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Posts in Personal Development
This is why your day is ruined

Since the beginning of humanity, the snap judgment was essential to our survival.

Fight or flight. Danger or safety. Black or white.

For some of us, this day and age has been the first time we don’t have to worry constantly about the imminent perpetrator.

Yet, most of the time, we do. We rush to judgment all the time because it’s instinctive.

Instinct > Emotion > Action

There is a choice though. As we mature we attain a skill. We don’t suppress our nature. We learn to separate feelings from the action.

Instinct > Emotion < Choice > Action

As we mature even further, we learn to control our emotions. We’re still people, thoughts manifest themselves instinctively. But we have a choice to label them as good or bad, practical or impractical, or rather, as thoughts. No more, no less.

The skill of maturity is seeing things for what they are in reality. Next time someone cuts you off in traffic or you yell at your kid because she did something, think about this:

Did they really ruin your day?

Or did you ruin it yourself?

History doesn’t care about your feelings

I’ve been feeling under the weather for more than two weeks. I broke my first-ever-running streak, and I haven’t been able to work.

With our baby daughter in the house and the wife working full time, it’s been a challenge to keep the atmosphere cheerful and positive. And it’s an absolute necessity to keep it that way.

I’ve thought about it a lot. I tried taking a break from everything and focus on getting rid of the sickness. I stayed in bed and did the whole routine. It took a week and got a lot better, but now it’s all back.

So basically a week wasted lying around.

Although I’ve been struggling to get better I decided I will get to work this week no matter what. There is work to be done and practice to be practiced.

I’m going to give it all at all fronts. Do my best, and hope for the best. Drive the baby to daycare, clean the kitchen, get some rest, and do some work.

The western world today is a miracle of human progress. We are free to create our own destiny. Up to this point, I haven’t been taking advantage of this amazing privilege.

Since college, I have tried many things. I learned about a few businesses, I learned how to sell and most of all, I learned that it doesn’t take a genius to be an entrepreneur.

It takes guts, a little bit of ignorance and a whole lot of discipline.

In times good and bad, it’s the consistent choices that bring results.

History does not care about your feelings.

Here is a thought experiment. When I’m reflecting on these days five or ten years down the road, will I remember this day?

Will it be significant? Will it be the day that I took action?

Will it be the one that I published that one post or that one video or sent that one email?

Or will it be the day I didn’t feel well…


Exercising the idea muscle

Comparison abolition.

Sometimes I get buried in the writing of philosophers and political commentators. I indulge in them regularly, because I want to feed my spirit and develop a strong foundation of values.

These writers possess extraordinary writing styles, clarity of thinking and expression. Most of them are polymaths that intimidate and inspire their following with their intellect and wisdom.

There is a lot to look up to. These are the real thought leaders. They are humble and disciplined, their writing is perfect and their speech is crystal clear.

I look up to them and their teaching. But there is a problem.

What do Casey Neistat, Seth Godin and James Altucher have in common?

Nerdwriter does a great essay on what it takes to make films like Casey Neistat.

Their content is so well put together, so accessible, so fluent that it seems effortless. It seems like everyone could do it.

It inspires. It makes you feel that you could do it. It makes you go out and try it.

And that’s the point. Because when you try you may realize that you love doing it. Then all it takes is what you don’t see.

The thousands of hours of practice.

Reading for education vs. reading for inspiration

When I read those philosophers I find myself judging every idea that comes up in my mind. I overthink every sentence and I’m shameful of my stuff.

“You call that a sentence?”

That never goes anywhere. It’s the shameful perfectionist inside me, the critic that says “you’re not good enough. Your writing doesn’t even compare to what that other guy wrote.”

Yea, yea, comparison is the thief of joy and all that. I don’t consciously compare myself to anyone. It’s what Steven Pressfield calls the Resistance. The Resistance is the mythical force that wants to keep things as they are. When you’re creating something, when you’re thinking, you change things.

You’re hoping to inspire change. Even if you’re not shooting for it.

So the quote here should go like this:

Prolific is better than perfect.

I don’t know who said that. The point here is to watch your influences and optimize for the least resistance.

Design an attention diet that is optimized for inspiration vs. perfection.

For me, it’s mostly watching my reading discipline. It’s not a question of reading more.

The ratio of reading for information vs. inspiration must lean toward inspiration. And the time spent reading must be proportionate to the time spent writing.

Create > Consume

These ideas must go in and go out, otherwise, they get stuck. And then I get stuck in the judgment and pathetic perfectionist excuses.

Yes, pathetic. It takes courage to be creative. An actual quote here:

A lot of people have taste, but they don’t have the daring to be creative.
— Bill Cunningham

Idea creation is a muscle that must be honed. No one is born with great ideas.

Work on it. Think and make stuff every day.

Compare yourself to yourself only. If you must, think and compare yourself to your heroes at the beginning of their journey. At the start of their career. At year two of their creative writing practice. Even that will make no justice. Our outcomes are all determined by endless streams of influences throughout our lives. And the lives of our parents and those of our immediate social groups.

So you might as well abolish the comparison habit.

Just go ahead and make something every day. And show it to people.

And remember that ideas are borrowed.


Consistency over content

What’s the one thing that is really hard? Really really hard?

The one thing that you can’t fix easily. The one thing you can’t fake.

It’s consistency. It’s perseverance. It takes time.

When building habits, choose consistency over content…

It’s the discipline that makes you show up day in and day out. It makes you put out work on a regular basis. It’s the virtue of reliability.

It’s the virtue of all virtues because it’s not easily attained. Because only consistent action enables progress.

It enables mastery of anything. It enables leadership.

We respect those with this sort of work ethic because deep inside we know how hard it is to keep up.

