Be Relentless. Done. Next.

“Everything in this book is about raising your standard of excellence, going beyond what you already know and think, beyond what anyone has tried to teach you. … I want you to be able to take all of this and use it as a framework for yourself to achieve whatever you desire.”

Tim. S. Grover, “Relentless”

After having read Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins, Relentless by Tim S. Grover was a great read to understand the mindset of excellence, that both authors share. In contrast to the more personal story of Goggins, Grover shares many mindset-maxims that may sound harsh or impossible at first. But I think it’s really helpful to have unreasonable standards or expectations for yourself, because those help you to get over the excuses, distractions and temptations to take the easy way a lot better than “being realistic.“ Being realistic has come to mean all to often accepting who you are and that unfortunately often also means settling for less than you are capable of or, more importantly, truly happy with. This doesn’t mean to set unrealistic goals and set yourself up for continues disappointment, but to aim higher, than you think you are capable of reaching and trying to reach higher every day.

I’ve split the content of this book in four chapters. The first deals with what I call “The Self-Help-Trap”, being stuck in theory, not taking action – and how to overcome it. This chapter also explains the power of taking ultimate responsibility for your life and includes two more tips. The second one is about what it means to be “relentless”, which to me is to never stop demanding excellence in everything you do – every minute, every day. We’ll explore what this entails in the third chapter on the love of discomfort and pain and why it’s so important to embrace the suck, as David Goggins so eloquently put it. Lastly, I discuss, why you need to truly know yourself by being brutally honest with yourself about where you are in life, where you want to be and what you are willing to do and sacrifice to get there. We explore why you need priorities, why routines are effective and why you don‘t fail until you say you do.

Let’s get into it.

The Power of Execution and Responsibility

Whenever you do anything, you’ll be prone to distractions. These can be physical in the form of notifications on your phone, or mental by external pressure of what others think of you or how they judge you. Grover recommends to shut these distractions out and let everyone judge you by your result. That is what he means when he writes: “Don’t think.” Being focused on what’s going on around you makes you lose touch with what’s going on deep inside you. Instead of doing what you know to be true, you start to overthink. Overthinking often generates anxiety and fear. Grover writes: “Every minute you sit around overthinking, someone else is already doing.” Thinking doesn’t lead to outcomes, only action does. Thus you need to take action and execute despite distractions along the way. Now you may ask: “What should I execute on?” Let me tell you; you already know.

“Stop waiting to be taught something you already know. How many millions of diet and exercise books are sold every year? I promise you, every single person who picks up one of those books already knows the answer: eat healthier and move your body.”

TIM. S. GROVER, “RELENTLESS”

To make progress in your life, you need to adapt ultimate responsibility for everything. As Grover writes: “Your attitude should be ‘I owe this.’” Own all of your mistakes, decisions and choices, adopt responsibility for everything you say and do. If you make a mistake, admit that you fucked it up. Then fix it. You can’t fix something unless you admit it. Without control you can’t create a solution. This means managing things before they turn into negative situations without blaming others or using luck as an excuse, when things don’t go your way. You can’t control every obstacle in your path, but you can control your response. There’s only a situation, your response, and an outcome. Don’t shrug off a bad performance. Face it, fix it, and prepare to do better next time.

To get to the top and stay at the top you also have to pay attention to the details in whatever you’re doing. While sweating the details isn’t important when you first start out and is commonly used as an excuse for inaction, they become more and more important the more successful you get. Grover suggests a relentless maxim: to push yourself to excellence in all areas of your life and everything you do. This doesn’t just mean pushing yourself every day, but also to never stop learning abut everything there is to learn about what you do and then improve on all of that learning.

The Relentless Pursuit of Excellence

It’s in that way, that you can engineer your life so you never stop until you get what you want always aspiring to reach even more. Relentless. For Grover, being relentless is about never being satisfied, always striving to be the best, and then getting even better. It means creating new goals every time you reach your personal best and taking a moment to recognize what you’ve accomplished. But the moment your mind thinks, “Done,” your instincts say, “Next.” Every accomplishment is just a stepping-stone to the next challenge.

