Hi Team, I wanted to take one last opportunity to share some thoughts before the year closes.
At the end of 2019, there are more options than ever for endless entertainment. Binging TV shows on demand, video games, scrolling social media, junk food, etc. The path of least resistance leans heavily toward consumption and away from creation. Doing work and creating art is fulfilling. The path of least resistance is not fulfilling. In the 2020s, people who exercise willpower, avoid distraction, and focus their attention will appear more and more superhuman.
Today I was pruning the rose bushes in front of our house. The activity reminds me of my favorite blog post from 2018: The Rose Bush Metaphor: How to deal with too many ideas and too little time. In the past few weeks I’ve been digitally pruning, too. I call that effort Unsubscribe from Everything. I try to cut out low-value email. What remains is a few select blogs from authors I respect. I let them into my inbox because I trust the content is always high quality. I can take a 10 minute break to read and digest one of these blogs.
Speaking of blogs, I was struck by the wisdom of Mr. Money Mustache in his recent post titled Let the Roaring 2020s Begin. He succinctly describes timeless wisdom he has personally lived during the past decade.
1) This Too Shall Pass: nothing is as big a deal as you think it is at the time. Angry or sad emotions from life traumas will fade remarkably quickly, but so will the positive surprises from one-time life upgrades through the sometimes-bummer magic of Hedonic Adaptation. What’s left is just you – no matter where you go, there you are.
2) But You Are Really Just a Bundle of Habits: most of your day (and therefore your life) is comprised of repeating the same set of behaviors over and over. The way you get up, the things you focus your mind on. Your job. The way you interact with other people. The way you eat and exercise. Unless you give all of this a lot of mindful attention and work to tweak it, it stays the same, which means your life barely changes, which means your level of happiness barely changes.
3) Change Your Habits, Change your Life: Because of all this, the easiest and best way to have a happier and more satisfying life is to figure out what ingredients go into a good day, and start adding those things while subtracting the things that create bad days. For me (and quite possibly you, whether you realize it or not), the good things include positive social interactions, helping people, outdoor physical activity, creative expression and problem solving, and just good old-fashioned hard work. The bad things mostly revolve around stress due to over-scheduling one’s life, emotional negativity and interpersonal conflict – all things I am especially sensitive to.
Mr. Mustache’s words hit home. I had just been thinking about how important habits are and skills are. The thought also reverberates some of my favorite books from 2019 including Ryan Holiday’s Stillness is the Key and James Clear’s Atomic Habits. These are both worth re-reading while thinking about the year ahead. I think we can all use more stillness in 2020. And, habits are way more powerful than New Year’s resolutions.
The twins are three years old now, and I’m trying to spend as much time as possible with them and my wife, when I’m not at work. I don’t think it’s possible to feel like I’ve spent too much time with them.
Outside of family and work, my 2019 was filled with running, reading and writing. I don’t expect this to change in 2020. I will work on the balance. Sometimes I feel pangs if regret for not pushing myself more in one or all of these areas. These activities are key for me for health of mind body and spirit.
The first half of my 2019 was strong. I ran my first half marathon (13.1 mi), turned 30 years old, and also ran my first marathon (26.2 mi). In April I was probably in better physical shape than all of my 20s. While struggling to maintain that level now, I managed to finish 2 more half marathons later in the year, the Seawheeze Virtual Half Marathon and the PV Half Marathon (I mentioned in the last post). Now I’m preparing for my next challenge, the Big Sur Marathon, next April. For me, the races are an effective way to motivate me to keep up the running habit. And race day is a lot of fun 😀.
Happy New Year! and thank you for reading. I appreciate all and any feedback. Please help me out, subscribe and leave comments.