Don’t Bother Trying to ‘Hack’ Your Life

Self Help is everywhere. Books are churned out a mile a minute on the subject, google searches for ‘how to___’ are higher than ever and everybody has a piece of advice to offer. There’s nothing wrong with this phenomenon on the surface — people are simply looking to better themselves. The problem as I see it, is that most people are getting caught up in the wrong methods. 

There are thousands of tips and tricks, that people recommend for better health, relationships and productivity. And we eat those small tips up like candy – take cold showers to be more productive, drink celery juice for clear skin, spend fifteen minutes in the sauna to increase endurance. 

People love these tricks because they are easy. They are fast, simple things that are marketed to make your life disproportionately better. And who doesn’t love a quick fix?

The problem is that these tips cause us to think about our routines backwards. We end up carving out time to sit in the sauna instead of actually doing cardio regularly. We focus on the celery juice when maybe we’re not drinking enough water. And cold showers? Fuck off. 

The problem is that these tips don’t work on their own. They work in addition to a strong foundation. These little tips only work if they are extras to a system you would have already built. If you’re a regular runner and you add sauna time on top of that, it may really make you a better runner – but doing the sauna all by itself will do you little to no good. And yet we think that if we string together enough of these little tricks we really can be better. We want to believe in it so badly because it is so much more palatable than the alternative — 

Work. Consistency. Discipline. BO-RING- yes I know. 

But building a strong foundation for your fitness, productivity, or clarity are the only ways to truly improve. It’s consistent workouts, daily focus time, and disciplined habits that produce real results. The problem is that this part isn’t as glamorous or fun or as marketable. It’s a long term game. 

You may say – well Jack Dorsey takes an ice bath in the morning and he founded Twitter! Yeah well he also spends twelve hours a day working on their business and only eats one meal a day so I don’t think it’s the ice bath, buddy. He is doing the work day in and day out and progress at first was probably slow slow but over time it built – it wasn’t magic by taking ice baths – but we see someone’s full picture of results and like to attribute success to the easiest to control variables. Because then, our own success doesn’t feel quite as far off. 

My point here is not to ignore all tips, tricks, or hacks. Some can be extremely useful. My point is that you must be careful that you don’t put too much stock in any of them. Real change, and real improvement can only happen through improvement of the foundation so don’t let yourself get caught up in every new thing that promises amazing results. Chances are you’ll be the same as before, only with less money because half of these are just marketing pure and simple. 

Focus on yourself and the things you can do every day to reach a state that resonates with you, and if a cold shower really does help – then who am I to stop you?

IMG_1545
LA Light

Sex Things No One Talks About

I had some amazing parents when it came to the sex talk. They gave me a whole bunch of literature and if I had questions – they were pretty open about their experiences. I felt comfortable and safe in my knowledge of how the act worked, what parts were involved, and the general purpose. 

Fast forward a few years – I have some experience of my own and have talked about sex a few times in this forum, but recently, I have been thinking about all the small parts of sex that no one talks about. The things that go unmentioned or create massive cognitive dissonance when compared to media portrayals.*