That’s the relentless pursuit of excellence, always believing in your ability, demanding more of yourself than anyone else could ever ask of you. Making every possible move to put yourself where you need to be and staying there. This means being consistent in any environment, keeping things simple and constantly working for that end result – every minute, every day.

“Your whole life is essentially dedicated to one goal, to the exclusion of everything else.”

TIM. S. GROVER, “RELENTLESS”

The Love of Pain and Discomfort

One of the most important steps to get to where you want to be is to get used to pain and being uncomfortable. If you allow yourself to become paralyzed by excuses and comfort, you’ll never get to where you want to be. You can’t stay in your comfort zone and expect results. Instead of looking for the instant gratification along the way, focus on the end result.

“When you never have to take on anything harder than your daily routine, when you shy away from anything that rocks your sense of safety and control, you’re much more likely to fall apart at the first twinge of pressure.”

TIM. S. GROVER, “RELENTLESS”

Grovers points out, that you don’t have to love the work, you just have to be relentless about achieving it and not get distracted. You need to crave the result so intensely, that the work is irrelevant.

“Bottom line if you want success of any kind: you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Every time you think you can’t, you have to do it anyway.”

TIM. S. GROVER, “RELENTLESS”

There are no secrets, hacks or shortcuts. There’s only doing the work every single day.

 “Every day, you have to do something you don’t want to do. Every day. Challenge yourself to be uncomfortable, push past the apathy and laziness and fear.“

TIM. S. GROVER, “RELENTLESS”

Harnessing the Power of Self-Awareness

In order to improve anything in your life, you need to be willing and dedicated to improve and become better. Wanting something, waiting for something or trying to be someone you’re not won’t get you anywhere. You need to face your fears and get rid of your poisons, baggage, demons and addictions. You have to face who you really are and make it work for you, not against you. This includes to stop denying your dark side – all the secrets you have but don’t tell anyone – and harness it’s power to get in the zone and do the work.

 “I don’t think you can really understand relentlessness until you’ve faced your worst fears, and you’ve experienced that internal response telling you what to do.”

TIM. S. GROVER, “RELENTLESS”

Once you understand your baggage, you have to understand what you want to achieve and what you’re willing to endure to get it. Ask where you are now and where you want to be instead. Ask yourself what you want and what you are willing to sacrifice – if those two don’t match up, it’s highly likely that you don’t want it bad enough. You have to be willing to sacrifice to succeed. Make a realistic and true plan that reflects your goals and interests. Then, make a choice and stand by it.

“In order to have what you really want, you must first be who you really are.”

TIM. S. GROVER, “RELENTLESS”

You can’t achieve excellence in all aspects of your life though, because achieving excellence means saying no to anything else. You need to identify what wants to pull you away from your mission, what distracts you, and learn to control it. Learn to stay focused in any situation by detaching from everything while you’re in the zone.Grover recommends to include many routines in your days to aid with getting in the zone and avoiding unnecessary changes to what’s working. Having such a schedule means to defend your priorities and focus on one thing – your craft. When you’re completely focused on one thing, it’s hard to pay attention to other people, but it’s also important who you surround yourself with. Here, Grover recommends to surround yourself with people who can operate at your level of demanding excellence, but to also be careful about who you choose to keep close. (Make friends with people who want the best for you.)

Success and failure are 100% mental. You must establish your own vision of what it means to be unstoppable.

Tim. S. Grover, “Relentless”

You also need to become comfortable with failure and be open minded to advice that goes against what you want to her. You need to make mistakes to learn from, to get where you want to be. Look at problems as opportunities. Don’t see problems, see situations that need to be addressed or issues that need to be resolved. Recognize when it’s time to shift directions and consider other options. Try different ways to get to where you want to be. If you encounter setbacks, learn and adapt, remap your course and get back to work. You don’t fail until you believe it’s over – until then, always look for ways to get to where you want to be.

