Throughout my own experiences and in conversation with people from different backgrounds and walks of life, I've come to realize that there are three fundamental factors that you can't offload or delegate.
Drawing the parallel with Geometry, you can think of these factors as geometric planes — surfaces that extend infinitely. These are areas you want to have under your full control in order to find the right balance and thrive. You can also continue to expand these planes throughout the years.
If you want to get past survival mode, you need to have these factors under full control. They help levelling the playing field, so you can grow and succeed towards your aspirations.
As cliché as is it may sound, the motto Mens Sana in Corpore Sano — a healthy mind in a healthy body — it is 100% true. With a healthy body and a healthy lifestyle, you're setup to achieve anything you want.
Nothing really happens if you're not fully invested and work towards your goals but, leading a healthy life can definitely boost other areas.
You'll feel better, strong, and more focused.
You'll have more energy, you'll see things clearer and will inevitably look at any challenge from a positive perspective.
Even if you're not a big fan of working out, going for a walk also works.
We spend so much time indoors and in transit, that breaking that cycle and spending some time outside is reenergizing!
Personally, I like jog around my neighbourhood. It's a very personal moment. During that time, I'm focused on listening my body, enjoying the speed of my stride, looking out for any discomfort, and reacting fast to avoid obstacles on the way. These are also moments of flow, where my body is busy keeping me in motion and my mind is free to focus on a particular idea.
Maintaining a healthy diet can also be challenging. We are regularly bombarded with tempting, mouth-watering, instagram-worthy delicacies, and sometimes it's difficult to make the call and say NO.
That's why establishing self-discipline is essential. So you can weight the trade-off and, medium to long term consequences of your choices. It seems like a burden, but it sets you up for analyzing the moment and foreseeing the second-order consequences as best as you can.
2. Financial Independence
Being financially independent is essential to unlock your personal growth. It provides you a stable safety net, so you have more flexibility to experiment. Unfortunately, not everyone can take this for granted.
Achieving financial independence is a challenging journey, like reaching the summit of a mountain.
It requires a heavy dose of discipline and self-awareness, so that you create realistic goals for yourself. You'll have to learn to evaluate the risk of every opportunity.
In the process you'll confront your previously established assumptions and habits — it's hard to say NO to dining out every other day, or stay loyal to your weekly/monthly budget.
In some extreme situations, you'll make tough decisions about what you can really afford, in order to stay afloat, or to consolidate the level of security you have achieved.
As with every habit forming and learning process, it gets better and easier over time, as long as you maintain your discipline. It's also not something that happens overnight.
You also learn about choices and practical trade-offs.
For instance, when I was a research student in Tokyo, long story short I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be in 5-month graduate exchange program, I made a conscious financial decision.
I was faced with two obvious options
- Have the time of my life, explore everything that there were to explore. Live the dream and don't look back. YOLO
- Be financial aware, save a bit of money towards my financial independence and still take advantage of being in one of the most amazing cities in the World
I chose the latter, and today I can say that I know Tokyo fairly well. All because I chose to explore the city to the fullest, walking around as many neighbourhoods as I could and living as if I was a local. It was one of the most amazing and thrilling experiences of my life. At the same time, I was making a deliberate investment in my financial independence, which ended up paying off a few months later.
3. Intellectual Stimuli
Part of developing oneself is to develop our intellect, our skills.
If you want to be a professional basketball player, you'll intuitively know everything about the sport. Not just about the schedules, the big players and popular teams but, most importantly, their skills, the techniques … the details that are invisible to the untrained eye.
Expanding our knowledge in the areas we like is extremely rewarding!
Being a constant novice and keeping our brain in learning mode, can also improve your brain plasticity and develop more and newer neural pathways. You continue to develop your brain as you continue to learn.
Pushing the boundaries of your intellect provides a continual view of what's beyond, and as it keeps compounding, you'll always find more to explore.
Just like in Geometry, there is no limit to how you can expand in each of these planes. You can also decide when is the time to focus on one or more planes.
What's certain is that, once you find your balance in this 3-Dimensional surface — combining the strengths of each individual plane — it's like you've got your bases covered.
From then on, you're off of survival mode and have a mindset that allows you to grow and continually evolve
At that point, you've created a safety net that provides you with enough security so you can venture into what intrigues you, to what seems different, exciting and challenging. You have the chance to push your boundaries and pursue your aspirations.
Developing these planes will make you stronger, more resilience and insatiably curious!
Thanks for reading!