I’ve been pretty obsessed with how I can improve my quality of life in general. In fact, calling it an obsession might be an understatement. I’ve been greedy.
I don’t want to just be better at work. I also want to be better at managing money, I want to be better at using my time as best as I can, I want to improve the way I sleep, I want to improve the way I breathe, I want to be more consistent in writing, and I want to have a better fitness performance.
It’s unrealistic. Yes, I know it already. It goes against every single advice in the book about having a clear, singular priority. I don’t care. I still want it all.
In this journey of absorbing knowledges and experimenting with various habit iterations, I found a few concepts that resonate with me. I’m a firm believer in the power of strong concept to push people to take meaningful actions to improve their lives.
These concepts are so simple, yet it’s enough for me to make incremental changes to my daily habits. I’m excited to share it with you, in hopes that it can also inspire positive changes into your life as well.
Concept #1: Optimize for quality of life, not for how long you live
I recently read Blue Zones. In this book, Dan Buettner traveled the globe to uncover the best strategies for longevity found in the blue zones: places in the world where higher percentages of people enjoy remarkably long, full lives. By observing their lifestyles, Buettner’s team has identified critical everyday choices that may add years to your life.
It’s an amazing book and I really recommend everyone to give it a read.
After finishing the book, here’s my ‘shallow’ takeaway: Rather than thinking about how you can prolong your life, you’re probably better off thinking about how you can preserve a good quality of life for as long as you can.
There’s no point in living until 90 years old if you can hardly do things on your own. You want to live up to 90 and still be able to drive a car or walk on your own in your 80s.
One might say, oh I don’t want to live that long anyway. That’s fine. There is only one issue in that statement. You can’t really control how long you want to live, unless you do 2 things:
- You end your life instantly
- You develop unhealthy habits that will gradually decrease your health, which will also gradually decrease your quality of life
That brings us to this takeaway: Regardless of how long you want to live, it’s always in your interest to develop healthy habits that will provide you with the longevity that you need to enjoy life. In the most cliche sentence you can think of, do something that your future self will thank you for.
Concept #2: “Your identity is a repeated beingness“
I learned of this concept from James Clear in his most well-known book, Atomic Habits. Out of all the amazing concepts in the book, this one takes the cake.
“This is a gradual evolution. We do not change by snapping our fingers and deciding to be someone entirely new. We change bit by bit, day by day, habit by habit. We are continually undergoing microevolutions of the self.”James Clear, Atomic Habits
This concept alone has fueled most of my recent habit changes. One identity I’ve been super focused on making it true is to be someone who’s in control of how he uses his time.
It simply wasn’t who I was. I spent almost 4 hours every day in social media. I often lost to minor distractions, which also impacted many other things in my life.
The simple reason why I want to turn make an identity of mine is because it has ripple effects on other aspects in my life: If I become someone who has total control on how I use his time, I will have enough time for work, health, fitness, leisures, and my closed ones.
Another reason why I choose this identity is because not having this identity feels like a personal attack. Am I just gonna accept the notion that I’m someone who has no control over my time? No chance in hell.
Knowing what’s at stake, I started uninstalling Instagram and TikTok from to remove distractions. I started to create a super detailed to-do list that includes work, workout, and leisure activities every day. I started thinking about creative ways on how I can improve my focus when I work just so I have enough time to read & watch movies in the evening.
Several friends of mine told me how excessive it seems, and that’s a reasonable opinion. Personally though, I’ve been enjoying it. I’m really enjoying how I have enough time to juggle workout, work, video games, and still have time to catch up with friends.
The key takeaway: Before thinking about changing your habit, try to think of an identity you want to become. Pick one identity that you feel very strongly about, where if you fail, it would offend you personally. Then, start thinking about the habits required to get yourself there. Then, every action becomes a vote for the type of person you wish to become.
Concept #3: Take your time to know yourself, try new things, and learn from your mistake
A concept that I hold dearly when it comes to experimenting in life. You can apply this thinking when you’re about to meet a potential romantic partner, when you try a new venture, or when you just want to try different iterations to improve your quality of life.
- With your love life: Always be open to meet potential romantic partners, but take your time to truly understand what you really want, what you don’t want, and set healthy boundaries to avoid being taken advantage of. It also means to embrace the possibility that some people are just not for you, even if you want them to.
- With trying out hobbies: Always be open to try new things, but think about the kind of person you want to be. The kind of a person you want to be will always evolve, but it’s still important to map how this new stuff will help you become who you wish to be or how it will help you discover who you truly want to be.
The common denominator in both examples is that you need to take your time to know yourself in a deeper level. It doesn’t mean that you need to spend as much time as possible to find the perfect answer, because there won’t be the perfect answer. You are a human being with an evolving needs as you obtain new experience.
Taking the time to understand what you truly want is a never-ending exercise that’s essential for your growth. You will most likely still make mistakes here and there. Maybe you will fall into temptations and do something that doesn’t align with what you truly want, and that’s fine. The road gets bumpy on a day-to-day basis. As long as you keep learning and growing from it, you will still be trending into the right direction.
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