“It all comes back to this, no matter what you do in life: Are you willing to make the decision to succeed?
Are you going to stand by that decision or quit when it gets hard?
Will you choose to keep working when everyone else tells you to quit?
Pain comes in all sorts of disguises—physical, mental, emotional. Do you need to be pain-free?
Or can you push past it and stand by your commitment and decision to go further?
It’s your choice.
The outcome is on you.”

Tim S. Grover, “Relentless”

Be relentless. Done. Next.

12 Rules for Life – Part I

I’ve recently reread 12 Rules for Life and wanted to make an extra effort to understand all 12 rules in a way that I will be able to explain them to others. To understand something so that you can explain it to others in a way that they understand it as well is a way deeper form of understanding than summarizing something or just acting out what you’ve learned. Having a blog, I naturally share how I’ve understood them and what I took away from the reread with you. If you have understood any rule differently please let me know, I’d love to discuss them!

Rule 1 – Posture, Routines and increased Serotonin

If you are judged of little worth by others or yourself, serotonin is restricted. That makes you more reactive and puts you in a state of hyper-responsiveness and alertness which burns a lot of energy and resources – which is normally called stress. Serotonin decreases with each defeat. Low serotonin means decreased confidence, more response to stress, more energy expenditure, less happiness, more pain and anxiety, more illness and a shorter lifespan. If you are under too much stress you expend a tremendous amount of resources and will be more likely to impulsively jump on any possibility of pleasure.

In contrast, high serotonin leads to increased health and well-being, independent of factors like wealth. Routines can serve as a way to reduce the complexity of the world and increase the simplicity and predictability of your daily actions, thus leading to less sources of stress and more stability. Serotonin can also be increased by beneficial posture and by facing the demands of life voluntarily thus responding to a challenge, instead of bracing for a catastrophe.

Rule 2 – The need to venture into Chaos to Learn and Grow

We like to stay in order, but we need to venture into chaos to learn vital things. That way we can make the world better and give our lives meaning. To differentiate between good and bad we can consult our consciousness and make the future better instead of worse. Because we know our vulnerability, we often mistreat us and don’t make things better, with catastrophic results for us and others. That’s why we need to take care of ourselves properly and plan a life, a “why”, so we can bare our “how”.

Rule 3 – Best Friends

Be careful about whom you try to help.

Not everyone is a victim, some want to exploit you. If you see people as victims of unjust circumstances you strip them of all responsibility for the past and the power to change their future. Thus, it is important to find out why someone is in trouble and not to be uncritically compassionate, because you helping someone can be pointless. We may still do it though to conclude about ourselves that someone that self-sacrificing in helping someone – that has to be a good person. Wait until it’s clear that the person you want to help truly wants to improve.

“Are you so sure the person crying out to be saved has not decided a thousand times to accept his lot of pointless and worsening suffering, simply because it is easier than shouldering any true responsibility? Are you enabling a delusion? Is it possible that your contempt would be more salutary than your pity?”

JORDAN PETERSON, “12 RULES FOR LIFE”

Choose friends that are good for you.

Good friends will support your upwards aim and will not tolerate your destructiveness. They will encourage you when you do what’s good for yourself and punish you carefully when you don’t. In that way they will bolster your resolve to do what you should. “You should choose people who want things to be better, not worse.”

Bad friends don’t want the best for you. Between you and them there will be a silent agreement to sacrifice the future for the present without calling each other out about taking the easier path and indulging in momentary gratification, so it’s easier to forget about it – but everyone knows what’s really going on. It’s easier moment to moment, although nothing but hell in the long run. These friends will become jealous, withdraw their support or presence or actively punish you when you succeed or do something pristine. They may want you to fail, so the gap between them and you can be reduced.

That’s because your improvements cast their faults in an even dimmer light and reveal the inadequacy of the present as well as the promise of the future, which disturbs others in the depths of their souls, where they understand that their cynicism is unjustifiable. You remind them they ceased caring about making life better.

“The person who tries and fails, and is forgiven, and then tries again and fails, and is forgiven, is also too often the person who wants everyone to believe in the authenticity of all that trying.”

