The Ultimate Guide To Managing Your Energy On Purpose So You Can Thrive At Work And Life


You know that feeling when sometimes you’re all fired up and focused to work. While sometimes, you’re too tired to even do simple math.

Like physical energy, your mind also has a capacity. You can only create, consume or learn so much in a day.

Before I didn’t understand my energy, I would depend on my energy to dictate my actions. While such an approach helped me to stay sane, it was not the best way to optimize my work and life.

If you ask a creative person, they will tell that they don’t rely on their motivation to create. Most of them have a routine and they get the job done even when they don’t feel like it.

Showing up is half the battle won. But to win the other half of the battle, you must manage your energy.

Before I explain how you can understand and manage your energy, let’s have a quick look at the concept of time management.

The simple rules to effectively manage your time are:

  1. Manage short-term crisis and problems (Important and urgent work)
  2. Focus on long-term strategic goals (Important but not urgent work)
  3. Avoid distractions and interruptions (Urgent but not important)
  4. Limit time-wasting activities (Not important and not urgent)
Time Management

This approach is great to manage your tasks, but it falls short as it does not consider how well you perform the tasks.

To understand your energy, you need to analyze yourself first.

One of the big five personality traits is the scale of extraversion.

If you fall more towards the introvert side of the spectrum, you’ll recharge by spending time alone. But if you’re more of an extrovert, you’ll recharge by being around people.

Find out activities that fuel you.

For extroverts, it could be having a meal with friends or family, doing small talks throughout the day, working in open workspace (but still having boundaries for no distractions while working), etc.

For introverts, activities could involve reading, painting, journaling, spending time in nature, working in an isolated environment, etc.

Being an introvert or extrovert is not all black and white. We have traits of each personality type. Many people fall closer to the middle of the scale which makes them a mix of both.

No matter what your personality is, don’t use it as an excuse to limit yourself. You can always develop skills of another personality type if you work on it.

Having said that, embrace your nature and find ways to recharge your unique self.

After doing the self-analysis, let’s learn how you can manage your energy for optimal performance.

Here are the 4 types of activities:

1. Mentally Soothing & Soul Recharging

Activities may vary according to your personality as discussed earlier. Regardless of your introverted or extroverted nature, picking up a hobby or doing enjoyable tasks which require less mental effort fall under this category.

2. Mentally Stimulating & Soul Recharging

Activities involve creating, learning, working on a passion project, problem-solving, etc. This is the space when you need to thrive and perform with high energy levels.

3. Mentally Soothing & Soul Sucking

It involves not being your authentic self, doing things to please others, over-consumption of negative news, useless drama or social media, etc. These activities may not seem to affect you in that moment, but they result in wasted time and energy. They may occupy your mind for a long time and make you unfocused when it’s time to perform.

4. Mentally Stimulating & Soul Sucking

This is the 9–5 job that you absolutely hate (not all jobs are like that but you know the ones I’m talking about). When you’re forced to work and solve problems with no purpose or aspiration, it not only depletes your mental resources, it also crushes your soul.

Another example of such a situation is being in relationships with wrong people. They may take you for granted and ask for favors but never show up when you need help. They can influence you negatively, bring you down and leave negative vibes when you’re around them.

The worse is when they pretend to be your friend but they don’t want the best for you. Beware of such people because they will not only suck the soul out of you, but they can mentally keep you busy with their never-ending needs and demands.

Energy Management

Perform Soul Recharging Activities

In an ideal world, your goal is to do the activities that recharge your soul. These activities could be common or they can be unique that work for you.

You can switch between mentally stimulating and mentally soothing activities to manage your mental energy.

If you’re stuck in a situation where you have to perform soul sucking activities, then try your best to change your perception. Find meaning in the smallest things and take it as a challenge to overcome. It could become your story of struggle that you can embrace and share.

Energy Hacks

Some activities can charge you up so well that you can use them as a pre-performance or recovery ritual. Some energy hacks can fix a dopamine, serotonin or oxytocin deficiency in a healthy way. They can boost your motivation, help you manage your mood, keep you focused and calm.

Here are few options you can try out and see which energy hacks work for you:

Listen To Music

To enhance your focus while doing deep work, you can listen to background sounds or music — Nature, cafe, classical music, video game music, etc.

When you want to feel pumped up, listen to musics with high energy to boost your motivation.

You can also listen to music for leisure as a mentally soothing and soul recharging activity.

Sleep Or Take A Nap

Sleep is the ultimate way to rejuvenate. Get 7–9 hours of sleep every day and notice the magical transformation in your energy, focus, and mood.

If you fall short on sleep, you can also take power naps in the afternoon to wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day.

‘Coffee nap’ is a hack many high-performers use to boost their energy levels. In this method, you drink coffee right before taking a nap. By the time the caffeine kicks in, you will wake up super recharged in about 30 minutes.

Just make sure not to drink too much caffeine regularly. You want to avoid getting dependent on caffeine for energy. Also, avoid taking a nap or drinking coffee in the evening or at night so you can get quality sleep at night.

