First four months of 2016

Since the start of this year, I exercised 50 hours and ran 15 5ks.

Most importantly, I achieved one of the two resolutions for this year. I successfully completed Chaitanya 3.0 project. More details later.

I am not doing very well on the second resolution: getting the perfect abs. I am failing to eat exceptionally well. I ate more junk, sugar and cake than I needed to. I am hoping to get better at eating. I probably will.

There are no finish lines

I chanced upon a great quote today.

There are no finish lines.

It made prefect sense. This is something I keep in my mind with everything I do. My relationships, friendships, habits, and principles are all for my life. There are no finish lines.

In the other news, I tried to keep quiet in Twitter and Facebook but I soon realized that lurking is not my natural state. So I tweeted:

It feels good not to pretend as someone I am not.

My new year is warming up. I started, rather continuing, work on my goals. My exercising routine resumed this week after a two-week holiday break. I started drinking protein after my workouts. I had a great lower body workout this afternoon. My trainer kept it relatively easy so all of us finished all the reps ahead of time. However, at the end he challenged me to swing 32 kg kettle-bell non-stop for fifty times. I tried, but gave up after twenty swings. So he asked me to complete two more sets of twenty swings, breaks allowed. I was able to do all of them with a good form. So that’s sixty swings with a break after every twenty. Still pretty good.

2016 has kicked off.

 

Master yourself. Help others.

I recently wrote about how  what I do aligns to “Master yourself, help others” philosophy I learned from Derek Sivers.  I loved this philosophy so much that I want to make it my life motto and make sure everything I do fits into either of these buckets.

This motto adds on to the four principles I practice. Here is the complete list:

  1. Master yourself. Help others.
  2. Hell yeah or no.
  3. Believe in Evolution. Not in Revolution.
  4. Rely on Habits and Processes. Not on Willpower.
  5. Base goals on Identity. Not on Performance or Appearance.

For the fun of setting resolutions for 2016, I decided to highlight two things from my /now page.

Master yourself

I am going to work for perfect abs. This not so because I want to show off but for the fun of attempting what I think is difficult to do. Perfect abs means eating really well, great rest of the body and overall fitness.

I reiterate, I exercise to master my body and be healthy so I can give a best shot to my aspirations. External results like lean body, muscle and low body fat are nice side effects I can’t help but enjoy.

Help others

I am going to work hard to be successful in my side project code-named, Chaitanya 3.0.

I am super excited to imagine what is possible in 2016.

Here’s to 2016 and I wish you all the very best for your aspirations.

Three ideas I learned from Derek Sivers

I learned three great ideas from Derek Sivers over the last couple of months. I am very grateful to Derek for the following ideas.

  1. Hell yeah or no.
  2. /now page.
  3. Mastering self and helping others.

Hell yeah or no

I came across Derek’s “Hell yeah or no” idea via Leo Babauta’s tweet.

I instantly liked it and started saying no to anything that is less than hell yeah. It has helped me focus on my priorities and say no to everything else.

/now page

Being part of Derek’s /now page movement and writing my /now page has helped me think what is important to me and write how I am spending my time. I read my /now page regularly to make sure I am spending my time on my priorities.

Mastering self and helping others

Derek recently shared this idea in this second episode of The Tim Ferriss Show. I strongly recommend you listen to it. I enjoyed the two-hour long first episode as well but if you have only little time, just listen to the second.

He shared this idea at 28:03 of the second follow-up episode when someone asked him how does he define success.

I am amazed by how most of the things I do – which you will find on my /now page – perfectly aligns to this philosophy.

Exercising, doing push ups, running are to master my body and be in shape. Meditating, playing Elevate, and eating healthy helps me master my mind.

I am here first to help and take care of my family. Thankfully they don’t take much of my time or help but I don’t think twice to drop everything else if they ever need me that much. Then, my day job and Chaitanya 3.0 project are too about helping people, learning new things, and solving others problems.

Thanks a lot Derek. Your ideas are  some of the best I learned in 2015. I am super excited to continue living them in 2016 and be more useful to others.

Understanding GTD

If you are keen to get better at achieving your goals in the new year, I suggest you check the free Get Stuff Done online course on YouTube.

This course teaches how to apply the famous GTD philosophy to our life. It was originally offered for a small fee but the nice fella, Tiago Forte of Skillshare has made it available for free on YouTube.  It is a series of short videos, all of them under fifteen minutes and only few of them are over ten minutes.

I did this course last year and learned a lot about how to organize myself. It has helped me build a Wunderlist based to-do list system that tells me the things I need to do everyday to make progress on my goals. I am doing this course again to strengthen my learning. It only takes at most fifteen minutes a day. Check it out.

Push ups

99 day pushup streakOne of the skills I hoped to develop this year is to learn how to do push ups.

I totally sucked at push ups last year despite exercising 110 hours. I just couldn’t do even a single push up on my toes. So rather than getting frustrated and angry at myself and jealous at others who can do, I decided to sign up for a beginner level push up plan on Coach.Me plan and stick to it.

The result is impressive. Now I can do 20 push ups in a row on my toes. It took 100 days of practice. But each day I practiced only for about two minutes. That is a great return on my investment.

