In PART 1, I discussed having various hobbies/skills, interests, and experiences. In PART 2, I covered developing a sense of humor and becoming funnier, building your charisma and confidence, and the basics of conversation.
I know many of you wanted information on how to make friends and expand your social circle. Don't worry, I'm getting to it, but it will likely be the very last post in the series. I'm presenting these posts in a certain order for maximum efficacy, and the brutally honest rationale for presenting that information last is this: if you sincerely need a guide found on an anonymous internet message board on how to make friends, I really think it's for the best that you read through all the basic material BEFORE you start putting yourself out there.
Part 3 will discuss making the time to actually DO all the things I mentioned in Part 1 and Part 2. Let’s get to it, boys.
This is a very important issue that was not addressed very well in Part 1. Here is the unfortunate truth: it is very likely you will not have enough time to pursue everything fully. You might be a student or self-employed with free time coming out your ass, in which case pursuing your goals is simply a matter of motivation, but chances are you work long hours at work or you have a terrible commute. You might have a wife and children, or even just a serious LTR, who take up much of your time.
In these cases, you do what you can with the time you have. It’s well known that parenthood comes at the cost of your personal life. That’s just the sacrifice you make. For the workaholics, the idea is that you are trading personal fulfillment now for financial security later. There is nothing wrong with either. For the rest of you, achieving all of your goals comes down to a few basic concepts: having a set schedule, using your time productively, and being flexible when needed.
Any aspect of self-improvement is fundamentally a permanent lifestyle change. Whether it’s starting a diet, swallowing the red pill, or buckling down at work, any permanent improvement requires you to directly alter your life. Temporary work always leads to a temporary solution. We are creatures of habit. If you want to stick to a new lifestyle, you need a routine.
Could you imagine if your work schedule was totally random? Imagine getting a call every morning from your boss telling you the specific hours you would work that day. Maybe you have a 16-hour shift, maybe you have the day off. Maybe you have to work all the even hours but you get the odd hours off. How productive would you be? How much work would you get done compared to a normal 9-5? Would you be happy? Too much chaos is just as bad as unyielding order. I know there are some super alphas out there who are above the mortal constraints of this earthly plane, but personally I’m exponentially more productive on a stable schedule. You need to apply that same mentality to any non-recreational endeavor.
Here was my schedule when I was working a 9-5 job. In the interests of full disclosure, I had the luxury of a short commute and very few responsibilities while not on the job.
- Paint: 10am-2pm
- Miscellaneous: 2pm-3pm
- Cook/Bake something new or complex: 3pm-5pm
- Leisure Time: 5pm-Midnight
Monday and Wednesday
- Wake up: 8am
- Work: 9am-5pm
- Gym: 5:30pm-7:30pm
- Showering/Dinner/Miscellaneous: 8pm-9pm
- Language Practice: 9pm-10pm
- Leisure Time: 10pm-Midnight
Tuesday and Thursday
- Wake up: 8am
- Work: 9am-5pm
- Climbing Gym: 5:30pm-7:00pm
- Showering/Dinner/Miscellaneous: 7:30pm-8:30pm
- Drawing and Brainstorming: 8:30pm-9:30pm
- Leisure Time: 9:30pm-Midnight
- Wake up: 8am
- Work: 9am-5pm
- Gym: 5:30pm-7:30pm
- Showering/Dinner/Miscellaneous: 8pm-9pm
- OPEN TIME: 9pm and after
Even with a full time job, things are manageable. As you can see, Monday-Thursday was relatively busy, but I still had plenty of time to unwind at the end of the day. Friday night and Saturday are completely open, while Sunday is a laid back day to relax and unwind. So with this relatively light schedule, I had time to exercise 5 times a week, get creative 4 times a week, and work my brain twice a week AT MINIMUM. In Part 1, I suggested 3 times a week, but you can alter the ratio of physical vs creative vs mental to suit your preferences. If you don’t need 8 hours of sleep, you can get even more done. Once your routine becomes habitual, accomplishing tasks becomes much easier.
PRODUCTIVE USE OF TIME
Being productive means avoiding procrastination. This is why a schedule is so important. I’m sure all of you have pulled an all-nighter at some point. But being honest, how much of that time was spent working? Most likely a good chunk of time, if not more than half, was spent wasting time.
Productive use of time means that when you work, you are focused totally on work. When you have fun, you are totally focused on fun. Too often we get stuck in the procrastination zone where we do bullshit activities we half-heartedly justify to ourselves; like browsing Reddit (It’s educational, right??) or jerking off (hey man I gotta blow off steam). We’re not getting any work done, but also not really enjoying ourselves due to the looming deadline.
One of my methods for beating procrastination is setting timers. Work for an hour, then goof off for an hour. If you take it seriously, work time is more productive and my leisure time is less guilty, and “all-nighters” now have me in bed by 2am or 3am at the latest rather than walking into class or work looking like a zombie. Another method is "delayed gratification". This is why in my schedule I put leisure time at the very end of the day. If I scheduled it for right after work, chances are I would lose motivation and get complacent, and be less likely to then hit the gym or start drawing. Most people are lazy like that. Think of how many pregames that fall apart due to guys fucking around. I don't have the discipline to get back to work after a long break, but I DO have the discipline to just power through all my responsibilities for the day in one stretch. Decide what methods and mentalities work for you.
