Learning Efficiently & Becoming Mentally Strong

Often when we have opportunities in life we’ll say, “Awwww I should apply for this job but I’m not ready yet”. Or, “I should join this soccer team but I don’t think I’m good enough yet”. Or, “I should do X experience but I’m not ready”.

Visualize this. Someone is learning to ski. They go down the little hill again and again and again. At first the little hill is a bit scary, but they quickly become accustomed to it. Yet, they keep repeating this now easy task over and over again.

They’re intimidated by the challenge the big hill has waiting for them. They want to keep doing the little hill again and again to avoid the big hill. At the very least, they think repeatedly practicing the small hill will eventually make the bigger hill less scary.

This may work on some small level, but it’s important to recognize that repeating easy tasks has diminishing returns. While skiing down the little hill may continue to be fun, the pace at which you’re learning slows the longer you attempt the same task and expose yourself to the same repeating stimuli. This is an important realization, but one you probably don’t want to acknowledge.

We like doing things we’re good at. We don’t want to hear that the best way to improve is to do the things we’re not fully comfortable with. It means we have to face our fears.

It means doing things that may feel awkward or uncomfortable to us. We may have to change our perspective or attempt to expand our minds in ways that are mentally exhausting or frustrating.

Put simply, reaching your potential is impossible if you only repeat a small number of tasks you’re already comfortable with. Of course, there’s a balance too. If you stretch yourself too far you’ll learn inefficiently.

You shouldn’t be studying CSS if you don’t know basic HTML yet. If you’re learning English you shouldn’t study words like ‘Abolish’ or ‘Accumulation’ before you’re comfortable with more basic vocabulary like ‘fast’ or ‘smile’.

Inefficient learning is the best case scenario of this approach as well. More likely, you’ll just give up. You’ll claim learning to code or learning English “just wasn’t for me”.  Dangerous.

The best way to learn things, and the best way to expand your comfort zone is to do something one step or level beyond your current abilities.

If you’ve become comfortable with HTML, learn CSS. If traveling across the country doesn’t feel challenging to you, travel to another country. When giving a speech to 10 people stops being scary, give a presentation to 20 people.

Do the things that challenge you. Do the things that scare you. Before long, they’ll cease to be challenging or scary. Your abilities and comfort zone will have expanded. When this happens, you’ll know it’s time to move on to life’s next challenge for you 🙂

4 Reasons to Drink Water While Working

Everyone knows that drinking water is important for your health. Drinking lots of water hydrates the body, helps you control the number of calories you consume, assists the kidney in flushing out toxins, yadayadayada. We’ve all heard it before.

Yet, many people still aren’t drinking enough water. Some are so perpetually dehydrated that that they don’t even realize they need to drink more water.

Whether the health benefits of getting enough water haven’t been enough to encourage you to increase your intake, or you simply need a reminder to drink more water, this post is for you.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an entrepreneur, startup founder, independent professional, or digital nomad… you can’t afford to let something as trivial as you water intake limit your ability to produce great work.

Here are the top reasons you need to drink water while working.

#1 Your Brain Will Function Better

Research suggests that reaction times (as well as other brain functions) decrease after you become dehydrated. These decreases are also in proportion to how dehydrated you are.

In other words, you can still produce near your productive peak if you’re only a little dehydrated. On the other hand, fatigue and concentration could become a serious issue when you’re severely dehydrated.
Working at Computer

#2 You’ll Make Better Beverage Choices

When you’re dehydrated, you’re going to crave some type of drink. Why not let it be water? Getting your drinks from the coffee shop is problematic because you don’t always know what exactly is in them.

Especially if you’re living abroad, some countries like to add lots of garbage to your drinks. Condensed milk, sugar, yogurt, syrup, and ice cream have a way of finding their way into coffee chop drinks.

Drinking water is an easy alternative. You’ll be healthier, and you’ll also avoid large sugar crashes that’ll leave you feeling sluggish and unable to do your best work.

