The 15 Foundations of Success: My Personal Self-Discipline Report – June – 2017

“Through self-discipline comes freedom.”

— Aristotle

Let Me Show You How I Developed Insane Levels Of Self-Discipline

In order to survive in today's world, you have to get REALLY good at suffering. There's a way, actually many ways, to become tougher. And I can teach them to you. You can thank me later.

Welcome to my first ever, Monthly Self-Discipline Report, where I outline my exact processes and tracking methods that I use every day in order to beat my goals into submission.

My personal self-development program isn’t the simplest one around, so if you don’t have a system of your own yet, I’m not sure that it would be a good idea to simply adopt mine right off the bat. After all, the incomplete system that you actually use is FAR more important than the absolutely 100% perfect system that you don’t use at all.

Self-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

This system that I lay out here evolved over time, and I added/subtracted elements as needed, as my schedule changed, as my goals changed, and as I changed.

Aside from the difficulty and challenge of a training program like this, its idiosyncratic nature is another reason why it might not be the best plan to just copy mine wholesale.

You’re welcome to, of course…but my program is tough. Most people will quit.

I’m working out 5-7 days a week, reading 100+ books per year, developing virtues like obsessiveness, punctuality, and wakefulness, all while running a non-profit, working 3 other part time jobs and chasing girls. I don’t have ANY time for the non-essentials, and even less time for complaining.

My system is tougher than most, because I want to be tougher than most. I urge you to develop a similar system that will help you cultivate the qualities that YOU want to see grow within yourself. 

Here, today, I cover the fundamentals of my system like my priorities, tracking metrics, key result activities, and my daily routine.

I leave out some of the more personal stuff (everyone has goals they’re not ready to share with the world yet), but I try to share as much as possible while striking a balance between full-disclosure and a reasonable level of privacy.

It’s my hope that by taking the elements of my system that work for you, and discarding the ones that don’t, you can make real progress in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

The price of discipline is ALWAYS less than the price of regret, and discipline itself doesn’t have to be some big burden. You need to be disciplined in order to have fun. Freedom within structure.

By being disciplined, you make so much more possible for yourself, and by doing what you KNOW you need to do, day in and day out, you begin to start living the life you have imagined for yourself.

There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started…

OVERVIEW OF MY SYSTEM

My system seems overly complicated, and hey, it might be for some people. I’m always trying to simplify. But it represents a system of checks and balances that makes sure I don’t miss anything that I feel to be important to my own life. 

  1. We begin with my priorities, where I consciously decided what was important to me and what wasn’t. If a proposed activity doesn’t align with my priorities in some way, then, odds are, I won’t do it. Now, this isn’t completely selfish, because helping people is a big priority of mine. But watching TV isn’t a priority of mine (although there’s nothing necessarily wrong with it), while working out and reading books ARE priorities.

  2. There are certain things that I consider to be “foundational” to my success; things like getting enough sleep, managing my energy, tracking my time, meditation, etc. These are examined in this section.

  3. Tracking my time is something I find incredibly useful for keeping me on track. I record on my iPhone whether my previous hour was “Focused”, “Necessary”, or “Unfocused”. I also track whether or not my time was spent in something called “Deep Work”.

  4. From there, we move on to what I call the “Virtues” and this section is modeled after the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, where he lays out numerous virtues that he wishes to cultivate within himself before going on a personal campaign with the aim of doing so. Much like I’ve done here.

  5. Process goals are next, and they’re basically things that can’t be “achieved” in any traditional sense, but done every day, over time, will lead to the accomplishment of my biggest goals. Things like eating enough quality food, drinking three liters of water a day, etc all belong here.

  6. I then give my “Final Numbers” which are the main numbers that I track each month, along with my body measurements, etc. I like to see these go up and up.

  7. Short Term Goals: Goals which are to be achieved within a year or less.

  8. Mid Term Goals: Goals which are to be achieved within 1-5 years or less.

  9. Long Term Goals: Goals which are to be achieved over a longer time period.

  10. Here, I also give my Blog Stats, which are basically things like my reader/subscriber counts, monthly visitors to the site, etc. A lot of these are outside my direct control, but I find it fun to track them anyway, and it’s very motivating.

  11. Next, we have my Daily Habits, and here I go through some of my routines, specifically for morning, throughout the day, and at night. Things like meditation, stretching, reading, etc are all detailed here.

  12. Winding down now, I run a single thread through my habits and routines and processes, and this I call my Most Important Idea.

  13. I also have a Most Important State, and when I’m feeling this way, I am my most productive and happy and fulfilled.

  14. My Grander Vision comes next, and it’s basically a macro view of what I want my life to be about. You should give some serious thought to developing a Grander Vision (or something less dumb-sounding) for yourself.

  15. Simplify, man! This second-to-last section of my Monthly Discipline Report is a call to simplicity.

  16. Summary: In this last section, I tie everything together and give some of my final thoughts on self-discipline.

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MY PRIORITIES

PEACE OF MIND:

This is my highest priority. Everything is filtered through this, and if it’s not going to add to my piece of mind, or helpfully contribute to it in some way down the line, I don’t do it.

Ideally, you should do even more than “earn your sleep each night”; you should also be able to rest your head knowing that you did what you knew you had to do, and that you are actively confronting every challenge in your life, as well as seeking to uncover things about yourself that you didn’t even know were affecting your life every day. This ALL contributes to developing peace of mind.

It takes a lot of reflective thought, but peace of mind, for me, is the highest good.

HUMAN RIGHTS:

A huge part of my focus is on improving the lives of others. A lot of things fall under this category for me, but being of service in any way usually means that I am living up to my priorities here. I do this through my writing, my non-profit organization, my volunteer work, and whatever else. Because, after all, what are we all here for if not to make life a little less difficult for each other?

Self-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

SIMPLICITY: 

I need to keep things simple. Too many tasks and responsibilities at once makes it hard for me to do my best work, not to mention how living in a cluttered environment renders me completely ineffectual compared to my usual high standard.

To live up to this priority, I need to constantly audit my commitments, limit the people I spend time with, say no to more things, keep my living space clean, my car clean, my email inbox cleared, etc. When I reduce everything to the bare essentials, I am calm, happy,  and productive.

PRESENCE: 

Maybe, just maybe, the ‘meaning’ of life is simply to be aware of it while it’s happening. Living in the present moment reduces anxiety and stress, makes you more productive, and measurably increases your happiness. These are all established facts.

For me, being present to the moment, really feeling every moment of my life (Fight Club reference haha!), means that not only do I get more done, but I also enjoy myself when I’m doing it. This is huge.

There’s nothing else that you or I need to be ‘doing’ except what we’re doing right now, in this very moment. There is nothing to do, nothing to achieve, nothing to worry about. When your focus is on the present moment, you always know exactly what to do.

READING:

I honestly couldn’t care less about school, but I’m absolutely obsessed with learning. Books, courses, articles, lectures, etc…all these are things that I consume at a rapid pace. Currently, I aim to read at least 100 pages a day, but my overarching goal in this area is to read 1,000 books before I turn 30. Philosophy, psychology, classics, biographies; you’ll find me reading all of these and more.

 

Self-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

TRAINING: 

I’m at the gym consistently, working out 5-7 times a week, and fitness is one of my obsessions, just like reading.

Socrates said that everyone should at least aim to see what their body is capable of, and I took his advice to heart. Whether it’s boxing, bodybuilding, or anything else, movement itself is amazing, and I’m just grateful that I CAN move. So many people can’t.

Training for me is kinda like meditation, and I consciously put my mind INSIDE my muscles as I’m  working out. As I discovered was true elsewhere in life, the best results come from pushing past the “pain period”. Too many people are ‘comfortable’ at the gym. That’s why they’re not progressing! Also, the personal pride that comes from the ability to consistently fight past the point of exhaustion powerfully fuels my obsession.

FRIENDS: 

Seneca said that we should greedily enjoy our friends, because we don’t know for how long this privilege will be ours. I agree. A true friend is a sort of second self, and this amazing privilege that you have, to be in this person’s company, must never be taken for granted.

In fact, it’s been empirically validated that most people would prefer real death to a sort of “social death”; to be ostracized, lonely, friendless, this is just about the worst thing that can ever happen to a person. Erich Fromm even said that “love is the only rational answer to the problem of human existence.” I assume that this can be extended to friendship as well.

I keep a  list of everyone I want to keep in touch with, and I reach out as often as I can, and try to spend as much time in the company of people who make me better, and who make my life better.

As they say, the road is never long to a friend’s house, and the only way to have a friend is to be one.

