SPIRE part 2

The Specifics: Here’s exactly what I do on a daily basis. It has evolved over the last two years or so into this current incarnation. I encourage you to find something that works for you and would note that this is a baseline and not the final word.

Spiritual: mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is one of the best-studied versions of meditation and has many benefits. Mostly it reduces stress and pain signals and helps you to use the parts of the brain that make us human–the prefrontal cortex.

Physical: HFT and foam rolling.

Match what you are doing, physically, with both where you are now and what your goals are. Be sensible. If you weigh 300lbs, start with a daily 20 minute walk. The most important workout is tomorrow’s workout, and you won’t do tomorrow’s workout if you destroy yourself today. Even daily walking has a ton of benefits. For me, I need the muscle maintenance of the HFT as well as working out the kinks mobility-wise.

Intellectual: 10 ideas

Some people have very logical, rational thinking in their daily work or jobs. These people would benefit from more creativity. Artists, musicians, and other people might benefit more from a logical SPIRE practice. Alternately, you could learn or hone a skill.

Resources: Morning Pages from “The Artist’s Way”

Relationships are your relationships with other people, resources are your internal resources and environment. If you are an extrovert, working on your relationships is natural, but developing internal resources may be difficult. The opposite is the case for an introvert. An ambivert (both intro- and extroverted) could alternate or do both. I think that working against your natural grain will bear fruit in this area.

Daily journaling has been studied by science, too.  Journaling is like a cheap version of therapy: it can help you manage stress, anxiety, and improve your mood. I learned about Morning Pages from Oliver Burkeman (who wrote the tremendous book The Antidote: happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking) and Tim Ferriss.

Emotional: A simple gratitude practice.

I write down at least three things that I’m grateful for. I try to write new things every day, going beyond the usual things like “family”. I’ve written “sunshine” and “coffee” more than once though. Gratitude has been studied quite a bit and has tons of benefits.

Bonus: A focusing exercise from Mel Robbins.

Write down two things you will accomplish today that relate back to your main goal, then write down one reason why you will achieve those two things.

All in all, this morning routine takes less than 90 minutes to complete (although it would be faster if I did a briefer workout). I believe it’s adaptable to anyone in nearly any situation. It gives you a way to win the morning and hopefully win the day.


SPIRE part 1

Why Why Why?

Why Linux?

Because I know Windows well but need to understand Linux better, basically, for work. But I know I’m not going to learn things well enough unless I turn it on as a fully formed, “daily driver”. As long as I’m on Windows boxes all day, that’ll be my comfort-level.

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Abstinence Education

For some people, building some flexibility into their diets, such as the classic “free day” or “diet break” can help. Other people are better served by strictness. Gretchen Rubin calls these differences in personalities “Moderators” vs. “Abstainers” in her book Better Than Before. Moderators do best when they can have a small treat every day. Abstainers will eat the treat and then eat the remaining week’s treats before running out to the store to get a box of cookies or some ice cream. Moderators can also smoke “socially”. Other people will smoke one cigarette and be back to a pack-a-day habit.

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Backing Off

As we talked about in the last post, there has to be a balance of work and breaks, or you will burn out.  In training, too, you can’t go full-throttle all the time. One way to look at this is to think that the most important workout is the next one. If you beat yourself up to the point where you don’t want to return, sooner or later, you won’t come back. It’s better to intentionally taper for a week than wait for burnout or injury. To that end, the template that I’ve been using for the last month is a simple way to build in back-off weeks. I got it from Josh Hillis, but since it’s been published by Dan John here  I don’t mind sharing my experience with it.

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Activity Breaks

In my last post, I talked about Deep Work, and the concept of having a structure that supports it. Part of this was the idea that you needed to block out hours or even days to make room for Deep Work in your schedule.

This sounds great, but runs into a pitfall: working deeply is exhausting and requires one to take breaks. How do you take breaks in the context of a larger, hours- (or days-) long focused work block?

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