I love how calm I am in the morning these days. I wake up, get out of my bed and turn of the alarm. Drink a big glass of water to wake my body. Go out to the kitchen and fill my water boiler with fresh cold water. Set it to 90c degrees. Wash my face in the bathroom.
By now I feel refreshed and awake. Just two minutes after waking. Some tiredness lingering but that will soon be gone. Pre heat my cup with water. Pour the water out and add instant coffee. Fill up with hot water. Love to see the crema that forms on the surface and take a moment to smell it. Then I know it will taste great.
Take a hot shower to warm my body, stretch my neck to get some blood flowing. Finish with at least one minute on full cold. Dry up and put on some clothes to enjoy myself a warm cup of amazing coffee. Sit down at my table and start my computer, to begin writing on my current thoughts. All the while I’ve done this in a calm and relaxed way. With no pressure of time on me.
When the time comes. I put on my shoes, grab my backpack and put on my jacket to walk down towards the train. Get on the train and make some small talk with one other person or read a book. It’s rather pleasant to have a conversation on the train in the morning.
Sometimes I meet a friend. Other times I’ve made new friends. Recently I’ve talked with a woman that’s been intrigued by my books and notepad I’ve always got with me. She asked about it one day.
I told her of my habit of reading some, and writing some every day. She really liked that idea. Two days after when we met again, she said that she had started writing. Mostly work related. I said “that’s great!” We talked some more about it, and I told her of what else I like to write about.
- Write one thing you’ve done the last 24 hours that made you happy.
- Write three things you are grateful of.
- Journal what you did today.
She liked the idea. She talked about wanting to find a new job, that some changes at work have made it stressfull. I asked her if she regularly saves some money for herself. I shared my habit of always trying to save at least 10% of what I earn. How much safer it makes me feel.
To have the possibility of following my dream when I find it. To keep this money to myself. Instead of working because I have to. To working because I want to. To be able to have one less worry in my life.
When she talked about her ideas about finding a new job, I asked her what she would like to do. She didn’t know. I shared my habit of writing down ten ideas. How it has helped me coming up with new ideas I’ve never thought of before. How it could help her to begin imagining ten jobs she could see herself working with.
How I made a list of ten books I could write yesterday. After my fifth book I came up with “10 highly effective cleaning habits” and loved the idea. Then wrote ten chapters on it. Funny how writing works. Never thought I would make a book of highly effective cleaning habits. I wonder if she liked any of the ideas and tried them.
Arrive to work in an easy stride up the stairs. Get a glass and brew my second cup of coffee. Put on my shirt and bring my book and notepad with me. To sit down twenty minutes before work starts. To read or write if I don’t talk with my colleagues.
A couple of months ago it looked nothing like this. It was stressful getting to work.
I used to rush out of bed to shower and felt drained afterwards. Then get on the bike while I was sweaty from the shower although I had finished cold. Now I have 30 minutes to get to work and change. Racing against the clock in a stressful way, obsessing over where I am in segment time.
I need to go faster this segment. Oh now I can slow down a bit. Going down first and keeping a steady pace. Pass a sharp turn where I crashed two years ago and turned my wheels to nachos.
Bike down the small hills. Ride up against the beautiful sea. Sometimes it’s so clear you can see all the little lights across the other side. And sometimes there’s a thick heavy fog clouding just a few feet in over the sea. I’m cold now and the sweat is sticky against my body. I still need five more minutes to get warm. Pass the two marinas on the way. Come up against the railroads and give some more power to the pedals.
Now 15 minutes have passed feeling some warmth in my body. Need to pedal harder to gain time. Rush through a residential area up a small hill climb. 18 minutes passed. Just a bit further and it’s downhill from here. Now I’ve began to work up a sweat.
Almost there, just five more minutes. Pass a guy going in the wrong direction with no lights on. Third day in a row he does this. Some day he is gonna get hit. And it’s not gonna be pretty. Slight downhill now and flat road coming up. Just keeping steady cadence.
Look over my left shoulder, it’s clear to cross the road. I get of mid stride and hoist my bike on the shoulder. Taking short and fast steps down the stairs to pass under the train tracks. Maybe 7 minutes until I begin. I’ve made good time to day. Get on my bike and ride the last short distance. Reach for my pass card and hold it against the door. Pull the door open and roll my bike inside through a short right, left, right maneuver.
