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  • 12 Jul 2011
    Have you ever fallen off track while trying to install or maintain a not-quite-daily habit such as exercising 3-4 days a week or getting up at 5am on weekdays? This article will share some simple ideas to help you maintain such habits more easily. If you perform a certain task every day for weeks on end, it’s usually pretty easy to maintain. However, once you take a day or two off, it can be harder to start up again on your next “on” day. For example, if you get up early every weekday and then sleep in late on Saturday and Sunday, waking up Monday morning often feels harder, and you’re more likely to oversleep. Before you know it, you’ve blown your positive habit completely, and somehow every day has become an off day. 1. Make it daily anyway. The first solution is to turn almost-daily habits into daily habits. Sometimes it’s no big deal to continue the habit even when it isn’t necessary, and the upside is that you’ll have a stronger habit with less risk of losing ground. For example, I like to get up early 7 days a week. I find this much easier to maintain than getting up early 5-6 days per week. If I get up at 5am every single morning, it’s really no big deal. But if I stay out late one night and sleep in until 7am, it’s always harder to get up at 5am the following morning. Every once in a while I’ll stay out past midnight and sleep in late, but my default is to get up with the alarm at the same time every morning. Even though I don’t need to get up early every day, the habit is beneficial for me every day, so there’s no reason to limit it to weekdays. Although it might seem harder to do it 7 days instead of 5-6 days, it’s actually easier to be consistent. With close to 100% daily consistency, a habit will typically maintain itself on autopilot, so you don’t even have to think about it anymore. But with 80-90% consistency, the contrast between your on and off days is always in the back of your mind. Do I have to get up early tomorrow, or can I sleep in late? Do I need to exercise tomorrow, or can I skip it? If you have a lot of almost-daily habits, this can be a big cognitive burden and quite a distraction. Maintaining good habits becomes much more difficult than necessary. 2. Use placeholder habits. Another option is to create an alternative, placeholder habit for your off days. Suppose you want to exercise 5 days a week, and you really want to keep those off days. Instead of doing your regular exercise, you could schedule an an alternative activity for the same time. Instead of doing your usual workout, you could use your off days to go for a walk, read, meditate, write in your journal, etc. I recommend that you use placeholder habits that are similar in some way to the original habit. For example, on your off days for exercise, you could still do something physical like walking, stretching, or yoga. This turns your physical development into an everyday practice, even though you’re doing different activities each day. 3. Chain Habits. When you chain a series of habits together, they become easier to maintain. As soon as you begin the first habit in the chain, the rest of the sequence will tend to take care of itself. My usual morning routine involves getting up, hitting the gym, showering, getting dressed, eating breakfast, etc. It’s a pretty stable pattern. But sometimes when I feel I’m at risk of overtraining, I’ll skip my workout without substituting anything. When this happens I can just jump to the next link in my morning habit chain, which means I’ll get up and then shower. I find that when I occasionally skip habits that are part of a longer daily chain, it’s fairly easy to put them back in again as long as I continue to maintain the first and last links in the chain. As long as I get up early and go to the gym or get up early and then shower, my not-quite-daily exercise habit remains pretty solid. But if I mess with the first link in the chain and don’t get up at my usual time, the whole sequence is more likely to be blown. So the idea is to put your not-quite-daily habits in the middle of a chain of daily habits. If you maintain the overall chain, you’ll probably find it easier to maintain the middle links as well, even though you sometimes skip them. 4. Make specific commitments. If there are certain habits you won’t perform every day, decide exactly when you will perform them. “I’m going to exercise 3-4 days per week” is too vague and wishy-washy. “I’ll do a 30-minute workout at the gym every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday morning at 6:30am, alternating between weight training and aerobic conditioning” is much better. The more specific your commitment, the better. Block out time on your schedule, and add these commitments to your calendar. Be sure not to schedule anything else for those times. It’s very easy to fail when you give yourself too many outs and don’t really commit. On any given day, there should be no question as to whether you will or won’t perform your habitual activity. Ditch the mights, maybes, and shoulds. Either you will or you won’t. Decide in advance what it will be. 5. Turn habits into appointments. If you have a hard time maintaining irregular habits, find a way to turn them into appointments that involve someone else. It’s easier to ditch a habit if you’re only accountable to yourself, but most people are less willing to skip appointments that would leave someone else hanging. Get a workout buddy. Schedule early AM phone calls with another early riser. Plan home organizing time with your roommate(s) at the same time every week. Schedule regular babysitting for date nights with your spouse. Your accountability will be greater when you involve others in your not-quite-daily habits. Theses are just some of the tactics you can use to improve your ability to maintain irregular habits. For a list of specific habits that will give you some ideas, see the article 10 Ways to Optimize Your Normal Days.
    4860 Posted by UniqueThis
  • 27 Jul 2011
    Some people mentioned that I seem to be doing two overlapping trials here. First, I’m doing 30 days of acting promptly on inspiration whenever it strikes. Second, I’m also delving more deeply into the subjective reality frame. So what’s that all about? I honestly don’t know, but I’ll try to make sense of it as I write. Could I separate these two trials? On the surface it sure seems like I could. My initial idea for this trial was just going to be the inspiration part. I wasn’t planning to do a subjective reality trial. But these two aspects got tied together in a strange way, and now they’re inextricably intertwined. I can no longer separate them out. Planning vs. Inspiration The subjective reality aspect actually started first. This goes back to Sunday, July 18th, the final day of the July Conscious Growth Workshop. The final segment on spirituality was from 2pm to 4pm. Dana, a local friend and one of our CGW staff, asked me during lunch what I was going to talk about during that final segment. I said, “I have no idea.” He laughed. I repeated, “No, really. I honestly don’t know.” For each CGW I’ve always gone in well-prepared. I live and breathe the topics I talk about, so I could seriously do the entire workshop off the cuff if I had to, and I’m sure it would still turn out well. But my mental side always likes to plan everything out, so I can know in advance how everything will fit together. I also like to create a good balance of different teaching modalities, including lecture, demonstration, interactive exercises, games, fieldwork, one-on-one sharing, group work, written exercises, Q&A, and more. Good planning is important for pacing too, so I don’t spend too much or too little time on any particular segment. That said, I’ve noticed that as I was delivering this past CGW, I was breaking from my plan a lot. For most segments I felt inspired in the moment to do things differently than what I’d originally planned. I’d change up the order of certain elements, tell different stories than I expected to, and swap in different exercises. And overall it worked really well when I went with the inspiration of the moment. I’m comfortable in front of an audience, so I don’t have to deal with nervousness or anything like that. I’m fine being in the moment, and I trust that I can speak well off the cuff, even for hours at a time. But I know that people come from far and wide to attend CGW, and I want to deliver the best value I can. I’d find it dishonorable to go into a CGW not feeling well-prepared with a solid plan for each segment. When I do a CGW, I commit to doing my best. I always assumed that careful planning and structure were necessary for me to deliver my best and for attendees to receive good value. Now I’m not so sure. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve reached the point where I may be able to deliver an even better experience if I set that plan aside and allow myself to be fully in the moment and go with the flow of inspiration. Can I Trust Inspiration When the Stakes Are High? This last CGW experience was beginning to challenge my notions of the best way to deliver value. Do I truly deliver more value when everything is pre-planned, or am I somehow able to do an even better job when I’m just being there in the moment, and I don’t know what I’ll say in advance? Well, at the end of that Saturday (Day 2 of CGW), I went home to plan out the final two hours of the workshop. I had delayed planning this part of the workshop because I wanted to see how this particular audience handled the first two days. I’d made a lot of changes for this CGW, and there were good reasons why it made sense to apply just-in-time planning for the final closing segment. I’d already delivered this segment three times before at previous workshops, so I had old templates I could have fallen back on, and I also figured it would only take about an hour to make the plan. That night, however, I couldn’t seem to bring myself to create the plan. I wrote something out that seemed reasonable, but it felt hollow to me… heartless. I didn’t understand why my intuition said, “This is stupid.” As I tuned into my intuition for more guidance, the message was loud and clear. Let go and forget the plan. Just get up and speak your truth. It’s already inside you. You don’t need a plan. It will only hold you back and cause you to get stuck in your head. So I left the plan behind and decided I was ready to allow inspiration to flow through me when I delivered that final segment. The morning segment that Sunday had already been planned out, but I broke from the plan a lot. The resulting mixture was probably 70% inspiration of the moment and 30% pre-planned. And it seemed to go really well. I noticed that my energy was shifting to a different place the more I was able to let go. More passion and enthusiasm — and fun — were flowing through me. I normally have a handout for each day of CGW, but for this final day I decided not to use one. That wasn’t due to laziness. The Day 3 handout was already designed since I’d used it for previous CGWs. But I felt we’d be better off without the written exercises that day, so we could do more interactive exercises and fieldwork that morning instead. I thought that worked well. Some people actually liked the fact that there were no written exercises that day. As we got closer to the afternoon segment, I had enough evidence to believe it would work out okay. I could say that I had to push myself with a bit of courage here, but it didn’t play out that way. I was at peace with the decision. The workshop had been going so well up to that point that I felt that even if I semi-flubbed that final segment, people had already received so much value, so I felt I had enough social capital to take a small risk without it being a big deal either way. I also believed that I could share plenty of insights and ideas without a structured plan, so I really wasn’t worried about screwing up. I felt competent and confident to do this segment without a plan. My main concern was that I’d open too many threads, and I’d have a hard time wrapping everything up on time. How was I going to pace myself? I felt it was okay to let go and trust in that area as well. If I opened a loop that I wasn’t able to close, I could always blog about it later. Speaking from Inspiration When I got up to speak, I didn’t even know what the first words out of my mouth would be. But the words were there. I ended up talking mainly about the question, “What is the true nature of this reality?” That led into a discussion of subjective reality vs. objective reality. I shared the details and results of some experiments I’d already done, going back to 2006. We didn’t do any special exercises, but the segment became very interactive. Lots of people asked questions and shared their own stories, and instead of holding Q&A till the end, I integrated all of that on the fly. It was like a dance where neither partner is trying to lead, but somehow they still synchronize their movements. The segment didn’t feel like a presentation. It was more like a conversation, almost like I was talking to myself. Would you pre-plan a conversation? Would that even make sense? I felt like I was listening a lot more. I was tuned in to what people in the audience were thinking and feeling. As I spoke, I was mainly addressing the energy I perceived in the room. I was constantly looking for eddies in the audience’s energy and seeking to smooth them out. If I sensed confusion, I simplified by offering up analogies people were already familiar with. If I sensed mental overwhelm, I shifted into story-telling mode. If I sensed curiosity, I shifted to Q&A. If I sense the pressure build-up of people wanting to say something, I invited them to share their experiences. If I sensed eagerness to hear more, I went back to exposition. These are the things we naturally do when we’re engaged in a compelling one-on-one conversation. The flow of that segment was very different from the previous times I’ve done it. So was the content. I felt that the audience was really with me. People were much more present — leaning forward, nodding in reaction to certain segments, asking questions, sharing their own insights. I loved every minute of it. It was such a wonderful experience to be fully present and to enjoy such a cool dialog with like-minded people. Of course we’re like-mindedsince we’re all projections of the same mind! I didn’t seem to be sharing answers or advice or solutions, not really. Mostly I was sharing questions, observations, experiments, and stories. It was like having a conversation with myself. Even as I spoke about subjective reality, I began to slip into a subjective mindset. If you want to have a really strange experience, try believing that you’re actually dreaming while you’re speaking in front of a live audience.  