FAMILY: 

My ‘circle of concern’ is quite large, and I care about a far greater number of people than my immediate family. That being said, there are two people in the entire world that I love more than anyone else, and they are my mom and dad.

I would drop everything for them, and I know that once I’ve lost them, I’ve quite probably lost them forever. There’s nowhere that they can “go” where I won’t always love them, but while we have this time together, I’m going to spend as much of it as possible with them, while still balancing my obsession with making myself and the world better.

I have other family members that I care for quite a bit, and I would do an incredible amount for them too, but my mom and dad are number one, by far. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

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WOMEN: 

After saying those all those lovely things about my family and friends, I might lose some of you on this one, especially the more conservative of my readership. But: I’m not “relationship material” in any sort of traditional way.

Women enter and leave my life at a fairly rapid rate, and between working in bars for years as well as studying from the masters, I can meet and attract new ones fairly easily. It’s fun for me, not to mention fascinating.

Female psychology is freakin’ weird, man! I won’t say too much about this part of my life, and I definitely won’t give numbers, but learning more about women has taught me more about myself, it’s taught me to become a fundamentally stronger man, and sometimes it’s even been pretty fun! Needless to say, I have stories that would make Charlie Sheen blush.

VIRTUE:

I believe that virtue is the highest good to which we can attain. Everything is subordinate to virtue. Wisdom, justice, courage, and temperance are all part of virtue, and these qualities form the basis of character.

If you’re lacking in any one of them, you’re not virtuous (but hey, who is?) and you don’t have a strong moral character (yet). Each one feeds into the others. Making virtue a priority is all about making improvements where it’s going to do the most good, to you, to others, and to society at large.

There’s no sense trying to make money, or learn a trade, or learn a sport, if you aren’t working on becoming more wise, just, courageous, and temperate.

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MY PRIORITY NUMBERS FOR JUNE:

Time Spent On My Priorities: 206.5 Hours

Compared To Last Month: -12.5 Hours

Average Per Day: 6.9 Hours

By Priority:

Human Rights – 39.5 Hours

Reading – 86 Hours

Training – 35 Hours

Friends – 19 Hours

Family – 12 Hours

Women – 15 Hours

THE FOUNDATIONSSelf-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

There’s an excellent book called “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson, and you’ll notice that a lot of what I do can be related back to the core idea of that book, which is basically the idea that there are certain things that you can do that have a hugely beneficial compound effect over time.

They are things that are easy to do, but they are also easy NOT to do, and they are always having an effect on your life even if it doesn’t always seem that way.

Skipping one workout won’t kill you. But if you miss one workout every week, then that’s 52 training sessions that you are MISSING every single year, and 52 training sessions is enough to make a radical difference in your health and in your overall look.

My “Foundations” concept marries the idea of “The Slight Edge” to the idea of “The Pareto Principle” in that there are certain slight edge activities that have a greater effect than others.

You can write a Facebook post every day for 40 years, but at the end of that time, you’re only going to have this huge collection of pictures of your dinners, statuses about how drunk your best friend was last weekend, or anecdotes about how your boss is a jerk.

In contrast, if you write just 100 words a day for 40 years, at the end of it, you could  have a novel the same length of “In Search of Lost Time”, by Marcel Proust, which weighs in at 1,267,069 words. Arguably the definitive modern novel, “In Search of Lost Time” is a far greater accomplishment than anything I’m ever likely to post on Facebook.

So to summarize this idea, there are 15 different things that, to me, are foundational. They set me up for every possible success that I want in the future, and they do so in the best and most efficient way, as far as I can tell. None of them are difficult to do, but they need to be written down because a list of 15 things is too big to carry around in your head all day long. Here they are:

ENJOY:

People tend to get swept along by life without realizing how good they actually have it. Enjoyment is my number one foundation, and this simply means that I take the time to appreciate that I do in fact enjoy everything that I am doing. Even the painful stuff. Actually, ESPECIALLY the painful stuff, because pain makes me grow.

Mindfulness comes into play here of course, and extreme focus on the present moment is critical to enjoyment. But, it pays to take a step back and consciously realize that you are having fun in life. I love reading books, I love working out, and I love helping people, but I count this foundation as “built” each day when I can look back and see that I actually felt like I was enjoying what I was doing, AS I was doing it. This is huge.

RELAX: 

My second foundation is just as important as the first. They feed into each other actually. When I’m relaxed, I enjoy myself more, and when I consciously realize that I’m enjoying myself, I tend to relax.

I use this as a counterbalance to external societal pressures that are always trying to tell me that I’m not “enough” in some way, or that I should be busy and stressed like everyone else if I want to be “successful”. I’m already successful. I don’t need to listen to anyone who tries to tell me to move faster than my own pace.

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DESIGN:

This means planning out, or ‘designing’ my day. Because it really should be a conscious design, not just a haphazard collection of appointments, commitments, and mindless tasks.

Aside from my daily habits, I like to have a general idea of what I’m setting out to accomplish each day, while still maintaining room for flexibility and surprise. That means not overwhelming myself with dozens of to-dos and appointments.

I add things to my schedule the night before, fit everything around my priorities (like reading, training, and family), and make sure to leave plenty of space between tasks and activities.

TRACKING:

What gets measured gets managed. If there is something you want to change or improve, then it behooves you to start getting religious about tracking.

As I progress, I’m sure I’ll start to track more and more metrics, such as sleep quality, blood sugar, investments, etc. But for right now, I just track things like calories in, protein consumed, expenses, productive work time, pages read per day, and stuff like that.

This is critical if you want to improve in any area where you’re dealing with hard numbers.

PRIORITIES: 

I cross this off my list at the end of each day whenever I have spent a large enough time focusing on my priorities. How much time depends on what I’m doing that day, of course, but mostly everything that I do relates to my priorities in some way or another.

I don’t have a particular number of hours per day spent on my priorities that I shoot for, but when I compare the number of hours spent on my priorities with the number of hours that I COULD have spent on them, given my schedule, then I know intuitively whether I can confidently cross this foundation off at the end of the day.

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VISUALIZE: 

Visualization is hugely important for me. I realized long ago that in order to succeed, I needed to vividly imagine my ideal future and “pull” myself towards it.

To be clear: I don’t believe that there are any “magical powers” involved in visualization, just that it narrows your focus down to what’s most important to you. It’s not this spooky thing like those Law of Attraction weirdos want to make you believe it is; it’s more or less just a focus magnifier.

It also helps me to viscerally imagine what it will feel like and be like to achieve everything that I set out to achieve. I cross this foundation off at the end of the day whenever I have succeeded in taking a few moments throughout the day to engage in my visualization exercises.

MEDITATE: 

There are so many scientifically proven benefits to meditation that I can confidently say that you’re sabotaging your own success if you’re not doing it on a consistent basis. Improved focus, mental clarity, self-knowledge, reduced stress, and literally dozens of other benefits will accrue to you if you begin a diligent meditation practice.

I cross off this foundation at the end of each day where I have spent around 30 minutes in deep meditation. Honestly, sometimes I cross it off when I have spent a bit less than that, but 30 minutes is the amount of time I shoot for. The most important thing is being consistent with it at all.

WATER:

You’re MADE of water! I can’t even begin to describe how important it is to stay hydrated, and if you wait until you’re thirsty in order to drink water, it means that you’re already dehydrated. I try to slam about a liter of water as soon as I wake up, drink 3 liters of water in total each day, and add an equal amount of water for every cup of coffee that I drink.

SLEEP:

Sleep is so critically important that I can’t even accurately describe it here. Sleep loss is like depriving yourself of food, and I instantly notice a drop in productivity and general  satisfaction when I don’t get enough sleep. You’d be amazed at how much of our happiness comes from getting enough sleep, eating right, and moving every day.

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CALORIES:

As a naturally thin guy who wants to build muscle, I need to be taking in far more calories than I expend. And I expend a LOT. Not only do I work out 5-7 days a week, I spend a lot of time standing, walking, and otherwise just being active. When I don’t eat enough, I start to lose weight fairly rapidly, and so this is a foundational area for me.

FOCUS:

Extreme focus is one foundation that I urge everyone to concentrate on. Focus, obsession, diligence, whatever you want to call it…it’s important.

It’s so foundational that it leads to every other form of success that you can imagine.

In my tracking system, I record how many hours of “Focused Work” I’ve completed, how many hours of “Deep Work”, etc. These concepts will become clearer later on, but staying focused is one of my superpowers and it can be yours as well.

ENERGY:

Managing your energy is just as important as managing your time or your money. If you don’t have energy to do what you need to do, then you’re just not going to succeed in life. That is, succeed according to what you believe to be important in life.

