Check out my bestselling book on habits, Superhuman by Habit. .
Yesterday, in a fit of inspiration, moved the furniture out of my bedroom and tore up half of the carpets. A few months ago I did the floors for the rest of my house, but I ran out of time and my bedroom threshhold was a natural stopping point. And then... there was no natural restarting point.
So for six months I've had a pile of flooring, two rolls of rubber underlayment, and an air compressor sitting on my floor.
My neighbors go to sleep early, so I didn't make much progress the first night. I just removed the carpet, scraped the floor of old glue, pulled off the baseboards and molding, and pulled extra staples.
The next day I got a late start because I had some other work to do, and when I was done with it, I just didn't feel like working. I moved at a snail's pace and before I knew it, my power tool curfew was past and I couldn't get anything more done. I really only got an hour of work done in three hours.
It's easy to write days off. We all know what a "zero" day looks like and we've all had enough of them that they don't cause us to panic.
But I've trained myself to alarm a little bit. When I have a day where I didn't get something done that I anticipated getting done, the first thing I ask myself is: "what's going to be different tomorrow?"
Sometimes there's a legitimate difference. I'll have some help, or I'll have fewer other tasks to do, or a new tool will come in that will make it easier.
But if nothing's going to be different, then what right do I have to think I'll get it done? The correct answer is none, so I have to make something different.
Tonight I drove to Walgreens and bought a new silver sharpie, came home, and started tracing out the rubber underlayment. I cut it and put it in place. Then I chose the next row of wood and measured and marked the cuts I'd need to make. After that I went to my shed, got the saw and vacuum, and moved them inside. I even set the guard of the saw so that the first cut is ready to go.
Tomorrow something will be different. I have prepped to make it extremely easy to start making progress. In particular, I've made it so that the very next step I take will cause an immediate visible improvement. That will be motivating and make it easy for me to continue.
Never trust yourself if you think you're going to respond differently to the same stimuli. If you do, it's a fluke. Make success easy by changing the stimuli to make it easier to get the results you want. Hey, I even wrote a blog post early so that I won't get distracted by writing this week when I'm finishing up my floor.
Photo is the room near completion. Now it's done and I slept in my own bed again! Ever since writing the post I made pretty quick progress.
I went to a Roger Waters concert earlier tonight. I got a free ticket and I make it a habit to see anything or anyone who's supposed to be one of the best, even though I don't like rock music.
One of my first memories of music is listening to Another Brick in the Wall in my dad's car as a kid. I loved the song, not because of any musical aspect or because I really understood the song, but because of one line: "we don't need no education." Even then my enjoyment of the lyric wasn't very nuanced. I just didn't like doing homework, and leaving the kids alone sounded like a good idea to me.
The last song I saw tonight before I left at intermission was that one. Waters brought a bunch of kids on the stage who danced and sang the chorus. When they bowed at the end they were all a bit too enthusiastic about their contributions, just as I would have been at that age. That made me think about the first time I heard that song, probably when I was around their age.
My life always feels like it's short until I stop and think about all of the things that have happened in it. I thought back to the kid who didn't want to do homework and thought about how he'd never believe my life is as it is.
External events often have to be left to chance. You submit your book proposal, and maybe it gets accepted and maybe not. You go talk to the cute stranger, and maybe you're compatible and maybe you're not. You plan a camping trip a month ahead, and maybe it rains or maybe it doesn't.
Often, though, people leave things to chance which don't have to be. Will you finish your book? Will you learn how to code? Will you have a good group of friends? These are all things that are entirely within your own power, and yet you may not be sure if they'll happen.
The value of ten half-finished projects is roughly zero. Not exactly zero, because hopefully you learned something, but close enough. The value of five fully finished projects is, well, a whole lot higher. Making plans is worth a little, working towards goals is worth a little, completing goals is worth a lot.
For that reason, I highly prioritize finishing.
A few random thoughts on growth, prompted by some observations of myself, friends, and coaching clients.
Boredom is good. It means that you've reached a new level. Staying bored is really bad, because it means that you aren't moving on to the next thing. So enjoy it for a moment, and then make sure you don't feel it for a while.
People generally grow in one area at once. If you're trying to make too much progress in too many areas, you're risking none of them succeeding. If you focus on one thing, track it, and course-correct, it will probably work eventually . You can maintain or slowly improve others.
Results don't always come at the same time as process. So sometimes you work on all the right things, see metrics improving, but the results still aren't there. That's okay, it's still growth. Sometimes the opposite happens and results all come at once, thanks to work you've put in in the past.
On a recent podcast I was on, I was asked why I took so many risks. I stuttered for a second before answering the question because I was trying to think of an example of a big risk I took. I couldn't think of any, so I had to answer the question in a different way.
