Loving the process is first priority...
Getting results is second...
Next domination will always put results first
Our cultural standard for designing our life is results, always more results. More results is better, even if results is broadly defined as including such things as “spending time with the family.” This design priority is a direct consequence of Next domination, the glorification of what Next wants over what Now wants and needs. This applies even when Now rebels against Next.
The costs resulting from putting "results first"
A life lived from “results first” design, however, is in constant turmoil, with no criteria of how to choose one outcome over another, except perhaps by seeming “urgency” or “importance.” Any chance for ongoing fulfillment is sporadic and far between. We are continuously noticing that we are not getting enough done, noticing what we didn’t finish, and missing out on enjoying the moment-by-moment and hour-by-hour doingness of our days.
"More efficient" will never solve the problem...
We sometimes think we can solve these problems by having “better time management” and by becoming “more efficient.” Yet, even if we improve on these, we are still mired in dissatisfaction.
The breakthrough: "lifestyle first"
The breakthrough in addressing this chronic issue means identifying and putting in place a new highest level priority for life design, something that takes precedence above and beyond any one results and even any one process. What is this new, top-level priority? I call it lifestyle, but with a quite selective meaning, a meaning that depends very little on how much money or “free time” you currently have or don’t have.
"Lifestyle first" means enjoying the journey...
“Lifestyle first” means continuously planning and implementing your life so that the first priority is enjoying the moment-by-moment and day-by-day processes of your living. This priority is paramount before the priority of any specific result or results. Yes, of course, results (which in the broadest sense of the word includes even things like getting enough sleep and watching a TV show), are important. How you select which results to go for (given that you have unlimited options to choose from in your buffet of life) is a now a function of how well those selected results and the processes associated with those results (in combination) serve the lifestyle that attracts and inspires you and fits you best.
Learning from the buffet...
Consider the buffet analogy. At this buffet you can choose from over a hundred scrumptious dishes, each one of which is tempting. If your selection criteria is to cram as many dishes onto you plate and into your stomach as possible, your eating experience will be neither healthy nor ultimately enjoyable. Fortunately, at least with buffets, most of us use a different selection criteria, going for a more healthy and enjoyable experience. Bring that way of thinking to decide which results to go for (along with their processes) and how to arrange those in your life, with the intention to create a magnificent day-to-day lifestyle buffet that beckons and enlivens you.
Choosing courage to put "lifestyle first"
This means saying “no” to things you said “yes” to previously. This means making requests that you didn’t make before. This means taking care of yourself (short-term and long-term) as your #1 priority. This means creating and maintaining win-win boundaries with others. This means planning both time and money buffers in your life. This means finding and choosing directions and goals that are naturally inspiring to you. This means a refusal to tolerate the process of anything, asking yourself instead, “How can Now be happy with this, how can Now win also?”
Always bring your Now on board
Something that I’ve learned to do as an essential part of putting lifestyle first is this: whenever Dwight-Next has an idea of something that he wants/needs to do, before I even consider committing to and making a plan of how to do it, I ask, “How could Dwight-Now enjoy the process or processes that are necessary to get this result?” Also, I ask, “How will this new process fit enjoyably with everything else I already have on my plate?”
A taste of your new life
Let me give you a taste of how creating this “lifestyle first” will pan out. Just a few years ago, before this new paradigm was more fully installed within my unconscious (it takes a while), I would notice a corner of my exercise room that was not sorted and organized the way I would prefer. Whenever I noticed this unkempt corner, even for a brief second, an unwanted feeling would present itself, “Oh God, I don’t know when I’ll ever to get to that. Maybe someday, but I don’t see how I can ever fit it in.”
Today, in contrast, when I notice the same (or similar) unaccomplished “things to do,” I have a satisfying feeling of, “Wow! Isn’t this great that I have all these options of interesting things I could do! Right now I don’t see how I am ever going to take advantage of all these opportunities, but I am so glad they’re there as part of my buffet of life.”
