Summary – A deep dive into your mind. Try writing down a question to yourself as you go to sleep. Then write an answer as soon as you wake up to see what your unconscious brain is thinking.
6 months ago, I realized that I have a consumption problem. I would wake up, and before my eyes were completely open, I was on my phone, flipping through emails and facebook. I wasn’t accomplishing much with my mornings.
I decided that one way to break this cycle was to write something as soon as I woke up. Create, don’t consume. Sleepy or not, I made a commitment to write every single morning, pre-consumption, to dive into my mind and see what my thoughts are pre-digital media.
Unfortunately, most of what I wrote was along the lines of, “sleepy,” or “tired,” or “I got nothing.”
Then I decided to add a layer to the experiment: What if I was to ask myself a question before bed, then let my unconscious mind think about in my sleep? And then write an answer as I was waking up.
And with that, every morning for the past two months, I have been interviewing my unconscious mind. It hasn’t been spectacular, but it has led to some interesting thoughts. The questions have been everything from, “how do you define success,” to “what do you want to accomplish this week?”
I suggest trying this for a few weeks. It gives you the opportunity to create something every day, prime your brain to be more thoughtful, and to get to know yourself on a level that you otherwise wouldn’t.
So enjoy getting to know… you!
Here’s a small list of questions to ask yourself:
-What does my perfect day look like?
-What do I like about myself?
-If I could jump on a plane anywhere in the world, where would I go? What would I do?
-What do I believe about the afterlife?
-What makes me happy? What excites me?
-What person or activity should I cut out of my life?
-What should can challenge myself with?
-What advice would I have given myself ten years ago? Five?
-What pain did I experience growing up, that I am grateful for now?
-What do I need to make peace with?
-What do I need to forgive myself for?
-What’s a one year goal that would improve my life?
-What about my life is working towards my goals, versus someone else’s?
For those interested, here are a few snapshots into sleepy Vlad’s brain, written in all my grumpy, sleep-deprived glory:
5/11/2016 Question – something unexpected that you learned in life?
-Was very surprised to learn how much I love meditation. And how good physical fitness is for mental health. That pain now almost always leads to growth later. That happiness is overrated. That alcohol isn’t that exciting. That structure in your life can lead to freedom. That you shouldn’t expect anyone to love you if you can’t even love yourself. That nostalgia can be a painful trap, enslaving you to your past.
5/3/2016 – Question – how do I define success?
5:08 am – success is finding internal balance. With that balance, you can face almost any situation that the universe puts before you, and be okay – even happy – with it.
In this way, happiness doesn’t come from any outside influence, so you don’t connect your well being to the state of your work, finances, relationships. You don’t burden your loved ones with having to perform up to confusing standards to make you happy, and as a result people around you are happier.
5/4/2016 – Question – Have you ever had a spiritual experience?
7:03 am – Yes. Maybe. Not sure. The few times that I think back to a spiritual experience, all had to do with scale. I felt small relative to time, or size of something.
A few times I felt spiritual experience while looking at the stars, and getting lost in the overwhelming scale of the universe. I remember that moment once on my balcony in PA, another time as a kid with Nodar in PA, AND) and another in South Carolina on the beach, looking at the most starry sky that I have ever seen.
The other spiritual experiences were in Europe, where I got lost in time. On Charles bridge late at night, as I stood on the 14th century bridge, watching seagulls fly over it, illuminated like ghostly orbs by by a nearby light.
I can also think of having spiritual experiences listening to Beethoven and Bach. Unlike the other two, I can’t really say if it had to do with scale.
Other than the third type, I’m not sure if the first two were really spiritual, or just a kid getting overwhelmed by the magnitude of space and time. Maybe that’s why religion is so effective. Combine with the music of a Bach, and you have the souls of masses under your fingertips.
Maybe spiritualism isn’t spiritual at all, or maybe scale and beautiful music trigger something deeper within.
5/6/2016 – Question – What is something that I learned from work?
7:01 am – I don’t know if that’s the question that I want to be answering as I open my eyes.
First, I learned the power and value of relationship building. First you help people, then the people will help you. Add value to other people’s lives, and you get the gratification of helping them in addition to any payoff you may see.