At the same time, I understand why people have the perception that I take a lot of risks. I think the difference is in how we perceive risks, and I'd argue that my method of doing so is more accurate.
When I calculate risk, I look at the statistics and before blindly applying them, I ask how relevant they are to me as an individual.
In some cases, they're fairly universal. My risk of dying in an airplane crash is the same, per mile, as anyone else's. The financial risk I accept by investing in a particular stock is the same as well.
This feels like a slightly ironic title, as today I spent sixteen hours showing my cousin and her boyfriend around one of my favorite cities in the world, Budapest. No work, except for writing this post before I go to sleep.
On the other hand, the only reason I can take a full day off and not wish that I was working is because I'm in the habit of getting massive amounts of work done in short periods of time.
We all get work done. It's easy to find time to send an email, do a couple errands, and make some progress on a project. But how do you do the big things like write a book, start a new site, or find and purchase a property?
You're going to be disappointed when I tell you the answer because it's obvious and it's not a hack.
Due to CruiseSheet growing and my new coaching project, my income has gone up quite a bit compared to previous years. This has been a strange transition for me, as I'm used to being the guy who doesn't really make much money, but does clever things to maximize it. Now I have a more normal income.
So far I haven't really changed, but I suspect that if things keep going well I will be less relatable to people who don't make too much money when I talk about money. For that reason, I'd like to freeze this moment in time and explain how I think about and use money. I suspect that my habits will mostly stay the same, but you never really know.
People think about net worth and income, and while those numbers are useful, they're just a small part of the picture. Focusing on them will cause you to make mistakes.
The two factors I always think about are runway and quality of life. If those numbers are high, then nothing else matters. They are a complete picture.
I have a technique that I use to deal with a lot of situations that I call setting strong defaults. It started with dating as a means to eliminate the ridiculous and common "but where do YOU want to eat?" loop where each person keeps asking the other person where they want to eat, and tons of time an energy is wasted on a decision no one really cares about. Now I use it for many things, from dating to work.
There's a balance in relationships where women typically want a man to lead in decisions, but also want to be heard and to have the option of having input. Very often men don't realize this and they keep asking their girlfriend what they want to do, only to have the question flipped back to them. They think that they're being nice, but actually they're imposing the responsibility of having to choose on their girlfriend.
To solve this problem, I decided that I would always suggest something with the assumption it would be what we chose, but would always agree to counter-suggestions. So I'd say something like, "Hey, how about if we have dinner at Chipotle?"
If she says that she wants to go to a different restaurant, then I'd just accept and we'd go there, since I don't really care where we eat and my primary motives are to not spend a lot of time deciding where to eat, and to make it easy for her to not have to decide where to eat.
I'm about halfway through a transatlantic cruise, which means I'm also halfway through writing a new book. This time I'm writing a follow-up to Life Nomadic, since so much has changed about traveling and being a nomad since I wrote my first book. Also, the tech section in that book is embarrassingly out of date, so it's time for a refresh.
This time I'm focusing on what it takes to be a nomad in a sustainable way. I'm talking about maximizing points and miles, finding flight deals, beating jet lag, packing, gear, government programs like APEC and Nexus, how to make money, how to learn languages, cruising, and flight tricks. I'm also going to get into depth on what I think is the future of nomadism, which is buying properties with your friends.
I'm keeping this post super short because I have a ton more I have to write for the book today, but I wanted to ask for early feedback. What do you want to hear more about? What would make the book super valuable to you? My primary goal is to enable people to fit as much travel into their lives and budgets as they want.
When you travel most of the time and do it with only a small backpack, eventually all of your travel gear becomes very high quality. You buy something nice, love using it, and it retains its utility for a long time. If you buy something low quality, it breaks or frustrates you, and you end up replacing it with something high quality, which lasts.
Not everything I traveled with was of the highest quality at first, but through that process it became so. I noticed that my mindset changed as my belongings became higher quality, and that convinced me to extend that standard across the rest of my life. At this point nearly everything I use at home or while traveling is the best available.
First, a word about quality, as I often see people who have things they think are high quality, but are not. At least by my definition. Quality is derived from purity of design and from best materials.
When something is designed, I want for it to be designed to complete its function as perfectly as possible, requiring the least from me, and only then to take into account aesthetics. For example, my watch is decent looking, but not as good as other watches. However, the operation of it is a dream come true. Breitling clearly understood that a frequent traveler (they designed it for pilots) would want to be able to know the time anywhere around the world at a glance, but would also need a way to switch between time zones effortlessly. And maybe he'd need to time things.