What you do is who you become.
Quite a few people have asked me recently:
“Alex: what does your day look like? How do you structure your time?”
One of my personal goals, right now, is to use my time extremely intentionally and deliberately. It’s something I am continuously working on. (In Japanese this is called: Kaizen. Perpetual improvement.)
When I’m planning my day, I try to keep things lean and focused. Not over-cluttered.
As I’m deciding what to put on my calendar — or my to-do list — I ask myself questions like: “Who do I want to become?” and “What is my highest priority right now?” and “What am I devoted to?”
Here’s what I am devoted to these days:
I’m currently training with my stupendously amazing coach three times a week.
We’re focusing on upper body strength, which has always been my weakest zone.
My goal? To be able to do one pull up without needing any resistance bands for support. It’s a tough and amazingly fun process. Getting stronger every week.
In addition to my training sessions, I’ve also been climbing rock walls and doing high-intensity / interval style training.
I am pushing my body harder than ever before. It’s unbelievably rewarding.
Every time I think I’m “too tired” or “not strong enough,” I am realizing: I always have more strength to give.
This feeling of “limitlessness” is rippling into every single part of my life.
My new mantra? Dig deep.
I discovered Spotify at the end of last year and it is my wooooorrrld.
I love creating my own music playlists for different moods and activities. (Here’s one. Here’s another one. And another.)
I listen to music all day long to stay energized and focused.
When it’s time drift off to sleep, I switch to this “Deep Sleep” mix. (Warning: do not listen if you’ve got things to do! You will be drifting away on a cloud of slumbering delights…)
I’m completely fascinated by the topic of “mental strength” — or as some researchers call it, “mental toughness.”
The premise: what if your mind is like a muscle that you can strengthen?
What if personal qualities like “grit” and “courage” can be developed and honed through specific exercises?
What if you can train yourself to become mentally, intellectually, physically and creatively unstoppable?
I’m obsessed with this concept. It’s a major theme in my writing right now, and will be the driving theme of my next book.
I am blessed with tremendously cool clients doing great work in the world.
I work with seven different clients each month doing a combination of ghostwriting (books, blog posts, newsletters, video scripts), copywriting, speech writing, and educational program / content development.
I’m currently trying to consolidate all of my client work into the first fifteen days of each month — leaving the second half of the month completely clear and open to focus on my own personal writing projects.
I haven’t quite nailed this rhythm yet, but I’m definitely getting closer. Kaizen forever.
Quality time with my boyfriend.
My boyfriend’s love language is “quality time.” (If you’ve never done the love languages assessment, do it! It’s brilliant.)
For Brandon, the ultimate expression of love is me clearing my calendar to be with him, showing up fully present, un-distracted, ready to play.
If I’m too busy to hang out, mentally clogged up with work, looking at my computer, or emotionally “checked out,” that’s deeply hurtful for him.
I know this — so I’m making a heightened effort to be the kind of partner he needs.
One small adjustment I’ve made is to align my weekends with his weekends.
As a chef, Brandon works almost every Saturday and Sunday and has Mondays and Tuesdays off. I’ve lined up my workweek to match his. As a self-employed writer, I have the ability to bend and flex my schedule, while he doesn’t have that same flexibility, so this change was a no brainer!
It’s been awesome. This year, we actually get to enjoy weekends together. Last year, that happened extremely infrequently.
Hairstyling, cocktails, twerking and silliness.
I am obsessed with hairstyling. If you come over to my loft I will probably insist upon doing your hair.
I am also obsessed with inventing new cocktails. I have a journal where I record my best recipes, like “The James Taylor” (elderflower-cucumber-mint-gin-fizz) and “Wish You Were Here” (watermelon-lavender-tequila-margarita). I was recently given a gorgeous book called Shake, which is full of simple, un-fussy drink recipes that use a lot of fresh juices and muddled fruits and veggies. There’s even a cocktail with kale in it! Fantastic.
I am also learning how to twerk! I’m getting pretty damn good. This video (which is definitely not suitable for work, unless your boss is awesome) inspires me tremendously. And this video has easy to follow twerk-structions! Goldmine.
As an entrepreneur, there is always “something else” that I could be doing. Always some project or goal that I “could” work on. The workload is infinite. If I’m not careful, I can easily slip into a crazed rhythm and literally forget to breathe. (Not long ago, I started to feel dizzy at my laptop and realized I’d been holding my breath. Yeah. Not cool.)
It is essential to have moments of total silliness sprinkled throughout my week. Painting my toes, arranging flowers, calling my mom, going to see the Fifty Shades movie twice in one 24 hour period, watching vintage Arnold Schwarzenegger movies (Terminator forever!), listening to comedy podcasts, reading Cosmopolitan (the only website that I check daily!), and unraveling my brain. Playtime is not optional. It’s mandatory for my mental health!
“Day by day, what you do is who you become.” –Heraclitus
I want to become an unstoppable, generous and creatively prolific human being.
I want to die empty, as Todd Henry would say — knowing that I truly delivered my absolute best to the world. No hiding. No holding back. Nothing left in the tank.
And of course: I want to inspire others to do the same.
It’s a big, ambitious vision.
Every day, I try to live up to it.
Some days I succeed. Other days, not so much.
Some days, when things veer off course, I have to remind myself that today is not over yet.
It is never too late to behave like the person you want to be — instead of continuing in a cycle of behavior that you will regret.
What kind of person do you want to be?
Don’t wait until “next Monday” or “January 1st” to devote yourself to that vision.
Do it now. Be it now.
This hour, today, tomorrow, at work, at play, and at home…
What you do is who you become.