Monthly Learnings Roundup (September 2018)

Monthly Learnings Roundup (September 2018)

Thanks for checking out the Monthly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, monthly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this month.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming month. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

When to work: How to optimize your daily schedule for energy, motivation, and focus by Jory MacKay (via RescueTime:blog)

I’m more conscious of late about leveraging my circardian rhythm to optimize my day. This article gives a great overview not just of your circardian rhythm but also two other daily cycles that affect your productivity. The last part of the article talks a bit about RescueTime’s product and tracking but I think you’ll find it interesting or maybe even worth a try yourself. Full disclosure: I’ve been a RescueTime user for 2+ years now.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes that I enjoyed last month —

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

This might be the best book I’ve read all year. It’s as honest and open of a memoir that I’ve read from someone as successful as Knight who shares his journey borrowing $50 from his dad to start, what later became, Nike. This book is one that anyone, anywhere – from a CEO to an intern – should pickup and experience.

Quotes that are inspiring me —

A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.

— William Shakespeare

Behaviour change of the month —

Bulletjournaling

I’ve been underwhelmed with a number of task management/organization philosophies that I’ve tried in the past. They were either too cumbersome or just not robust enough for me to get enough value out of them everyday. I’d heard about the Bullet Journal in the past and decided to give it a shot in September.

I have to say, I’m really impressed with the flexibility and simplicity of the Bulletjournaling system. I like how it’s analog (e.g. you still use a notebook as your primary note-taking system) and easy enough to fit it into any part of your workflow. Maintenance time for this system is minimal too – just a morning/evening setup and a monthly “migration” protocol. Give it a shot if you’re looking to try a new way to organize your life effectively.

“ah-ha!” thought of the month —

In August, I published a post called A Simple Model I Use to Organize My Life Priorities which I was really proud to share with the world. I’m now realizing that the post and the model I share in it is missing an critical component – philosophy. Philosophy (or your approach to life) is probably the central piece to the model I shared. You can have many of the extrinsic things like good physical and mental health, strong relationships, and wealth, but what really leads to the “good life” is having a clear guiding philosphy to life. Without one, you can’t enjoy the fruits of your labour or really feel present with those around you. It’s a thought that I hope to expand upon on an updated version of the post!

Product or service I’m loving —

Google Keep

Google recently integrated some of their tools like Keep and Tasks to their Gmail interface. I’d never used either of them before but I’ve come to really enjoy using Google Keep. I use it essentially as a “bulletin board” for key links and documents I want to have quick access to. It’s way easier to track down a document than having to comb through the depths of Google Drive.

Featured image by Stas Knop.

As always, thanks for checking out this Monthly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see all the articles that I share on a daily basis.

Monthly Learnings Roundup (August 2018)

Monthly Learnings Roundup (August 2018)

Thanks for checking out the Monthly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, monthly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this month. It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming month. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

How to make the 4-day workweek work: An interview with “Rest” author Alex Pang by Jory MacKay (RescueTime)

Some of my best ideas for work actually come when I’m not working and engaging in relaxing, “unproductive” activity like reading, walking, or exercising. The author provides a compelling case about how we should be prioritizing “rest” just as much as we are work in our day-to-day.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes that I enjoyed this month —

The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss makes another apperance on my blog this time as a self-experimenter extraordinaire with the human body. Tim shares his research – both academic and personal – on key areas such as fat loss, muscle gain, sleep, optimal performance, and more. It’s a really well researched book and he provides the content in simple, understandable, and most importantly, executable language. His “Slow Carb Diet” has gained a large following and it’s no surprise. I’ve used this book so far for guidance around muscle gain – see more below about how that’s going for me.

