Aim Higher

If my goal for the day is to run two miles, I feel exhausted by the time I finish. If my goal is to run four miles, I don’t feel exhausted at two.

This reveals to me that it’s all about the mindset. Obviously I’m physically doing the same amount of exercise by the time I finish two, so I believe that the difference is in my expectation.

My brain is constantly looking for an excuse to stop pain. If it is convinced that the pain will not stop at 2 then it’ll do whatever necessary to cope. And it copes by telling itself that this pain is normal. But if it knows I will stop soon, it will stop trying to cope.

Lesson: whatever your goal is, always aim a few notches above it because it’ll give you the mindset of a person who sees the original goal as normal.

A Year of Blogging

Today, I just realized that I’ve been writing on my blog for over a year.

Writing publicly was something I had wanted to do for years, but it took me some time to get over the fear of being judged over it.

It’s remarkable how much I’ve grown as a result of this endeavor. A year ago I would have been deadly afraid of putting my thoughts and work out for anyone to see.

I used to be paralyzed by perfectionism. Now, I feel good every time I ship something out to the world, even when I know it’s far from perfect.

Well, at least this is the case when it comes to writing. I still can’t imagine shipping something in audio or video form.

At some point I’ll have to tackle that.

Finding Advice That’s Effective

You’re not going to make much progress by listening to big-picture advice from Tim Ferris or Seth Godin. There’s certainly a time for that advice, but not until you’ve had some success. That’s because you need to start doing things before you try to improve them. So just do work first.

If you are going to look for advice, look for people who are not too far removed from your position. Maybe even search for people who are in your level and who are learning out loud.

Reach out to them.

Advice is so much more valuable and effective if it comes from someone that’s right above your level of success, not someone who is miles above you and who gives out general advice that can be applied to everyone. What you want is advice that can only apply to you.

Pursuing a Goal vs Pursuing an Identity

I don’t want to run an ultramarathon, I want to be the type of person that runs ultramarathons.

I don’t want to make a lot of money, I want to be the type of person who is competent and has valuable skills.

I don’t want to get married and have kids, I want to be the type of person whom girls would like to marry and have kids with.

If you focus on changing your identity through small habits, it’s more likely that you will get what you want.

What I Learned by Running a Mile Every Day for 100 Days

What I Learned by Running a Mile Every Day for 100 Days

On March 20, I challenged myself to run at least 1 mile a day for 30 days and decided to document it on my Instagram. I started this challenge because I wanted to develop discipline and prove to myself that I could accomplish a long-term goal. After 30 days I didn't want to stop so I told myself I'd do 60, then 100. 

At this point, I don't know when I'll stop, but what I do know is that I've benefited so much already. I feel that I've grown in this period of time at a faster rate than ever before. Well, maybe I grew at a faster rate when I was a toddler. For example, I went from crawling to walking in just one day. Now that's a really big improvement in life if you ask me.

Anyway, here are the cool insights I've gathered by running a mile every day for 100 days straight. 

It Does Get Easier

I know it seems like this should be obvious but let me tell you, it wasn't obvious after the 30th or even the 60th day. There were lots of days when I did the bare minimum and wondered if 1 mile would ever feel like a piece of cake.  Now I can say that it does feel that way more often than not. Don't get me wrong, there are still days when I reeeeaally don't feel like running, but once I get out there that feeling usually goes away and I'm done before I know it.

Without any rest days, I thought I'd be exhausted by now, or that my legs would wear down, but that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I was recently able to run 13 miles (my longest run yet) and in two days I was ready to go hard at it again. No soreness whatsoever. 

Of course, this can only happen if I take care of my body, which gets me to my next point. 

It Leads To Other Healthy Habits

I drink water now! Hooray!

Before this challenge, I sometimes went days without drinking any water. Now I can't afford to do that, so it doesn't happen anymore. 

I know that if I eat chips or drink soda, I will soon feel weak and not have the necessary energy to do a long run. I had to go through a few runs where a felt extremely weak before I learned that lesson. 

Because I work on my body constantly, I simply don't feel okay with mistreating it anymore.

Side note: I've found that I get great results if my pre-run meal is just a protein shake. It sits a lot lighter in my stomach and gives me long-lasting energy. I especially like a vanilla protein powder and a banana mixed in with coconut milk. 

You Can Learn To Love Things That Make You Uncomfortable

If you told me I would learn to love running a few months ago, I wouldn't believe you. I just couldn't fathom liking something that brought so much discomfort. In fact, I still can't fully understand it; I just merely feel it. 

I started running almost a year ago but I only did it for health, not for fun. Now, the health part is just a bonus. 