Lifestyle is first while creating your new lifestyle
If you’re like the vast majority of us, you haven’t focused on lifestyle first in building and living your life. It’s been results, results, results. Consequently, even though you may feel like you have a long way to go before you have the lifestyle you want (and you may not yet even have a clear sense of what that lifestyle would be), you can start “lifestyle first” today and, as you do this, you’re expressing your lifestyle even in the process of building towards how to want to change it. Then, even later, when your lifestyle may seem finalized, it’s constantly evolving and adjusting to express and fit you better, as your Now and your Next cooperate on their journey together. As with myself, I have an astounding lifestyle, yet I am always having fun tweaking it.
Lifestyle is not about "perfect circumstances"
It’s imperative to know that lifestyle first does not mean having or be able to have all the circumstances in your life that you would prefer. As an example, consider someone who is imprisoned. Most likely, they would prefer to be out of jail. However, even in prison, they can be putting lifestyle first as their Now and their Next cooperate in building and living the life they want as they imprisoned. And, as they do this, if there’s some chance to be released from prison, then, with their Now and their Next cooperating, it’s more likely they will be freed. Most people have been imprisoned because they had a big disconnect between their Now and their Next.
Let's contrast putting results first with putting process first
Putting results first means you often insist on tolerating the process in order to get the results. It includes the idea that "more results are always better."
Putting process first means you put top priority, not only on enjoying the process of anything you take on doing, but you also plan your days and your life so that everything can flow easily together and you can get "everything done."
In brief, putting results first will give you this life...
If you put results first (which is our habit), the results you will often get are:
1) You never feel you get enough done.
2) You feel pressured, overwhelmed, and stressed.
3) Your life can feel meaningless.
4) You often feel frustrated or impatient.
5) Being persistent often occurs as difficult.
6) You can never completely catch up.
7) You can damage your health.
8) Urgent tasks are often pushing out the important ones.
9) It can damage your relationships.
10) In the big picture, you don't get as many results as you would get if you put process first.
Bottom line, putting process first will give you this life...
If you put process first, the results you will often get are:
1) You feel like you get the perfect amount done.
2) You remain stress-free with just enough challenge, but not too much.
3) Your life will feel naturally meaningful.
4) It's easy to be patient while enjoying the process.
5) Persistence is a natural by-product of enjoying the process.
6) You're rarely behind on things.
7) You're finding the time to take care of your health.
8) You're able to minimize the urgent, leaving time for the important.
9) You easily keep agreements with others and maintain good relationships.
10) In the long run, you get even more results than if you prioritized results.
A snapshot (below) of my current lifestyle
Here’s a snapshot of my current lifestyle (snapshot taken on April 14th, 2018). The parameters of my lifestyle reflect the expression of my own mind and heart, the lifestyle that best fits me at this time in my life. Your “ideal” lifestyle will be different. As I share these details with you, remember that the meaning of these details (for me) is that they are an expression of Dwight-Now and Dwight-Next playing together. Note also that any given snapshot would reflect a shifting through time, as would a still photo taken from a video of a sunrise.
Planet earth (no plans to change this anytime soon)
Kunming, China (with a population of almost seven million) has good weather all year around, at an elevation of 1892 meters (6207 feet), borders Tibet, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam. I’m also quite near Thailand. I have researched the world to try to find a better city for me to reside. The four most essential criteria are the city must have at least a million people, good infrastructure, low prices, and good weather all year around. I’ve not been able a find any city on planet earth that beats Kunming.
Leasing (with a second five-year lease, with less than two years to go on my current lease) a 250-square-meter (2691-square-foot) apartment on the 5th and 6th floors of an 18-story apartment/office building (living here since January, 2010). I am within a 15-minute taxi ride of downtown Kunming.
I decorated my apartment in a fairy-tale style.
I have a 10-year Chinese M-visa, which expires in 2025. To keep it active I am required to have “holidays” outside of China no less than every 60 days (counting from my previous entry into China). These “holidays” can be for as little as 15 minutes outside of China (stepping into Hong Kong counts as “outside”). I have a lot of adventures taking these “forced” holidays. My next one will be for three full days in Osaka, Japan, starting from May 10th (2018).
I dress comfortably and colorfully, with all my long-sleeved shirts being custom made.
I like to wear stand-out ties, of which I have close to a hundred to choose from.