JORDAN PETERSON, “12 RULES FOR LIFE”

Why is it important to spend time with friends who want the best for you?

Because “to fail, you merely have to cultivate a few bad habits. You just have to bide your time.”  Do nothing and your life will deteriorate slowly over time.

Rule 4 – Aim at the Betterment of Being

By changing the present, we can make the future better, otherwise we wouldn’t act at all. The question is what “better” means. It means better for me, my family, my friends and better in a manner that makes today better, tomorrow, next week, next year, a decade from now, hundred years from now, and forever. It means aiming at the improvement of Being.

This can only work if you genuinely want your life to improve.

How do you do that?

First, take stock of all your faults honestly. Your internal critic can guide you towards those. Then do a tiny little thing today that will make tomorrow better. Don’t tell yourself “I shouldn’t need that to motivate myself.” Instead, ask yourself what would entice you to be motivated to do that, pay attention and listen for the answer, do the thing and then reward yourself with whatever you promised yourself. To do that you need to become conscious of your desires, articulate them and prioritize them. In that manner, find something that bothers you that you could fix, that you would fix and then fix it.

Attend in that manner to the day.

“Perhaps happiness is to be found in the journey uphill and not the fleeting sense of satisfaction awaiting at the next peak.“

JORDAN PETERSON, “12 RULES FOR LIFE”

Rule 5 – Don’t let anyone do anything that makes you dislike them

Why would you want to do that?

Every small thing that occurs every day makes up your life. Time spent the same way over and over again adds up to an alarming rate. Thus, small things that annoy you matter, because they make up a big part of your life. If those small annoyances aren’t addressed, they lead to resentment. But because they haven’t been addressed – here’s a great video about that – a subtle turning away will begin which leads to familial warfare conducted underneath the false façade of normality and love.  You want to prevent that.

How do you do that?

“Pain is more potent than pleasure, and anxiety more than hope.”

Jordan Peterson, “12 Rules For Life”

You have two options:

You either object to behavior that you dislike, or you encourage likable behavior – or both.

If you object, you need to be able to say “No”. In the final analysis “No” means: “if you continue to do that, something you do not like will happen to you.” Otherwise it means nothing. You need to be able to set boundaries and ultimately walk away to let “No” be respected as “No”. Thus, you need rules to prevent dislikable behavior. Here are two suggestions for rule-setting: first, limit the rules. Bad rules drive out the respect for good rules. Second, use the least necessary force to enforce those rules.

If you encourage likable behaviour you pay really close attention for which behaviour you want to encourage, and you immediately reward likable behaviour with something that is neither inconsequential nor so large as to devalue future rewards.

Finally, this isn’t only about what you want. It’s in your own interest to be reminded continually to think and act properly. When we drift people that care for and love us can nudge us in that manner back on the path. So we better have people like that around!


That’s it for now! I’ll post more about the other rules next week in another blog post. Again,  I gladly discuss any and every rule and my interpretation of it, so get in touch here or on social media!

Thank you once again for reading and stay on the Meaningful Path.

Fight the Quitter-Instinct

What do you do when you think you should rest?

I’ve used to always rest right that day.

If I felt a little dizzy, I gave myself permission to stop working on projects or to stop working out and rested for a day. Normally, on the following day I felt fine and I applauded myself for taking a rest so early and thus avoiding to fall ill or risking injury.

The Quitter-Instinct

This changed after I listened to Jocko Willink’s “Quitter Instinct”-Video on YouTube. His main point is this: if you quit, quit for a proper reason, not out of instinct or because whatever you do is uncomfortable.

I’ve tried this a while back during my 100 days of consecutive workouts and very recently, when I caught a cold.

Before I went running a while back, I used to start walking fairly soon. I didn’t want to overextend myself. I didn’t want to risk injury. When I felt like I didn’t want to give 100% anymore, I took it easy.