Ice-Cream

#3 You’ll Save Money

Are you bootstrapping a startup? Limiting your costs is one of the best ways to extend your runway. Avoiding expensive drinks and simply opting for water is an easy way to save money each day.

$2 on a coffee here and $3 on a smoothie there may not seem like much, but it quickly adds up. You don’t need to be a startup founder to benefit from these cost savings, however.

Employees or freelancers can also benefit from reducing their costs as well. As an employee, limiting your expenses can leave you with more money to invest in educational products, or courses.

Freelancers with low living expenses have the option of freelancing fewer hours, to develop new skills or invest time into building a more long-term scalable business.

Mlik-Smoothie

#4 You’ll Go to The Bathroom More Often

Drinking more water inevitably means that you’ll have to go to the bathroom more. Many people see this as an inconvenience. It’s not.

Having to go to the bathroom every hour or so can actually turbo charge your productivity because it forces you to change your body’s positioning. Most people sit way too much. Worse yet, they spend their already excessive sitting time seated with poor posture.

What’s the solution? Standing or walking desks are a great option. If your circumstances require you to sit all day, however, periodically standing and moving can be a great way to reduce the negative effects of sitting too much.

Of course, actually disciplining yourself to stretch every hour is difficult. Fortunately, drinking lots of water will force you to stand up and walk to the bathroom every now and then.

These occasional break will help you maintain your body’s posture and structural integrity over time. They’ll also allow you to feel more energetic and focused in the time you do spend working. Water for the win!

Vietnamese Bathroom

Conclusion

While water isn’t going to transform you into the next Mark Zuckerberg over night, your career or business will benefit from you increasing your water intake. With this change being so trivially easy to make, there’s no reason not to claim all the advantages a well hydrated body brings!

Why You Should Date Many Girls Before Committing to One

Like many young romantics, I always had the belief that I was going to marry the first girl I kissed or the first girl I had sex with. That of course didn’t happen, but why do a lot of young guys want that?

I believe it’s because many men that are inexperienced with women feel they’ve gotten lucky when they finally land a solid girl. When you finally get a girl you believe could be a halfway decent partner it’s easy to cling to here as a guy without much dating experience.

The most common reason being that you’re not confident you’d have the ability to replace her. Or, at least replace her in a reasonable amount of time. Another possibility is that you’re clinging to the (mostly) Hollywood fantasy of high school sweethearts, and you’re willing to stay with an inferior girl just because you believe she’s somehow inherently better for being the first girl to date you.

Finally, you may believe that you’re capable of replacing your girlfriend, but that you just don’t want be single again. That’s understandable. Going out to the bars, or swiping on Tinder, or however you meet girls is fun at first but can get old after a while. It can also be scary, especially for a guy that hasn’t yet been desensitized to the fear of rejection.

All of these reasons to prolong a relationship with a girl lessen over time as you acquire more experience with women. After you’ve been with a handful or perhaps dozen of girls (depending on the guy), you’ll realize that you can get another girl if the first one starts treating you poorly.

You’ll also realize that while you may have a soft spot for the first relationship of your life, you’d much rather have a higher quality girl rather than just the first girl that would tolerate being in a relationship with you.

Of course, these are just the reasons inexperienced guys often stay in a relationship longer than they should. More important, however, is understanding why you shouldn’t do this. That way, you can avoid getting stuck in a relationship that’s not going to make you happy or give you the ability to reach your potential.

Basically, the two reasons getting in a relationship before dating lots of girls is a bad idea are as follows:

  1. You won’t know exactly what you want in a girlfriend.

This is pretty self-explanatory. You need to date a crazy girl to know that while she’s fun, she might not be the best partner to raise your children or support you in building a successful business or career.

Likewise, dating a career-oriented woman may feel too competitive to you. Or, maybe you’ll like always having someone to talk about business with and push you to grow. However, you won’t know exactly what girl is right for you until you’ve sampled a lot of flavors.

