Have you ever noticed that amongst people who seem to be doing "the right thing", results vary wildly? Throughout my life I've met a ton of hard workers with great habits. You'd expect that they would all do similarly well, but they don't. Some are very happy, fulfilled, and successful, while others seem to always be struggling.
Some of this, of course, is luck. One one hand it would be sort of neat if your results always matched your input exactly, but at the same time that would probably make life less exciting. No one would play a slot machine that just took three cents every single time they pulled the handle.
It's not all luck, though. And while we will all be subject to luck, those who count on it tend to not do well.
One thing I've noticed is that people who have everything aligned in their lives tend to do better. I know that personally when I've had stuff aligned, my results have been a lot better.
Of the millions of habits and routines and influences we each have, some will always be in conflict with each other. For example, my traveling constantly to spend time with friends all over the world is certainly not aligned with building a bigger business.
But most of my life is pretty well aligned, and that's a deliberate choice.
When I coach people I often start them off with habits that will trickle down and help other ones. For example, getting down good time management is aligned with just about everything in life. If you have bad time management, that habit is in direct conflict with everything else you do.
Other big ones are diet and sleep. If you don't have those aligned with your life, every single thing you do will be harder to some degree.
A good way to think of it is to imagine that you are swimming in a river. If the tide is raging against you, no amount of swimming is going to get you upstream. But in life you can control the river AND the swimming. And, in fact, if you just get the river flowing fast enough in the right direction, you don't have to swim very hard all the time.
So how do you align things in your life?
Think of your life as a tree. Not a literal one, but a drawing of a tree. There are thousands of leaves, and you want them all to be alive and green. Most people go around looking at each leaf and trying to nuture it individually, but there are so many leaves that it requires constant work. But instead of working on a leaf, you can just work on the branch it's on, which will affect all of the leaves. Or you can work even further upstream on a big branch that contains a lot of branches attached to it.
In other words, instead of working on things you want to change, think about what aspects in your life affect those things. Then work on those things, or figure out which things affect them. The further towards the trunk of the tree you go, the more you'll get from your input, even though the results will be diffused over a lot of leaves. If you make a habit of working on these, gradually all of the leaves begin to flip and stay that way.
You'll be doing a lot of work, both productive work and work on yourself. May as well make sure that it's all aligned and that most of what you're working on helps the other parts.
Photo is me sailing on a boat in the SF Bay!
Thanks for all of the people who want to sign up for the Superhuman #1 event. I will get back to everyone soon. Still have 2-3 spots open.
My RV is back for sale. A note from the seller:
I had been looking for a 1996 Rialta for over two years, so I was pretty excited upon learning that Tynan's RV—which I had read about in his book The Tiniest Mansion and seen in a video he posted on YouTube—was on sale. I flew all the way from England to pick up the vehicle, which I planned to drive to the East Coast and then ship to Europe. In the meantime, however, I got involved in a serious relationship and decided to put an end to my nomadic lifestyle. Ideally, I would still want to keep the RV for occasional trips, but I need the money to buy a new house, so I decided to sell it. The Rialta is in a slightly better condition than it was when Tynan sold it a year ago: the guy to whom Tynan sold it made various improvements, and I haven't myself used it other than to drive it from LA to San Francisco, where it's currenty parked. You can read the details in Tynan's post. I'm selling it for the same price Tynan sold it, which is also the price I paid for it ($30k), though I'm happy to consider reasonable offers. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch at [email protected].
I like this a lot. I think of this sort of like Maslow's hierarchy of needs but for the self. Things like sleep, diet and exercise are at the bottom because they affect everything else. Then you can stack up from there.
I always write about habits after they're done, but I thought that it would be interesting to write about one before it starts, to get really specific about the actual process of creating a new habit.
For my entire life, I've been messy. Battles were waged over my unwillingness to keep my room tidy as a kid. My RV is very easy to clean, but somehow my four forks and spoons live in the sink instead of their drawer. Even when I stay with friends while traveling, where I know it's extremely important to be respectful of their space and keep my stuff as low-impact as possible, I find myself being careless about leaving power cords and shoes around.
A useful first step towards changing a big lifelong habit like this is to build up a healthy contempt for your previous execution. This isn't self loathing or anything like that, just the attitude where you say, "This is completely unacceptable and ridiculous."
I remember about two years ago when I went to the dentist, I asked her what the most important thing I could do for my teeth was. She said it was flossing every day. I already knew that, of course, but I asked the question in a subconscious hope that she would say that it was something I was already doing. At that moment, I thought, "How insane is it that I'm unable to just floss my teeth every day, and that I need to ask a dentist for some justification not to do it?"
I used to dislike to work. I saw how most people lived their lives, slogging through work that they hated, and I was determined not to fall into that trap. I made the mistake of generalizing, lumping all work together in the same bucket.
Since then, things have changed. In terms of monumental personal life changes, becoming a hard worker is the most recent one I've undergone. About a year ago, for reasons I touched on in this post, I decided that it was imperative for me to become a hard worker. I didn't do it because I had suddenly fallen in love with work, but rather because I had began to feel as though I was behind. And believe me, it wasn't love at first sight.
To fall in love with hard work, you must understand why it's necessary. When I was young I was told that sugar was bad, but I never understood exactly why it was bad, so I kept eating it. Only when I learned how it chemically affected my body did I finally give it up. The same is true of work-- if you don't know why you have to work hard and love it, you'll probably never actually do it.
Work is your gift to the world. That sounds corny, but it's true. And believe me, you owe the world a gift or two. Think of all of the various things that millions of people around the world have done for you to enjoy the life you have. They made up languages, invented stuff, procreated at the exact right times to create your ancestry, and managed to not kill each other in the process. We're lucky to be here, and the high standard of living we all enjoy now is only because of those who came before us. Some, like Einstein, had huge impact, but even people you don't notice, like the janitors, are making your life better.