The only way to reach your targets in life is to get to work. But it’s easier said than done. Only a fraction of people in life are actively working towards their goals. They know how to create and use the right tools and processes to generate progress for themselves. A lot of these people have a ton of interesting things to say. So I thought I’d interview them.
Most of my weekly guests created their own business, and they got where they are today by successfully implementing self-discipline in their life. To each one of them, I ask questions about their life, their learnings, their tools, and sometimes about which celebrity they would like to have coffee with.
There are no rules for success, only consistency in the work you do. None of the people I interviewed are super-humans. They’re just dedicated, and they have a lot of awesome things to teach us.
Let’s get to it.
My guest this week is Ayodeji Awosika. Ayodeji is the author of The Destiny Formula and You 2.0. His work has been read by hundreds of thousands of people and been featured on top publications like Business Insider, The Huffington Post, and Thrive Global. In the span of a few years, he discovered a passion for writing, built a side business around his passion, tripled his income, and created a brand new life for himself. You can find Ayodeji here on Medium, and on his website at ayotheauthor.com
Do you have a morning routine?
I do. I don’t wake up at a specific time anymore because I quit my full-time job. But prior to that, I’d wake up at 5:30 am. Then I’d drink some coffee and water, meditate for 20 minutes, write down 3 things I’m grateful for and 10 ideas for new articles. After that, I’d spend an hour or two writing.
This routine came in handy because it helped me carve out dedicated time each day to deep work. By the time I got home from work, I’d have zero creative energy left. I was forced to have a morning routine. Now, I still follow the same routine, still start my day doing my most creative work, and still do it pretty much every day.
Although I don’t wake up as early, having those habits ingrained in me makes being productive something I do on auto-pilot.
What is the number one productivity item you can’t live without?
Without question a notebook and pen. I’m very analog. I don’t use productivity apps, don’t keep records online except for my writing, and almost always prefer to write something down.
The act of writing creates this connection between the mind and body. Your mind senses you’re actually exerting some physical effort toward being creative. I think that matters. Often times, I write things down simply to exercise my brain. I have notes upon notes that I’ve never looked at again after writing them down. The point is to exercise my mind and foster creativity, which makes me more productive.
The One Book you recommend for self-improvement and/or productivity?
The One Thing by Gary Keller. It teaches you how to prioritize your life. Prioritization is a much better mental model than productivity. Many people think they’re productive, but they’re really just active. They’re doing a lot of random stuff that isn’t directed somewhere meaningful.
The book talks about choosing goals, projects, and life paths you care about. Choose ONE thing to focus on long-term (for me it was writing). Then, choose ONE thing to work on each day, week, month, year…
Usually, when you complete your ONE thing, almost everything else falls into place. To this day, I don’t do a ton aside from writing. It’s the central pillar of my entire business and creative life. The book taught me how to keep that level of focus.
What advice do you have for people who struggle to actually start working on the projects they have?
Just start. There is no self-help guru in the world who can fill the thought between gap and action for you. It’s impossible. The best we can do is come from that starting point from as many angles as possible. My favorite angles, the beginning 20 percent of the journey accounts for 80 percent of the total progress… after you get traction, the rest is just a matter of time to get things to “pop.”
I don’t think a lot of people understand that. They think the entire journey is going to be difficult the entire time. The truth is, once you get all of the beginner hurdles, you just settle in and work. It will still take time, but it’s not nearly as torturous as the beginning part. 99% of people quit new projects before six months, maybe more. Make it to month 7 and you’re fine.
Can you tell us about your use of journaling and goal tracking?
My journaling routine is pretty simple. I write down three things I’m grateful for. This keeps me grounded. I write down 10 new ideas each day, usually article ideas. This keeps me creative. Sometimes, when I’m feeling blocked, I’ll do morning pages: three pages of unfiltered thought. This usually shakes the mental cobwebs and helps me articulate what’s going on in my mind.
