Your habits shape your identity

3 Things I'm Working On This Week

  1. Copywriting project: I’m going to be writing some copy for an online course.

  2. Developing atomic habits: This week’s book is Atomic Habits by James Clear. We don’t rise to the ambitiousness of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems. It’s because systems shape our identity, while goals just sort of exist.

  3. Become a superhuman: I tried working out 3x a week, but it’s not working for me. I just love being there, so I’m increasing it to between 5-6 times a week to work on calisthenics along with my weight training.

6 Things I’ve Learned Last Week

  1. Dogs don’t give devotion and obedience unconditionally. You need to earn it. (Mike Ritland)

  2. Habit changes are not just about productivity. They change how we think about ourselves and our identities. (James Clear)

  3. When you give away your work by building the network, you’re not giving it away at all. You’re building trust, authority and a positive cycle of better. (Seth Godin)

  4. Instead of hard numbers, you could describe the “middle class” as a mindset: where you can live comfortably on what they earn, can pay their bills, save for retirement, and have vacations and entertainment”. It’s not about income, but whether you can do these things. (Tony Tran)

  5. Marketing budget constraints are only as bad as you make them. You can get a lot done for cheap with an iPhone camera when it comes to media. (Wistia series, One Ten One Hundred)

  6. Humans have been optimizing for beauty since the beginning of time. (In a Nutshell)

5 Experiences That Have Delighted Me

  1. Had a bowl of pho ga and pho bo in Monterey Park. The trick to finding good Vietnamese food in America, is look for the restaurants that don’t have an obviously American name :)

  2. Ember has been learning more to respect boundaries and not jump up on me all of the time! (She’s my dog by the way)

  3. There’s something magical about the Asian supermarket. Maybe it’s the live fish and lobsters.

  4. I found these cheap $10 pair of gaming glasses at Ross that blocks out blue-screen light. If you’re staring at a screen for 8+ hours a day, you need these.

  5. I cooked some steak in my cast iron skillet for the second time. Nothing makes me feel happier. Or manlier. Maybe.

Until next week!

Progress is not a straight line.

3 Things I'm Working On This Week

  1. Get a job: I’ve made a couple of mistakes before when choosing a place to work. I don’t want to make that mistake again, so I’m committing to vetting the companies I interview with.

  2. Read a book a week: I’m reading the book Team Dog: How to Train Your Dog — The Navy SEAL Way. My dog Ember needs some discipline in her life :)

  3. Become a superhuman: After reading Deep Nutrition by Dr. Cate Shanahan, this book about the harmful effects of the American diet, I’ve decided to make a change in diet and slowly phase out vegetable oils and sugars by 2019.

6 Things I’ve Learned Last Week

  1. Most grocery foods are nearly identical to pet foods -- covered in vegetable oil and cooked to extremely high temperatures.

  2. Maybe we don’t need more healthcare -- maybe we just need more health (through diet).

  3. The Four Pillars to a healthy diet are 1) meat on the bone, 2) organs and bone broth, 3) fermented foods, and 4) as fresh as possible.

  4. How important it is to ask thoughtful questions during a job interview -- not only for the direct answers, but also for signaling that you give thought about who you work with.

  5. My super productive friend is highly protective about his work time: it is strictly 10 AM - 6 PM and he will be ruthless in not doing work outside of those hours.

  6. Routine is extremely important when out of work or self-employed. You must set a schedule or else you risk doing nothing all day.

5 Experiences That Have Delighted Me

  1. On September 22nd, 2018, it was the three-year anniversary of theEvanLe.com.

  2. Spent $60 on a cooking apron. It’s become my favorite thing to wear in the apartment.

  3. My girlfriend Erica and I have reached our half-year anniversary!

  4. Increased my productivity with the Forest Pomodoro Timer app.

  5. Celebrated Dia de los Muertos in Los Angeles’ Olvera Street (I was very tempted to purchase a luchador mask).

Until next week!

4 Things I Learned From Deep Nutrition

Some interesting talking points I’ve been reading in Deep Nutrition by Dr. Cate Shanahan.

  1. Most boxed/canned grocery foods are not so much different than pet foods.

  2. Cheerios are nearly identical to ramen noodles.

  3. The war on cholestorol and fat was based on incomplete science and actually led to an increase in heart disease in America.

  4. The same way you need fresh and healthy soil to make nutritious plants, the female body needs about 3-4 years of recovery between births for optimum birthing.

When it comes to nutrition, so much has changed in regards to diets like paleo, keto, vegetarianism, etc. but not huge guidelines that lots of people can understand.

There’s so much I’m realizing that I didn’t understanding of our food history from this book. I highly recommend it.

Address the root issue

This week, I’m focusing on eating healthier, as I’m reading the book Deep Nutrition by Dr. Cate Shanahan.

One of the most interesting lines I’ve read so far is this:

“Medical school doesn’t teach doctors to address the root of the problem. It teaches doctors to treat the problem.”

For all of the medical advances we’ve made, it doesn’t seem like we’ve made too much progress in eradicating diabetes, alzheimers, etc. Anecdotally, these diseases still seem to me like a huge problem that many people are still dealing with.

So maybe it is true.

Maybe our healthcare system is just about reacting to symptoms rather than dealing with root issues. Maybe we should take the phrase “you are what you eat” more seriously.

