What I’m Learning: Day 1/365

Today, I choose to be a superior version of self.

On May 10th, 2011, I made a commitment to writing one blog post every day as a way of reinforcing my personal philosophy of self-determinism and creative autonomy.  My initial goal was to see if I could meet the challenge of writing about my ideas everyday while observing any effects this routine would have on my overall outlook on life. I wrote a blog post everyday for almost three years and I enjoyed every minute of it. Although it was immensely challenging at times, I learned and evolved quite a bit as a direct result of creating so many posts.  For me, blogging has opened what Maxine Greene calls “vistas of possibility” in my life. The personal discipline, enhanced self-awareness, and the increased sense of confidence and curiosity I’ve cultivated through writing has inspired me to branch out and blossom in many new ways. I am a happier, healthier, and more productive person as a result of my commitment to daily writing.

Since then, I have come to appreciate the power of ritual. The process of committing to at least one constructive or creative activity everyday can have a profound impact on one’s self-esteem, state of mind, and outlook on the future. Yesterday, I decided to start a new personal development project for the next 365 days. I wrote about the details of that project here. A good friend created a spreadsheet that I can use to track my progress in real time. You can view it here. I plan on posting daily public updates here. Feel free to follow along if you enjoy observing what I’m learning. At this point, I’m not completely sure how I’m going to go about the process of documenting what I learn. I may offer commentary about my activities or I may simply list what I accomplished for the day. I’m sure this will evolve and become clearer as I go along. My main goal for now is to make sure I’m actually doing the activities and to document what I’m doing as way of creating a record I can look back on someday. I imagine my posts to be a kind of diary chronicling my adventures in self-directed learning. If you find the updates to be too frequent or tedious, you can modify your subscription to this blog here. There is an option that allows you to unsubscribe completely and there is an option that allows you to adjust the frequency of updates (ie. you can change your settings to receive emails about my blog updates only once a week).

I will still continue to write regular blog posts as I have done before. I expect to write a regular post 1-2 times a week, but I may write more frequently if I get into a groove. As was the case when I first started blogging, this is an experiment in personal development. Maintaining an experimental approach to learning and exploring is an essential aspect of my personal/professional development. So there will be an aspect of this personal development project that’s planned out, but there will also be an aspect that evolves organically as I get a feel for the process.

So to begin, here’s what I covered yesterday:

My first two activities were running for 20 minutes and doing 100 push ups. I don’t expect these two practices to make me a fitness guru, but I need to go from zero to one when it comes to physical activity. I’ve been studying a lot of bioenergetics lately and I realize how important it is to get my body moving and respect the fact that my entrepreneurial/academic performance is linked together with my physical health. I’m sure my exercise routines will become more informed and refined as I grow, but I really need to get myself off the couch. This will get me started. While I’m free to go beyond this daily routine, I need to keep this as a bare minimum. Both of these were difficult to accomplish today, but I got through it. I’m excited about the fact that it will eventually be easy for me to run for 20 minutes. Today, it was not easy in the least.

My third activity was to do a 15-30 minute guided meditation. For this activity, I want to focus on the process of allowing my mind to explore open creative spaces. Meditation is not only an opportunity to relax and tap into the power of stillness, but I also see it as a chance to daydream, fantasize, visualize, and explore my inner landscape without the boundaries and pragmatic demands of day-to-day waking-state thinking. The one I started with today was a 30-minute guided meditation by Kelly Howell. There’s no link for the full meditation. I ordered it here (non-affiliate link). There’s a 9-minute preview for free on youtube here. I enjoyed this experience. It felt like a spa for the mind. I didn’t do it until the end of the day. It would be nice to explore how it affects the quality of my day to do this earlier in the day, so I intend to explore that a bit.

My fourth activity was to read anything I want for one hour. This will be my time to gradually cover some of the books I’ve been wanting to read for a long time. I love reading more than anything else and I want to make sure I set aside time for it everyday. Yesterday I chose to spend my hour of reading time by starting a book called Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gotto. I have a strong interest in alternative education and Gotto is one of those guys lots of people quote when discussing this topic. It’s about time I took a look at what he has to say.

For activity number five, I chose to spend 10-minutes working through some of the brain game exercises on Luminosity.com.

For activity six, I will be covering a new grammar lesson each day. I’ll start with the very basic and work my way forward. Today’s lesson was on verbs and it can be found here. This was a simple lesson for me, but I expect it to get challenging fairly soon. Grammar is one of those areas I really want to master. This will help me immensely as a speaker and writer.

For activity seven, I read David Whyte on How to Break the Tyranny of Work/Life Balance from the Brainpickings blog. I’m a huge fan of Maria Popova’s work. Brainpickings is my favorite site and Popova’s writing always takes my mind to interesting spaces.

For activity eight, I listened to Mike Munger and Russ Roberts on Love, Money, Profits, and Non-profits. I look forward to enjoying this podcast everyday as Econ is one of my favorite topics and I want to learn all I can.

For activity nine, I listened to Lisa Bortolotti on Irrationality via the Philosophy Bites podcast. I regard Philosophy as the mother of all disciplines, so I’m even more excited about learning something new everyday on this subject.

I plan on using activity ten on going through a lot of Econ lectures for the next few weeks. Since I’ll be covering a lot of materials on Austrian School Economics, I decided to start with a brief introductory video, What Austrian Economics IS and What Austrian Economics Is NOT, by Steve Horwitz.

For activity eleven, I watched a TED Talk called Change anything! Use skillpower over willpower by Al Switzler. There were some very practical insights about harnessing the forces that shape our lives. I intend to blog about this one soon.

And finally, for activity twelve, I read Christopher Nolan Doesn’t Use E-mail (and Why This Matters to You) by Cal Newport. There’s one excerpt from this post I must share. At the end of the post, Newport says:

Each year, Silicon Valley investors are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into companies whose sole purpose is to try to capture our attention long enough to sell ads. Given this onslaught of shiny digital addictiveness, we could all probably use a dose of Nolan’s sang froid response to such entreaties: if you’re not helping me become world class, then get the hell out of my way.

Newport has some really great insights into building great work/study habits. I’m a big fan of his work and I look forward to learning more from him.

That’s all for now. Off to do some work.

PDP Day 1: Done!