Deep Breathing Or Meditation

Deep breathing signals your brain to relax. It supplies oxygen to the brain and helps us to regain focus.

Observing your thoughts is another way to hit the pause button and watch yourself from an outside perspective. Notice the thoughts entering your mind and then let them go one by one. The thoughts will come back or new thoughts will enter your brain but your job is to simply observe and let them go.

Another approach is to daydream or do nothing. Because we live in the age of the internet, we spend a lot of our time in front of a screen. Our brain hardly gets any chance to rest.

To improve your creativity, give your brain some time to wander. Give it some private space where there is no external stimulation from people, phone or computer.

Move

Physical movement has proven to improve memory, cognition function and beat depression. Choose how you want to exercise — Lift weights, do bodyweight exercises, run, swim, or play a sport.

For best results, move often, do resistance training (through weights or bodyweight) and do some cardiovascular exercises.

On the days when you don’t get the chance to workout, try to keep your body active by switching between standing and sitting while working. You may also do jumping jacks or walk a few steps between the sitting time.

Stretching, yoga, tai chi, qigong, and self-massaging by using a foam roller are good ways to loosen up the body and decompress the spine. Inversion (hanging upside down) or holding handstand position improves blood flow to the brain. You can use a wall to support yourself while doing a supported handstand. But only perform the move once you have enough strength to hold your own bodyweight.

Cold Showers

The benefits of cold showers are similar to physical exercise for cognition and energy. It energises you, makes you more alert and improves your mood.

Eat Well And Hydrate

I can’t emphasize the power of nutrition enough. Eat nutrient-dense foods to get an adequate amount of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

Keep your body and brain healthy by drinking enough water, eating enough protein, colorful vegetables and fruits, healthy fats and other healthy foods that your body digests well.

The key is to listen to your body. Notice how it reacts to different foods and adjust accordingly.

Avoid simple carbs and sugars to not get blood glucose spike and crash. Keep your blood glucose stable by eating fiber-rich complex carbs which will maintain your energy levels.

Express Gratitude

Practice the skill of happiness by being grateful. Stop the negative chatter and switch to a beautiful state.

Do Random Acts Of Kindness

Leaving a kind review or a comment, helping a stranger, answering a question on Quora, writing a thank you letter are some ways you can do it.

The positive impact on others will recharge your soul.

Experience Novelty

Work in a different environment, take a different route, hop on a random bus, go to a new place, meet new people, learn or try something new and the list goes on.

Even when you’re doing things out of routine, try to notice new things. Sometimes, I give myself the task to notice ten new things on a path which I’ve walked thousands of time.

Connect With Friends & Family Members You Love

Share your experiences and lessons. Listen to others. Give support. Ask for help. Laugh. Hug. Love. Forgive.

Connect With Nature

We are more disconnected from nature than ever before. Being in nature and listening to the natural sounds can make you feel peaceful.

The vitamin D from sunlight helps in many hormonal functions in our body. It beats depression and keeps you in a good mood.

Play

Animals and kids play all the time. It’s only us, adults, who have forgotten the joy of playing.

Let yourself immerse while playing and forget all the worries for a while.

Watch Documentaries Or Movies

Watching documentaries and movies is an amazing way to expand your knowledge, experience thrill or get inspired.

Read

Read nonfiction for learning and fiction for pleasure. Switch off the world for a while and get lost in a book.

Express Creativity

Write

Writing is a therapy, an expression and a way to share ideas or lessons with the world.

Even if you’re not a writer, you can journal to let thoughts come out of your mind. It will make you feel at peace and help you let go of the worries.

Draw

I have zero drawing skills. But still, I doodle or color often to feel calm.

If you draw well, do yourself a favor and paint or draw for the sake of your soul.

It doesn’t even have to be drawing. You can knit, create a collage, decorate or find other ways to express creativity.

Sing or dance or play an instrument

It’s another form of expression. Let that voice, music or those moves come out.

Clean, Declutter, Organize or Simplify

Reduce the number of useless decisions you make to avoid decision fatigue. It reduces your mental energy which you can preserve for important tasks. Routinize the day-to-day activities in your life so you don’t have to make too many decisions on the fly. This way, you will give your brain some time to rest.

You can also make bulk decisions on one day of the week. For example, you can make a list, buy groceries and prepare or plan meals in advance for the next few days.

Zoom out and remove all the tasks you don’t need to do. Don’t sacrifice your sanity for the sake of ‘productivity’. Postpone, delegate or delete tasks from your to-do list.

Organize or declutter closets, files, documents, browser tabs, emails, etc.

Delete. Uninstall. Sell. Donate.

Practice the joy of less. Desire less stuff. Let go.


When you feel overwhelmed, distracted or disconnected, use the energy hacks to get back on track all refreshed and recharged.

It’s wise to step back, unplug and recharge on purpose to do your best deep work.

As you learn to manage your energy better, your productivity and focus will improve; and you’ll enjoy your life as you hustle for your dreams.

