What I learned in 2016
Last year I read Ryan Holiday’s Birthday Reflections and thought it would be a good practice to adopt. A bit late, but I finally summarized what I learned during 2016. It was a great year, traveled a lot, built good habits, read great books, and learned a lot about myself and the major obstacles in my path. My major achievement this year was cultivating patience. It will take some time to get where I want to be, so I will do my best to enjoy the ride.
Here’s what 2016 taught me:
If it scares you, you should do it.
It’s okay if you are not sure you can do it, you will learn it along the way. As Noah Kagan said: Growth only comes through discomfort. Everything I am proud of took some effort, why would it be different this time? It’s okay if you fail as long as you learn. These lessons will be key your way to creating the life you want.
Overnight success is a myth that keeps people from making remarkable things. It’s easy to believe that anyone who has done something important is gifted or superhuman, it’s hard to do the work that takes you to their level. Keys for doing something remarkable: patience and working smart incessantly. Would recommend reading Mastery if you are interested in becoming a top performer.
Aligning your actions with your intentions will give you tranquility.
Anxiety comes from acting in opposition of what we want. The clearer your goals and principles, the easier it will be to know what you need to do.
Always go the hostels’ happy hour, it’s where the magic happens 👾.
Today’s worries will be tomorrow’s jokes. If I’ve learned something from journaling it’s that whatever is driving us crazy today will be either funny or inspiring tomorrow.
Clarity is necessary for achievement. How can you know what to do next if you don’t know what you want achieve? You need a target to aim to. The more specific you are about your goals, the easier it will be to achieve them.
The universe rewards action.
Best medicine for anxiety is action. Now>Future. It’s better to confirm that it was not a good idea, than wondering about it for the rest of your life. It’s only a failure if you didn’t learn anything about the experience. Embrace an experimental mindset, always test your assumptions.
Priorities are real only when you actually do something about them.
For instance, starting a side business was one of my priorities in 2016 but I spent more time reading, doing sports, or hanging out with my friends than working on my side business ideas. If you are going to make something a priority it will only become a priority if you treat it as one. Schedule time for working on your personal projects and respect that appointment with your goals.
Time, energy and attention are limited and precious resources, spend them wisely. Everytime you say yes to something you are saying no to everything you could be doing instead. Make sure you spend most of these resources on the important things. What are the important things? As Paul Jarvis explains in his book Everything I know: “The things which are important are those which bring us closer to our final goals — those which are consistent with our mission statement — our values and norms”.
Focus on what you want, not your fears.
Your desires will fill you with motivation and energy whereas your fears will only give you doubt.
We are all going to die someday, there’s a finite number of times you will hangout with your family and friends, enjoy the ocean, play basketball, etc.. Enjoy the company of your parents and grandparents as if they will die next year, most of us have taken them for granted our whole lives. Don’t waste time running errands or doing things just because you are supposed to. You could be using that time for those things that matter. If you want to go deeper into this idea I would recommend these essays: The Tail End by Tim Urban (took the image from it), Life is Short by Paul Graham, On the Shortness of Life by Seneca.
Breakthroughs lie under our defaults. Our defaults are those embedded beliefs we don’t question, those activities we have been doing our whole life without thinking why we do them…anything we do automatically. If an idea makes you uncomfortable it’s probably challenging one of those defaults.
You can learn something from anyone if you don’t assume that there’s nothing they can teach you. People that are considered “weird” or eccentric will always have cool ideas to listen to. Try to spend some time with people who are your complete opposite, they also have interesting ideas that can help you identify your defaults. Dig and keep digging until you find what makes this person wake up every morning, it’s better than a conversation about the weather.
We are the result of our experiences, beliefs and social/cultural context. When someone does something wrong they didnt believe they did so. People don’t wake up saying: “I’m going to be a horrible person and ruin the day to as many people as I can, they are doing the best they can. So don’t let them ruin your day. Got this insight from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and Peter Drucker’s Effective Executive (in business context, if someone is “wrong” they are either looking at other problem or don’t have the same information).
Do those boring but necessary tasks in the moment while the information is fresh in your mind. It will take way longer if you do it later. Procrastinating necessary tasks we don’t like takes time and energy from the things we care about. Focus on the task at hand.
Momentum is key for habit changes or creating something new. Start small and be constant. If you don’t have the time to read an entire chapter of a book today, read a page. If you can’t meditate for 10 minutes, do 2 instead. Can’t work out today? do ten push ups, the idea is to keep the streak running so that it would be a real pity to break your streak.
Schedule time off the grid for thinking. It’s good to take a pause and evaluate what we are doing and where we are heading to. Think about difficult problems. Take long walks, spend time observing nature. Isolation is the vehicle for remarkable creative work.
Don’t compare yourself with others, it is way better to measure your own progress over time. Everybody measures success in their own way so don’t waste your time thinking about what others have done that you haven’t. In any case, use them as an inspiration.
Know why you are doing something, having a purpose will give you the energy and motivation needed for getting it done. This is even more important for keeping teams and groups focused and motivated.
Celebrate small and big wins, take a pause to see how far you’ve come. We are always thinking on what’s next without enjoying our achievements.
Build on your strengths (individually and collectively). Invest your time and resources developing your strengths. Strategize and plan according to what you are good at. This applies to sports, work, dating, everything. We are so focused about our weaknesses that we forget our strengths.
Spend the first two hours of your day off the grid. My best days always start with without notifications or whatsapp messages. Use this time to exercise, meditate, read or write. Put your phone on airplane mode when you go to sleep and enjoy waking up to 0 notifications.
Follow your gut, it will take you to interesting places. Pay attention to your surroundings and feelings, they will tell you more than you can imagine. My best trips and experiences from this year were the result of me going with my gut feeling.
The best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. If you can teach it to a child you have mastered it.
You don’t have to finish everything you’ve started. If you are not enjoying it there’s no reason to carry on, life is too short for bullshit.
Use music for positive visualization. Music is very powerful, use those songs that fill you up with energy and good vibes to visualize yourself achieving your goals or having fun. Still experimenting this practice, but it has a very powerful positive effect.
Mindfulness is happiness on demand. Listen carefully to the music, observe your surroundings, pay attention to your breathing. Feel the breeze and/or the sun on your skin. Being present in the moment is an extraordinary life hack, it’s hard to complain when you are paying attention to all the amazing things that are going on in the present moment.
So this is what 2016 taught me, I hope you find some of them useful. Will do my best to keep them in mind during 2017. Remember: Be patient, work smart, never stop, and enjoy the ride!