“Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise”
– Michael Jordan
This article is for a very specific type of person, so let’s get this clear:
#1 if you are the type of guy who starts out with great intentions, things get messy somewhere down the line…
#2 If you are a guy who changes workouts and diets every month or starts reading 5 books at once and never finishes any of them…
Read on, this article is for you.
Table of Contents
#1 – The Reason You Get Stuck
I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that there is no scarcity of information on how to get your life together.
You would think that with so many gurus out there spreading their wisdom on self-improvement, then everyone who learns it should have a successful life by now, right?
Nothing can be further from the truth.
Despite the fact that all the information that you could ever need is available right at your fingertips, people are more confused than ever.
There is so much noise that it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Even if you managed to figure out the right people you should take advice from, you still may not have your fundamentals down.
The fundamentals are crucial because they will form the platform from which the new knowledge will be understood in the right context.
“I think most people can learn a lot more then they think they can. They sell themselves short without trying. One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree – make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie. the trunk and big branches, before you get into leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.” – Elon Musk
Any piece of advice can work, most advice you will and online is actually spot on, but you can’t apply it if you’re focusing on 10 different things at once or your brain runs at 30% of its capacity.
Whatever your goal – first you must take care of fundamentals.
And for that to happen, you must first be aware of what are the fundamentals.
You wouldn’t run a marathon with untied shoes and you shouldn’t try to get your life together random tips and tricks you found online.
#2 – Self-Optimization 101
As I said, without the right fundamentals, you will just build castles in the air – those things will keep you busy but won’t move you forward.
Your ability to execute effectively on ideas you learn comes before everything else.
If you don’t have effectiveness and focus you will end up with a bunch of half baked projects that you abandoned when things got tough or boring.
So, how do you maintain your motivation and stick through the tough times when you don’t see the results?
How do you optimize yourself to get the best out of your day?
The #1 Most Important Rule
There is one important principle that I need you to understand. If you get it, you will be able to exceed your own expectations and accomplish your goals, faster than you thought possible.
Here is the rule:
Treat your time & energy like the most valuable commodity you have.
Sounds simple enough, but let’s unpack this…
What would you do if your time and energy were the most valuable commodity? How would you invest it & how can you ensure the highest return on your investment (ROI)?
Let me give you an example:
If you’re watching Netflix for an hour – what is the return on investment in this case?
Well, you’re not really creating any long term value for yourself, but you’re not making yourself any worse either.
You are simply getting entertained for one hour.
I’d say your ROI is $0.
Let’s do another example – eating junk food.
What would be the return of investment on that?
You definitely get some short term pleasure out of it, but the overall value of your stock (you) goes down.
You are now sluggish, foggy, and drained of energy for the next few hours – which will take a toll on pretty much anything you want to do right after that.
If you eat junk food often enough you get into a long term negative ROI. Low energy, health problems, and getting fat.
I’d say ROI here is –$100 per meal.
Ok, now let me give you a positive ROI example.
Meditation – amongst many other benefits, this one activity helps to train your focus, calms your nervous system, and enhances self-awareness.
This then has a spillover effect on other areas of your life, all of a sudden you can focus for longer periods of time, make better decisions, and so on.
I’d say the ROI of meditation is at least $100 per hour.
#3 – The Devastating Power of Compounding Interest
Both success and failure are not an overnight event. Success is a result of making more decisions to engage in high ROI activities than low ROI activities.
Those things usually don’t give you immediate pleasure but pay off big time in the future.
Failure is a result of making more decisions to engage in low/negative ROI activities than positive ones. Those low ROI activities usually give you instant gratification, but leave you worse off in the long term.
If you engage mostly in high ROI activities, over time it will add up and compound. You will get better and better every year. Your stock value (which is you) will go up.
If you engage in mostly low/negative ROI activities, it will compound as well. You will get worse and worse every year. Your stock value will go down.
Notice that I don’t condemn low or negative ROI activities – we are all humans and we all need a break every now and then.
All I’m asking you to do is to check your ratios – do you engage mostly in high ROI or low ROI activities?
