Self Improvement

Josh sent me this article.


It seems like a lot of this article targets the foolishness and excesses of some self help people. For example, they point out the guy who wrote a book manuscript in a month using study drugs then had it rejected. I would argue that isn’t self improvement, but is self destruction. The author also points out that some people put so much stress on themselves because of their goals that they self destruct and have all sorts of issues. The author then concludes by saying we should just be happy with being our average selves.
I would argue that this article has the straw man fallacy; it intentionally misrepresents (or carefully selects a subsection) of evidence as that is easier to defeat than the opponent’s real argument.
I feel like I am a big self improvement person, but in a very different way than anything described in this article. I don’t know many people like me, but there are a few I know personally or have read about. I don’t ever really get stressed out about self improvement – I take a non-judgemental approach of simply tracking my life day to day. If I do something good, that’s awesome. If not, that’s perfectly fine too.
Over time I have tested a wide variety of different methods and have settled on a selection of things I do that work for me:
  • I have a daily Goals sheet that I fill out. It has the things that I have discovered are most important for my well being listed off and helps to keep me focused on those. I feel happiest and most content when I am doing well on these areas. Some of the tracked things include (What I am thankful for, days sober, workout I do, what I learn, what I work on, sex, if I wrote a blog post, how much social interaction I got, how I got along with my wife, whether I brushed my teeth, what time I went to bed and if I took a nap).
  • Once a week, I do a bit of a broader scale review and look at my well being Physically, Emotionally, Socially, Business, and Finance.
  • I have recently started doing a weekly marriage review with Laurel. I feel like this is helping me be a better husband.
  • I have an investments sheet, but I haven’t really updated that in a year, I have just stuck with the bonds I am in.
Trying to do all of the above all at once would probably be overwhelming, but I have incrementally added / adjusted things over about 9 years now and have found this to have brought me to a pretty epic and great life. I have some stress like everyone, but this helps me keep the big picture in mind and be grateful for what I have.
What are you thoughts?

6 Months Of No Drinking

Yesterday marked 6 full months of no drinking for me. I have felt very healthy and have made big advances in my business during this time. I have rebuilt my recruiting application to sell it to multiple companies. I’ve worked on a number of other business improvements.

Not drinking has been hard for me. At first, I would think about it each day, but now I probably only really want a drink once a week or so. My letter I sent myself after my last binge drinking episode has very much helped me stay strong.

Why Did Human Technology Go Slow at First?

Interesting read here on different theories on why human technologies were slow to rise at first.

I think some core reasons why human technology was slow going at first in order of most likely to least likely are:

  1. Not many people…. 30,000 years ago there were orders of magnitude less humans, perhaps a few million. We now have 7 billion brains at work on technology.
  2. No free time. If you spend 95% of your time and effort avoiding predators, gathering berries, farming, hunting, fishing, building crude shelters, fighting diseases… it doesn’t leave much time for anything else. Today, modern humans only spend 1% of their time on food and not much more on shelter.
  3. No way of passing knowledge from great mind to great mind through generations. Without good publishing techniques, knowledge had to be passed verbally. Imagine if Newton’s Principia Mathematica had to be retold to you by a chain of 10 different people of varying intelligence… you probably would only end up getting 1% of his genius after a few rounds of generational telephone.



Corporations and Governments are AI

I believe that larger corporations and governments are separate thinking entities from any individual person that works for them. They act aggressively in their own interest to pursue a specific goal (for corporations this is profit, for governments it is survival and growth). Many times they will even get rid of their own CEO’s if the CEO is not contributing properly (look at Harvey Weinstein as an example here).

I also think that people who work for a company often find their mind and personality being somewhat influenced and shifted towards the corporations interests. I think this increases the longer someone has been at a company and the higher they move up. For founder / CEO types like myself this is even more pronounced… I am for better or worse an very changed person from who I was prior to starting the company. I often see myself as the emotions or soul of the company… I react emotionally to attacks on the business as if they were attacks on me and feel great when successes happen.

Concentration is a Muscle, Don’t Drug It

Concentration is the ability to focus in on a single task with your whole mind. Concentration is when you want to work on a specific task, but you keep looking at your phone instead. It is closely related to willpower, which is a reaction to an internal conflict. Willpower is your ability to force yourself to go to the gym even when you are feeling tired.

