You need a routine.
And if you think you don’t, you may not realize that you already have a routine that was assigned to you by society.
Or your “routine” is not having a routine.
Without rules, there is no game.
Without a game, there is no winning.
A routine contains the rules for how you live your life.
The longer you play, the better you get, and you often forget the rules and win anyway.
Now is the time to stop playing the game society told you to play and start playing your own.
A powerful routine, no matter how long, prevents overwhelm as you progress toward your goals.
Most people are progressing toward the goals that were given to them.
They are progressing the dreams of someone else rather than their own.
Without a routine that you created, your life will slowly fall – faster and faster – down a chaotic hole into a life of responsibilities, work, people, and a personality that you despise.
Routines are comfortable.
The mind craves order, and routines allow you to focus your attention to make action seamless.
This is why working a job “sucks,” but not enough to make you quit and pursue something that sucks more until it sucks less.
Life is suffering, and we have the ability to choose our suffering every day.
Your goals are the axis of your suffering, and most people are pursuing goals that aren’t their own. Their suffering doesn’t bring fulfillment.
Reversing Local Entropy With Identity Change
The optimal state of inner experience is one in which there is order in consciousness. This happens when psychic energy—or attention—is invested in realistic goals, and when skills match the opportunities for action. The pursuit of a goal brings order in awareness because a person must concentrate attention on the task at hand and momentarily forget everything else. – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
You don’t need motivation or discipline when you are the person who would take certain actions.
A bodybuilder doesn’t need motivation to eat healthy.
A gamer doesn’t need discipline to stare at a screen all day.
A writer doesn’t need motivation to synthesize ideas.
An employee doesn’t need discipline to show up to work.
They do it because their survival is at stake.
Not physical, but mental.
Animals survive the information in their genetic code.
Humans survive the information in their consciousness.
The information we are exposed to as children and throughout our lives programs our minds to run on certain systems.
A system, in brief, is the process of reaching a goal (this can get extremely complex).
So, our identity is a web of conscious and unconscious goals that determine the skills we acquire, the interests we learn, and the choices we make in alignment with those goals.
You are already acting toward layers of unconscious goals every second of the day. They’ve been conditioned to the point of not requiring conscious thought. You wake up, walk, brush your teeth (maybe), and put on your clothes so that you aren’t seen as an outcast. These are all skills that you have developed as a human with the goal of fitting in and surviving in society.
This goes deep. The social matrix of goals creates humans that all operate in a similar fashion. With a slightly different goal of society, we could all be walking around naked and communicating with each other by tapping people on the head with a stick. Biological goals clearly influence this.
When we do not have clarity on how to achieve a goal, our mind becomes disordered. We become overwhelmed, anxious, and narrow-minded.
Our mind declines into chaos.
This is known as entropy. Entropy is Universal. It doesn’t only apply to things like buildings that fall apart with time unless maintained. The structure of your mind, or identity, is an invisible building.
You reverse entropy by making a goal conscious, creating a path to achieve it, and focusing your attention on priority actions that bring results as feedback.
The priority actions include daily education and practice that expose you to the information that creates an identity.
We will talk about how to master new skills quickly in a future letter, but for now, understand this:
You need a plan.
There isn’t any other way.
Because if you don’t have one, society does, and they’ve been planning your life for decades.
If you don’t set your own goals, acquire the skill necessary to take on the challenge, and forge your own path – your destiny will be manhandled by society and you won’t even realize it.
Nobody wants to wake up 40 years later wondering where the time went.
The 4 Pillars Of The Good Life (How To Reverse Entropy)
Becoming multi-dimensionally jacked is the path to the good life.
All of these domains of life are interconnected systems that create who you are and reverse entropy in your mind. Tiny improvements are what create an ordered mind.
By adopting a daily habit for each pillar of your life, success becomes inevitable.
My question to you:
If you aren’t building your mind, body, business, and relationships every single day – what are you doing?
Is there anything more important than that?
Or is everything you do now a distraction?
“But Dan, I want to enjoy myself and do what I want.”