73-years old (born July 18, 1944)
Great health (various physical health tests put my projected death between 91 and 102; I’m taking actions to beat those numbers off the charts)
178 cm (5’ 10”)
72.1 kg (159 pounds)
Health, eating, fitness
I speak silently to myself in rhythm with music (while listening and dancing to “Timber” with bluetooth headphones) a 323-word vision statement that begins with, “I am infusing my being, my body, my mind, my spirit with the vigor, the vitality, and full life expressions for my raptured anticipation of living with enthusiasm for at least 99 more years…” (each day Monday-Friday). I also do this for these affirmations (I call these my cognitive workout): “I am sleeping quickly and soundly every time, I am waking up quite rested and energized, I am eating and supplementing and fasting super healthfully, I am exercising for great fitness and posturing perfectly, I am healing and youthing more and more every day, I am dancing amazingly, I am living with energy, enthusiasm, and vitality for at least another 99 years.”
Each day I fast from 7:00pm-11:00am, 16 hours (it’s a modified fast that includes cocoa with liquid stevia and a bit of peppermint oil, green tea, and some supplement-sized portions that I take in the mornings that includes ground flax/chia seeds, maca, and food yeast). On occasion, I fast for 40 hours.
Except for a splurge day each Saturday, and with the exception of three sardines per day, I eat low-starch unprocessed vegan, eating two meals a day, with my big one at just after 11:00am. This includes a hot “stew” of various vegetables including onions, purple sweet potatoes, tomato paste, kelp, mixed nuts (almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, black sesame seeds), mixed beans, and hemp hearts, flavored with turmeric and black pepper. This is topped off with non-spicy kimchi, pickled purple cabbage, seaweed, chopped cucumber, water chestnuts, fresh spinach and kale, along with some natto (for vitamin K2). After the hot food, I eat a variety of 24-hour soaked dried berries (goji berries, longans, currants, cherries, and blueberries), combined with some no-additives peanut butter. Next I eat some fresh seasonal fruit, pre-chopped by my housekeeper (currently mangoes, jackfruit, pomelos, grapes, apples, pears, tangerines). My dessert then consists of two large Chinese dates, each sandwiched around a walnut. My evening meal (always finished before 7:00pm) is typically fresh fruit.
Twice a day I take a round of supplements (roughly at 6:00am and 5:00pm), listening to music and dancing around a bit while I’m taking them (so Dwight-Now can be happy too). The mixing, drinking and taking of these various supplements (examples: ground flax/chia, food yeast, taurine, ALCAR, Vitamin B12, vitamin D3, boron, and fenugreek) takes about 12 minutes each time. I also “drink” a large-cupped smoothie in the afternoon with the ingredients of 50g kale, 50g spinach, 25g black sesame seeds, 12g hemp seeds, 12g sunflower seeds, 12g peanuts, 12g carrots, 12g purple sweet potatoes, and 12g cherry tomatoes (prepared by my housekeeper).
Getting enough sleep is a top priority. If I’m not rested, it’s much more problematic for Dwight-Now and Dwight-Next to get and stay on the same page. I get into bed by 9:00pm, then, after a little light reading on my Kindle, lights are off before 9.30pm. I get up at 4:00am each day. Sometimes (I think because my healthy eating and supplements give me so much energy) I can’t sleep. So I get out of bed (say at 11:00pm) and work on my computer for a few hours until I feel I am sleepy enough to get back to sleep). Everyday (usually about noon, just after I’ve finished my big meal of the day) I take a 1.5-2.5 hour nap. This gives me a fresh new day.
I don’t have health insurance. It would be an unconscionable waste of money for me. On occasion I go to the hospital to check something out, as much as for adventure as to see if I might need to do something about a presenting condition. I will consider the doctor’s diagnosis, research it on the Internet, and then decide what to do. More often than not, I either do nothing or I do something different than what the doctor suggested. I spend less than $50/year on remedial “hospital stuff.” Although my lifestyle will most likely prevent any “catastrophic” health condition, my worst-case plan is to pay for any needed treatment using my four credit cards (I always keep them completely paid off and the cost of medical treatment in China is about 10% of the cost in America). Or I’ll fly to America to use my Medicaid coverage.
