2021 is fast approaching and with all the challenges that 2020 reeled in, it seems absurd not to reflect on the past year. Whether it’s a “year in review” worksheet or discussing the challenges and the highlights with family and friends, the most important thing is that we walk into 2021 having learnt lessons along the way, adopting a fresh, open perspective.
This year, I read two books that changed my view on habits (exercise, healthy eating, reading) and ultimately my life thereafter. I know that may sound dramatic but this quote from Atomic Habits author, James Clear sums it up perfectly:
The trajectory of your life bends in the direction of your habits.
While these books — Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins and Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink — changed my mindset, primarily by allowing me to examine limiting thought patterns, Notion is the tool that has helped me to implement and remain consistent with these habits.
The most valuable lesson I learnt in 2020
Daily habits have a compound effect on the trajectory of your life.
I’ve found that this idea was articulated best by Naval Ravikant in Episode 473 of The Tim Ferriss Show:
All self help boils down to “choose long-term over short-term”. If you can just adopt long-term thinking in your mindset, you’re just going to have a much easier life, or as Jerzy Gregorek says, “Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life. Compound interest applies everywhere. It applies in relationships. It applies in money. It applies in health and fitness. Can you change you’re eating habits so that you’re eating healthy food as opposed to unhealthy food? Can you create an exercise routine that you can do every day or every other day, so that it’s a consistent part of your life?
This is why the most important database that I’ve adopted in my Notion set up thus far is my daily log. One thing became evident early on: to master the year, I have to start with my day. Tracking daily habits keeps me accountable, allows for retrospective review and motivates me to stay on the path when I feel like succumbing to the temptations of my mind.
Here’s what I’ve learnt about implementing healthier habits this year:
There is only one decision that you have to make to implement consistent habits: do not listen to your mind. My mind has concocted a variety of reasons (excuses) for me to not exercise: “I’m too tired; too busy, I’m going to ruin my hair, I have my period.” The list goes on and on. It didn’t take me long to observe that my mind only wanted to keep me comfortable and secure. It values short term gratification over long term outcomes. So, my conclusion is this:
There is no need for continuous back and forth with your mind. Any negotiations that it makes with itself have one outcome — comfort, stagnation, weakness — they’re all the same.
Don’t give in to the immediate gratification that is whispering in your ear. — Jocko Willink
Daily discipline = long-term results.
Master the day with a daily log database
There are many digital and analog tools to help with staying consistent with your habits. Of course it’s beneficial when you find a system that works for you. Whether it’s a habit tracker in your bullet journal or a mobile app, the only way to find what works best for you is by experimenting with different systems. I love Notion for its clean, simple and powerful interface and I also like that everything is in one place.
I took a few hours to delete any Notion pages and databases that were not in use. This was beneficial as it allowed me to select the most important pages that I use daily and link them to a single dashboard:
Overall, I’m grateful for the challenges that 2020 presented because on looking back, this is the year that I’ve grown the most. No matter what 2021 brings, I know that the foundation for success has been set. Here’s to consistency, discipline and many hard choices ahead.