THIS IS ISSUE.004 OF THE SMRT LIST
In this issue:
Greetings from the splendidly dreamy South of France.
I’ve been here for over a month on a one-way workation and to be able to productive in this idyllic environment surrounded by the dazzling Mediterranean sea mountains to climb requires insane discipline.
Right now, I could be on my phone scrolling mindlessly like most people do. Or shopping. Or out riding my bike (my arch nemesis!).
I also have a ton of client work that I could be doing right now that brings in a lot of money but I choose to do something that doesn’t bring in any income— but it sure does a lot for my mind. I’ve always been a long-term thinker because there are no high ROI’s with instant gratifications.
I only started my bi-weekly newsletter to test my own discipline because discipline is a muscle built through consistency and momentum. Just like my workouts and daily habits, flexing my discipline is a top priority.
It doesn’t matter to me how many people read this because I’ve always done things for myself and stayed true to my values.
Because of that, I always got what I wanted in life— whether it be things, experiences, or lessons.
I don’t live a conventional life because I’ve been working on my discipline for over a decade.
Discipline truly equals freedom.
But not without a few hiccups!
A Poem About Home
Every time I come to the South of France, I feel right at home.
The feeling of “home” is an abstract concept where you feel comfortable and safe— an environment that gives you space to thrive and grow.
It is a place where memories were forged or epiphanies flowed, perhaps a place where you glowed or lived slow.
Home is simply a place that has shaped us.
It’s a place we can be our truest selves, away from the judgment of the world, `where our souls could dance in the wild.
Home provides a sense of identity and a reminder of how far you’ve come.
Have you ever questioned that sacred place you came from?
Researchers found that key areas of emotional processing in the brain are activated by places we have strong emotional ties to, hence why certain places evoke deep visceral and intangible feelings.
Learning How To Be Alone
Throughout my 20s, most of my travels were with me, myself, and whilst meeting friends throughout my adventures.
Learning how to be alone and independent was one of the best things I’ve done for myself, knowing I can survive on my own. Because of that empowerment, I continued to venture solo into unknowns.
For two years after I left my career, my apartment was rented out and I was on a plane every other week. I was blissfully homeless but living at my peak.
This freedom gave me plenty of time to deeply examine the paradoxes of the universe and the mind.
But a mysterious feeling of longing began to bubble— an awareness longing to be wined and dined…
Searching For Home
Home is a metaphysical shelter for our soul.
Avoiding the word “home”, French philosopher, Simone Weil wrote, “to be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.”
After having no stable place to call home, I realized I was longing for a home.
So I went home— or the next place I decided to try to build a home.
For a while, I reveled in my freedom while allowing my soul to roam.
Overtime, bizarre insights began to surface:
- I was jealous of my ex going to work while I was free to do as I please.
- I was getting tired of freedom and life being a breeze.
- Life without a passion to get up every day was feeling mundane.
- I began to wonder how people survived without passions and I longed to shake things up— to dance in the rain.
My two-year sabbatical gave me a taste of freedom but coming from a life with an exciting career, goals, and being immersed in fitness, I craved structure.
However, I wasn’t not doing anything during those few years.
Being high-functional, I was never the one to not do anything. I was extremely busy hustling on our businesses yet still had the time to ride my road bike all day, cook from scratch, and take care of my partner. Isn’t that what we do?
… but I wasn’t doing what I was truly passionate about.
Everyone has insights but most of the time, they don’t act on them.
To read about something yet to actually experience it yourself, along with all the emotions and insights that come with it, is an entirely different narrative.
Being able to live through an actual experience gives you the momentum to actually take action to create change.
What I learned and took to heart:
Without discipline, there is no freedom.
But discipline is hard work.
In this issue, I’ll show you how you can develop discipline. 👇🏼
What Is Freedom?
Freedom from constraints. Freedom to do what you want.
Most importantly, FREEDOM OF THE MIND.
Living without structure was a nightmare for my mind. It created anxiety… disrupting my precious inner peace.
Lack of structure and fulfilling activities creates anxiety because our dopamine-driven brains are wired for our species to move forward— to evolve. When we are stagnant… we know something isn’t right.
Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning,
The meaning of life is to give life meaning.
Freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.
There is a price for everything, including freedom.
Nothing is truly free.
Freedom Requires Discipline
I’ve been studying thought-leaders and reading philosophy since high school and I noticed all successful people find freedom in constraint.
One of the many paradoxes of life.
Too much freedom— you won’t get anything done.
Too much structure— you forget to enjoy the one life you have.
When I got into fitness in my early 20s, I had DISCIPLINE tattooed on my biceps.
I didn’t think much of it— I just woke up one day and decided to do it. So I did it. I think I had planted a “way of living” into my soul and ever since then, I subconsciously lived by that word in all aspects of my life; from my health to my career, and everything in between.
After I left my “white-picket-fence life, I had LIBERTE (freedom) tattoed on my collarbone in Thailand before partying all night at the Full Moon Party.
It wasn’t only until a few years ago when someone pointed out the paradox of my two tattoos.
