There is no rulebook for living life

In life, there are rules that you play by in games, rules that you live by in order to live in peace, rules that you follow to get an education and excel at work and rules for everything else in life. Sometimes they are disguised as something less stringent, like “guide” or “best practice” or “what has worked in the past” or “because it’s always been done this way.” These rules help foster a harmonious culture and help you get through life so you don’t feel lost trying to figure out what you should do on your own. The problem with rules is that we get stuck living within them, and don’t realize the possibilities beyond the rules. Rules weren’t always there to be followed, they were once created by people to either help you or hold you back (for your own good, sometimes.). But people get so used to rules “always having been there” that they don’t know how to think or what to do without them, we’re reliant on something that never even existed until someone decided to make it so.

I often make decisions driven by fear about what I should or shouldn’t be doing, because I want to fit within the rules that will create the most happiness, success and fulfillment in my life. I get stuck living by the rules because it’s what I should be doing and it’s the safest, less scary route to take. I’m sometimes afraid of taking a leap of faith on a goal, an aspiration or an experiment because it’s unclear if it will guarantee my happiness and validate that I’ll be living like I’m supposed to be living, the way playing by the rules seemingly guarantees. Playing by the rules doesn’t really guarantee anything, though. Playing by the rules can help give you an outline for how things have successfully been done before by the founding rule makers and people after them – but rules were made to be revised or broken to serve a better purpose for the future. For example, chefs have created rules of how one should operate a kitchen and cook food, and many chefs follow those rules because that is how you make good food. The beauty about chefs is that their desire for creativity gets them to break rules all the time. They follow the rules laid out by chefs before them if they work, but they lead and innovate when they break the rest of the rules that they don’t want to follow. They end up creating new best practices and styles that lead to even better delicious and beautiful food. Watch Chef’s Table on Netflix, it’s  the perfect example of people following rules only to break a ton of them to create some of the best food on the planet.

Rulebooks are good for respecting and following if they foster unity, teamwork, peace and compassion. Living life only by the rules however, is a sad little box to live in when there is a huge universe out there to experience. I’ve always sort of felt that way, but more so now after pondering about rules and why it’s scary to think of a world without them influencing my every decision. I’d like to think more outside the box and not always play by the rules if I don’t have to, take more leaps of faith in myself and make creativity over conformity more of a priority. I implore you to have the courage to break, amend or create your own rules so you can fully express your human potential and explore what life has to offer. Get after your goals for happiness, interconnectedness, health, etc. … you don’t always have to play by the rules to achieve them.

4 Favorite Takeaways From Essentialism

I recently finished reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown, and I got some great nuggets of wisdom to implement into my life. The book shows you how to make fewer but better decisions with work and personal endeavors so you can make the biggest contribution to the things that really matter, and forget the rest that aren’t essential. Essentialism seems simple and straightforward enough, but you would be surprised how much of our everyday lives are filled with behaviors, activities, decisions and physical things that don’t matter that much to us, but we blindly, reluctantly or knowingly take part in them anyway thinking that we’ll benefit somehow. The book is like a lawnmower, to help you weed out all the pointless weeds out of your life that are sucking up your resources. Now, you just have to be the person that puts the lawnmower to work.

A small part of me freaked out while reading this book, thinking, “Oh No! I’m the opposite of the perfect essentialist… I’m screwed.” I often try to do a million things in life and never stick to just the essential few activities or behaviors that may very well give me maximum happiness and success. As an example, I will openly admit I am a semi-hoarder, but I honestly think most people are to some degree, I sometimes have a hard time letting go of clothing that I’ve had for years because there is sentimental value in them and either I’m getting some use out of them now or, who knows, maybe they’ll be of use at some point in the future (*personal cue to throw out more clothes). However, I give away clothes that I know I’m getting zero benefit from, so I think I fit in between what an essentialist would do – ruthlessly get rid of clothes that aren’t getting maximum wear, and what a nonessentialist would do – hoard all things forever because we might get value from them some day.

To be a true essentialist, you have to be a strict authoritarian of your time.

I have mad respect for the people that stick to that. I don’t think I could adopt essentialism into all parts of my life at the moment, but reevaluating how I make decisions and what kinds of routines I’ve adopted has been a great start to living more purposefully. The goal is to slowly become more of an essentialist as I solidify more good habits.