Do you understand what enjoyment is when compared to pleasure?
Do you realize that human psychology has been mapped over the course of evolution to show that humans have an innate drive to grow, expand, transcend, and create?
Enjoyment is found in progress.
“Doing what you want” is often the ego ending the train of thought that would lead to you improving yourself – because that’s what your nature wants.
You can truly do what you want when you peel back the layers of what you think you want.
I’m not going to give you a super scientific approach to habit formation.
I’m going to give you the only real way to make behavior change seamless with time:
1) Align Your Future With A Holistic Goal
Goals can’t exist without the awareness of a problem.
Goals and problems create a frame for your perspective.
Your perspective determines what information you perceive as important.
A person who has money problems and the goals of society will see a new job opportunity as important.
A person who has money problems and self-generated goals will see a promising business opportunity as important.
Both people will read a book and interpret it in a different way.
One will store information in their mind that is conducive to their goals and solves their problems.
The first step to changing your life is to become brutally aware of the problems that make you want to change your life.
If you’re reading this, then you obviously have problems, everybody does.
The big problem is a lack of awareness of your problems.
Sit and become negative for a while.
Let your mind run wild to create an anti-vision for your future.
What is the worst-case scenario if you continue with the same mental, physical, financial, and relational actions you are taking?
Then use that as a place to toss an anchor into the future.
Create a big, vision-generating goal that encapsulates each domain of life.
Next, we will bridge the gap between where you are now with where you want to be with self-education and skill acquisition.
2) Treat Daily Self-Education As An Absolute Necessity
Schools are necessary in many cases, but they teach you a microscopic fraction of reality.
They train you into a compartment of reality – like chemistry, physiology, or literature – and lack regard for the holistic interconnectedness that breeds true intelligence.
Without self-education, you go through life with the same narrow identity and perspective as everyone else.
Education expands your mind.
It introduces you to novel perspectives.
It increases dopamine in the brain as a consistent source of energy.
It gives you the knowledge to act with clarity toward your goals.
Over time, education conditions your mind to run on new systems.
If you were to only immerse your mind in information that taught you how to build a profitable business, you would.
It took you 18+ years to shape your actions with education from your parents, friends, and schools – it’s going to take a few years to shape your actions with information that you curate.
3) Acquire The Skillset Necessary To Achieve Your Goals
The difference between where you are and where you want to be is skill.
This is a fact.
You don’t have the results you want because you aren’t the person with the skill that would get those results.
The only thing that can stop you is getting distracted to the point of falling off the path.
Skills can be trained.
Learning to walk and speak are arguably the most complex skills you’ve ever learned. They are more complex than building a billion-dollar company.
The thing is, you didn’t have a mind chained by limits that you were taught by people who didn’t break through their own.
With this, you need 2 things:
- A 30-60 minute self-education habit – read, buy courses, listen to podcasts, and acquire ample knowledge that provides you the capability to act.
- A 30-60 minute building habit– apply your knowledge in reality and experiment with what you learn. Get feedback and iterate until success.
Learning comes from struggle, not memorization.
When you build in the real world and hit a wall, a problem is created.
You may or may not become aware of the problem depending on your skill and experience (this is what prevents most people’s progress, they blame their lack of progress on anything but their own ability).
The problem sits in your subconscious mind to filter the information you get from your self-education.
As you repeat this process of education and building, for 1-5 years, you will be awestruck by how far you come.
The Daily Routine That Changed My Life
My current daily routine is as follows.
I will provide the reasons and whys behind each of these parts of my routine.
This is an important point:
Every aspect of your routine should be intentional.
Intention = what you are stretching towards.
The more reasons or whys you can stack behind your actions, the easier it becomes and the more beneficial it is to a great future.
You discover these reasons or whys by having a goal to apply your self-education to.
If I want to commit to a gym habit, self-education around habit formation and the gym will give me the reasoning necessary to do so – if and only if I am building in reality.
Please note that this routine may not be feasible for you now.
Please also note that this was the process of years of experimentation to find what I deemed enjoyable and conducive to my desired future.
