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What “must” you do everyday?
It’s a tough question and it’s one that I don’t think many of us have ever taken the time to consider. Sure, we all have had a litany of “to-do” lists that seemingly go uncompleted.
Hell, I just checked my iphone’s “to-do” list and found tasks that were years old that I never got around to. We are all guilty of such transgressions.
How many times have we looked at what we should do and say to ourselves, “Oh, I’ll do that tomorrow”? And yet, tomorrow never comes.
Upon closer inspection, many of us do have “must” lists, which likely resembles your life routine.
Eat. Work. Sleep. Repeat. Maybe you throw the gym in there.
That’s 99% of people’s “must” lists. It works and it’s steady and I’m sure it provides a comfortable lifestyle. After all, routines are continually perpetuated because they are comfortable.
Yet, I don’t think many people’s “must” lists propel them on a path of self-improvement or serve to enrich their lives.
That’s why I found Nate Green’s article on his “must” list so compelling. It was devoid of all the standard bullshit. It seemed to add meaning and value to his day and I’m pissed that I hadn’t thought of the concept before he had.
With that being said, Nate Green and I live two very different lifestyles.
He is a self-reported “recovering fitness addict” while I still would rather be nowhere else on a Friday night than pulling with my best friends. Yes, best friends, because the Iron has a mystique that creates lasting relationships among those who continually fight the resistance.
Further, he is responsible for creating badass content for Precision Nutrition, while I am a professional athlete and my body is responsible for my livelihood.
Because of that, I found it prudent not only to create my own “must” list but also to share it with you in the hope that you will consider your own list to propel you forward and onward on the journey to cultivating your dream life.
My Must List:
I think I blame my lovely mom for giving me the wonderful gift of acutely responding to stress in an over the top manner. My dad could be the most carefree man in the world but I wasn’t fortunate enough to be blessed with such a laissez-faire attitude.
Because of that, I turn to meditation to reduce my physiological response to stress. I typically wake up and transition immediately into meditation for 10-15 minutes. My long-term goal is to work up to two sessions a day upwards of 30 minutes a session.
On the surface, an hour a day seems like a long time to dedicate to deep breathing and mindless wandering of the brain. Yet, stress is the silent killer, accounting for too many health problems to recount. Plus, you don’t get silverback testosterone levels being chronically stressed as cortisol (stress hormone) and testosterone maintain an antagonistic relationship.
It doesn’t hurt that I actually feel a tangible difference on mornings that I do meditate compared to mornings I don’t. When I get my Zen on, I feel like I can conquer the world. Seriously.
If you are interested, a good friend recommended, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” to me as I delve deeper into the art of meditation.
2. Adopt a power pose
That’s a power pose. It’s an expansive gesture that Amy Cuddy’s research has shown to increase testosterone levels and reduce cortisol levels simultaneously.
After I finish meditating, I’ll adopt one of these for two minutes.
Because I want to start a physiological cascade of fucking awesomeness at the beginning of my day.
3. Work on tissue quality
My strength coach Eric Cressey continually talks about elite-level pitchers having high levels of shoulder mobility and laxity.
Unfortunately, I am not one of these. My tissue quality sucks and I have become accustomed to surprised looks when people find out that I’m not a fullback or a third baseman but a pitcher.
I need to hammer my soft tissue early and often. In a recent post, Eric talks about the need to work on tissue intermittently throughout the day in short bursts in order to produce lasting changes.
It’s a pain in the ass but 4-6 times a day I’ll roll out my lats, trap, teres, infraspinatus, and pec using a lacrosse ball. Probably a minute a piece and then follow it with some sort of mobility drill to reestablish motor patterning with the improved length.
I’ve also started to include the Defranco 8 into my morning routine.
Control the controllables. Soft tissue quality is in your hands.
4. Food Prep
I loathe cooking with every bone in my body so the thought of preparing food 3-4 times throughout the day is absolutely sickening to me.
If I don’t food prep for the day in the morning, I’ll eat like an asshole the rest of the day. Your body hates you when you eat like an asshole so I try and make a conscious effort of avoiding this and biting the bullet of cooking my meals in the morning.
For those of you wondering, food prepping for the week has never been my thing so there’s that.
5. Prioritize Gut Health
To piggy back off food prep, the first thing I consume is a big shake that I’ll either sip throughout the day or down right there on the spot.
I’ve been reading more and more about how important your gut health is to every physiological process and how most people in the 21st century treat it like shit.
My shake will typically consist of:
– Fresh, organic berries of some sort
– A mix of a variety of organic green vegetables (kale, spinach, etc)
– A heaping teaspoon of my favorite supplement Athletic Greens
Nothing sexy just giving the body what it needs.
6. Read something
My goal in 2014 (starting February 12th) is to read a book every two weeks.
When you consider the fact that my last year at Harvard, I didn’t buy one book for class, the goal is certainly ambitious. That’s ok. Large, seemingly crazy goals are good. They make me take it seriously and prioritize the need.
To answer the question of why I am undertaking such an ambitious goal, my answer is threefold.
1) There’s so much to learn about what it means to be human and I find no better medium than from reading. My good friend said the other night that perspective should be ever-evolving. I think he’s absolutely right.
2) No one likes dumb. People rarely ever have interesting conversations or talk about cool shit anymore.
Talking about girls and sports with your buddies is all well and good but at some point they tire and the circuitous cycle of “Yeah, I’d hit that” or “Tom Brady is better than Peyton Manning” gets old.
Having meaningful conversations are enjoyable. Problem is, it’s tough to be interesting without some base of knowledge or perspective.
3) I’m sure I’ll never work at Google but I want to absolutely dominate the airport test.
Basically, it’s a large criterion in which Google looks to hire individuals. To put it as simply as possible,
“Your flight is cancelled and you are stuck at the airport with this guy for the next three hours. How happy would you be about that? Would you look for the nearest way to escape? Or, would you look forward to a couple of hours of interesting conversation with him or her?”
Some subjects that interest me: theology (particularly process thought), philosophy, evolutionary biology (specifically evolutionary psychology), and social dynamics (with an emphasis on what constitutes power).
I’m going to be posting on the sidebar what I’m currently reading on the site.
Here’s my first book: “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier” by Ishmael Beah
Show Me Strength will be nationally recognized in due time. That’s only going to happen if I continually win the War of Art everyday and fight against the resistance.
It’s the days when you don’t feel like it that matter.
8. Take my own advice
I often talk about grinding and the steps it takes to become great.
Yet, there are days when I don’t grind or work at my craft as diligently as I should because “I don’t feel like it.”
It’s easy to give advice, even good advice, but it’s a hell of a lot harder to take it to heart yourself.
I have been making a conscious effort to take my own advice, to blaze trails, and stay pissed off for greatness.
Find Your Must List
My list is different than Nate Greens as I’m sure your list is going to be quite different than mine.
It’s all about discovering what direction you want your life to take and what you must do to get there. That should formulate a prominent part of your “must” list.
I’ve always thought that if you are the exact same person year to year then you are doing something wrong. Just as perspective should be ever evolving, so should your growth as an individual.
What you do daily is largely determinant of how you progress over time. Take it seriously and develop a routine that transcends the monotonous grind of the average life.
It starts with not what you should do but with what you must do today.