0384 – express your values through planned actions


  1. Wake up early every day (so sleep early too)
  2. Review work daily (with accountability partner)

So what’s my plan?

I value…

  • growth
  • progress
  • triumph over adversity
  • Confronting my fears and making them my bitch, and being better and stronger because of it

Alright. So what am I going to do to express those values? What is the plan of action?

1. Wake up early every morning. I’ve woken up at 6am the past 2 days. This by itself isn’t very remarkable, as it’s a habit that can slip at any time. But I’m making an extra effort not to let it slip. I’ve gotten my wife onboard on this, so we both wake up at 6am together. We set multiple alarms– both our phones, as well as her computer. There’s a cacophony of alarms at 6am in the morning. We’re going to do this for 49 days, including the weekend. The past couple of nights we actually slept pretty late, out of habit or self-sabotage or something. But we’ve been determined to stick to waking up, and so we did. The day before yesterday I went for a run after waking up.

Today I didn’t do very much when I woke– I was really groggy, but I got out of bed anyway and lay on the sofa for a while. I did leave for work earlier than I usually do. But I’m not going to be too harsh on myself for that. The plan is to make the habit of waking early stick. If there are some withdrawal symptoms or initial inefficiencies, I’ll bear with them. I know from long experience that whenever I wake up early, naturally and well rested, I feel really, really good. I make better decisions. I have space to plan out my day, to do things better. So I’m going to keep setting these alarms. We’re tracking our streak on a calendar taped to the wall, so it stares at us every morning when we wake up.

2. Beyond that, I’m also committing to voluntarily sending my boss a daily email update of what I’ve done. The idea is similar– it’s to create a structure that I need and want to commit to, so that things get done regularly. And it’s a really small quick update anyway. The process of doing it clarifies my thoughts about what I’m doing, and the PROSPECT of doing it makes me want to make sure that I have something worth reporting. So as a result I tend to subconciously pick my tasks better (as opposed to what I often used to do when I wasn’t accountable to anybody– I’d pick vague, open-ended tasks and spend the entire day exploring things without getting anything done).

In a sense, everything I’m trying to do is really just trying to unlearn the habit I have of spending large chunks of time doing random, undefined things. I suppose if I were really wealthy or something, I might be able to afford living that sort of life. But even then, I do it beyond my own inclinations. When I’m exploring, it’s not exactly mindful, conscientious exploring. And it doesn’t have as much flow as I wish it did– I don’t always feel flow doing this weird random open-ended wandering. I guess because flow needs some constraints. You need to be working within some boundaries, some restrictions before you can truly experience flow.

I spend too much time completely unbounded, thinking that it’s freeing or liberating somehow, but it’s really not. So that needs to change, for my own happiness’s sake, for my own growth and my own learning. It’s much more satisfying to leave the office having done 3 simple tasks than it is to have spend the day contemplating and exploring without getting anything substantial done.

So this experience is what I want to recreate day after day.

I want to leave work everyday feeling satisfied. I want to publish a word vomit before I go to bed, that leaves me satisfied too. And I want to wake early, and go for a run, and eat healthy, and all of these things are little baby steps in the direction of progress and growth. They free up more cognitive capacity. When I fulfill my obligations, they get out of my head and free up more space for play.

It’s very difficult to truly enjoy play when you know that you owe people things. It has to be a very escapist sort of play– you have to sorta drug yourself, distract yourself, zone out. And that’s only pleasant in the sense that the pain and fear and anguish is momentarily gone, hidden just out of sight. It’s like the pleasure you get when you take off your really tight shoes for a minute, before you put them back on again. And that is not a sustainable way to live. That is a really sad, unpleasant way to live.

And I don’t want to hate on myself for that. I don’t want to be cruel or unkind to myself for that. It’s unnecessary, and it’s also distracting. The real question is, what’s the desired end state? And what’s my plan of action to get to that desired end state? And what problems will I encounter along the way, and how do I visualize myself dealing with those problems, to make sure they don’t happen again? And then what steps do I need to take to make sure that goes according to plan? And when I’m done with that, what’s the next desired end state? This is a new language for me, but I intend to be fluent in it.

When I’m done with this, I’m going to hit publish. Then I’m going to hand the laptop to my wife, and I’m going to go ink in the two crosses for the two vomits I’d have published. Then I’m going to scratch out the day, the 8th day in a row that I’ve done a word vomit. (It’s also the 7th workday in a row that I emailed my boss as I had planned.) And then I’m going to go to bed, relaxed because I know I’ve pretty much done my best– or at least I’ve done better than I’ve done so far, and tomorrow I will wake up at 6am, cross out the ” woke at 6am” box for the 3rd day running, and smile because I’m making progress.

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