Want To Succeed Every Day?

Design your daily success checklist for high performance and success. Click here to download the free PDF file.

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I Stopped Chasing Success And Happiness. Here’s An Alternative To Make The Most Out Of Life.

Liars.

They told me that if I find success, I will be happy. And some told me that life is all about happiness and enjoyment.

I disagree with both.

You can achieve so much and still feel hollow from inside. In the same way, you can feel happy and still perform unhealthy or destructive activities. It may also lead to being settled or ignorant of your capabilities.

Success is about achieving more. Happiness is about being content with what you have.

If you desire less, you suffer less. Thus, you become happier.

If you desire more, you suffer more. But, you may become more successful.

So which one should you choose?

You can choose both.

We all suffer in one way or another. But the question is — What are you willing to suffer for?

The problem is that most people desire too many things at one time.

The more things you desire, the more you have to suffer.

So, what’s the solution?

Desire less, but desire strong.

We go about desiring things all day long and then wondering why we’re unhappy. So, I like to stay aware of that because then I can choose my desires very carefully. I try not to have more than one big desire in my life at any given time, and I also recognize that as the axis of my suffering. I realize that that’s where I’ve chosen to be unhappy. — Naval Ravikant

When we desire a lot, we may remain unsatisfied with life.

The reason is that no matter what we achieve, we still have unmet needs which will stop us from giving ourselves permission to be happy. So, we stay unfulfilled and unhappy.

Even if you have a huge bucket list of things you want to do before dying, focus only on checking a few items first instead of trying to do all at once.

Pick your priorities and desires carefully and then let them be the source of your suffering.

Borrow happiness from the appreciation of what you’ve already achieved and then desire a few things strongly.

Once you get what you want, take the time to appreciate and move on to your next achievement.

Kill Regrets Before Death

Regrets can either come from desiring too many things or not having the courage to follow your inner voice.

What do you enjoy doing?

What are you willing to struggle for?

What sacrifices are you willing to make?

How do you want to be remembered?

These are the key questions you must answer to avoid the biggest regrets in life.

Don’t chase what success means to other people. Define what success means to you.

Take the time to define your values, core desire, deeper purpose and a vision.

When your daily actions reflect who you are and what you want to become, you will feel calm and fulfilled. And once you achieve your goals, you will feel immense joy and gratitude.

After success, you have to realign and check with yourself if you’re moving in the right direction.

Misalignment with yourself keeps you unhappy even after achieving your goals.

Integrity keeps you happy on the path of success.

Your decisions and action must be aligned with your values. The moment you betray your values, you will feel unsatisfied.

Alternatives To Success and Happiness

Instead of chasing success, chase growth. And instead of chasing happiness, chase peace.

Being on a path of continuous growth and passion helps you live a meaningful life.

Don’t tie your happiness with your goals. Pursue goals for continuous growth, not for a set destination.

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning. — Benjamin Franklin

While suffering, you may not find success or happiness. But you can always find growth and peace in any situation.

The combination of growth and peace leads to a life of fulfilment.

So, don’t settle. Change the things you don’t like about your life but also accept the things you can’t change.

Success may involve comparison with others whereas growth is about the comparison with your past self. Happiness is just a state of mind whereas peace is a way of living.

People think delaying gratification for future success is to delay happiness. But it’s not true.

The act of delaying gratification can become joyful if you treat it such way. When you’re intrinsically motivated, the struggle becomes the joy.

Keep pushing your boundaries and take the time to appreciate your growth.

Stay curious about how much you can grow and learn. (Hint: There is no limit)

An Analogy…

Hedonic Treadmill

It’s a rat race where beautiful moments are forgotten and the present is based on misery. It leads to burnout and then we may find unhealthy ways to make ourselves feel better.

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Trek

It’s a walk towards the top of the mountain. You can look back to appreciate your achievement. You can feel the beauty in the present moment. You keep moving forward. You stay focused on your vision. Here, you intentionally make time for rest, relaxation and recovery.

On this pursuit, success tastes much better than achieving success on a hedonic treadmill. And after achieving success, what do you do? — You appreciate and move forward.

adventure-1850912_1920

Skip the hedonic treadmill, go on a trek instead.

Conclusion

Suffering is inevitable, and it’s important for success. Misery is when you suffer for the wrong reasons.

Suffer for the right reasons and enjoy the pursuit of growth and peace. Success and happiness will come along.

Remain grateful and strive for what truly matters to you.

Looking for more alternatives to happiness and success?

Read: There’s more to life than happiness and success (3 min.)

Want To Succeed Every Day?

Design your daily success checklist for high performance and success. Click here to download the free PDF file.

Protect Your Big Life Vision From The Drama Of Life By Using These 3 Shields

“Drama, combat, terror, numbness, and subservience — every day these things wipe out your sacred principles, whenever your mind entertains them uncritically or lets them slip in.” — Marcus Aurelius

You have one life.

