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Amplify and Reduce Goals for April 2022

Illustration of a cartoon diver swimming down

I’ve said in the past that I’m all about habits and experimenting with personal improvements as opposed to setting big long-term goals like the much-dreaded new year’s resolution). The trouble is that I haven’t done much in the habit change department in a long time. It’s time to change that.

I’m going to start something new here where I share some monthly habit changes/goals out in the open. My experiment is inspired by (and will follow the format of) Cal Newport’s Cultivating a Deep Life. I’ll start off with this process anyway and might see if it eventually grows into what Mike Crittenden’s The 12 Week Year: 2022 looks like (very inspiring as well). We’ll see!

The general idea of this is that I want to work on cultivating a (to use Cal’s terminology) “deeper life”, one that is in alignment with my goals and one in which I’m minimally distracted or feeling off-balance. I want to bring in more positivity, joy, and peace internally. I want to give out more empathy, gratitude, and love externally.

Here is the plan I’ll aim to follow for getting started:

The tricky part in cultivating a deep life, of course, is figuring out what things matter. This will differ between different people. I strive to divide my focused attention among four categories:

community (family, friends, etc.),

– craft (work and quality leisure),

– constitution (health), and

– contemplation (matters of the soul).

My recommendation is to think in increments of roughly one month. For a given 30-day period, attempt a limited number of changes to the four components of the deep life (craft, community, constitution, and contemplation). Focus on these changes and see what works and what doesn’t. Keep the former in place and abandon the latter. If you repeat this long enough you’ll notice a marked shift toward the deeper end of the spectrum.

To be more concrete, consider focusing on two things for each component of your life that you’re trying to improve:

– A high-impact habit that will significantly amplify the value you’re deriving from this component.
– A commitment for reducing sources of distraction or unnecessary effort diverting your attention within this component.

Amplify and Reduce Goals for April 2022

CraftCommunityConstitutionContemplation
AmplifyAmplify sources of feedback: Spend time each day finding and starting work with an external coachAmplify my relationship with my wife: Spend a minimum of 30 minutes a day together, no kids, no Netflix, no screensAmplify strength: Re-start strength training 3x times a week (dips, pullups, pushups, sit ups)Amplify mental health: Read minimum one chapter of Radical Acceptance/related book a week
ReduceReduce time spent not developing: Limit daily Slack-scrolling and misc reading to 25 minute time block (use a timer to monitor)Reduce laziness: Stop leaving things to clean up later (art supplies, clothes, dishes, etc) – use the 5 minute ruleReduce drinking: Drinking only on nights when I’m not working the next day (plus never more than 2 nights in a row)Reduce negative thinking/time spent thinking about failure/losses as out of my control (maybe try active mindset)

I’ll report back on how it goes at the end of the month!

Comments welcome!

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