Raise Your Standards

A couple of weeks ago I saw a video with Tony Robbins talking about the Top 10 Rules for Success. The first and last rules in the video fascinates me as I can use them for my goals and projects. Although I think the word mindset or tool gives a better description of his ideas rather than the word ‘rule’.

The first mindset is to Raise Your Standards (10 min long) to increase the quality of life or improve upon yourself—you always meet your standards. Put in another way you always do your musts, but seldom your shoulds. As an example Tony mentions that some people have it as an absolute must to always pay their bills. They always find a way to pay their bills, even though they might be broke. Others have it as an must that they pay their bills most of the time, and so they pay their bills most of the time.

For example why is it so easy for some people go to the gym five times a week? It’s not because they have more time and more willpower than everyone else. It’s because it’s their standard to go to the gym 5 times a week, it’s who they are and define themselves as. They might define themselves as an athlete or an exercise junkie, but it’s part of who they are and they must go to the gym 5 times a week to uphold that image of themselves.

It works in a negative way too. I find it difficult to get up early in the morning, so I always think of myself as someone who likes to sleep in and find it hard to get up in the morning. If I have this belief of myself it’s no wonder I’ve struggled for the last 9 years to get up early in the morning.

This can also why it can be so hard to accomplish your goals, because the person you want to become is not how you define yourself. But when you raise your standards everything that used to be so hard is suddenly easy because you identify with those actions.

Before I moved from home my I would let my things lie around everywhere and my desktop was always cluttered, my drawers were a huge mess. The moment I got my own apartment (shared with a friend) I started putting away things right away. Mostly because my sister had casually said to me, 5 years earlier, never to have a disorganized home if I ever wanted a girlfriend. She only said it once, but that was enough; I wanted a girlfriend somewhere down the line. I saw that putting away things right away would save time in the long run as I didn’t have to put away huge amount of time to clean up everything. In addition the household was always clean so I never had to be nervous if I got a surprise visit from a friend (especially someone I liked).

I.e. the day I moved from home I raised my standards and said “I am one that has a clean house [at least on the surface]. I put things away and do the dishes right away”. I want use the same concept now when changing my goals. I.e. raise my standards first, then completing my goals will become a lot easier since the actions align with my internal persona. What I need is some way to trick my brain and change my mindset.

I know that there is another way to change your mindset and definition of yourself; i.e. by taking action. That way your standards will be raised as a consequence of  the (successful) results your actions bring you. I used to be a closed person. I never took initiative to hug someone and was always a bit uncomfortable giving/receiving hugs. Thus I almost never received any hugs. One day I said “No more. I’m going to change. I will always ask for hugs from anyone I meet from now on”. It was a bit awkward at first, but I played my role and today I see myself as the one that loves hugs the most in any company. I.e. my actions (hugging people) changed my definition of myself from a closed person who doesn’t like hugs to one that loves hugs and has an abundance of them.

I have, however, tried raising my standards by taking action on getting up early and that haven’t worked. I’ve even written a blogpost about it (Strategies For Rising Early). I’ve successfully gotten up at 6am for 30 days during my 30-day challenge. On the 31th day, however, I got up late because “I never was a morning person”. Raising my standards by taking action doesn’t work for me when it comes to getting up early and easily. Thus I also need to raise my standards by thought.

Raise Your Standards By Thought

I’ve found two ways that can work to raise my standards and change my beliefs by thoughts alone instead of taking action. I don’t know if they work (on me) as I haven’t tested them yet, but I’ve been eager to try them out.

Incantations

The first ways is through Tony’s 10th and last tool, Change Your Mindset with Incantations (4 min long). The best way to describe how it works is to watch the 4 minute clip. If you can’t watch it I’ll try to give an accurate explanation of what he means by incantations. Incantations are like affirmations but longer, although there is another major key difference: To embody the feeling you want to achieve, i.e. your entire body should flow of the kind of energy you want. For example an affirmation would be something like saying “I’m happy, I’m happy, I’m happy” when your entire body says you’re angry, or sad. When you’re doing an incantation you would ‘command’ your entire body to be happy and you’ll become happy. Tony Robbins uses the incantation below (for about half an hour) to help his body and mind get into the right states before a seminar.

I now command my subconscious mind, to direct me helping as many people as possible today, to better their lives, by giving me the strength, the emotion, the persuasion, the humor, the brevity, whatever it takes to show these people and get these people to change their lives now.

As mentioned the important part is that he screams this out, fills himself with energy, and changes his physiology to embody the feeling he wants to achieve. In this case: Full certainty that he can change people’s lives for the better.

I can, for example, use this before I go to a social event if I want to become one who talks and inquires people about their life instead of being quiet. I don’t think I can use incantations for all project though. I can’t see a way to use this approach for getting up early and easily from the bed. Instead I would want to use Visionary Dreaming for that purpose.

Visionary Dreaming

Steve Pavlina wrote about Visionary Dreaming in Feeling Blessed. Since Steve didn’t name the exercise I took the liberty to name it Visionary Dreaming as I see it as it’s a mix between visionary thinking and meditation. Steve put it like this:

Think about what you want until you’re genuinely excited

You set aside at least 20 minutes every evening just before getting to bed (I assume Steve thinks this is the best moment for lasting change). Do this exercise until you believe that you are that person during the other hours of your day.

Start the exercise by sitting up, fantasize about what you want to become better at. Don’t worry about specifics, actions, or practicality. Fantasize. Imagine that what you want is becoming real. Image that it’s already happening, it’s not a dream into the future, it’s happening right now.