If you don’t protect it, you will end up hating your life and resenting other people for your circumstances.

Most people seek excuses to hide from the work that needs to be done.

Instead of doing the work, they seek drama.

You can either put your focus on everyday drama or on your future vision.

Before protecting your vision, you must define it to set a direction. Lack of direction leads to lack of clarity which gives birth to inaction.

Once you define your vision, you must protect it or your mind will be occupied with stuff that is unimportant.

The mind constantly seeks thoughts to think, challenges to face and problems to solve. If you don’t set an intention, it will make up its own challenges and problems. Hence, you will run on autopilot with useless thoughts occupying your mind.

SHIELD #1: Environment

To protect your vision, you first have to optimize your environment for growth.

Eliminate the negative people, stuff or distractions that bring you down. Sometimes, it’s hard to say goodbye but if you want to grow, you have to let go.

As you remove the clutter from your life, add things that will help you reach your vision. Find growth-oriented people and invest in the education or tools you need to succeed.

Your mind is precious. You must set up your environment to bring quality thoughts in your mind.

As long as your mind is occupied with useless drama or other people’s agendas, you will keep finding reasons to hide from your daily grind.

Treat your attention as a valuable resource. Don’t waste it on the news, notifications, people or events that are not worth your attention.

Brainwash your mind by reading books and articles. Listen to audiobooks and podcasts while performing mundane tasks.

Set boundaries. Build habits. Perform morning and evening routines. Ruthlessly say no to the things that are not important or exciting for you.

Don’t be available to everyone all the time. Go in a cave and do the work that must be done. No one else cares about your priorities.

“Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel. Energies are contagious.” — Rachel Wolchin

SHIELD #2: Wellbeing

When your laptop or mobile runs out of battery, what do you do? You can’t force it to perform without recharging it.

In the same way, you need to treat your wellbeing like a baby.

Let’s face it. If you’re in pain or feeling sick, how could you possibly look beyond the present drama in life?

I’m not saying that you should not focus on your health during rough times. But most people don’t take care of themselves until they face a health condition.

So don’t wait for the diseases to come your way. Prevent poor health if you are serious about working on your vision.

Your mental and physical health are interconnected.

Your food, sleep, and physical movement determines how your brain functions throughout the day.

Feed yourself highly nutritious foods. Get quality sleep for 7–9 hours. Train your body or at least move throughout the day to optimize yourself for high performance at work.

Your mind and body are tools for reaching your full potential.

“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” — Buddha

SHIELD #3: Philosophy

Your reality is made in your mind.

Even after protecting your environment or taking care of yourself, you will often face drama in your life.

This is where the third shield comes in — your philosophy.

How do you react to stress? What do you do during the time of adversity?

If you ask most people, they panic or get depressed.

I myself get frustrated when things don’t go the way I want them to go. I hate it when useless drama in the present clouds my vision for future.

But then I have to remind myself — What can I do about it? If the answer is nothing, stop worrying. If the answer is something, do everything to solve that problem.

Life is unfair. But life is also a gift. Learning to shift perspective is the key to realize the beauty of life.

Conditioning your mind to act calmly and think clearly during the time of crisis is a skill that takes time to develop.

When life throws drama at you, receive it. Then, manage your thoughts and feelings with tools like — meditation, mindfulness, journaling, gratitude, and kindness.

“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
― Marcus Aurelius


Setting your own priorities and working on your vision may sound selfish. But if you want to do a greater good, you have to put yourself first.

As they say in the airplanes, put on your own mask before helping anyone else.

Be selflessly selfish to make the world a better place.

Use your environment, wellbeing, and philosophy as the three shields to protect your vision.

Now go. Make it happen.

5 Permissions You Must Give Yourself To Live Your Best Life

You and I are wired to seek permission.

When we were kids, we needed permission from parents, teachers and other elders.

When we grow up, we seek permission from our bosses and authorities.

Our mind is conditioned to ask for permission. But to unlock your full potential, you must learn to give yourself permission and become the owner of your life.

When you take complete ownership of your life, you are in charge of your life experiences. There is no space for blame or excuses.

Many people give keys to their life in the hands of other people or they themselves become the prison guard. They forget that they have the key to unlock the full potential of their life.

I’m here to remind you the permissions you must give yourself.

Give yourself permission to succeed

You are capable of accomplishing great things. But first, you must allow yourself to be successful.

Some people are afraid of success. Some people think that being successful means making a lot of money or being greedy. Such mental programming has to leave your mind.

Success is subjective. You have the power to define your own criteria for success. It could be being a good husband or wife, having a smile at the end of the day, having the freedom to travel the world or taking small steps towards your goal.

No matter what success means to you, you must own it and live up to it. Forget about what society’s definition of success is. Write your own definition and move in its direction.

To make success a habit, set more behavior-based goals instead of outcome-based goals. For example, if you want to lose weight, define success by making the right food choice instead of the number on the weight scale. If you keep succeeding at the behavior-based goals and move in the right direction, the outcome will follow.

