INTERNAL SCORECARD #8
This is the eighth internal scorecard I've published. By writing these up, you get to see what productivity and production looks like on the inside, and I get to have an extra external accountability mechanism.
This one covers 7 July to 13 July.
RUNNING IN TAR WITH A FEW HUGE SPARKS
That's the best way I can describe this week. It had a very sleepwalking-like quality to it, with not much good work happening and poor compliance with the new habits I set forth the week before.
Yet, there were a few breakthrough moments during the week.
The basic idea was like… grind, grind, grind, fail, fail, fail… MAGNIFICENT OCCURRENCE… grind, grind, grind… MAGNIFICENCE, grind, grind, grind…
I just didn't have a lot of energy. I also had a family member in the hospital which I was managing, and that consumed a lot of time and energy (everyone's fine, now), which contributed partly to this.
THE UPSIDE OF DOWNSIDE
I've always found, ironically, a lot of profit and production in being in a down mode, if you can reflect and own it. Of course, the natural tendency when you're down is to try to block things out and submerge them, but instead I was just letting myself be stuck, feeling it, not judging particularly harshly or self-prosecuting, and just sort of reflected, "I'm having an ugly week. Eh, maybe this is useful to be having on some level."
Sure enough, it was. I can say that for sure, since it's now Tuesday of the next week. I started to snap out of it around Thursday, and I've been on fire since then.
What's the upside of downside? Well, it gives you a lot of perspective. Times when you're optimized and thriving, you're not looking at cracks in the foundation and it's easy to celebrate instead of looking to get better.
Whilst down, I was pondering making a lot of structural improvements and think I saw things very accurately.
Also, it's nice to have a down week every now and then, because it increases one's empathy and compassion for others having a down day/month/week. When you're on fire constantly, you can get very dissatisfied and displeased with people who aren't. But, there's tremendously a lot of good people in the world who aren't on fire at any given time, yet, with a little bit of compassion and patience, you can do amazing things with them. So, I'm grateful for that in a way too.
THE HIGHEST QUALITY HOURS…
One of the stranger points about the week is that my top 15 to 25 hours were just exceptional. There's 168 hours in a week. I probably slept 49 hours this week, I had around 99 rather miserable and off-track hours, but that best ~20 hours were just unreal-good.
I took on two new consulting clients, both of whom look exceptional. One client in particular is one of the most leveraged high impact potential assignments I've ever had, which is incredibly exciting. The other is a short and very enjoyable assignment.
I only got a few hours into GiveGetWin (not for want of trying), but the few hours with Zach Obront (PR, high leverage), Jeff Liechti (technology, building internal tools), and John Paton (management, teams, organization) were all very good hours.
Across four hours of purely social calls, I got a bunch of tremendous lessons about international taxation and incorporation, business law in the US, general operations and scaling, and improving as a writer and working with editors.
I also finally released Haunted Dreams after a final editing pass -- I only got it like 92% complete, which totally kills me since it's one of the best things I've written ever, and I think I could have made it ever-so-slightly better and had a huge exponential gain off that… but after writing it a few months ago and taking like seven different editing passes to it, I think it was as good as I was going to realistically get. The reception to that was tremendous and people loved it, which made me very happy and grateful.
PAYING THE PIPER -- HABITS
Here's the habits I set last week as targets --
*Wake at 4:30AM
*Computer lights-out at ~4PM
*Begin winding down for sleep at 7:30PM
*One hour of writing per day in the morning
*One hour of followup per day in the morning
*Fitness in the morning
*Schedule calls primarily in a tight window 7AM to 11AM
*Start training for single-digit body fat
*Begin time-tracking again
*Get off caffeine sooner or later
Here's what actually happened:
*Wake at 4:30AM: Was happening for a few days, then I had one day where I was on fire, and I refused to sleep until around 3AM… thus breaking the whole system. It's interesting, because when you're off-track in general productively, you grasp hard when you're on and don't want to sleep. Thus, I did and threw the rest off.
*Computer lights-out at ~4PM: This one went out the window after the above happened.
*Begin winding down for sleep at 7:30PM: Also went out the window.
*One hour of writing per day in the morning: Inconsistency here. Maybe half the days.
*One hour of followup per day in the morning: Inconsistency here. Maybe half the days.
*Fitness in the morning: Almost none in the morning, though did get three workouts in total.
*Schedule calls primarily in a tight window 7AM to 11AM: Didn't really happen. Doesn't look like it's going to happen for a while.