Make sure you associate with these images, meaning you see everything from your own eyes. Generally avoid using a third-person perspective, although you can try it if you want another perspective of an image. Usually a first-person perspective creates stronger emotions.

You don’t have to say or affirm anything. But it’s crucial that you feel the feelings. If you don’t feel anything special, keep going, you’re not there yet. Think about how you honestly would feel if you experienced these things right now. If you wouldn’t feel anything special, that’s a safe bet it’s not something you really want.

If it takes 10 or more minutes to get a clear picture of what you want, don’t stress yourself, but put in the time. You’ll become better as the time goes by. Deliberately thinking about what you want is very important if you want to make any change.

If you think about what you want, and you imagine it as real, but you get very little emotional surge from it, then drop it for a while, and imagine something else. Go bigger. Go bolder. Go sexier. Involve other people. Involve the whole planet if that’s what it takes to stir your emotions. It’s your imagination. You don’t need anyone’s approval to choose the thoughts that feel good to you.

In my case, to raise my standards I would envision myself as someone who finds it easy and joyful to get up early in the morning. I would visualize how I wake up to my alarm and my lights that turn on. How refreshed I am by a good night’s sleep. How energetic and excited I am to get up and start my day, how I’m smiling to myself as I get out of the bed. Some days I might visualize myself as bragging and talking to my friends how easy it is to get up and that I’m a morning person.

Although Steve uses Visionary Dreaming to generate new ideas and then take action on these ideas I think they can be used equally well for changing your mindset.

Take Your Standards Seriously

Before I continue to discover what standards to rise, mindsets to acquire, and goals I want to reach I want to talk about the importance of taking all these seriously. Yesterday I read Patterns of Success by Steve Pavlina. In one section he describes that “[you should] take goals seriously”. By taking goals (and standards and mindsets) seriously he means that your goals have to have more detail than fuzzy goals: “I want to travel more”, or “I want more friends”. Goals should be able to be pictured as a memory. I.e. if I were to ask what did you do yesterday an answer like “I had more friends” , or “I traveled more” doesn’t make any sense. Instead frame the goal as actual benefits and events you would like to experience. As Steve puts it:

A memory is something like going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, enjoying the view of Paris, and taking a bunch of photos while you’re up there. That’s a goal that can be accomplished or not. It’s a goal that encourages real-world planning and action steps. It’s achievable.

This holds true for whatever it is you’re changing in your life, be it goal, standard, or mindset. If you want a new mindset or standard, be specific: ask how will it work in different situations. Don’t think “I find it easy to get up in the mornings, and I always gets up when the alarm rings.” Be creative. How will your standard be when you’re on vacation? The weekend? Visiting a friend? On a festival? Playout these different scenarios in your dreams and figure out what you truly want.

Projects

Now that we have gone through all the necessary we can finally delve into the nitty gritty parts of what you want (or in this case what I want). I like to call them projects since the name ‘project’ can be used for equally well for standards, goals, or mindsets I want to change.

I began writing a draft for my future projects a fortnight ago. But as you will see the projects and goals are fuzzy and don’t contain much information. I didn’t know what to do with these goals back then, but thanks to this and the previous blog posts I now know. First I’ll list them as I wrote them a fortnight ago. Then I’ll delve deeper into each project, what are my main reasons for choosing these. Finally I’ll choose preferably one, but max two projects that I’ll focus on.

  • Early Riser — I find it easy to get up in the morning
  • Exercise Maniac — I’m an athlete that exercises 4 times a week
  • Cuddle Master — I’m physically relaxed around people and I touch people often (when I know it’s OK)
  • Connector — I’m authentically curious about getting to know and connecting to people
  • Conversationalist — I often start up various conversations with people around me and have an easy time talking in groups
  • Befriender — I take an active role in befriending non-male, i.e. girls and non-binary people. Befriending men have always been easy for me
  • Typeblazer — I have an easy time writing faster than 100WPM. Added this because I’ve always wanted to be able to write really fast, not 60–70 WPM as I write now.

You might be like me who want to improve all aspects of life at the same time. Studies have, however, shown that you are a lot more likely to follow through a commitment only if you have one goal. Following through multiple commitments is increasingly harder and you’re more likely to drop them all. Then you have to start over again after you’ve gained enough motivation to fix your problems. In the long run you will have saved a lot of time and improved a lot if you only commit to one project at a time. From personal experience I can say that this holds true (at least for myself). The difference between having one versus two projects at the same time is huge. I’d say it’s around 3–5 times more likely I’ll complete a project if I only focus on one rather than two.

So why would I want to choose two instead of one when I know it’s bad? Well, I’m still human and want to improve all aspects of my life at the same time. But more importantly, it’s OK to have two projects if one of them is in a life-changing area and the other one is a minor, or you don’t fully commit to it. I.e. you should only commit 100% to one project. I’ll work on the second project whenever I have the time and energy to work on that project. Thus I’ll make small gains on the second project, and when the first project is done and I can fully commit to the second project I’ll have a shorter way to the goal. The rest of the projects I’ll keep them on hold for most parts, but if I feel inspired I can take some action on them, but I should never ever neglect to focus on my primary project.

For example I might choose Early Riser as a primary project. I’ll set aside some time each day to focus on changing my mindset. Then I might take an easy approach on Cuddle Master, i.e. I don’t set aside any time but work and think about it from time to time. Let’s say I’m going to meet some friends, be in a social gathering or similar occasion. Before going there I can think what my strategy is, what tactics I can employ, but it’s never something I must do. Or if I feel inspired to increase my typing speed I can always start my typing program to increase my typing speed. The important part is that I should never procrastinate on taking action on the first project because I’d want to do the second project more.

