Navigating Self

My attempt to have a writing habit. Writing forces me to have clarity with how I'm living my life.

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Category: Systems and Processes

Getting back on track

No matter how much I plan, I still go through a phase where I just have zero motivation to do anything at all. I find myself wasting my day away. I know what I’m supposed to do, but I can’t find any energy to do it.

I used to wait it out until I get tired of being unproductive. However, that isn’t always possible. Especially being adult and having people depend on me. I have to find a way to get around whenever I’m in that state.

I have developed a checklist I follow that helps me back on track.

Getting back on track checklist

  1. Sort out finances
    • This is one of the easiest tasks because it involves a clear goal: checking bank accounts, credit cards, and cash. Having a clear understanding of my financial standing significantly reduces my anxiety
  2. Brain dump – Write down everything that’s on your mind. You don’t have to act on it, but acknowledging its presence through writing helps you make sense of the thoughts in your mind.
    • Things I need to do, want to do, don’t want to do
    • Things I’m trying to avoid thinking about
  3. Exercise – Walk, run, push up, pull up
    • I don’t need to complete a full exercise routine; the primary goal is to elevate my heart rate. In some instances, the body influences the mind. When my heart beats fast from exercise, my mind shifts from low-energy to an excited state, as if my body dictates my emotional state.
  4. Eat the right food
    • Eating the right food is crucial because an unbalanced diet affects both mood and cognitive function. The mind and body are closely connected, so if I lack essential nutrients or consume too much junk food, it can lead to feeling off
  5. Disconnect
    • We have become such experts at being always in touch, informed, connected. Now we must relearn how to be silent, disconnected, alone. – Alain de Botton
    • Food for the body is like information for the mind. If I constantly consume anxiety-inducing news, my body can’t helped but feel anxious.
    • Pay attention to what I pay attention to.
    • Optimize on output

It may not work out immediately, but with consistent effort day by day, there will come a point where I’ll surprise myself that I’m already doing fairly well.

Working out everyday as a keystone habit

I have been consistently working out for more than 80 days because of stay-at-home orders. This has been the habit that had the most impact in the quality of my life.

Keystone habit

A keystone habit is a habit that you can “attach” other habits to. It’s one habit that triggers a set of other good habits.

For working out, what happens after I’m done are:

  1. I shower – because I stink
  2. I log my body composition (weight, body fat) – to track my progress, makes me a bit more aware with changes in my body
  3. I eat good food, drink a lot of water – to address what the body composition scale suggests to improve
  4. I take my vitamins

There’s this idea that the better you take care of yourself, the better you’ll handle life. With my body getting used to physical stress, it makes me better prepared to handle unexpected stressors that will inevitably come my way.

Recent personal milestones:

A loving kind of procrastination

I gave up on the idea of “beating” procrastination. I’ve tried all the to-do apps and all the productivity hacks. I just accepted that it’s part of my nature and I should embrace it.

Not mindlessly embrace it though.

Introducing a competing response

A competing response is a pre-decided alternative action when a specific habit triggers.

Let’s say I’m having a hard time on a specific task. My default action is to take a break and browse reddit/twitter/facebook. My competing response is to spend time with my family instead.

“I love them more than evolution required” is a phrase that I keep feeling whenever I spend time with them.

I’m still procrastinating but I’m spending it on something I enjoy and worth doing.

Fill your cup and let it overflow around you

I have this guilt that I’m doing so well with Coronavirus’ quarantine. The only thing that changed with my routine is I haven’t been able to go to Starbucks to work. It feels unfair and wrong that a lot of people are in a bad place.

I know that, by nature, people tends to help those in need. The problem is there’s a lot of people in need and it’s obvious that I can’t help them all. There’s this choice paralysis on how and who to give assistance to.

The strategy I adopted to workaround this is: fill your cup and let it overflow around you

First, I make sure that my family are taken care of. This means that I feel secure that we’ll be able to weather the crisis in the next few weeks despite the uncertainty. 

Then, I give away the excess I have to people around me that I’m aware needs help. Relatives, employees, coworkers, old classmates, kapitbahay, friend of a friend, kapitbahay ng friend, it doesn’t matter who. As soon as I knew about their struggle and I know how to help, I do it. I even reach out and ask about their situation.

Meritocracy doesn’t apply here. There’s no qualification if someone deserves help or not. No one deserves to be hungry.

Walking the talk: My cup is full. I already gave away more than 100% of my pay this month.

Time for introspection

The time after Christmas and before New Year is a perfect time to stop and reflect.

There’s a lot of downtime. Almost everybody stops working. There’s minimal pressure to work.

Looking back makes me relive the good stuff. It also makes me think about how could I better handled the bad stuff.

Looking forward gives me clarity where I want to go. If I have that vision in mind, I have a reference to check if I’m still on the right track and reassess if I want to continue the path I’m in.

Questions I ask myself to kick-start my introspection:

  • What’s the highest point of my year?
  • How about the lowest point?
  • What’s the biggest lesson I learned?
  • What’s the most significant realization I had?
  • What change did I do that had the biggest impact?
  • What did I do that I’m most proud of?
  • What did I do the I’m most ashamed of?
  • What’s the happiest thing that happened?
  • How about the saddest thing?
  • How about the most unexpected thing?
  • Am I still heading to where I want to be?
  • What am I aiming to do next year?

Monday Weekly Reviews

I figured that Monday is the perfect time to review my week. I have a fresh outlook and high energy because of the weekend break. I always try to follow this one important rule: Don’t end the week with nothing. If I get to accomplish a single important thing every week, I consider it a big win. What are my wins this week? What needs improvement?

Another important part of my reviews is to plan my upcoming week. What do I need to look out for? What do I want to accomplish?

Reviews easily takes 1-2 hours to do. Despite the hours it takes, I see it as worth the time because it helps me realign whatever am I doing now to the big picture I want to be in. It helps me see if I am at the right direction or am I straying away.

Right questions helps me focus on the right things. Currently, the questions I ask myself during reviews are:

  • How was your week?
  • What are you proud of this week?
  • What needs improvement?
  • Do not end the week with nothing. What’s the single most important thing you need to accomplish next week?
  • What’s upcoming this week? What do I need to look out for?
  • What else do you plan to accomplish next week?

On reading books

Read one book at a time.

While reading, highlight and take notes ideas that come up to your mind.

At the end of the book meticulously edit your notes to make each idea self-contained for future lookup.

Add the self-contained idea to your Anki flash cards.

Move on to the next book after you have finished editing your notes and published it.

Shelve your book and you can move on to the next.


What should I read next?

  1. Area I want to improve on, inline with my stretch goals – check learning path mindmap
  2. Something that induce a terrifying longing. Making me drop everything else to pursue it.
2020 © Jerico Aragon