The big problem is that everybody tends to fall hard for their first girlfriend. They make her into some perfect butterfly and magically overlook all of her flaws. Unfortunately, overlooking those flaws doesn’t make them go away.

Often your infatuation will hide the fact that while you two are a decent match, you do have fundamental incompatibilities that would prevent you from being together long-term. However, as you get older and have more dating experience you’ll be able to have a more objective experience in evaluating your level of compatibility with a woman.

2. You Won’t Know How to Structure the Relationship

There was a lot of things I did wrong in my first relationship. I wasn’t sexual enough, I was overly frugal, and I allowed myself to become emotionally dependent on the girl a bit too often. I’m better at managing all of those aspects of a relationship now. Likewise, you’ll do lots of things wrong in your first relationship too.

Fortunately, as you gain experience with women, read about evolutionary psychology, and grow older, you’ll gain a much better understanding of woman. You’ll better understand how to relate to them, but also how to structure your relationship with them.

You won’t be scared of losing any specific girl, and for that reason you won’t be afraid to set boundaries with your girl. You won’t let her walk all over you and she’ll love you for that.

Conclusion

While marrying and being together forever with the first girl you kiss or marry is possible, I wouldn’t be too concerned about trying to engineer your life to guarantee that outcome. There’s just too many variables to try to control. Plus, there’s so many advantages to dating 3, 5, 10, or even 20 girls before you choose the one you’re going to be with long-term.

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Picture is of the romantic hangout of young couples in Saigon, Turtle Lake. This is my last girl post for a long time. 2015 and 2016 were big dating years for me, and thus my mind is still in a bit of a dating and getting girls space.

Maybe I’ll get back to the girl stuff again one day, but for the coming months I’ll be talking a lot more about travel, personal development, personal branding/social media, and possibly coworking spaces.

Btw, I’m becoming a lot more active on social media these days. Please be sure to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Tweet me @camchardukian on Twitter or send me a DM on Instagram to request new blog posts or just say hi! 

 

Your Dreams Must Come Before Your Girl(s)

Women love powerful men. However, even more than that, women love having power over their man. At least they believe this on a subconscious level. More often, the reality is that a women will begin to resent you once she’s tied your balls in a knot. If a women believes you’re living your life in reaction to her, she’s not going to respect you.

This doesn’t mean you can’t be supportive of your woman and love her. Rather, it simply means that as a man you have to have a mission for yourself. You need to have a direction you’re going and invite her on that journey with you. Of course, your woman can have her own goals too. That’s healthy. You can encourage your girl to lose weight, or learn a new language, or develop skills for her career.

The problem is when you place your girlfriend’s needs above your own because you’re afraid of losing her. Cheering your girlfriend on to go to the gym or spend 30 minutes reading books every night is an awesome way to be supportive in a healthy relationship.

Sacrificing your own goals and dreams for your girlfriend because you’re scared she’ll leave you otherwise, however, is exactly what you don’t want to be doing. I’ll give an example from my own life. I’ve recently become financially stable as a freelance writer. Because of this increased financial stability, I’ll spend some time this year traveling away from Vietnam and exploring the rest of Southeast Asia.

Maybe I’ll stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand or Bali, Indonesia for a few months. Maybe I’ll travel indefinitely. I’m not quite sure yet, but I’ve invited my girlfriend to come with. However, I understand that long distance relationships don’t work. That’s why when inviting her I explained that she doesn’t have to come with on this adventure, but that we couldn’t be together if she stayed in Vietnam.

Is that mean? What if she wanted to stay in Vietnam? While this is an incredible opportunity for her to see the world, she’ll have to spend a lot of time away from her family and friends to do so. Plus, she’ll have to put any “real” job in Vietnam on hold to travel with me, learn new skills and support my business.

I hope she comes with, and I think joining me on this journey would be an awesome choice for her life. However, I’ve clearly put a breakup on the table, and doing that required me not to be afraid to lose my girl. Yet in the end, I know one thing.