It’s also a good idea to check if some of your projects are similar, or if you can split up your project into smaller parts. Cuddle Master, Connector, and Conversationalist are similar in the regard that all happen in a social setting, thus I should not work on two of these settings at the same time. If I would pick Connector and Conversationalist there would be too much to think about when I’m in a social setting. Befriender is also similar when used in a social setting. I can, however, befriend people through Facebook and text messages and not only in a social setting.

Gamification

As a game developer and supporter of gamification—and I have successfully used gamification for other parts in my life—I want to use it in one way or another for all my projects. I won’t go into detail what gamification is, put simply it’s a way to take game elements and add it to something non-game related. I’ll give an example of how I have used it, but remember implementations can be extremely varied. If you want to know more about gamification you can do a simple Google search about it 😉

On a LAN-party I was the on-site builder, meaning I had to coordinate what everyone had to do. I had all available crew split into two random groups. Instead of having a list of all tasks and just crossing out items I wrote the tasks on separate post-it notes. These post-its were placed on a whiteboard. The post-its contained: The task, number of people required, time estimation, and score points. The team then competed against each other by getting a higher total score than the other team. The team that scored first would get dinner first. Extremely simple. By using this system things that nobody wanted to do was suddenly fun to do, not hard at all, and was done extremely quick. E.g. laying out the floor mats which had lots of grease on them. The secret was that I had added extra points for things I knew people always complained about, now these were usually the first tasks to be completed. That’s quite the change.

I’m going to use Habitica and also try out SuperBetter and see if it can incorporate it to my routine. In addition I’ll have the ability to ‘cast’ some spells in regular intervals to help me. Don’t worry if this seems alien to you, I’ll go through how I’ll use the gamification implementation in each project. At least the basics as how I use the different gamification tools vary depending on what I notice work and what I notice is lacking. I can’t plan for every possibility in advance 😉

Journal


I’ll keep a journal for all major projects (i.e not Typeblazer). In the journal I’ll write about my personal successes, but also set-backs and follow-up plans if I encounter the set-back again. I’ll only (have to) write in the journal on days with successes and set-backs. Having a journal creates a sense of progress as I can look back on my successes, but also the follow-up plans if I forget about them.


Early Riser

The main reason I want to get up early is that on days I sleep in my days gets ‘ruined’. Well, not exactly ruined, but my schedule and routines are off. 9 out of 10 times this leads to that I skip the gym, so that I don’t have to work to 8, instead of 5–6. When I sleep in I feel bad about myself, my self-esteem, self-respect, and self-confidence all takes a huge toll. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects though, what can I gain by rising early every day?

  • More free time as I don’t oversleep
  • Less stomach problems
  • More energy during the day as I get tired if I sleep too much
  • Easier time falling asleep
  • I feel proud of myself for getting up early
  • Better self-esteem, self-respect, and self-confidence
  • It feels like I have completed a day’s worth of tasks by lunch
  • I have time for exercising in the morning
  • More time for partner and friends
  • More time for projects

According to Steve’s How To Become An Early Riser it’s a good idea to wake up at the same time every day, and go to bed whenever you feel tired. Now I just have to figure out my ideal rising time. Spontaneously I’d say somewhere between 6 and 7 am. 7 am seems ideal for days when I don’t workout and on weekends. 6 am is, however, ideal on days I workout… I guess something in between, 6:30 am, will do fine. Hopefully it won’t be too hard to change it later on, if I find that this isn’t an ideal waking time.

Before continuing I want to address my fears of becoming an early riser. I don’t want to become an early riser, why? How will I handle vacations and weekends? Should I get up early on the weekends too? I love cuddling in the morning, especially on weekends. Will I never be able to cuddle in the morning when I’ve become an early riser? I like the ability to stay up rather late on weekends if I’m seeing a friend. Won’t I be able to stay up late (to 1 am) on weekends?

The questions I should ask myself is; How can I, as an early riser, find a way to cuddle in the mornings? and How can I, as an early riser, find a way to stay up until 1 am when I want to?

Answering these questions removes all the resistance I have for not getting up early as I find a way to keep all the positive aspects of not being an early riser.

On work days I’ll get up immediately when the alarm clock rings. On weekends I can try which works best: Getting up immediately when the alarm clock rings (as on work days) and later go back to bed to cuddle when my partner wakes up; or if I should stay in the bed and read, alternatively fetch my laptop (and do what? maybe write something?) and then cuddle when my partner wakes up. That sounds like a reasonable good solution for my problem.

Now I only need to address my concerns of staying up late. In How To Become An Early Riser Part II Steve writes that as a result of getting up at the same time each day he now sleeps on average 6.5 hours a day. As mentioned before he only goes to sleep when he is tired; in some cases this means he only gets 5 hours of sleep.

The problem with this approach is that he can’t control which days he gets tired early or late. He, however, writes that on special occasions he allows himself to stay up to 3 am and sleep in the next day, but never twice in a row. I seldom go to sleep after 1 am, in which case if I’m lucky I won’t be tired by then and I’ll still get that minimum 5 hours of sleep. 8 out of 10 weekends I go to bed between 11 pm and 12 am. So in most weekends I won’t even find it a problem to go to sleep what I previously called early (or more correctly: not late).

I think I go to sleep after 3 am around 3–6 times a year, that’s at max once every second month—although they’re not usually distributed that equally along the year. In those cases in can always sleep in one day and continue getting up at 6:30 am the next days. I’m okay with this approach since I so seldom go to sleep late. It might be that I will be a bit tired the next day if I only get 5 hours of sleep, but I can always take a 20 minute power-break during the day.