  1. It’s messy. In the movies, the couple finishes and they usually immediately detach and lie next to each other. If that scenario were real life, somebody is lying in a wet spot. I’ve never read a book or article about great sex that mentions the clean up effort. The only time there is almost no cleanup is if the guy is wearing a condom and can just slip it off into the trash or if no one was really into it in the first place. But if it’s a good time and he’s not wearing one – body fluids are just everywhere. Sexy right? If a guy comes inside, then it has to drip out when you finally get up, or maybe it’s in your mouth, and if he doesn’t, well then it’s on you or him or somewhere else. Ugh….Even laying a towel down doesn’t do much for this since there is so much movement involved. There’s just no getting around it and yet nobody tells you the best way to deal with it. 
  2. Bedding=obstacle. Movies have to use sheets to cover everyone’s bits, but in real life, they are an obstacle. Plus, oral sex hardly ever occurs under the sheets per movies because the person giving literally CAN’T BREATHE so it doesn’t make any sense. Sex with sheets is kinda cumbersome and can end up being too hot, so sex without them safely covering everything seems to be more common place even if it does feel exposed.
  3. Talking. Media alternates between heavy breathing during sex in movies and overdone moans on the porn end. I’m also not talking about extensive dirty talk. I’m talking about simple things. If it’s a new partner – the conversations about birth control and sexual health should happen. If it’s any partner you should at least feel comfortable enough to say yes to the things you like and no to the things you don’t. No one is a mind reader and you don’t have to suck it up. Everyone likes doing well and staying healthy but we’ve made these conversations out to be awkward because no one ever tells us how to have them.
  4. Way less orgasms. Not in a bad way, just in the not-every-single-fucking-time way. This goes for guys and girls. Porn and media, even including books, usually portrays sex as either mindblowing or comically bad. Reality is that most of it falls in the middle. For guys this may not apply as much, but for women, oftentimes a lot has to line up for us to get to orgasm and not all those factors are present a lot of the time in real life. Media also depicts couples having simultaneous orgasms much of the time which is actually very difficult to pull off. However, that doesn’t mean sex wasn’t worth it. You can still have a really good time without putting pressure on anyone to climax. 

There is no real point to this post. I have no extra advice on the above points other than the fact that I hope you don’t feel awkward noticing these things in your own sex life. These happen all the time and yet media totally glosses over them – even in books and articles that claim to get down to the ‘nitty-gritty’ – so I’m just putting them out there into the universe so that you know you’re not alone when it comes to the realistic maybe-not-so-sexy parts of sex. 

Facetune
Crete, Greece PC: Kiki Moussetis

 

*Keep in mind all my thoughts here come from heterosexual media portrayals and my personal experiences since I have no experience with any other kind of sex. But I’m betting there are things no one talks about for those instances as well.

What To Do When You Get Off Track

Per last week, I am feeling a bit off track. For example, I’m releasing this on a Thursday afternoon instead of Wednesday morning like I normally do because I’m behind schedule. I’m barely keeping up with work, my personal projects are all taking a backseat, and my routine is messed up. PLUS my site decided to freak on me a bit yesterday so that was yet another unforeseen thing to throw me off track. 

It’s just a hectic week. I have more social, work, and project commitments than normal so I feel like I am all over the place. I feel like I don’t have enough focus time with any one thing so I end up behind on all of them. But if I step back for a second, I’m actually not doing too bad because of a few techniques I employ to get everything done relatively calmly, even if I’m feeling behind. 

  1. It’s not all or nothing. If you miss a couple things in your day, like a meeting runs long, or you oversleep and miss your morning workout class, you don’t have to give up. Get as much as possible as is reasonable done, and then move whatever you didn’t get done to the next day. Don’t let the sheer amount of things to do overwhelm you to the point where you don’t do any of it. For example – I missed my workout on Tuesday. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t let it ruin my whole week. I just worked out like normal today. 
  2. Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize. When you don’t have enough time in a day for everything, you need to be quick at figuring out what things absolutely must get done in a given time period. The task of prioritizing itself also needs to be done quickly so you don’t waste time figuring out what’s important as opposed to working on what’s important.  For me – I very easily determine what is important because I’ve been honing my list for years, check below if you want to see it*
  3. Small chunks.  When your to do list is a mile long it can feel overwhelming just to look at it. So chunk it out. Find small ways you can start, check little tasks off easily, or delegate as you go. For example, yesterday my to do list was so long so I started with making my waxing appointment. It was tiny but it was something small that was easily done and gave me the momentum to keep going. 
  4. Block your time. This is something I sometimes struggle with, but if you’re at work and you need some uninterrupted time to work on a document or problem, don’t feel bad putting your headphones in or going to a different space so you’re not distracted. If you need to isolate yourself, be proactive and tell your boss, your co workers, even your MOM, that you need some heads down time, and then get it done. Don’t be afraid to ask for your focus time if that’s what it takes. 
  5. Zoom out. Day to day might feel hectic, but if you zoom out and take a look at all the things you needed to do in a week, you may see that you’re actually not doing so bad even if you miss a couple things each day. In the grand scheme of things, there might only be a few things that have actually fallen off, and you’re doing a good job of getting the majority of it done. Don’t beat yourself up over the small picture. 
  6. Have a plan to get back ON track. It sucks to be off track and it’s not sustainable long term because eventually more and more things will be compromised. It’s important to figure out when you can get your plate cleared and start fresh. For me, I usually block a whole day on the weekend where I have no commitments except to myself, and just check off anything that had fallen by the wayside during the week. I feel so much better afterwards, and am usually able to regain my sense of routine. 