Fast steps up the stairs, grab a glass. Walk over to the coffee machine, press double espresso and immediately head off to my locker and change clothes. Rush out to gulp my espresso down with one foot of the ground and my mind down the stairs. Fast steps down the stairs and as I reach the clock I notice I’m late by two minutes. Fuck.
By writing and coming up with ten ideas every day. I’m slowly getting unstuck. I’m beginning to notice all kind of different ways to create value for others. It’s starting to manifest itself in my mind. That it’s possible. While I keep saving money for myself I have an assurance that I could do others things if I want to.
The practice of talking with new people every day helps me learn how to build connections. To learn what drives them. What they are passionate about. Every person I meet, I can learn from. If I listen. When I take the time to listen, they share things that they haven’t thought about sharing.
My habit of writing ideas have started to change how I make conversations. When a person might share a problem, I now begin to make a list in my head of different ways to solve it. If they are good I share them, and they use them to form their own plan.
Meeting new interesting people
It’s quite simple to walk up to a new person and begin talking with them. What stopped me in the past. Was constantly being in my own thoughts. Obsessively thinking about games, or what other thought about me. Since I began to shift away from games, and being more interested in other things. It made it much easier.
15 years ago I said to myself I wasn’t interested in meeting others. Instead I shut myself in to the safety of my room and my computer. Even while playing I felt unsafe. I was scared of trading items in the game because I didn’t know the value they had. I was afraid of rejection. So I rarely did it unless I knew for certain the value of it.
I shut myself in because I hadn’t learned the ways to grow. Didn’t understand how and why I should reach out and talk with people. Didn’t see the point of it.
Learning new things
Today I understand it much better. It still isn’t easy. But I know why it’s good for me. And I’ve learned systems how to build connections and create fun experiences. To be bold and do new things. To be bold and continue with things I’ve started. It’s “easy” to try a new experience like taking a Salsa class. Go three times and I feel quite good about it since I’m just a beginner and made some progress.
But continue after that to ten classes. Twenty classes. Or more. Is scary, because then I’ve some experience and can’t be quite called a beginner any longer. Then to ask a girl to dance with me. Face ridicule and rejection. But I did it. And it was really fun once I got over that fear and just did it.
If it went bad, I laughed. Like one time this summer. I have a habit of asking at least three girls to dance to practice what we learned earlier. The first two girls were really sweet and had a great time and was able to lead well. The third girl I ask, immediately had a different attitude. She didn’t want to greet by name. And made it awkward leading her, and I lost the rhythm. I tried two times more to get it going but danced really bad. She laughed at my face for it.
I just grinned at her and said “thanks for the dance” while chuckling to myself how I miserably failed that dance. And when it went great, I laughed even more.
Persistence and faith
Having persistence and finishing things you once started, is a great quality. It has helped me so much in my own life. I’ve started so many things that was uncomfortable to me. Like going to the gym. I hated it for a long time. I tried it a couple of times. But it was hard to commit myself to the practice.
It took me two years to begin again. And two months to build a habit of me going regularly. Today I know it’s best for my well being to go at least two times a week. Preferably more, but at minimum two times.
Getting better memory
I used to feel my memory was really bad. I didn’t remember what I had done yesterday, or last week. The days blended in together as one. I felt bad when I read. Because nothing would stick and would take so long to read. So I gave up on reading.
What I’ve realized today. Is that my memory wasn’t bad. It was my way of living. I ate bad foods every day. I never got any rest since I was in front of the computer most of my waking hours. Didn’t exercise. My days blended together because I never did anything new.
Today I read more. Journal of my day. Write any interesting thought that comes up that is worth keeping. Exercise some every day. Make it a habit of coming up with at least one new thing to experience this week, or this month. Take myself out on new experiences. Invite someone to a place I’ve never been to, and go together.
I’ve committed myself to do these practices. At first it was hard. Many times I’ve just wanted to throw them away. Some days I did some of them. Other days, I didn’t do them. But I had them in my mind every day I didn’t do them. I prepared in other ways, like reading or planning them out when I could make time to do them.
Until one day I had enough of myself! And just did it. It was awkward but I did it. And again. And once more. Just doing it once made me feel great! Doing it again the next day even greater! I’ve just accomplished my practice of writing, going to the gym, talking with a interesting girl. The next day maybe I did them all, or one. But still in my mind every day. Preparing for it.
I have in my mind, that with persistence and faith. This practice is worth it. I now do most of them in a calm relaxed way. When I’ve practiced it enough to be relaxed, magical things happen. Suddenly I begin to see possibilities all around me that once were none. Act on that urge, and things just seem to happen.
