed: $0
Physical – Met goal
I was able to go to the gym at least four days per week (some weeks five or six times) and never broke the slow carb diet. In fact, I amplified my diet to a full ketogenic one for the final week (more strict). Overall, this is the best I have felt and looked in a long time.
Amount owed: $0
Virtuous – Missed goal
Most nights, I had a great deal of willpower and abstained from drinking or only had two. On four occasions however, I took the easy way out and binged. While two of the nights I only had 4 or 5 drinks, there were two nights that I went well beyond my limit, for both I will pay the price.
Amount owed: $20 (4 x $5)
Social – Met goal
I don’t think I have ever been this social before in my life. Whether it is a family member, a friend, an acquaintance, or a random person on the street, I have been doing my best to connect with everyone. This has been eye opening and refreshing. Being in a different time zone than of most of my friends has really made me appreciate the beauty of a phone call. On average, I had long conversations with people 6 days per week, beating my goal.
Amount owed: $0
Creative – Almost met goal
I composed a post each day this month, save for one. That day I didn’t feel especially creative and actually spend a lot of time working on a new side project (more on that soon!). This made me justify missing a post, but nonetheless, I must pay up. Check out all of my posting at the Home link of my blog.
Amount owed: $5 (1 x $5)
Total amount to Patriots fund: $25
That is all for now folks – thanks to everyone for all of the support throughout this month, I love you all dearly. Please let me know what you think and please don’t hesitate to message me or comment. Cheers!
I recently started recording all of my workouts in a log. Everything from what lift to how many reps to how many sets, yada yada yada.
I did so at the advice of one Tim Ferriss (my idol these days), under his guiding words that tracking your workouts sends a ripple through all of your activities. He thinks that the small win of tracking your workouts can help lead to you being more likely to measure other things.
Well, two weeks in, I agree. The habit of tracking my workouts has given me an itch to measure other parts of my life. This has lead me to download apps for sleep analysis, create habitual journals, and send myself recurring Google Forms to track status in key areas.
While it is too soon to tell if this effort is worth result, I think there are some positives to be realized. I can definitely say that recording my workouts has been quite helpful in freeing my brain of remembering what I did the prior week. That alone is worth the effort, to me.
Only time will tell, but I encourage you to try and measure something important to you. Who knows how it will help you improve a skill or translate to other parts of your life.
When I was in Austin earlier this week, I was extremely surprised at the immense amount of John Wayne signage and posters around. The quotes and photos were quite powerful.
The robust mentions of John Wayne made realized two key things: how much of a badass this man was, as well as how quotable he was. A perfect storm.
Thus, I have taken the liberty of compiling my top five quotes of John Wayne, himself. Hopefully these words can bring some inspiration to you all.
1.) Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.
2.) Real art is basic emotion. If a scene is handled with simplicity – and I don’t mean simple – it’ll be good, and the public will know it.
3.) I’m not the sort to back away from a fight. I don’t believe in shrinking from anything. It’s not my speed; I’m a guy who meets adversities head on.
4.) Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.
5.) Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.
I hope you learned something from yesterday (and hopefully this article!).
For my third book this month, I picked up I Will Teach You To Be Reach by Ramit Sethi. While it sounds extremely gimmicky, I must say that the book overall was very insightful.
As a twenty-something that knows virtually nothing about my personal finance, I thought it was finally time to stop mismanaging my funds, hence my choice to read this book. After completing the book today, I can confidently say that it is the “85% solution” for everyone to eliminate debt, cut costs on things you don’t need, and optimize investments. If you feel that your finances can be automated, simplified, or improved, I highly recommend this read.
For me, following the action plan in this book was like a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I am the type of person that always said they would save more money, but, time and time again, I never met my goals. With the process set up in this book, I am now able to save, invest, pay my bills, and have a flexible budget set without lifting a finger.
This automation not only saves me time and reduces my exorbitant spending, it gives me a huge sense of relief. I can now spend the money that I have allotted per week in a guilt-free manner, knowing that my savings goals are met. For someone who used to stress about money constantly, this piece of mind alone is worth the read.
So, if you are a clueless, stressed out wreck (even when you know you shouldn’t be) about money, give this book or some of Ramit’s free content a read/watch. I highly recommend his take on negotiations, as well.
Tonight I had an incredible meal in Austin. Between the steak, pork belly, salad, asparagus, and brussel sprouts, it was unbelievably tasty.
All was well and I was on track, avoiding the potatoes and the bread the whole way through. In fact, with the amazing food in front of me it was easy to follow my diet. My eating habits were disguised in plain sight.
It was so easy. Easy, that is, until dessert…
My weakness had always been sugar. Pastries, cookies, candy – I’ll eat it all. So, naturally, when dessert arrived, my patience was tested.
It was then that I had moment that I have had many times over the past 27 days. A rational dialogue in my head.
Is it worth the $5 to break my diet goal? I can afford it at this point.
Ultimately though, cooler heads prevailed. I refused to trivialize my core values and goals for temporary pleasure. I recognized that it would not be worth the short term dopamine rush to sacrifice the gains I have made thus far.