 

I don’t get overwhelmed easily. I literally made it my job to plan, so I love to structure and organize my life, but sometimes it just can’t be helped. Things happen at work, things happen in life, and sometimes (like this week for me), you simply bite off more than you can chew. The most important thing to remember is to not panic. Then you can break everything down, prioritize, and ultimately get back on track. 

 

*If I have planned on attending anything that affects others whether that’s a work event, or a dinner date with a friend, I’ve committed to them and I will do everything I can to keep that commitment. Next comes work stuff – like my actual job that pays the bills. I make sure all of that work gets done before working on anything else. Next comes health – I will make sure I get a workout and an adequate amount of food and water. Next comes personal projects. These don’t pay the bills, these don’t provide anything really other than a personal sense of accomplishment so in especially busy times, they often take the back burner and I just fit them in where I can. 

 

img_4499
PC: Marketa Benedetti

 

Why I can’t focus on anything right now

My brain is scrambled. I’ve started at least six different posts for today in the past week and wasn’t able to finish any of them. My mind is overrun with ideas about improving at work, classes I want to take, what I want to do next for a job potentially. I have a slew of changes I want to make to my workout routine and my hobbies. All of a sudden, I have all these things I desperately want to purchase. And despite all these thoughts, I can’t focus on any one task for long enough to even sift through them. What gives?

I have a crush. 

If you thought I had turned into a productivity monster, powerful enough to not be affected by romance, you were mistaken! But believe me, I tried. 

I had been playing the ‘I’m not looking for something serious’ game for a while now. Although I’d recovered from my last serious relationship, the pain isn’t something that I had necessarily forgotten or had interest in repeating right away. So instead, I kept pretty much all potential suitors at a distance. And this was working because I didn’t actually like any of the guys I was seeing that much, but then I accidentally stumbled across one that I did. Why do I even bother trying to plan anything anymore?

Luckily for me, my crush likes me back but that doesn’t change how consuming the feelings can be. 

The reason my brain is so overwhelmed with ideas is because liking someone can be inspiring. My mind races with possibilities, not just with this other person but for myself as well. I feel like I want to do more, be more, and I want to do it all now – which of course is not advisable. Not all these ideas should be pursued, and even if I wanted to I can’t focus on them.  On top of this, I also want to spend a much higher amount of time getting to know this someone rather than by myself accomplishing these tasks. 

I can only describe something brand new as intoxicating. I have a very distinct pattern in the beginning of a romantic relationship. I’m a bit cold and detached as I start to get to know someone. It’s safer and I’m good at it. But then something flips – and it flips quickly, usually over the course of two weeks or so where the other person does something or maybe a series of small things to increase my trust and then I fold. 

It’s like that old commercial about Tootsie Pop’s where the kid asks how many licks it takes to get to the tootsie roll center. I’m like the Tootsie Pop, hard shell, but inside it’s completely soft. 

I wish I had advice for how to mitigate this type of feeling because while you’re in it, you may overlook other things in your life in favor of this person. For example, my morning workouts are pretty much shot if he sleeps over, and my other routines get rearranged in order to see him more. I haven’t gone completely teenage girl – I still see my friends, family, and get all my normal stuff done, but I am more willing to flex on certain things if it involves seeing him. 

But really, I’m more inclined to tell you that if you’re in a feeling like this, relish it. I should take my own advice and work on doing more of this instead of constantly focusing on the future. Even if this ends up turning into a long term relationship for me – this infatuated, intoxicated feeling will fade. It will stabilize and it will never be recaptured. Something new – whether it ends or grows – is never something new for long so enjoy it while it lasts. 

img_4437
When was the last time you had a crush? PC: Marketa Benedetti

 

New Years Resolutions?

