Where to Start
Health, wealth, love, happiness.
There are probably an infinite number of things you could do improve each one of them.
Where do you start?
I’d say with the most effective activities first.
The 80/20 Rule
An economist named Vilfredo Pareto has done some work with investments and found that 80% of an investor’s results come from 20% of what they put into their investments.
I honestly haven’t done much research into it beyond that.
But the basic idea seems pretty sound.
Much rather than getting caught up in the minutia of trying to optimize everything focus on the big stuff first.
Then if you’re feeling adventurous after that go ahead and start adding in smaller stuff, after you get a grasp on how the big things work.
In my own past endeavors this is exactly where I’ve gotten tripped up.
Whether it was trying to build muscle, learn martial arts, dating, or start a business. I would focus on the flashy (small) stuff.
- Creating a logo for a business
- Trying to confuse my muscles during my workouts
- Learning low level techniques from lots of martial arts
- “Peacocking” to attract a woman’s attention
All that stuff might make some differences in the areas I was working in.
But lets face it all the energy and effort went to big fat wastes of time.
Simple = Effective
The flashy stuff is sexy, but lets face it without something behind it…
You’re polishing a turd.
And yes, I have polished a lot of turds.
The funny thing I’ve realized is that most people don’t want to do the simple things (myself included), probably because they’re repetitive and despite being simple they require a decent amount of grunt work.
A healthy body:
- Get enough sleep
- Drink enough water
- Get some exercise
- Don’t over-indulge in food
I’ve had brilliant ideas like:
I want to build muscle and get in shape; I should drink nothing but sports drinks and take protein supplements. Regular exercise and eating a decent diet are overrated as far as doing that is concerned. I just need to supplement!
Yeah, really stupid mindset there. I ended up not losing any weight and probably losing some of the little muscle I had at the time.
- Pay yourself first
- Decide on where you want your money to go
- Automate as much of the process as you can
- Don’t feel guilty spending what you have left
A lot of people look at building wealth and think they need some complex investment strategy. But they haven’t they aren’t even contributing to a 401k they get as part of a benefit at where they work. There’s nothing complex there, just opt for a payroll deduction and the money gets taken out before you ever see it.
Then all you have to do is select where you want the money to go.
Keep it simple: Index funds are incredibly simple and they’re automatically diversified.
- Build a solid character
- Develop confidence in what you do
- Be someone people feel safe around
- Accept that you are a masculine or a feminine person and act like it
When I was younger I was obsessed with playing video games. I sat on my ass every chance I got and simply played games. I dressed like a clueless teenager and didn’t have any physical activity. Yet I wondered why there wasn’t a woman in my life.
It wasn’t until later that I started to have an inkling that if I wanted to bring beautiful women into my life (that were interested in being more than friends) I needed to actually build a life they’d be interested in being a part of.
- Live outside your head
- Be giving with your time, energy, and money
- Let people know you really care about/appreciate them
- Spend as little time around negative people as possible
This is really a psychological version of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.
When a system is closed interesting things can crop up. A person who stays in their own head all the time and doesn’t interact with others is exactly the same.
If you want to truly be happy, you need to have people in your life. To have people in your life you need to actually interact with them.
Your life will reflect those that you spend the most time around. If you spend time around a bunch of people who don’t do anything but sit on their asses and talk about stupid stuff, well that’s all your life is going to amount to.
Willpower is a finite resource and from what I understand, maximizing it’s use is what separates the really successful people from the semi-successful people.
Figure out what you want (as well as why)
While I’ve been working on the foundation for rebuilding my life, something has become incredibly clear:
I have to decide on what I want
Life is after-all what happens while you’re planning.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent a lot of time bouncing around without a lot of focus on what you want.
Either that or you’ve spent a lot of time being indecisive and thus have wasted a lot of time for nothing.
If you’re like me you have a tendency to become paralyzed by choice. Lots of options look appealing and so you let yourself get bogged down in deciding what you want.
Locking yourself into a decision can be scary, you don’t now if it’ll work out the way you want to it to.
Fortunately simply moving forward builds momentum, so even if the choice you make ends up putting you where you don’t necessarily want to be you’ll have an easier time getting a different way off the ground.
