Life Gets Better When You Get Personal

Depending on what corners of the Internet you frequent, you’re probably bombarded with life advice. “You should do this. You shouldn’t do that.” Bromides 101 must be a popular class at Thought Leader U.

I came across some advice like this the other day in a Twitter thread by Greg Isenberg. Don’t get me wrong. It was a nice thread. I enjoyed reading it. Many of the items spoke to me even. But ultimately I’m not quite sure what to do with most of the items on Greg’s list.

The problem with feel-good “personal development” advice is that it’s actually not very personal. 

Maybe it’s the engineer in me, but I’d much rather see a systematic approach to making change that helps me get where I want to go.

I stumbled across such a system a couple of years ago at a seminar for entrepreneurs presented by Andy Bailey, serial entrepreneur and author of “No Try Life.” It’s simple, highly personalized, and you can learn it in less time than it’d take you to read the latest Buzzfeed article.

When are you in Flow?

If you’re anything like me, there are clear patterns in your “good days” and “bad days.’

Some days I’m dragging from dawn to dusk, and others I leap into action with vigor and am propelled from one activity to the next with no effort.

Judging by the amount of coffee sold around the world, I’m not the only one who occassionally needs help getting things in gear.

And while I do enjoy my coffee, I’ve also come to realize—through self study and experimentation—that there are broader patterns I can leverage to take back my days from chance or mood.

Let’s start by spending a few minutes connecting with those days when we’re really in the groove. Just close your eyes and reflect for a moment. Take your time with this. The quality of your introspection will determine the quality of your results.

What are some of the things you do on those days when you’re in the zone? Can you see any patterns in your experience?

Here’s my list of 🔑 “flow habits”:

  • Exercise 30+ minutes per day
  • Get to bed early
  • Wake up early
  • Get 8+ hours sleep per day
  • Meditate in the morning
  • Eat keto/low carb
  • Walk / get outside daily
  • Drink tianchi
  • Get straight out of bed in the morning, i.e. no phone time
  • Focus time in the morning
  • Set focus priorities first
  • Keep happiness/gratitude journal
  • Connect w/ friends daily

While these might feel familiar—generic even—everything on this list is tailored to me, my psychology, my physiology and my goals.

In many cases, these are hard-won insights honed over years. My wife and I were married an embarrasingly many number of years before we realized that if we didn’t get enough sleep we weren’t very nice to one another. Duh! And as much as we know it’s true, we still need to remind ourselves sometimes. That’s why this technique, as obvious as it might sound, is powerful. What are those insights for you?

Be sure that the items on your list are simple and actionable. “Atomic,” to reference James Clear’s popular book on habits. Your list can include some aspirational items—I certainly don’t do all of these things every day—but they shouldn’t be “hard.” It shouldn’t feel like a list of projects or to-dos, but more like a collection of the simple things you do when you’re living your best life.

Once you’ve got your list try to actually do the things on it consistently for a week. Note in your calendar or journal how many of your flow habits you were able to do each day, aiming for at least four or five. Then try to extend your streak for a month. 

By looking at the days you’re at your best, and identifying those activities that got you there, you can help set the stage for more better days. Day by day, one activity at at a time, you’ll create the habits that make your life great.

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