In fact, I’d place energy and time on the same level, because you can always make more money sometime in the future. But you need energy NOW, and your time can never be replaced at all.

So do everything you can to regulate your energy. Drink water, breath properly (next section), eat enough healthy food, get enough sleep. Find something you care about so much that your energy level naturally spikes whenever you even think about it. And remember, if you’re not feeling amazing all the time, there’s always a reason. 

BREATHING:

Realizing how critical breath control is to mental performance and clarity, not to mention physical performance, I made this one of my foundations. I do deep breathing exercises throughout the day, and sometimes I focus exclusively on my breathing when I notice that I have been involuntarily holding my breath for long-ish periods of time. It happens, and it’s an energy-killer.

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RESULTS:

I cross this foundation off my list at the end of the day when I have performed my “key result activities”.

These include 7 key result activities that I do each day, which are: do my visualization exercises, meditate for 30 minutes, do at least 5 minutes of deep breathing, do 3 hours of focused work on a big project, drink enough water, hit my calorie numbers, and consult my key result areas list.

The key result areas list includes things that make a disproportionate amount of difference compared to other things that I could be doing.

The key results areas list includes things like my most productive states, my current key tasks, my current financial goal, my priorities, my key motivations, my key process goals, etc.

RITUALS:

Aristotle said that we are what we are repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not a trait, but a habit. My rituals (or routine) give me structure, maximize my productivity and sanity, and just generally keep me focused.

I write everything down that I repeatedly do, and I have a separate morning and nighttime ritual. As well, during the day, there are habits that I perform mostly every day that I keep track of as well. Whether you call them rituals, or routines, or processes, adding them to your life will be one of the best things you’ve ever done for yourself.

MY FOUNDATION NUMBERS FOR JUNE:

Foundations “Built”: 324/450

Percentage of Foundations “Built”: 72%

Compared To Last Month: -5%

Average Per Day: 10.8

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TIME TRACKINGSelf-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

The first step to successfully managing your time is figuring out how you are spending it now. That’s where my time-tracking sheets come in.

I lifted my time tracking sheet from Laura Vanderkam, and adapted it to my own purposes.

Here, I track 5 key metrics, which are Focused Time, Necessary Time, Unfocused, Sleep, and Deep Work.

I track each hour on the hour using my iPhone. A push notification that says “Nietzsche” comes up on the hour, every hour, and that’s my cue to go to my Notes app and record whether the last hour was spent in Focused Time, Necessary Time, etc.

It says “Nietzsche” because it’s a way to remind myself of one of my favorite books “Thus Spake Zarathustra”, where Nietzsche lays out his vision of the “Ubermensch” or “Superman”. I’m obsessed with becoming Nietzsche’s vision of the “Superman”, and so the push notification has the double effect of reminding me to track how my time was spent, and to remind me to live up to Nietzsche’s ideal.

I don’t make this process too complicated, and it only takes me a minute or so. Each hour, I simply go into my Notes app, track my hour, track certain things I did in that hour (drink water, spend money, etc), and plan out what I’m going to focus on during the NEXT hour.

I also try to make it a habit of standing up every hour and getting moving in some way. It’s good to shake yourself up every once in a while, especially if you sit at a desk writing for a good amount of time like I do. OK, so let’s dig into what qualifies as Focused Time and what doesn’t…

FOCUSED TIME:

Focused Time refers to any half-hour block (because some hours are occasionally split between Focused Time and Necessary Time, etc), in which I am working productively at any task that is going to advance my goals forward.

If I spent an hour reading, I’ll mark 2 “x”‘s next to where it says Focused Time in my Notes app, and when I spend an hour and a half at the gym, I’ll mark 3 “x”‘s. Basically, anything that is moving me towards my goals is focused time. This CAN be different from Deep Work, but Deep Work always counts as Focused Time. You’ll see why in a minute.

NECESSARY TIME:

Sometimes I need to drive places, and I don’t always feel like listening to an audio-book while I’m doing it. If I were to listen to an audio-book during my commute, I would consider it Focused Time, but as much as I love driving my Spyder drop-top, I can’t really call cruising in my sports car listening to music as Focused Time.

Instead, this counts as Necessary Time, same as grocery shopping and things of that nature. There are things like this that we all have to do each day, but I try to optimize my systems so that I do as little of this kind of thing as possible. That’s why I pay people to cook for me, and I try to outsource as much of the administrative stuff associated with running a non-profit as I can.

Less time spent on “Neccessary Time” leaves more time for Deep Work.

UNFOCUSED TIME:

What? You mean I waste time just like everybody else? Oh yes, it’s true! I’m not some sort of Terminator from the future, able to resist every time-wasting activity out there in Internet-Land.

Sometimes I’ll fall into the YouTube rabbit hole just like everybody else, and suddenly I’ve lost a half hour watching videos that, while entertaining, didn’t exactly move the needle when it comes to my goals.

I also have this great boxing game on my iPhone that I try not to let anyone see me playing. It’s not unusual for me to waste an hour knocking out virtual dudes and training my character to land quicker combinations. I’m pretty good at limiting myself to just one or two matches, but I am in no way perfect. In this, or in any other way.

SLEEP:

If you don’t know what sleep is and why I track it, you must be Elon Musk. In that case, “Yo, Elon! I’ll give you my home address so you can send me a Tesla Roadster for my birthday! July 5th.”

I try for 8 hours of sleep every night, I’m functional on 7, and getting 9 is sometimes an awesome way to spend an extra hour. 15-16 hours awake, 8-9 hours asleep works well for me.

DEEP WORK:

Deep Work is special focus on one thing and one thing only, usually some form of writing, but always on a bigger project that will take longer than a few hours to complete.

Writing copy for my non-profit’s promotional materials counts as Deep Work, same with writing articles and books; same with any bigger project, really.

I may be focused on lifting weights or on reading books, but that’s not Deep Work. Email is not Deep Work; neither is meditation. Writing a book is. By the way, “Deep Work” is also the title of an excellent book by computer science professor Cal Newport, and I lifted the idea from him.

MY TIME-TRACKING NUMBERS FOR JUNE:

Hours of Focused Time: Unknown

Hours of Necessary Time: Unknown

Hours of Unfocused Time: Unknown

Hours of Deep Work: Unknown

Hours of Sleep: Unknown

VIRTUESSelf-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

My list of virtues does not necessarily represent what is “lacking” in myself, but rather the kinds of personality traits and characteristics that I most wish to develop within myself.

These are in no way meant to be hierarchical, and my omission of many important virtues should not be taken as my rejection of their intrinsic worth.

For me, at this time of my life, the virtues listed below are the ones that are most important to me. Discipline, toughness, presence, wakefulness…all these and more will allow me to become what I envision myself becoming.

If I fall short in any of these, which of course I will from time to time, then I am cheating myself out of my desired possible future.

I’m not the first person to attempt such a thing, of course. A noteworthy example comes to us from the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. There’s one section in particular where he sets out to pursue a campaign of rigorous self-examination and moral cultivation that he begins by identifying specific virtues that he wishes to build in himself.

I did the same thing, and came up with these:

AUTHENTICITY:

Authenticity, to me, means rejecting or at least re-examining my social conditioning and living according to what I think is important, and not to what other people might think is important FOR me.

I don’t chase money, I don’t compare myself and my achievements to others, and I don’t blindly follow the crowd. I’m sure I do in some things; nobody completely sheds their social conditioning.

But authenticity is about critically examining what you truly feel and believe, and consciously designing your life so that you are living in accordance with that. At the end of each day, I evaluate whether or not I lived by this virtue, and I grade myself accordingly.

PRESENCE:

Some would say that the purpose of life is to be fully aware of it as it’s happening. I think there’s some truth to that, and so presence is a very important virtue to me.

I don’t try to get away from this moment, whether I’m here typing this paragraph, punishing my muscles in the gym, or having an uncomfortable conversation.

Improved performance comes from living in the moment, along with decreased stress, heightened awareness, and elevated mood. While you’d want to pull yourself away from the present moment every once in a while in order to plan your future,  you also want to get back to living it as soon as possible.

Self-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

DISCIPLINE:

Self-discipline is the foundation that leads to everything else. You need to be disciplined in order to have fun. The real fun, I mean, which comes after putting in the hard work for as long as necessary.

Discipline can be drudgery, but it doesn’t have to be. I know that being disciplined now will let me achieve all of my outrageous goals in the future, and the process of “becoming” is exciting in itself. Cultivate this virtue, and everything else becomes easier and more enjoyable.