Start now. No matter how small the first step is. No matter how slow the progress is.

By default, life has no meaning. But if you strive for greatness, you can give your life a purpose.

Give yourself permission to fail

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.― George Bernard Shaw

Failure is a form of learning.

I don’t know why schools punish failure.

Failure is not a prerequisite for success but it amplifies the success. By making mistakes, you not only learn, but you build a character that transforms every other area of your life. Your mindset changes. You embrace success more because of the effort you put in.

If you let go of the fear of failure, you will not be afraid to explore the possibilities of your life. You will become limitless because you know that making mistakes speeds up your learning and results in growth.

Allow yourself to be imperfect. Put your product or craft in public. Embrace feedback.

All the newsflash, magazines, social media feeds show us the faces of successful people. It seems like they are the perfect people living a perfect life with zero flaws. But in reality, they are like you and me. They just keep on learning from failures.

In the world where success is preached, don’t be afraid to look like a fool. Failure is not a scar on your self-esteem. It’s a battle scar you can be proud of.

Give yourself permission to be yourself

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

When we fake our identity, we try to live up to the fake version we show to the world.

It’s stressful to live up to people’s expectation of who they think you are. On the other hand, if you be yourself, the right people will attract in your life and you won’t have to put energy into showing a fake version of you.

The first step to being yourself is to accept yourself. It means not only accepting the good parts but also accepting the flaws in you.

The reason why we put on a mask is that it is our instinct to get accepted in communities. We could only survive if we were part of a group. The outcasts were rejected and they could not live long.

But today, when you have access to so many people, you don’t have to fear people’s rejection. You will always find like-minded people if you express yourself as you are.

Let go of all the emotional baggage. Forgive yourself and move on. All you have is today. You get to define your future and it can only be great if you stop hurting yourself with the pain of the past.

From today, you can control who you want to be. Define your values, set goals, follow your passion and stay true to yourself.

Don’t be afraid to change. Raise your standards and if you have to, let go of your past identity and change the people around you.

Learn to say no to the people or experiences that do not to appeal you. Life is too short to be inauthentic.

I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time. ― Herbert Bayard Swope

Give yourself permission to be happy

You deserve to be happy now.

You don’t need to wait for the next paycheck, vacation or a soulmate to be happy. So often, we spend our lives thinking about the time in future when we will be happy.

Even after getting what we want, we get hedonically adapted to the gifts in our life. It’s okay to desire more success but first, you must learn to be happy with what you have.

Happiness is a skill. If you can’t be happy today, you won’t be happy tomorrow. To develop the happiness skill you can practice gratitude and mindfulness.

Take a break and do things that you find fun or relaxing. You don’t have to pretend to enjoy the activities that other people might like.

Create a bucket list of the life experiences you want to have and live those experiences. Nobody else will give you the permission to live your life the way you want.

Another way to be happy is to help others. Kindness not only makes the world a better place, it lets you see past the problems you have in life.

Give yourself permission to feel crappy sometimes

The acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience. ― Mark Manson

No matter how much you try to avoid the negative emotions like anger, frustration, sadness, jealousy, etc., you will feel them sometimes in your life.

You don’t have to feel bad about feeling bad. It’s okay to feel that way.

It’s in nature of humans to feel emotions. Instead of resisting such emotions, just observe when they arrive. When you acknowledge them and treat them as a guest, they will leave sooner than you expect them to stay in your mind.

Emotions are beautiful. They help us to deal with hard situations. Become aware of your emotions and soon you will return to your default positive state if you practice the skill of being a happy person.

Don’t let negative emotions define you. Identify yourself as a happy person and treat negative emotions as something you feel temporarily.


The key to your best life is in your hand. Unlock the life you deserve to live because your life matters.

Give yourself permission to succeed, fail, be yourself, be happy and feel crappy to achieve your full potential and live a fulfilled life.

How I dealt with burnout and felt alive again in just one day

I woke up late. Very late.

I was stressed. My cortisol level was high. I had work to do early morning.

I pulled out my journal. I quickly wrote about the things I was grateful for, my focus for the day and an affirmation.

I sat down to work. But something didn’t feel right.

I was feeling overwhelmed. I was exhausted due to work and some people in my life. I felt it was time to hit the pause button.

So, I did it. I dumped all the plans for the day. I postponed my to-dos to other days, and I plugged off from work.

I decided to take a super tiny vacation.

I call it as “Solitude Holiday”.

For the full day, I spent time by myself.

It was the day of rehabilitation and rejuvenation.

I got up and went outside. On a normal day, I would listen to a podcast or audio while walking. But this time, I engaged all my senses and went on a walk.

I noticed the small things I would take for granted. I noticed the trees shedding off its old leaves, the chirping of the birds, the carefree playfulness of a child, and the sunshine hitting my eyes and skin.

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I came home and instead of weight training, I did a stretching session while listening to podcasts.

I made myself tea and paid attention to my thoughts.

