Sunday Sparks Issue 1: Goals, Processes, Systems, and Habits
Gooooood evening, Happy Sunday, and Happy New Year!
Welcome to the first issue of Sunday Sparks. What started out as a series of blog posts is now a newsletter, which means you'll get weekly links right to your inbox!
With this email being the first issue and today being the first Sunday of the year, it seems appropriate to indulge in the feeling of wanting to wipe the slate clean and look ahead to the shiny possibilities in 2021. What's more cliché about new years than midnight kisses and slumbering into bed at 12:10 am is the temptation to set hefty resolutions While goals are great at setting the direction for your systems and habits, it's worthwhile to think about the kind of of person you want to be every single day. After all, a lifetime is made up of days like today. Here are some of my favorite reads on long-term thinking, taking every hefty resolution one step at a time, and enjoying your short time on this planet.
Either because of how we were raised or the influence of schooling, a lot of us like to measure a problem's value on a scale of complexity. How many times have you made a problem harder than it needs to be? How many times have you committed to a complex problem and abandoned it in its early stages?
In this letter to his student, Professor Richard Feynman, a prominent physicist, remind us that "No problem is too small if we can really do something about it." A lot of us neglect the problems in our communities, our families, ourselves to pursue those that are complex and grand to fulfill a need for validation from others and most dangerously, ourselves. To this, Professor Feynman advises:
You say you are a nameless man. You are not to your wife and to your child. You will not long remain so to your immediate colleagues if you can answer their simple questions when they come into your office. You are not nameless to me. Do not remain nameless to yourself – it is too sad a way to be.
This is not to say that we shouldn't aim high. We should realize, however, that the hardest problems are just sets of humble, mundane ones. Focusing on solving the small problems and knowing that you're on the right trajectory is all we can ask for in a day (BTW, Hey , my 3 subscribers! Love you guys 💗).
When you're choosing what project to take up or what to do on a Friday night, how you you decide? In this article, the author introduces a good way to find meaning in life through the choices you make and the moments you remember. Since a life is just a set of memorable experiences, accumulating and documenting them is all there really is.
This has been a pretty useful heuristic for me. Should I spend the few minutes scrolling through Twitter or reading an article online? Unless I stumble upon an extremely insightful tweet, I will probably remember the article. This article is also one of the reasons I took blogging more seriously. In a couple of years from now, I know I won't remember 99.9999% of the events in my life. So I hope I collect at least a few bullet points worth talking about.
This article is about this thing called Impact Bias: our "tendency to overestimate the hedonic impact of future events." Have you ever desperately yearned for a certain thing, only to realize that the excitement of getting it doesn't last? Stepping back and looking at your projects, relationships, and life will show a complete picture, but living each day is mundane, regardless of how glamorous it might seem. Every noble pursuit, hustle, company, and movement was built on boring, lackluster, mundane task performed over a long time. Everyone knows about Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a dream speech" but no one talks about him hosting his thousandth tedious planning meeting in 1967.
To do the things you want, you have to enjoy and appreciate every single day. This article and literally every wellness author recommend the same underrated approach— practice a habit of gratitude. Thinking about things that are going well in your life is an invaluable way to think the reality you're living in and set expectations accordingly.
Lastly, one of the best books I read this year is Atomic Habits by James Clear. The book explains that habits are the elemental unit of behavior change and gives practical tips on how to create good habits and get rid of bad ones.
One of the best premises, however, is that habits should not be created for the sake of creating them. It's not about taking cold showers every morning, flossing one tooth every night, or getting up at 5am every morning.
"It's not about achieving external measures of success like earning more money, losing weight, or reducing stress. Habits can help you achieve all of these things, but fundamentally they are not about having something. They are about becoming someone."
Ultimately your systems should lead you to the identity you want to adopt—not the other way around.
I hope this year is filled with people you love, things you enjoy, and boring tasks that set you on the trajectory of becoming the kind of person you want to be.
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Lastly, I want to leave with a question—What's something you've been thinking a lot about recently? What systems or habits are you trying to adopt this year?
Until next Sunday,