TOUGHNESS:

Complementing discipline comes toughness. I don’t necessarily mean the kind of toughness that lets you win street-fights, but you’re deluding yourself if you think there’s zero chance that you’ll ever be in one.

You need to be able to defend yourself, for sure, but toughness also means eliminating complaining and sloth from your life. It means having some personal pride and some self-respect, and cultivating the ability to work hard when it’s not easy.

Anybody can be disciplined when they’re rested, well-fed, and untroubled. However, to be “tough”, you need to be able to get your work done when conditions may be unfavorable.

Toughness, for me, means doing what needs to be done, regardless of whether or not you feel like doing it.

OBSESSIVENESS:

To become the person you have envisioned yourself as one day capable of becoming, you need to be absolutely obsessed with becoming that person.

It doesn’t happen by accident.

If you can’t be obsessed with achieving the results that you set out to achieve, then it’s probably not going to happen.

It’s very difficult to take obsession too far. In fact, most people don’t take their obsessions far enough. That’s why most people are unhappy, lazy, and undisciplined.

Make friends with obsession. If you are obsessed, then you will be motivated. If you are properly motivated, then there’s not much that you won’t be able to achieve.

Self-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

FORGIVENESS: 

Forgiveness is a difficult one to describe in a few short sentences. A lot of what forgiveness means to me has to do with the idea that it’s silly to try to escape other people’s faults, when in fact it’s much more difficult to escape our own.

Whenever I start to criticize someone else, I immediately, instinctively now, turn it back to myself and ask what it is about myself that I’m missing. How am I deficient in this, or another area?

Maybe forgiveness isn’t even the right word, because in order to forgive someone, you have to blame them in the first place. And going around blaming people for stuff is just a gigantic waste of time.

So, basically, I’m living up to my own standards of virtue when I find myself unwilling to blame anyone else for what I’m feeling, or what I’m experiencing. I don’t have to forgive anyone because I don’t blame anyone in the first place. I check this virtue off at the end of the day when I have reflected upon my day and have seen that I didn’t blame anyone for my own situation or mental states.

CONFIDENCE:

Cultivating the virtue of confidence has been one of the most profitable things I have ever done. The entire world just opens up to you when you can appear, or better yet, BE more confident.

Every single day, I just assume that I’m stronger-willed than whoever I’m dealing with, and can just roll right over them. I have this surging, unshakable confidence that lets me pull things off that would have astounded the “Matt Karamazov” of 3 years ago.

At the end of each day, I reflect and decide whether I generally acted with overwhelming confidence not just in dealing with people, but when going about my day and pounding my to-do list. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you use confidence as a weapon.

HUMILITY:

Humility is an interesting one, and it doesn’t mean the same thing to me that it might mean to some others.  I don’t believe in false modesty, and I’m not going to sit here and play down my strengths just so I can appear to be humble and modest.

My self-discipline is off the charts, I’m incredibly smart, I care a LOT about other people, and I work like a dog in order to make the world a better place. I think I’m amazing. That being said, I think each person reading this is pretty amazing too (even if they don’t realize it), and as far as I’m concerned, I’m nowhere NEAR where I could be.

I’m smart, but what I know is NOTHING compared to what there IS to know.

I’m in great shape, but I have a LOT of work left to do.

Humility, to me, is the realization that I am both perfect, and a complete mess.

I am awe-inspiring in many ways, and yet I fall short in so many others.

I don’t waste time comparing myself to others, and I don’t dominate conversations by going on and on about myself. I can believe I’m amazing without having to go around telling people that I am. Except for here in this paragraph, of course. Sorry about that! Sort of.

ELOQUENCE:

Being able to speak and to have people listen to what you have to say, and more importantly, understand what you have to say, is almost a superpower.

It’s one of those essential skills that everyone should develop, and so eloquence is a virtue I consciously cultivate within myself. I’ve bought courses on vocal projection, worked to overcome shyness, forced myself to get comfortable having strangers listen in on my conversations (I still hate that sometimes!), etc.

Speaking loudly and clearly, with conviction, and not censoring myself in public is an ongoing battle.

Self-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

PUNCTUALITY: 

This is something I struggle with greatly, and so I decided to add it as a virtue. I’m late CONSTANTLY, and not only is it a rude thing to do to other people, it’s one of the only areas in my job performance that has repeatedly been called into question.

I’m excellent at my job…when I get there. So seeing this every day  and actively trying to make myself more punctual is a smart move for me.

PRODUCTIVITY:

Benjamin Franklin would call this “industriousness”, and not only the ability to get a lot done, but get the RIGHT things done is one of the best skills to have. To that end, I keep productivity at the center of my life.

Every single day, I’m working on something, hammering away at something, and getting further than I was yesterday. Creating effects out there in the world is what I’m after. Action.

BEHAVIOR:

A lot can fall under “behavior”, and indeed, I have a list of behaviors that I wish to display more of. Everything from speaking louder, to swinging my shoulders more when I walk, to smiling when I enter a room. Moving slower is also on my list of desired behaviors, along with behaving more dominantly in social settings.

I review my list each day, and every day when I feel I’ve made progress and have displayed many of these desired behaviors is a day when I can check off this virtue of “right behavior”.

LEARNING:

I won’t spend a whole lot of time on this one because it’s pretty simple. When my day is centered around learning, or I put myself in an uncomfortable learning situation, or whatever else, then I have worked towards the realization of this virtue within myself, and can check it off my list at the end of the day.

WAKEFULNESS:

Only that day dawns to  which we are awake”, says Henry David Thoreau in “Walden”. Wakefulness, the idea of being fully and intensely alive, is one of my highest virtues. In many ways, it’s the most important one.

The purpose of life is to be fully aware of it while it’s happening, and my whole job as a writer is really to wake people up to the life that is going on all around them. The life that they could be living, but they’re not, because they’re stuck in resentment, anger, and self-pity.

I believe in the truth of Dostoevsky’s words when he said that “Life is paradise, and we are all in paradise. Except that we do not want to know it. But if we did want to know it, there would be peace on earth the very next day.”

Self-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

MY VIRTUE NUMBERS FOR JUNE:

Days On Which I Cultivated Virtue:

Authenticity: 14/30 (47%)

Presence: 19/30 (63%)

Discipline: 15/30 (50%)

Toughness: 18/30 (60%)

Obsessiveness: 19/30 (63%)

Forgiveness: 17/30 (57%)

Confidence: 20/30 (67%)

Humility: 20/30 (67%)

Eloquence: 18/30 (60%)

Punctuality: 8/30 (27%)

Productivity: 15/30 (50%)

Behavior: 20/30 (67%)

Learning: 22/30 (73%)

Wakefulness: 20/30 (67%)

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PROCESS GOALSSelf-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

It behooves you to break down big goals into the specific actions you need to take every single day in order to achieve them.

For example, one of my main goals right now is to become a police officer in Canada with the RCMP. It’s a long process to get there, I have to compete against a huge number of extremely qualified applicants, and once I get in, I have to, you know…be good at my job.

That means I need to be fair-minded, ethical, communicative, strong, fast, focused, etc.

None of those things can be “achieved” in any sort of concrete way; they can only be incrementally improved upon. They are “process goals”, and focusing on them each and every day is how I make myself into the kind of person that the RCMP will want to grab as quickly as possible.

That’s the end goal I have in mind, and these are the process goals I am working on every day in order to get there:

PERFORM DAILY HABITS:

These include the habits listed below (a few sections down), and this is one of the most important process goals on the list. Habits and self-discipline make everything else possible, and my most productive days occur when I perform my morning, daily, and evening rituals and habits.

DO ALL DAILY REVIEWS:

My memory isn’t the greatest, and even if it was significantly better than it is, I would still want to review a few key documents and lists each day. This ensures that they are always at the top of my mind, and that they are influencing how I think and behave.

Some of the documents and lists I review include my key result areas, my list of virtues, my outline of my personal self-image (it helps to reinforce the behaviors I want to engage in), etc.

CHEER YOURSELF ON:

I noticed a long time ago that the way I was speaking to myself was far too negative and self-defeating. My internal monologue was all about what I was doing wrong, how far behind I was compared to where I thought I should be, etc.

So I decided to try talking to myself like a friend would talk to me.

This is powerful, and it works. Try it!

Could you imagine if you talked to your best friend the way you sometimes talk to yourself? The way you berate yourself and criticize yourself for every little thing you think you’re doing wrong? Can you see how HARMFUL that is? Cheering myself on is a way to counteract some of that negative self-talk and get me back to normal.