Every three to five months I take a full battery of blood tests, including measurements of PSA, TSH, testosterone, estradiol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, C-reactive protein, FIB, glucose, HbA1C, homocysteine, serum ferritin, and vitamin D, along with almost a hundred others. Based on these various test scores, I do research to modify my diet and supplements to create the most ideal value range for the measurements will most impact my long-range results in having the best health.
My exercise is of four different types:
a) My sitting time is limited. I have a stand-up desk. Typically I coach my clients on the telephone (working hours are 7:00am-11:00am), using a hands-free headset, while I am pacing around in my office.
b) Each day (Monday-Friday) I take a 40-45 minute walk around my neighborhood, taking photos of the kids (Chinese parents like it) and handing out my card for my life-coaching class that I lead every Sunday afternoon.
c) A full-body-vibration machine is position in front of my stand-up desk. While working on my computer, this machine “uses me” about 60-90 minutes per day (I am using it now as I compose this document).
d) On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I run in place on my Bellicon rebounder as fast as I can for 20 seconds, three times throughout the day. On Tuesday/Thursday I bounce as high as I can 60 times on my rebounder (this takes about a minute), three times throughout the day. I often challenge the young Chinese men who visit with me (who say they workout at the gym) to an arm wrestle. I can usually beat them.
As an independent life and lifestyle coach for 31-years (I was a computer software consultant prior to April, 1987), I work from my home office on the telephone, using a hands-free headset, pacing around as I talk with my clients, most of whom live in America. I work in America for money (and fun), I live in China for fun.
“Office hours” are generally 7:00am-11:00am, seven days per week. Most of my clients are Americans, along with a few Chinese clients. Some of my clients participate in my “Coaching as Your Career” program to create their own life-coaching career. My job is play. People pay me to play. I will never retire.
My regular coaching income (plus about $800/month from social security) is more than adequate to support my lifestyle in China. I created an Excel spreadsheet laying out all of my expenses in Kunming, China, along with what the same things would cost me in America. If I tried to maintain the same set of expenses in America, it would cost me 4-5 times more than it does in Kunming.
I will never retire. Consequently, I don’t need to “plan for retirement.” If I am not able to “work,” then probably I will not want to live any longer. I have stashed away some phenobarbital just in case it’s time to choose courage and say, “It’s been an amazing life, thank you so much!...and goodbye!” May I emphasize that choosing to continue to live or to die is a choice that a person can only make for themselves.
I have a small amount in savings here in China (about $10,000)
I own two pieces of raw land in Tennessee in America (currently worth from $50K-$100K).
I purchased two annuities. The first one will start paying me $23,264 per year starting November, 2031 (continuing until I die). The second one will start paying me $20,645 per year starting September, 2034 (continuing until I die).
To develop (and later market) the “Ask Dwight How” website to assist anyone in the world in creating a life they love. I currently spend 1.5 hours each day on this project, starting around 4.30am (six days a week)
To live with vitality and energy for at least another 99-years (I have a celebration date set with about 30 of my friends on Sunday, September 22nd, 2115 for those of us who are successful in making it to that date). In addition to the time spent on my implementation tasks for this goal, I spend 1.5 hours weekly (on Wednesday mornings) researching information and methodologies which may update my approach.
Parents are dead
Sister Karen is three years younger living in Australia with her second husband (we talk for an hour on the phone once every two weeks); I also talk periodically with her husband Sven.
My brother Ray (eight years younger) lives in the mountains of Tennessee with his second wife (he currently refuses to talk with me).
I have no children. When I was twelve years old I decided not to have children. I like children very much, for two hours. When I was 25 years old I got a vasectomy to ensure that no woman ever said to me, “I have your baby.” Children take away five things that are important to me: money, time, freedom, quiet, and romance. Other people are always happy for me to spend time with their children, if I want (for two hours).
John Milton said, “So easy it seemed, Once found, which yet unfounded most would have thought, Impossible!” This quote applies to me regarding romance. I’ve always wanted to find that special woman where I could have and keep that feeling of adoration and passion “forever.” But through many girlfriends and two wives, when I thought I had found it at the beginning, it then faded away. Finally, I discovered that, at least for me, the missing “ingredient” has been to keep a certain distance. Today, for over eight years, I have been continuously in love with my Chinese girlfriend. “What was the missing ingredient?” you might ask! I generally visit with her no more than once a week. We text every day. But I have time to miss her, I have time to get hungry for her. As the Chinese proverb says, “Distance creates beauty.”