Even though I was the only one at the table who didn’t indulge, I never felt so comfortable. My actions we’re congruent with my desires, an empowering feeling.
While I don’t enjoy being negative, I must admit that I have always hated Sundays when football is not in season. I cannot put my finger on the specific reason why, but Sundays just bother me.
Maybe it is the hangover from the weekend filled with copious amounts of liquor. Or maybe it is the feeling that the best part of a week is gone and the hard work of a new week is staring you in the face. It is hard to say what the exact cause is for my distaste, but for whatever reason, Sundays just leave me feeling empty.
I suppose you can’t know the good with our the bad. Thank goodness we only have seven more weeks until kickoff…
I am writing today’s post from my hostel in Austin, Texas. With business visit on Monday and Tuesday, I opted to make a long weekend out of the trip. Additionally, in order to prepare for my solo trip abroad, here I am in Austin with virtually noone that I know in the entire city. Exciting!
Despite the 105 degree weather, I must say that my first impressions of the city are fantastic. Everyone I have met so far is extremely friendly and helpful. The city itself is pristine and 6th street looks like a blast.
I am keeping today’s post short so that I can head out onto the streets and explore! Wish me luck.
P.S. I finished book number two today on the flight. I had to shift gears from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance because, while fascinating, it was no the right book for a power read. I look forward to finishing it after this challenge and am focusing on finishing two books in the seven days (oh boy).
This evening, me and a friend thought it wise to go to a SIlicon Valley networking event found on meetup.com. The event looked promising on the site and we were excited to meet some cool people (ok, single successful women would be nice too).
We should have heeded the warning of the random dude we met at the pool last weekend. “Oh, I have been to those,” he said. “It is like 90% dudes who want to talk business and 10% girls who are married.”
Long story short, he was right.
But, to make the most of the opportunity, we hung out, grabbed a free drink and met some pretty interesting folks. It was an eclectic mix of technologists young and old, employed and on the hunt. On the whole, it was a pretty decent time and I made some promising connections.
Perhaps the most fascinating interaction of the night, though, was one that started off quite rocky. As I was speaking with my buddy, off to the side, a man jumped almost directly between us. “Coders!?” he inquired.
Off-put by this man’s lack of social courtesy, I decided to reply in a rather sarcastic fashion. “I think I took a class in C++ a long time ago,” I retorted.
Needless to say, this man’s hopes took a hit. His company hosted this event, in desperate hopes of finding some code monkeys to help along their development needs. This is not an uncommon thing in Silicon Valley – demand for knowledge in computer science is at an all-time high. What is uncommon however, is the lack of tact employed by this professional.
I have been told two key pieces of advice, somewhere along the way, that are extremely applicable for this situation. Number one: first impressions are everything. Number two: a good salesmen never begs. It would appear that this well-intended individual did not abide by either of these rules.
Consequently, while I, specifically, was not interested in this company, I am now hesitant to introduce or plug it to my friends with coding abilities. I cannot trust the enterprise, all because of a short interaction.
The key takeaway is two fold. First, a focus on first impressions is absolutely critical to success in networking. Dress well and exhibit proper body language, as well as vocal delivery. You will come off as confident and interesting; someone people want to know.
Second, do not over-sell yourself or your company. Find the right balance of inquiring about the individual’s interests (both in and outside of their career), your passions and goals, and mutual hobbies. This indirect path will reduce or eliminate desperation, while providing an element of human connection.
Through practice, these two simple tools can be incorporated into your networking repertoire, helping to build connections. Remember, its not what you know, its who you know.
When I moved out to California, my father (and mother) were kind enough to float me a loan until I got on my feet and started to make a little bit of dough. Now that I am all settled in, it is time to start paying them back. Oh joy!
As any right thinking, tech-savvy twenty something would do, I shot my Dad a text message. I asked him if I could use Chase QuickPay to send him the coin I owed him. The following exchange took place:
Hilarity of my father’s texting ability aside, there is an interesting insight here. In my mind, there is nothing safer than an electronic transfer of funds. Between QuickPay, Venmo, and Paypal, I use the web to expedite all of my transactions, without so much as a second thought. It is just a reflex at this point.
On the other hand, my father, someone who has had a cell phone for over 15 years and has been using the Internet even longer, still doesn’t feel secure when using this technology. And, with recent breaches at Target and Michael’s (among countless others), it makes sense to doubt these systems.
So, why does our generation blindly trust this technology? Why do we consistently put our faith in intangible numbers? It is now common-place to spend an entire week’s wages without physically holding even a cent of that currency physically. It is all the addition and subtraction of an account balance, a mere number.
Some people have experienced life-changing results from using only cash for a month. To folks that have spent a majority of their life prior to the days of online banking, this seems ludicrous. Cash was all they had 10 years ago. Yet here we are, splitting and pooling our Ubers, while using Venmo to split our AirBnB’s.
It is no wonder that my father is a skeptic.