Execution

For this time I’ll put everything I’ve learned so far about what makes it easier for me to get up early to make the change happen. Meaning I’ll not only use Visionary Dreams, but I’ll also take actions to becoming an early riser.

First Week

During the first week I’ll use Visionary Dreams and Practising Getting Up. I can get up any time I want during this first week as I use this week to get ready and change my mindset for the ‘real’ challenge ahead.

I got the idea of practising getting up from Steve, and during the first week I will practice getting up three times each day. Practising getting up is exactly what it sounds like. You start by setting everything in the room as it would look like, or at least as close as you can, if you were asleep.

For me it would be rolling down the blinds, stripping, setting my alarm (to 3 minutes in the future), going to bed under the sheet, and acting as you would be asleep. When the alarm clock rings, stretch out, smile, and honestly think “what a wonderful day this will be”. Get up, turn of the alarm clock, start your daily routine (going to the shower in my case). You don’t have to take a shower though 😛

This is a great way to practise the habit of getting out of bed, or any habit for that matter, as it very closely resembles how it would be when you would be asleep. This makes the brain form connections (and a habit) that will be used automatically during your morning routine. After 3–5 days I find it a lot easier to get up in right away in the mornings. It has always worked wonders for me, but it usually takes 30 minutes of practise each day when I do three practises in a row. I have never kept the habit of practising for more than 5 days since I always got the result after 5 days and I wanted to use that time on other things.

Practising getting up is exactly what it sounds like. I got the idea from Steve. You start by setting everything in the room as you would if you are asleep. For my case it’s rolling down the blinds, taking off my clothes, setting my alarm (to 3min), then going to sleep. Then you try to trick yourself into thinking you’re asleep. When the clock rings you stretch out, smile, and think “what a wonderful day this will be”. Then you get up, turn of the alarm clock, start doing your daily routine (going to the shower in my case), but then stop. You don’t have to take a shower. You do this three times in a row, every day. After about 3–5 days I usually find it a lot easier to get up early.

In my visionary dreams I see myself as an early riser. During this week though I’ll envision how easy it is to get up and how this feels natural. I’ll envision how easy it is to get up during the weekends and what I want to do with the extra time I have. I’ll see what positive consequences I gain throughout the day by rising early. I’ll not focus on any problem I have, or how to overcome that problem. Everything will be focused on what’s positive about getting up early.

90-Day Challenge

The next step is the mighty 90-day challenge. I have never tried one before, I’ve only tried 30-day challenges. But since a 30-day challenge wasn’t enough for me the last time I tried to build an “Early Riser”-habit, I thought I would go with a 90-day challenge this time. To succeed this challenge I have to get up before 6:30 am every single day for 90 days in a row. I fail if the clock is 6:31 am and I’m not out of bed (except if I’m reading on weekends). If I fail one day I have to start over on day 1. I’ll print out a sheet where I can cross of how many days in a row I have been successful.

If I ever feel that it’s getting hard, or harder to get up, I’ll practise getting up again for 3 days in a row so I won’t fail.

During the 90-day challenge I’ll keep using visionary dreams until I have attained the mindset of an early riser. In addition to the previous thought I will have during the visionary dreams I’ll also think: How easy it is to get up when I’m away from home, during my vacation (at home), when I’m on a beach, or when I’m on a convention. I’ll image all possible scenarios I might find myself sleeping in and I’ll feel throughout my body that I’m an early riser and have always been one.

Gamification

Habitica I’ll keep two daily tasks: Rise and Shine and Visionary Dreamer, and a habit Sleepwalker where I lose life for every 30 minutes I have overslept.

SuperBetter I’ll create two quests: Wakeup Master (practising sleep), and Visionary Dreamer. I’ll have one bad guy Sleepwalker which I lose to whenever I overslept.

Available Spells

  • Insomniac (3 charges) — Use to sleep in the next day. Have to be used the day before. Can only be used 3 times. Can never be used 2 days in a row. I’ll use this spell for special occasions when I want to stay up late.

Celebration For every successful 30 days I’ll hold a celebration party with my friends 😀

Exercise Maniac

Why do I want to exercise? Is there some underlying reason why I want to exercise?

  • I want be and feel physically strong
    • When I feel physically strong I feel like I mentally can do anything, I can push myself forward through any hurdles
    • I want to be so strong that I can easily lift up another person (usually a partner)
      • It feels empowering to be able to lift and carry someone else; like I have the strength to help the person
    • I want to be able to try various sexual position that requires me to be stronger than I am now
      • It can be disempowering to feel that I’m not strong enough when I want to try something out and I feel weak
    • When I’m 70+ I want to both have a strong body and mind that functions well
      • I’ve always been impressed by people above 70 years that are strong
  • I want to have long endurance and lots of energy in my life
    • I want to be able to run really far, at least 20km
      • When I know I can run really far I can (as with feeling strong) channel this energy to feel like I can accomplish anything
    • I want to be able to keep having sex without ever feeling like I’m running out of energy
      • I could probably learn another strategy for not running out of energy during sex, but sometimes I want to give it all and then I want to feel like I can continue forever
    • When I’m 70+ I want to have lots of endurance left in me
  • Less stress in my life
  • As I spend a lot of time in front of the computer I want to be active so my body can continue to be fit even when I get old (70+)
  • I want to feel like a healthy person with healthy habits
    • Because I feel proud of myself I do things that keep me healthy
      • If I’m proud of myself I am in a state of relaxation and happiness

I want to both be stronger (by going to the gym) and build endurance (through running). It’s more important for me to be able to do 10 reps of let say 40 kg, than to know that my max weight is 60 kg. Exercising is nothing new to me; the challenge has always been to exercise consistently. The longest time I have worked out is 4 times a week for 5 months—which when I think of it is quite an accomplishment. It ended because I got I’ll and then had a hard time working out because I wasn’t home for a week.

