2 months ago, I wrote this in my notes.
I write occasional letters to myself as an awareness practice.
(This is edited a bit to flow in the newsletter):
I can’t find joy in life anymore.
It’s not the same.
Remember when you used to go on long walks while reading or listening to lectures, audiobooks, or podcasts and your mind would light up with ideas?
You couldn’t stop writing. Everything felt seamless. That period was like a blur. A 6 month flow state. You built 3 products, gained millions of readers, and even wrote a book.
If you had to do it all over again right now, could you do it just as well?
What did your days look like?
I would wake up, go down to the lake for a walk, sit on a bench in front of that pond, read a book and highlight it nonstop.
Then, I’d go back home, take a shower, walk 10 minutes to the coffee shop, and write for 2 hours. Those 2 hours every morning built the entirety of your life right now.
Then, I’d go home again, eat breakfast (you were experimenting with different diets, maybe that’s a clue due to the novelty and dopamine from experimentation), and go out on another walk.
A little after noon, I’d go to the gym, eat afterward, learn on YouTube a bit, and then go on yet another walk.
You’d close the day out catching up with friends, maybe working a bit more, and watching a show.
It’s been bugging me too long.
I knew that there was a way to get back to that higher state of mind – not necessarily the lifestyle itself.
I’m not one to complain though (even though that letter-to-self sounds sappy) I like to fix my problems before sharing the solution with you.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve noticed that these low periods of life are cyclical.
For a few months you feel on top of the world. You can’t stop making progress.
Then, the next few months slow down. You feel good, but things aren’t the same.
Last, you hit a wall. Your vision is exhausted. You feel lost. Negative thoughts begin to flood your mind – they can cloud your mind and prevent you from collecting hints at your next purpose in life that sends you down a rabbit hole of obsession.
This letter is for those in that final phase.
The ones that can’t find the same zest for life that they used to.
The ones that can’t find joy in reading a book or walking in nature.
2 notes before we start:
- My book, The Art Of Focus, goes live on January 16th. You can preorder the Kindle or Audible version now or wait for the paperback on that date (mark your calendars).
- Kortex University – a college level experience for the creator economy – is open for enrollment. Start your digital career in 90 days by turning your worldview, interests, and expertise into a flexible online career.
Your Mind Is A Supercomputer Running The Game Of Life
When our mind is not engaged with being or doing, we allow random thoughts to register in our awareness. “Random” in this case does not mean half good thoughts and half bad thoughts. For every one good thought, there are a hundred bad ones. – The Art Of Focus
I want you to think of your mind as a supercomputer.
Your ability to process information is dependent on a few things, but I want to bring attention to your RAM.
RAM — or “random access memory” — is one of the most important parts of a computer, it determines performance.
The more RAM you use up with different programs running, open browser tabs, and the performance requirements of what you have running, the slower your performance will be.
This is no different from your focus, what you hold in your conscious attention.
Humans can process 10-50 bits of information per second. That adds up to 125 billion bits of information in your lifetime.
Most people live with multiple high-demand programs running that are draining the limited creative energy they have.
- Thoughts about regretful past mistakes
- Thoughts about stressful future happenings
- Desires of hunger and entertainment to escape those thoughts
- An internal cry to break out of their conditioned way of living
- A list of mixed-priority tasks that need to be finished
- Open loops of tasks they were supposed to complete but forgot about
The list goes on and on.
The modern mind has its attention split in infinite directions by default. We go about our lives stressed and near sickness. Rather than living in the present with singular focus on a vision for the future and a worry-free mind, we are the opposite. Living in a false reality created by split attention.
When we hold too much of the past or future in the contents of our consciousness, chaos ensues. The mind tends toward disorder. If not kept in check, we lose the sense of control over our lives that leads to enjoyment. This is accomplished through controlled consciousness.
Singular focus creates clarity. Fragmented focus creates tension. Tension allows stress to sneak in. Stress is the enemy of creativity.
How To Win The Game Of Life
Let’s imagine the 125 billion bits of information you can process in your lifetime as your life’s potential.
Now, let’s think of your mind as the digestive system of reality.
If you “eat” too much information, you get anxious.
If you “eat” too little information, you get bored.
To maximize life enjoyment, maximize the amount of time you spend at your edge.
You win the game of life by finding enjoyment, not pleasure (big difference), in as much of your experience as possible. Your experience is the present moment.
“Winning” the game of life isn’t an outcome but a process.
You are either winning right now, regardless of your emotional state or status in the social hierarchy, or you are losing by projecting out of the present moment.
In bodybuilding, the optimal amount of nutrition to fuel muscle growth is just above maintenance. If you eat too much, you feel groggy. If you eat too little, you don’t have enough energy to push hard.
In mindbuilding, you must learn and build in unison. Metabolize your experience with daily practice. You don’t know where to go next because you haven’t exposed yourself to the information that acts as a feint light in the unknown.