Before I started this challenge, I would dread the days when I've committed myself to run more than the minimum. Like when I ran with my local running club, for example. Now I have no fear of that inevitable pain. And during the runs, I don't constantly wish for the pain to end. 

Because of this challenge I learned to be okay with being uncomfortable. 

It Increases Self-Efficacy

There's no denying it: a daily dose of accomplishment does wonders to your psyche.

Every day I have accomplished a goal I set for myself, thus increasing my confidence to accomplish things. Running every day has changed the way I approach new goals, tasks and challanges. I'm now more of an optimist and risk taker.

A case in point is when I took the initiative to create a website for my local running club even though I had no coding knowledge. I don't think my past self would have done that. 

Photo by aquachara on Unsplash

Radical Self-Acceptance

Radical Self-Acceptance

Today I started reading Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. It crossed my radar because Tim Ferris has strongly recommended it in the past. I gotta say, so far it's looking to be a book that I didn't know I so desperately needed. 

In the beginning, Dr Brach told a story of a woman who was on her deathbed. Before she passed, she was able to reveal this profound and heartbreaking insight to her daughter:

You know, all my life I thought something was wrong with me

For me, this really hit close to home because it's what I believed for so much of my life. It also made me think of how horribly damaging this feeling of unworthiness can be. For example, it can lead to a drug addiction or dependence upon an abusive partner. 

This is not part of the book (at least not that I'm aware of yet) but I think this feeling of unworthiness exists largely because of how we are treated as children. It comes from being told that we are "bad" or "wrong" for expressing ourselves in such a way that an adult doesn't approve of. 

In a more indirect way, it can also come from the belief in original sin.

Evidently, most of us are raised so that our acceptance of ourselves is strongly tethered to how others feel about us. The stronger this connection is made the more fragile we are. And the more fragile we are, the more we suffer. Think of the people who gauge how they feel by the number of "likes" that they get. 

I think a mentally healthy person generally has an opinion of himself which is unmoved by what others think of him. (Of course, this is excluding the close people who he respects). I think this is a path to true happiness. Or at least a path away from suffering. 

I desperately don't want to live the rest of my life feeling unworthy. Luckily I've already made great progress in getting that out of my system. And I have this blogging journey to thank for that. I'm slowly but surely disconnecting what others think of me from what I think of myself. So far, this has done so much for my own happiness.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to learning the insights that Brach's book has to offer.

Featured image by Grant Ritchie on Unsplash

My Personal Development Project: Move a Mile a Day

My Personal Development Project: Move a Mile a Day

If you see my Instagram, you would notice that I'm running at least 1 mile every morning.

About a year ago I made the conscious decision to make running a part of my life, the reason being I want to live a long and healthy life. In the beginning, the times when I ran were sporadic. I basically ran only when I felt like it. Sometimes I even took weeks off. 

To become more consistent I joined a running club. This really helped my consistency and endurance. We ran on Mondays and Thursdays, but when it came to the rest of the week, I didn't always run. Again, only when I felt like it.

While that certainly was an improvement, I wasn't running as often as I would have liked to. I think if I truly want to become a lifelong runner, I need to turn running into a subconscious habit. This is why I've decided to take on this personal development project. The challenge is to move at least 1 mile every day for the next 30 days. 

Now, one mile may not seem like much for someone like me, but that's by design.

This isn't about the distance or the speed. Running 1 mile may be easy. Staying consistent is the hard part. It means I have to do it even on my worst days. 

By making it an easier distance, I'm also removing almost every possible excuse. There's almost no reason why I couldn't go through 9 minutes of discomfort every day. If I made the challenge 3 miles I would be more likely to resist even getting out there, and that doesn't help me. Besides, what I've found is that once I'm out there, I'm likely to push myself beyond 1 mile just to make my day's exercise more impactful.

Another reason is that I currently have an injured knee which is in the process of healing. Right now I can't run more than three miles without devolving into a limp. Even though I'm taking on this challenge, I'm also committed on allowing my knee to heal. It may mean that if it starts hurting too much, I will walk that day. Either way, at least one mile will get done. I'll even crawl if I have to.

In order to make this challenge more real, I decided to document it on Instagram. If you want to witness my journey, you can go ahead and follow me there. It'll give me more reason to not give up and you'll get slight doses of inspiration. At least I know I get inspired when I see other people's hustle.  

If I'm successful maybe this will turn into a yearlong challenge, or maybe I'll go crazy and make it lifelong!

