every day

I feel like a wildly inconsistent person right now. The past three years have been full of change, uncertainty, and a general feeling of not knowing what happens next in my life. It has been good for me to have less certainty in my life during this season, but some of my daily habits have suffered as a result of the chaos. 

I'd like to get back to some of the things that I was doing consistently back in high school - before my schedule went out the widow during my freshman year of college. Even though high school was probably the most miserable four year time period in my life I managed to develop some solid habits that helped get me through the struggle. I think those habits would serve me well again now that I'm back in another uncertain time in life. 

Writing 

I need to write more consistently. In high school I was writing in a journal every night. My writing wasn't very good, but at least I was practicing the fundamentals daily. I got to the point that when I had to complete scholarship essays I could bang out a final draft in around 24 hours. That came in very handy when I had to apply for the Gates Millennium Scholarship during my senior year. I ended up getting one of 1,000 scholarships and had my entire undergraduate degree paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

As my career has progressed I find myself doing more, not less, important writing. It's time to get back in the habit of writing so I can take advantage of those kinds of opportunities more regularly with less stress. I'll probably try to write in this blog daily for the foreseeable future. 

Reading 

I read ferociously in high school. My typical routine involved visiting the library once per week and checking out one handful of books. (For me a handful is equal to around 1100 pages of  hardback books - it's literally just the number of books that I can fit in one hand) I'd finish those books and then read another handful the next week. 

I haven't read like that in years, thanks again to the amount of hours that I had to put in to studying during college and graduate school. Now I'm starting to visit the Champaign library regularly and I am re-discovering my love of books. Ideally I would read about 100 pages per day, but I'll probably have to work up to that over time. 

Exercise 

I was running three miles per day from my sophomore year of high school through my freshman year of college. I'm not sure why I was able to be so consistent with my running for such a long time. I assume that having a very small number of friends and no driver's license probably helped. I think I weighed around 150 pounds when I moved to college. 

Eight years later I've managed to put on 60 pounds and I can barely run a full mile before I get too tired to continue. Last summer I started doing a little bit of biking each week, but that didn't last me through the long cold winter here in Illinois. This summer I began going for runs at the MIT track and field facility that was five minutes away from my apartment in Boston. Now that I'm back in Illinois I'm trying to run at high school tracks, but I'll need to find a new plan once it gets cold in November. 

Meditation 

Reading scripture and reflecting on it should be a much bigger part of my life. I'm more content, better at communicating with others, and happier when I spend time meditating in the mornings. This is one of the disciplines that I have been the most inconsistent on in the past eight years, but it might be one of the most important. Recently I've started setting aside a few minutes in the mornings to read and reflect instead of checking in on what happened online while I slept. So far it seems to be going well. 

Solving Problems 

I'm an engineer. I've been one since before I knew what that word meant, and I've only become more of an engineer over the past several years. I've got two degrees in Mechanical Engineering (the best kind of engineering, let's be honest) and I made it through that work load by enjoying the rush that I got whenever I solved a problem. 

For the past year I've been mainly focused on solving business related problems at my startup. Those problems are interesting, but there's something special about solving a problem that has a specific, numerical answer. I've started doing a little bit more programming through sites like HackerRank. I'm also working on some side projects (see yesterday's blog post) that have specific problems to solve. Hopefully I'll have more to share on that front soon. 

So that's it. I'm going to work to be more consistent at reading, writing, exercise, meditation, and problem solving. Here's to discipline.