We know how hard it is to keep working day after day, week after week, month after month.

Year in, year out.

The hard thing is not to learn the craft. That’s attainable by studying.

The hard work is doing the little bit when you don’t feel like it the most.

The hard thing is to keep at it when you don’t feel like it the most.

And you will not feel like it.

That’s why you have to make it easy for yourself. You must care for yourself deeply, so you can focus on tackling the resistance.

… The best book is the one you can’t put down. The best exercise is the one you enjoy doing every day. The best health food is the one you find tasty. The best work is the work you’d do for free.
— Naval Ravikant
Skateboarding for self care

Building resilience through joy.

I love skateboarding and I always did. I used to ride a lot when I was younger, but then I stopped after I suffered an injury while jumping a flight of stairs. This was an especially stupid jump — it was too high and the landing surface wasn’t smooth enough. I crushed the front of the board with my front foot. I broke the board and with it broke my ankle.

After that I gave up. I didn’t replace the board for a new one.

A while after the injury, in an effort to grow up I got into a career in consulting. It seemed to me that people take themselves very seriously. At least I started taking myself too seriously. With the mandatory Lenovo laptops and suits, it seemed like they had to separate their identity in two.

The work self, and the real self.

On the one hand, the self that goes to clients, and speaks about numbers and returns on investment. On the other, the self that speaks freely, and talks about joy and strain. The self that has a tattoo beneath the slacks. The self that enjoys music, art, and loves to skateboard.

I shamed myself away from it. I denied a significant part of who I was. I thought skateboarding was bad for me because I could get injured. I was judging myself for wasting time with it. The self-talk went on and on: I should’ve been doing something more productive.

I used to love to go skateboarding. We went out a lot, practicing tricks and sliding rails. The imminent danger and inherent challenge were what kept us going. Jordan Peterson asserts that:

“Kids need playgrounds dangerous enough to remain challenging. People don’t seek to minimize risk; they seek to optimize it. When untrammeled and encouraged, we prefer to live on the edge. There, we can still be both confident in our experience and confronting the chaos that helps us develop.”

We were building confidence and resilience. No matter what, we tried again. We didn’t care about the consequences. We didn’t think about the risk of breaking a bone. There was nothing else to consider other than the eventualsuccess. We knew it’s going to happen. If not today, it’ll be tomorrow.

Then it did. I landed.

And when I did, I didn’t make a record of it. I didn’t look at the odds of landing a trick. I didn’t calculate the ROI — how many hours I’ve put into the practice against how many times I landed.

I got back to riding for the sheer joy of riding.


Nowhere to go. Nothing to achieve. Just enjoy the moment.

Strangely enough, there is a lot to learn about life in skateboarding. When you go for a ride with nowhere to go, you enjoy the moment. No agenda, no complexity. Just the wind, you, and the wheels spinning. You might fall, but you don’t think about it. A small piece of rock may block the wheel at any moment. You might trip and fall.

And sometimes you do. Usually, though, nothing severe happens. You dust off and get back on the board.

Similarly, life gives you obstacles you cannot foresee. You may trip and fall at any moment. You cannot control all the outcomes; you cannot watch out for every little rock. You cannot manage every circumstance.

You just ride. Do what you can to stay on top. When you trip, you must get back up to keep your balance. And if you enjoy the ride, if you enjoy your days, you’re excited to get up after a fall.

I had to change perspective to realize that staying joyful is my own responsibility.

In the recent year, I started working towards accepting myself. With a great deal of soul searching, coaching and adopting new habits, I made real progress. No judgment. I don’t self-deprecate anymore.

I’m OK with myself.

There is nothing I should’ve done. No regrets. All is well as it is.

Among other things, I learned and accepted that I love to ride the skateboard. That I missed it. I decided I want to ride regularly for the fun of it.

So I got a penny board for the office. No kidding.

It’s banana yellow.

I ride to get a cup of coffee, I ride when I go across the floor for a phone call. I take short rides. I enjoy every single one. Pure bliss.

And if something goes wrong, I have a little something to look forward to every day.

It’s my daily joy.

(also I’m very grateful that they let me ride around the office)

Ask yourself:

  • How many moments like this do I have in my day?

  • Do I enjoy or restrain myself?

  • What do I look forward to on a daily basis?

A service lady in my building asked me how I was doing this morning. I told her I’m doing great. She replied with saying that it’s so good to hear, and how much she loves hearing that from people.

She said that meeting happy people gives her hope.

When I ask people how they are, they usually answer with this:

“It could be better.”

But can it really get any better?

We are lucky to live in an age when we’re free to do almost anything we want with our time. If you’re healthy and have job security, does it really get better than this?

It will not get better tomorrow when you finish the dread of work you planned for today. Neither will it get better next month when the project is over. Nor will it be better in 10 years when you save up for that thing you want, or when you finally do that job you love.

There is nothing else to worry about other than today. You are the only person in charge of your daily joy.

You are responsible for making your day great.

Write Down What Gives You Joy

Cheryl Richardson told about an exercise she did a while back. She used to write down a list of ten things everyday that gave her pleasure. Little things like sunbathing on the deck or climbing down into fresh sheets or a great meal for dinner. Or a focused listen to a favorite song.

She learned that she didn’t have a lot of pleasure in her life. She learned that she must care for herself first to be able to serve others. And when she got challenged, she knew she had a library of activities that bring her joy.

She went on to write a bestseller about the art of extreme self-care. She has been serving others as one of the most recognized executive coaches in the US.

She had to fill her own cup first.

There is nothing else to worry about than this moment.

The reality of our conscious experience is always now.

Take charge of today.


Originally published in The Startup on Medium.