Although I raised my standards during these 5 months I didn’t change my mindset. I didn’t think myself as an athlete or someone that exercises regularly; I still thought of myself as someone who wasn’t made an athlete. That’s why I ones I had ‘quit’ I found that it was hard for me to begin again, i.e. to exercise wasn’t a must for me.

My biggest challenge is then to acquire the mindset of an athlete. When I’ve acquired this mindset it will be hard for me to stop exercising, even when I get ill. I would want to continue exercising and get back to it as soon as possible because “I’m an athlete”. Before I’ve acquired the mindset of an athlete I need plans how to continue exercising after an illness, injury, or when I’m away from home.

Concrete Goals

I have some concrete goals I want to reach with when I become an athlete. My target goal for squats and bench press is to do 3×10 reps with a weight of 80 kg. Biceps curls: 3×10 reps of 30 kg. My current running goal is to be able to run 10 km in less than 1 hour. The ultimate goal is to run 10 km in less than 40 minutes and be able to run a marathon.

Execution

Visionary Dreams

The first week will start of with visionary dreams. If I’m already exercising (regularly or irregularly) I’ll continue with that during this week. But I don’t want to pressure myself to have it as a must.

In the visionary dreams I’ll make myself believe that I’m an athlete. I can see how all my workouts have paid off. I see how I get stronger and stronger, gain more and more endurance. I find it easy to lift people. I imaging having lots of energy during sex. I imagine the different scenarios when I don’t have access to my gym or running equipment. What kind of exercises will I do instead? And how will I feel? I’ll be eager to do a workout. I feel like an athlete.

90-day challenge

Similarly to Early Riser I’ll use a 90-day challenge to get into the habit och exercising while I’m using visionary dreams to change my mindset into believing I’m an athlete. The 90-day challenge will start the second week.

The challenge is to exercise 4 times every week. On Mondays and Thursdays I’ll go for a run. On Tuesdays and Fridays I’ll go to the gym, or do equivalent exercises at home. On Sundays is my last chance to change which days I want to workout on during the next week, and if I should exercise in the gym (default) or at home. There should be some special cause why I want to change. I want it to be before the week so that the change is deliberate. I shouldn’t be allowed to say something like “I want to exercise tomorrow instead of today”, or even “I don’t want to exercise tomorrow, so I’ll exercise on Wednesday instead”.

It has been shown that completing the following statement you’re 2–3 times likely to exercise regularly. I.e. 91% of participants instead of 35% of participants exercised at least one time per week.

During the next week, I’ll partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].

I’m going to use the same principle. But I’ll use my Google Calendar to keep track when I should exercise during the days. I’m not sure if I should make the exercises recurring or if I have to fill them in every Sunday. Filling them in each week makes me remember the exercises and it only takes a minute to fill in. I’ll go with the approach to write in the next week’s exercises and days every Sunday.

Days I’m exercising in the gym it should be the first thing I do in the morning. I’m not sure how to structure it for other exercises. I have tried morning runs, but I find it a lot more fun to run on evenings although it’s harder to fit into the schedule. However, I’m certain I’ll complete Early Riser before Exercise Maniac. This means I can count on getting up 6:30 am each day. Meaning it should be as easy to find time in the morning as in the evenings as I can easily reorder my schedule before 5 pm.

I know that it’s easier to maintain a habit if I’m consistent, and the best way to be consistent is to always exercise in the morning. At the same time I also know that it’s a lot easier to maintain a habit if I have fun and easy time doing it. I’ll test if it works to run on evenings, and when I’m exercising strength outside I can decide on the Sunday which time I would like to exercise.

As mentioned, I also need some backup plan for when I become ill, get an injury, or am away from home. When I become ill or get any injury I follow my regular schedule, but instead of doing a real workout I’ll go out for a faster walk (not power walk). I thought about doing push-ups and squats at home, but I don’t want to physically strain myself and it’s hard to come up with a 20-minute exercise plan at home that’s not physically demanding. So I’ll go for a faster walk instead.

When I’m away from home I’ll take a 30-40 minute power walk when I’m supposed to run. As an substitute for strength training I’ll either use my 20 minute exercise program (that I create now) or if I’ve gotten my Monkii Bars 2 I can use any of the programs I created for them 🙂

Backup Plan — 20 Minute Bodyweight Program

The exercises in this program go back to back for approximately 20 minutes. I’ll do as many reps as I can for each of them. There are two variants of the program I can either 1) Do each exercise slowly and deliberately for 40 seconds, then have a 1 minute and 30 seconds break after the Squats before restarting from the top; or 2) do each exercise explosively for 20 seconds with a 1 minute break.

  1. Plank
  2. Push-ups
  3. Bicycle Crunches
  4. Leg Raises For Abs
  5. Squats

I can always replace any exercise in the program. Having a pre-planned workout makes it easier to keep my habit when I’m away.

Fail conditions I fail if I don’t exercise on the specific dates. I must exercise 4 times a week. I must change workout days before the week or before I make a trip somewhere. I fail if I don’t exercise in gym the first thing I do in the morning.

