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Get Control of Your Life - Bring Your Priorities into Focus


Close Up Face Of A Very Focused Man

When I immerse myself in learning something new I'm reminded of my first week being in a foreign country. My head hurts, I don't know what's going to come easily and what's going to feel like AP Calculus again.


As I've moved to San Diego for the summer to live with a real estate investor to work full time in real estate I've been reminded of the feelings I had when I first moved to Morocco. I lived with a host family speaking French everyday. Again the muscles in my head hurt everyday when I wake up.


Like the days after a tough workout at the gym.  I've struggled to wake up to my alarm even though its not the 5:15 alarm I lived on in San Francisco. At the same time I've come incredibly far in my growth these past two weeks. One evening during a break from this new world of real estate and personal finance I went back to an episode on the Tim Ferriss Show podcast with guest Josh Waitzkin - a chess prodigy who's life was the basis of the classic movie Searching Bobby Fischer.


Josh wrote a bestselling book in the early 2000s called The Art of Learning. He has become a Brazilian jujitsu master and tai chi push hands world champion as well as a perennial chess world champion. Today Waitzkin lives in the jungle as a way of blocking out distraction and doing deep work.

In the interview, Waitzkin discusses proactive day architecture. How to prioritize and maximize important elements you want to have in your life. He makes the observation that in order to make the best decision we need to prioritize thinking time. Instead of doing, doing, doing, we need to sharpen our thinking so that we are smart about how we approach anything we are doing. We need to allow room for insight and creative breakthroughs.


Strategic Thinking


Instead of doing your thinking when you're tired from doing, block out thinking time at the points of the day where you are in your prime state. We tend to think on the walk back from the bathroom to continue plugging away at what we are doing. But instead Waitzkin believes we should end the day thinking of what is the most important question and tackle that answer when you are fresh in the morning.


What is it we are actually needing to know to move the needle in our lives. Where are we stuck? The answer lies in opening the channel between the conscious thinking mind and the unconscious intuitive mind that holds the true answers.

Since listening I've been refining my nightly question then waking up and thinking on that question pre-input from my phone and other people. Before I start doing tasks and living solely from my thinking mind,  I've started going on morning walks that turn into jogs, skips, and stretches. I meditate every morning for 20+ minutes. I write and journal. I choose to feel good and live with an abundant mindset opening myself to the goodness in all things.


Seeing Things Clearly


With all the information I have going through me daily in the foreign language of real estate investing it's important I fix my attention on what's actually going on. I ask myself what are the high-level decisions I need to make a decisive commitment to work on and and work on well.


As I've been refining the most important decisions of the day,  I've gotten in the rhythm of finding the solutions and seeing things more clearly. I'm remembering a man at an airport I met last spring that can help me find funding for my projects. I'm recalling that when I started teaching English in Thailand without experience I got comfortable facing my fears and unknowns daily. 


My path to success there was to operate with genuine curiosity towards the culture and myself in the culture.


To be gentle on myself and patient to land on true, solid understanding. I wrote a blog to understand an important theme in my development. That blog started an internal dialogue that pervaded all the work I was doing.  Now I'm writing emails to mentors so that they will truly get into my headspace. It's clarifying my confusions. 

One other point Waitzkin makes is the power in stepping away from something mid activity in order to continue creatively down the path I've committed to. Like Hemingway, who would leave his writing sessions with something left to write, you too can leave yourself with a path to step right back on.


Don't stay up super late and blow out your energy to finish something that's not your best quality. You may finish something, but you'll wake up exhausted and without any obvious place to pick up and start your day intentionally. Instead, pose your question and relax. In the morning your unconscious will meld with your conscious and you’ll make have better sessions, achieve deeper focus, and find your truer self expression. 

As I go in deeper at a higher intensity it's become so important that I turn things off for a bit and zoom out.


Whenever I take the 30,000 foot view and see what really matters that's where the rich self learning takes root. To meditate, pray, live simply and become a non-doer is where I develop critical perspectives on my learning habits, see clearly what matters most to my soul, and recognize patterns in how the world works and how I unconsciously operate in it for best and for worst.


It's so important to me to never be 100% following the paths of others. I know I was put on this Earth to fulfill a unique purpose. I know that my talents and gifts make me uniquely qualified to make an awesome impact on the people of this world. And I'm convinced its this way for everyone. The challenge is in finding that purpose that's individual to each of us. It's why I created People of Purpose.


As Waitzkin says, the goal is unobstructed self-expression. Be on fire and stoked about what you are doing. My daily goal is to find immense appreciation that I get to express the core of my being through how I'm using the gifts I have been given. It's a never-ending quest.  

What are the patterns to your greatest failures and successes?

What influences your greatest insights?

What if the answers to the biggest questions in life didn't come from doing? 

Put down the snow globe long enough so that things can settle. I promise you'll see things more clearly.

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