Subjective Blogging This is the same manner in which I’ve been blogging this past week. I’m sharing my observations as a fellow explorer, not as a teacher with answers to share. But perhaps that’s the best form of teaching anyway — to explore and share along the way. That’s what got me started with blogging in the first place, and it’s why my website’s URL is my own name instead of something more generic. This website is a chronicle of my personal journey. My best writing comes through when I’m writing for myself, fully living my life and using blogging to deepen my understanding along the way. I feel that, and others notice it too. What really fascinates me is that I’ve been getting tons of positive feedback about my blogging this week. It’s a major brain-pretzelizer to try to understand why subjective blogging generates more positive objective feedback than objective blogging does. Why the heck do you like it better when I blog just for myself and not for you? Perhaps it’s because the idea that you and I are separate is truly a delusion. When I blog for myself, I am in fact blogging for you because we’re the same self. When I try to blog for you as a separate person (or group of people), then I’m actually splintering myself, and my writing reflects that. I wonder if your experience of reading my articles is the same. When I blog for myself, do you feel like you’re reading your own thoughts and feelings? When I blog objectively, do you feel more distanced from me, like we’re just not on the same wavelength? Do you feel closer and more connected with me now than you did a month ago? If subjective reality is false, then why does it generate results that are objectively better than an objective mindset? In 2006 I increased my financial results dramatically through subjective experimentation, and I’ve always enjoyed an abundant flow in that area ever since. Now I’m seeing huge positive shifts in my relationships too, results that are way beyond what I was able to achieve with an objective lens. If subjective reality is bunk, then I’d expect a decline in my results. But I’m seeing the opposite. That gives me good cause to go further down this path, since I’m seeing more and more evidence that subjective reality is the more accurate lens of the two. When you realize that you’re dreaming, you have much more power to change the dream vs. when you’re unaware (or in denial) that you’re dreaming. You can’t launch a satellite into orbit if you believe the earth is flat. Perhaps we’re both projections of the same consciousness after all. Perhaps you’re also awakening to the possibility — no, the likelihood — that this is a dream world. This dream world blog you’re reading is reflecting back to you your own shifts in consciousness. As you awaken to the notion that you’re really dreaming, this blog is manifesting those shifts. I’m here to reflect back to you the truth that yes, you are indeed dreaming, and I’m a projection within your dream world. In the weeks ahead, many of your own thoughts and feelings are going to show up here in written form, in such synchronous ways that it will be harder and harder for you to deny what’s happening. You’ll be pushed further down the rabbit hole. But you’re ready to take that leap, aren’t you? It will take courage to leave your objective comfort zone, but by now you’ve already concluded that the old path is a dead end. You can’t go back. You can only press on. Silly Rabbit After that CGW, I began feeling it was time to go deeper down that rabbit hole myself. I almost couldn’t help it. After speaking about it for nearly two hours, my mind was already shifting into subjective mode. One thing I really like about CGW is that it’s such a flexible workshop, so as I learn and grow, the workshop and how I present it can continue to evolve. The core principles of Truth, Love, and Power all make sense whether you view them through the objective lens or the subjective one. For example, we can talk about objective Truth (science) or subjective Truth (awareness). We can talk about love objectively (relationships and social support) or subjectively (joy and sorrow). We can talk about power objectively (cause and effect) or subjectively (intention and manifestation). I think it would be an amazing experience to deliver CGW #5 in October from the subjective frame. Just thinking about that excites me and freaks me out at the same time. What the heck would it be like to deliver a 3-day workshop while believing I’m actually in a dream world the entire time? That would mean I’m actually doing an entirely internal workshop, talking to various parts of myself and seeking to elevate, expand, and integrate them into a more complete whole. It’s still 3 months away, but this does feel like an inspired idea to me. If people like my subjective blogging better, would they also prefer a subjective workshop? On one level, I regard this sort of thing as risky. What if it just turns out to be too strange for people? What if I don’t seem to be delivering enough value? What if people get upset with me because I don’t deliver the kind of experience they expected? On another level, what if it works? What if it delivers more value than I previously thought possible? What if it creates a much deeper level of connection and raises the energy of the room to higher highs? What if it leads me into a whole new experience of communicating? And what if every CGW afterwards benefits from this? What does value even mean in a subjective dream world? I can only be delivering value within myself. In that regard, value equals healing and re-integration. I think these risks are manageable, even in an objective sense. For starters, not many people have signed up for CGW #5 yet because it’s still 3 months away. I think we’re at 8 registrations so far, which is actually really good to see this far in advance. If any of those people think CGW #5 may turn out to be too strange after reading these recent blog posts, I’m happy to offer them a refund. However, one of those people already shared with me how excited she is about this new direction, so that’s a good sign. Objectively speaking, I have a solid structure for CGW already worked out, as it has evolved over the previous three workshops. So I know I always have that game plan to fall back on if I feel it’s wise to do so. I don’t have to take the risk of going into a 3-day workshop with no plan at all. I can actually play it safe in this case since the fallback plan is already there. I’m pretty good at gauging the audience’s experience, so if I start out delivering CGW #5 this way, and I see that by the morning break on Day 1, it isn’t quite working, I can always back off and switch modes. It’s a 3-day workshop, and there’s plenty of room to experiment without risking a serious degradation in the overall experience and the value people receive from it. I can solicit advanced feedback as well. So if you like this idea — if some aspect of it resonates with you and makes you more likely to attend CGW #5 — please tell me. If you don’t like it and you feel it would make you less likely to attend CGW #5, please let me know that too. If there’s a lot of support for this idea, I may update the CGW page to reflect that. If I’m really honest with myself, I have to admit to myself (and to you — what’s the difference anyway?) that deep down, I already know that this is the path I must take. But some part of me fears it, and so I project those fears onto you. I assume that you probably won’t like it, or you’ll think it’s crazy. At least that’s what I tell myself, so I can reject the idea in advance. After all, I have to give you what you want, and if you don’t want this, then who am I to argue with you? But I haven’t even asked you yet, so how can I really know? And what if the answer comes back that you’d really love to experience such a thing? And what if we do it that way and it works amazingly well? Will we ever be able to come back out of the rabbit hole again? Will we lose ourselves in that world for good? Will we finally swallow the red pill instead of just tucking it away in our cheek? The Connection Between Inspiration and Subjective Reality My inspiration trial is entangled with subjective reality because they both hit me at the same time. By following my inspiration at the previous CGW, at the point where I finally let go, I was inspired to talk about subjective reality. Then