Gamification

Habitica I’ll keep three daily task: Visionary Dreamer for all days; Exercise Maniac for Mon, Tue, Thu, and Fri; and Plan Master on Sundays for planning the next exercise week.

Available Spells

  • Socializer (5 charges) — Use to postpone next day’s workout to any future day. Only applicable if a spontaneous social och emergency situation occurs.

Celebrations I’ve created a celebration document with celebration activities associated to each subgoal, e.g. Buy my favorite (expensive) ice cream when I can do 50kg squats. The activities can be everything from take a longer stroll, share it on Facebook, go to the cinema, to have a celebration party.

Cuddle Master

The Cuddle Master project makes me physically relaxed around people. I would love to be able to have a physically closer relationship with with more people—it can be in any range from leaning against another person to cuddling. My current problem is that I’ve always been afraid of physical touch. Thus I get tense when either someone touches me, or when I accidentally touches someone. I can also get tense if there is someone I would like to lean on, spontaneously hug, or cuddle with, but I’m not 100% certain they would like that—I dread accidentally going over people’s boundaries, thus I never take the initiative.

I don’t have problems with greeting and goodbye hugs though. I used to get uncomfortable and stiff with hugs too, but 3 years ago I decided to change. Today I see myself as the one that loves hugs the most in any company. I don’t have any problems with asking people if they would like to have a greeting or goodbye hug, even if it’s the first time meeting (if I notice they like hugging other people). Since I was able to radically change my mindset about hugs I’m certain I can do it with physical touch too.

In Bypass Resistance I wrote about that if you’re confident and authentic the other person will most likely be totally OK with the physical contact, otherwise you’ll probably notice that they aren’t right away. I.e. if you feel awkward, stiff, and uncertain with for example leaning against another person they will most likely pick that up and also feel it’s awkward. If you, however, feel like it’s the most natural thing to lean on the other person chances are high they’ll also feel it’s the most natural thing. Note that I’m saying chances are high, you still have to check with them if it’s OK or not, don’t take for granted that just because you’re fine with it they are too.

After a longer thought process on how I should approach this challenge I noticed I could split the challenge into three separate parts.

Initiate/Ask for physical contact I find it difficult to ask or initiate physical contact with another person. The probably best and easiest way for me is to ask the person before I lean against, hug, or cuddle them. This could serve as a first step to ask, and when I get comfortable with that person I can try it without asking.

Be relaxed before I ask someone As mentioned before I get stiff before I ask the question. I should make it my priority to be comfortable around the person before I want to ask for physical contact. But in hindsight, I actually get stiff because I don’t dare to ask the question. Thus I can instead focus on asking as soon as possible and this challenge should (hopefully) take care of itself.

Be relaxed when someone touches me The last challenge for me is not to become tense when someone either accidentally touches me or leans against me. There are some situations, however, when I feel totally comfortable when someone touches me. These are usually situations when I expect physical contact, e.g. on a buss or a crowded couch. If I always prepared and expecting physical contact I should (theoretically) be comfortable with it all times. I’m probably just not used to ‘touchy’ people 😛

My challenges/questions are therefore

  • How can I ask for physical contact like it’s the most natural thing to ask and without placing any expectations on the answer
  • How can I change my mindset so that I feel comfortable asking for physical contact right away and without hesitation
  • How can I always feel comfortable when someone touches me

Measurements

In order for me to notice if I’m making any progress (and have sub-goals) I need some measurements:

  1. Times I’m OK versus;
  2. not OK when someone touches me
  3. Times I’m want to have physical contact with someone;
  4. times I ask for physical contact;
  5. times I ask for physical contact right away;
  6. times I’m comfortable asking and it feels natural; and
  7. times I receive a positive response (by positive response I mean they are glad that I asked and would like to have physical contact)
  8. Number of different people I’ve had physical contact with

Success Condition

I’ve successfully completed this project when…

  • 10 times in a row I’ve been OK when someone touches me
  • 10 times in a row I’ve felt comfortable asking and I asked right
  • I’ve had physical contact with 10 different people

Execution

This project isn’t as simple as the previous two, at least not to find a good execution plan. One thing that pops into my mind is that I should try to find at least one whom I can practise on have physical contact with. It should be someone I’m currently not comfortable asking for physical contact. I should also put myself into more social situations when I want physical contact, i.e. leave the home or invite people more often 😛

I should go to at least one social gathering each week.

I’ll limit this project to 120 days to create some sense of urgency. If I haven’t completed it after 120 days I need to evaluate why I didn’t successfully complete the project.

Incantations

Before every social event, date, or similar I will for 30 minutes prepare myself with incantations. I’m not entirely sure how I can practise these. Tony either did them backstage or while driving his car. If I’m going somewhere I usually take the bike, train, or simply walk; something tells me it wouldn’t be that popular to have a screaming crazy person in the train 😛 Instead I’ll settle with the following plan when I’m going somewhere: I start off 30 minutes before leave the home. I then continue the incantations on my way there, but I scream the words inside my head instead of out loud.

I’ll start off with the incantation below and then improve on it over time. I translated it to Swedish since it feels more real if I speak in my native language.

I now command my subconscious mind, to direct me giving love to as many people as possible, by giving me the strength, the energy, the emotion, whatever it takes to make the people I meet feel loved through both physical contact, energy, and through my gaze.

Jag befaller nu mitt undermedvetna, att vägleda mig att visa och ge kärlek till så många människor som möjligt, genom att ge mig styrkan, energin, känslan, vad än som krävs för att de jag möter känner sig älskade genom både fysisk kontakt, energi, och genom min blick.