Someone said, the reward for winning a round of game is the eligibility to play next round. Or something on those lines. So here’s to Level 2. And there is Level 3. Like most of the habits I like to build and keep, there is no end date to this habit.

This reminds me: there are no real quantum leaps or secrets formulas in life. Only baby steps when taken consistently, suddenly look like magic.

Unsubscribe, Unfollow, Unread, Unfriend, Unplug.

One thing I started appreciating after becoming a dad is the value of time.

Like many dads, being the best possible hands on dad is non-negotiable to me. You don’t need a lot of money to be a good parent but you certainly need a lot of time and patience, things money can’t buy. However, this is not the only challenge I have.

I am three decades into my life and still haven’t figured what do I want to do with it. Thankfully I haven’t given up and I refuse to settle. This means besides trying to be a good dad, I also need time to find my life’s purpose. While I do this, I need to make a living, exercise, learn to write well, run errands, form and keep up habit streaks; all while getting eight hours of sleep.

All these things put unprecedented pressure on my time. So earlier last year I audited how much free time I have and how am I spending it. That’s when I realized a relieving fact that I can still put time on the things I want to do and be there for my son.

These are some things I do to free up significant chunks of time.

Unsubscribe to most of the RSS feeds. Google helped me a bit with this by killing the Reader. Now I only read less than a third of my original feeds.

Unfollow most of the tech celebrities, tech blogs, tech journalists and everybody who spam. As a result, I brought down my twitter following count from few hundreds to under 50. This saves a lot of time I am otherwise spending to scroll through twitter timeline. Now I follow only a few interesting people.

Unfriend with Facebook friends with whom I am not in touch for years. It may sound weird but with how many of your 500+ Facebook friends did you attempt to make a genuine connection? How many of them share their genuine thoughts on their feed? Most of them don’t. So I unfriended with all but 30 people on Facebook so I don’t have to deal with their Farmville requests and passive shares.

Unread news. I only spend less than 15 minutes to scroll through headlines of two newspaper sites. The one I grew up reading and the other, to get in touch with current affairs of the country and city I live. I only occasionally read through the main content. Most of it, most of the times is useless anyway.

Unplugging is challenging. Especially when technology is your passion and you have a handful of gadgets around. I would be lying if I say I can unplug when I wish. But I am making slow progress. Disabling notifications in the iPhone is one thing that helped me with this.

Few years ago I always looked forward for the next Apple event and used to waste lot of time reading speculations in technology blogs about what Apple is going to release. Now I did not even know when was the last Apple event and what was it about.

There is always enough time for anything, but not for everything.

Habits and streaks

I clearly remember that July night in 2013. I discovered Medium and was on reading spree. Just like how I used to read any and every blog in 2006 when I discovered blogging.

That Medium post was titled Deliberate Practice, one of my favorite subjects. It mainly talked about two points which I can’t recall at the moment. I have this weird habit of exploring a bit more about the author if I liked any post. That post’s author is Tony Stubblebine, CEO of Coach.Me (then Lift.do). That’s how I discovered Lift. I somehow like the old name, Lift, although they renamed it to Coach.Me inline with their business model.

Lift is a habit building app. You pick up a habit you want to build, do that habit every day and open the app and check that habit. You build the  streak and you get better at habit. Eventually you just do the habit everyday without worrying about checking it in, unless you are keen on numbers. You also get props from strangers in the community. You can give props to other too.

Ever since I discovered Lift, I used it to track these habits: learn touch typing, learn planking, learn doing pushps on toes, getting rid of Facebook app on iPhone, meditate, exercise and a bunch of other habits. Besides getting obsessed with streaks, I also came across useful blogs like Zen Habits and interesting people like BJ Fogg and James Clear. These people and their blogs have been immensely helpful to me.

It is important to note that nobody becomes a super hero using apps. Nothing works until you do and you can work even without using technology. But I like using this app because it gives me a track of effort I spent. This helps me do the work on the days I feel like slacking. For e.g. By spending less than 2 minutes a day for the last 60 days, I am able to do 15 pushups on my toes in a row. Before that I could do absolutely zero. So I am more likely to continue the streak and in the process do more and more pushps. I can’t say how many. But I am certain that it will a few more than I was able to do last week.

So whatever habit you want to build, just do this. Download Coach.Me app. Search the habit and sign up to it. The app will tell you the bare minimum thing you have to do that day to earn your streak. Just do it. Check it in. Do it long enough, Boy! You built the habit you were wanting to build for so long. Then check the streaks and calendars, you will be surprised how little time it took and you wonder why did you wait so long. Good luck.

New year resolutions

I did not have resolutions for 2014. Instead, I decided to plant and grow few habits that are worth pursuing for years.

To help me get going, I made the following three rules for myself:

  1. Base goals on Identity. Not on Performance or Appearance.
  2. Rely on Habits and Processes. Not on Willpower.
  3. Believe in Evolution. Not in Revolution.

To remind me of these rules, I forked some markup from Codecademy at the end of 2013 and added a timer to it: time.chaitanyamsv.com. This page served me well but as I decided to close my domain, this page will go down as well.

One and a half years later, I no longer need the timer as I systematized my habits in Coach.me and Wunderlist apps. So the habits happen nevertheless. However these rules needed a new home, and this post is it.