Here are some of my favorite concepts and nuggets of wisdom from the book.

Life is a finite chunk of time, might as well do what is essential

There is a part in the book where Greg highlights why nonessentialism is everywhere, from too many choices, too much social pressure, and my favorite concept he dives into- the idea that you can have it all. He argues that you can’t have it all, there is not enough time to do everything. When people try to pack in as much activity as possible into their lives, they lose sight of what is important and lose out on truly living life. He shares a story about a nurse who took care of people that were approaching the end of their life and learned their most common regret – “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” This part of the book reminded me that life is temporary and time is ultimately limited, so we can’t possibly do everything. We should be making our lives count and be mission-driven with the time we do have.

Change your mindset from a limiting mentality to a bountiful mentality

This concept is kind of like having a growth mindset – learning from experience and having a positive attitude about solving problems, instead of having a fixed way of perceiving situations and struggling to overcome challenges. Greg encourages that people ask themselves, “what do I want to go big on?” instead of, “What do I have to give up?” The key is to not think that eliminating desires from your life is a downer, but instead, feel empowered and excited to pick what is of paramount importance above nonessential nice-to-haves and things that aren’t significant to your success and happiness.

Adopt a process that makes essentialism easy 

Creating a routine is important for fostering a life of essentialism. Routine creates habit. And habit guarantees that something will get done without much energy. Creating a routine that helps automate practice of essentialism makes essentialism easier to stick with and also frees up more time to focus on other parts of life. Greg uses Michael Phelps as an example of an epic routine machine. The Olympic swimmer has mental and physical rituals in his daily routine that are second nature, he doesn’t even need to stress or think about them. Winning becomes second nature and is part of his routine, winning happens before he even gets into the water to swim a race, it starts with all his rituals before that, leading up to the race and during his swim. A nonessentialist would think that doing what is essential is tough, it requires extra work and willpower. But, with the practice of essentialism, doing what is essential should in theory be easy, because you have routines in place that make choosing what is essential a habit. It makes decisions more automatic and less stressful to make, and makes choosing distractions less tempting.

Greg shares tips for making routines work:

  • Don’t make the wrong routine a habit – like never getting a full night’s rest
  • Fix your triggers for naughty, nonessential behavior. You want pizza, don’t eat the pizza like naughty you would when you walk by the pizza shop. Next time you walk by the pizza shop and crave pizza- your cue to get a salad instead.
  • Create new triggers to get you to do your essential life work/tasks
  • Do what is challenging first and get it out of the way
  • Spice up your life and change up your routine, sometimes routines get boring.
  • Don’t go nuts trying to implement lots of routines, it will be much more difficult to stick with. Try making one change to your routine until you’ve perfected it.

One decision can automatically solve 1000s of other decisions

Clarity on your essentialist intent helps eliminate the need to solve a ton of decisions that aren’t essential. If you know exactly what your values are, then one decision can take precedent over other decisions and you won’t waste time and energy on doing unessential activities. For instance, if my essentialist intent is to optimize my wellness using mindfulness, making the decision to be mindful every day solves other nonessential decisions I could have made. I decide to meditate instead of staying distracted with thoughts, I take a moment to pause and reflect instead of turning on the TV, I listen more intently to the conversation at hand instead of getting distracted by conversations around me. Knowing what my values are and being aligned with them helps me easily choose to be mindful over other distractions/nonessentials that don’t serve purpose to my wellbeing.

 

I loved that the author doesn’t expect the reader to be able to practice essentialism right away, because it can be difficult to choose what is essential all the time. Greg gives practical advice and tips for creating new perspectives and routines that help make choosing the essential way easier than if you just tried with sheer willpower. I highly recommend this book, the content is articulate, practical and makes changing personal habits and self-improvement fun and less daunting.

 

How Running Has Given Me an Entrepreneurial Mindset

I love the idea of running. Sometimes, I would rather be a couch potato than get my shoes on and get my a*s out the door. I’ve run a few marathons over the last several years, still not as fast as Usain Bolt and still not as shredded as a legit marathoner. I’ll typically run 2-4 times a week.  Running has helped shape me into a better person on the inside even more than the outside. I’ve learned to stay true to my goals, work ethic and self confidence. Running has inspired me to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. I’ll explain how. 

