Appearing Superhuman Volume 6

My weekly newsletter is a compilation of things I found interesting, challenges I’m taking on, and the automations, processes, and habits I’m using to ‘appear superhuman.’

Weekly Highlights:

Want a More Productive Morning Routine? “Pay” Yourself First

6 minutes | Doist

“Most people go through the month paying all of their fixed expenses first – rent to their landlord, mortgage to the bank, and bills to their utility companies. Only then do they look to see what’s left over for savings. Generally, it’s not much if any at all. It’s only natural to focus on our external obligations first. After all, there are real and immediate consequences for not paying your rent. You won’t feel the consequences of not saving until years, or even decades, later.”

This article not only got me to not only ensure I’m actively saving a minimum of 5% of my earnings each month, but also that I take back 5% of my time. My non-negotiables are walking the dog, getting in a workout, and writing each day. If I squeeze that into 72-minutes, then I’m usually my best self and feel fully ready to give most of the other 1,368 to my family, my job, and sleep. To me, it’s akin to putting on my oxygen mask first before helping others.

➡ Read the post

Slow TV

Background noise and visual alternative to music

I’m a huge fan of background noise while reading, writing, studying, working out, cleaning, and working. Anything with lyrics often distracts me, so I go instrumental a lot. If you’re wired the same way, then I think you’ll love my new alternative.

Slow television is a genre of “marathon” style television coverage of a relatively ordinary event in its complete length. It’s long-form in that it often lasts several hours and follows a slow natural pace. It first took hold in Norway, with the initial broadcast in 2009 being a 7.5-hour long train ride from Bergen to Oslo.

It became immensely popular and was watched by two million people – roughly 45 percent of Norway‘s population. Here’s a short list of some of my favorite Slow TV videos:

Dietitian Reviews Flavcity’s Bobby Parrish What I Eat in a Day

39 minutes | Abbey Sharp

Like everyone, I fall victim to the algorithm from time to time. YouTube, in particular, can be enticing to me because I’m often looking for recipes there and see video headlines like ‘stop eating these 3 foods now’ and go down a rabbit hole of what ingredients I should be avoiding at the grocery store and what products I should swap for others.

Bobby Parrish’s videos have been my guilty pleasure lately and, to my credit, have me checking food labels more often. That’s not a bad thing per se, but there’s definitely an upper limit to this habit before you 3x your grocery bill and create an unhealthy obsession.

This video of dietitian Abbey Sharp critiquing his advice is on the longer side but profoundly impacted how I think about food for my wife and me, but more importantly, my newborn son. Here are just a handful of my takeaways:

  • She gives a clear case for why it’s so important to have variety and balance in our everyday diets so we can avoid harmful side effects that come with eating the same thing each day rather than trying to literally eliminate every single one.
  • Abbey makes it clear that kids don’t need a lot of protein (children ages 4 to 9 need just 19 grams of protein each day), nor should you be too restrictive on carbs. My son is only two weeks old, but it’s a good reminder that I shouldn’t go crazy ensuring he’s the ‘healthiest baby in the world.’
  • The best way to teach your kids healthy eating habits is to model them with your own behavior. Don’t have adult meals and kids meals. Instead, opt for family meals where everyone eats the same thing.

➡ Watch the video

Why Asking for Advice Is More Effective Than Asking for Feedback

4 minutes | Harvard Business Review

You might think that asking for feedback and advice are the same thing, but Harvard researchers found a drastic difference between the two. They found that compared to those asked to give feedback, those asked to provide “advice” suggested 34% more areas of improvement and 56% more ways to improve. In essence, if you ask someone for advice, they’re more likely to think forward to future opportunities you can improve rather than backward to the things you’ve already done, which you can no longer change.

➡ Read the post

Quote I’m Revisiting:

“The best properties are rarely for sale. The best employees are rarely job hunting. The best clients are rarely shopping. The best option is usually off the market. Most people think this means you can’t have it. What it really means is you have to go find it and sell yourself.” — James Clear

Song of the Week:

The Budos Band AlbumSpotify YouTube – I’m low-key obsessed with this album. I found this YouTube comment that summed up their sound perfectly: “According to legend, one evening at a wild, drunken party, Black Sabbath and Ethiopian Jazz met each other, and made mad, passionate love until the sun rose. Nine months later, this band was born”

Video/Picture of the Week:

I wish I could promise I won’t overload this newsletter with pictures of my son, but I don’t want to lie to you. I’ll try to reign it in the best I can.

