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Seize the day

OK. Today I’m in motivation mode!

If you haven’t heard someone say “seize the day” or seen someone with “carpe diem” (the popular Latin phrase that translates to exactly what you think it does) tattooed on them, then you must have been living under a rock. I’ve heard it a million times, you probably have too, but why am I writing about it today?

Because it’s damned RIGHT, that’s why.

As I’ve aged, like a fine wine, I’ve begun to question my life (of course, whether or not a fine wine questions its life is not for me to say, but I can only assume that it does, as it ages). Things are pretty good and I’m quite happy, thank you very much, but I do often think about what I’m leaving behind. My legacy.

More than that, though, I think about the fact that I work my ass off every day lining someone else’s pockets. Yes, the wonderful world that we live in is organised so well that the ordinary person works their entire life struggling to make ends meet, while the bigwigs at the top of the tower live a very comfortable life… as a direct result of your hard work.

Good for them!

But surely I could do something about it? Couldn’t I?

Then I saw the famous quote attributed to Warren Buffet (I couldn’t tell you exactly when, but it definitely caught my eye, as it has many of late):

“If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.” Warren Buffet

Hmmm. I knew I wanted to write books and so on, but… making money is hard. I quickly learned that if I wanted to make things work for me, then I had to work just as hard as I do in my day job (whether I make enough to quit my day job or not matters not, my friend).

So how do I do all of this? Yes, writing is fulfilling for me – I enjoy it, and it’s not hard for me to write… most of the time. But certainly not all the time. And I need books on the market now, not later.

So I looked into motivation, and boy… what a rabbit hole. It’s deep and twisted, and there’s a lot of crap to wade through.

But I can say this – from all the videos I’ve watched and all the books I’ve read, I’ve seen a few trends that have stuck out for me. The following two are key to today’s post, but be certain that I’ll cover others another time:

  1. Win the day

  2. You only have a set amount of motivation each day

Win the day

This was an interesting one, and I heard this early in my “self-help” exploration. Win the day – right from the morning. Wake up at 5:30am – did you know that many of the world’s most successful people wake up at 5:30am or earlier? That’s what all the motivation sites will tell you. They get up, make their bed, go to the gym, and plan their day before most people even get out of bed. WINNING.

Of course, I struggled with this. It’s hard to get out of bed at 5:30am if you’re not used to it. And how exactly is making my bed winning? I couldn’t quite get my head around it at first.

Limited amount of motivation per day

This one actually made a lot of sense to me, and I only came across this recently.

I’ve tried a LOT of different ways to improve myself – quitting alcohol, cutting down on food, juice fasts, potato diets – you name it. The crazier the better. But I’ve always found that eventually, the motivation burns on out, and it’s so hard to get it back. Sometimes it seems impossible.

I also have tried to squeeze in some exercising – work during the day, get home, exercise, you know the drill. But I keep that up for 5 days or so and then… I get home after work one day, sit down, don’t get back up. And the next day. And the next.

But what I’m hearing is that we have a finite amount of motivation available to us on a daily basis, and once it’s used up, we lose motivation to get things done – at least, to get those things done that we don’t really have to do. Like exercise (that super important work project that might cost you your job is another story, although it will likely be harder to complete than usual).

Whether this is actually the case or not is not really the point – what makes sense to me is that when it comes to my life, I do notice that my motivation is most lacking in the evenings, unless I’m in a good mood.

Taking the two together

So… I decided to combine the two. Now, I get up at 6am every day without fail. I have a morning routine that I do by habit – make my bed, drink some water/take my supplements, brush my teeth, have a shower – and I do this so I don’t have to think or plan my morning. Motivation saved.

I then do a specific task, depending on the day. Most days, I write for an hour. Some days I plan social media. Others, I write an article. Other days, I study something I want to learn.

But the point is, before I even start my regular day, I’ve already won, because I’ve already achieved my personal goals. I go about the rest of the day in a pretty good mood overall, because I’m not thinking about when I can get X thing done – it’s already done. I’ve already won, and anything else I do on that day is a bonus.

Of course, when it comes to my day job, I ALSO need to get things done there, and I actually use the same process… after I’ve won my personal morning.

The first thing I do when I start work is I go over my emails to see what’s important and check my calendar. I then plan three things I want to achieve that day. These three things must seem like an achievement to me, something that I need to get done in order to work towards a larger goal (so perhaps “send one email” is not a great goal, ok). And if I get those three things done? Then that’s a successful day. I usually make sure I get those three things done within the first hour or two, and then? Again, the rest of the day is a bonus.

I’ve found this really motivating – so much so that I’m even able to get extra things done in the evening: a 30-min workout that otherwise would not have been done, for example, or… this very article, which I’m writing at 8pm on a Sunday night.

I also have a nightly routine (I’m finding that automating certain habits so they just get done is a great idea – it requires no thought and ensures all the boxes are ticked) – turn off my computer, read at least one chapter of a book, write a journal entry covering what I achieved that day, brush my teeth, wash my face, use moisturiser, drink one cup of water, and then get changed go to bed…

The good news? I almost always read more than one chapter of the book. And that journal entry? It reminds me of what I achieved that day, gets me pumped for the next day, and sends me off to bed in a good mood.

So can you see, from automating my mornings and my evenings, I make sure I remember my supplements, bush my teeth, use moisturiser, and drink plenty of water – good personal hygeine stuff. It also ensures I read and write every day. No need to plan.

Will this work for everyone? No. I don’t drink, so I never have hangovers. I’ve also trained myself to go to bed early, so I can wake up early, but the point is this – finding the time to get things done is hard. Doing it without a plan is even harder, and most of the time, when the time comes… “I’ll just do it tomorrow.”

I know. I’ve done it many times before.

But with this new focus, I’m finding I have the time and the energy to get things done, and then because I feel so good about it, I get OTHER things done as well.

Will I smash my goals and be able to quit my day job? Time will tell, and the timeframe I’m talking is probably years, but I’m ok with that. Mostly because I’m prepared.

But until then? I’m a happy guy, doing what he loves and still killing it in my day job, and I’m doing it all by winning the morning.

Oh, and one last thing to note. I always found the following lyrics in The Doors’ song ‘Ghost Song’ very strange. But now? They have a lot of meaning to me. I am not sure what Jim Morrison intended with these words, but you know what? He was a spiritual guy – this kind of thing is right up his alley.

Shake dreams from your hair My pretty child, my sweet one. Choose the day and choose the sign of your day The day’s divinity First thing you see. The Doors – Ghost Song

Many of the ideas in today’s post came from the fantastic book by James Clear – ‘Atomic Habits’. Highly recommended.

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