#4 – Action Item: What is Your ROI?
This action item will require a little bit more from you then the other ones, but if you do it you will be ahead of 99% of men who have no idea where their days go.
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Here is what I want you to do:
- Track where your time goes every 30 minutes for 7 days
- Categorize similar actions into buckets (ex. If you watched 3 movies on Netflix for 5 hours you can just create bucket – Netflix, if you were checking your email – the bucket name can be “checking email”)
- Calculate each bucket time total
- What bucket consumed most of your time?
- Label each bucket value or waste
- Eliminate waste and double down on the value
Now that you have a better understanding of where you invest your time and energy, let’s see how this looks on a day to day level.
#5 – How to Optimize Your Days
Ask yourself a question:
What are my days optimized around?
If it’s working on your business, everything on your schedule should reflect this focus from the moment you put your head on the pillow to the time you wake up.
All of the activities that boost your productivity and decision making are your highest ROI activities.
Everything you do and don’t do should facilitate your primary focus (in this case it’s work). The moment you are able to optimize your focus and nd synergies between everything you do and your work is when you become unstoppable.
This is an example of a day optimized around work – but it’s not limited to work, feel free to replace “work” with whatever you want to make your primary focus.
- Going to sleep at the same time each night – getting 6-8 hours of quality sleep. This allows you to recharge your willpower batteries, focus, and creativity – all of which are prerequisites to a productive day.
- Starting the day with some kind of morning routine – your morning routine can include cold showers, meditation, affirmations, and visualization – all of which allow you to keep your mind and mindset sharp for the day ahead.
Keeping a stack of good habits handy allows you to optimize your focus and creativity which then translates to your results with work.
Eating clean food and exercise will also allow you to be more focused.
All of those habits are synergistic and enhance your primary focus – work.
- Focused work – your ability to stay on the task at hand and not get distracted by using your attention in a way that is smart and sustainable (ex. Pomodoro Technique).
That means no social media or distraction – this is pure zen focus on one task at a time.
- Socializing & Entertainment – having some downtime and hanging out with friends will help you to disconnect from work & recharge your batteries.
This is the polar opposite of the previous example – distraction optimized day. Both of the examples are a bit extreme, but I wanted to illustrate the point.
During the days that you fail to define the primary focus and don’t have any pressing or urgent stuff to do, it’s very easy to drift into pleasure & comfort-seeking.
Those are the days when you do all your favorite instant gratification things such as fapping, laying in bed until the afternoon, eating junk, binging Netflix, etc.
If any of those low/negative ROI activities turn into a lifestyle, you now have a monkey on your back that’s actively leeching your energy and making you dumber.
The more negative ROI activities turn into addictions, the more it hinders your progress in anything you try to do with your life. It actively reduces the top 3 ingredients you need to succeed at anything: focus, creativity, and effectiveness.
To give you an analogy: if you are heavy into drinking, porn, smoking pot while trying to build a business is like trying to run a marathon with a metal ball attached to your ankle.
#6 – Micro vs Macro Picture
It sounds simple when I break this down like that doesn’t it? Obviously, this is just a mental model and real life is a lot noisier than that.
Part of you mastering your life is being able to minimize the noise and fully optimize each moment of every day. After all your life consists of is your moment by moment experience which adds up to minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, etc.
If you can optimize each moment you can optimize the whole life. You just have to learn how to zoom in and out from the big picture to the small picture and the other way round.
Ask yourself a question how does what I’m doing now help me with tomorrow, with this week, this month, etc?
#7 – Putting It All Together
Let’s make it clear. To actually get good at making progress in any area of your life you have to optimize your days around something.
Remember, you have 24h every day, just like everyone else. You can’t make more time, but you can say no to things that don’t build you up.
In order to be a smart action-taker, you must identify high ROI activities that are conducive to your goals and double down on them.
Then you have to figure out what the low ROI activities are and minimize them as much as possible.
PS. Hey man, thanks for reading – I hope you found this information valuable.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Also, share it with a friend that may find that life-changing information to be of value.
Speak soon, man!