If a man doesn’t follow his dreams because of a woman, he will usually come to resent that woman. More than that, the woman will resent him. She’ll see that he didn’t go after what he really wanted in life because he was too afraid to lose her. That’s why you can never be afraid of breaking up with a girl.

If you place her before your dreams, you’ll lose your dreams. Plus, you’ll usually lose your girl too. At the very least you’ll lose her respect, and a relationship without that isn’t worth it anyway.

On the other hand, if you follow your dreams… that’s where all the potential in the world is. Your old girl will come along for the ride if it was meant to be. If she doesn’t, it’s irrelevant. It doesn’t matter.

You’ll have your dreams, which were the most important thing for you. Ironically, you’ll still get girls in the end on this path because you’ll be fulfilled and content with your life. That my friends, is what draws the girls in.

Jordan B Peterson’s 9 Rules of the Political Correctness Game

Note from Cam: These 9 rules were taken from Jordan B. Peterson’s video here. In this post I list professor Peterson’s rules as well as my take on them. His rules are bolded, while my personal interpretation of his ideas are listed below the bolded rules.

It’s important to remember that I don’t believe in minorities being treated cruelly. I don’t want to ever go outside and see a black man getting whipped just because of the color of his skin.

However, I also believe facts are more important than feelings. For example, Trump’s intent to indefinitely prevent refugees from Syria entering the U.S. cannot be accurately labeled as racist or Muslim hating.

While the majority of those people may genuinely have good intentions, some of them do not. Even Syria’s president said that some of the refugees were “definitely” terrorists. Even if just a small number of these potential immigrants had bad intentions, let’s remember it took less than 20 terrorists to pull off the historical attack on 9/11.

In short — people deserve to be treated with respect, but we must also stick with facts. We can’t be overly concerned about people that get easily offended. Black men tend to be more successful than whites at basketball.

This could be genetic in nature, but mostly it seems to be because of a higher number of blacks growing up in poor neighborhoods where getting to the NBA is seen as the only way out of the hood… basketball is the only option because it’s the only chance for a good life. This doesn’t make it wrong for whites to be underrepresented in the NBA, it just is what it is.

Women tend to be better at caring for children because women tend to have more nurturing personalities than men. Men on the other hand tend to be better at programming because our brains tend to be more logical.

It’s not that a man can’t care well for a baby, or that a woman can’t be a programmer. It’s just people tend to excel in the areas of their natural strengths, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Now, let’s get to the rules of the political correctness game.

Identify an area of human activity

Choose anything. It can be success in programming, salaries, relationships, whatever.

Note a distribution of success

Observe that everyone in that area isn’t getting 100% identical results.

Identify winners and losers

See who is being most successful. For example, men dominate the field of programming.

Claim that the losers are losing only because they are oppressed by the winners.

Choose to believe for example, that men are only more successful programmers because they actively try to hold women down.

Claim allegiance with the losers

In this example, one can join the group of other women being held back and kicked down by the evil men of the world.

Feel secure in your comprehensive explanation of the world

Women could then have a simple explanation of why they were not successful as developers.

Revel in your moral superiority

Women can then feel superior to men because they can claim that they’d never be so barbaric or against the minorities in a similar situation.

Target your resentment towards your newly discovered enemies

Women can then lash out against men.

Repeat. Forever. Everywhere.

Yadadada, you get it. Once you create a reality built upon rationalizations it’s excruciatingly difficult to climb out of it. Taking responsibility for their lives is something most people would prefer not to do, and political correctness is a way to avoid that responsibility.

Moreover, it’s a way to avoid emotionally maturing and stretching yourself to think in a nuanced way that would actually allow you to understand why the world works the way it does.

High School — What I Did Right

As I said in my last post, there were a lot of things I wish I would’ve done differently in high school. However, there were far more things I did right. I’m so grateful to high school Cameron for setting 20 year old Cameron up for a good life.