Quotes that are inspiring me —

Philosophy isn’t a palor trick or made for show. It’s not concerned with words, but with facts. It’s not employed for some pleasure before the day is spent, or to relieve the uneasiness of our leisure. It shapes and builds up the soul, it gives order to life, guides action, shows what should and shouldn’t be done — it sits at the rudder steering our course as we vacillate in uncertainties. Without it, no one can live without fear or free from care. Countless things happen every hour that require advice, and such advice is to be sought out in philosophy.

— Seneca, Moral Letters, 16.3

Behaviour change of the month —

A journey to gain 10 pounds of lean mass

This month, I began a process of transforming my twig-like body into Arnold Schwarzenegger circa Terminator 2. (Okay, maybe that’s a stretch). I set myself a goal this quarter – August to October – to gain 10 pounds of lean mass. I’ve been working with a personal trainer with olympic lifting since February but didn’t see much improvement in muscle growth – maybe adding ~1 pound of lean mass during that time.

The problem? I wasn’t eating nearly enough calories or protein to stimulate muscle growth. Borrowing key concepts from Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Body, I began to implement his guidelines to muscle gain. I didn’t realize that eating so much could be so hard. Here’s what my meal schedule has looked like over the past 3 weeks or so:

6:00 A.M. – Protein Shake (40g)
9:00 A.M. – Protein Bar (30g)
11:30 A.M. – Lunch (30g)
2:00 P.M. – Protein Bar (30g)
6:30 P.M. – Dinner (30g)
9:00 P.M. – Protein Shake (30g)
Total protein intake = 190g
So far from July 30th to today (August 25th) I’ve gained 7.2 lbs of lean mass. This is based off of data collected from my Fitbit Aria scale which uses bioimpedence analysis to measure lean mass and body fat. I’ll report back next month with an update on how this lean mass gaining experiment has gone for me. My goal this quarter – August to October – is to gain and maintain 10 lbs of new lean mass.

“ah-ha!” thought of the month —

Upgrade your skills faster with a coach or specialist

Recently I’ve been a bit more aggressive in the uptake of hiring of a coach or specialist to support my growth. In the past 12 months, I’ve hired a personal trainer (specializing in Olympic lifting), a naturopathic doctor, and a psychotherapist to support me with certain goals and challenges that I have. And I’m blown away at how quickly I’ve been able to make progress in areas that they support – Physical & Mental Health. They instilled in me knowledge that would’ve easily taken years of experience to gain (if ever at all) in a matter of weeks and months.

Yes, it’s expensive to hire a coach or a specialist there’s no denying that but imagine the cost of time & money that it’ll take you to come remotely close to acquiring the knowledge that a specialist might have. Not to mention the sense of accountability they provide by being in your corner as you embark on your change process.

If you’re like me and don’t have a six figure salary or a massive savings bank to draw on, there are ways to make this happen. Here are a few possible ideas:

  • Save enough money for at least the first three sessions and keep saving to stay ahead of the expenditure.
    • Note: This will help make the financial budgeting a bit easier if you decide to continue on with the coaching.
  • See if the coach or specialist would be open to starting with a staggered schedule (e.g. bi-weekly vs. weekly or quarterly vs. monthly).
    • Note: If they are resistant, ask them why. There might be a very good reason that starting with a weekly cadence, for example, would be much more effective than a bi-weekly or monthly. Remember that you’re ultimately looking for results here and not something that fits your budget the best.
  • Ask them if they have suggested resources – especially books or online courses – that they would highly recommend.
    • Note: Don’t mix this up with actually doing the sessions. This might be one way to help you gain the knowledge you need faster and picking things up on your own.

Finally, when selecting a coach or specialist, avoid going with the first, second, or third person you find. Look at at least five options to give you a breadth backgrounds and experiences. Preferably, you can ask a friend or colleague for a referral for someone they’ve had a great experience with. Make sure, though, that they’ve seen results from working with them.

