Reading More Books in 2019

I decided that right now, I’m going to sit in front of my MacBook Pro and type whatever comes up in my mind. I do this because I know how debilitating perfectionism can be and therefore, allowing myself to just write freely without trying to perfect the structure and flow of the entire post is quite freeing. It’s also good because that way I can actually get stuff DONE.

I’m sitting in my grandparents’ guest bedroom in Northern California, with my phone face up next to my right arm on the desk, Instagram opened. Today’s IGTV video is 74% loaded, after many many attempts to upload the video. The app kept saying “Upload Failed,” to which I responded by tapping “Try Again” – and this happened probably twenty times, if not more.

You would think that this kind of situation would make a person extremely frustrated and upset, but for some reason I was completely fine (not usually like this when it comes to technological issues).

But this evening as I was tapping “Try Again” for what felt like the thousandth time, I was fine, and even quite upbeat and happy. I think the reason for this is that the rest of my day today was what I’d call a “successful” day.

What defines a successful day? Probably depends on the person. But for me, a successful day generally means that I started my day early with a lovely and refreshing morning routine, completed important tasks throughout the day, gave myself enough time to relax and rest in the afternoon (like a 30 minute nap or so), and spending adequate time planning, evaluating, and adjusting my schedule, my short and long term goals, and just my whole life in general.

It also means that I did things that I consider my lifeline: prayer (30 minutes is ideal), meditating (and really just doing nothing), Bible reading, and reading other spiritual and self-help books.

I just started reading High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard (I recently discovered the amount of value he brings to the world and now trust pretty much every word he says). IT’S SO GOOD.

I’ve never considered myself an avid reader, especially since I can actually count with one hand the books (or series of books) I read growing up: Harry Potter (but I never got around to reading the 7th book..), A Series of Unfortunate Events… and I recall reading some Nancy Drew books every so often.

But that was mostly in elementary school, and maybe some of middle school. Once high school hit though, I don’t recall ever reading a book for leisure. I do remember reading enough books for all my high school English classes.

Anyway, my point is that when I say a book is good, it’s usually a pretty big deal. But then again ever since I became obsessed with all things personal development, pretty much every self help book turned into a good book.

Here are some enlightening quotes that struck a chord in me today from High Performance Habits:

“Who are these people, and what’s their secret? They are high performers, and their secret is their habits…With the right training and habits, anyone can become a high performer…”

“What you need is a reliable set of practices for unleashing your greatest abilities. Study high performers and you will see that they have systems built into their days that drive their success. Systems are what separate the pro from the novice…Without systems, you cannot… repeatedly deliver exceptional results. In personal and professional development, these systems and procedures are, ultimately habits.”

“High performance is not achieved by a specific kind of person, but rather by a specific set of practices, which I call high performance habits.”

Anyway, just a few things that stood out to me and gave me renewed hope, all within the first twelve pages of High Performance Habits. I’m suuper stoked to finish the rest of the book!

One of my goals for 2019 is to READ MORE. So please send me your book recommendations and I’ll put it on my To-Read list!

I really really believe that 2019 will be the best year yet, and something just tells me that my life will be drastically different by the end of the year. Maybe it’s just a feeling, but anyway, these motivational people like Brendon Burchard give me much hope and expectation for amazing things to come this year!!

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My Sunday OCD Planning for the Week

I’m all about productivity and figuring out how to make the most out of my time, working towards ambitious goals, and all that jazz. So today I invested a good few hours of my time on this lovely Sunday afternoon/evening to set up a definite, specific plan for the upcoming week, which also happens to be the first week of my new job (starting Tuesday).

I know I’ve referenced Sam Brown multiple times in the past but it’s because I feel like I can relate to her the most out of all the blogs I’ve come across. And no she did not tell me to promote her blog or anything.. I just have been helped so much by her…

Sam recently put out a new online course that helps with scheduling and beating procrastination. I have not purchased this course since I feel the need to start working so that I can save up some more money first (gotta pay off those student loans, ya know), but there is a free workshop video (I hope the link works) that she made on how to create a balanced study schedule (or just a schedule, if you’re not a student).

I spent wayyy too long being super OCD about following her step-by-step schedule planning video, but I have to say I am very happy with the results. I don’t think it’s normal though to spend more than two hours creating a weekly schedule… then again I had major indecisiveness issues choosing what colors to use on my Google Calendar (I think iCal has way prettier colors but I don’t have a MacBook). Welcome to the life of a perfectionist.

I strongly recommend creating a schedule electronically so that you have instant access to your calendar at any time. I have been a lover of physical Moleskine planners for the longest time, but this year, even before watching Sam Brown’s video, I started to just use my phone or laptop to access my planner/calendar because it’s so simple and convenient.

Then again I also just didn’t buy a physical 2018 planner in time for the new year, so that may have been part of the motivation for me to make the switch from paper to digital. Whatever the motivation was, I like what I am now using.

It’s convenient because you can set up notifications that remind you about important tasks that you may have forgotten, for example, say.. the need to give your little sister a ride to her chamber music rehearsal when you’ve completely forgotten about it. Or when you promised someone you’d call them at such and such time to discuss something.

Maybe making a detailed schedule sounds a bit crazy, but it’s not until you fill up a blank weekly calendar spread with mandatory things that you realize how little time you actually have left to do everything else that is not mandatory but perhaps necessary for sanity purposes (e.g. entertainment, meeting up with friends, etc). And that was a very long sentence.

