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I am challenging myself to increase the amount of time I invest in myself in 2017. I want to become a better investor, a more well-read individual, a better writer, a better content producer, a better son, a better friend.
I have a hypothesis that in 2016 I dedicated roughly 1 hour outside of school and work each day towards improving myself in some way. This included reading, writing, and just generally acquiring and practicing new skills and knowledge to build up my personal equity. Certainly spending 1 hour each day investing in myself is better than no time at all, but I think I can do better. Way better.
In 2017 I aim to triple the amount of time I invest in myself each day.
I have already been meeting this goal since New year’s and here are three tweaks I’ve made in my daily routine to make it happen:
Tweak 1: Podcasts
Daily Time Investment: 1 Hour
Instead of listening to music on my iPod during my 30 minute morning and evening commutes to and from work I have begun listening to podcasts that are packed with enriching ideas. Listening to a podcast allows me to spend 1 hour each weekday investing in myself.
Some of my favorite podcasts I listen to on regular basis are:
Tim Ferriss – a general self-improvement podcast (notable guests: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Popova, Tony Robbins, Malcolm Gladwell)
Jocko Willink – an all purpose podcast by a Navy SEAL about leadership, human psychology, and overcoming adversity
The rise of free internet podcasts over the last few years is absolutely incredible. It’s literally a 1 – 2 hour session of people who have niche knowledge in certain topics sharing ideas on how to improve the quality of your life.
Over the course of one week I get to listen to 5 hours of high-quality content from people who know far more about self-improvement and personal finance than myself. This has easily been the simplest tweak to implement into my daily routine and the payoff has been tremendous.
Tweak 2: Lunch Break Reading
Daily Time Investment: 30 Minutes
The next change I made in my daily routine was choosing to read a book during my lunch break each day instead of scrolling through social media for 30 minutes. This simple habit has increased how much I read each week and it’s a great way to take a 30 minute break from staring at some type of screen, which I spend 8 hours each workday doing anyway.
Some books I’ve read in the past month on my lunch breaks are:
Machete Season – by Jean Hatzfeld
Machete Season contains interviews with Rwandan Genocide killers. This book is horrifyingly eye-opening from a psychological standpoint and it shows the atrocious behavior humans are capable of displaying when it temporarily becomes normal and socially acceptable to kill a certain demographic of people.
The War of Art – by Steven Pressfield
This book is all about exposing the sneaky nature of procrastination and how to overcome constantly making excuses for doing real work. This book absolutely changed the way I view work in general.
Tiny Beautiful Things – by Cheryl Strayed
Tiny Beautiful Things is a compilation of pieces from an advice column written by Cheryl Strayed. There are so many trinkets of wisdom in this book I found myself jotting down notes on almost every other page.
Lunch break reading is a habit I’m so glad I developed and I wish I had started doing it even sooner. I simply keep a book in my desk drawer and grab it each day on my way to lunch. If I don’t have a hard copy of a book available I’ll typically just read the latest articles on Rockstar Finance to see what types of shenanigans other bloggers in the personal finance space are up to.
Either way, spending 30 minutes each day reading something that benefits me adds up to several hours per week, and more than a hundred hours over the course of a year. In a little over one month I’ve already read three books only on my lunch breaks. This is an underrated habit that almost anyone can fit in their schedule on a daily basis.
Tweak 3: Waking Up Earlier
Daily Time Investment: 1.5 Hours
The final tweak I made has by far been the most beneficial: I started waking up 1 1/2 hours earlier than usual every day.
I used to wake up at 7, shower, dress, and arrive at work around 8. Now I wake up at 5:30 AM each day, meditate for 15 minutes or so and write until around 7. I do this even on the weekends. I have found that it’s significantly easier to wake up at the same time each day as opposed to sleeping in on the weekends and forcing myself to adjust back to the 5:30 AM schedule on Monday morning.
I can’t overstate the impact this has had on me over the past two months. In order to wake up this early I have had to go to bed earlier, which has actually been surprisingly easy to do. All it required was cutting out the non-beneficial YouTube marathons I would regularly go on before bed until 11 PM or later.
The simple 15 minute meditation each morning has helped me feel more calm and alert. It has helped slow down the constant stream of thinking in my head and I have found that it generally allows me to think more clearly throughout the day.
The 1.5 hour writing session that follows the meditation has also been transforming. I have always enjoyed writing and producing original work but I would always secretly make the excuse to myself that I didn’t have time in the day. It turns out I actually did have the time in the day to work on this craft I love, I just wasn’t looking for it in the right places.
The truth about writing is that I find it to be incredibly rewarding even though it’s ridiculously difficult at times. It’s a formidable beast, but I enjoy fighting it. Waking up at 5:30 each morning has given me the wonderful opportunity to fight this beast on a daily basis.
Types of Tweaks
The first two tweaks I made (podcasts and lunch break reading) focus on knowledge acquisition. They help me to increase my understanding of different topics I’m interested in.
By contrast, the third tweak is action-based. It is solely based on working on a craft I find to be important and meaningful. Since this tweak involves me actively working on something as opposed to passively acquiring knowledge, it turns out to be the most difficult tweak to make.
It feels nice to just sit back and soak up information in a podcast and read a book, both of which are beneficial, but it takes serious discipline and powerful habits to practice a craft every day. The good news is that once it becomes a habit, you’ve essentially won the game. After doing something every day for nearly a month you don’t question it. You don’t have to hype yourself up or attempt to get motivated, it’s just part of your daily routine. It’s what you do.
For me, waking up at 5:30 AM is no longer difficult. The monologue in my head each morning sounds like:
Oh, alarm just went off, time to meditate for 15 minutes. Cool, now go write until 7. Okay time to get ready for work…
Waking up early is just part of my day now. It’s simple.
Triple Your Investment
Challenge yourself to triple the amount of time you invest in yourself this year. Whether you aim to invest 30 minutes, 1 hour, 3 hours, or even more each day, it’s likely far more doable than you think. Each of us has pockets in our day where we can use our time more efficiently.
It doesn’t particularly matter what area of your life you choose to invest in (relationships, finance, self-development, creative work, etc.), all that matters is that you identify which areas you want to improve in and find the time each day to make it happen.
So what are you waiting for? Go invest! 🙂
Feature photo credit: elephant
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