MAINTAIN HIGH ENERGY:

Managing your energy is just as important as managing your time. It’s basically one of the most important things you can do, and it’s one of those things that makes everything else possible. So it’s one of my process goals. Vegetables, water, adequate rest, proper motivation, etc are all important here.

ASK YOURSELF QUESTIONS:

I have a list of questions that I ask myself at various times each day. They include questions like “What is the most important thing that I could be doing right now?” and “Do I want to spend my one and only life doing this?” This is an important process goal because it keeps me on track and brings my thinking back into line.

Self-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

DO WHAT YOU KNOW YOU NEED TO DO:

This amazing piece of life advice comes from the incomparable Jordan Peterson. He’s one of my role models under the heading of “Responsibility”.

Basically, the idea here is that there are things that you KNOW that you need to do, but that you have been avoiding.

You know what these things are, but for whatever reason you’ve been putting them off.

But, what kind of person would you become if you did the things that you KNOW you need to do, every single day for a month? A year? 10 years? This question fascinates me, and I consider this one of my absolute most important process goals.

VISUALIZE WHAT YOU WANT:

I never fully appreciated how important this was, but you need to see your desired future in your mind before you will ever see it in your reality. You have to see what you want your perfect body to look like, see what your completed book will look like, see what your perfect office will look like.

Just visualization alone won’t do it, of course; you still need to actually do the work. But you can’t hit a target you can’t see.

DO THREE HOURS OF FOCUSED WORK:

Three hours doesn’t seem like much, but this is a minimum, and it’s deceptively easy to miss the mark here. Between proper sleep, eating, hygiene considerations, commuting, etc, your day gets smaller and smaller.

Add in family obligations and going to the gym, and three hours turns into a massive luxury.

Still, I believe it’s an important number to shoot for, and those three hours have to be spent advancing your main goal in life, or moving some sort of project forward. They have to be focused hours, spent in deep work, and not wasted on trivialities.

ATTEND SCHEDULED WORKOUT:

This is fairly straightforward. My workouts are part of my process goals because they lead me directly to the body and the high performance that I want. I check this off when I have completed my workout for the day.

Self-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

EAT ACCORDING TO MEAL PLAN:

I have a very specific diet that I have to follow if I want to achieve the fitness goals that I have set out for myself. Again, this is fairly straightforward, and when I followed my diet for the day, I can check off this process goal.

DO YOUR DEEP BREATHING:

This is different than meditation because I am consciously working on developing healthy breathing patterns and not specifically training my awareness in this case. Of course I am focused on my breath, and so it’s similar to what I do in meditation, but the focus here is on deep breaths.

DO YOUR MEDITATION:

Ten minutes in the morning, ten minutes throughout the day, and ten minutes at night. That’s basically what my meditation routine looks like,  and I believe that it’s absolutely critical to whatever success I’ve managed to achieve thus far.

Finding thirty minutes a day for sitting still and maintaining awareness of your breathing is sometimes difficult, but the literally dozens of mental and physical benefits of meditation make it all worth it. Plus I actually enjoy it! And isn’t that really the point?

DRINK THREE LITERS OF WATER:

You might notice that nothing on this list is anything you haven’t heard before. It’s no secret that meditation improves your performance, you need to work out to build muscle, and setting aside a few hours each day to work will lead to the accomplishment of your biggest goals. Same with water. Drinking water is a simple way to stay healthy and improve your performance. That’s why it’s on my list of process goals.

GET ADEQUATE SLEEP:

I am very, very serious about my sleep. My bedroom has blackout curtains, I bought a new mattress, I keep a fan on during the summer in order to keep my bedroom cool, I shut off all electronic devices and I shut out all excess light. There’s also an app that I use to track my sleep called Sleep Cycle, which lets me know the quality and quantity of the sleep that I’m getting. This is important.

PRACTICE YOUR RUSSIAN:

I still don’t speak perfect Russian, despite studying it for years in school and living for a while in Saint Petersburg. This is why it’s on my list of process goals: it’s important to me that I learn it, and by working on it every single day, I know that I will improve. Whether it’s conversing with native speakers, watching  movies in Russian, going over word lists, etc, all of it combines to help me get better.

Self-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

TRACK EVERYTHING IMPORTANT:

You can probably guess that I’m obsessive about tracking. I track calories, hours of sleep, spending, workouts, hours I spend at work, along with dozens of other things. I mention it here as one of my process goals to remind myself of how important it is.

CLEAR AWAY SOME CLUTTER:

What I call “clutter” includes everything that I have to have “cleared” in order to give me more peace of mind. This includes my book notes, my email inbox, my car, the dishes, the fridge, my binders, all of it.

Usually I aim for Sunday as the day when everything is all cleared all at once, but I find that if I do  a little bit every day, and especially try to clean as I go, my work on Sunday is a lot easier.

I can then keep everything in my environment clutter-free, and not have to spend hours each week feeling overwhelmed by everything that I have to clean.

There’s just something about having everything cleared that makes me feel good. Of course, being clutter-free doesn’t last long, but after I clear my emails, I close my browser. After I clear my phone of texts, I turn off my phone, etc. That way, at least once a week, I have a few minutes where everything in my environment is completely clear and I can take a deep, satisfying breath before moving forward.

MY PROCESS GOAL NUMBERS FOR JUNE:

Days On Which I Achieved Process Goals:

Perform Daily Habits: 19/30 (63%)

Do All Daily Reviews: 3/30 (10%)

Cheer Yourself On: 12/30 (40%)

Maintain High Energy: 17/30 (57%)

Ask Yourself Questions: 17/30 (57%)

Do What You Know You Need To Do: 10/30 (33%)

Visualize What You Want: 18/30 (60%)

Do Three Hours Of Focused Work: 18/30 (60%)

Attend Scheduled Workout: 16/30 (53%)

Eat According To Meal Plan: 15/30 (50%)

Do Your Deep Breathing: 15/30 (50%)

Do Your Meditation: 17/30 (57%)

Drink Three Liters of Water: 13/30 (43%)

Get Adequate Sleep: 12/30 (40%)

Practice Your Russian: 2/30 (7%)

Track Everything Important: 18/30 (60%)

Clear Away Some Clutter: 20/30 (67%)

THE FINAL NUMBERS

The figures below are lifted from my tracking sheets (basically an empty, printable monthly calendar that I can fill in) that I go through each night before I go to bed. I run through my entire day and track what I’ve done.

For some things, like the hours I’ve spent working on my priorities, or the pages I’ve read, I use the total number of hours or pages, etc. For others, like how many days each month I’ve “maximized”, I give a percentage.

So, for example, if I’ve done all my meditation for 25 of the 30 days of June, 2017 (which I didn’t!!!), then my percentage would be 83%.

When it comes to pages read, I add up the number from each day and write down the total. You’ll recognize most of these from the list of process goals, with a few additions.

Self-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

I consider a day “maximized” when I can look back and feel that I’ve done my absolute best to make the previous day as productive as possible. It’s not an exact science; more of a feeling. But I know when I’ve done my best and when I haven’t.

Eating enough and getting sufficient protein appear separately on this list but usually if I’ve done one, I’ve done the other. Still, I find just mentioning protein here puts it at the front of my mind that I need to be hitting my daily protein quotas as well.

I’m a writer, so I write every day. Or at least I try to. This doesn’t mean that I finish a piece of writing every day, only that I’ve made some significant progress on a writing project that I had started.

The goal is to get to 100% here and to write at least 100-1000 words each day. Sometimes, it’s much more than that that I end up writing.

I also go through my list of priorities and determine how many hours that day I spent advancing them. If I spent an hour with my family, 5 hours reading, 2 hours at the gym, and 2 hours working on my non-profit, then I would put the number “10” in the space for today’s date and add up the total at the end of the month. I always want to do more than I did last month, but a number around 350 would be perfect. That would mean 12 hours a day working on my priorities, 30 days a month.

I do the same with my foundations which I wrote about earlier. I track how many of them I “built” that day (those two words just go together it seems), add the number to the box for today’s date, and add them all up at the end of the month.

Ideally, all 15 foundations would be “built” each day, and over the course of a 30-day month, the total number would reach 450. That’s if I did everything perfect for a whole month. Still working on that one!

As a reminder, my “Key Activities” are visualization, deep breathing, meditation, 3 hours of focused work on a project, eating according to my diet plan, drinking 3 liters of water, and reviewing my key result areas.

I track how many I’ve done each day, and add up all the days of the month to get my final total.

