Yeah, yeah – there seems to be a pattern of ‘post that you haven’t posted in a while and then promptly produce an even longer gap between posts’.

Well, I’m posting now, darnit.

I’ve been listening to a couple of new podcasts, one of which is ‘Impact Theory’ hosted by Thomas Bilyeu. He’s an ex-screenwriter/director who now co-owns Quest Nutrition (the ones that make Quest protein bars). Impact Theory is a program that interviews highly successful entrepreneurs in an attempt to break down what strategies they used in order to change their own lives and become not only more productive, but exponentially more productive over time. The discussions most often cite scientific research into motivational strategies, planning strategies, as well as daily habits and habit-breaking strategies that these ridiculously productive people use in order to become superpowers and achieve their dreams (and more).

Anyway, I wanted to write a little piece to remind myself of one interesting lesson from Eric Barker’s interview. Enjoy!

Wishing and dreaming are critical, but they’re like alcohol: they feel good in the moment, but by themselves, they’re not practical.

Once you have a dream, the next step is to think about the outcome of that dream, the FINAL outcome, with plenty of specific details. I.e., this is what I want to be, this is what I want to do, in as much detail as is realistic. Think of it as if you’re imagining a scene of yourself in the future – what are you doing every day in this dream, what does your environment look like, what do you look like, and what kind of people are around you? What does your daily work look like? What kind of person would you be in order to be doing the work you would be doing and living this lifestyle?

After that’s as clear as you can make it, only then think about the obstacles that are keeping you from immediately becoming that person. Obviously, they aren’t all visible at the moment, so identifying the most immediate and obvious obstacles is practical. Specifically identifying the obstacles allows you to set up a clear and defined plan to spend time every day improving yourself and chipping away at those obstacles until they’re no longer in your way.

The plan should be simple, basic, and should have the following characteristics:
a) The activity of carrying out the plan should be directly reflective of the dream or wish you had. This allows you to spend time testing whether the joy in that dream is realistic. If the dream acted in reality doesn’t bring you joy, then that allows you to quit it and iterate faster to a dream and outcome that work for you without hesitation or regret.
b) The plan should mimic a lesser version of the outcome that you envisioned earlier as well to make sure that you can shape yourself into a person that lives that lifestyle you imagined. This might sound too similar to the above point, but the introspection is different: above, you want to consider the excitement and spark involved in fulfilling the dream or wish. Here, you want to consider the satisfaction in the change in environment, change in lifestyle, and change in your day-to-day activities and mindset that would require you to accommodate your plan. Above, you test the satisfaction of the dream, and here, you test the satisfaction of the reality.
c) The plan should directly attack the obstacles at their core, because behind those obstacles are more obstacles that you want to get to. This one is complicated, as many obstacles can be a mix of the specific and the abstract. For example: ‘I’m pretty lazy’, ‘My writing skills need improvement’, and ‘I’m easily distracted from my current activity’. All of these obstacles can be translated into a plan to spend a set amount of time every day in a distraction free environment writing in a way that would help you grow into your outcome-self. Daily activities like this can not only kill many birds with one stone, but also set you up to form habits that change your moment-to-moment mindset throughout the day.

Wish. Outcome. Obstacle. Plan.

The likelihood is that the obstacles will start out being tough to conquer, and perhaps you’ll accidentally skip some smaller obstacles that will trip you up while you’re trying to break down loftier ones. This is fine – worked into the planning stage (and plan execution stage) is something of vital importance: assessment of progress and reflection on the process itself. This activity not only helps you stay in the right mindset, but will also give you an idea whether or not your plans are working and whether you should consider changing your plans to battle different obstacles.

Do the wish and outcome energize you enough to iterate through such planning stages and finding ways to overcome the obstacle? If so, then failed plans are nothing to worry about – you can always reform your plan and fit it to overcome your obstacles.

Base the choice between ‘grit’ and ‘quit’ on how much your dreams and specific outcomes excite you and energize you towards activity.

Eric Barker interview:

Mel Robbins on the 5 Second Rule (and, more importantly, there’s a link to the Million Dollar Morning routine she hints at in the description of the video):


Today was one of the most productive days I’ve ever had, I think. I woke up, went to church, came home, and then proceeded to clean the dishes, straighten up the kitchen, mow the lawn, wash and hang the laundry, make supper, put away the leftovers, and ponder what I want to do with the rest of my week.