What destroys my faith is disbelief
Disbelief in myself and my practice. Why do I even do this? Why not just stop right now. This is uncomfortable. Why am I sharing this with you? I’m used to playing video games and like it. I’ve worked many hours today and I would just like to relax after work. It sure would be nice with a soda right now. Or something stronger, to help me relax more. It’s been awhile since I had some chips, I should get some. Just this once. That’s okay. Just once. Maybe I should splurge and buy a nice laptop. Think of all the cool games I could play. It would be fun to play all the great games I haven’t played this year.
Why would I read books when I have this awesome game telling me great stories. Books are boring. There are so many and I don’t know where to start. Coming up with ten ideas every day. What does that help me in the future? How does it help me now? And writing this. Why don’t I just be done with it and go to sleep. It’s Sunday morning and the sun hasn’t risen yet. I have a girl in my warm bed waiting for me.
I was so tired when I awoke today. Something stirred me to wake fifteen minutes before my alarm was set. It’s 5.15 am on a sunday morning. I felt that urge to just go to sleep again. My head hurts. My eyes are dried and tired. It’s cold.
Why would I do this to myself? Because I have faith in my practice. This is the direction I want to go in. I want something greater out of life then I’ve had! I want to experience new things. Have more freedom for myself.
“If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do things you’ve never done.”
How do you even find what you want to do in life?
Listen to your gut. This is the single most important thing and I will say it again. Listen to your gut. It’s scary. When I’ve listened to my gut my brain usually tells me “this is unsafe, you really shouldn’t do this Johan”, “this is uncomfortable, just go back to playing your video game”, “what would I do without my video games? I don’t know anything else.”
“How could I achieve wealth? I’m too stupid”, “I don’t have any savings, and never will have”, “I have to many bills to pay and to little income”, “I don’t have any great ideas”, “how could I run a company? I’m not trained in that. I haven’t even finished school!”
So many thoughts get in the way, stopping me from listening to my gut. I’m so used to hearing them. They are so subtle in their ways. Over the years I muted the voice of my gut. Ignored it for so long. That it could hardly speak up.
When it did speak up, I doubted it. Because I haven’t listened to it for so long. “What is this gut feeling telling me?” “That I should resist the urge of watching a gameplay stream on twitch.tv?” “Why would I resist instant gratification when I can have fun right now?”
Resisting the urge for instant gratification gives me power
Building the muscle to resist my urge for instant gratification. Have been a long journey. Still is. Every day it’s tempting to just give it up. Be done with it. Cave in to my wants right now. Two hours ago I was so tired. My head was in pain. My body screamed to me: “Go to bed Johan, you can write this later.”
I listened to my gut. I have the faith that this work needs to be done in the morning. Because later in the day, I’ve been taking in so many expressions and experiences, that I would be tired. To tired to think straight. To tired to write.
By resisting my wants for instant gratification, gives me power. Power over myself. That I can achieve what I want in life. I’ve talked much about myself now. But that is to show that you might have thought, similar thoughts. Or not. Apply it if it resonates with you. Maybe it’s scary. Try to do it anyway.
The power gives me energy. If I would have gone to bed again, I’m certain I wouldn’t have written this. It would have colored my whole day, that I failed what I set out to do. I would talk down to myself. That I’m no great person. I always fail getting up early to write. Last weekend I didn’t do it. And this whole week I’ve just gotten fifteen minutes of writing done at most. That is hardly an achievement.
But that’s wrong. This whole week I’ve set my alarm earlier and have written some words. This weekend I’ve written more then I dreamed of. The small victories every day, amounts to huge achievements in the near future. If I wouldn’t have written five minutes here, and ten minutes there, every day this week. Do you think I would have the faith in myself to get up today?
Will power! What nonsense!
Will power is but the unflinching purpose to carry the task you set for yourself to fullfillment.
If I commit myself to carry out a task, no matter how small, I shall see it to fulfillment.
How else could I have trust in myself to do other more important things?
-The Richest Man in Babylon
I set out on my own self improvement journey more then a decade ago, with a single goal. The goal to change my life and experience new things. I had no idea where to start. But I knew in my gut, that I wanted something more out of life.
Along the way, I’ve done so many scary things. Things I really didn’t want to do at first. Things I didn’t know how to do. Questioned where would this action would take me. Questioned myself, many times while taking the necessary steps. Still do.
But I did take that step today. And a new day begins, with the sun rising. And that fear of not being enough? It’s severely reduced, while my gut feeling is showing the way.