Once you’ve figured out what you want, you need to figure out why want it.
The better your why, the more emotion you’ll have to put behind doing what you need to get what you want.
A personal note:
Up until fairly recently, I spent a lot of time trying to catalog a lot of different techniques from different styles of martial arts. Because you know, you’ve gotta be well rounded and able to handle anything.
While that last sentence is absolutely true, you’re much better off familiarizing yourself with the principles of your primary art and and learning to apply those principles to different situations.
Then you won’t find yourself knowing a bunch of techniques that you’re not going to be able to apply under pressure anyway.
Remind yourself daily
Once you figure out what you want you’ll get an emotional charge. The charge will be even bigger and more sustainable if you remind yourself of your why.
Keeping that emotional charge going means you don’t have to rely on willpower alone to make things happen.
Years ago I remember seeing The Secret for the first time.
How the information was presented in that movie, they made it sound like the only thing that you had to do was think happy thoughts and BAM! what you want will happen.
Well that’s total crap.
But something they touched on isn’t crap:
Reminding yourself of what it is that you want
The more often you can tap into the feelings having what it is that you want the better.
- Think about that new house you want to build
- What would your day look like running your own business?
- Look at photos of the car you want to drive
- Hang pictures of people who inspire you to do what you want to do
A personal note:
I’ve thought to myself in the past that if I really wanted something I shouldn’t need any reminders of why.
Yeah, really, really stupid.
It might feel funny to hang pictures of what you want and write stuff to yourself about why you want it.
But if you don’t remind yourself then you’re going to burn yourself out really quickly.
Remove obstacles (or add them)
Every step between you and doing what you know you should be doing to get what you want is a possible reason you won’t do it.
This can work in both directions.
- If you’re trying to pick up a new habit, remove as many obstacles as you can
- If you’re trying to stop doing something, add as many obstacles as possible
One of the things I’m wanting to do some martial arts practice every day.
One of the big things I’ve done is to clean out the spare bedroom in my apartment and leave it clear. This gives me a place to move around without having to worry about breaking things.
It also just so happens that it’s right next door to my bedroom, so when I get up in the morning all I have to do is take 10 steps and I’m in my practice room.
Something else I’m wanting to do is reduce my body fat percentage.
To help the process I’ve:
- gotten rid of all of the junk food in the apartment
- got rid of all the hard-alcohol in the house
- been bulk cooking high protein stuff for breakfast
- put a 64 oz soda cup on my desk for water (only 2 trips to the faucet!)
Ryan Masters over at Sparta Strength uses ‘Hot Gates.’ Essentially the idea is that you don’t want to take on anymore than you have at any one point. Just like the Spartans did at the battle of Thermopylae.
Procrastination can be a good thing?
There was a podcast I listened to a while ago, the guest Rory Vaden laid out a focus funnel for Procrastinating on Purpose.
The process is as follows:
- Eliminate non-essential tasks
- Automate simple tasks
- Delegate complex tasks others can handle
- Manage the important stuff only you can do
- Does it have to be done now?
- No – push it off until it has to be done
- Yes – get it done now and move on
- Does it have to be done now?
Figuring out what’s important to you helps this process out a lot. If you have your priorities figured out and work from them you’ll be able to figure out what’s essential and what’s not essential.
Then start looking at things that need to be done, but are incredibly simple and could be taken care of automatically – like paying bills and doing account transfers.
For the vast majority of people delegation is an interesting thought. Personally I’ve only looked at housekeeping so far. Luckily for me a friend of mine does housekeeping and only charges about $10/hour. It would only cost ~$100/month – so what if I can’t afford it right now, but in the near future.
Building (or rebuilding) your life is something doesn’t need to be complicated.
- 80% of your results will come from the most effective 20% of your efforts.
- The most effective efforts are going to come from the simplest stuff that takes the most grunt work
- To make the most effective use of your effort you need to minimize the amount of willpower required to exert it
- To minimize willpower usage:
- Figure out exactly what you want
- Figure out exactly why you want it
- Remind yourself of those every day
- Remove (or add obstacles) to help make changes
- Procrastinate on purpose
Yeah, currently I don’t have a lot to show. But my gut is telling me that I finally have a decent road map on how to get what I want.
Now get out there and make it happen!