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Journal Thoughts

Old habits. Not new resolutions.

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:

Holiday exercise 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:

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.

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Book Notes Habits Journal

Atomic Habits

My favorite habits author James Clear’s book Atomic Habits is releasing today.

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:

Categories
Journal Tech

Gave up on Mac’s Hot Corners

I recently learned some Mac tips and one of the things I was excited about and tried is Hot Corners. But after a few months of trying them they proved to be Annoying Corners. I often accidentally send my mouse pointer to one of the corners of the screen and invoke them inadvertently. So I disabled Hot Corners today.

I am hoping to instead add a few more multi-touch gestures to my finger memory. Multi-touch gestures are intuitive, fun, and make me feel like I am a pro Mac Book Pro user. So far I am loving the gestures which means I will practice them more.

Categories
Fitness Habits Journal Running

First 5k of 2017

I finally ran the first 5k of this season! I intend to run a 5k every weekend for rest of the spring and summer. I ran about twenty-five 5ks in 2015. But I did not run much in 2016. This year I try to do better again.

My running goal is modest: I just try to run a 5k each weekend. I start running around this time in October when days start getting longer and weather warmer. I stop running around March when days start getting shorter and wetter.

I can probably run a marathon or even a half of it if I train myself. But I find it hard to make time to train for such lofty goals. There are always other things to do. And I am more of a habits person than goals person. I don’t think I can run marathons habitually! So I settle for a 5k. As much as possible, I try to run non-stop and finish within twenty something minutes. That’s as ambitious as my running gets.

Here’s the FitBit map of my last weekend’s run:

First 5k of 2017

Categories
Habits Journal

James Clear’s “1% Better Every Day” video

I learned a LOT about habits by reading James Clear’s blog. He has heaps of great posts on his site, but if I were to pick one, it is this: Identity-Based Habits: How to Actually Stick to Your Goals This Year. The gist is that: Building good habits and changing ourselves for better is all  about our identity (what we believe of ourselves and who we try to become), not performance (the actions we take) or appearance (what others say about us). Performance and appearance are great, but for habits to last, they should start from within, from your identity, from what kind of person you think you are. This powerful idea changed me for better over the last few years.

James recently delivered a great talk in which he talks about the power of small habits. Check it out here. It is about 25 minutes and is very well worth your time.

Following are my notes from that talk.

Aggregation of marginal gains.

Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.

Good habits make your time ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.

Framework for forming better habits.

Four stages of habit formation: Noticing, Wanting, Doing and Liking.

Stage 1: Noticing

Implementation intentions.

Action step: Have a plan

Stage 2: Wanting

Design environment for encouraging good behaviors.

Put more steps between you and bad behaviors. Fewer steps between you and good behaviors.

Stage 3: Doing

Quantity vs quality. Put in the reps.

Repetitions matter. Iterations matter.

David Allen of GTD’s 2 min rule.

Put all energy into starting. It is all about milestones. Optimize for start line, not finish line.

Stage 4: Liking

The only reason we repeat behaviors is because you enjoy them.

Good habits have a problem: cost at the moment but reward is delayed. Bad habits : reward at the moment but consequence is delayed.

Figure how to bring reward into present moment: Seinfeld strategy of building the chain of actions.

The best way to change the long-term behavior is to act on the short-term feedback. You need a way to enjoy the moment. Don’t break the chain. Never miss twice.

Why habits are so important?  The ship of Theseus. Change happens habit by habit: Evolution; Not Revolution.

It is all about identity: the actions you take provide evidence to who you are.

Over a broad span of time actions you do once or twice fade away. Actions you do for the bulk amount of time day after day week after week accumulate the bulk of the evidence of what you believe of yourself. Every action you take is a vote for the type of the person you wish to become.

You don’t need to be perfect all the time. You just need to have the body of good work.

True Change is not behavior or results or process change, but it is Identity Change.

The goal is not to read a book; but to become a reader.

The goal is not to write a book; but to become a writer.

The goal is not to run a marathon; but to become a runner.

The way to become someone is by doing something. Your identity emerges from the type of habits you have. It is about getting you to believe something.

 

Categories
Fitness Habits Journal

Round The Bays 2016

Yesterday I ran at a running event called Round the Bays. According to their website, it is one of the world’s largest fun runs and New Zealand’s largest mass participation sporting event. It is a 8.4km walk / jog / run from the city along the waterfront to St Heliers Bay, one of the rich suburbs.

My employer paid the participation fee and gave a nice bright orange tee shirt. This is not the only reason I ran though. I wanted to experience how it is like running among thousands of people wearing a bib. And I wanted to see where I stand among some of my super fit coworkers.

I did not practice specifically for this event. I run a 5k every Sunday. So this is my weekly run, just in the different part of the city, with thousands of other runners.

I ran 8.47 km non-stop in 39:42, my best. I stood at 13 among 187 coworkers and 635 overall among 19,619 participants. I’m pleased with my time and ranking.

Now what? a half-marathon? marathon? Nothing. I am not getting carried away by this result. Keeping my weekly tiny 5-8k running routine is important to me than any grand goals.

The official result:

Chaitanya's Round The Bays 2016 Scorecard

Categories
Habits Journal Meditation

Broken meditation streak

Last night I broke 234 day long meditation streak in Calm.com.

While it is unfortunate that I could not find even ten minutes to mediate yesterday, there is a bright side. I engrossed in something important and lost track of time. That’s mindfulness, isn’t it? 

By the time I realized, it was six minutes to twelve in the night. I could have meditated two minutes – my usual is ten minutes –  just to keep the streak alive, but I saw no point.

Although I need to start from square one, I think progress matters more than streak and perfection. So I am not feeling too bad.

Categories
Advice Diet Journal Learn Meditation Mindfulness Push-ups Resolutions Thoughts Tips

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.

Categories
Advice Habits Journal Resolutions Thoughts

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.

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Coach.me Dontloseoutworkout Fitness Habits Journal Meditation Push-ups Training

Three milestones and two goals

It is raining milestones this week.

Lift-5000  Calm-101   Calm-broken

I hit 100 day streak in meditation. I started meditating this January but failed rather quickly. I say with experience that trying to start meditation with twenty-minute sessions is a sure shot way to stumble. So I started again in May with Calm app. I started with their beginner program and eventually realized ten minutes a day is more manageable. I have been regular since June. If I didn’t forget to look at Lift on that tiring day in July, my streak would have been 50% longer. Anyhow, I don’t wish things were different.

I completed the third level of push up challenge with 37 push ups in a row. I struggled a bit to move past 35 but my trainer gave me some tips to move forward. The challenge is complete but the practice continues.

All these tiny habits added up to 5000 check-ins since I discovered Lift in July 2013. I don’t like this app’s new name, Coach.me. Lift and Lifter sounds cooler than Coach.Me. So I will continue to call it Lift. Had I not read this post titled Two Tips for Deliberate Practice on  Medium back in 2013, I would have missed this app and the Tiny Habits method it advocates. Reading can change life positively.

As I can already squat 32 KGs and do 37 continuous push ups, I felt it would be great to round off this year with rounding off those numbers as well. So I aim to squat 40 KGs and do 50 push ups by end of 2015. It shouldn’t be difficult as I just need to continue the momentum. But it is easy to set goals than to actually do them. So fingers crossed.