I started to put my clothes back on, but I still couldn’t feel my body.
I had just plunged into the icy waters of Lake Michigan, honoring a 40-year-old tradition of my University. Five early mornings of “winter preparation” through martial arts, dance, and meditation. And on the last day — it’s the polar plunge.
If you go to all five days, you get a free shirt!
Getting 1,000 college kids up at 6:30 AM to do some yoga is a daunting task. But as someone who did it every single day (despite my many yawns in class), it was worth it. I wasn’t sure if I’d make it the whole five days, not even considering the polar plunge into sub-40-degree water at the end of the week, but I did it.
Maybe I’m sounding dramatic, but for those of you that haven’t swum in water at that temperature, do it before you talk. Your body immediately goes numb. Every extremity feels like it got a shot of Novocain as pins and needles stick in your body without a clear understanding of when it will end.
The Driver of Behavior Change
A year ago, I don’t think I would have done this. Even now, I could count several reasons not to: the cold and lack of sleep the most prominent among them. But I did.
Productivity-focused and trying to maximize my health and progress, I over-optimized.
I slowly learned the importance of leisure and being open to new experiences. I wrote about it a lot, hoping to communicate the necessity of both activities for leading a life of impact. It’s easy to talk, though. It’s harder to walk.
If someone could only see my actions and not hear my words, what would they say are my priorities?
While I had fully adopted the mentality that openness to new experiences was essential for living a good life, I struggled to put it into practice.
But as I reflect on my week of waking up early to do sun salutations and jumping into the near-freezing Lake Michigan and planning a trip to Bali to try the nomadic lifestyle, I can’t help but think that my actions are adjusting.
In the “Idea Capture” section of my Notion, I quickly jotted down a thought a couple of days ago. I had it in passing, but I thought it was important to record:
I am becoming a person I like more.
I think I now realize what I meant: I’m becoming a person that is more in line with the person I imagined I could be.
All the stuff we say about who we are and what we do means nothing if it’s not backed up by action.
The way you spend your time matters. It’s easy to say that you value your health; it’s much more difficult to put in the time necessary to value your health. So, how do we align our beliefs with action? Audit our time.
The Time Audit — How to Align Action with Values
Dr. Grace Lordan shares a technique to analyze how we are spending our time. Go to your google calendar and look at each event. For each thing you did, rank it. If you felt a sense of purpose, got closer to where you want to be, and enjoyed it — give it a + +. If you felt no sense of purpose, got farther from where you want to be, and did not enjoy it, give it a - -. If it’s somewhere in between give it a +-.
When I looked at my calendar, I noticed I was giving my computer science class a - -. While I am majoring in CS, I was placed into a class lower than my skill level. Lectures felt like a review and a waste of time. So, now I just read the textbook and ask for notes from a friend — I save 2 hours that I can spend on living the life I want to live. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg — I’m sure I could start to shave away my three hours a day on my phone.
To whatever extent possible, maximize your + and minimize your -. Soon enough, you’ll be on your way to living the life that you say you want to live.