Visionary Dreams

Until I’ve successfully completed this project I will use visionary dreams to help me change my mindset that I’m one that has an easy time asking people if they want physical contact. I envision different scenarios that are similar of those in the past where I have had problems, but this time everything goes smooth. I envision scenarios I think would likely happen in the near future. I envision how easy and natural it seems to ask, as simple as asking “how are you?”. I am thrilled by being this person and I do my hardest to feel like I’m this person.

Practice Partner(s)

In the beginning of the project (the first week) I should ask at least one, preferably two, whom I’m not comfortable asking for physical contact. I’ll begin by explaining this project to them and that I’m looking for a practise partner. I’ll be honest and tell them why I think they make a good candidate, and would be grateful for any of their help. I’ll also go through what they can expect from me: I always ask before touching (unless we come to another agreement). What I expect from them: I am allowed to make mistakes. If I’m not allowed to make mistakes, especially if I’m not required to ask beforehand I would probably be too scared to do something.

At least twice a week (during different occasions) I should ask any of these practice partners if they would like some sort of physical contact, e.g. a spontaneous hug.

Gamification

Habitica I’ll have three habits: 3 second rule (ask before 3 seconds), fear of rejection (ask at all), and phractise (ask on a practise partner).

Celebrations Every time I’ve successfully asked someone I’ll share the accomplishment with my partner and celebrate together that I’ve come closer to my goal 😀

Connector

Lately I haven’t felt connected to people. It might have something to do with that I haven’t been as interested in people as I used to be. The feeling I’ve had is that I don’t have the energy to keep a conversation going and be always be interested. This project is to help me rediscover that energy and lust for connecting with people. But more importantly it’s a project to help me open up to people as I’ve ‘lost’ the courage to open up.

3 years ago I had a 120-day ‘opening-up’ project which drastically changed my life (for the better), so I’m kinda excited by this project, although it was one of the most challenging project I’ve had in my life. Taking the first step and opening up to someone is extremely hard for me, it’s not that I have a problem speaking about the subject. It’s that I leave myself vulnerable. It’s a lot easier for me if someone asks me a question and I’m required to open up to answer it honestly rather than taking the first step.

I want to feel connected and closer to other people. Not only to those few I have open up to, but to all people around me. At the same time I want to focus on those few relationships that are extremely rewarding, i.e. with the possibility of them being a 4D relationship (read more about 4D relationships in More Than One Partner). I.e. while I want to connect with everyone I also need to filter out people from my life that I’m not compatible with, i.e. those I can’t have a 3D or 4D relationship with. Doing this allows be to spend more time with 3D, or 4D-compatible people, as well as discovering new ones. I will, however, try to connect with every person before deciding if we’re compatible or not.

A potential blocker, i.e. feeling disconnected to someone, I have found is when I’m not telling the truth about myself in some situation. Usually because I’m not confident how the person will take it, i.e. I’m afraid of what they’ll think of me. I should always be aware, and catch myself, when I’m about to tell a white lie so that I don’t hinder the growth of the relationship.

What I can see there are four different challenges to this project.

Stay interested I need to change my mindset about people and genuinely be interested in getting to know them better. It shouldn’t be too hard since this used to be my mindset.

Opening up (and making them open up) This is the real challenge. Being able to take the initiative to opening up to people, and not just some selected few. The goal probably shouldn’t be to eliminate the challenge to open up—if it’s not a challenge them I’m not opening up—rather the challenge should be to change mindset into thinking “I’m one that open up to lots of different people, however hard it may be.”

Finding potential 3D or 4D relationships In order for me to find out if I’m compatible with another person I have to first try to connect with them. Afterwards I need to evaluate where in the 4D-scale the relationship lies, and the prospects of the relationship. At the moment I think any relationship can be made into a 4D relationship, by experience I know that’s not the case though. There are some people with whom you connect more deeply with.

No white lies Don’t tell any white lies as those causes a disconnect in the relationship. I’m, however, allowed to tell a white lie if I’m protecting someone else rather than myself as I don’t get disconnected from those white lies.

Goal

The ultimate goal is to feel connected rather than disconnected to people around me; to feel a sense of community, belonging, and oneness.

Measurements

To make things even more difficult I’ll measure the response I get rather than the action I take. For example I won’t measure how many times I have opened up, rather I’ll measure how many times people have opened up to me. This aligns better with my goal of feeling a connection with another person as that means they also need to open up to me. It also forces me to open up in a certain way that allow for the other person to feel safe with me and also open up.

The last time I had this project I noticed that it became easier and easier to open up to someone and they had an easier time opening up to me, after a while it didn’t feel like we opened up to each other at all—we shared bits and pieces of our inner secrets like it was nothing.

  1. Total number of people that have opened up to me
  2. Total times people have opened up to me
  3. Times I’ve been in a one-on-one conversation
  4. Times I’ve stayed focused and genuinely interested during the whole conversation (one-on-one)
  5. Times I’ve been in a more than one-on-one conversation
  6. Times I’ve stayed focused and genuinely interested during the whole conversation (multiple)
  7. Number of 3D relationships
  8. Number of potential 4D relationships
  9. Times I’ve told a white lie

Success Condition

  • 10 times in a row I’ve stayed focused and genuinely interested during the whole conversation
  • 15 different people have opened up to me
  • 0 white lies told the last 30 days
  • Stayed focused and genuinely interested during the whole conversation (both one-on-one and multiple) for the last 30 days

Execution

When I read Steve’s book Personal Development for Smart People I remember him talking about Erin, his wife at the time. She had the special ability to easily connect with all people according to him. She said that she tapped into the already existing connection, thus it was so easy to connect with people. I want to switch to this mindset using incantations and visionary dreams.

