In 2018 I did plenty of reading, writing, and playing (RWP). I was good about reading books; GoodReads says I knocked down exactly a dozen of them. And in April 2018 I published one of my own. I improved at both piano and guitar. RWP continues to echo through my head during the day and I take care to spend my “me” time wisely.
I have a few other mantras playing in my head these days too. In addition to RWP, they are:
- “Be disciplined” — start and then finish what you start
- “Be consistent” — there are compounding effects to eating, sleeping, and exercising well
- “Take small bites” — be aware of consumption, both in eating and in learning
Related to these two bullets are a few tactics I successfully implemented at the end of last year and plan to keep going throughout 2019. Maybe even the rest of my life too.
No more working late
I’m done pounding away at my keyboard every night. It’s for the birds. I’m committed now to doing things that are personally meaningful at night rather than going down a rabbit hole of work. It will vary from family time to RWP time to just mindlessly watching YouTube videos or social media timelines, although I am certain I’m doing increasingly less of that.
For the last few months, I’ve been copying something I noticed Auren Hoffman doing in his monthly newsletters. If you’re not familiar with Auren, I encourage you to check out his blog, summation.net. It’s a lot denser than my writing. He takes deep dives and is very thoughtful about his writing. He’s equally thoughtful about his reading, and he shares 5 links to his followers every month. I read most of them.
Recently he began to theme those links, telling us he’s been studying healthcare, for example, so his links are all about that topic because he’s forcing himself to read up on them and put blinders up on unrelated content.
I decided to apply this to my consumption as well. I’ve written out a curriculum for myself to deep dive into new topics. The first one is finance and accounting. I’ve found it’s a lot easier to choose what to read and watch when I have a theme to use as a filter. I do this at night instead of doing regular work to fill out the “read” part of my RWP. It’s informed what books and articles I read, what Netflix and YouTube videos I watch, and which subreddits I subscribe to.
I also subscribed to the Wall Street Journal for the first time. I want to absorb all the finance and accounting content I can. The duration of this “class” is however long it takes for me to read these two books: The Undercover Economist and The Ascent of Money. My class isn’t over until those books are read, so I’m keeping my blinders up on consuming anything unrelated. Other topics on my class list are (in priority order):
- Climate Change
- African-American Studies
As I complete each topic, I’ll post my notes and learnings here! I’ll also include a link to the Notion page where I’ve organized all the content I’m reading.
A lot less coffee
I’m not sure whether I was addicted to coffee or the routine, but it felt really good to shake it up. My wife and I used to brew a big pot in the morning and sip on it all day. Now we brew personal cups or brew tea instead. I’ve gone days at a time without coffee and it’s no big deal. I like having a hot cup of something in the morning but it was annoying to get headaches whenever I didn’t drink coffee.
So no more coffee withdrawals for me, thanks. The other benefit of drinking less coffee is I’ve begun to drink a lot more water. This also has generated a domino effect of wellness benefits.
Learning to swim
Speaking of water, I recently started lap swimming. I joined a gym for the first time in November 2018 . I probably will dabble in weight training at some point but the reason I joined was for the year-round outdoor lap pool.
I’m slowly working through this swim training routine and am loving it. The progress is real. So is the ass-kicking workout. Swimming does wonderful things to my body. I’m leaner, stronger, more flexible… It’s a superhuman workout and it boosts my confidence to feel myself making progress. I look forward to my swimming workouts and this addition to my workout routine has dropped my weight.
Commitment to RWP
RWP is a reminder to myself to keep personal enrichment top of mind. This is probably what I’m most conscious of. I really want to keep this up and for several reasons it’s harder than the other ones. RWP can be really daunting. I fall off for a bit and it’s hard to get back on track. It’s too much to chew on, so I’m doing what I mentioned earlier: breaking it into smaller bites. I’m focusing on finance right now for my reading. My old grad school band is playing at our 10-year reunion so my playing is focusing on the set list for that gig. I also want to start taking piano and voice lessons.
We shall see how this goes.