Running is a choice, it builds willpower to make good decisions

Running is a choice. You either do it or you don’t and you make lame excuses why you don’t. But each time I’m choosing to run even when I don’t want to, I’m building a good habit. I’m strengthening the willpower to make good decisions that go beyond running. The choice I make to run gives me the willpower to make good choices with my work, my writing, my passions and my wellbeing. Entrepreneurs have to make tough choices every day and willpower is often needed to make clear decisions.

Running is a process, a system to get to a goal 

Running might have some end goal associated with it, like losing weight, getting fit, training for a marathon or beating your PR. But, running is rarely the end goal. Running is the process and you have to do it more than once if you want to reach your goal. Running is a system to reach goals. Running won’t get you healthy, faster, stronger in one try, and that’s okay. It’s the process of doing it consistently that gets you there. While you can sprint and you can run marathons as much as you like, the process of running to reach a goal isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.  It takes work, it takes a system that you do out of habit to get to that fit body and that fit mind. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy, people think it’s all hunky dory, glitz and glam and billion dollar exits… but most of it is process, reiterating on a system over and over to get to the next goal. While goals are important to have in mind, it’s all about the systems you put in place to make consistent progress every day.

Running is doing something that many people won’t

For all the couch potatoes out there, there will always be one hustler that is stepping up to the track to bust out a 10k in the rain, some Rocky-worthy sh*t. It would be easier to just munch on Doritos and catch up on House of Cards after work than get running, which is why most people don’t run. They crash after work or don’t get up early enough to run. I choose to not be like most people. That isn’t to say that there aren’t a ton of hustlers out there smashing more miles than me on any given day or that I’m Rocky. No, no, it just makes me feel good to know that I’m pushing myself to do something that I know many people choose not to. There is something victorious about that, even though I haven’t won anything. To be entrepreneurial is to be willing to do things that others are too scared to or choose not to. Being entrepreneurial isn’t about taking the easy way out, it’s about working harder and better than the status quo to do something impactful.

Running is believing in yourself, even if other people don’t

Running that extra mile, running through the fatigue, running after a fitness slump is tough. Inner strength to power through is what keeps me going. Believing in yourself creates that inner strength, that energy to liven up your run and get you to finish. I’ve had more supporters than naysayers when I said I was going to run a marathon, but the bad vibes can still get to me! I realized I can’t rely on what other people think of me to determine my competency for marathon-running, I need to believe in myself and just do the work. Entrepreneurship will bring loads of naysayers that don’t believe in you, don’t believe in your idea, don’t think you can do it. It doesn’t matter, it only matters if you believe them, then you’ve lost before you even tried. If you can believe in yourself to run that extra mile, you can believe in yourself to do anything. Running requires believing in yourself, having an entrepreneurial mindset requires believing in yourself, even if others won’t. Arnie will back you up on this.

Image by Alex Wong

Vacation to Palm Beach, NSW

I visited Palm Beach, NSW in Australia recently for a little vacay away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney. Palm beach is just an hour north of Sydney and it’s an oasis of coastline beaches, relaxing vibes and lots of palm trees. Although it was raining most of the time I was there, it was still beautiful and serene. There was one day with some sunshine and I was able to visit Palm Beach, lay out for a bit and swim in the ocean rock pool.

Continue reading “Vacation to Palm Beach, NSW”

25 is weird

(Gif from The Daily Dot)

Adele’s new album, 25, comes at a perfect time for me, because I’m 25. I like that her song, “Hello” is about reflection, I’ve been doing a lot of that the past couple of years. Last year I  wrote a “pep talk” letter to myself, friends and peers called, To a girl in her 20’s. Since then, the self-reflection has gotten more intense because a quarter of a century feels old all of a sudden.

Continue reading “25 is weird”

The only way to end homelessness is to not ignore it

I watched a video that came up on my news feed that someone shared on Facebook. Typically I don’t like how Facebook has become a spammy video content regurgitating platform, but I was moved by this video and compelled to share it and my thoughts.

Continue reading “The only way to end homelessness is to not ignore it”