Every week I should have a one-on-one conversation with at least two people. The conversation only counts if I open up.

As with Cuddle Master I’ll limit this project to 120 days to create some sense of urgency. If I haven’t completed it after 120 days I need to evaluate why I didn’t successfully complete the project.

Incantations

Before every event or date, I do 30 minutes of incantations. If I’m going away: I start off 30 minutes before I’m leaving home. I then continue the incantations on my way there, but I scream the words inside my head instead of out loud.

I now command my subconscious mind, to fulfill the need of community and the sense of belonging for the people I meet, by giving me the strength, the energy, the emotion, the courage, the spirituality, whatever it takes to tap into the existing connection between us and fulfill our lives.

Jag befaller nu mitt undermetvetna, att uppfylla behovet av gemenskap och samhörighet hos de jag möter, genom att ge mig styrkan, energin, känslan, modet, andligheten, vad än som krävs för att hitta den existerande connectionen som finns mellan oss för att skapa gemenskap och samhörighet mellan oss.

Visionary Dreams

During the whole project I’ll use Visionary Dreams to change my mindset to feel like I’m always able to tap into the connection that already exists between me and another person. I will feel like I always have the courage to open up to new people and tell them about my inner secrets. I’ll image opening up to all the people that in one way or another is in my life. I’ll image all the positive response I get, the connection I feel to people, and how much warmth and love there is in the air. I feel that we’re all one entity: oneness.

Interlude Comments

As I’ve been writing this post during (currently) 6 days I can see a pattern emerge. I can see I want to do Connector before either Conversationalist or Befriender. Before making new friends I want to be able to make deep connecting relationships, not shallow ones. Thus it’s a lot more important to focus on Connector than any of the other two.

Since I don’t want to make this post any longer than it already is, and I know I won’t pick neither Conversationalist nor Befriender I only explain the current problems I have, and the questions I have for improving in these two projects.

Conversationalist

I want to be the one that most often started up conversations with others; and have an easy time keeping a conversation alive. But I also want to take an active part in a group conversations. 99 out of 100 times (or at least it feels like that) I stay in the back and only comment on few things, and only ask a few questions as people usually ask them or another question before I took the chance. I was content of being the silent guy in a group conversation. Today, however, I want to change.

Why do I want to change? I want to contribute to other people and I want people to both see me, and see that I care about them. I want them to see who I am, they can’t get to know me if I don’t say anything. It’s selfish to only get to know about other people and not share your own experiences.

The question I want to ask myself is “How can I add value into conversations?”

Befriender

Since I was little I always had an easy time making new friends. I was close friends with a lot of people, but never with people that didn’t share my sex. That’s not entirely true, it’s a belief I have—that I only have been close friends with men. Logically I know that this isn’t true as I’ve had, and have close friends that aren’t men. But as mentioned, the problem is my limiting belief. This limiting belief causes me to interact in a certain way with non-men, reinforcing my belief that I can’t be friends or that they don’t want to be friends with me.

I want to get rid of this limiting belief, and take a more active role finding new close friends that aren’t men, or even sexual relationships.

The question I want to ask myself is “How can I make new and keep existing friends that aren’t men?”

Typeblazer

Typeblazer is by far the simplest project. There’s no mindset that I need to change. I already feel like I’m good at typewriting, although it would be nice to easily keep an writing speed of 100 words per minute for at least 10 minutes.

I can have this project as a simpler in-between harder projects, or alongside another project as it only requires that I practise 10–15 minutes every day. Then again I’m not sure if I want to spend 10 minutes every day to practising typing faster. I can, however, combine it with reading a book, but instead of reading it I would be ‘writing’ it.

One benefit of writing faster is that I can write blogs a bit faster. Although it’s not the writing that takes time, it’s the thinking 😛 But I guess I could have saved about 2 hour of work on this post if I were able to type in 100 WPM.

Execution

Export a fictional book into a text file and import it into KTouch (my speed typing program). Practise for 10–15 minutes each workday.

Project Selection

As mentioned in the interlude comments I know that I want to complete Connector before Conversationalist and Befriender. I also know that for Exercise Maniac to function properly I need to complete Early Riser. This leaves me with three options: Early Riser, Cuddle Master, and Connector. The one I long the most to do is Connector or Cuddle Master. But logically I know the most important one to do is Early Riser. If I’m able to gain 1–3 hours everyday thanks to getting up early I will have more time to complete the other two projects afterwards. It creates less stress.

So in reality this is a no-brainer. Still Early Riser is in one way the project I’m most hesitant about starting. It’s a minimum 90-day commitment, I don’t feel like an early riser, and I have a lot of emotions against it. Also I’m afraid that I’ll fail with the project, that I’ll never become an early riser. The other projects I honestly feel like I can become that person. Still I feel it’s the right decision to take. I’ll begin with this project today (2016-08-30).

Meta Conclusion

It’s been interesting to write a long post (more than 10 000 words) over a period of 7 days. It’s not a thing I do everyday. The hardest part was to continue writing and figuring out what I wanted with the next project when I was all pumped up to start the project I just wrote about (I wrote roughly about one every day).

The last two days have been extremely tough writing about the projects, this was also one of the reasons I neither fleshed out Conversationalist nor Befriender. I’m glad that I decided to skip writing about the execution on those projects, otherwise I might’ve written something just to fill out the space, and I don’t want that. I want to put my soul into each project, and each word I write about.

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