as I moved forward with a subjective perspective for the next few days, I began to receive an even greater flow of inspired ideas. I started seeing inspiration itself as a form of communication with the true dreamer of this world. That led to some intense curiosity, and by the middle of that week, I began thinking about doing a 30-day trial of acting on inspiration 24/7. I couldn’t escape the subjective lens though. By that time I was becoming too immersed in it. I don’t fully understand the link between subjective reality and inspiration, but I can see and feel that there’s definitely a connection, and it isn’t a trivial one. The more I act on inspiration, the more it’s shifting me to view reality subjectively. These inspired actions and their consequences make a lot more sense to me when viewed through the subjective lens. I can’t objectively explain where these inspirations are coming from. But subjectively something quite beautiful and amazing is unfolding. The dreamer and the dream world are becoming one. Likewise, the more I shift into the subjective reality mindset, the easier it is for me to receive and act on inspiration without hesitation. If I were on the objective side, I’d be too worried about the consequences. It would be much harder to let go and trust the flow of what’s happening. But if I know this is a dream world, I’m less freaked out by the strangeness of it all. If this is a dream, then anything is possible. If I know that reality is a dream, I’m inclined to give more weight to certain aspects of the dream world. For example, I consider the inhabitants of the world and my relationships with them to be of greater importance because they all represent parts of me. Interacting with the characters of this world becomes utterly wondrous and fascinating because it’s like I’m delving deeper into the contents of my own subconscious. I’m deeply invested in creating positive, loving relationships with the other characters in this dream world because to me, it is all self-love and inner harmony. If I see conflict anywhere, I’m motivated to gush love all over it to resolve it, since otherwise I’m neglecting an internal conflict within my own being, and it can’t be healthy to let that fester. Consequently, I’ve been spending a great deal of time on communication. Whenever a problem or conflict arises, I do my best to act immediately. I can’t ignore it and hope someone else will handle it. If I’m the dreamer, then I must be 100% responsible for it. Everything I see in the world… is me. My role then becomes that of a healer. By healing damaged relationships within the dream world, I’m healing myself. I’m becoming whole again. This is a huge shift in thinking, and very quickly I developed a backlog of relationships that I feel need to be cleansed and healed with love and forgiveness. I’m tending to them as best I can. I may not be able to heal everything overnight, but the progress within just this past week has been stunning. Money and possessions, on the other hand, become almost inconsequential. What does it mean to own something in a dream? You can still acquire dream stuff if you want, and most dream characters will respect your claims to dream property, but it’s still a bit silly to think of dream objects as something you can own. Even if you buy something with dream money, is it really yours? It’s just a dream object you associate with your avatar’s dream inventory. You can just as easily enjoy the physical aspects of the dream world without having to own any of it. You can use up your dream money or spend it too fast I suppose, but it can’t be all that hard to replenish it either. When you view reality through the subjective lens, your focus shifts a great deal, especially with regard to what you define as important. If your life isn’t quite working, if you aren’t happy or if you aren’t getting the results you desire, could it be that you’re focusing on the wrong things? Could it be that the objective lens has led you astray? Are you still asleep, unaware or unwilling to accept that you’re dreaming? What would your life be like if you did your own 30-day trial of inspired, subjective living? Is that part of your path with a heart? At present I’m feeling more inspired than ever. And I’m also viewing reality as a subjective experience more than ever. That cannot be a coincidence. You’re feeling more inspired too, aren’t you? 
    2782 Posted by UniqueThis
  • 12 Jul 2011
    Let’s say you’ve set some goals for yourself, and now you want to map out a basic plan for how you’ll achieve them.  How do you do this? Obviously there are many ways to plan your action steps, but as a generalization it seems intelligent to aim for a plan that you estimate will consume the least time and resources.  All else being equal, if Plan A takes three months and Plan B takes six months, you’ll go with Plan A.  This is just common sense, right?  You essentially look for the shortest path from your current position to your goal. It’s OK if your estimates aren’t accurate — the point is simply that most of us would consider a shorter path to be more intelligent than a longer path.  This is particularly true in business.  A direct path to an objective is considered more intelligent than a circuitous route.  Time is money, and delays can be costly. The myth of the shortest path As intelligent as this logic may seem, I happen to disagree with it (go figure!).  While I think such an approach to optimization is fine for machines, it’s suboptimal for human beings. Why? The problem appears during implementation of the plan.  What do you actually experience during the action phase?  Do you implement your plan like a machine, completing task after task in order?  Or does something entirely different occur? Personally I’ve never met a human being who worked like this, and I’ve never seen a business do it either.  Plans often fall by the wayside during the implementation stage.  Some would say it’s because people are bad at implementation, but is that really true?  Or was the plan flawed from the beginning because it failed to accurately account for human nature? I’ve produced some beautiful step-by-step plans on paper.  But my implementation has usually been less than stellar.  I’ll get off to an OK start for a little while, maybe a day or two.  Then I stumble.  Sometimes I get distracted.  Other times I feel the actions are just too tedious, and I find subtle ways to procrastinate.  And other times I feel lazy and unmotivated to work on them.  Even though I really want the results, I usually reach a point where I just don’t want to complete the next action.  Sometimes I find a way to push through my resistance.  Other times I rework the plan or move onto something else that seems more interesting (often repeating the cycle once again). Have you ever experienced this pattern yourself? Planning vs. implementation At first I figured I just needed to keep working on my self-discipline.  That did help, but it only encouraged me to set bigger goals, so I still eventually ran into the same problems on a larger scale.  After failing to get the results I wanted, I considered that the problem might be upstream.  Maybe my implementation was poor because my plans were flawed to begin with. That wasn’t an easy conclusion for me because planning is supposed to be one of my key psychological strengths.  According to the Myers-Briggs test, I’m an ENTJ, aka the Field Marshall (a good tactical and strategic thinker).  And the test from the book Now, Discover Your Strengths (which I highly recommend) showed that my #1 strength is strategic thinking.  So the last thing I would have suspected was that my planning was flawed.  