Studies show that both concentration and willpower can be built up over time with practice. I have also seen this in my own life. I have built a company with over a hundred full time employees today and maintaining a very high level of fitness by slowly building up my willpower and concentration abilities over time. I have some tips to share below.

I think that concentration / willpower drugs (caffeine and adderall being most common) actually are long term detractors from concentration and willpower. They give you an artificial boost, but it comes at a price of not being able to focus later when you come down. If you use either drug consistently, your body resets to a lower normal level and you need the drug just to do what you used to be able to do without it.

So how can you strengthen your willpower and concentration without drugs?

  1. If you fail to accomplish a task using willpower or concentration, do NOT get mad at yourself. Stay positive and forget about that failure and try again.
  2. Don’t overuse your willpower and concentration. At first, carefully choose what is most important to you. I recommend focusing all of your willpower on giving yourself a strong starting base – get enough sleep that you wake up naturally each day, exercise, and eat healthy. All of these require some willpower to do, so make sure you focus on these first and foremost.
  3. Imagine yourself after your goal has been accomplished. If you want to go to the gym, picture yourself looking fit and feeling good with high levels of energy. Visualize the process in a positive way and the outcome.
  4. If you are avoiding something (playing on your phone, eating bad food), distract yourself. Eat something healthy. Move your phone charger and phone out of your bedroom entirely.
  5. Build strong good habits. When you have a habit, it doesn’t take willpower to exercise it. I have made it a habit of going to the gym every day. Now I don’t have to fight with myself to do it… it mostly just happens automatically… it’s no longer a choice.
  6. Break down your goals into manageable bite sized pieces and track each of those pieces. Want to lose 50 pounds and increase your athletic fitness? Then just make a goal to exercise each day and write down each time you do in a log. This helps you to build a streak of lots of little wins, and if you miss a day it’s not a big deal.
  7. Avoid temptation. You want to lose weight but instead find yourself watching hours of TV each night while you guzzle Mountain Dew? The secret here is to make it difficult to fulfill those temptations. Sell your TV, and stock your house with ONLY healthy food… but lots of it. Then when you are bored, you will find yourself choosing the next best option – maybe a book. When you are hungry, you won’t have bad food around and so the lazy option will just be to eat your healthy food.

New Years Resolutions & 2017 Review

I don’t really do New Years resolutions. I have a goals spreadsheet that I track my goal progress (or lack thereof) in each day.

In 2017 I had a few goal categories:

  • Business
    • WIN – I was able to meet the revenue goal with Coalition
    • WIN – Able to restructure the business to run more smoothly so I could build the structure of it.
  • Financial
    • WIN – Brought in a roommate (Levi) that cut my expenses at home in half
    • LOSS – Could not figure out good investments for extra capital, so it just sits in bonds for now.
  • Emotional
    • WIN – I drank too much in the first half of 2017, but I quit in July and have not had a drink in 6 months. Feeling much better now.
  • Physical
    • LOSS – was not able to climb 5.12a or run a 6 minute mile… but I did not really try hard at these and I think I could do them.
    • WIN – stopping drinking has been a big improvement
  • Mental
    • WIN – lots of programming
    • LOSS – My phone has continued to take over my life… it’s a devil.

Overall, this year was a good one. Laurel and I have been working on having a kid and making progress there I think. We also did a lot of traveling and I was able to successfully run the company remotely. I got an Xbox and got addicted to Rocket League and Overwatch, but gave both of those up months ago. I am playing a bit now for the first time in a while doing a single person RPG – South Park: Stick of Truth. I also read probably 40 or so books this year. The Stormlight Archives were an especially fun series.

I have spent the last couple of months trying to rebuild our recruiting system to allow multiple companies on it. I think I am nearing launch status now. Just need to set up the social network component and a marketing site and fix up the HTML / CSS and other bugs.

My goals in 2018 haven’t changed much:

  • Business:
    • Double monthly revenue run rate by end of year
    • Restructure to allow for a PEO
    • Launch recruiting site for other businesses
    • Finish management reports and other core tools in Scoretask
  • Financial:
    • Find better investment vehicles than bonds, but protect the capital.
  • Physical:
    • Once a month, try to run a 6 minute mile and climb a 5.12a.
  • Emotional:
    • Be nicer to people and more encouraging, especially with my old habits with Jordan and Laurel
    • Stay sober
  • Mental:
    • Continue programming several days a week
    • Find something new to learn every day