Habit Driven Life

“In the first 30 years of your life, you make your habits. For the last 30 years of your life, your habits make you.” – Hindu saying that Steve Jobs was fond of

This list is to hold myself accountable, review what I’ve learned, and meet people with shared interests!

A great book about habits is Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit [Kindle]. Here’s my 1-page summary.

Here’s an essay I wrote on why you should get MAD when building habits.

I publish a regular update on how I perform. Example below (the table and the list don’t overlap 100%, the list below includes the items that needed a bit more explanation)

Weekly Habits Checklist

1. Sing and make music!

For fun I’m writing and singing English interpretations of Chinese pop.

And here’s the first song I’ve written, sung, and published: Fairy Tale aka 童话. I removed the audio recording of myself since, in hindsight, it’s pretty bad, and my voice has improved a lot since then. I’ll be releasing an update soon!

I take weekly singing lessons and a songwriting class, and track them in my habits update.

Here are 4 of my favorite YouTube singing coaches.

2. Write

  • here’s my original essay on why I write and how I plan to improve
  • editor to the greats William Zinsser on how to write well
  • George Orwell rewriting Ecclesiastes
  • here are a few passages about my childhood, from a book I’m writing
  • here are a few (very) short stories I wrote [1, 2]
  • here are some famous stories that I “interpreted”: I wrote my own versions, hewing to the original plot, structure, and pace [1, 2, 3]
  • my favorite poem: The Man Watching by Rainer Rilke

3. Read a book a month, and summarize it (sometimes)

Finished books

The Summaries (forever lagging the finished books!)

10 articles I read every month

4. Exercise (usually weightlifting or running)

Some thoughts after finishing my first (and only) marathon

Why cardio is so good for you, from John Ratey’s excellent book Spark

Do you regularly suffer from neck or back pain? Here’s how I mostly stopped mine

5. Meditate

“Think of your brain as a house that hosts a perpetual noisy party. Each neuron is a guest, yammering away, bumping into furniture, slurping drinks. Meditation is like sending those guests home, and only close friends remain and you can have a quiet, relaxed conversation.”

Original thoughts

A 2014 update

A 2016 update

6. Memorize quotes

The way to fame goes through the palaces, the way to happiness goes through the markets, the way to virtue goes through the deserts.

I love quotes. The ability to recite them by memory has (probably) helped me to internalize their wisdom. Using quotes as source material and for reference is also a great way to sound more persuasive

I regularly add new quotes

7. Wake before 8am

I’ve found that waking at 7am instead of 9am is often the difference between a great day and an average one. As Thoreau says, “the first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day”

“If I were to bet on a man to succeed, I wouldn’t bet on the smartest, or hardest-working, I’d bet on the man with the best habits”. – Warren Buffet