MY MAIN NUMBERS FOR JUNE, 2017

Meditation – 17/30 (57%)

Maximized Days – 23/30 (77%)

Eating Enough – 15/30 (50%)

Sufficient Protein – 15/30 (50%)

Write Something – 18/30 (60%)

Hours on Priorities – 206.5 Hours (6.9/Day)

Foundations Built – 324/450 (72%)

Three Liters of Water – 13/30 (43%)

Performing Habits – 19/30 (63%)

What You Need To Do – 10/30 (33%)

Key Activities – 133/210 (63%)

Pages Read – 1,768/3,000 (59%)

I don’t take my body measurements every month, because I find they don’t change all that much. But every three months or so, I’ll take a tape measure, go through and record all the progress that I’ve made.

Recently, I’ve added an inch and a half to my arms, and being able to see that kind of progress written down adds some powerful motivation to keep going.

You might track different things, but these are the ones I’m focused on:

Weight – 188

Chest – 44″

Arms – 15″

Forearms – 12″

Thighs – 23″

Calves – 14.5″

Waist – 34″

Neck – 15″

Shoulders – 51″

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SHORT TERM GOALS

Below are some of my short-term goals and a little progress report detailing where I am with respect to their achievement.

I used to have “Monthly Goals” but I found it better to stick with the admittedly more nebulous characterization of “Short Term Goals”. They don’t have deadlines for their achievement, but they do have some sort of incremental progress marker that DOES come with a deadline.

The short version of my thinking process here is that some months are more predictable than others. Instead of trying to make your goals fit into the neat and tidy calendar month, you can break them down and aim to have PARTS of your goals achieved by the end of certain months.

That’s what I’ve done here, and it’s working pretty well so far, so I’m going to keep doing it! Here are a few of my short term goals so you can see what I mean:

*Reach 210lbs With Less Than 15% Body Fat

Current weight is 188lbs with body fat unknown

Incremental goal is 195lbs by September 1st

 

*Reach 50,000 Monthly Visitors To Godlike Discipline

Last month 2,232 people visited my website

Incremental goal is 4,000 visitors by September 1st

 

*Reach 5,000 Mailing List Subscribers

Right now there are 347 people who receive my emails

Incremental goal is 500 subscribers by September 1st

 

*Submit 30 Guest Articles For Publishing

So far I have submitted only one guest article

Incremental goal is 7 articles by September 1st

 

*Develop An Online Course On Self-Discipline

Right now I am working on other projects

 

*Write A Book On What I’ve Learned While Trying To Read 1,000 Books Before I Turn 30

Right now I am working on other projects

 

*Donate $20,000 To Doctors Without Borders Via The Volunteer Incentives Program (VIP)

My non-profit is gathering steam, but there is still a hell of a lot of work left to be done. The VIP convinces businesses to offer discounts/rewards to volunteers just for tracking the volunteer hours they rack up in their communities. I hired a few program volunteers, I have been cold-calling businesses, and trying to recruit volunteers to start tracking their hours, but it’s slow going. We still have yet to release the first “Volunteer Rewards Catalog” and donate our first dollar. But it’s coming! It’s taking shape!

Incremental goal is to have $100 donated by November 1st

 

*Release A Webinar On How To Read More Books

Right now I am working on other projects

 

*Upload 30 YouTube Videos

Right now I am working on other projects

 

*Record 5 Podcast Episodes

Right now I am working on other projects

 

*Write 50 In-Depth Articles For Godlike Discipline

These are separate from my articles on each book that I’ve read on my way to reading 1,000 books before I turn 30. These articles deal more often with self-discipline directly and go further in-depth on one particular subject or topic. I started counting this month, from zero.

Incremental goal is 5 articles by September 1st

 

*Release A Short Book About Human Rights

Right now I am working on other projects

 

*Release A Short Book About Beating Procrastination

I am almost finished writing the main body of the book, and then I have a whole bunch of little things to do and loose ends to tie up. The book is taking shape though, and it’s going to help a lot of people.

Estimated date of completion is September 1st

 

*Release A Short Book About Fitness And Building Muscle

Right now I am working on other projects

MID TERM GOALS

This is what I’m building towards as I’m knocking down my short term goals and beating them into submission. I won’t go into too much detail here, or offer any predictions about when I’m going to achieve these goals, but I’ve included them here anyway.

*Become An RCMP Police Officer

*Reach 230lbs With Less Than 10% Body Fat 

*Have 1,000,000 Volunteers Enrolled In The Volunteer Incentives Program

*Have A Mailing List Of 250,000 Subscribers

*Land One Paid Public Speaking Engagement

*Win One Professional Boxing Fight

*Read 1,000 Books Before I Turn 30

*Run An Entire Ultra-Marathon

*Get A Major Book Published

LONG TERM GOALS

These will have to remain a secret for now. But it’s enough to say that I think big. Really big. Big enough that many people would laugh at me if I were to show them my list, compared to what I’ve accomplished so far. But you know what? I’m fine with that. If no one is laughing at your goals, that means that you’re not thinking big enough. Maybe soon I’ll let you know what I have my sights set on, but rest assured I’m fighting tooth and nail for these goals every single day of my life. You’ll have to wait and see just like everybody else.

BLOG STATISTICS

I want to reach millions of people with my work. I believe that I have something important to say, and I believe that many people would be better off hearing it. With that in mind, growing my audience is critically important.

These are all simple things to track that don’t require a whole lot of explanation, but I need these numbers to go up and up:

Monthly Visitors to the Site – 2,232

Mailing List Subscribers – 347

YouTube Subscribers – 0

Facebook Likes – 1,201

Twitter Followers – 803

Below are some of the ways you can follow my work. My message is all about self-discipline, personal responsibility, living intensely, cultivating a visceral awareness of death and thus an appreciation of life, as well as the critical importance of making the lives of others better.

If that sounds like something you want to be a part of, then I encourage you to join the mailing list, follow me on Twitter, like the Facebook page, subscribe to my YouTube channel, or check out my non-profit, the Volunteer Incentives Program (VIP).


“YOU BECOME WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT ALL DAY LONG”


DAILY HABITSSelf-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

Freedom within structure. That’s what habits will give you. A routine within which you maintain your freedom to spend time only on things that are important to you and that will advance your goals forward.

Below, I give my morning, daytime, and nightly “routines”, or sequence of things that I normally do as soon as I wake up, throughout the day, and before I go to bed. There’s quite a bit on here that won’t be surprising to you at all, but there are also several things that I do differently than most people that make all the difference, or so I believe. 

These aren’t in order or anything; sometimes I’ll take my vitamins before sitting down for a few minutes of meditation. The order isn’t important; rather, it helps me to keep these things written down so I can cross them off as I go and not forget anything important. You can adopt my routine completely, or use only the elements that you believe will work for you.

MORNING ROUTINE:

DESIGN – I consult what I call my “Daily Design”  sheet, and record things like my to-dos and appointments, priority tasks, etc. I also keep a list of key thoughts for the day that I can return to as I go through my day. I also schedule blocks of time during which to do Deep Work.

MEDITATION – 10 minutes of meditation to start off my day and get me nice and relaxed.

DISCIPLINE –  I keep a list on my iPhone of motivational phrases concerning self-discipline that I read through just once. Usually I’ll go through the list and one will jump out at me as particularly motivating for that day. I’ll keep that in mind as the day progresses.

PRIORITIES – I read through my list of priorities and review my daily design, making sure that I have most of them, or as many of them as I can, covered for that day.

OBSESSION – I remind myself about how critical obsession is to success, and during this time I can often hear CT Fletcher’s voice in my head talking about obsession. He’s got the kind of voice, and personal enthusiasm, that just sticks with you. It reminds me of how obsessed I am, and always gives me a burst of energy.

GRATITUDE – Every morning, I come up with at least 3 things that I’m grateful for. I don’t write them down in a journal or anything, but I know that some people do, and that strikes me as a fine idea. Usually, I’ll think of 3 things and those things will lead me to think of a dozen more.

STRETCHES – I don’t spend too much time stretching in the morning, but I do spend a few seconds at least waking myself up and moving just a little bit.

EMERSON – I repeat to myself my favorite passage from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance” every morning. I’ve memorized it, but here it is:

“And truly it demands something godlike in him who has cast off the common motives of humanity, and has ventured to trust himself for a taskmaster. High be his heart, faithful his will, clear his sight, that he may in good earnest be doctrine, society, law, to himself, that a simple purpose may be to him as strong as iron necessity is to others!”

BINDERS – I have 3 binders that sit on my desk, and I review at least one of them every morning, usually the first one, because it has all my goals, and some other writings. I don’t spend too much time reading through them, but I find that reading about my goals in the morning gets me fired up to get started on them.

