How to upgrade your internal software
5 steps to giving yourself a mind and body upgrade
👋Hello to the 907 Intentional Wisdom readers receiving today's newsletter. Two things to share with you today:
1. The latest episode of the Intentional Wisdom podcast.
2. Some thoughts on how to treat yourself as well as you treat your phone.
Let's get going.
Ep.4 - Amir Hajizamani - How to Create a Personal Manifesto
I don't know about you but when I think of the word "manifesto," visions of Karl Marx and the Unabomber come to mind. Not exactly images of motivation or inspiration. But my guest on the podcast this week, Amir Hajizamani, thinks about manifestos quite differently.
Amir is a London-based, Cambridge-educated product consultant and coach in the technology industry. But it wasn't his impressive credentials that drew me to him as a guest for the show. Rather, it was his introspective thinking on the big, important and often messiest questions we face in life—like our purpose, our values and how we can live a life that is aligned with who we are trying to be.
In our conversation, Amir describes how the challenges he's faced in life—from emigrating to the U.K. from Iran at age 12 to the realization that he was living someone else's dream—brought him to the point where he felt that he needed a "personal manifesto." He needed to put down on paper exactly who it was that he was trying to be every day. The resulting 23-item personal manifesto is something that Amir now lives by and revisits on a daily basis.
In our discussion, we compared notes on how to create a document that identifies our purpose and the actions we must take to prove it every day. You'll remember I created something similar in my article, The Year of Meaning, back in January. But it's not as simple as just putting some words down on a page. Amir and I discussed what works and what doesn’t when it comes to trying to live your life by a pre-determined set of ideals.
If you get a chance to listen, I'd love to hear what you think. As usual, you can find the podcast on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
Updating your internal software
On the back of my podcast conversation with Amir, I've been thinking a lot about identity this week. And more specifically, I've been thinking about how our identities can and really should change over time.
Change is natural. We see our kids growing. We notice the seasons come and go. Even our own bodies are constantly morphing; the cells that make up our skin, our organs and even our bones today are different from the ones that comprised us just weeks ago. We are quite literally different people than we were a few months back.
Yet, we see our identities as fixed. Somewhere along the line we make judgements about ourselves:
I'm not a good writer.
I'm not a leader.
I’m not athletic.
And to save ourselves from the discomfort of cognitive dissonance, we stick with these identities. We even sabotage ourselves by limiting our own opportunities if they happen to conflict with the fixed identity that we've held onto for so long.
Well, guess what? Your identity needs an update. And mine does, too.
Apple knows a thing or two about updates. You know those annoying red badges that pop up on your phone every time there's a software update that you haven't installed yet? That's what you and I need. A red square with the number "1" floating above our heads that won’t disappear until we do some introspective work to examine our outdated view of ourselves.
Despite Elon Musk's best efforts to connect our brains directly to the internet, updating ourselves like we update our phones remains a fantasy for now (or maybe a nightmare). So no automatic updates will be pushed to us. We need to do the update manually. Here's how to do exactly that.
5 steps for updating your personal software
Check the manual — Are your day-to-day actions confirming the identity that you have established yourself? Well, to answer that you'll need to check the manual. What's the manual? It's the personal manifesto—or life document—that I mentioned above. Don't have one yet? Use mine as a cheat sheet to get you started.
Make sure you don't have a virus — Okay, we've all spent the last two years quite literally trying to avoid a virus, but in this instance, I'm talking about steering clear of anything that is attacking your mind or body and undermining your success in any part of your life. One of the most common offenders that fits this description—which we willingly expose ourselves to—is alcohol. Are you consuming too much? Is it a big part of your identity? What would happen if you quit? The same goes for the other common drug that we willingly put into our bodies in vast amounts: Sugar. Be careful with it.
(Side note: My article, A Year Without Drinking recently went semi-viral on Twitter. Check it out if you haven’t already).
Check your connections — One of the keys to living a long, healthy and fulfilling life is the quality of your relationships. Do you have at least a few deep, meaningful connections in your life? People with whom you can share your greatest successes and most heart-wrenching disappointments? Are you spending the bulk of your time with people who give you energy rather than those who drain you of it? If not, what is the path to actually changing this?
Upgrade your apps — We are what we consume, both physically and mentally. If our days are spent mindlessly scrolling Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, it follows that we will become mindless, vanity-obsessed versions of ourselves. If instead we spend our days consuming high-quality books, articles, or podcasts, or even better, creating something ourselves, we become more fulfilled, expressed versions of ourselves. And if we spend time practicing gratitude and meditation, we become calmer, more thoughtful versions of ourselves. Be ruthlessly protective of what you let in because you ultimately become that thing.
Hit the reset button — When all else fails, shut it down. When you are unhappy or burnt out or acting in a way that you're not proud of, it's a sign that your body needs a rest. Listen to it. Takes rests daily—in the form of long walks or 5-minute meditations. And take longer rests. A week or a month to just stop. To pull yourself out of your current reality. To remember that the system can work without you. To see something new to inspire you. I know, the idea of being able to stop can often seem… impossible. But you (and I) need to realize that the world can manage if we take a break. We all know that the ultimate IT fix for any problem is "unplug it, wait, and then plug back it." It works for the mind and body as well.
Well my dear readers, your friendly IT guy has to sign off for the the day, so we’ll have to leave it there.
But before you go… check out the content diet section below for a quick app update. You’ll run much better on this updated version.
Thanks as always for reading.
📗Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough — I know this sounds like a trashy romantic novel with a shirtless Fabio on the cover but actually it’s a beautifully told story of Theodore Roosevelt’s childhood years. I’m a sucker for anything late-1800s/early-1900s America. It must have been such an incredible time to be alive with new cities being built, new territories being explored and life-changing inventions coming at a fast and furious pace. I’m a massive McCullough fan—also highly recommend Truman—and I just love the intimate portraits he paints of the main characters, mostly drawn from the letters they all write to one another. Man, letter-writing is a lost art! Well, I guess I am doing it right now…
📨 Dodging the Diderot Effect by Joe Wells — Are you familiar with “golden handcuffs” or the idea that our possessions end up owning us? That’s what I was thinking about when I read this article from Joe Wells. In fact, I wrote a piece about the incredibly positive impact that decluttering our lives can have on our psyche not long ago. Joe manages to convey a universal truth in this piece about the never-ending cycle of material purchases many of us get caught up in day to day. Worth your time for a short read.
Disclosure: Joe and I both write newsletters in the same broad genre of self-improvement and thought we’d expose our audiences to each other’s work. I very much enjoyed this article and am following Joe’s work with great interest, but in the spirit of full transparency and given that I take your trust VERY seriously, I just wanted to let you know that.
🎙️Grateful for Everything, Entitled to Nothing — I loved this Invest Like the Best podcast conversation between Patrick O’Shaughnessy and legendary University of California rugby coach, Jack Clark. I am a sucker for great leadership advice. To hear some of Clark’s best advice, click into the Twitter thread below. Clark shared the foundational principles that have driven his (and his teams’) success over the years. I’m stealing them all for my Little League team this season. This thread got very little traffic on Twitter but that’s just because the algorithm doesn’t like me. That’s what I’m telling myself anyhow.
That’s it. See you in two weeks!!