When I started to get after it I made a conscious effort to override this feeling but to keep continuously evaluating if I truly hit my limits or if I just wanted to quit because stretching myself further felt uncomfortable. I realized I didn’t know the difference between feeling uncomfortable but able to endure that feeling and truly reaching my limits. I had quit too early too often to get a feeling for when I hit my true  limits.

The same was true when I felt sick. My mum always treated me nicely: when I felt sick I was allowed to stay home. I took advantage of that occasionally and more often than not simply stayed home just feeling like I maybe could get sick, instead of actually needing the rest.

Taking a break is the one thing I put off until tomorrow.

Jocko Willink, “Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual”

Illness as an Excuse

Jordan Peterson hammered this point home from a psychological perspective in a video with Lewis Homes which resonated strongly with me. Telling the story of the struggles that his daughter faced in having multiple really severe injuries and illnesses he told her one day: “Do not use your illness as an excuse. As soon as you do that, you can’t tell the difference between the illness and your character. So don’t let it turn you into a victim, even though it’s obviously a catastrophe.”

I’ve used my illnesses as excuses. I’ve also used being uncomfortable as an excuse to not push myself a bit further. I’ve used those excuses to stay comfortable and to avoid the pain of growth.

While I still fall for them every now and then I try not to anymore.

Because you know what?

Most of the time those excuses are just weakness, especially if you’ve acted upon them often enough. You can lose the ability to differentiate between your comfort zone and your actual limits.

“Don’t give in to the immediate gratification that is whispering in your ear.

JOCKO WILLINK, “DISCIPLINE EQUALS FREEDOM: FIELD MANUAL”

Tomorrow, not Today

Now, when my first instinct is to quit or when I think I caught a cold, I don’t immediately take the day off. I have a simple rule of thumb, borrowed from Jocko Willink: “Don’t take today off, take tomorrow off.”

So, when I feel like I need rest and I’m not inflicted with severe pain, I postpone my rest for a day.

Low and behold, about 80% of the time when I wake up the next day I am ready to get after it. The feeling to rest was my weakness tingling in my ear.

Sometimes, I truly need rest. In that case I’ll make it my priority. I caught a cold a few days back and I pushed through it for two days. Then on the third day I felt really bad and I took the day off completely. I slept an ungodly amount and thus rested enough to get after it the next day.

So, if you’re not feeling it here’s the rule of thumb:

Don’t take today off. Wait until tomorrow.

Meanwhile? Get after it.

Stay on the path.

12+ Questions For Life

Here is something I’ve wanted to do after my first read of 12 Rules for Life but never got around to do:

I wanted to write down every significant question that Jordan Peterson asks in this book and answer it truthfully. While I just finished my reread of 12 Rules for Life and haven’t started answering those questions yet, I’m sure they can help you out in evaluating whatever life can put in front of you at any moment.

I’ve taken the liberty of categorizing all of these questions and taking out a few duplicates or the ones that were too similar to others. I’ve also kept the ones together that were in one paragraph or sentence.

FUTURE

These questions get you thinking about your future life. Sometimes they are more about the immediate future (e.g. tomorrow), sometimes they ask you to think about a worthy purpose to pursue.

“What might my life look like if I were caring for myself properly?”
“What career would challenge me and render me productive and helpful, so that I could shoulder my share of the load, and enjoy the consequences?”
“What should I be doing, when I have some freedom, to improve my health, expand my knowledge, and strengthen my body?”

“What would your life look like, if it were better?”
“What would Life Itself look like?”
“What does ‘better’ even mean?”

“What could I do, that I would do, to make Life a little better?”

“What would be the largest, most effective—most pleasing—of all possible sacrifices?”
“How good might the best possible future be, if the most effective sacrifice could be made?”

“What shall I do tomorrow?”
“What shall I do next year?”
“What shall I do with my life?”

RELATIONSHIPS

These questions get you thinking about your friendships, kids, family, significant others and friends in general.

“How do I know that I am not myself merely pretending to be responsible, while pointlessly ‘helping’ you, so that I don’t have to do something truly difficult—and genuinely possible?”

“Are you so sure the person crying out to be saved has not decided a thousand times to accept his lot of pointless and worsening suffering, simply because it is easier than shouldering any true responsibility?”