But if the ultimate goal is getting people to live healthier lives that optimizes for quality rather than length, what do we do?

When we think in terms of policy, things get pretty messy, so let’s break it down at an individual level.

Would it be wiser to:

  1. Spend more of your money on healthcare, or spend more of your money on eating healthier?

  2. Eat a bunch of unhealthy food everyday and develop diseases, or eat unhealthy food as a treat and have great health?

Perhaps we need to investigate the American diet and nip the causes of these diseases at the root — instead of focusing on inventing new preventative medicine.

Watch for what's not said

When humans were first around, they didn’t have a common language.

The only way for them to communicate was through their facial expressions and their body language.

Now that the spoken language has gotten so complicated, it’s taken our focus away from what we originally used to communicate. This sophistication tricks us into paying attention to words, when really, we should be focusing on the non-verbals.

Why is this important?

Because it’s easy to fake how we're feeling with our words.

It’s a lot harder to hide our feelings with our body language.

Life is a countdown

You don’t have all the time in the world.

That sounds like a dreary thing, but from a different perspective, it can actually be a beautiful thing. It means that time is limited and that every minute that we have is important.

But we just don’t always spend each day like it is limited.

I can’t count how many times I’ve spent 10 minutes laying in my bed just scrolling through Instagram, when I could have just been sleeping instead. And then I wake up tired and wondering why I didn’t get enough sleep.

This trend continues on to so many other things.

One of the things I’m always working to reverse is my feeling that there’s no rush to things. That it’s okay if I procrastinate, because there is always more time to do things. And the deadline is so far away, so what’s the point?

But that’s the kind of thinking that gets you nowhere. That’s the kind of thinking that makes you procrastinate.

How to Get More Time Back In Your Day

Everyone gets the same 24 hours per day.

It’s all in how we perceive time that makes us less likely to procrastinate.

This is what extremely productive people do — they zone in during the times they need to work because they realize their time is scarce and they need to finish their commitments in order to spend the rest of the time doing things they love.

When you add artificial time limits to the work you need to do, you trick your mind into thinking, “I need to get this report done in X time, or else I won’t have time for Y”.

That’s why the Pomodoro technique, in which you set 25 minutes to focus on your work as a countdown, works so well.

You can’t see time as a stopwatch — you need to see time as a countdown.

Accept People as They Are: A Lesson from Benjamin Franklin

In Mastery by Robert Greene, he talks about Benjamin Franklin’s rise to prominence.

Young Ben was brilliant when he was young, but growing up, he would find himself being taken advantage of and abused. Ben traveled throughout Massachusetts, Philadelphia, and London. In each of those situations, he would always want to be the “right” person and teach people a lesson.

It took him until he was in his 30s for him to realize his futile efforts.

So he chose to make a change.

He would not try to make people act in an idealized way.

Ben would instead aim for complete and radical acceptance of human nature. "Better to accept such people as one accepts the thorns on a rose".

After taking on this mindset, Ben was able to win over nearly everyone he met. It’s because he stopped trying to change them, and instead saw them for what they were, and adjusted his approach from there.

Maybe it would be advantageous for you to do the same.

Stop swiping, start engaging

Applying to jobs is like swiping on Tinder: you’ve both openly advertised your goal to enter some sort of relationship and you see if it’s a good fit. You both list your needs and your wants and you get to see a vast amount of possible suitors.

This may work for you to find that job or that romantic partner, but it doesn’t always happen so directly.

Some of the best connections I’ve made were when I wasn’t even looking for the thing that I wanted.

I’ve met marketing clients through friends and coworkers in completely different industries.

I met my girlfriend not through Tinder, but by taking a dancing class and being a friendly person. I was able to focus on being a better dancer instead of trying too hard to “meet girls”.

When I stopped focusing so much on “getting” the thing I wanted, I allowed myself to pour my energy into doing really cool things — and in turn, that’s what attracted the right people to me.

In searching for a job, the most high value thing you could be doing is not applying to 50 job openings — it might be applying to 10 job openings and creating a really interesting project on the side.

How To Keep A Habit: Make it a Default Action

For an app, when you have settings on default, a segment of your audience will never touch it. The path of least resistance is to just let it be.

By default, Facebook is designed to take your information and only give you the posts that they think you’d like and agree with. You have to turn it off manually.

But most people won’t.

With YouTube, even if your intentions are to watch one video and that’s it, the “Related Videos” sidebar automatically shows up as a constant reminder to check out more videos — you can’t turn it off.

That’s how companies build highly effective products: they make the default choice the one that keeps you on their site longer.

You can borrow this lesson from these famous tech companies and incorporate it into your life.

  • How can you change your environment so that the choice you want to make is the default one?

  • How can you make the path of least resistance the one you want it to be?

Some ways to make your defaults easier:

  • To eat healthy: Stocking your kitchen only with healthy foods so that those potato chips are simply inaccessible

  • To start exercising in the morning: Setting up your gym clothes the night before by the door, so that all you have to do is put them on the next morning

  • To start meditating: have a yoga mat rolled out on the floor and put your alarm clock next to it so you have to move to it in the morning

… and so on.

There are numerous ways you can make your life easier when you just make it the easiest choice to take. You shouldn’t have to fight temptation everywhere you go. You’re going to lose if you want to quit smoking, but leave cigarettes everywhere in your house.