This is my first article on here, so I decided to make it a good one. Therefore I’m going to share with you about 90% of the advice that you’ll find in all the self-improvement and productivity books, courses, and blogs out there, written by all those experts.
Sounds pretty good, right? Even too good to be true?
Well it isn’t, because they nearly all boil down to three things, and some books/courses contain only some of the three!
So, without further ado, I give you the three pillars to creating an Epic Level You (did you see what I did there? Little bit of branding…)
Pillar #1 – Look after yourself
It’s the most important pillar because if you don’t look after yourself, you won’t be able to work at your full potential. You’ll be more likely to get sick, you won’t learn as quickly, and you might be heading for burnout.
Now, what looking after yourself looks like will vary from person to person. If you’re an extrovert, spending time doing fun things with other people will be both fun and energising. On the other hand, if you’re an introvert, it’ll be fun and exhausting. So, you need to adjust this to what fits you.
Whatever your individual needs are, there’s some universal stuff to be aware of.
You need to get enough R&R and enough sleep. Without these, you’ll be knackered and maybe even heading for burnout. If you burn out, you’re not going to be achieving much. Even if you don’t burn out, when you’re tired and stressed, you work slower, learn slower, and are more likely to make mistakes and bad decisions. Not to mention that insufficient sleep is linked with all sorts of cognitive disorders later in life.
Exercise is another vital part of this pillar. Not only is it good for your physical health, but it’s also good for your mental health, with studies linking it to better performance at cognitive tasks, reduced symptoms of depression, and improved sleep quality. You also are better able to learn and recall things for a couple of hours after exercise.
Diet can also be important for your health and energy. Just like exercise, a healthy diet is good for your brain too. You don’t have to go overboard on diet and fitness, but make sure your regular diet is balanced for your nutritional needs and not full of processed foods.
Finally, you should do things to improve yourself. Learn new things, whether they might help you achieve your goals or just a skill you’d like to master. Continual learning will lead to you either broadening or deepening your skillset, and it’s great for your brain health, too. Also, learning well is a skill, so practising it means you can improve.
Pillar #2 – Take ownership of your behaviour
This is the most important of the three pillars because otherwise, you won’t be working from reality and maybe not doing the right things. Don’t worry; I’ve got three techniques to help you with this pillar.
Firstly, you need to be accountable. You need to have people you keep in the loop about what’s happening. Reporting to an accountability partner makes it seem like you’re letting them down if you don’t do what you said you’d do. You need to be happy to receive constructive criticism because it’ll help you do better. You need to own your mistakes, as they can often be the best learning experiences.
Secondly, you need to have alignment. You need to consider where you want to be and what you value. Do your actions fit those desires and values? If not, why don’t they? What can you do to change them?
Thirdly, you need to automate it. You must create habits and systems that will make it easier for you to do the things that you need to. Don’t rely on your willpower. Don’t sit there promising yourself that “tomorrow I’ll do better”. Make it so that it’s as easy as possible to take the actions you’ve planned. Ideally, even easier than not doing them. This will likely involve breaking things down into smaller tasks and giving them a deadline.
Throughout all of this, be realistic but optimistic. Plan for the worst, but expect the best. You can achieve great things, but you need to ‘do the work’ to get there. Balance an optimistic outlook without being unrealistic.
Pillar #3 – Be a creator, not a consumer
This is the most important pillar since if you want to achieve anything, you need to make things happen. Creative and social outlets beat mindless consumption.
It doesn’t matter what your contribution to the world is, whether it’s a new invention, a fantastic app, a great restaurant, or an entertaining comic book. Whatever you’re causing to exist or enabling the continued existence of, that’s something you can point to as an achievement.
Sitting at home binge-watching the latest series is fine now and again as part of how you relax, but it’s not doing anything else to help you achieve your goals. Likewise, casting a quick eye over Instagram a couple of times a week is harmless, but if you’re spending real time doom-scrolling every day, then that’s wasting time.
Don’t worry about missing out on things. If they’re that important, people will point them out to you (especially if they know you’re not active on social media). Also, is anyone likely to be talking about the latest hit show in a couple of months? It’s unlikely, so it won’t really matter whether you got caught up on all the episodes. FOMO is stupid; you’re missing out on more when all you’re doing is consuming media than when you’re doing cool stuff yourself.
Try and remove distractions. Silence notifications, use a program that blocks certain websites during work hours, put your phone in your desk drawer when you sit down to work and don’t get it out unless it rings (an actual ring, not just a notification) or you finish work.
Putting it all together, or TL;DR
Okay, so that’s a lot to take in. In the future, I’ll be going into more detail on each of these points. They’re also broad strokes and general advice. However, as I said in the intro, other than going into more detail, most of the self-improvement products out there are variations on all of this, so save yourself some time and money by just using this as a cheat sheet.
Look after yourself
Don’t work yourself into the ground.
- Get enough sleep
Take ownership of your behaviour.
Three strategies to help are Accountability, Alignment, and Automation
- Have people you tell about what’s going on. Own your mistakes.
- Regularly think about what you value and where you want to be. Do your actions fit that? If not, why not?
- Create habits and systems that make it easier to do the things you need to.
- Be realistic but not pessimistic.
Be a creator, not a consumer.
Creative and social outlets beat mindless consuming
- Don’t doom-scroll
- Don’t pay any attention to FOMO
- Remove distractions – notifications, interruptions, etc.
Have I missed anything? What would you like me to expand on first? What parts of this do you need help with? Let me know.