I don’t make resolutions for New Year’s. The chief reason being because I’m a firm believer in the fact that you don’t have to wait for a new calendar year to make changes or set goals for yourself. It is an arbitrary measurement of time. (I also hate them because many people’s resolutions have to do with getting fit which means the gym is super crowded in January until people start to drop off the wagon – yes I am a scrooge about my gym space.)

HOWEVER, despite my new year’s resolutions misgivings, recently I talked with my friend Jordan, who introduced me to the idea of having a ‘theme’ for the year rather than specific resolutions. In this method, I would pick a theme for myself whether it’s health, consistency, communication, etc, and spend the year devoted to that theme in whatever way I saw fit.

At first, I found this idea unappealing. It felt too broad, and I doubted anyone could use it to truly focus and accomplish anything tangible. But as I thought more about it – I realized that was also the biggest strength of this method. Your theme can be anything – and pursuing it does not have to be a regimented exercise. If your theme is health – that doesn’t mean you’re pursuing a workout routine – it could mean you are pursuing learning about health, or trying different foods, or paying attention to how different sleep patterns affect you. It leaves room for goals that aren’t quite so cut and dry. 

So while we keep that idea of themes in mind – the other thing I’d been marinating on recently was a piece of advice from Jeff Bezos for those in business. He says, “‘I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next ten years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next ten years?’ And I submit to you that the second question is actually the more important of the two – because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time…’”

From Amazon’s perspective, this appears simply. Customers will ALWAYS want their stuff faster, and for less money. That is something that hasn’t changed in ten years and is highly unlikely will change ever so Amazon has built an empire on that idea. 

But I think the sentiment can also be applied to life. I often get caught up in what’s next for myself. Where will I move next? What job will I have next? How can I grow? Improve? Change? It never stops. It’s even a common interview question: ‘Where do you see yourself in the next five years?’. And these are all important questions because it is important to know where you’re going – however, I also know that I have figured out a couple things in my short twenty-five years on earth. Things that I never regret doing, things that have consistently brought me joy for years and years already.

So I made a list – I call it my ‘never regret’ list. And I’ve decided my theme for the year will be to increase my focus on those things and to add to that list. Most of these things are not groundbreaking, and I already do a lot of them regularly, but I haven’t been giving them enough credit for how much joy they consistently bring into my life, and I haven’t focused on them in a long time. 

So what will this look like? I’m going to make this as easy for myself as possible. I’m going to keep my ‘never regret’ list on my phone and will only need to make sure I accomplish one thing from that list each day. If it’s more than that – great, but I’m not going to beat myself up over this. The second part is that every time I try something new that I enjoy I will write it down in a subsection and make sure I try it again within the same month so that I can start to assess whether the initial enjoyment was due purely to novelty or if I actually enjoyed it and want to incorporate more of it. 

We tend to always be looking for something new that will bring us happiness, we spend our hours and dollars on incorporating new objects and trying new methods – all in an effort to feel better day in and day out. But I encourage you to take one small step back and at least take stock of all the things that already bring you joy. The things that have brought you joy for as long as you can remember. Why aren’t we simply finding ways of doing more of those?

For reference: here is my ‘never regret’ list as it stands right now. 

I never regret spending time with my family

I never regret watching a movie with my sister

I never regret practicing my Greek

I never regret going for a workout

I never regret going to a workout class

I never regret drinking coffee in the morning

I never regret waking up early

I never regret writing

I never regret visiting a new country/city/neighborhood

I never regret trying a new food

I never regret cooking a new recipe

I never regret cooking for myself

I never regret cooking for others

I never regret buying gifts for others

I never regret reading a book

I never regret going for a walk outside

I never regret swimming in the ocean

I never regret going to bed early

I never regret 1×1 time with a friend

I never regret stretching

I never regret learning how to do something new

7db2b507-e51b-46b0-91e9-84bcf7c21e69
PC: Kiki Moussetis

PC: