Wake up. Check phone. Make a cup of coffee. Drink a cup of coffee. Start the day.
This simple process is probably what most mornings look like for everyone. There is just something refreshing about starting the day with a warm (or cold) cup of coffee. Of course, the caffeine really helps you wake up. But maybe it’s mainly the routine of making that coffee that is really what helps start our day.
For example, I really like coffee in the mornings and it helps me get somewhat productive. I think making it a point to focus on the coffee and even just enjoy it while doing nothing else is a great way to focus and get ready. Man, if it was cooler here in Florida, I might even sit out in the backyard and just sit and drink for a while but it’s waaaaay too hot.
So, why do you drink your coffee (or tea, energy drinks, etc) right when you wake up? Do you do it for the quick fix of caffeine or because it helps signal it’s time to move?
Have you ever read something and felt like the author is speaking directly to you?
I recently saw a video on Instagram from the Daily Stoic talking about a passage from the Greek philosopher, Epictetus. Epictetus grew up a slave and eventually became one of the most respected philosophers of the Greek era. The passage in the video is as follows:
How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself and in no instance bypass the discriminations of reason? You have been given the principles that you ought to endorse, and you have endorsed them. What kind of teacher, then, are you still waiting for in order to refer your self-improvement to him? You are no longer a boy, but a full-grown man. If you are careless and lazy now and keep putting things off and always deferring the day after which you will attend to yourself, you will not notice that you are making no progress, but you will live and die as someone quite ordinary.
From now on, then, resolve to live as a grown-up who is making progress, and make whatever you think best a law that you never set aside. And whenever you encounter anything that is difficult or pleasurable, or highly or lowly regarded, remember that the contest is now: you are at the Olympic Games, you cannot wait any longer, and that your progress is wrecked or preserved by a single day and a single event. That is how Socrates fulfilled himself by attending to nothing except reason in everything he encountered. And you, although you are not yet a Socrates, should live as someone who at least wants to be a Socrates.
Epictetus – Manual 51
“You are no longer a boy, but a full-grown man.” That line…that line hit me like a brick wall. At 30 years old, I still feel like a kid. And that’s ok, in my honest opinion. However, certain situations require you to act like an adult. Whether that’s following through on promises, standing up for what you believe in, or even taking care of your responsibilities. A child-like wonder of the world is still ok, but when the need arises, you’ve got to grow up.
I really needed to hear that.
Even the line, “How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself and in no instance bypass the discriminations of reason?” hits home. I’ve got to demand the best from myself just as I would expect the best from friends, family, coworkers, the grocery bagger at Publix, etc.
Goes to show you that even the ancients struggled with much of which we are still struggling with.
Back in the day, the Lego aisle at Walmart was my favorite place. Dozens and dozens of Lego sets were there for the taking. I was excited over the prospects of a new toy but also stressed out as to which one to get. “Should I get the new Bionicle set or another Star Wars ship? Or maybe Megablocks?….Eh no. Megablocks are bad.” The only real question was which one mom and dad would let me have because as most parents know, Legos are crazy expensive.
Fast forward a few decades and I’m feeling the same excitement and stress I felt on that aisle. Just this time it’s towards what hobbies to follow. Most of the time, every man has their go to hobby. But, I can’t really identify one or even two hobbies. Fishing? BBQ? Coding? Reading? Exercising? Wood working? Drawing? Hunting? Gardening? Firearms? Podcasting? Golf? Diving? Cooking? Flying? Just to name a few! Which do I choose?!
Many of my friends and family are experts in one or two hobbies. One friend knows all things about guns and cars. Another is an expert gardener. While another, is an outdoor expert. Yet, I’ve struggled to find just one or even two. Instead, I’m ok at BBQ. I can do the odd wood working project here and there. I’m a decent gardener and an “ok” cook.
Yet, there are a lot more things I’d like to do. Like flying (but I need a cool $10,000 to get started at that, lol), golfing, and fishing (R.I.P. our boat), just to name a few.
But the key lesson here, that I’m slowly learning, is that as long as your trying something and having fun, you’re golden. It’s okay to be a jack of all trades, master of none. It’s also ok to be a pro at one hobby. As long as your learning and trying to improve at something you enjoy, you’ll be just fine.
What’s your hobby? Or rather, what are your hobbies?
So you’ve heard about Allie and I’s boat. We love taking it out with friends to Shell Island (a little peninsula where all the locals go to hangout on weekends in the summer), fishing, or even afternoon trips with Sadie.
Truth is, I’m always scared to take it out. I’m scared the waves might be just too choppy. That the motor might breakdown…again. That we might run out of gas. Or maybe we make a fool of ourselves at the boat ramp. Honestly, that is the MAJOR reason. I’m pretty good at launching the boat, but loading that boat up after a trip…well let’s just say we are still figuring that one out.