Process of the Week:

What principles do you live by?

If someone hit you with this question in a job interview, you could probably fumble through it, but odds are you wouldn’t have a clear and consistent answer. We all have principles we live by, but few of us jot them down or revisit them.

I share links all the time in this newsletter that I find useful or interesting, but very few of them actually impact my day-to-day life. This article on finding your principles by Julian Shapiro had such an effect. I now think about my principles almost daily.

Here are some quotes from the article that help you get the gist of it:

“A funny lie of adulthood is pretending we’ll act on the life advice we save. We don’t revisit bookmarks. We don’t re-read Kindle highlights. We rarely re-open Google docs. I recently overcame this self-sabotage. If I have a superpower, it’s that I now turn advice into action.

My solution is to treat life advice like I can only remember a few pieces at a time. Meaning, whenever I encounter valuable wisdom, I distill it into a decision-making principle and ask myself: Is this more useful than one of my existing memorized principles? If so, I swap it in for one of them. I keep doing this until I curate the ultimate list of decision-making principles.

I call these my Starting Principles. They’re shortcodes for making decisions and setting priorities.”

I keep mine on sticky notes on a whiteboard above my keyboard. I see them all the time and stagger a couple that I need to stand out that day or that week as a reminder. I’m sure your bathroom mirror, the background of your phone, or any other clever idea to keep them top of mind would work just as well.

After finding this article, I created a recurring reminder to revisit these every six weeks and have already swapped out two of them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked down at these throughout the day and felt inspired to take action, reframe a bad situation, or just make a better decision than I would have without them.

I can see this exercise being something I stick to for a long time. If you’re curious, here’s a short breakdown of the six I’ve decided to focus on this quarter:

Happiness is a choice. Ryan Serhant says it’s easier to be unhappy than it is to be happy. Jim Carey said, “I believe depression is legitimate. But I also believe that if you don’t exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.” With the right mindset and the right habits, you can overcome a lot of adversity and allow yourself to be happy. I now see happiness as an action and not a state.

Action > consumption. I feel infinitely better with my day when I create something and put it out into the world versus spending all day consuming other people’s work (Netflix, social media, articles, etc.) Life is generally more enjoyable and more memorable when you’re creating something of value too. There’s really no downside to putting your work out into the universe as much as possible. That’s partly why I write, cook new recipes as much as I can, and work on projects with my family and friends.

Front-load your pain. Putting off the pain by procrastinating almost always catches up with you. Often it amplifies the pain even. If you embrace the discomfort up front and get it over with, you’ll suffer less and possibly even feel better for getting things done. Jocko Wilink says discipline equals freedom. Jim Rohn says the pain of discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons. David Goggins says, “stop giving yourself options.” You get the picture. If you do the hard things every day and create a bias for action, then you’ll grow accustomed to it. And as a result, you’ll have more free time since the hard things are always done right away.

Compete with yourself, not others. There’s always someone with more free time, more resources, more athletic ability, blah blah blah. I get discouraged or distracted when other people easily hit my goals. Often I give up because I’m comparing myself to others. This is my reminder to stop doing that and only compare myself with my past self.

You can be twice as rich by deciding you need half as much. My newborn son came with substantial costs to not only our time but our bank account. To put it mildly, I can’t keep living the same lifestyle now that I’m a family man. When I delay gratification and choose to live without the latest gadget, luxury, or fine food, I often feel better in the long run because I’m a little richer and more grateful for what I do have.

Perfection is the enemy of good. You can never let your desire for perfection prevent you from finishing something that’s good. Shipping early and getting something imperfect out into the world is the real recipe for success. Ship early, ship often, and move on.

Your Turn:

What’s just one principle or piece of advice you’d like to start living by?

If this is your first time reading and you would like to receive this every week, then click here.

That link also houses all previous issues of this newsletter if you want to go back and read any.