The second binder contains fitness-related materials, and the third binder is a collection of things that I consider important to review from time to time. That third binder has things like my top values, my top motivations, and even a checklist of hygiene-related things that I need to stay on top of. Again, just so I have it written down somewhere!

ANALYSIS –  I don’t spend too much time on this either, but I dedicate a few moments to analyze myself and work out some particular thing that I’m thinking about currently. For example, it could be about my fear of success (“If this works, my whole life will change, and change is scary!”, or about my perfectionism, etc. This time is spent simply asking myself questions, and trying to get to the bottom of why it is that I do what I do. Importantly, this is done without judgement in any way, shape, or form.

VITAMINS – There are a couple vitamins I take each morning, like Vitamins C and D, etc. Taken with one glass of filtered water.

WATER – I try to slam a liter of water  as soon as I wake up, because I find it gives me lots of energy right from the start.

DEATH – This may not be for everyone, but I take at least a few moments to deeply contemplate the idea that one day I will cease to exist. Most people turn quickly away from this thought, but I turn right into it, and I use it to teach me that today is the most beautiful day of my entire life. This motivates me like nothing else ever does. When you feel it, really feel it, you’ll realize that you have zero time to waste.

GOOD – I keep a list of good times that I want to remember, and it’s saved in a word document creatively titled “Good Times List”. Most entries are just single sentences that’ll let me vividly recreate that memory in my mind.

Going through this list is straight-up magical, and when I see that it’s pages and pages long, I get a visual reminder that my life has been full of amazing people and amazing times that will stick with me forever. This instantly puts me in a good mood, and so I usually read at least one entry each morning and night.

STOIC – The book “The Daily Stoic” stays out in the open where I can read a page each morning, noon, and night. Ryan Holiday is just phenomenal, and his book has one quote from a famous stoic on each page, along with his insightful commentary.

RAGE – I have a favorite poem, and it’s Dylan Thomas’ “Rage Against the Dying of the Light”. I don’t think that’s the title, if it even has one, but I like to read it often. Morning, night, and even throughout the day. Especially the part “Don’t go gentle into that good night; rage, rage against the dying of the light”. It’s powerful for me, and when combined with death contemplation, it makes me unstoppable.

MUSIC – When I wake up sore or tired (which happens occasionally!), it helps to have some music to get me going. I like a lot of different music, from death metal, to dubstep, rap, and classic rock. But what really gets me going in the morning is Hans Zimmer’s theme from “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises”, and the track “Arrival to Earth” from the Transformers soundtrack. Hey! Don’t make fun! It works!

STARS – I keep pictures of stars on my phone, specifically pictures of deep space taken by the Hubble Telescope. It never fails to put everything into perspective and give me a massive jolt of energy and motivation to get started on hammering away at my biggest goals.

DAYTIME ROUTINE:

MEDITATION – 10 minutes of meditation to start off my day and get me nice and relaxed.

DISCIPLINE –  I keep a list on my iPhone of motivational phrases concerning self-discipline that I read through during the day. Usually I’ll go through the list and one will jump out at me as particularly motivating. I’ll keep that in mind for the rest of the day.

PRIORITIES – I read through my list of priorities and review my daily design, making sure that I have most of them, or as many of them as I can, covered for that day.

OBSESSION – I remind myself about how critical obsession is to success, and during this time I can often hear CT Fletcher’s voice in my head talking about obsession. He’s got the kind of voice, and personal enthusiasm, that just sticks with you. It reminds me of how obsessed I am, and always gives me a burst of energy.

GRATITUDE – Every day, I come up with at least 3 things that I’m grateful for. I don’t write them down in a journal or anything, but I know that some people do, and that strikes me as a fine idea. Usually, I’ll think of 3 things and those things will lead me to think of a dozen more.

DEATH – This may not be for everyone, but I take at least a few moments to deeply contemplate the idea that one day I will cease to exist. Most people turn quickly away from this thought, but I turn right into it, and I use it to teach me that today is the most beautiful day of my entire life. This motivates me like nothing else ever does. When you feel it, really feel it, you’ll realize that you have zero time to waste.

QUESTIONS – I keep a list of questions that I like to ask myself throughout the day, such as  “What is the most important thing that I could be doing right now?” and, “Is this how I want to spend my one and only life?” I strongly encourage you to formulate some questions of your own and push yourself to answer them.

EMERSON – I repeat to myself my favorite passage from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance” every day. I’ve memorized it, but here it is:

“And truly it demands something godlike in him who has cast off the common motives of humanity, and has ventured to trust himself for a taskmaster. High be his heart, faithful his will, clear his sight, that he may in good earnest be doctrine, society, law, to himself, that a simple purpose may be to him as strong as iron necessity is to others!”

LESSONS – I take notes on every single book that I read on my way to 1,000 books before I turn 30. I have hundreds and hundreds of pages of notes and I like to review my notes from at least 2 or 3 books each day. I’ve just read so many books…how else am I supposed to remember everything I’ve learned?!?!

BINDERS – I have 3 binders that sit on my desk, and I review at least one of them every day, usually the first one, because it has all my goals, and some other writings. I don’t spend too much time reading through them, but I find that reading about my goals throughout the day gets me fired up to keep going.

The second binder contains fitness-related materials, and the third binder is a collection of things that I consider important to review from time to time. That third binder has things like my top values, my top motivations, and even a checklist of hygiene-related things that I need to stay on top of. Again, just so I have it written down somewhere!

PHOTOS – I keep motivational photos on my phone, along with photos of important documents of mine like my list of goals, etc. It helps to have a photo album that you can access wherever you are, so you don’t always have to carry your binders with you.

RUSSIAN – Despite studying it for years, I’m still not fluent in Russian. I’m working on it, but I need to practice nearly every day with native speakers, or I won’t get much better.

GOOD – I keep a list of good times that I want to remember, and it’s saved in a word document creatively titled “Good Times List”. Most entries are just single sentences that’ll let me vividly recreate that memory in my mind.

Going through this list is straight-up magical, and when I see that it’s pages and pages long, I get a visual reminder that my life has been full of amazing people and amazing times that will stick with me forever. This instantly puts me in a good mood, and so I usually read at least one entry throughout the day.

STOIC – The book “The Daily Stoic” stays out in the open where I can read a page each morning, noon, and night. Ryan Holiday is just phenomenal, and his book has one quote from a famous stoic on each page, along with his insightful commentary.

RAGE – I have a favorite poem, and it’s Dylan Thomas’ “Rage Against the Dying of the Light”. I don’t think that’s the title, if it even has one, but I like to read it often. Morning, night, and even throughout the day. Especially the part “Don’t go gentle into that good night; rage, rage against the dying of the light”. It’s powerful for me, and when combined with death contemplation, it makes me unstoppable.

WRITE – I keep this on my list of habits because I want to remind myself to write something every single day. I don’t aim for a specific word count or anything, but I’ll usually spend at least an hour writing something or working on some sort of writing project.

WATTS – Alan Watts is one of my biggest heroes of all time. There’s just no doubt about it: he’s the man. Or, rather, was the man. I’m keeping Mr. Watts alive by listening to his intoxicating voice and marvelously wise words, featured on some of my favorite YouTube videos like this one, and this one, and this one, aaaaaand this one.

IDEAS –James Altucher talks a lot about training the “idea muscle”, meaning that coming up with good ideas is like training a muscle. I believe that the way you come up with one good idea (which is really all you need to get started) is to come up with 100 BAD ideas. To that end, I try to come up with about 5-20 ideas per day. Throughout the day or all in one sitting, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is to always be coming up with ideas.

NIGHTLY ROUTINE:

MEDITATION – 10 minutes of meditation to start off my day and get me nice and relaxed.

DISCIPLINE –  I keep a list on my iPhone of motivational phrases concerning self-discipline that I read through just once before I go to bed. It helps to read/watch things like that before you go to bed so your brain gets a chance to work on it as you sleep.

OBSESSION – I remind myself about how critical obsession is to success, and during this time I can often hear CT Fletcher’s voice in my head talking about obsession. He’s got the kind of voice, and personal enthusiasm, that just sticks with you. It reminds me of how obsessed I am, and prepares my brain for sleep.

GRATITUDE – Every night, I come up with at least 3 things that I’m grateful for. I don’t write them down in a journal or anything, but I know that some people do, and that strikes me as a fine idea. Usually, I’ll think of 3 things and those things will lead me to think of a dozen more.

REFLECTION – At the end of each day, it’s good to think back on what went well, and what you can improve upon for tomorrow. I set aside a few minutes to go over the key interactions and activities from my day, and see where I went wrong, and see where I am on the right track.