But I wasn’t getting results by pushing myself to become better at implementing, so I figured I had nothing to lose by honing my planning skills. I bought fancy project management software, studied various planning methods, and learned how to break everything down into intelligently prioritized actionable steps.  But to my chagrin this investment didn’t pay off the way I wanted.  My plans looked better than ever, but I was still no better at implementing them. Of course some people are better doers while some people are better thinkers, and I definitely enjoy creating plans more than implementing them myself, but I’m not presently surrounded by a team of willing doers, and there are some projects that can’t be delegated easily, particularly in the realm of personal development.  I’m certainly capable of taking massive action under the right conditions — I just needed a way to create those conditions more frequently. Planning for optimal enjoyment I put this problem aside for a while, and one day when I was journaling, a different approach came to me.  Instead of trying to plan the most efficient path to my goal, what would happen if I tried to plan the most enjoyable path? My initial reaction was, “Nah, that wouldn’t work.  It would consume too much time and too many resources.  The most enjoyable path would probably be terribly slow.”  But as I gave it more thought, I had to admit my current approach was taking way longer than I’d planned anyway, so maybe an approach that appeared longer would actually take less time than the seemingly optimal one.  Hmmm…. This “most enjoyable path” began to reveal some interesting possibilities.  If I planned a very lengthy and resource-intensive route to my goal, a tediously slow path wouldn’t likely be the most enjoyable one.  So I figured the most enjoyable path couldn’t be too suboptimal. I wondered what such a plan would look like in comparison to its supposedly more efficient cousin.  I thought about some of the changes I’d make to craft a thoroughly enjoyable plan: Select interesting projects.  Favor projects I enjoy implementing vs. only looking to the end result. Add variety.  Break up long stretches of repetitive work.  Work in different locations.  Take field trips. Improve balance.  Blend solo time with social time.  Balance physical work with mental work. Create a pleasing work environment.  Relaxify my workspace so I enjoy spending time there. Involve others.  Find a way to get friends involved.  Form a mastermind group.  Involve my wife. Solve problems creatively.  Favor creative off-the-wall methods when the obvious solution is too dull or tedious. Enjoy plenty of downtime.  Keep motivation high by avoiding overwork.  Take vacations.  Enjoy rewards for achieving mini-milestones. Avoid the unpleasant.  If a step can’t be done enjoyably, find a way to delegate, outsource, or eliminate it. Use intention-manifestation.  Focus intentions to gain assistance from the Law of Attraction. Design for flexibility.  Allow daily choice making where order of task completion isn’t critical. As I began to understand what an enjoyable plan would look like in comparison with an efficient one, I realized it was a very different way of working.  It’s congruent with the Emotional Guidance System concept from the book Ask and It Is Given because the idea is to remain in a state of joy throughout the entire project.  So you still have a specific goal in mind, but along the way your focus is on enjoying the journey rather than reaching the destination quickly.  Instead of planning the steps that will allow you to achieve your goal as efficiently as possible, you plan the route that you’ll enjoy the most. Technically I began working with this paradigm in 2004 when I retired from the computer gaming industry and started this personal development site.  That immediately enabled me to begin selecting projects I enjoyed more.  Although I liked running my games business, I enjoy this personal development business a great deal more.  After working so long with the efficiency-based model, it’s been a real challenge to let it go.  I am getting there though because I find that the enjoyment-based model produces better results for me, both in terms of enjoyment and efficiency.  At least for me, the most enjoyable path may well be the most optimal one. Consider testing this planning model to see what results you get with it.  You spend your entire life in the present moment, so it makes sense to ensure that in this very moment, you’re in a state of joy.  Clearly you won’t accomplish that by planning to spend your life completing tasks that you find tedious, painful, boring, or pointless.  The switch to an enjoyment-based paradigm can fill your daily reality with creativity, joy, and fulfillment.  Ultimately all those present moments add up to your entire life.  If you enjoy your present moments, you’ll enjoy your life as a whole.
    2743 Posted by UniqueThis
  • 12 Jul 2011
    Yesterday I returned home from a 23-day road trip. It was an incredible experience, and I’m really glad I took the time to do it. I drove 4100 miles (6600 km) through 9 U.S. states (Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona) and 2 Canadian provinces (British Columbia and Alberta). Beginning in Las Vegas, I traveled through Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco, Ashland, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver (BC), Kelowna, Banff, and Calgary with Rachelle. Then Rachelle flew from Calgary to Winnipeg, and I drove solo from Calgary through Glacier Park, Columbia Falls & Kalispell (MT), Flathead Forest, Yellowstone Park, Grand Teton Park, Salt Lake City, and finally back to Vegas. Day 21 was the most memorable for me because I pushed myself beyond my comfort zone. On that day I got up at 4:45am in Columbia Falls, a small Montana mountain town west of Glacier Park. I packed up and hit the road at 5:50am and drove 400 miles to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, visiting Earthquake Lake along the way (this lake was formed in 1959 when a 7.5 earthquake caused a massive landslide that buried a campground and choked a river). During the first hour of the drive while I was driving through Flathead Forest in the dark before dawn, a large deer sprang out of the dense woods at full speed and darted in front of my car. I instinctively swerved to avoid it and missed it by a split second. It was fortunate that I didn’t lose control of the car or crash into a tree. My heart was racing for several minutes after that. Later on that same drive, another small deer ran onto the highway as well, although with enough distance that it was easy to avoid. I later learned that in Yellowstone Park, about 100 animals are killed each year by motorists. I don’t think they’re counting small rodents like squirrels and chipmunks. I made it to Yellowstone Park just before noon. I explored the west side of the park for 4 hours, visiting many interesting sites along the way including rivers, geysers (including witnessing a timely Old Faithful eruption), various hot springs, Yellowstone Lake, and seeing gorgeous terrain all around. I saw many deer and bison as well as a wolf and a small bear. At 4pm I drove south through Grand Teton Park, enjoying its amazing sights, especially the snowy mountains near the Snake River. Then I continued driving for several more hours down many single-lane Wyoming roads until I reached Salt Lake City at 10:30pm. I didn’t know where I was going to stay in advance, so I used my phone to find a hotel and booked a room at the counter when I got there. Fortunately there was a 24-hour grocery store across the street where I was able to procure a late dinner. I drove 790 miles that day, much of it on winding mountain roads at 45 mph. I probably spent 13-14 hours behind the wheel. That’s more than I’ve ever driven