But, 9 times out of 10. Everything is just fine. The waves aren’t that bad. The motor doesn’t stop working. And LUCKILY, we haven’t made fools of ourselves at the boat ramp.
Every time we leave, and Allie will 1000% back this up, I’m so glad we took the boat out. Being out on the boat and just enjoying being outside is always so fun and relaxing. Even with all the added stress.
So, lesson of today: Do what scares you.
I always remember the quote, “The more meaningful experiences of life are outside your comfort zone.” It’s do darn true. We always remember those moments were were, at first, super nervous of scared of. But then we remember how fun or rewarding they are.
So, for a quick personal development article on this Monday morning. Remember, do what scares you. You’ll be glad you did.
This year I’ve been trying to stay focused. It’s been going ok, except for wh…SQUIRREL!!!
Ok, clearly I still need work. But, one tool that actually has been super helpful is Time Blocking. Queue all the Elon Musk fanboys because this is a tactic that Elon apparently uses daily. Time blocking is pretty much scheduling out your full day in blocks (See? Pretty self explanatory). You plan out your day in 15, 30 or even 60 minute increments and stick with what you have scheduled.
I’ve tried it for several days this year and have found it to be pretty darn useful. 2021 has been extremely busy for me thus far as I’m balancing work (my 9-5 job as a software trainer), Farm Traveler podcast duties, the new side gig as a reporter for the Southeast Regional Ag update, AND starting my masters degree from FSU. Instead of just working on projects as they show up on my schedule or mindlessly going from one project to the next, time blocking enables me to plan and organize each day and the tasks that need to be completed. For example, I’m only checking emails once every few hours instead of every few minutes. I’m planning out interviews during my lunch break at work.
At first glance it seems a bit restrictive to plan out every hour in the work day, but as someone said (I can’t remember who said it but it might have been Thomas Frank from YouTube), “Freedom lies in your structure.” By planning out your day, you actually have freedom. Freedom to focus on projects and tasks when you have set them to be worked on. No more spiritic working. No more jumping from task to task.
So how do you do it?
Simple. The day before or even Sunday night before your work week starts, take about 5 – 10 minutes to plan out your next day. Think about what you need to accomplish and which projects need to be completed first. And here is the tricky part: Stick to the schedule! Try to stick with the scheduled times and their tasks. The first few days, as I found out, you might need to adjust the times for some tasks and that’s totally fine. Find out what works for you! You can time block on a calendar, journal, app, or whatever works for you. I’ve just been using Google Calendar to schedule my day. It’s free and because I have the app on my phone, it sends me notifications a few minutes before each task. There are also tools like ToDoist which I highly recommend. It’s a task list app as well as website.
Off and on for the last few years I have attempted journaling. Each morning, actually only mornings where I’m able (aka not lazy enough) to wake up early, I’ll get a cup of coffee or tea, and sit down to journal. The current book I’m journaling with is Bob Goff’s Live in Grace, Walk in Love, which I highly recommend. I’ll read a days passage in the book and then answer the prompt at the end. Usually it’s something along the lines of what I need to trust God with or how I can practice my faith, and believe you me, there is a lot I can improve on both.
When I do journal, I feel pretty productive the rest of the day. It’s a simple habit to start the day that motivates me, kinda like making your bed each morning.
I did finally bite the bullet and buy a 3-week productivity journal. Actually super excited for it. The journal breaks down each day, goals, things your grateful for, habits you want to work on, and a daily reflection. I’m hoping the structure of this, helps me consistently journal as well as continue to find time to journal with Bob Goff’s book.
Although I am not super consistent at journaling, I HIGHLY recommend it. Doesn’t matter your age or stage of life, getting all your thoughts down on paper, really do help digest everything going on. Maybe give it a try if you don’t already journal. Doesn’t matter if you write down one sentence or a few pages, just journal.
One of my greatest creations, and journaling experiments, is a big memory journal I started back in college. I had the idea to write down any huge or impactful moments, just so I could remember the lessons. I’ll keep it brief, but it includes movements from when I was a teaching intern or when I had dinner at a Masonic Lodge. Even moments as big as going to the ER or even, my favorite, meeting Allie. Big moments change our lives. And journaling help our future selves remember them. If you want to hear more about the memory journal (yeah, it does sound cheesy), let me know! I’d be glad to share some stories.
What came first, the title of this post or some lesson? Defiantly the former in this case.
It’s been a minute. But that’s how life is, right? We bought a house and have been working on renovating/moving so things have been crazy.
But that’s usually the way life goes. We never get to pick exactly what happens in our lives when we decide to make a change or improve certain aspects.
So instead of planning to make lemonade out of lemons, sometimes we’ve got to make OJ. Work with what you got. If you’ve got to change your path or your approach, that’s ok. It literally happens to everyone. Just some people are better at adapting than others.