*Start training for single-digit body fat: My diet was relatively off-track until I cleaned it up towards the end of the week. That means I was off-diet for around nine days total, which actually didn't bother me. I know I'm about to kick into a hardcore training cycle, so I don't mind having been off the rails. The low point was having McDonald's -- chicken sandwich, big fries, iced coffee, ice cream. I felt like shit afterwards, predictably. Seriously, like 3.5 out of 10 on the "how do you feel" scale… and it was only like 1PM in the afternoon. Yuck. Back on my diet strongly and fitness after a few days ago, and also have a call set up with that exceptional trainer I mentioned last week.
*Begin time-tracking again: Inconsistent. Not sure if I'll actually reboot this one, or let it go. I'll think about it next week.
*Get off caffeine sooner or later: Didn't happen this week, but wasn't a priority. Still, this is easy for me to ramp down with caffeine pills, target dosages, and reducing it rapidly to get off. Once I start this, it's as good as done.
WELL, THAT SUCKS, EH?
Most people don't like to advertise their failures. But, well, there you go. Out of my 10 target habits, like 3 or 4 of them halfway happened. The way I calculate it out, that's around a 20% success rate, and I normally aim for 70%.
Well, anyways, it happens. Life has gone on. The apocalypse hasn't come, the gate isn't unsealed, there's no rider on a pale horse.
You have to be careful not to be complacent when you're off-track, but you also need to be careful not to self-prosecute too badly, and layer more negativity/self-punishment on top of being off-track. I'm of the belief that if you can calmly observe yourself off track and mentally be aware of it and work towards improving it, you get better.
WHY DOES THAT HAPPEN?
Heck if I know. I do believe in the "rider and the elephant" model, though. Your conscious mind can be compared to a rider on top of a barely trained elephant. You can try to pull the reigns and steer the beast, you have to make sure it's fed and watered, and you can try to discipline it when it's not doing what you want. But at the end of the day, it is a wild animal.
We are wild animals. The neocortex and other high-level thinking aspects of ourselves only have some indirect control over our actions, unless we're in full-reflective mode and of relatively high willpower and relatively low negative affect/overriding impulse.
I do believe that. This week, I wanted to do much more, but I felt really exhausted and fatigued after a few months of travel, worried and concerned, I had a lot of time taken up by (objectively) negative affect moments (medical stuff), and I was generally feeling hot, sweaty, and low will.
This is, of course, seriously concerning. Most people don't write about weeks like this, because it's bad for credibility. Well, so be it. It's true. I had a down week, where around 100 of my 120 waking hours when incredibly poorly. (The week was salvaged by having a few magical hours in there, but most of that, really, was just coasting on stuff I'd gotten into action previously during higher moments.)
Down weeks happen. I had one. I think not being too self-judgment or harsh is key to getting out of them, because it makes you want to submerge your consciousness even more (so as not to feel the pain and disappointment, which is already high anyways when you're falling short).
Am I disappointed in myself? Actually, no, not really. As I wrote in Falling, sometimes your grip strength or muscle strength fails and you don't judge yourself for that. Why do it when your mind fails? It happens. Reflect, nudge, improve, get better.
(Of course, this is all very easy to say when my negative run was under two weeks total… when things go negative for longer, that can lead to much more malaise. I empathize. Still, I think relatively nonjudgmental reflection and analysis is still the best way out.)
DALIO OF THE WEEK
As always, Dalio's Principles are insightful on the topic. Here's pages 31-32:
"Many problems are caused by people’s mistakes. But people often find it difficult to identify and accept their own mistakes. Sometimes it’s because they’re blind to them, but more often it’s because ego and shortsightedness make discovering their mistakes and weaknesses painful. Because people are often upset when their mistakes are pointed out to them, most people are reluctant to point out mistakes in others. As a result, an objective diagnosis of problems arising from people’s mistakes is often missing and personal evolution is stunted. (As I mentioned in the last chapter, most learning comes from making mistakes and experiencing the pain of them—e.g., putting your hand on a hot stove—and adapting.) It is at this stage that most people fail to progress. More than anything else, what differentiates people who live up to their potential from those who don’t is a willingness to look at themselves and others objectively.
I call the pain that comes from looking at yourself and others objectively “growing pains,” because it is the pain that accompanies personal growth. No pain, no gain. Of course, anyone who really understands that no one is perfect and that these discoveries are essential for personal growth finds that these discoveries elicit “growing pleasures.” But it seems to be in our nature to overly focus on short-term gratification rather than long-term satisfaction—on first-order rather than second- or third-order consequences—so the connection between this behavior and the rewards it brings doesn’t come naturally. However, if you can make this connection, such moments will begin to elicit pleasure rather than pain. It is similar to how exercise eventually becomes pleasurable for people who hardwire the connection between exercise and its benefits.
Pain + Reflection = Progress
Much as you might wish this were not so, this is a reality that you should just accept and deal with. There is no getting around the fact that achieving success requires getting at the root causes of all important problems, and people’s mistakes and weaknesses are sometimes the root causes. So to be successful, you must be willing to look at your own behavior and the behavior of others as possible causes of problems."