I enjoy regular telephone conversations with several friends in America, each conversation usually lasts 30 minutes. Two friends speak with me twice a week each. About another eight friends speak with me once a month.
In China I stay in touch with a 2000+ acquaintances/friends, most of whom I met through my program, “Strangers into Friends: an Evening with Dwight.” Of course, as mentioned before, my assistant Heidi Yang is a super good friend. My social secretary Rocky Jiang is a good friend (I was the “minister” at his recent wedding). I am becoming friends with my housekeeper Ann Sun. A few Chinese friends visit with me regularly, once every two to four weeks (conversation and snacks in my home). And then there are perhaps thirty good Chinese friends with whom I stay in periodic contact. Two of my Chinese friends are currently residing in Europe.
Balance between structure and flexibility
In creating NNI, one fundamental issue is the relationship between structure and flexibility (also spontaneity). Now tends to go for flexibility and spontaneity. But Next needs planning, structure, and follow through to create the future that he or she wants.
Most people are amazed by the amount of structure that I create and maintain in my life (I am amazed by it, too). Yet, at the same time, especially because my plans include a lot of buffer, Dwight-Now feels that he has plenty of flexibility and spontaneity, including time allocated just for him.
I have three paid assistants.
My personal/business assistant is Heidi Yang: she has worked for me for over eight years and has also become my very good friend. Her work hours are generally Monday through Friday, from 11:00am to 5:00pm. She does an outstanding job of supporting me in my work and in the rest of my life.
My housekeeper: currently Ann Sun (a university student) comes in for 3-4 hours each day Monday/Wednesday/Friday. She buys fresh vegetables and fruits, does some food prep work, grinds flax/chia, capsulizes some supplements, cleans, and is an all-around handy girl.
My social secretary: Rocky Jiang creates and maintains some website postings in Kunming, letting locals know of the opportunity to visit with a “crazy” American in his home for conversation and snacks. Typically, three to four nights a week at 6.30pm between three and six strangers will show up at my door. Sitting in my parlor room, we’ll get to know each other over the next two hours. I call this event “Strangers into Friends: an Evening with Dwight.” I have been hosting this soree for well over three years, visiting with almost 3000 “strangers.” So enriching!
Practices are an important foundation in my life. And, of course, to keep them effectively and continuously in place both Dwight-Now and Dwight-Next both need to be happy with them. From time to time, I make adjustments to support this ongoing partnership.
Daily Practices: Morning Routine
-Arise at 4am
-Toilet and weigh myself
-Mobile phone on: “morning” to my girlfriend, respond to reports for those friends with whom I have agreed to be an accountability partner
-Wash down one gram of raw diced garlic and one gram raw diced ginger
-Brush my teeth with diatomaceous earth
-Turn on the sunlight lamp at my stand-up desk
-Turn on a Philips GoLITE Blu at my desk
-Heat hot water in my office kettle
-Drink a cup of cold-steeped green tea
-Enjoy a hot cup of cocoa, liquid stevia, with a drop of peppermint oil (two to three of these before 7:00am)
-Working at my desk, I am often using my full body vibration machine
-Check Microsoft Outlook (on my Mac Mini attached to a 53-inch TV that I use as a monitor) for emails for anything that needs immediate response
-Check my birthday list (I currently track 310 friends and clients/former clients whose birthdays I want to acknowledge) to see if there is anyone to call or send a text to for their birthday. I maintain this birthday list using Todoist.com.
-Go through the printed schedule for the previous day, noting anything that needs to be updated on transferred into Todoist.
-Using Todoist on my Mac, planning and printing the schedule for the current day (takes about 10 minutes)
-Putting together my supplement “drink” for the morning (9 different ingredients in water). Then I use this drink to wash down 16 different supplements that are taken in the form of tablets and capsules. To entertain Dwight-Now while I am mixing and taking these supplements, I’m dancing around a bit as I am listening to music (from Spotify) on my hands-free Bluetooth headset. This routine takes about 12 minutes.