You went from $70K in debt with no degree to creating your business and tripling your income. What changed?
Getting the opportunity to write turned everything around for me. I’d been working on self-improvement before that (reading, watching videos, taking notes…) This primed me to take advantage of an opportunity in front of me.
Most people are at such low levels of thinking they can’t see how abundant the world really is. That’s where self-improvement comes in. I suggest people more or less bathe themselves in self-help content to almost brainwash themselves into thinking more positively. Then, once you have that mindset, you can seize opportunities and stick with them long enough for things to work out.
You mention that in the year of your change, you read 75 books. How important is reading to you?
Reading saved my life. I can’t fully explain it, but reading unlocks new doors and chambers in your mind. Someone takes years of their life trying to figure something out and then they put it in a book you can digest in a few hours. It’s like you get to absorb the souls of the smartest and most successful people.
I’ve read all sorts of books. Basic self-help, pop psychology, evolutionary psychology, philosophy, a few novels (The Alchemist is great)… My favorites are the Incerto Series by Nassim Taleb, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and Poor Charlie’s Almanack. That handful of books alone could change your life. I’ve been reading every day for the past few years. Sometimes ten minutes. Sometimes six hours.
Some people say the classic newsletter/email list model is dying when it comes to generating more online business. What is your opinion on this?
I don’t think email lists are dead at all. I just don’t think they’re as make or break as they used to be. Now, you have platforms like Medium, Amazon, and others that help get your stuff in front of a bunch of people. That being said, those platforms can go away at any time, so I always tell people to have their own home on the internet. If everything else goes away, you still have your list.
As of right now, I don’t heavily rely on my list at all because I earn my money mostly through writing royalties, but as I move into other avenues like coaching and putting together information products, an email list becomes crucial.
It really depends on what kind of business model you have. If you have a coaching business, you absolutely want an email list. If you’re a writer, you can get away with not having one but should have one. If you have a podcast, Youtube channel, or anything you want to send traffic to, it doesn’t hurt to have one. To be honest, I see no scenarios where you wouldn’t want to have one.
People like to ride trends, but if you think about it, as long as people have white-collar jobs, they’ll have email addresses. It’s still a great way to reach people.
You own 2 websites, are prolific on medium, have a newsletter, and write books as well. How do you manage your time between your business and your private life?
First, I write really, really, really fast. I took a typing test once and it said I was in the 96th percentile of writing speed. I think very quick as well. I have a gift for putting words together and honed it over the past half-decade. Also, I don’t suffer from perfectionism at all and never have. If anything, I have the opposite problem of being absent-minded. I use some things to structure my thoughts like mind maps and outlines, but I have a strong intuitive style I lean on.
I can open up a document and start writing. I often do. After writing a draft, I’ll do two editing passes and that’s it. I usually write in the morning for 3–4 hours and then work on managerial stuff after that. I only work 4–6 hours a day. So I have plenty of time for private life.
I pretty much focus on the things I’m good at and ignore everything else. I’m good at communicating, so I have an unfair advantage that I take advantage of. We all have these. You just have to find them.
If you were given a one-minute ad slot during the Super Bowl, what would you fill it with and why?
I would run a spot telling everyone to “chill out.” I would point out all the great things about the world, talk about all of the things we have in common, and spend that minute trying to convince people that life is pretty good and that there is an abundance of opportunity out there. The media spends most of its time trying to convince people otherwise. It’s all noise, gas-lighting meant to keep you mentally imprisoned and stuck in comparison traps and consumerism. I’d spend that minute trying to enlighten people.
There you have it. I want to personally thank my guest for taking the time to provide me and my readers with really insightful answers. I am deeply grateful to Ayodeji Awosika. Thanks a lot, keep up the great work!
And thanks to you for reading my content! Stay tuned for our next guest, coming up next week!
If you want to take control of your time, stop wasting your energy, and prioritise the right things, my free tool The 168 Hours Spreadsheet will help!