Maybe I'll be like this man who ran every day for 45 years:


Featured image by Anders Jildén on Unsplash

Being Mindful Of The Alternatives To Social Media

Being Mindful Of The Alternatives To Social Media

Many times, I find myself not knowing what to do with myself. I'm talking about those little moments of "free time" when I have no particular obligation or personal commitment.

Today I was going through that and, in that moment, my hand instinctively went to the letter R followed by the Enter button of my keyboard, which took me to Reddit. This mindless impulse has happened many times before. The sad thing is that after looking through the site I usually end up with a deep feeling of dissatisfaction.

Whether it's checking Reddit, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube it only turns out to be worth it about 10% of the time.  Sometimes I even find something that makes me feel angry or sad which is even worse. 

This needs to stop. Logically speaking, I should replace checking on social media with activities that are way more likely to be worthwhile. Doing this will make me mentally healthier and more valuable in general. 

A good way to make this change is to already have clear alternatives in mind or, better yet, have them written down so that, whenever I have the impulse to go on social media, I can instead look at an actual list. Because one of the biggest reasons for why I go on social media all the time is because I'm not fully mindful of the alternatives. So today I created that list.

This list of mine is made up of positive and fun things that I could do instead of checking social media. In my opinion, the more options I have the better, since that way I'm more likely to find something I'm in the mood for.

  • Walk my dogs - because in their eyes you can never do enough of that
  • Watch a movie
  • Go for a run
  • Play basketball
  • Read a chapter of Tribe Of Mentors
  • Read an article that I have saved on my Kindle
  • Read a chapter of a novel
  • Listen to a podcast - if you feel up to it, you can do it while running or walking the dogs!
  • Write a thank you letter
  • Call a friend
  • Talk to a stranger - I know you won't do it but hey, the option's always there
  • Answer some questions on Quora
  • Start or continue a post for my blog
  • Think of how I can improve this list (should I have more productive things or just more options?)

Side note: while I do think there's a place for social media, I think it's best used only when I have a deliberate reason. That way there's a pretty good chance it'll be worth it.

False Statements That You Should Pretend Are True

Even if they are technichally not true since they are absolutes, sometimes believing in these things can have huge benefits:

You are responsible for everything that happens to you.

This belief puts you in the driver's seat of your own life. It makes you look for what you could have done better so that you can improve next time. You see this mentality in a lot of great basketball players - even if the team loses the game because another player missed a simple shot, they don't blame it on them. Instead they say "it's on me, I could have done something." I think that's a sign of a great leader. 

You can do anything you set your mind to.

Believing in this makes it almost infinitely more likely that you'll be able to achieve your goals. Even if you end up failing, you will still get somewhere. As the saying goes, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.”

In the end, everything will turn out fine.

This gives you the confidence to take risks.

What’s The Deal With Ayn Rand?

What’s The Deal With Ayn Rand?

One time when I was in college, one of my philosophy professors made the point that there aren't any famous women philosophers. She challenged us to name one, so I immediately blurted out "what about Ayn Rand?"  To that, she made an annoyed face and responded with "well, she doesn't count." I don't remember her exact explanation for why she didn't count but I know it was something along the lines of her "being crazy."

This is not the only time I've noticed this contempt for Ayn Rand and her philosophy.

Just yesterday I watched an episode of Gilmore Girls where an Ayn Rand reference came up. Rory, who is known as a very smart and driven girl, praises The Fountainhead, explaining that she was 10 when she first fell in love with it. Then the other character condemns Rand.

after I watched the show, I listened to a podcast called Gilmore Guys. It's a podcast where two guys and a guest break down each episode. It makes my experience of watching the show much more fun. Anyway, in the break-down of this particular episode, they were "disappointed" by Rory's love of Rand's work. They didn't explain why though, I assume because they thought the reason was self-evident.

I don't understand this. 

So many great people love her books. Just like Rory, I've heard many stories of people reading her work when they were young and it being a huge positive influence in their lives. They talk about her as if she was the catalyst to their success.

This leads me to think that there's something very valuable to be gleaned from her books, but apparently most people don't see this. I think that they are so focused on what they don't like about her that they don't see the hidden treasure. And after so many testimonials like the one below I'm convinced that there is a treasure. That is why I'm determined to eventually read her novels.

Though I've never read her work, I know I've been indirectly influenced by her, since the people that influenced me say that they've been influenced by her. What I do know about her is that she likes the free market, individualism, and personal responsibility, so she's alright in my book.

I've never heard of a person being driven to become successful and take control of their own lives because they read Karl Marx or Bernie Sanders or any other collectivist. If anything, I think those kinds of public figures discourage people. After all, their philosophy stands on the idea that the power to better your life is outside of you rather than within.