Introduction: I am very interested in the habits, daily practices, personal experience and the mindsets of those that are successful. My definition for success is doing what you love, and finding a way to help those around you. This will be a series of interviews about those that are inspiring, motivated and masters of their craft.
- If you had only one word to describe yourself, what would it be?
-What is your favourite quote that summarizes your philosophy on life?
There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking. ~ Joshua Reynold
- How do you spend your days?
Usually doing the things that are the most urgent first, then doing the things that aren’t urgent, but are useful in the long-term. This usually means I take care of typical to-do list stuff first, then read, write, think, or contact people.
- How do you de-stress when life feels like too much?
I go to the gym, I meditate, I hang out with friends, I shoot videoblogs, or I read.
However, I rarely feel that life is “too much” because I continually plan things and frequently shift between relaxation and demanding mental/physical work. I try to do things all the time.
You could compare it the student who studies a bit every day, and isn’t stressed for his exam, compared to the student who saves all the studying right before the exam.
- What are your top 3 habits that you’ve found most beneficial to your life?
In no specific order of importance:
- Single-tasking. Whatever I am doing, I try to finish it before moving on to another task. Meditation helps strengthen the habit of single-tasking, because it conditions you to get your stimulation from being concentrated on one thing.
- Physical exercise. I’ve been extremely consistent with working out for the past three years, and it’s paid off well. I am in good shape and almost never feel out of breath or that anything I do is too challenging for me, physically speaking.
- Writing. By writing every day I have been able to think much more clearly, and learnt to articulate my ideas better. Writing is also great for the concentration; it’s like a meditation in itself.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
That’s dependent on what I will do during the coming six months. But regardless of what happens now, I see myself as an accomplished author and public speaker.
- Do you have any up coming projects that you are excited to share?
Yes. Here are a few:
- I am working on two interesting reports for my subscribers. One on the topic of avoiding information overload, and the other is a list of practical tips that improve productivity.
- I am going to compile the inputs of a large number of experts from various fields. They will each contribute with some useful rules of thumb regarding their area of expertise. The purpose of this is to make it easy for a beginner – in any of these fields of expertise – to understand what he should focus his time and energy on learning.
This is either going to be a free book exclusive to subscribers and such, or I’ll put more time into it and turn it into a product.
- I am likely going to rewrite my book, Breaking out of Homeostasis, publish it on Amazon and via affiliates, and market it. I think the ideas from BOOH are very useful and good, but I haven’t done the content justice in terms of structure and writing.
- What is your favourite way to remain productive?
By taking care of important and urgent things immediately so that there is never any threat of serious negative consequences. That way you worry about things much less, and can use your concentration for productive tasks that would otherwise be spent worrying.
- What is your favourite song, and why?
Right now, I’d have to say it’s Arty: Gentle Touch
I don’t know why. But I’ve always liked video game music and techno. It’s also easy to listen to while working on things by the computer. It keeps your concentration up.
- What has been your greatest struggle, and how did you overcome it?
To not conform to various mainstream ideologies about life. I overcame it by reading a lot of books and critically examining things by using my own judgment instead of leaving the interpretation of information to other people supposedly better fit for the task.
- How have you learned to simplify your life?
By focusing on doing just a few things per day, but spending a long period of uninterrupted time accomplishing this/these things. And by staying away from social media as much as I can.
- What’s the greatest life lesson you learned this year?
That if you’re an ambitious person who takes action, it’s important to evaluate your strategies for achieving your goals every once in a while – perhaps on a monthly basis. Otherwise you’ll tend to spend your time unconsciously carrying out habitual tasks that got you to where you are now, but aren’t very conducive to taking you further.
- What’s the one accomplishment you’re most proud of, and why?
That I’m very unreactive to external influence – ideas, suggestions, and social feedback – that I don’t selectively allow into my life. I’m proud about that because it’s taken me a long time of consistent practice to achieve.
- How do you make your decisions? (Do you follow any process)?
It depends a lot on the type of decision. I have a bunch of different decision-making/problem-solving models memorized that I try to use appropriately. Here are three:
- Stephen Covey’s quadrant. I divide things up in four categories and prioritize accordingly: urgent & important, not urgent but important, urgent & not important, and not urgent & not important.
- Three types of problems. These are general problems, normal problems, and unique problems. General problems should be dealt with by coming up with a rule of thumb for solving (often a habit). Normal problems can be dealt with as they come by using your gut feeling. Unique problems shouldn’t be dealt with at all, your time is better spent hedging yourself against them preemptively.
- Pros & cons. Just list all the pros on one side and all the cons on the other. Take your bias for loss aversion into consideration. According to some studies (based on money) your loss aversion is about 2.5x stronger than your will to win is.
Ultimately, I think we humans are a lot less logical in our decision-making than we’d like to admit. We’re very prone to do what seems the most fun or useful to us at the moment. I think that what separate people over time is that some people are better than others at observing when this happens in them. These people can then say to themselves: “I am not acting rationally right now because of XYZ…”
Over time, this leads to more accurate decisions because they know better than to act immediately when it’s an important decision.
- If you were limited to only one person to get your advice from, who would that person be, and why?
It would be Napoleon Bonaparte because I think he is possibly the most accomplished and knowledgeable human to ever have lived. Not only did he have a ton of knowledgeable and a prodigious memory in a huge variety of fields, but he also had a ton of practical experience to back it up with.
I think he could give useful advice on just about any topic.
- What’s the one question I haven’t asked you, that I should have? And how would you answer it?
”How did you like this interview?”
–It was great. Nice talking to you, Dragos!
About: Ludvig Sunström runs Start Gaining Momentum, a site devoted to practical self-development. He has also written the book Breaking out of Homeostasis, and is a master’s student of International Marketing.