“Are you enabling a delusion?”

“Is it possible that your contempt would be more salutary than your pity?”

“When do you dislike your parents, your spouse, or your children, and why?”
“What might be done about that?”
“What do you need and want from your friends and your business partners?”

“Have you said what you need to say to your friends and family members?”
“Have you made peace with your brother?”
“Are you treating your spouse and your children with dignity and respect?”

“How much can you sacrifice to your partner before generosity turns to resentment?”

“What shall I do with my wife?”
“What shall I do with my daughter?”
“What shall I do with my parents?”
“What shall I do with my son?”
“What shall I do with the stranger?”
“What shall I do with a fallen soul?”
“How shall I educate my people?”
“What shall I do with a torn nation?”
“What shall I do with a lying man?”

YOU

Those questions can help you to assemble a more complete picture of who you are, what you want and how you could negotiate with yourself.

“Who are you?”

“How hard can you force yourself to work and sustain your desire to work?”

“What is it that you actually love?”

“What is it that you genuinely want?”

“What do you find valuable or pleasurable?”

“How much leisure, enjoyment, and reward do you require, so that you feel like more than a beast of burden?”

“How must you treat yourself, so you won’t kick over the traces and smash up your corral?”

“Do you ask yourself what you want?”
“Do you negotiate fairly with yourself?”
“Or are you a tyrant, with yourself as slave?”

“What are you putting up with, or pretending to like, from duty or obligation?”

“What do you do to avoid conflict, necessary though it may be?”
“What are you inclined to lie about, assuming that the truth might be intolerable?”
“What do you fake?”

“Could you compare your specific personal tomorrow with your specific personal yesterday?”
“Could you use your own judgment, and ask yourself what that better tomorrow might be?”

“Have you taken full advantage of the opportunities offered to you?”
“Are you working hard on your career, or even your job, or are you letting bitterness and resentment hold you back and drag you down?”
“Do you have habits that are destroying your health and well-being?”
“Are you truly shouldering your responsibilities?”
“Are there things that you could do, that you know you could do, that would make things around you better?”
“Have you cleaned up your life?”

“Can I repair the damage done by my past failures, now?”

“What have I done wrong, and what can I do now to set things at least a little bit more right?”

“What is it, that we most truly are?”
“What is it that we could most truly become, knowing who we most truly are?”

“What is wrong, exactly?”
“What do I want, exactly?”

TAKING ACTION

Whenever you feel stuck or without purpose those questions can help to get you start if you are humble enough to aim low.

“Is there one thing that exists in disarray in your life or your situation that you could, and would, set straight?”
“Could you, and would you, fix that one thing that announces itself humbly in need of repair?”
“Could you do it now?”
“What bit of chaos might I eradicate at home, on my desk, in my kitchen, tonight, so that the stage could be set for a better play?”
“What snakes might I banish from my closet—and my mind?”

“What could I do, that I would do, that would accomplish that, and what small thing would I like as a reward?”

“What is it that is bothering me?”
“Is that something I could fix?”
“Would I actually be willing to fix it?”

“What should I do today? – How could I use my time to make things better, instead of worse?”

CODA

Jordan Peterson laid out a few really important answers to what he considers some of the most pressing questions we can face in our lives. How will you answer these questions yourself?

“What shall I do to strengthen my spirit?”
“What shall I do to ennoble my body?”
“What shall I do with the most difficult of questions?”
“What shall I do with the poor man’s plight?”
“What shall I do when the great crowd beckons?”
“What shall I do with my newfound pen of light?”
“How shall I deal with the enlightened one?”
“What shall I do when I despise what I have?”
“What shall I do when my enemy succeeds?”
“What shall I do when I’m tired and impatient?”
“What shall I do with the fact of aging?”
“What shall I do with my infant’s death?”
“What shall I do in the next dire moment?”
“What shall I say to a faithless brother?”
“What shall I do with the world?”