I don’t feel the need to go into detail about how I planned out my entire week, but I will say I pretty much know what I will be doing from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, every day. But of course, life also happens, so if something unplanned comes up I will not be in shock and I will not cry because my schedule that I spent so much time on is “ruined.”

Honestly my view of a schedule is not that you have to follow it to the very last second, but that it gives a solid structure to your whole life, and you will have a better general idea of when you can “squeeze in” time for friends and family.

It’s kind of like the habit idea I was talking about in one of my recent posts (and also what I learned from Sam, again). When forming a long-term habit it’s not about doing it perfectly 100% of the time, but about doing it most of the time so that overall, you can really say that it is a part of your regular day to day life.

A schedule is similar in that you have a regular routine that you follow for the most part, allowing a little bit of wiggle room for the “life happens” moments. What matters is you can see clearly what your responsibilities are for the week, and at what times, so you will better know how many extra activities you can allow into your schedule.

That’s my take on scheduling and planning, though I surely have not been the best at keeping a good schedule most of the time, probably because I’ve just been on an extended two month long vacation. A much needed one. We’ll see how I survive “real life” again starting Tuesday.

Consistency

This one blog post a day thing is getting a bit tiring, but here I am again. Thanks to my blogger friend Sam, I’ve been learning and practicing how to just “show up.” Like, here I am now, showing up to wordpress.com to write a blog post, even though I don’t feel like doing it. The thought and strategy here is that simply showing up, presenting yourself, is the key to consistency. Take a full-time job, for example. Whether you like it or not, you gotta show up – doesn’t matter what mood you’re in. You have no choice, unless you want to lose your job and have trouble paying your bills. Your life is dependent on your showing up to work! The reason why we are able to earn money for our living is because we show up. Sure, maybe some work days are more productive than others, but nevertheless you still showed up, so at least something was accomplished that day.

What if we applied this same principle to everything else in life, or to do things we’ve been wanting to do for a while but never actually got around to doing? Or maybe the idea of some things sounds wonderful, like say, mastering a new language, but that just feels overwhelming and impossible, and you just don’t have the time (supposedly) to add another activity to your life. Sound familiar?

I am absolutely no success story.. haha. But my aspiration is to be one. Actually, I’ve made the decision to be a success story. Making the decision is a huge first step towards success. It’s kind of like how recognizing that you have a medical problem is the first step towards recovery.

What to write…. blah. I don’t know. But I’m here. I showed up. That’s the most important thing, I think, because the more we show up to whatever it is that we need to do, the more we will achieve in the long run. But man, I do NOT feel like writing right now….. lalalalalalalala.

I’ve probably been writing this post on and off today at work, maybe about a dozen times. But each of the dozen times, I managed to still “show up.” Have I made my point clear yet? Just show up!

So I guess I should try to practice what I preach, other than the fact that I’m practicing showing up just by writing this blog post… Okay, one thing I’ve been wanting to do consistently in order to reach a big long-term goal is to get into the habit of reading a bit of a Bible expository book series every day and finish the entire series before I turn 30. The reading is very dense so I’ve had a hard time getting through it, but from what I’ve read so far, I feel like I’ve really benefited from it. Maybe I’ve found some sections boring, or other sections too technical, but there have also been the occasional sections where I’m blown away by the reading. Anyway, regardless of how I feel, I really do aspire to complete the whole series, but there are a total of 1,984 chapters. Yikes. Well I’ve already finished 237 chapters, so only 1,747 chapters left. No big deal. Totally doable… You know, actually it IS doable. It’s all about the mindset (think positive, cheesy I know), and the approach (showing up over and over again until the work is done).

Maybe finishing before I turn 30 is too ambitious. Maybe not. But regardless, my approach will be – you guessed it – showing up. Maybe some days I’ll be sleepy and read really slowly, and maybe other days it will be a lot easier to focus. But I’m PRETTY sure that even during my not so efficient days, SOME progress will still be made!

I’m going to make this like a full-time job, in the sense that at a set regular time I am required to show up. Just as I show up to work at 8:30am every weekday morning, I will also set a time to show up to read. For now my approach will not be “a chapter a day,” but rather, hm.. 15 minutes a day. But I can’t just hope to find 15 minutes each day at any random time when it’s convenient; I have to SET a time – the time doesn’t have to be “8:37pm,” something super exact like that, but I think it is more than sufficient to set a time as an event relevant to other events. For example, “I will read for 15 minutes every day as soon as I return home.” That way, if you have last minute dinner plans or something happens that you weren’t expecting to happen, it doesn’t matter. Why? Because you’re still going to end up going home by the end of the day. Or, other possible times could be right after dinner, or right before your daily jog (btw if you are already disciplined enough to be jogging every day, you probably don’t need to read this).

So, now that I’ve announced my reading plan to the public, I guess I’ll have to stick to it. 15 minutes of reading each day AS SOON AS I get home. Okay well, I will still allow myself to use the restroom if I’m desperate, and put my purse down and maybe change out of my work clothes. I’m not saying that as soon as I walk through the front door I have to be reading immediately. No, that’s stupid and unrealistic. I’m allowed to walk to the second floor where my room is, put my things down, sit down at my desk, get comfortable, and then read. As long as reading is the first real productive activity that I do, that’s fine.

I will proceed to start this new not-yet-established habit tonight. Actually, I will put “15 min reading” into my “Productive” habit tracker app on my iPhone right now (I definitely recommend the app).

Glad I showed up today to write, even though I didn’t really want to. Now I have a whole new blog post, yay!