Product or service I’m loving —

The Division Pack by Timbuk2

Timbuk2 makes great bags. I’ve owned one of their messenger bags for years until I was told by my naturopath that a switch to a backpack would be a better option for my body alignment and not cause extra stress on one side over another. So when I started searching with options, I started with Timbuk2. The Division Pack is great. It’s well constructed and doesn’t lose its shape as you’re walking around or putting it on the ground. What I love the most about their bags is their attention to detail around organization. The bag has multiple pockets of different sizes and it makes it really easy to organize everything. There’s enough room with the bag to pack my laptop, notebooks, and a lunch – everything I need for a day’s work.

Photo by Stas Knop from Pexels

As always, thanks for checking out this Monthly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see all the articles that I share on a daily basis.

Monthly Learnings Roundup (October, 2017)

Monthly Learnings Roundup (October, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Monthly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, monthly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this month.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming month. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

What I learned about productivity while reinventing Google Calendar by David Kadavy

David has some great actionable insights on how we can become a bit more sustainably productive. The keys? Awareness, tiny habits, and weekly routines.

Cultivating the Skill of Figuring Things Out by Scott H. Young

I was taught in school from a young age that there is a correct answer to each question. In school it might make sense, but in reality? “Figuring things out” is an important skill and Scott walks through why some people are better at it than others — and it’s not innate talent.

How to Make Friends When You Don’t Have Play Dates by Miriam Kirmayer

Friendships become even more important during adulthood as we don’t have the built in opportunities to spend time with friends we had earlier in our lives. Here are some great suggestions on how you can still make new friends into adulthood.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes that I enjoyed last month —

Philosphize This!

One of my favourite new podcasts. The host’s love of philosophy and practical applications from the diverse school’s of philosophy makes this podcast entertaining and actionable.

The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey

Don’t let the title fool you. This is a fantastic book on how to manage your inner self in all situations. If you feel you might be holding yourself back in some way, this is a great read for you.

Quotes that are inspiring me —

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

— Michelangelo

It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.

— Eleanor Roosevelt

Looking at things from other people’s point of view is practically the secret of success.

— Paul Graham

Behaviour change of the month —

Shifting my internal mindset (Part 2)

Last month, I shared my behaviour change goal which was to read myself a personal commerical every morning. I’m happy to say that I was able to accomplish that daily habit 88% of the time in October.

In terms of impact, I felt like there was a subtle shift in my behaviour. Specifically around the topic of fear, my thinking process shifted to lean more into situations that make me feel fear, or at least recognize moments that I felt scared about something. Once I recognized it, I was able to decide how to take action on it. That thought process is a small win for me there.

I also felt really good every time I read “Peter, you’ve got enthusiasm and positivity. So let that shine through to others.” I felt like I was bringing out a better version of myself and could make a small difference for others. This is worth me thinking about on a daily basis and perhaps expanding upon in future versions of the daily commerical.

I’m continuing to read my daily commercial in November so I’ll report back in a few weeks time with more progress.

“ah-ha!” thought of the month —

Aim for bigger goals.

I’m generally a pretty conservative person when I’m setting new goals. If we look at SMART goals, aside from “measurable” I’m the biggest fan of “realistic”. It’s not that I consciously set goals that are unambitious. It’s that I like to have some sort of control over the outcomes.

When you look at some of the greatest achievements in history, however, we can quickly see that impactful achievements didn’t come with any semblance of control for those pursuing them. Consider JFK’s push to get a man on the moon – there was absolutely no certainty that could happen. There had to be a lot of “figuring things out” to even know if it was possible or not.

The beauty of the goal JFK laid out is that even if we didn’t end up landing someone on the moon, we still would’ve learned so much from that process. Those lessons learned can contribute to future missions or maybe even have valuable insights into fields totally unrelated to space exploration. Even getting to 70% of the goal would’ve been a success for all the learning.

When we set goals, are we setting up goals that excite us, scare us, and sound like a lot of fun? I sometimes get stuck in this step-by-step, measurable process in goal setting that I don’t set these big, shiny, exciting goals that make me want to keep going even when I’m tired, exhausted, and discouraged. If we can all set bigger goals and stop holding ourselves back, we might make the world a better place.