I encourage you to take bits and pieces to experiment with in your own life until you can create a routine that fits you.
1) 30-minute morning walk.
First thing in the morning, around 6am, I get outside no matter the weather or how I feel.
I will either listen to educational material or plan out my day on my phone.
I aim for 15-20,000 steps a day because of the stacked benefits it brings to my life. Walking is one of those activities that requires minimal effort but brings maximum results.
Walking clears my mind, wakes me up, gets me away from distractions, acts as a creativity block in my day, keeps me lean, keeps me healthy, keeps me (slightly) tan, and reverses most of the damage done by sitting under life-sucking blue light.
Note: I am experimenting with slowing down my mornings even more contrary to most entrepreneur advice of “getting straight into work.”
For the past few days, I have been doing 30 minutes of meditation followed by 30 minutes of reading (Psycho Cybernetics right now).
I walk enough throughout the day.
2) 90 minutes of focused work.
I have a list of recurring tasks and levers that I execute every morning.
This is when I write (books, newsletters, content, and marketing material).
I stack all of my priority tasks in this work block so I can complete them before most people wake up.
This allows me to gradually introduce entropy into my day as work becomes less structured.
I teach how to become a digital writer in 2 Hour Writer.
3) 30-minute run or walk.
Three times a week I run for 30 minutes.
I do this to reap the benefits of the general 150 minutes of zone 2 cardio a week (I consider my excessive walking to fill in the rest).
I’ve personally noticed that running improves my focus, stress tolerance, body composition (less water, more vascularity), and allows me to sleep at night knowing I “did the hard thing.” I hate running.
On all other days I walk, listen to educational material, and collect ideas in my phone (using Kortex) to channel into my creations and products.
4) 90 minutes of focused work.
After my run, I shower, eat breakfast, and sit back down to work.
During this block, I do less creative tasks.
I’ll help with administrative work, client work, and introduce myself to people-oriented things.
This is when open loops and distractions start to take over, but not so much that they can’t be mitigated by another walk.
5) Take calls and/or another walk.
If you’ve been following me for a while, this is a new block.
I used to despise calls and removed them from my days.
With Kortex, this isn’t possible. I had to accept that.
I want Kortex to succeed more than I don’t want to take calls, therefore I want to take calls.
Most days, I work 4-5 hours. (Even with my excessive workload, I am still close to The 4 Hour Workday philosophy I have which I talk about in my book.).
These calls include client calls, internal company calls, design calls, and product calls spread out throughout the week.
If I don’t have to be at my desk, I will take these calls on yet another walk.
6) Go to the gym.
By now, it is around 1-2pm.
This is the turning point in my day from work to rest.
I know that I won’t be able to operate at my best after the gym, so I treat this as a work cutoff time.
I train every day, so not rest days unless my body needs it (please don’t reply with your latest and greatest training ideology).
Of course, with Kortex, the book launch, and everything else on my plate, I may have work spillover during this phase of my life.
7) A long conversational lunch.
I keep an extremely small social circle.
I’ve had many contacts in the past, but it has always subtracted from my life rather than adding to it.
After the gym, I get lunch with my good friend and decompress.
8) Take a nap, walk, read, or finish busy work.
By now it’s 3-4pm.
Things are getting boring now so I will spare you, but this part of my day is crucial for psychological recovery.
If you train your body in the gym, you need to recover.
If you train your mind with work, you need to recover.
Different domains, same Universal pattern.
9) Go to dinner or spend time with my girlfriend.
I love nice dinners.
It’s a bad habit (sort of, nice dinners are much healthier than fast food, and I don’t order the most calorie-dense things on the menu).
Most nights I’ll go out to dinner with a close friend or spend the night in watching shows and catching up with my girlfriend.
That’s my entire day.
It is comprised of intensity, consistency, curiosity, learning, building, mind, body, business, relationships, and the rest that create my future self and lifestyle in real-time.
Of course, this daily routine is subject to change if there is an event in my life.
I do other things throughout the week.
This is just the default that I fall back to.
I hope you enjoyed this letter.
Use the information as you will.