I decided to think one thought at a time. It’s hard to do so in the world of internet and social media where we switch from thought to thought so easily. Every notification, social media page, headline, discount coupon and what not, make us quickly shift our attention.

I actively meditated and observed my thoughts without judgment. I noticed that most of my thoughts were useless. And that’s okay.

It becomes a problem when we give a useless thought the attention it does not deserve. Such thoughts try to fool our mind and pretend to be important but they’re not.

Then, I made myself a nutritious breakfast after fasting for twenty hours. After eating, I did some digital declutter, watched informative videos and read for a while.

In the evening, I watched some comedy videos and a nature documentary before going to the final part of my day.

While listening to relaxing music, I did a value and direction check in my journal. I checked if I was living a life true to myself. I checked if I was actively creating my future.

With that, I finished the day and went to bed under a warm and cozy blanket. I smiled, felt grateful and drifted off to sleep.

The next day, I was fully recharged. The cycle of creating, serving, learning, reflecting and recovering was back on.


So often we forget to hit the pause button. If you want to consciously design your life in the right direction, you have to listen to your mind and body.

For me, “Solitude holiday” works wonderfully. Every vacation does not have to be weeks or months long. Find out what works for you and make it happen when you need it.

When you feel out of focus or out of sync with life, hit the pause button. You’ll come back stronger and smarter.

“People seek retreats for themselves in the country, by the sea, or in the mountains. You are very much in the habit of yearning for those same things. But this is entirely the trait of a base person, when you can, at any moment, find such a retreat in yourself. For nowhere can you find a more peaceful and less busy retreat than in your own soul — especially if on close inspection it is filled with ease, which I say is nothing more than being well-ordered. Treat yourself often to this retreat and be renewed.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.

How to fall in love with the daily grind, achieve anything and enjoy each day of your life

Five years ago, I wanted to get fit.

So, I joined a gym. I paid the membership price and I was ready to rock and roll.

I was excited. I imagined how my body will transform in a few months.

Day one was fun. I gave my full effort and felt like a superhero.

The next day was painful. My body was sore and I didn’t want to go to the gym. But I used my willpower and went to the gym anyways.

The next day was even more painful. So, I rested before another day of workout.

When I went to the gym next time, things were different. It wasn’t that “fun” anymore. I didn’t feel like a superhero.

I hated working out. I even hated the thought of going to the gym. After a few weeks, I quit the gym.

This is the story of so many people who want to start something new in their life with enthusiasm but quit after losing motivation.

Today, I’m more fit than ever before. I’ve been working out for four years. Training my body is part of my life and I truly enjoy it.

I’m sure you have at least one thing you love doing. It could be anything – writing, programming, designing, marketing, drawing, singing, playing an instrument, cooking, etc.

Others may find it hard or boring but you can’t imagine your life without it. So, what’s the difference here?

The difference is that when you intrinsically start to enjoy something, it becomes easy for you to keep doing it. You don’t have to use your willpower to keep doing what you love doing.

When you start something new, you may not instantly like doing it. You will go through the hard parts and you may get the urge to quit.

At this stage, you will need a carrot or a stick. It means you can maintain discipline either using a reward (carrot) or a punishment (stick). If someone or a group can keep you accountable, it will help you to keep pushing even when you hate the process.

This is where all the coaches, challenges, reward system or fancy apps can help you to grind when the time is tough.

But you can’t rely on these systems forever. You have to fall in love with the behaviors to make it part of your life. When you do things out of love, you will enjoy your life and improve at the same time.

So, here’s how you can become intrinsically motivated for anything you want to do in life.

Edward Deci and Richard Ryan created a system for intrinsic motivation and called it as Self Determination Theory. There are three parts to it – Autonomy, Competency, and Relatedness.

In his book Drive, Daniel Pink talks about a similar theory. He calls the drivers as – Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

Both theories are similar. On combining both of them, we have four key drivers of intrinsic motivation:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Mastery
  3. Purpose
  4. Relatedness

Autonomy

Autonomy is freedom. It’s when you are free to do things your own way.

After learning about the essentials of working out, I designed my own workouts. I loved planning my workouts as it gave me the freedom to train my own way.

Now, I’m doing same with writing. I’m writing about the topics I want to write about. I’m learning how to write great, engaging content but at the same time, I’m writing for myself during the writing process. The editing process is when I think about you (the readers).

Allow freedom in your work. Take ownership, break the norms and do things your own way.

Mastery

We all love to do excellent work. When we notice progress and see positive results, we don’t want to lose it.

Few months after working out, I didn’t only work out to gain muscles or lose fat. I got inspired from people doing calisthenics. They had mastery over their body so I aimed to master my own bodyweight. Later, I also went into weight training and other types of fitness mastery (balance, speed, mobility, flexibility, etc.)

You got to have something you can aim for. If you don’t enjoy running on a treadmill, find a physical activity you can master to see your progress.

As I’m working on my writing skills, I’m writing and learning about it regularly. I don’t want to be an average writer. I want to master the craft. Every time I write, I compete with my previous writing piece.

