What have I learnt? (pt.i)
The first week of 2022 has been all about cultivating consistency through daily action brought about by a tangible and focused plan. The bedrock to progress is discipline and the output of discipline is consistency.
A lot has been written (and said) about discipline, consistency and action, but all this requires one important ingredient; self reflection.
Without self reflection, we lack a solid premise or foundation with which to pursue all the things we want to achieve. You cannot be 100% disciplined or consistent unless you know what works for you, why it works for you and how it is directly connected to what you want to achieve.
Theoretical knowledge of why something works (i.e why it makes sense) doesn’t translate to long-term action. It is the experiential knowledge of trying something, testing it over different periods of time and observing its direct effect on your state of being that 1) leads to similar action 2) which leads to us repeating a particular action or set of actions 3) which rewires our mind and creates a habitual response mechanism (I do something because it’s good for my overall well being, even if the action itself challenges me).
Over the last 5 years, I’ve taken a range of actions and observed the effect of each of these actions. How does my body react to various sleep schedules? How does my body react to fasting for long periods of time? How does my digestive system function on different diets? How do I best absorb knowledge? What do I need to ground myself? What kind of content do I want to be consuming? How do I best limit distractions including social media use? What kind of friendships and relationships are best for me? The list goes on and on, but through focused observation towards the ultimate goal of high energy, better motivation and an overall sense of well-being, I know a little bit more about the things that work for me.
There isn’t a one size fits all approach to personal or professional development. It takes you, the individual, to develop a mindset of observation so that you can learn more about yourself, your environment, your triggers and your motivations. No book, or thought leader can ever do the work for you, no matter how inspiring they are.
So whether you’ve just started out, or tired of not making the kind of progress you’d like to be making, or even if you’ve mastered different areas of your life, the skill of observation (internal and external) is the most important tool we have available to us.
So what have I actually learnt and what type of myths have I busted along the way?
Sleep: Some people need more than 8 hours of sleep a night. I’m one of them.
Hydration: I’ve noticed that 3 litres of water isn’t enough to hydrate me and I often struggle to achieve a hydrated state unless I’m hitting 4 litres
Fasting: I do better when I feel « hungry » so fasting 12 - 16 hours 5 times a week is a must
Learning: I love reading more than anything but unless I diarise it, it becomes difficult to read every day
Exercise: I prefer strength workouts but I actually thrive when doing cardio and definitely need to stretch more often through a weekly yoga practice
Diet: A predominantly vegetarian diet (5 days a week) keeps me fuelled, lean and requires much less energy for digestion
Meditation: All techniques are immensely useful, but it’s the consistent practice that makes a difference
Daily habits: Keeping caffeine intake low (max 1 coffee a day before 14:30) is important because it doesn’t activate my stress response, and taking a freezing cold shower in the morning activates my metabolism, helps me focus on my breathing, and gets me fired up for the morning