on a single day in my life. It was an amazing experience seeing all the magical natural beauty from Montana to Utah. When I finally collapsed into bed and closed my eyes, I still felt like I was speeding down the highway. I kept dreaming that I was driving. I can’t condense 23 days of travel into a single blog post, but I can say that this physical journey helped me see my life from a new perspective. It gave me more clarity about what’s important to me and what isn’t. In some ways I was reminded of Elizabeth Gilbert’s experiences in Eat Pray Love, although a more accurate descriptor for this trip would be Eat Play Drive. One realization I had is that I need to change the way I manage incoming communication. My current approach isn’t working for me, so as of today, I’m changing it. Years ago I realized that I can’t possibly respond to all of the feedback I get, but on this trip I had a further realization. People shouldn’t even be sending me so much email in the first place. I don’t even want to look at it anymore. I’m referring mainly to messages people send me through my contact form, but this applies to some other communication channels as well. For example, the last time I checked my voicemail, I had 22 messages: 2 were hang ups, 2 were fan feedback messages (both from the same person), and 18 were spam calls from solicitors. What was the point in listening to it? And how much of my life should I continue to devote to this? When I first started blogging in 2004, some of the feedback I received was useful and actionable. But somewhere along the way, after tens of thousands of messages, it became too much of the same — a “been there, done that” sort of thing. To the individual senders, it may seem like their messages are unique, but to me it has become nothing but re-runs. The routine of processing email has become pointless — and extremely boring. I think the road trip highlighted these feelings because I was away from my daily routine for so long. Set against the backdrop of adventurous travel, I was able to clearly grasp a waste of life it is to spend my time reading messages that I don’t need to read, regardless of how well-intentioned they may be from the sender’s perspective. I still value quality feedback, but these days the actionable items come from people who know me really well — normally people I see in person. People who only communicate with me via the Internet seldom provide actionable feedback; they’re almost always projecting some aspect of their psyches onto me, as a way of asking me to solve the problem within themselves that they aren’t ready to face yet. They don’t understand the details of my situation well enough to be of help. Another aspect is that many of the messages I receive are very needy. At one time I was glad to help anyone who requested it, but it’s become clear that the people who email me so casually are almost always seeking quick fixes rather than real growth. They contact me because it’s easy and because I’m accessible, but when I give them an honest reply, they take no direct action because they aren’t ready to change yet. A person who is ready to change will do a lot more than send a casual email to someone they’ve never met; by and large these people simply aren’t serious. They’re doing what’s easy because they’re hoping to avoid having to do what’s hard, such as quitting the meaningless job or leaving the unfulfilling relationship. They don’t like being told that the path of conscious growth requires them to face their fears, not hide from them. It’s a mistake for them to contact me. I don’t sell Band Aids. So I’m shutting the door on that kind of communication. I could hire an assistant to process all of this communication for me, but what would be the point? Most of those messages are directed to me personally, and they don’t serve any essential business purpose, so there’s no real basis for outsourcing to an assistant. Consequently, I realized the best solution is to simply put a brick in my mailbox, so to speak. Turn off the pathways that invite so many casual messages from being sent in the first place. So I’ve done exactly that. This morning I removed the contact formfrom my website. In its place is a message explaining that I’m no longer available to be contacted through this site. There are plenty of what-if scenarios that could make this seem like a bad idea. But in weighing the pros and cons, I feel that overall this is the right decision for me. It probably wouldn’t make sense for most other online businesses, but it’s a reasonable solution for my particular situation. It’s also easy enough to go back to the previous approach if I don’t like the results, but I doubt I will. I may tweak the solution over time, however, so that I can keep high-value, low-volume communication channels open while closing low-value, high-volume channels. I also unfollowed the 300+ people I’d been following on Twitter. It’s not because I don’t like them. It’s because when I follow someone, they can send me direct messages there, which creates yet another inbox for me. Twitter doesn’t seem to provide a way to disable DMs, so this is the only viable solution I can see. The small number of people who connected with me via DMs can contact me in other ways anyway, so all this really does is simplify my communication pathways. As for other channels like Facebook and the forums, I’m not sure what, if any, changes I may make there. Those are less problematic though because people have to be friends/members in order to send personal messages, so the direct communication volume is much lower. For now I’ll just maintain the status quo unless it becomes an issue. Does this mean I’m becoming anti-social and hiding behind a virtual wall? It’s really the opposite of that. I’d rather connect with interesting people face to face instead of receive messages via the Internet. And I’d rather spend more time traveling since I find it beneficial for my own path of growth. So if you’re reading this website, and you feel the urge to contact me with your feedback, question, proposal, etc., don’t do it. If that bothers you, well… I suppose you’ll have to get used to disappointment. I don’t even care to receive typo reports — people will still be able to figure out the message, despite the Typo Gremlin’s mischief. I could offer up an explanation for why this is a good thing for everyone, but it will save us all time if I fess up that I’m doing this purely for selfish reasons. That may not be entirely accurate, but the simplicity of this assumption will save me some typing. So what’s the growth lesson here? Perhaps it would be wise for you to do your own soul-searching. Are your communication channels adding tremendous value to your life, or are they simply wasting your precious life? What would happen if you bricked up some of those inboxes and made yourself less available? What if you did it as an experiment for a week or so? Would your whole world come crashing down? Or would it free up more time to do some of those crazy, adventurous things you’ve always wanted to do… like take a monstrous road trip to places you’ve said you’ll visitsomeday. Is all of that emailing and forum posting and Facebooking really helping, or would you rather be smooching someone beside a beautiful waterfall? You decide. There’s no right or wrong answer here per se — just decisions and consequences. In my case I’m willing to accept the consequences of being less accessible, so that I can direct more time, attention, and energy towards other pursuits. Here’s an extra travel tip: Do NOT eat the nachos made with 10 different kinds of beans in Banff an hour before driving to Calgary!
    2730 Posted by UniqueThis
Consciousness & Awareness 1,122 views Jul 27, 2011
30 Days of Inspiration