It must be an innate knowledge existing in all of us.
Inspired By Leaders
I’ve always had a very militant mindset and one that not many people I grew up with could resonate with. I did read a lot of history and novels with inspiring leaders and heroes who created results instead of waiting around for things to happen.
My perspectives are inspired by the likes of:
- Jocko Willinks. Retired Navy SEAL who now consults on leadership. He coincidently wrote Disciple Equals Freedom which I discovered in my late 20s. I always refer to Jocko as my long-lost brother because we have the exact same mindset!
- Grant Cardone. I love anyone controversial, thinks big, and goes against the grain. He gets results and has a no-BS mindset. My second edition of THE SMRT LIST was inspired by Grant.
- Elon Musk. His mind is so expansive that the general population will never understand the way he sees the world, hence why he is constantly criticized. It is easier to villainize something than to try to take the time to understand something you don’t know.
- David Goggins. Retired Navy SEAL and ultra-athlete.
Why? These people made me uncomfortable. But they are all successful. They challenged conformity. Soon, I began to think like them.
“I don’t get ready. I stay ready.” (my favorite quote from Will Smith)
When I was young and immature, I was hard on myself and the same on others, not understanding that everyone has a different mindset.
But I have to admit even as I grow up and I continue to audit my environment and surround myself with like-minded people, of course, in accordance with the 80/20 rule, there is no doubt that the fastest way to level up is to maintain high standards and have radical discipline
So my mindset hasn’t changed much but I am more compassionate.
I understand there are people that suffer from extreme poverty and unfortunate situations deep-rooted in complex socio-economical issues but let’s focus on the demographic that can do something about it but their minds aren’t strong enough.
Everything is a personal choice.
Problem: Society Encourages Weakness
Society breeds weak people. People who make excuses.
I know people who use their “trauma” as an excuse to not change for years, if not decades, and gaslights anyone who triggers them.
Or people who never heal from their traumas because they are addicted to the healing process.
These people lack the discipline to take responsibility for their lives.
I’m sure you’ve come across people like that…. it’s very frustrating and gives you a sense of hopelessness, but in my journey, I’m learning to develop patience and ponder on existentialist questions such as, “how do we take on this impossible task of changing mindsets when most people aren’t ready to be helped?!”
What Is Discipline:
- Discipline is a habit.
- Discipline is self-control.
- Discipline is the ability to walk away.
- Discipline is to be able to show vulnerability.
- Discipline is to do things you don’t want to do.
- Discipline is to be able to be the bigger person.
- Discipline is to be able to see different perspectives.
- Discipline is to agree to disagree when someone argues with you.
- Discipline is something you need to cultivate in your just like any skill.
- Discipline is a muscle that can be flexed and made stronger over time.
- Discipline is consistency.
Discipline needs to come from within.
To cultivate this seed of radical discipline, you have to truly want it. You have to truly believe that it is going to do good in your life.
No pill or even your personal trainer is going to motivate you because consistency requires intrinsic motivation.
There are no shortcuts.
Disciplined people don’t wait for motivation.
We create motivation.
motivation = action + consistency
How To Become Intrinsically Self-Disciplined
- Find something you love and be consistent with it. That’s how passions are developed.
- Become an athlete. The best way to do this is to surround yourself with athletes.
- Deliberate exposure. The more you expose yourself to people and ideas that you wish to emulate, the more you will realize it is possible.
- Stay curious. Curiosity makes you ask questions which drives discovery.
- Stay inspired. Yet constantly expose yourself to different people and ideas. Inspiration is needed to live a disciplined life to keep you driving forward. Read biographies or surround yourself with people you want to be like. Read and write every single day. Life hack: readers are leaders. 😉
- Be open-minded. You don’t get anywhere stuck inside the prison of your mind.
- Chase triggers. If something triggers you or makes you uncomfortable, chase it instead of running away. Find out why you are triggered. I intentionally did this for a year. It was the hardest thing I did but the results were profound.
- Maintain momentum. Create habits, strengthen your neural connections, and don’t break the streak. Momentum is the secret sauce to all innovation. Nature and evolution will never stop and so shouldn’t you.
To Stay Disciplined, Create Rituals.
Your rituals are non-negotiables— your pillars of strength in a crazy world.
Defining your non-negotiables is important because once you do them, you feel grounded.
They are not just habits or part of your routine but they are sacred rituals. These activities don’t feel like work, but leisure.
They make you feel accomplished.
When times get tough, you have those rituals to fall back on. Since you’ve been accomplishing these things consistently, it makes feel strong and gives you the momentum to keep on going.
If you’re going through hell, keep going. — Winston Churchill
Being prime minister of a world power during a world war requires insane discipline and I’m not suggesting we maintain a super strict routine but Winston Churchill is a prime example.
Steps To Create Freedom With Discipline
Your non-negotiables are your core values. It means deeply to you otherwise you won’t do it so the first step is to define your values.
1. Understand Your Values
- Write down your values. Choose the top 3-5.
- Write down 3-5 non-negotiables. Keep it simple.
- Tie them together.
Example of mine:
- My values are health, security, intelligence, creativity, freedom
- My daily non-negotiables are:
- My morning routine: meditation, journaling intentions, coffee, writing, reading → health, creativity
- Exercise → health
- Deep work → intelligence, creativity, security
Examples of Ways I Practice Discipline
Here are some things I’m working on and how I practice discipline:
#1 Prioritizing My Mind
My brain is the most important asset I have.
This is why I stay active, eat well, meditate, journal, and work on personal development every single day. Most importantly, I try to CREATE every single day.
My passions are wellness, technology, and writing. I created this newsletter to keep myself disciplined but it also allows me to:
- Write about topics I’m passionate about.
- Write about topics I want to learn more about because I’m obsessed with learning. It keeps my brain sharp and makes me feel fulfilled.
- Write in general. I’m a huge fan of hacking time and flow states and there are two things that easily get me into flow: cycling and writing.
#2: Letting Go Of Control
I have a need for control, which creates impossible standards for myself and everyone around me.
I’m learning to release decision paralysis by letting others make decisions for me.
Example: the bike tours I do every summer. They are expensive but worth every penny. Coming from a poor upbringing and creating everything I have today by myself, it took me a long time to get out of my scarcity mindset.
Rule Your Mind Or It Will Rule You
I had a good life throughout my 20s because I worked hard and stayed busy but after years of freedom and consumption during my short sabbatical, my biggest takeaway was that creating is a necessity to keep your brain sharp.
If you want to create consistently but still have the freedom to enjoy life, discipline is absolutely required.
Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Everything comes with a price and sacrifices.
What is it that you want?
TD;LR: Simple Secrets To Create Time Freedom
- Freedom to do what you want in life requires discipline. Life has many paradoxes.
- Insights don’t lead to action. But repeated insights can plant seeds to strengthen neural circuits so you will eventually take action.
- Discipline needs to come from within.
- Discipline is a muscle that gets stronger with repetition.
- Discipline is consistency.
- Surround yourself with people and content that triggers you or makes you uncomfortable.
- Successful people don’t wait for things. They make life happen.
- Create a list of daily non-negotiables (sacred rituals) based on your values. These are commitments to yourself—standards — that you won’t break.
Curiosity Is The New Intelligence
🔊 Lex Fridman Podcast: Jordan Peterson: Life, Death, Power, Fame, and Meaning
- A conversation between two intellectuals of our time.
- No matter how much you may hate either of these controversial figures with contrarian mindsets, it’s always a good idea to make time to listen to views you disagree with or topics you don’t know anything about. 😉
🔊 Jordan B. Peterson: Superabundance: The Age of Plenty
- This podcast inspired a response to my career advice column. I can’t wait to read this book!
- My main focus over the last few years has been getting rid of my scarcity mindset to living a life of abundance. If you are living in scarcity (aka fear and lack), this is a must-listen.
🔊 The School of Greatness: How To Reprogram Your Subconscious Mind To Manifest Your Dream
- I used a combination of allopathic, functional, energy, and nervous system healing to heal myself after my body shut down from a car accident and severe trauma two years ago. Now I’m back on track.
- If you believe in yourself, the power of your thoughts truly dictates the results. It all begins with going deep into your subconscious.
- It’s true you can’t out-exercise a bad diet but I’m all about exercise because I don’t work out to lose weight. Staying active has much more benefits such as longevity and brain health.
- This Q&A podcast has an interesting concept of living a “high Energy Flux” lifestyle. I’ve been living it for over a decade and knowing how it feels like, I will never want to fall off this bandwagon! 🙋🏻♀️
- Another topic they explored: right vs left nostril breathing is a well-known breathwork technique that stimulates either side of your nervous system.
- The right nostril activates the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, which is our fight-or-flight response.
- The left nostril tissue stimulates feedback to the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, the one that affects our desire to rest or digest.
When I was very little (probably around 5), I saw an ad in mail and Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation photo was in it. I cut it out and put it in my wallet. I remember always taking it out to gaze at her beauty and glamour, wondering who this mysterious woman was really like.
Growing up, I spent my days reading historical fiction and non-fiction, epic fantasy sagas with strong female heroines– not realizing they would influence the kind of person I wanted to be: someone well-rounded (still a work in progress though!).
That’s my definition of a QUEEN: someone who can remain a stoic figure whilst sacrificing her entire life to serve through wars and controversies, with her every move being watched and criticized.
Her majesty served on the British home front in the fight against Nazism. She was a mechanic. She had a sense of humour. She literally worked until two days before her death. She was a symbol. A rock. She was just another human being.
You need to be well-rounded and disciplined to have gained the respect she did. The fact that the queen lived this long while serving with grace is a tell-tale sign because living a fulfilling life is also a key to longevity. RIP.
My favourite eulogy (via LinkedIn):
💸 Wealth: Interest Rates vs. Inflation
🥂 Life: Mustard; another victim of this economic downturn. No wonder I couldn’t find any dijon mustard either!!