I hope you’ve liked this blog post and got something out of these questions. If you want to share your answers with me, you can do that on social media and tag me @itsmewaldi, I very much look forward to reading what you thought of!

From January to February

The self-development niche is full of advice about planing your life, having a five year plan, setting weekly goals, journaling daily and a lot more, similar tools you can use to your own benefit.

While it’s almost a cliche, it really helps me. That could be, because I’m a very conscious person – but there’s more to it.

“I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be.”

Lord Kelvin, “Lecture on “Electrical Units of Measurement”

According to this blog post, this quote is the source of the simple quotation: “What get’s measured, get’s done.”

This has to do with the stories we tell ourselves about who we think we are. But all too often those stories don’t match with reality. We think we eat healthy every day, but once we start to track what we eat, we realize that we eat pretty unhealthily. Or we think we meditate for 10 minutes every day but in reality we only mediate for 8 minutes, which seems insignificant on its own, but adds up quickly over time. Thus we need a way to track our progress, which means we need to goals to measure against.

Specific goals help us direct or lives towards something meaningful. They can also be intimidating as they set up conditions for failure. That’s the reason why we like to keep goals as unspecific as often (and why deadlines often compel us into action). Think about the alternative: if you don’t have goals when do you fail? The answer is not never, the answer is all the time. Because without a goal you also can’t succeed, you don’t move word you don’t progress in life. You simply exist.

Once I realized that, I started to set goals and then to track them. Additionally, I used Jordan Peterson’s Self-Authoring-Suite to develop a vision for my future which serves as a reminder of my priorities, purpose and focus (this is by far the best purchase I’ve ever made in 2018. If you find yourself in search of meaning or direction, I can’t recommend it highly enough!). Thus I developed the routine of setting monthly goals and reviewing them at the end of the month to stay on the path.

Now, with the why out of the way, I want to walk you through my review process, in the hopes that you can find something useful!

January 2019

A bad cold roughly two weeks before new years eve and a subsequent fever with more malady at the beginning of January made for a rough start in 2019. Additionally my sleep schedule had been a mess, which lead to unfocused and unproductive days. I hadn’t worked out since October, wasn’t consistent with my ketogenic diet, wasn’t meditating regularly and my master’s thesis wasn’t progressing as I had planned.  Finally, I still hadn’t launched this blog and was posting irregularly on social media.

In short: the foundation of my life was off.

So, in January I focused on re-establishing a solid foundation to turn it up in the months ahead:
I made a more consistent sleeping-pattern a high priority, turned in the expose for my thesis and studied more consistently. I launched my blog, wrote weekly articles for it and posted daily on social media. I meditated more regularly, ate very cleanly for the majority of January and read The Gulag Archipelago as well as re-read half of 12 Rules for Life again. Finally, I consistently worked out again two days a week without fail.

I also improved my negative-self talk dramatically by applying a lesson from Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life, which helped me become extraordinarily consistent in my studies, in my work on this project, as well as in my other daily routines and goals. It’s been a long while since I’ve been getting after it so consistently (more on that in another article).

February 2019

Going forward I want to turn it up in February.

My #1 goal is to get a full 8 hours of sleep at least 6/7 days a week for this month, while still waking up early. I want to finish a first draft of my master thesis with the notes I’ve compiled in the last few months. The plan is to have march to read more and back my thesis with additional arguments and have April to review and improve it, to turn it in in May. Thirdly, I want to stay consistent with this project which means to at least publishing one article per week and posting daily content on all three social media platforms.

Besides improving my sleep schedule, I want to improve my health by sticking to two workouts per week, reintroducing daily cold showers and to adapt my diet to gain weight in order to bulk up.

This will be accompanied by keeping myself accountable through sharing my experience with you, on social media and in my own daily journaling.

As February is the shortest month of the year, this is quite a lot to do, but with the past weeks being extraordinary consistent and productive, I want to set my goals high and see how far I can get.

Finally, the purpose of this article is twofold: on the one hand it keeps me accountable, and on the other hand I can open up a little bit more about my process with you. If you want to track my process, my social media channels (especially Facebook and Instagram due to their story features) are a great place to look – and while you’re at it say hi after hitting the follow button!

