Est. read time: 6 minutes | Last updated: June 21, 2024 by John Gentile


General Advice

  • Control your control-ables, and don’t worry about things out of your control.
  • You can achieve anything with discipline (habits, reinforcing systems), confidence, and time.
    • Consistency is key; whether losing weight, managing finances, studying, etc. a consistent, disciplined work yields results. Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement; they don’t seem like much on a given day, but over long periods of time, their effects can be massive. Your habits therefore set the trajectory of your life.
    • Confidence guides your mind, and then your actions, into doing. “The Man who says he can, and the man who says he can not.. Are both correct”
    • It can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a habit; point is, a great habit (like waking up early or fitness) is a product of discipline and consistency, not instant effort.
    • Things that get measured get improved, and things that get scheduled get done.
    • Winners and losers have the same goals, but winners are often the ones with better systems to achieve them.
      • Checklists, scheduled reminders, etc. are parts of a successful system.
    • When motivation gets tired, discipline gets in the drivers seat.
    • “Who are you?” versus “who do you want to be?”. Act like you’ve been there.
      • “The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of our identity.” - James Clear. When your behavior and your identity are fully aligned, you are no longer pursuing behavior change. You are simply acting like the type of person you already believe yourself to be.
      • Live the life now that your older self would fondly look back on.
      • Your identity can hold you back (“I’m bad at math”) or build you up (“I’m the type of person who doesn’t give up, and reads everyday”).
  • The best way to complete a marathon is to just show up and take the first step. Activity defeats doubt, discipline over motivation.
    • Procrastination comes from not having a drive, which usually means you don’t know why, or don’t believe, in what you’re doing. At the same time, motivation is temporary, dedication & discipline is the real test of lasting performance.
    • You can use anger to drive/motivate you in the short term, but be careful to not thrive on it as that turns you into a generally negative/angry person
    • At the same time, don’t fall victim to starting things but never finishing them; “Stop starting and start finishing”.
  • Happiness is a mindset, not an achievement or place.
    • Don’t put-off happiness till a future goal or milestone is reached. Live in the now. Enjoy the journey, not just the end state.
    • Sometimes having a dream is more important than achieving one; it can give you something to look forward to, a reason to get out of bed and work to be better.
  • Time flies; the longer you push something off, the time it will take to complete will grow exponentially.
  • Your tribe is your vibe. Growing a tribe is never bad but don’t neglect your inner circle.
  • Work on what you love and the money will come. Actually, if you really love it, the money won’t matter as much anyways.
    • Also balance career with life; maximize compensation while minimizing time and stress for work.
  • Nothing’s guaranteed in life and no one deserves anything, no matter how unfair things seem.
  • Create your own luck; take lots of thoughtful shots over time, and keep working to improve.
  • You can’t do everything yourself; 10x’ers can be multipliers when they inspire and mentor others.
    • What others see as impossible is possible with the right folks who believe in the mission.
  • Only make time for things that make you happier, healthier or wealthier.
    • At every job you should either learn or earn. Either is fine, but both is best. If it’s neither, quit.
    • Money can be used to buy back time, as time is often more valuable than money.
  • Praise in public, correct in private
  • “Be ashamed to die until you have scored some victory for humanity.”- Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Always the hard way. Embrace & laugh at the suck. Those who dare, win. Change of mindset from “I have to” -> “I get to”.
  • Kindness is rooted in empathy for others’ experiences
  • Focus on positivity, life is a self-fulfilling prophecy so be confident and happy that things will get good and goals will be achieved.
    • “Comparison is the thief of joy”; focus on if you’re better today than you were yesterday, not how you compare to others.

Waking Up Early

Before everyone else is up with distractions, set your day up for success and give yourself time to dedicate to things that are important to you; wake up to your Ikigai:

  • Set a time to wake up and consistently wake up at that time to set a habit
    • From this time, make sure to also set a bedtime to stick to to ensure you’re getting enough sleep. Some people need at least 8 hours to be functional during the day, others as little as 5-6 hours; it all depends on the person and how they feel during the day. If you’re used to being a night owl, you might have to progressively move your bedtime & wake-time up little-by-little to actually wake up in the morning as expected if there is a large delta between your current timing and your goals- for instance, moving your wake-up time up by 30min each day. As well, this may mean cutting back on late-night activities that you may be used to doing in order to fall asleep in time; also note that more and more studies are showing that excessive blue light- from TV, computer and phone screens- can prolong the body from effectively falling asleep.
  • Create a plan for the morning on how exactly you’ll use the free time. Make sure there is a clear explanation to “why?” you are waking up early and doing what you are doing- because you will inevitably ask yourself that question when trying to commit to this habit.
    • Make the very first task exciting so that you are motivated to wake up and complete it; for example, making coffee or some time to a favorite hobby. All other tasks that you are less excited about- like working out or starting work- can then come after once you’re up. Otherwise, you’re likely to stay in bed, unmotivated to instantly jump out of bed to do the tasks you aren’t excited for.
  • Keep clothes for the morning close by (e.x. workout clothes) and organized so it’s that much easier to pop out of bed and be ready to go.
  • Before going to bed, keep a full, cold glass of water by your alarm. If you aim to drink the whole glass as soon as you wake up, it serves as another boost to waking out of the groggy-ness of bed.
  • If you’re really having an issue with trying to wake up, try moving your alarm out of arms reach from where you sleep. If you have to actually get out of bed to stop your alarm, it not only will be much harder to inadvertently hit the “snooze” button, but you’ve already made the biggest step to waking up, getting your ass out of bed.

Goal Setting

Just writing down your goals statistically improves your chances of completing them, and any extra steps to keep yourself accountable (like making weekly reviews of your progress) increases that probability even more.

Create SMART goals, like how novelist Anthony Trollope published 47 novels with a day job by committing to writing every morning:

  • Specific: make sure your goal has a defined criteria for success.
  • Measurable: make sure your goal is quantifiable, and its progress can be tracked along the way to completion.
  • Attainable: make sure your goal is lofty, but at the same time, realistic. If it’s too big, like a BHAG, consider splitting the goal into smaller goals or milestones that lead to the bigger goal. Breaking large goals into consumable, relatively easy, chunks also keeps you motivated as you create positive momentum when you start completing milestones to your overall goal.
  • Relevant: make sure your goal is aligned to your values and mindset. If you don’t truly believe, or want, your goal, your much less likely to achieve it.
  • Time Bound: make sure your goal has a defined deadline that is also realistic.