DEATH – This may not be for everyone, but I take at least a few moments to deeply contemplate the idea that one day I will cease to exist. Most people turn quickly away from this thought, but I turn right into it, and I use it to teach me that today is the most beautiful day of my entire life. This motivates me like nothing else ever does. When you feel it, really feel it, you’ll realize that you have zero time to waste.

EMERSON – I repeat to myself my favorite passage from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance” every night. I’ve memorized it, but here it is:

“And truly it demands something godlike in him who has cast off the common motives of humanity, and has ventured to trust himself for a taskmaster. High be his heart, faithful his will, clear his sight, that he may in good earnest be doctrine, society, law, to himself, that a simple purpose may be to him as strong as iron necessity is to others!”

STRETCHES – I don’t spend too much time stretching at night, but I do spend a few seconds at least loosening myself up and moving just a little bit.

BINDERS – I have 3 binders that sit on my desk, and I review at least one of them every night, usually the first one, because it has all my goals, and some other writings. I don’t spend too much time reading through them, but I find that reading about my goals at night prepares my brain to start working on them as I sleep.

The second binder contains fitness-related materials, and the third binder is a collection of things that I consider important to review from time to time. That third binder has things like my top values, my top motivations, and even a checklist of hygiene-related things that I need to stay on top of. Again, just so I have it written down somewhere!

GOOD – I keep a list of good times that I want to remember, and it’s saved in a word document creatively titled “Good Times List”. Most entries are just single sentences that’ll let me vividly recreate that memory in my mind.

Going through this list is straight-up magical, and when I see that it’s pages and pages long, I get a visual reminder that my life has been full of amazing people and amazing times that will stick with me forever. This instantly puts me in a good mood, and so I usually read at least one entry each morning and night.

VITAMINS – There are a couple of vitamins I take each night that help with sleep, like Melatonin and Magnesium, etc. Taken with one glass of filtered water.

STOIC – The book “The Daily Stoic” stays out in the open where I can read a page each morning, noon, and night. Ryan Holiday is just phenomenal, and his book has one quote from a famous stoic on each page, along with his insightful commentary.

RAGE – I have a favorite poem, and it’s Dylan Thomas’ “Rage Against the Dying of the Light”. I don’t think that’s the title, if it even has one, but I like to read it often. Morning, night, and even throughout the day. Especially the part “Don’t go gentle into that good night; rage, rage against the dying of the light”. It’s powerful for me, and when combined with death contemplation, it makes me unstoppable.

STARS – I keep pictures of stars on my phone, specifically pictures of deep space taken by the Hubble Telescope. It never fails to put everything into perspective and send me to bed feeling good about everything.

PLAN – Usually one of the last things I do before I go to bed is to plan out the next day in advance. I don’t get too specific, but I make sure to write down anything that I know I need to do tomorrow, add in a few major projects that I want to advance, or minor things that I just don’t want to forget. I do this so I can get it all out of my head and onto paper. Then, a restful sleep.

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“MAKE SURE EVERY STEP YOU TAKE IS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION”


MOST IMPORTANT IDEA

The overarching theme of my list of key result areas, and really my entire system as a whole, is that habits make everything else work, and that you have to be obsessed with creating results in order to make any sort of meaningful progress.

Obsession, combined with habit, is insanely powerful, and this combination will lead to the accomplishment of your biggest goals.

I am absolutely obsessed with my goals, I think about them constantly, and I know that maintaining healthy and productive habits is one of the surest ways of turning my goals into realities.

MOST IMPORTANT STATE

Motivating yourself is “mission critical”. Although self-discipline is all about doing what needs to be done, regardless of whether or not you feel like doing it, if you can motivate yourself to take consistent action, everything else seems to fall into place.

There is something to be said for the virtue of plodding ahead with or without motivation.

But in terms of the most productive state you could put yourself in, I would add “motivated” to near the top of the list. And a hugely important realization here is that you CAN change your state, almost at will. 

There are other positive states that you can, and should, try to make yourself enter each day, such as “determined”, “loose”, “alive”, etc. But if you can put yourself into a state of hyper-focused motivation for at least a few hours every single day, you’re going to accomplish an incredible amount.

GRANDER VISION

It helps to have some sort of big idea of where you want your life to go. This goes above and beyond the satisfaction of career goals and fitness benchmarks. Think of this as sort of a general theme of your life.

My desired theme is to work with the people who are changing the world. Not for them, but with them. The grander vision that I have for myself is of someone who is making a meaningful contribution to the welfare of humanity, is recognized by certain prominent people for that contribution, and who has a network of influential people who all care deeply about alleviating collective suffering worldwide.

I don’t care if a billion people read my work; there are probably no more than 10,000 people in the world who are making the majority of those aforementioned contributions, and I want to be one of them.

Obviously I care about my readers and what they are struggling with, and my orientation is one of service. Through my writing, I help real people solve their real problems. Through my non-profit work, I help real people lift themselves out of poverty, get their lives back together, and get back to the real business of living.

The “end game” for me is linking up with as many of those 10,000 change-makers (not an exact number, obviously) as I possibly can, and combining our efforts in order to make even more of a positive difference. That’s the theme of my life, and it helps to have this written down somewhere, as I do on my list of key result areas.

SIMPLIFY

Do fewer things. That’s really the key. Some parts of my system may look complicated, but my life is quite simple.

There are only a few different things that I do each day, and they’re pretty much all covered by these five things: I perform my daily habits, I build my site and online presence / body of work, I expand the reach of my non-profit, I read books, and I work out. That’s really it. Simple.

Entropy always increases, but your list of commitments doesn’t have to. Choose to care about less, do fewer things, and thereby make yourself more effective and happy. If I chased every shiny thing that ever entered my awareness, I’d never get anything meaningful accomplished, and I’d be a lot less happy with the trajectory of my life. Do less. Accomplish more.

SUMMARY

I’ve just shared with you the majority of my system for achievement. This is what I’m working on, what I’m struggling with, and what I’m striving for. I hope that my example is of use to you as you examine what’s personally meaningful for you, and how you wish to spend your one and only life.

Take this system wholesale, discard what’s not useful to you, or come up with something completely different.

But always remember that the perfect system that you don’t use is inferior to the imperfect system that you actually DO use. If it fits into your life and you can stick to it, then it might be a good system.

We’ve covered a lot today, so I’ll end it here. I guess in closing, I’ll say that it’s easy to lose yourself in minutiae, the day-to-day pressures that assail us from every side.

It’s easy to lose track of what’s most important to you in life, and to let yourself drift.

But I find it incredibly sobering to always remember that one day I will die.

“For every individual, the whole complex business of living, this whole fascinating, agonizing, thrilling, boring, reassuring and frightening business, with all its moments of simple peace and complex turmoil, will someday, inescapably, end.”

— Ernest Becker

Maybe nothing will matter in a few million years, but it means EVERYTHING right now in this moment.

You need to make a decision. You need to decide that you are going to take responsibility for YOUR OWN life.

Decide that you will not let laziness and sloth deter you from attacking your scariest, most motivating goals.

You need to develop existential courage, and realize that one day, maybe one day very soon, you won’t be here.

While it’s uncomfortable to think about, it’s critically important. There’s a darkness closing in on you that you can’t escape, and this is your one and only chance at life.

So when you’re fighting against laziness, social conditioning, peer-pressure, fatigue, and internal doubt, keep death in mind.

Self-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading
“What you are, they once were. What they are, you will be.”

Fight for your goals as if your life actually means something to you.

Help others without expecting anything in return.

Cultivate self-discipline and carve out your desired future.

And most importantly, rage, rage against the dying of the light.

“This is your life; and it’s ending, minute by minute.”

All the best,

Matt Karamazov


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THE GODLIKE DISCIPLINE HANDBOOK

You can now download your free copy of my OWN book, The Godlike Discipline Handbook, by following this link HERE.

It features 13 concepts that are absolutely critical to achieving superhuman self-control, and gives 64 specific, actionable strategies to help you master self-discipline and willpower.

May your discipline become godlike.

Self-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

AUTHOR BIO:

Matt Karamazov is a human rights activist, nightclub bouncer, and hardcore reader. He writes about books, self-discipline, and human rights at Godlike Discipline, and you can get his free ebook on how to radically improve your own levels of self-discipline. Between workouts, Matt is trying to read 1,000 books before he turns 30, and start a non-profit that allows volunteers to earn money just by tracking the hours they already spend volunteering. He would be straight-up honored if you would support the life-saving work of Doctors Without Borders, and Human Rights Watch. Here he is on a horse.

Self-Discipline Habits Happiness Willpower Success Self Improvement Reading

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