First plan: be at least half as productive as I’ve been today. That would make for an awesome week! Anywho, manual labor gave me enough thinking time to realize that I need more thinking time before I can hop straight back into programming (which is fine, because there’s still a lot of housework to do after work this week). BenjaminMarquardt.com is not even close to being 100% (in fact, it’s really only a facade over a completely fake establishment) but that’s OK because it’s still in the building phase. I don’t need it to be practically functional for some time.

On Friday morning, I started the day by getting my heart rate up to the optimum range (55-85% of maximum, according to some heart organization) for 30 minutes. The entire rest of the day my mood was pretty amazing. My goal is to try to do that every day this week without stressing myself out too much. Good feels make for good days! And also make for reinforced behaviors that help future development.

I’ve started using a quirky little gamified habit former app called Habitica. I’ve yet to progress for any length into the game, but it looks interesting and part of my inspiration for doing the things I’ve set out for myself in the app is to see what happens when my character gets more powerful. I guess that’s a good enough sign that the app’s premise is solid.

Anyway, hopefully I’ll be posting more often now that the good feels train is here. Here’s to some good exercise tomorrow morning, and a productive day!

20170523 01

Of course – I post about needing to post more often, and then I neglect posting for an even longer period of time.

A few things I’ve noticed I need to clean up in my habits: I seem to have a lot of trouble sitting down and reflecting and reviewing my performance and success at the end of the week, when I presumably have large amounts of free time. One of the goals I’ve listed that would be worthwhile pursuing reflects my wish to become a bit more financially responsible and reflective, and thus be able to save more money. Reflecting on the things I could learn… it’s something I need to learn in and of itself.

More tonight, I think.

20170512 01

Oh, darn. I’ve got to go back and paste in check marks!

For those that might not be aware, the check mark is a bit of a crazy thing to track down if you’re looking to make them yourself. They’re kind of buried in the Unicode ocean that exists beyond keyboard labels, ASCII-codes, etc., unless you’re willing to work in Wingdings or perform Internet wizardry to jimmy out.

I’m curious as to whether this will work, but whatever, here goes:

In order to write it, you’ve got to use in-line CSS styling with an inert HTML tag (since you don’t want your platform – *cough* WordPress */cough* – to cramp your style with its style after the fact). So I use this:

<inert style=”font-family: Wingdings;”>ü</inert>

Apparently, the ‘inert’ tag is pretty much ignored. The Wingdings font has the check mark character within a reachable range (of ASCII numerics, at least), so styling in this way allows you to get a nice visible checkmark without copy pasting from other places or the like.

I do have a pregame plan that I’ll be posting later, but for now… I’ve got to post my checkmarks from yesterday!

20170511 01

Happy Thursday! Today I can happily report that I’m suffering from drowsiness and lethargy and afternoon drifting due to another horrible night’s sleep (I actually remember waking up on my back a few times). Time to break out my awkward fanny-pack-and-tennis-ball trick for staying on my side while sleeping.

Anywho, I just wanted to announce my intention to get exactly two things done this afternoon after work: I want to finish the dishes, and I want to walk on the treadmill for long enough to surpass a daily step count of 10k. Stretch goals: maybe install an OS on my new Raspberry Pi 3? Maybe work a bit on my JavaScript projects (as I AM listing them on this website…)? Maybe get some *gasp* other housework done?

Looks like I’ll need to hunt for a good video to listen to to keep me going.

  • Dishes ü
  • 10k steps
  • Install OS on RP3
  • Get some programming done
  • Get some other housework done

20170510 02

Well, I knocked off all the things on my list (mostly, in some respect). I didn’t spend hardly any time on the computer, but I did spend a lot of time doing things. Partly, perhaps, because I was listening to a live-recorded interview with Jordan Peterson, but I think there was more to it (an idea I’m working on): getting into warrior mode.