Featured image by Fancycrave.

As always, thanks for checking out this Monthly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see all the articles that I share on a daily basis.

Monthly Learnings Roundup (September, 2017)

Monthly Learnings Roundup (September, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Monthly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, monthly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this month.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming month. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

Bestselling Author and Investor James Altucher on Choosing Yourself and Stoic Minimalism by The Daily Stoic

One of the biggest challenges we have as human beings is managing the gray area between what we can control and what we can’t. I love James’s perspective on handling criticism or rejection for work that we produce and deeply care about.

The Ultimate Guide to Making Smart Decisions by Farnam Street

Making decisions is difficult. Multiple variables, lack of information, and the influence of emotions can all affect the decision making process. We can, however, decide to make decisions based on principles and models that, if consistently applied, can lead us to the best decision available.

Antifragile Planning: Optimizing for Optionality (Without Chasing Shiny Objects) by Taylor Pearson

This is a meaty read but well worth it. Taylor goes into details about how he uses well planned, 90-day sprints to achieve his goals.

Books that I enjoyed last month —

So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

Every young graduate and professional should read this book. It turns the “follow your passion” career advice upside down in a convincing fashion.

Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel

Written by one of the most well-respected thinkers on relationships today this book goes into how to create and maintain intimacy. I also recommend checking out Perel’s new Audible podcast series Where Should We Begin? 

Quotes that are inspiring me —

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.

— Lao-Tzu

We are caught in the trance of fear when the emotion of fear becomes the core of our identity and constricts our capacity to live fully.

— Tara Brach

Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

— Jack Canfield

Behaviour change of the month —

Shifting my internal mindset.

In September, I started to read to myself a personal commercial to shift my internal mindset. Drawing inspiration from the book, The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz, I wrote myself a motivational commercial to read everyday.

I was a little skeptical about doing this at first but as I began to make this part of my daily routine, I started to believe the words that I was saying to myself. I walked around smiling more often at people and managing fears in my life a little better. It’s almost as if neural networks in my brain were getting re-wired in new ways.

All this to be said, it takes time to change one’s mindset and reading my personal commercial has only planted the seeds that have yet to grow. I’ll be continuing on with this behaviour change goal into October and will report back with progress.

“ah-ha!” thoughts of the month —

Expertise > Passion

Is “follow your passion” good advice for your career? Author, Cal Newport, argues that the popular advice may be lead us to choosing the wrong career. Newport suggests that we should think about how to develop rare skills that people value as the key to having a fulfilling career of impact and passion.

Quarterly Focus

We’ve all got a ton on our plate. Whether it be with our relationships, career, finances, or health. It’s a lot of balls to juggle in the air. And it’s no surprise that we sometimes fall short of our goals. Instead of trying everything at once, why not try to focus on ONE area over the course of a quarter and see how much progress you can make?

It’s something I’m interested in trying out – having ONE main focus per quarter. Of course, I’ll make sure that the other areas of my life get enough attention but how much more can I get done if I focus on one area? How much more can I get done if I concentrate my resources (i.e. money, time, and energy) into one area?

Product I’m loving —

Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate

Adding this hydrolyzed collagen to my supplements has been a game changer for me. I’ve dealt for years with inflammation and pain from my osteoarthritis in my left knee but adding collagen has almost completely removed all pain from day-to-day activities. There is robust research available around the effectiveness of collagen with improving knee joint comfort including this double-blind study from 2009 from the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. With this being said, there doesn’t seem to be a long-term restorative effects of collagen on joints. So if you’re planning on adding collagen to your supplements, just be aware that this isn’t going to “fix” your knee to what it was like before.

Please make sure to check with your doctor if this is the right step for you first.

Featured image by imagesthai.com

As always, thanks for checking out this Monthly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see all the articles that I share on a daily basis.