-Get a report from my social secretary Rocky about any “Strangers into Friends” guests who will visit me the following evening.
-Say “hello” in my mind to my mother, my father, both my grandmothers, both my grandfathers, and to one other dead person (like Aristotle). I also say “hello” in my mind to my sister and brother as well as to one other alive person currently in my life.
-On Monday/Wednesday/Friday I send a text message to my housekeeper for vegetables and fruits to buy for that day.
-I get everything ready to start my coaching calls with my clients by 7:00am.
Daily Practices: Covenants
I keep 24 promises each day (Monday to Friday). I can a declare day off once or twice a month; I text a celebration report each evening to my assistant Heidi; for any promise not kept I must declare a priority and explain why something else was a higher priority than keeping the agreement.
These promises include:
-Weigh and record weight
-Declare day regular or “day off”
-Review all items done and not done for prior day
-Plan day using Todoist.com before 7:00am
-Print out morning routine
-Take morning supplements while dancing to music
-Run intensely in place on my rebounder for 20 seconds three times throughout the day (Monday/Wednesday/Friday)
-Rebound as high as I can for 60 times three times throughout the day (Tuesday/Thursday)
-Scream as loudly as I can for 20 seconds three times throughout the day (try it: always makes you feel better)
-Use my full-body-vibration machine regularly while working at my stand-up desk
-Speak silently to myself my life vision statement while listening to inspiring music
-Speak silently to myself my 17 cognitive workout statements (example: I am connecting soul-to-soul with everyone) while listening to inspiring music
-Fast for a minimum of 16 hours (7:00pm-11:00am)
-Handle all email received from the previous day
-Take late-afternoon supplements
-Walk for 40-45 minutes around my neighborhood, while taking photos and handing out the card for my life-coaching class on Sunday afternoons.
On Saturday and Sunday, I only do 14 of these 24 promises.
An "average" weekday
Each day (Monday-Friday), my day unfolds more-or-less like this:
Throughout each day I consistently log a short notation of each task that I finish (at a certain chunking level) into an Excel spreadsheet, using a timestamp. The spreadsheet auto calculates the duration of the task by subtracting the previous timestamp. Not only does serve as a mini-celebration for Dwight-Now of each task I finish, but it also serves as a sort of diary that Dwight-Next looks back on from time to time. I’ve been doing this since near the beginning of 2014. An average day logs about 70 “tasks.”
-toilet, weighing, checking my mobile, checking for urgent emails, doing some of the morning routine items
-4:30am spend 1.5 hours working on “Ask Dwight How” six days a week; on Wednesdays I spend the 1.5 hours researching ways to extend my life with vitality and energy.
-6:00am plan day using Todoist.com
Take morning supplements
-7:00am calls with clients (starting from 4:00pm to 7:00pm in America for the previous day, depending on their time zone). Coaching calls are usually 30 minutes long.
Also talk with some of my American friends during this morning time
Develop and print Heidi’s task list for the day (Todoist)
Develop and print Ann’s housekeeping task list for the day on Monday/Wednesday/Friday (Todoist)
Get in my high intensity exercises during this period
-11:00am Heidi arrives: I go over her schedule with her
Prepare my hot food and fruit for lunch
Eating hot food, soaked berries, fruit, and Chinese dates with walnuts, while reading a Kindle book (currently reading “Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong” by Eric Barker)
-12:00pm take a nap in my darkened bedroom (using pink noise)
-2:00pm (nap can vary from 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours)
Soak some more berries
Talk with Heidi; Heidi is a great listener so I use her for self-coaching. I have become very good at self-coaching. If I have a good listener, then I know how to ask myself the right questions to work through any problem or decision; every Tuesday I coach Heidi on any change she would like to make in her life; we also just share about our lives
Work on my computer some
Blog one or more of my quotes to be included in my photo journal
Take a shower and shave
-4:00pm take the 40-45 minute walk around the neighborhood; once a week this time is extended when I include getting a 30-minute, upper-body massage at a local massage place.
-6:00pm prepare for my guests (three-four nights a week)
Eat some fruit for my evening “meal.”
