The awareness that health is dependent upon habits that we control makes us the first generation in history that to a large extent determines its own destiny. – Jimmy Carter
Everyone should have a life foundation. Here is mine. They are what I do on consistent basis or almost. From time to time, I neglect them and things start to go bad. As soon as I make it a priority to do it, things start to go well again. I’m not promising overnight success or the you will become the richest person in the world. But I can promise you that you will feel way better, you’ll have more ideas than ever before and stress will go down. If you don’t have time, find it.
1. Excessive reading. Aim to read a lot. Like 50 books or more a year. Read all the fucking time. Read about every subjects: history, psychology, philosophy, biology, finance, marketing, business, etc. Books can give you an insane load of ideas. The more you read, the more benefits you’ll get out of it. Put more in the bank, you’ll get interest. It’s the same principle with reading. PLEASE avoid crappy and easy books. Read stuff that will make you grow. You don’t have any idea what you should read next? Start with some philosopher like Seneca, Epictetus, David Hume, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Read biographies about great men like Alexander The Great, Churchill, Rockefeller or Kennedy. Try novels by Tolstoy, Balzac or Mark Twain. I’m currently reading Law of Success by Napoleon Hill.
2. Write a journal. I’ve already cover that subject in The Lost Art of Journaling. Writing a diary is powerful tool that can help you during struggles and bad time. You will find after a while that similar problems keep coming back. That’s where your journal become a teacher. You can learn from your own past. Writing helps emptying the head of all your worries. That’s mean you’ll be less stress. I would suggest to write even if things are going well in your life. Keeping a diary doesn’t just help with problems. It will improve your memory, it will make you get more ideas and you’ll get better at writing. Do it everyday.
3. Write 10 ideas. This is an extension of the journal writing. I’ve learned that trick in James Altucher’s Choose Yourself. Find a topic to write about. It can be anything from struggles, problems solving, finding business ideas, travel ideas or anything else that is useful. For example, you could write 10 ideas about why junk food is bad for you. Detail as much as possible (20+ lines) for each ideas. Make your brain work really hard. Do that for a couple of months and you’ll become an idea machine. It’s a wonderful tool, but you need to do it on a consistent basis to get the rewards. Keep in mind that your brain is like a muscle. You need to exercise it. If you don’t, the idea muscle will simply shrink.
4. Use the power of gratitude. It’s another thing I do in my personal journal. It doesn’t take much time. I suggest that at the end of each day, you write was good about it. It can be something anything. It can be as simple as the time you spent with a friend or the coffee you took at Starbucks. For example, today I was grateful for having a meal with my parents, breaking a record in the gym, reading a book and listening to good music. It can be anything that made your day good. You’ll find even good things about your shitty days. We tend to focus much more on the negative and that is a problem. In How to Be The Luckiest Person Alive, James Altucher suggest to express gratitude even for the bad stuff. The best example, your tight on money…you should be thankful for learning to make a budget. Once you learn to be grateful, you’ll open the newspaper and you’ll feel instantly happier. Why? Grateful people understand that their first world problems are nothing compare to the shit that happen everyday around the world.
5. Minimal boozing. In a perfect world we wouldn’t drink at all. unfortunately, society is really pushy to make us drink. Try a month without boozing and you’ll say no a thousand times. Not drinking isn’t the norm. The problem is that the more we drink, the more depress we are. Alcohol is cool in the moment, but it’s effects aren’t that good afterward. It isn’t good for you health, you mood and your brain. Keep it low, don’t drink more than 2-3 drinks each day. Keep it even lower than that in bad times. You feel bad should mean don’t drink. We tend to do the opposite and it’s self-destructive behavior. Alcohol won’t save you anyway. Face your problems.
6. Eat clean. I can make comparisons with alcohol consumption. I usually tend to eat more crap when I feel bad. The result is simple, I’ll feel even worse. It should be a must to eat three good meals everyday. Eat plenty of protein and vegetables. Try to keep junk food to a minimum. That include soft drink, dessert and chips. I suggest cheating once or twice max a week. I’m not advocating perfection here. I know we’re human. Keep junk as a reward, not a daily habit.
7. The 6 Items List. I got that idea from The Ultimate Sales Machine. You take a piece of paper before going to bed and you write your 6 most important tasks for the next day (no more). It’s a great tool because you already have a plan for your next day. You have the blueprint of what your best day should be. You go to bed without worry. You wake up and you’re already in fight mode. Even better, you can set a definite time to complete each task. One of the best way to use that list is to start early and do some of the work before starting to read emails. Believe me, it will be your most productive time of the day.
8. The Weekly Review. I got that idea from Getting Things Done 7 years ago. It’s one of the best way to keep your things organized and move toward your life goals. You set a period of 2 to 3 hours each week where you review what you did good or bad during your week. You plan what you want to do for the next week. It’s a good time to take a look at your current goals, empty your email inbox and do all the small tasks you didn’t have time to do. I usually break my life in different fields like work, learning, writing, health, finance, voluntary work and active projects. I’ll write 10 to 15 lines for each fields. On my part, I usually do this on Friday afternoon. In my head, that means the week is over.
9. Be the early bird. I’m far from being the best at that, but I’ve found that the earlier I raised, the more I did during my day. You can take advantage of the quiet morning time. You don’t have emails to answer, no phone calls to return and you don’t receive sms. All those things take a lot of time and make us lose focus during our days. That’s why it’s difficult to keep up with the work we have to do. It’s a modern society reality. We can’t avoid it, but we can be smart about it. The best way to do it is to have a morning routine you like. Get a good cup of coffee and read a book. Then, attack your work.
10. Move. This one is a must. I’m always surprise when I hear about people who do nothing. Get up and do exercise. Lift weight, fight, jump, run, climb a rope or play football. I don’t care what you do, BUT FUCKING MOVE. Our body was built to move. We’re not triggered to watch TV all the time. Get a good dose of sport 3 to 4 times a week. It can only be positive for yourself.
11. Play It Away. This mean you can’t be working or doing intellectual work all the time. You should plan a relaxation night or afternoon every week (even 2 if you want). Go watch a movie, play a video game, have a board game night with friends or go to the shopping mall with your girlfriend/boyfriend. The idea is to do something else than your routine. Look at a week without any planned fun and it will be the longest ever. You won’t see the end of the tunnel. I would suggest to plan relatively big events every few week. I’ve noticed that it help the mood to have something to look toward.
A foundation is personal to each person. It is a suggestion. Take what you think that can be beneficial for you and adapt it to your life. I’ve put what I think is the most important, but I could easily add a lot of other items on that list. Remember that your foundation should be your life guide. Avoid it at your risks and perils.