Building on that, if you want to see a change in six months or a year, start now. Things take a long time, and even if you’re happy with your station in life at the moment, you still need to start taking proactive steps.
People are people. Some are good, some are bad.
Without leadership that inspires, the company falls into a negative downward spiral, slowed down only by its massive size.
All good learning is self learning. Actualization as a person will not happen through an overwhelmed HR department. It must happen on your own. The opportunity here is for the innovator that can come up with a corporate self learning tool. Ed tech isn’t just for kids.
Corporate success starts with good hiring. Getting the right people – effective people – can push the company to success. Getting even wrong person can inject a poison that rots the whole company culture from the inside-out.
5/9/2016 – Question – If you could call yourself five years ago, and had 30 seconds, what would you say?
4:43 am – “Vlad, don’t ask any questions, this is you in five years. I need you to start meditating daily, lifting weights, eating better. I need you to learn how to network by building relationships and helping people. And don’t fucking take on any credit card debt. If you can’t afford it, don’t do it!’
5/15/2016 – Question – If you could cut out something from your life right now, what would it be?
11:48 am – inconsistency. If I was able to do anything with absolute consistency, I would be much further along in my life. Why? What is it that makes the mind wander, and the interest wane?
5/16/2016 – Question – If I was hiring for my company, what traits would I be looking for in a candidate?
5:03 am – I wouldn’t interview them at the job interview. I would train my receptionist to be the HR person, and have her interview the candidate secretly while they wait. Or have the interviewer pretend to be another candidate in the waiting room, or a janitor. The person I hire will be the one that hits a home run engaging them with sincerity and compassion. Won’t be easy to find.
Beyond their people skills, I would look for creativity, hobbies, interests. Any monkey can learn a job, but what has this person created on their own? Do they have hobbies or interests outside of work? I would probably find some way to test their creativity secretly while they’re waiting for their interviewer to come into the conference room.
- Nap pods Manhattan. Midtown, Downtown.
- Wake up mist infused with caffeine and other ingredients.
- Sleep finder – a place that gives you a map or the best/cleanest places around you to steal a quick nap. Rated by quiet and quality.
- Poor sleep hygiene habits – an app that looks for patterns in your behavior to call out the ones that lead to sleep problems.
- Sleep coach that gives specificsuggestions based on my sleep patterns, not just general sleep suggestions. “restless? Try this guided meditation before bed. Just make sure you have Twilight installed on your phone if using it.”
5/29/2016 – Question – What does your ideal day look like?
I wake up naturally, but early. Go to the bathroom, write and read for a few minutes. Wash up, then have my first cup of coffee. As I sip my coffee, I either read a riveting fiction book that I can’t put down (in which case I let that book absorb me, and do nothing else until I finish it) or I write ideas or work on a non-fiction project. Once I’m finished with the coffee, it’s time to lift. Come back home, shower, eat breakfast, drink another cup of coffee while reading or writing, meditate for 15-20 minutes, and start my day.
From there, I go to a coffee shop and have my first creative meeting of the day, with either a staffer or client, similar to my weekly Denis coffee’s. Or I take that time to record a podcast, interviewing a guest. I work for about 4-5 hours (mostly writing or editing the podcast), take lunch while , then go back home for a nap. After my nap, I get to the workplace (again, walking distance from where I live) and focus on the administrative, operational and managerial work for my job. Emails, schedules, operational problems, etc.
Through the whole day, I’m dressed super comfortably.
I come home around 7-8 pm, either cook a simple dinner or eat something I prepped over the weekend (maybe order out on occasion), and unwind with my woman. We watch some TV (which has the night mode color filtering that I developed), and before bed, I write some more. Prepare for my next day, and slowly go to sleep.
6/6/2016 – Question – how do you see technology changing communication in the next decades?
5:47 am – it’s easy to fall into an alarmist response: that people are already communicating less and less in person, and that this trend will only get worse with time. I don’t think it’s that simple. The fact is, that people communicate more than ever. In the future, long distance communication will become more realistic, making long distance calls seen exactly like in person meetings (VR, AR, etc), training people to once again get better than in person contact. As the two become indistinguishable, there will again be more in person connection, both because the virtual one is completely realistic, and because the anxiety created by tech will be slowly overridden.