That’s it! I’m excited about this month and will update you on how it went next month, of course!


I’m curious: What are your Goals for February?

2018’s Wisdom For Your Ears

In 2018 I’ve listened to an insane amount of podcast episodes.

Listening to podcasts almost replaced listening to music for me. I have a really small selection, but among them is the Jocko Podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, Jordan B. Petersons’s Podcast and The Ground Up Show.

If you also like podcasts and are increasingly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content available, here is a small curation of three podcast episodes I highly recommend.

1. Jocko Podcast #98
with Jordan B. Peterson

If you listen to one podcast episode this year, this is the one.

This episode provides a great introduction to psychologist Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, his views, ideas. It’s full of wisdom and knowledge to be absorbed while listening. I’ve found myself pausing and note-taking multiple times.

While you get your fair share on the importance of discipline and responsibility from the both of them – which is hardly surprising considering both wrote books about those topics – it doesn’t stop there. You’ll get an understanding of why having a goal in life is so important, to experience meaning and how to plan your future one step at a time. You’ll also get a glimpse of Peterson’s youth and all kinds of well told examples of courageous people. There’s also not a lot of politics in this one, which you may or may not like as much.

It’s by far the best episode I’ve listened to in 2018 and literally the last one I’ve listened to (finishing it as late as the 31.12.2018, ha!).

2. Jocko Podcast #60
The Rape of Nanking

This was by far the most horrifying and brutal podcast episode I’ve listened to in 2018. I had to pause a few times, because I just couldn’t keep on listening to the horrors committed between December of 1937 and early 1938 in Nanking. In this episode you’ll dive deeply into the terrible war crimes committed by Japanese soldiers during the second Japan-Chinese War in the late 1930s. At some points the brutality and plain evil seemed incomprehensible – and as a student of history specialized in researching the Third Reich and the Second World War, I’ve read and seen my fair share of evil.

So, why am I urging you to listen to this whole episode?

Because there is no way you’re not grateful for the comfort of your home, the warmth of your bed and the stability that we have in our western societies after being exposed to that darkness. Seeing the darkness, the evil and the suffering that is part of our history and is still going on in other parts of the world, makes the light that we can experience in our day-to-day pursuits shine a lot brighter. Exposing myself to Darkness on a regular basis has also killed complaining for me. It seems completely ridiculous after realizing how blessed we are in western societies.

If you find it repulsive to listen to such an episode, then there is all the more reason that you really should. I used to close my eyes to the details of evil, horror and darkness in the world. It used to be something that’s “out there” but it was never real for me. Listening to this episode and the one about the book “Machete Season” (About the Rwanda Genocide) really opened my eyes and allowed me to be grateful, for the simple things every day in my life: running water, a warm bed, a place to sleep, but also the big things like peace, prosperity and education.

Darkness reveals the light.

3. The Ground Up Show #73
T.K. Coleman

Probably not many of you have heard about “The Ground Up Show”. It’s a relatively new podcast from the documentary filmmaker Matt D’Avella who shot the documentary “Minimalism” from The Minimalists.

T.K. Coleman was on this episode of the podcast and it’s a relatively short episode filled with little nuggets of wisdom and actionable advice. While the general theme of the podcast is creating something from the ground up, they go a lot further in this one. They talk about how to go about creating something while still learning, documenting the process, content creation and purpose. How to find your purpose, how to sustain it and why tracking your progress is really useful with most things you want to achieve. If you’re a content creator, it’s a must watch but it’s also great for anyone that thinks about starting something new or simply wants to learn from this episode. Also, it’s a must-watch if you think about going to college in the US (they discuss the cons in great detail).

“Dreams don’t come true, decisions do” is a great title and it basically summarizes the advice given in this podcast. There’s something actionable in there for everyone, so you should definitely have a look.


Now it’s your turn! Which podcast episode (or podcast) do you recommend? I’m constantly looking for more podcasts that add value to my life and many others do, too!