So, track your behavior or skill, make your progress noticeable and aim for mastery.

Purpose

The purpose acts as a fuel for your soul. When you have a strong purpose, quitting is not an option. Why are you doing what you’re doing?

The reason I workout is that I want to look and feel good in my body. I want to use my body to the best of my ability. I want to live a long, lively life while avoiding diseases.

The reason I write is that I want to express myself and make a positive impact in your life. I want to make the world a better place because I was here. To reach you, I have to master my craft.

The purpose behind your goal can be meaningful or it can be purely for joy and inner peace. To dig down your deep purpose, ask yourself “why” as many times as you can until you find the core meaning. Once you find your purpose, remind yourself on a regular basis to stay driven.

Relatedness

Human beings are social animals. We all know that. Yet, so often we try to become a lone wolf. We all need a sense of connection and belonging. A community or a few friends can provide the love and support you need to achieve your goals.

In an online age, it is much easier to find a community of like-minded people for any goal you want to achieve. If you can’t find like-minded close friends in your surroundings, make online friends through communities. Follow people who are leaders in your area. They can act as virtual mentors for you. There is a blog for every niche out there.

Connect with people, provide help, ask for help, get inspired, give and take feedback. Do anything it takes to find like-minded people but don’t go alone.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. – African Proverb

When you accomplish goals with other people, you will not only enjoy the process but you will create an environment of continuous growth.

Conclusion

If you want to succeed and enjoy the process, you need more than a carrot or a stick. Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose, and Relatedness will help you to develop intrinsic motivation. Fall in love with the daily grind and enjoy each day of your life.

How I read self-improvement articles for real personal growth without wasting my time

There are three kinds of people in the world:

  1. Those who read self-help and take action to make their lives or themselves better.
  2. Those who jump from one article to another making no changes in their lives.
  3. Those who don’t give a damn about self-improvement. They have no urge to click on clickbait self-help titles. Even if they somehow stumble upon such articles, they would read as if it is written in an alien language for an alien population.

This post is for people who are either in the first or second category. I used to be in the second category until I applied methods mentioned in the post. I’ve previously written about how to do things that successful people do.

In this post, I cover how I read and retain most important information in self-help materials (audio, video, text) and then how I make a system to apply what I learn.

Step 1: Hunting the articles

I have a system for finding the best article to read. For that, I have unsubscribed and stopped reading from the places which are not making much impact in my life.

There are millions of articles published every day. The fear of missing out stays there but I have learned to let it go.

If I want to read every single post of a blog, then I subscribe to the newsletters to never miss an update. For the blogs that I like but don’t have space in my inbox, I use news feeds like RSS and feedly.

When I use websites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Medium, etc., I teach them my preference. These websites show me more content of what I follow, like, read, watch, share and comment on. So I make sure not to follow or engage in content that I don’t want to see often. This improves my feed and I get the most relevant content.

Lastly, I have limited my content consumption time. I avoid the trap of endlessly consuming content with no output.

Tim Ferriss talks about “Low Information Diet” and suggests that we should consume less and apply more. Another concept is called as “Just-in-time learning” which means learning what we need to learn in life at the moment.

In his TED talk, David Ryan uses the term “Mental Obesity”. The idea behind it is that because we have an unlimited supply of information, we struggle to convert it into knowledge or wisdom.

Most of us get so busy consuming the information that we rarely convert it into wisdom.

From an evolutionary point of view, we are wired to gather information because it was the difference between life and death.

Like food, information was scarce. If the food was still scarce, we would not need to jump on a treadmill to burn off extra calories. For this reason, we have portion sizes and recommendations for daily dosage.

Information has to be treated the same way if we want to utilize it for best use. We cannot endlessly consume information and hope for the best.

If there’s a piece of content that I would like to learn about in future, I organize it and store it using web bookmarks, Google docs, etc.

“If [more] information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.”
— Derek Sivers

Step 2: Reading the articles

When I was in school, I used to reread the text many times before I could comprehend and remember the details. The school conditioned me to pay careful attention to every word because I had to remember the minor details.

Unless I’m reading something that requires you to remember every detail, I don’t have to read that way.

Due to my lack of interest, I used to lose focus and reread the material several times. This led me to believe that I was a poor reader until I decided to become a good reader.

Speed reading has become popular as the supply of information has increased.

Before jumping into reading methods, keep in mind that reading comprehension is more important than reading speed. If I’m not comprehending, it is equivalent to not reading at all.

Here’s how I usually read:

Pre-reading or Scanning

Before diving in, I scroll through the article and check the length to prepare my mind. I make sure there are no distractions in that time period. Then, I look for titles, subheadings, bold text, images, or any other information that is standing out from the rest of the text.

If there are no such markers, I read the first and last sentence of each paragraph to scan the text.

Deciding reading method

Once I get an idea about the content, I decide how I will read it.
If the pre-reading does not evoke interest in me, I close the article without wasting my time.