-6:30pm three-four nights per week between two to five strangers show up at my door. They join me for snacks and conversation (leaving by 8:30pm). My social secretary Rocky Jiang introduces these strangers to me from local website postings and, occasionally, through contacting travelers to Kunming though couchsurfing.com. I have been hosting this soree, which I call “Strangers into Friends: an Evening with Dwight” for about 3.5 years now.
Or, if no guests, I enjoy a solitary evening with reading, watching some movies/TV series, surfing the Internet, whatever...
-9:00pm to 9:30pm lights off
Almost every week day Heidi orders one or more items (with my oversight) from Taobao (the Chinese equivalent of Amazon.com, only 5-10 times bigger). Many of these items are supplements and food items, such as flax seeds and purple sweet potatoes. Almost every day she receives and opens one or more packages for me. Shopping in the stores for non-perishables is a thing of the past. And we’re even buying some perishables on Taobao, such as natto.
Once a week I add captions to photos that Heidi has selected and cropped for inclusion in my photo journal that is broadcast weekly (currently sent out to about 2170 friends/acquaintances).
On Mondays I do petty cash accounting with Heidi (personal assistant) and Ann (housekeeper), as well as paying their salary for the previous week. I pay my social secretary Rocky at the beginning of each month for the previous month.
Most Saturdays from 4:00pm to about 9:00pm I enjoy time with my Chinese girlfriend.
Saturday is my food indulgence day. I usually go to the food court at lunch time in the local mall and buy a few Chinese vegetable dishes, along with some Vietnamese rolls.
Sunday afternoons from 2:00pm-5:00pm, I lead a life-coaching workshop (using a Chinese-English interpreter) in my salon room for 7-15 participants.
Each month around the 10th I pay off each of my four credit cards in full using online banking.
Periodically I order supplements from Iherb.com in the USA. They have free shipping to China.
Every two months (alternating with my “forced” outside-the-country holidays) I do what I call “Breakout 24,” about 24 hours where I do something different than my normal routine. Example: on Friday afternoon of April 6th (earlier this month) I took a 1.5-hour train ride to the neighboring city of Qujing. I checked into a hotel, walked around, hung out in my hotel room, checked out the next morning and took a 1.5-hour train ride back to Kunming. Interesting and refreshing.
Once a month I take 100mg of modafinil (early in the morning).
Our acknowledgement and willingness to put “lifestyle first” (even for a prisoner or for someone on welfare) takes the stand that survival is handled (even if we happen to die, which we will eventually anyway) and therefore life is a game to have fun with. It also recognizes, paradoxically, that by putting “enjoying the processes of life” and “the dance of the journey” as primary, in the big picture, in the long-term, we are more likely to get the results we want and need, than if we treat results as primary.
Our default, however, has been to put “results first.” Yes, we often think of some result we want first (example: getting a good job). But our next question should be, “How am I going to enjoy the processes of going for that?” (example: enjoying the processes of going for a good job). Then, even beyond ensuring that we are enjoying the processes of all the different results we are going for, we need to make sure they all fit together (what might be called “personal ecology”) and that we haven’t put too much on our plate.
Fundamentally, this is a new way of designing and living our lives. The habit (and societal glorification) of doing the opposite “results first” runs deep.
Grit before pleasure (don’t be indulgent)
Persevere (don’t give up)
Be accountable and responsible (don’t be a slacker)
Set goals, make a plan (don’t drift through life)
Just do it (even if it’s hard)
Be dependable (others are counting on you)
Keep your promises (don’t be unreliable)
Be patient (life requires sacrifice)
Give 100% (don’t be lazy)
Do the right thing (it’s easy to do the wrong thing)
Life is hard (you have to be realistic)
Don’t order that pizza (you’re going to get a heart attack)
Get your ass out of bed and go to the gym (you’re going to regret it if you don’t)
Grow up! (you can't be a child forever)
Be the hard-working ant (and not the fiddle-playing grasshopper)
Yes, good intentions are behind these exhortations. But, by putting emphasis on “results first” (in contrast with “lifestyle first”), not only do we get less consistent results, but we have also thrown away most of the happiness and joy of life, which reside in “the dance of the journey.”