Today is Day 5 of my 30-day trial of inspired living, as I explained in the previous post. If you missed that post, basically I’m testing what it’s like to live without thinking or planning ahead. I’m living in the moment and doing my best to act on inspiration whenever it comes to me, riding each wave for as long as it lasts. If I’m not feeling any strong inspiration, then in those moments I’ll take some downtime or catch up on routine tasks like email — and take the time to eat, shower, etc.

I’m not scheduling anything at all, unless the inspiration to schedule something hits me. I’m not using an alarm clock to wake up at any particular time, I’m not “planning” to exercise unless I’m inspired to do so, and I’m only eating meals if and when I’m inspired to eat.

I’m learning that hunger can be somewhat inspirational at times, but last night I skipped dinner entirely and went to bed hungry because I didn’t feel inspired to eat. I was too busy following other inspirations, so being hungry didn’t bother me much. By the end of the day, I was spent and collapsed into bed.

A Difficult Trial

What began in the spirit of fun and adventure is now becoming much more difficult. I’m realizing that this is shaping up to be the most challenging and intense 30-day trial I’ve ever done. How nice that this part of it shows up after I’ve already made a public commitment to it…

This trial isn’t about testing a new habit or altering my sleeping or eating patterns. It’s a 24/7 commitment. Part of me is surprised that I can even commit to this at all. I had to get my thinking to a whole different level just to say yes to this experiment.

Dealing with the unpredictability of what’s going to happen next is extremely unsettling. In order to make it through this, I have to let go of trying to control anything. I have to let go and trust.

I’m also seeing that in any given moment, I can be under the influence of multiple waves of inspiration at the same time. They don’t conveniently line up for linear processing. They arrive in complex layers sometimes. When there are multiple waves overlapping, I do my best to ride the strongest wave at the time.

Another pattern is that each wave has its own crests and troughs. Sometimes there’s a powerful impulse, but it’s too much to do all at once. After I catch and ride the initial wave, there’s a lull, and then another related wave shows up to move things further along.

Initially I figured that I couldn’t screw things up so badly with this trial that the damage would be irreparable. Now I’m having serious doubts about that. As I ponder what’s beginning to show up now, I can easily see a pathway where I could do some real “damage.” I could throw a lot of things out there that would make it impossible to ever return to my Day 1 equilibrium.

There are certain things that, once I put them out there, can’t be recalled. If I act on such impulses, my life will spin off in some new direction, and there will be no going back. An example was when I shared the story in the Meaning of Life: Intro article. There was no way to back away from that once it was posted. I don’t regret doing it, but I can never go back to what my life was like before I posted that.

At this point, I now expect that by Day 30, I’ll have probably done at least some things that will make it impossible to restore my life to essentially the same place it was in on Day 1. That’s pretty unsettling.