If I think there is some information that is worth my attention then I speed read most of the text. I may stop and read at a slower pace where I find new or thought-provoking information.

If I think that the information is gold and I should invest my time into the article, then I forget about the techniques and I read at whatever pace I want. I still usually speed read but the goal is not to worry about time in such cases. The goal is to immerse myself into the text give it my full attention.

Speed reading

Speed reading is a skill. It is developed over time. I’m not an expert speed reader but here’s what has worked for me:

1) Optimize eye movement

We are conditioned to read while moving our eyes from one word to the next one. This is not the best approach for speed reading.

You can read much more efficiently by moving your eyes in saccades and skipping a few words in between. Practice this technique by using the image below. Jump from letter to letter to train your eye movement.

1

2) Improve peripheral vision

Focus on the middle letter of each line and try to read the letters beside it without moving your eyes. If you practice this often, your peripheral vision will improve and you won’t have to focus your eyes on each word.

2

If you work on improving your peripheral vision and fix your eye movement, you will broaden your fixation points and read more in less time.

3) Reset comfort zone of reading

Sometimes, read at a speed you’re not comfortable at to reset your default reading speed. Do not re-read any line to force yourself to pay attention.

You can also use your finger or pointer to keep reading at a constant pace without stopping. Alternatively, you can hide the text above with another book maintain stop the habit of re-reading.

4) Enhance reading experience

Lastly, use reading apps such as Mercury Reader or Just Read to make the text more readable. Safari has a build in reading mode which can be activated by clicking on the button at left side of the address bar.

Sometimes, when I have low mental energy and I want to read something, I use TTSReaderX In-Page Text to Speech to listen while reading. It not only makes reading fast and easy to follow, it helps improve comprehension as I engage two senses at the same time (reading and hearing).

Speed consuming also applies for audios or videos. YouTube videos and most podcasts apps let you alter the speed. I don’t speed up videos when I’m watching it for entertainment purpose but while watching TED talks or other informational videos, I usually x2 the speed.

For dense audios such as audiobooks, I listen at x1.25 or x1.5 to comprehend well. For podcasts, I listen at x1.5 or x2 because usually, it’s a flowing conversation which is still easy to comprehend at a fast rate.

Step 3: Remembering and applying the information

Memory training is an art. There are mental athletes whose job is to train to improve their memory for competition. They use techniques like mind mapping, memory palaces, mnemonics, etc.

Look into these techniques if you want to improve your memory but for reading self-improvement articles, you rarely need these techniques.

Our goal is not to remember for the sake of remembering. We want to remember the information until we learn to apply it in our lives.

Before reading anything, I make sure my mind is well rested and focused. If I read with a distracted mind, I end up wasting my time and energy.

Meditation, exercise and good nutrition have helped me improve my focus and attention span.

When I read an article for the first time, I don’t focus on remembering. I  let the text flow through my mind like a waterfall flowing through a stream.

After I finish reading, I scroll up and scan the article in reverse order. I capture the main points I want to remember.

I try using my senses to remember information.

I imagine the important details in my mind. I may use absurd pictures or analogies that surprise me or make me laugh.

I remember what I feel, not what I read.

I think about how I could have done something better in the past with the new information. Or I think how I can apply the information in the present moment or future situations.

If I can apply the information in shortly after reading, I do it as soon as possible.

If I know when to apply the information in future, I put it on my calendar or to-do list.

If I don’t know when I’ll need to apply the information in future, I either put it in “someday” section of my to-do list or I set up reminders. You may use traditional methods for reminders like using a board or sticky notes.

Spaced repetition helps the mind transfer the information to your subconscious mind. Once I’ve applied the information enough times, I replace the reminder with the next action I want to implement in my life.

Sometimes, I find articles that are jam-packed with useful information. In such cases, either I take notes or I save the article and revise it enough times. It works best when I revise the information right before applying the information.

Lastly, I boost my learning from jam-packed articles by reflecting on them. I switch between the following ways to reflect upon my learning:

1) Writing ideas

James Altucher suggests writing 10 ideas every day to exercises the “creativity muscle”. I’ve been doing it for almost a year and I’ve seen significant changes in my life as it helps me become an “idea machine”.
So, if I can use my creativity for the new information, I write 10 ideas related to the topic.

2) Journalling

I think on paper. No journalling app works as good as pen and paper for reflecting. If I read a thought-provoking material which is not necessarily action-oriented, I usually reflect on it in my journal to transfer the thoughts in my subconscious.

Journalling also acts as a personal accountability. Every day after waking up, I set my intentions for the day in which I write actions I want to implement in my life. Then before bed, I check if I did what I intended to do.

3) Writing or Teaching

Sometimes, instead of only writing my learnings in the journal, I write a post about it or teach someone what I learned so I strengthen my understanding. It also makes me research the topic in more depth.


Finding, reading and applying information is getting harder due to unlimited supply and access to information. But with little effort, you can create a system for personal growth with smart content consumption.

If you find any tips helpful, start using the tips with this article and let me know how it goes in the comments.