Hello, dear chipmunks and lemurs,
In last week’s Friday Read I asked you to share a habit that you’ve been struggling with, while I bragged about how I started running three years ago and turned it into something I do on a daily basis.
Now I haven’t been fair with you. I’ve put myself in a favorable light and forgot to mention any of my other failed attempts to turn an activity into a habit.
Even with running – I previously gave a shot at it, but didn’t ‘stick’. I had no actionable plan, just a romanticized idea of „oh, I’d love to start running„, triggered by stupid things, such as Claire and Francis running in one of the first episodes of House of Cards. So of course it was bound to fail (until I finally seriously considered it).
Another habit I’ve been struggling with is daily journaling – a friend of mine brought the subject up after my last week’s email, and thought it might be worth sharing my (almost failed) experience with it.
I’ve been on and off with daily journaling since the 6th grade – so that’s almost two decades. I’ve had days, months, even years when I didn’t write in it, and then I had random long stretches of time when I did.
I use it for the same purposes I use running: as a way to improve my mental health. By writing things down, I’ll tame my monkey mind and gain clarity. It’s supposed to be a form to relieve stress, so perhaps pressuring myself for not writing on a daily basis defeats its purpose?
This year, for example, I wrote every day until the 7th of March, when I went on vacation… and only started writing again yesterday (so that’s a 6 weeks gap). Vacations are messy from this point of view, I haven’t been able to keep my routine while on the road (I have no clue how all those digital nomads manage to work, stay creative, and healthy at the same time).
I’ve tried everything. All types of notebooks. I love Moleskine most (who doesn’t?), but I also had a digital period, when I wrote and kept everything in the cloud – loved that I could easily search for things (I have a terrible selective memory).
I’ve finally settled to some sort of daily logbook, where I just list what I do. I also have separate notebooks for ideas that are business related, drawn from articles, books or podcasts (I’m „talented” at chasing colored balloons, so I always need to keep myself in check, not to get too distracted by all the shiny possibilities my mind sees).
The odds are that one day I’ll wake up and feel like experimenting with a different form of journaling. It’s a work in progress.
I enjoy reading about how others use diaries, logbooks and journals, so here are a few links I collected on this subject, in case you share the same weird pleasure:
- Creating a Decision Journal: Template And Example Included (from Shane Parrish – FarnamStreet)
- BuJoPro: Thoughts on Adapting Bullet Journal to a Hyper-Connected World (from Cal Newport)
- Notebook Turducken (from Austin Kleon)
- How Tim Ferriss does the 5 minute journal (video)
- 14 Ways To Make Journaling One Of The Best Things You Do In 2018 (from Ryan Holiday)
This week’s articles:
„I don’t really know how much time I save due to automation, but maybe I’d estimate 1-2 hours per day. Let’s call it 90 minutes. That’s 550 hours per year, or a full thirteen forty-hour work weeks! These little things I’ve set up give me 25% more time than most people.”
„That is the skill that makes the biggest difference between the high achievers and the ordinary people. It all comes down to the ability to do the shit you don’t want to do. […] This is austerity, or something I call mental override. Master this, and with the right plan you can master anything.”
I’ll be forever grateful to all those people who were patient enough to mentor me, push me, show me what mistakes I’ve made and how to get better.
Here’s an article from Ryan Holiday written for young people who just got out of school and are about to be hit by reality, about why they should consider finding a mentor & how (forward it to your kids, interns or younger siblings).
„There is a reason that apprenticeships have been directly related with mastery for centuries. “Go directly to the seat of knowledge,” Marcus Aurelius admonished. Michael Faraday, Carl Jung, Glenn Gould, Ben Franklin, Martha Graham, Freddie Roach–all had a mentor in one form or another.”
One of the books I’m currently reading is 10% Happier, by Dan Harris. Ignore the fluffy title. It’s a spiritual book about meditation, written by a suspicious agnostic who would never read a spiritual book, sprinkled with his life story.
Dan Harris is a correspondent for ABC News, an anchor for Nightline, and co-anchor for the weekend edition of Good Morning America. He has reported from all over the world, covering wars in Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq.
In 2004, Dan had a panic attack. Live. Nationally televised. 5+ million people saw him lose his mind on the set of Good Morning America. He hit rock bottom and, as it happens in such situations, he was forced to change in his life.
I bought the book after listening to his conversation with James Altucher – it might be a good idea to start with their podcast episode first (meditation is also a subject that I’ve been digging into lately, after noticing that all those people I admire practice some form of it).
Have a weird weekend!