I now see that it’s going to take a lot of courage to continue, let alone complete, this trial. I know you probably don’t see evidence of that yet, but I imagine you’ll have a better grasp of what I mean by the end of the trial.

Subjective Reality

There’s another aspect to this trial that I haven’t mentioned yet. For me this trial is also a deeper exploration of the perspective of subjective reality. Subjective reality is the notion that consciousness is primary, that there’s only one consciousness, and that all of physical reality is essentially a dream world that arises within consciousness. I’ve shared articles about this concept years ago. If you care to learn more about it, see the Archives, and scan for the articles with “subjective reality” in the title.

At the last CGW, I spent much of the final two hours explaining how subjective reality works, along with some personal experiments that indicate it may in fact be a more accurate model of reality than the objective model (whereby the physical universe is primary and consciousness arises within it).

At one point, I asked the CGW attendees that if they had to pick one or the other, which model did they feel was probably the more accurate depiction of how reality actually works? Interestingly, the room was divided roughly 50-50, with half the people favoring the subjective model and half favoring the objective one.

That didn’t surprise me because I’ve been on the fence as to which model is likely to be more accurate. From a subjective standpoint, it makes perfect sense that the dream characters in my reality would reflect back to me a 50-50 split.

Well, after that CGW, I began thinking that I was ready to explore the subjective perspective in greater depth than ever before. I had largely stopped progressing down that path because quite honestly, it scared me. Things were beginning to get too strange too quickly. This perspective was bestowing me with more power than I felt ready for. For example, in less than a year (which was 2006-2007), I progressed from manifesting pennies to manifesting $50K. And to this day I can still create roughly $50K amounts with relative ease. I’ve also manifested lots of other good things in my life. All of my needs are well met, I enjoy an abundant life, and I’m genuinely happy with my existence. But this begs the question, “How deep does the rabbit hole really go?”

After a few years of stalling interspersed with some very gradual steps forward, I finally decided that as scary as it was, I needed to get moving in this direction once again. Within days some synchronicities began showing up. Some were personal, and others were more public and obvious. For example, right after I made this decision, the movie Inception showed up in my reality and began generating a lot of buzz. Several people began telling me to go see it, some claiming that it included elements of subjective reality. I almost went to see it last night, but I still haven’t seen it yet. Maybe today if the inspiration hits me. Before making this decision though, I’d never even heard of this movie.

Another thing that happened is that some TLC friends shared some subjective manifestation stories of their own with me, stuff that was beyond what I’d experimented with on my own. For example, Joe Vitale shared the story of Dr. Hew Len, a therapist who cured a hospital filled with mentally ill patients without ever seeing them. If you believe the story, this sort of healing is tough to explain objectively, but it makes perfect sense if reality is in fact a subjective dream world. If you want to learn more about this therapist, go read the article The World’s Most Unusual Therapist, or read Joe’s book Zero Limits. I’ve already started testing some of these ideas, and some curious results are beginning to show up. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to regard other human beings as separate and distinct from me now.

At present I’d say I’m now around 80-20 in the sense that I’m 80% certain that subjective reality is the more accurate model of how the universe actually works. Consequently, I’m beginning to loosen my grip on the objective side, and I’m beginning to do things that may seem risky from an objective standpoint, but subjectively they make perfect sense.

This trial is a good example. Objectively speaking, it’s a very risky thing to do. By acting impulsively for weeks on end without pausing to think things through, I could really screw up my life both personally and professionally. I could potentially do and say some things that have serious long-term consequences, not just for me, but for other people in my life.

However, from a subjective standpoint, this should actually be a much more sensible way to live. The notion of an “out there” is nothing but illusion, and it makes no sense to fear what may happen in a world that’s a projection anyway.

Needing to Know

I’m embarking on this trial because I really need to know. I can’t remain on the fence. I have to go down this pathway and see where it leads. It scares me to do so, but I’ll just take it one day at a time. If things get really screwed up along the way, I’m willing to accept those consequences. I’d be willing to sacrifice a lot in order to discover some new truths (or old ones I’ve forgotten).

I think that deep down, part of me already knows that reality is subjective and that the whole objective model is pure delusion. But I can’t overcome my doubts by staring at them and pondering them. I have to push through the fear and doubt and resistance and see what really lies on the other side. Will it be a glorious new level of existence, or will it lead to chaos?

I strongly suspect it’s the former, but the only way I can really do this experiment properly is by being willing to accept the possibility that I may experience the latter.

Inner Processing

I’m still doing a lot of inner processing. If I feel inspired to share the details at some point, I’ll do so, even if it’s really difficult in the moment.

Last night I went to bed at 1:30am, and I woke up at 4:30am. Some very emotional stuff began coming up again, and I did little else but cry and sob till 6:15am. I’m still not sure if I’ll share the details about this publicly. It would probably stir up some drama if I did, but for now I’m not feeling the inspiration to write about it, at least not yet.

I am getting a glimpse of things to come. I may not be able to control it, but I can try to make sense of it along the way.

One thing I’m seeing is that I’m going to be pretty busy. Lots of energy is getting stirred up, and it’s leading to a lot of activity. I can’t separate the personal side from the professional side, so I don’t know in advance which part of my life I’ll be working on most. It feels like I’m working on both at the same time.

I made breakfast almost two hours ago, before I started writing this post, but it’s been sitting there uneaten this whole time. I’m pretty hungry, but I’ve had to follow this wave of inspiration to write because it was the stronger wave. Hopefully I can go eat once I post this. I’m also very thirsty. There’s a full glass of water next to me, but I’ve barely sipped it. I stuck with the writing wave until it reached its shoreline, even as my hunger and thirst increased along the way.