I look around myself and I think of my environment as target-dense; what can I take a swing at? But then I fall into a habitual mode where I sit on my wide hind parts, and then that little voice in the back of my head says, “There are more things to take a swing at.” And the thought is gamified, it’s a provocation, it’s a challenge. “Can you do chore X? Yes. Really? Obviously. I don’t believe you. Prove it. Fine. I will. It’s sitting there waiting to be done. Get to it.” And then I’m off.

Part of it wasn’t thinking about productivity vs. unproductivity; it was more like pondering what spending time doing activity x was actually, consciously doing for my own improvement. And was it actually fun enough to justify it? Because fun and productive should go hand in hand. Practice and challenge and fun should include practical improvement. And in some way, a lot of the stuff I did today was like practice. It was productive. It may not have been fun the whole time, but it’s more like knocking down goals was fun and I was able to watch Youtube at the same time.

Edit: Tomorrow’s a one-month anniversary for the new iteration of my blog! Yay!

20170501 01

More good news-bad news: the treadmill has arrived, it has been assembled, and it works fine. I have been testing it all weekend, and have finally settled on placing it in front of the TV so that I could watch Bosch while acclimating to an exercise schedule once again.

Unfortunately, I did not get many household chores completed this weekend. I did begin watching/reading some programming books (mostly on the subject of algorithm design), and have tentatively decided to start programming in Java on my free time (despite my distaste for the language and its inefficiencies).

Anyway, this morning was hyper productive and a fantastic beginning to the week: I woke up, had coffee, worked out (cardio, pushups, and crunches), helped Lyudmila with a small phone problem, breakfasted, showered, shaved, and still managed to get to work about 10 minutes early. If only every morning would be like this! Granted, I only got around 5 and half hours sleep last night, but I’m hoping that that means that I’ll be able to go to bed earlier tonight without any real problem.

I’ve decided that I need to find some system by which to tag or label the time I spend doing various activities in such a way as to directly connect them with my future authoring goals. This should help me evaluate my past performance in a much more accurate way, and help me tailor my schedule to allow my progress towards each of my goals consistently.

Signing off for now. Hopefully, I’ll be able to report on continued progress tonight. But I’ll definitely post tomorrow morning.

20170428 01

I’m swiftly learning that my problem at the end of the day is simply fatigue, probably inspired by my being completely out of shape. On the plus side, my new treadmill comes today. On the downside, my foot mysteriously explodes in pain whenever I put weight on it, despite my never recalling how I injured it (in my sleep?). Anyway, the obviously dismal beginning to my post here is in testament to the fact that I got next to none of the things done last night that I wanted to (except, partially, for helping that friend – although, not in programming, but with moving large amounts of packages to the post office). I essentially napped on the couch and dragged myself about the house all night before going to bed. Am I ill? I don’t know. Do I need the treadmill coming today? Most definitely. My body needs to be challenged. If only my foot felt better.

2017 04 24 #01

I’ve got to stop titling these if they’re just basic updates. They’re either going to be “I was bad,” or “I was good,” or “Things are good and bad, here’s why.” It’ll be just dates from now on.

Anyway, as my silence testifies, things got sloppy this past weekend. I’ve skimped on chores a bit (half because there really just aren’t many chores to begin with, half because of laziness at the end of the work day). However, I did knock a few goals for the weekend off the list: getting out of the cave, getting a good number of errands done on Sunday afternoon, and visiting a friend to help them out.

I’ve learned something about the Toggl timing: I really should only be using it for tracking the voluntary, non-vital work, studying, and other goal-chasing tasks I ought to be doing – as opposed to the things that I NEED to get done and don’t really have a choice (like taking the trash out at midnight the night before it gets picked up, or doing a manic cleanup for an impending visit from someone) or the things that really should count (eating, sleeping, or being unproductive). That will give me a metric for a successfully productive week.

Anyway, there are a few things I’d like to get done this week:

  1. I’d like to learn how to make bar-style pizza in my horrible oven (after purchasing all those ingredients while waiting for Walmart to finish with my car).
  2. I’d like to put at least 2 hours (each) into:
    1. studying algorithms –
    2. programming my project
  3. I’d like to bring out my sax and keep it handy for some scales practice.
    1. buy a mute (CHECK – est. delivery Monday)

That should be good for now. I’ll see if I can’t knock something off this list tonight.