Just a thought that popped up while working out the upper body in the last hour.
But first some context.
Last week and this week, I am finding it very hard to exercise. It is after all holiday season, and I have had excellent exercise compliance so far this year. So why not take a break for Christmas and New Year weeks? The world doesn’t stop, and the sky doesn’t fall if you miss just two weeks, has been my inner monologue!
But somehow that did not feel right. I felt uncomfortable from within about not having to exercise even for a week. That’s probably a nice side effect of keeping the “Exercise 3 times a week” habit for about five years now. So I dragged myself into workout clothes and laced my shoes. Rest everything took care of itself. I worked out three times last week. I am already done with full and upper body workouts this week. And I am looking forward to some squats and swings tomorrow. And repeat it all next week as well.
Again, it wasn’t easy…until I changed into workout clothes and put on my shoes.
I don’t take all the credit though. I am supported by a few great people. Besides the momentum of my exercise habit, the support system of the people I know or follow has helped me not dither in this silly season.
First, my ex-colleague, friend and a champion trainer (for the last five years and counting!) who sends my workouts remotely and checks-in every week. He also occasionally sends some much-needed inspiration:
Second, this retired US Navy SEAL named Jocko Willink. I recently started following Jocko — author of Extreme Ownership, a book that I have in my reading list and Discipline Equals Freedom, a book I borrowed from the library, read and kind of liked it, but I loved the title!— and he tweeted this:
Got some “time off” for the holidays?— Jocko Willink (@jockowillink) December 26, 2018
NEGATIVE. USE IT. pic.twitter.com/8jElj96U9u
Which lead me to think, I mostly don’t need any grand new year’s resolutions. I just need to continue my boring, but beneficial old year’s habits. I said mostly because I will likely have a few resolutions around my learning goals, but for the most part, I will be better off carrying my old habits into the new year.
I encourage you to consider this idea and think in terms of habits you can start and keep for the years to come, not the resolutions you will set and forget in a few months.
Earlier this month I signed up for Grammarly to improve my writing. I used it for a few weeks, and it seemed like a useful app to help me write better. So I thought of upgrading to Pro but haven’t opened my wallet.
Then an email appeared on 10 Nov suggesting me to upgrade for a 40% discount but only for the next 48-hours. It was tempting. But I am so used to email marketing. So I chose to wait. Then the Last chance: email came on the second day. I ignored it.
The upgrade went up to its full price. I was worried and even regretted not opting for the 40% discount. But I also hoped that if I pretend to ignore for a few more weeks, maybe the email marketing bot would send me the 40% discount email again. So I continued to wait.
Last week I received a Black Friday discount for 55%. This time I did not waste time to upgrade.
Could I have gotten more discount if I waited for more? Who knows? Have I fallen for marketing? Probably. But I felt 55% off is a right balance between the price I am paying and the value I think I am getting for my money.
It is another good reminder for me in this consumerist society to not fall for instant gratification. Good things generally come to those who wait.
I hate it when an Apple event happens and I don’t see any updates to the products I need.
My work computer is due for a refresh. So I ordered the latest iMac anyway despite no twentieth anniversary iMac refresh.
My favorite habits author James Clear’s book Atomic Habits is releasing today.
I benefited from his work over the last many years. The concept of Identity-Based Habits which I first learned from his blog has helped me in many ways especially with building and keeping my exercising habit.
I like his style of writing and explaining ideas. So I bought the book as I know I not only enjoy reading it but learn a ton. If you are a regular reader of his blog like me, you may find some ideas repetitive, but I think that’s a good thing. None of us need more new ideas. Just simple basics repeated over time will create wonderful results. Having known all this, I still fail at a lot of my habits and that’s one more reason why I am looking forward to read the book and reinforce my learning and habits.
Here is how yo can help yourself as well as James:
Today is the day! My first book, Atomic Habits, is available now!
Here's how you can help:
1-Buy a copy of the book. It's 40% off right now:https://t.co/EN8dfiEn79 …
2-Leave a review on Amazon.
3-Send an email to a friend and point them to https://t.co/RPTxZrWOWq
— James Clear (@JamesClear) October 16, 2018
I am so glad I bought and read Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson’s latest book It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work. The book is a collection of succinct and insightful essays on how to work calmly and effectively. Alongside those, it teaches great lessons on leadership which ties into how Jason and DHH run their company, Basecamp. I feel lucky to have found and read book at this stage in my career. I loved the book so much that and I am keeping it as my go-to leadership handbook.
The essays are quick and easy to read. I think their ideas are nonconformist. Yet they don’t sound weird and make perfect sense.
I also enjoy reading their blog Signal v. Noise where they share great posts that overlap with some of the book’s content. I specifically recommend Jason’s articles on iterating and flip-flopping which are close to my beliefs.
I highly recommend this book because you will learn loads of ideas on how to run a calm team and have a calm career; which seems daunting in this fast-paced and hustle-loving world. This book may shatter all the notions you have about what it means to have a great career.
Over the past few years, the following foundational skills have helped me shape my career. I am not going to perfect them anytime soon but I think I don’t have to. I believe these skills takes life-long practice and I really don’t want to get done with them. I think it would be silly of me to think that someday I will master them all. I probably won’t. But by simply being aware and practicing them, I feel like I can adopt growth mindset and get better in my life and career.
Regardless of what I do, being indistracable and being able to focus on the task at hand for longer periods of time is a great skill. It is hard; if it isn’t everyone would do it. Being able to focus gives me a great competitive advantage, so I think it is very well worth learning how to be focussed. I learned that even a few focus blocks each week makes me highly productive and effective. Having said this, it is really hard. I fail more often than I would like to believe. But that’s the challenge I signed up for.
Willingness to ask and accept feedback without getting defensive is another essential skill to develop. It sounds simple. But being told on the face that you have a lot of room for improvement —which is generally true in most cases— is inconvenient and deeply cuts through my most precious possession called ego. But however harsh it may sound, feedback on how I can improve is exactly what I need to get ahead. So I consider feedback as a gift. To get ahead in life, I need tough love, not being told how awesome I am. That’s why I am always open for feedback.
Flip-flop and iterate
It takes a lot of courage to be comfortable with changing my mind and ideas often. Everything around me is changing constantly. So should my ideas and opinions, I think. I am not obliged to stick with anything just because I felt certain way at certain point in time. Rather than being dogged about my ideas, I found that being open, adapting to feedback and iterating has helped me do cool things.
Can you think of any other skills that are useful regardless of what we do?
Next time I will share what I believe are foundational habits and how I learned about them.
Also, this is my first attempt with a cheesy clickbait title 😉
Feeling fired up and immensely grateful.
Tad tired after an amazing week but at least I got to hangout for a few hours with two of my brothers on my way home.
I will keep the 🔥 glowing.