In life, you must push into the unknown to fuel your mind.
Expose yourself to new information and experience (curiosity).
Create something of value with that information to digest it (passion).
Expand your mind when that experience becomes a part of you with practice (mastery).
Transcend that phase of life by passing down that value to others (connection).
That’s the recipe for the good life:
Create, expand, and transcend with the experience you acquire by pursuing self-generated goals that lead you into the unknown.
Creating Your Own Game (Or Reality)
Everyone has played a game that they are completely immersed in.
They forget everything else, enter the flow state, and may not realize that they are in peak experience – the beautiful spot where new information is digested as reality flows through them.
When you start playing a game, you go through a tutorial phase that introduces you to the rules, goals, and skills required to play the game well.
Games are a hierarchy of goals:
- How to win
- How to progress to each sub-goal of winning
- Upgrading your character to continue progressing
Every level of the game requires a certain level of skill to match the challenge of that level.
If you are an absolute beginner, you have no business challenging a higher level. You will lose in that moment and probably quit.
You have to go through the same progression as everyone else.
You must learn, fail, practice, get better, and expand your knowledge of the game as you progress.
In life, it’s no different.
So, to get immersed in the game of your own life, you must first create it.
How To Reset Your Life In 7 Days
This is a process I run through when life gets a bit too messy.
Like when you’re constantly thinking back to a time when “life was better.”
Or when your routines fall apart and all of these little tasks pop up that drain all of your time in the day.
We are going to run through this process fast… please put it to use.
Here’s how you reset your life in 7 days:
1) Take Note Of How You Feel
Pull out a notebook and write down:
- Exactly what you are doing on a daily basis.
- How you feel morning, afternoon, and night.
Take 10 minutes and get specific.
This is important for identifying unconscious parasites (time and energy suckers).
I do all of this in the quarterly section of The FOCI Planner.
2) Get Clear On What You Want
You have to realize what you don’t want to figure out what you want – even if it is destructive – to realize what you don’t want. Preventing yourself from making mistakes is the stupidest mistake of all.
It is impossible to know with absolute certainty what is going to happen in the future.
This is why the masses flock to “secure” jobs and belief systems.
It’s an illusion of certainty to avoid struggle. You can’t skip making mistakes. Mistakes are your light in the dark.
Start with a minimum viable vision.
- What do you want your life to look like?
- What do you want your mind to look like?
- What do you want your body to look like?
Get specific and write down every detail for your future.
Now, break it down into goals.
Not for achievement, but for clarity.
Yearly goals and monthly goals.
You need direction for your life. Goals are a filter for skills to learn and opportunities to register.
Your day-to-day experience must be perceived through your vision as the game you are trying to win.
3) Prioritize, Remove, & Restructure Your Days
The reason you aren’t getting the results you used to is because:
- You feel pressed for time
- You don’t have the energy to get results
- You stopped doing the things that got results
Look over your brain dump from above.
What can you change?
Prioritize the things that will get results.
Remove the things that snuck their way into your day (and don’t deserve to be there).
Restructure specific tasks and obligations to free up more time.
Get the chaotic structure of your mind on paper and reorganize it.
4) Cornerstone Habits Of The Good Life
You now have direction (goals) and awareness of why you aren’t achieving them (anti-goals).
Now, you need to cultivate 2 habits to bridge the gap:
- Learning – for novel information to fuel your skill acquisition and knowledge.
- Building – to metabolize the information and build mental muscle.
Both are expensive dopamine.
Start with 30 minutes of each a day.
30 minutes of self-education in the morning.
30 minutes of building a project that will contribute to your vision.
If you can’t set aside 1 hour each morning, when distractions are minimal, to build your future – go back to step 3 and get your priorities straight.
If you want, you can learn the high-value skill of digital writing with my course, 2 Hour Writer, to build a future in the new economy.
5) Create A Week Long Plan
You are in this chaotic spot in life because of entropy.
The organization of your life (and therefore the mind) tends toward disorder if you don’t perform mental housekeeping.
This is dangerous because you can pick up bad habits along the way.
Habits are difficult to break.
But you can make the process easier with clarity.
Take 10 minutes.
Write out every single thing you are going to do for the next week.
This shouldn’t sound crazy or difficult.
This is how you reduce the friction of making better decisions.
- Your morning routine
- Your focused work routine
- Other tasks and meetings
- Nightly routine
The hardest part is not giving attention to the negative thoughts that inevitably pop up when mediocre habits are threatened. Mindfulness is your friend for starting your new plan.
You will have to experiment as you go.
If the routine doesn’t flow, go back to your notebook and write what you’re going to do the next day.
This is how you create a system for your life.
You create a system for your life by mapping out your week, sticking to the plan, identifying problems, experimenting with solutions, and repeating the process until you reach your ideal future.
It gets more efficient with time if you make this ‘mental housekeeping’ a regular practice.
Before you know it, new skills will become second nature and you will be baffled by how far you’ve come.