Brief analysis: I think being calm and objective when analyzing failures is more conducive to that reflection. Beating oneself up, I think, is more of a mis-wired mechanism designed to dissipate tension and make a person reinforce their current flawed self-esteem along these lines: "Well, look, I feel very bad that I'm failing. Doesn't that mean I'm a good person?"
Confucius said, "The man who makes a mistake and fails to correct it has made a second mistake."
I think, "The man that would rather feel bad after a failure than to calmly analyze is undergoing a second (and worse) failure."
Calm, non-judgmental analysis and reflection is the way to progress. The pain helps with that, if you let it.
AND NOW BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING…
Here's hoping that next week's Internal Scorecard is filled with interesting achievements and analyses… it looks like this negative week was a one-off and something of a convergence of slight negative events leading to a chain reaction and having a week just off-track in general. I am cheating a little bit when I'm prognosticating better results next week -- since next week has already started, and things are going well.
Hopefully the honest disclosures and analyses are useful to you, and do leave a comment if they are.
Awesome. I had a down this weekend as well. After my most productive month in years, I found myself unable to stop watching the League of Legends tournament on Youtube, for pretty much the entire weekend. I don't even play League of Legends. It was very "wtf am I doing" even as it was happening.
The downs are a fact of life for anyone who pushes himself. No matter how good your systems are, your mental energy is always what powers the machine. When it's gone it's gone.
Experience and composure are wonderful things. A younger me compounded the problem by getting anxious about it (which costs mental energy), a cycle that lead to a full scale crash as often as it lead to digging back into productivity. Adult me says "oh, this is happening. I know this. I know it's not permanent, the sky is not falling, and I'll be back." Not a drop wasted.
This is good. I'm sure it's hard to push Publish, but it's the reason these things are really useful.
Re: habits. Slow it down! Take 2-3 at a time and be religious about them. It's easy to feel like "What's the harm of adding that one more habit?" on Sunday night when you're planning your week, but if it brings down the probability of the whole thing, screw it. And if not: at least pick 2-3 to consider holy and work on the rest as secondary.
Probably my favorite scorecard yet. Sebastian, you're brave, talented, smart, and diligent. Keep it up.
Glad to see everything is okay by now.
>Also, it's nice to have a down week every now and then, because it increases one's empathy and compassion for others having a down day/month/week/life
I'll add life there. There're people who live miserable-out-of-control-with-no-planning-on-the-hands-of-fate lives, so it's good to feel empathy towards them too.
You already wrote on modafinil, but how do you take caffeine pills? Like, at what time and what dose?
INTERNAL SCORECARD #7
This is the seventh internal scorecard I've posted. I put these up as a way for you to see what production and productivity actually look like (with the up's and down's, and so on), and as a measure for myself of what's happening and what's to come.
This covers 30 June to 6 July.
DALIO OF THE WEEK
"Goals are the things that you really want to achieve, while desires are things you want that can prevent you from reaching your goals—as I previously explained, desires are typically first-order consequences. For example, a goal might be physical fitness, while a desire is the urge to eat good-tasting, unhealthy food (i.e., a first-order consequence) that could undermine you obtaining your fitness goal. So, in terms of the consequences they produce, goals are good and desires are bad." -- Ray Dalio, Principles, p27
Kind of funny with my commitments. This week it was really hardcore, especially in last two days, I was working like 20 hours BUT I was very effective at the same time. I've made a mistake with counting my hours of work and as you can assume I've found it out at Friday.....Yesterday everything was fantastic but today something funny happen.... Internet was (still is) a shit. It used to tilt the hell out of me when I got one or two disconnections during my grind time. Today I had 25 disconnections or so.
Grind is done, working on game is done. I see improvement in my mindset I do not tilt lately, so far so good. Is it worth to do everything for last call? Of course not, do I care? Of course not. You probably know Parkinson's Law, in short, if you have 2 hours the task will take two hours, if you have four, it will take four. What is funny I don't see huge difference between time I have now and I had year ago. Commitments are pretty much for the same amount of the time, I have some additional work, AND two days off INSTEAD of one. That's right folks I am the laziest mofo on this earth. I am doing 5-2 and I fucking enjoy as much free time as I did not have for last two years or so.....
Anyway it's really funny that it was and it is pretty much the same with getting things done BUT I have two free days. The only thing I did not realize is that if you are doing thing for last call you have to be tough mofo, you have to keep grinding, while getting coolers, while getting disconnections and play calm otherwise you will lose money. Alternative is quite simple, do more at the beginning and have free time latter on for stuff like this but who does this shit anyway... :)