So what do you think? Is it easy to set things up perfectly before we start a change? Or do we need to role with the punches?
You ever hear the story about how to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.
It’s true, and I think that’s how he intended it. Plans never go according to plan. But as long as you are planning, you’re going to have some success. Just be ok with changing your plans from time to time. Adapt and keep going.
Remember my plan a few weeks ago, I said I would wake up each morning and journal and actually be productive? Well that was sidelined, thanks covid. But, that’s ok! I’ll adapt, by trying again once better, and going from there.
Maybe you’ve tried to build habits. Maybe you’ve tried to start a business. Maybe none of that could stick. Guess what? THAT’S OK! Adjust your plan and keep going. See what sticks.
The book, Atomic Habits, describes habits as, “Your brains automatic response to a repeatable event.” Think of it like getting a cup of coffee first thing in the morning or hitting snooze on your alarm clock morning after morning.
I’m only about a quarter of the way through with Atomic Habits so far. It’s been pretty eye opening thus far. Perhaps the biggest advice it gives is how to change your mindset to improve your habits.
The author, James clear, mentions that to build strong habits, you first change your identity. He offers one example of a smoker trying to quit. If someone offers them a cigarettes, replying “I don’t smoke” rather than, “I’m trying to quit” showcases a change in identity. The smoker now identifies as a non-smoker, rather than a smoker, and this change in mindset, can make the process of quitting much easier to follow through on time and time again.
I’m not really a morning person. But changing my identity to, “I am a morning person” will help me build the habit of waking up early. A morning person is much more likely to not hit snooze in the morning than someone who doesn’t identify as a morning person.
Now, I’m not going to get into if you want to identify as an attack helicopter…because that’s just crazy talk.
This book has been great and I’ll continue to update you.
What do you think? What are some tried and true methods on building habits? Let me know in the comments below!
7:00 – Brew Tea and catch up on Farm Traveler emails.
7:30 – Stretch and take the dog for a walk.
8:00 – Shower, eat breakfast.
8:30 – Start work day.
Above is my ideal morning routine. Key word here is IDEAL. In actuality, I’m rarely awake before 9:00. After watching productivity gurus and experts explain the importance of establishing a morning routine, I’ve been struggling at developing and keeping mine. I’ll sometimes get out of bed early, only to slack off after journaling. It’s an ongoing struggling. One that might require some sort of motivation in the morning.
I’ve heard countless people say, “Motivation is like showering. We recommended it daily.” Motivation shouldn’t be something before you play a sport or take a quiz. We all need motivation, 24/7. In various forms and various amounts. Maybe we all need Jocko Willink yelling at us in the morning to inspire us and get us out of bed. Or maybe it’s as simple as the joy of taking our dog for a walk. We all have different motivational needs.
Next week, PLEASE hold me to it, I’ll be getting out of bed and reporting on here how it went. My simple motivation will be journaling and tea time. Yeah…I realize that sentence makes me sound like a 80 year-old British man, but it is something I enjoy.
So, time to get with it and find some motivation.
What’s your motivation? Let me know in the comments below.
When I first started teaching, I kept telling my students “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” We even wrote it up on the wall as a daily reminder. The purpose was to show that hard work takes time to reap the benefits of. Eventually, only after two years of me teaching, we succeeded in building a strong program that was recognized by the district as a high class program.
The same can be said for habits or really anything in life. Things take time.
I’ve wanted to get in to journaling each morning and honestly, it’s an on going struggle. Today, October 5th, 2020, was the first morning I’ve journaled since April. Whoops. But one day down and now time to make sure I do it tomorrow.
Habits take time to build. A good life takes time to build. Shoot, even a good podcast takes time to build. After a few months of Farm Traveler, we were getting around 50 downloads a week. Now, over a year in, we average around 200. Not a bad gain in just a year. Yet, I’ve heard countless stories of new podcasters stopping after only a few months. They claim their shows just aren’t growing. Well….You know….”Rome wasn’t…” Yeah, you get the picture.
All things worth while take time. I think that’s the way it’s meant to be.
Ok…Stop reading this and go build YOUR Rome. Just maybe without the gladiator battles and the murdering of an emperor who is now famous as a type of salad.
Orange La Croix is my favorite. Pretty much anything orange is. Maybe because I’m from Florida? You never know.
“Your first blog post is gonna suck. Your 1000th, will be spectacular.” That’s a recent quote I read in Atomic Habits. A book from author James Clear on how you can develop successful habits. James mentions that to be successful, you need to focus on getting 1% better, not necessarily on winning. Pretty good advice. Look at Nick Saban for example. Regardless of your colligate affiliation, you have to admit that Saban is one of the greatest college football coaches in history. His focus on getting better and not just winning, is what has made him and his teams so dominate.
So that’s what this is. A 1% step to get better.
What do you want to get better at? Writing? An instrument?