Here is an ABSOLUTELY VITAL read on procrastination and how to handle it. It goes into far greater detail than I do, and I highly recommend you read the entire article before you go any further.
MISCELLANEOUS, LEISURE, AND OPEN TIME
Miscellaneous refers to random household activities: laundry, paying bills, answering emails, etc. All the random chores that need to get done, but since they’re not pressing they tend to get overlooked...until you remember at the last second and panic. Have a to-do list on your phone (I recommend ColorNote) and constantly add tasks as they come up, then tackle them during a set, dedicated period of time. You’d be surprised at how quickly most of them get done.
Leisure time is when you pursue any of your interests, as referenced in Part 1. It can be spent however you see fit. Leisure time is when you visit your plates, tune your car, or listen to that podcast. Unwind with a videogame. Watch that movie your friend recommended. Read a book (anything from RP literature to an autobiography to science fiction). Maybe you want to spend more time on your hobbies and get more work done. Maybe you want some extra sleep. Even when it comes to your “serious” time, you can still decompress. At the gym for example you can listen to audiobooks or podcasts (if they don't distract you), or even just browse Reddit between sets. Your language practice for that day could be watching a foreign film or reading a foreign comic book. Maybe it's as simple as watching some TV while you eat. The only constraints are those you place on yourself.
For myself, my leisure time this week has been spread across all kinds of things. I’ve been playing some Borderlands 2 on my Xbox. I watched The Babadook on Netflix. One of my interests is zoology so I read about recently extinct animals like the Barbary Lion, Quagga, and Haast's eagle. I took apart and cleaned my computer, and I recently received a 3D printing pen which I fooled around with. And of course, I spent time writing these posts ;)
The videogames were frivolous, but relaxing. The dead animals were obscure, but educational. 3D pens are overrated. Making these posts took more time than I care to admit, but honed my writing skills. As I said in Part 1, your interests don’t hinge on practicality. You pursue them because they bring enjoyment to your life, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be productive as well.
OPEN TIME is just that, time you leave open to do whatever you please. If my schedule sounds like too much work, then here is more time to relax and goof off. If it seemed too light and easy, then go show the world who’s boss. If you want to throw a house party, pick up an extra shift, hit up a concert, or check out a museum, open time is the time to do it. Practice your approaches, take a hike, try out that new restaurant, or maybe just nurse your hangover from the night before. Shit, chuck eggs at your ex’s house, if it gets you out and about. You can even just use it for more leisure time, although I don’t recommend it. The best use of OPEN TIME is having experiences and maintaining a social life, again referencing Part 1.
Honestly, this post was supposed to be up yesterday morning, but I just couldn't finish in time. I mentioned at the beginning of this post that not everyone will have the time to achieve all of their goals. You won't always be able to pull things off. While that was primarily directed at the fathers and work-oriented, every man will at some point have too much on his plate. Most of the time we will have too much on our plate. We only have 24 hours in the day, and it’s on you to decide how to fill them. It is imperative that you know how to be flexible with your schedule. I know this is counterintuitive to the importance I placed on routine, but you need to understand that sometimes events are outside of your control or something more important comes up.
It's naive to think you're always going to clock out at 5pm on the dot. If you have to stay at work late, it’s going to mess with your schedule, and that’s fine! We are men! Which means we have responsibilities we have to uphold, but it also means we can handle whatever is thrown to us. But circle-jerking aside, you need to make peace with the fact that you won’t be reading your paranormal teen romance novels that night. You have to sacrifice your leisure time, or some sleep. Likewise, maybe later that week you head to the gym after work and find the place inexplicably empty, allowing you to get your workout done in half the time. Now you have extra time to play guitar or work on your screenplay.
Don’t forget to focus on your health, both physical and mental. If you’re working manual labor, it’s not the end of the world if you’re not also lifting 6 days a week. If you’re studying for your MCAT, you can put down the French studies for a few weeks. There are countless occurrences and circumstances that will either drain your time or bless you with more. You need to roll with the temporal punches.
The other aspect is planning events and outings. You might be constrained by work and school, but don’t take it too far. No one likes the loser who turns down a night out on the town because they “just really need to finish sending out these emails”. If your favorite band is playing on a Thursday night then you’re just going to have to reschedule that hot date with CodeAcademy. If you’re going on a carnival cruise for the weekend, then you leave the pottery clay at home. You might take a few days off so you can go camping in Yellowstone. You lose income, skip your workouts, and blow off your studies. But the idea is that skipping all of those things is worth the enrichment and value that experience adds to your life.
Say you go out and practice cold approaches at the park. You give yourself an hour to practice, with a goal of getting 10 phone numbers. But the first girl you go up to is sweet, receptive, and wants to get coffee right then. Are you going to turn down a girl…to practice getting girls? That’s ridiculous. You’re out practicing approaches so you can get girls. You shouldn’t turn down an opportunity just because it doesn’t arbitrarily fit your schedule.The point of improving yourself is to have a better, fuller life. Don’t let self-improvement interfere with actually living. You need to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Of course, all things in moderation. If you have a big midterm tomorrow, that bar crawl can wait. USE YOUR BASIC COMMON SENSE. As humans we make value judgements all the time. You need to decide what is and isn’t worth doing. My point is that the journey of self-improvement is not a prison sentence. It’s hard work and at times bittersweet, but ultimately it’s meant to be fulfilling and enjoyable.