Week 2: Slow Down

This is part of my weekly project at self-improvement by following the battle plan found in “Forward Tilt: An Almanac for Personal Growth.” This book is incredibly valuable and only $0.99 on Kindle.

It seems like we are always racing each other to get to some random objective. First up the career ladder. First to have ten children. First to make $1,000,000. First to retire. First to start your own business. We get stuck on a certain path because that is what “successful” people before us did.

But man, what is the use of racing around your whole life?

Instead of focusing on the end goal, we should be focusing on our daily lives and enjoying what we have around us. Yes, working hard is important, but that work should make sense. “Work for work’s sake” is waste, but if you are working towards bettering yourself or working to remove the pain points or working to find your passion, then that will get you far in life even if it means passing up a high paying job.

My favorite line out of this week’s lesson is, “I don’t care if you’re sixteen or thirty-three, because you’re not on any conveyor belt or timeline. The path you’re following is your own.”

The action item this week is to write down one thing that I want to do each day of the week to add value to myself. That value can come in many forms and will change with my mood, but my rough plan is this:

  • Monday: Begin recording Audiobook
  • Tuesday: Run 10 miles
  • Wednesday: Bike ride to the beach and relax
  • Thursday: Start a Coursera course on a subject that I’m interested in
  • Friday: Nude sunbathing in my back yard
  • Saturday: Register for a triathlon and begin training
  • Sunday: Attend a Unitarian Church Service

Week 1 of “Forward Tilt” – Update

Last week I started working my way through the phenomenal weekly guide, Forward Tilt: An Almanac for Personal Growth by Isaac Morehouse and Hannah Frankman (it is only $0.99 on Kindle and the paperback will be launching soon). I wasn’t perfect but I think I did okay. The primary challenge this week was twofold: create value and signal to others that you created value.

So, I tried to write every day, as well as work on my professional brand. I only missed one day of writing (which is pretty good for me). As for my brand, I have finished my website, created a Facebook page, went through the WordPress guide for SEO, and I created two ad campaigns, one with Amazon for my book and one with Google for my website.

Overall, it was a really good experience and I learned a lot this week. I’m going to keep writing daily to finish my current short story and then begin the editing process. I am also going to make sure I continue the steps towards getting my brand out there, but that probably won’t be a daily task. Maybe along the way I will find that my writing isn’t creating value, but at least I will have market-tested my creations and received feedback.

Tomorrow starts Week 2, “Slow Down”.

Week 1: The Two Biggest Secrets to Success

This is part of my weekly project at self-improvement by following the battle plan found in “Forward Tilt: An Almanac for Personal Growth.” This book is incredibly valuable and only $0.99 on Kindle.

This week’s lesson (practice? guideline? challenge?) focuses on the two most important factors in creating possibility in your life: creating value and signaling the value you created. This lesson comes at an important time for me. I just completed my first book and have been struggling with advertising it. I feel like I’m bragging if I talk about it more than just the original post, but maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I should put more effort into advertising what I created and am proud of.

So, in answer to this week’s challenge, I am going to work on cultivating a professional outlet for my creations. I will also be writing daily fiction and putting it on my blog (my first creative love is fiction writing). Like Steven Pressfield discusses in “The War of Art”, in order to overcome Resistance we need to be a professional. I am a professional writer and I should act like it.

My rough plan looks like this:

Monday – Research advertising options Facebook and such
Tuesday – Create a professional page on Facebook, set up a Twitter account, update LinkdIn
Wednesday – Website Complete
Thursday – Set up Podcast
Friday – Wrap up loose ends or work on other stuff that came to mind this week

Setting Myself Up For Success

Working from home provides unique challenges to overcome. Sure, I love the freedom and flexibility of setting my own hours and accepting the jobs I want to accept, but I don’t have a boss peering into my office to make sure I’m being productive. The only pressure I feel is the internal need to do what I promised to do and make sure I have enough cash to not starve. It takes discipline, focus, and a sense of entrepreneurship that school didn’t train me for, particularly when it comes to my professional projects that I don’t get paid for. When I’m writing or creating art or exercising there is even less pressure because the only person I will let down is myself, and I tend to be very forgiving, I can always relate to my own excuses.

But, the most important thing I’ve found to keep me on task and doing my work is to establish a system for success. For me, that system starts before the day does. The most important 30 minutes of every day actually starts the night before when I meditate on the day and prepare for the next.

Every night (well, every night that I’m not a huge slacker), I have a staff meeting with myself to figure out what my goals are for the next day. This includes everything from paid work to exercise plan to writing. I type up my expectations for the next day and then I print it out and set it prominently on my desk.

For example, the list sitting next to me says:

Saturday 2/18
– Khan Academy, Stoic Study, Meditation
– Exercise – 5-Mile Run
– Exercise – Yoga Video #7
– Website – Complete Book Recommendations Page and go ive
– Website – Write one blog post
– Book – Research new computer for Audible recording
– Reading – 1 hour
– Errand – Home Depot for shovel and planting soil
– Work – Civitas – Complete XX project and continue XX project ~4 hours

Once I have a list of tasks for the next day I get my house and office ready. I know that when I wake up my motivation will be at an all time low and I need things as organized as possible to encourage success. First, I set out my workout and work clothes for the next day. Each morning I put on my workout clothes and don’t take them off until I’m done exercising. As much as I loathe pants, I don’t work in pajamas. Then I get the coffee prepped, set the necessary workbooks and such next to my computer, and clean up my desktop.

After that, I clean the house. This involves cleaning the kitchen and bedroom first, and sometimes the bathroom. I don’t clean things deeply but I do pick up the clutter and sweep daily. I’ve found that having a dirty home kills my productivity. Not only does it become a distraction to see things out of place, but it creates an excuse that pulls me away from what I should be doing. It is hard for me to motivate myself to work, particularly my writing, and any excuse I have to procrastinate I am tempted to take. It is amazing at how clean my house can become when there is other work I should be doing. I was the same in college, whenever I had a rough deadline it suddenly became necessary to clean my house, reorganize my bathroom, call my parents, etc. Basically, I remove as many excuses as possible and set things up in a way that allows me to transition into the day with minimal speedbumps.

Maybe this is a little anal of me, but it works for me. Setting up my day the night before has really upped my productivity and happiness. I have fewer wasted days where I look at the clock and wonder where the hell the day went. Maybe someday I won’t need this type of habit to create, but that day isn’t today.