Hopefully you learned yesterday about some things you’ll want to avoid doing in high school. Today let’s talk about what I did right in high school, and gain even more knowledge about how you’ll want to structure your life as a high school student.

Be Physically Active

I was extremely physically active my entire high school career. I usually lifted weights 2-3 times per week, and juggled for several hours each day. Soccer was also a big part of my life for my first two years of high school. All of this resulted in me being in great shape my entire high school career.

The benefits of being physically active can’t be overstated. You’ll have increased energy, more positive emotions, and be perceived as more attractive by everyone. This is probably the most simple way to make your life better in high school.

Simply hit the weights a few times a week. Focus mostly on weights if you’re an ectomorph (naturally skinny) like me. Weekly cardio can be beneficial too, especially if you have a heavier natural body type. Naturally bulky guys can even add several sessions of cardio in each week if they want.

Generally speaking, the more you exercise the better. I get that overtraining is possible. One summer I practiced juggling 5-6 hours per day in addition to being in the weight room 3-4 days a week. That was probably too much. Most people will never reach anywhere close to overtraining though.

Just try to get 30-60 minutes of exercise per day in. You’re doing great if you can get 5-10 hours of moderate intensity exercise each week. Bonus points if you get that exercise as part of a sports team because being part of a sports time will help you make more friends.

It’ll also let you ride on the bus to away games, and get into fun shenanigans with your friends. Some of my best memories of high school were traveling to away games. The days we’d have too many people on the bus and those poor JV kids would have to sit three guys to a seat.

The awkward times someone would try to change clothes on the bus. The naps we’d take on long bus rides. The time a guy had to go to the bathroom so bad he peed in a Gatorade bottle on the bus. Hahaha, I wonder where you are these days Tony…

Utilize Down Time In School

When you’re in an easy class and the teacher is ranting about stuff you already know… Get homework from another class and start working on it. If the teacher puts in a movie without giving you a worksheet, consider doing homework or studying for other classes.

If you’re working in a classroom with computers, try to finish your projects early. Once you’ve completed all your projects for that class get to work on another class.

If there’s no homework or material you need to be reviewing, don’t use that as an excuse to watch cat videos. Instead, get on Duolingo and start learning a language. Or, learn some basic computer programming on codecademy.

Always be working on something. You’ve got to hustle in high school to give yourself a chance for an awesome future. Don’t waste time on Facebook, or Angry Birds, or whatever you guys are playing in school now.

Be focused. The only time not to be working is when you’re laughing with your friends, or getting conversational experience with someone of the opposite sex.

If you suffer from social anxiety, or are socially awkward it’s a bit different. You can always work on your school work and personal projects at home. However, if you’re not getting invited to many social events you need to work on your social skills somewhere.

Sufferers of social anxiety can spend their down time in school practicing their conversational abilities with others. That may be the best use of your extra time in school. It often was for me when I was younger.

P.S. I took this no wasted time philosophy to the extreme. It was almost impossible to find me in the cafeteria my last couple years of high school. I would only go to lunch if I had one of my two or three best friends in my lunch period. If I didn’t have friends in my lunch that I’d have AMAZING laughs with, I simply didn’t waste my time going.

There’s a time for fun. However, sometimes socializing can be somewhat boring if it’s people you don’t click with. If that’s the case, just don’t go to lunch. I spent my second half of high school skipping lunch. Some days I’d sit in the library reading a book by Sam Walton or Eckhart Tolle.

Other days you’d see me juggling in the quiet hallways in the school. I technically wasn’t supposed to be skipping lunch. Occasionally teachers would tell me to go to lunch.

When they did, I’d just pretend I had been ignorant to the rules. Then, I’d go and continue juggling in another quiet corridor a hundred meters away. Just do whatever it takes to make the most of your time.

Do Work Study

My high school allowed me to earn credits by spending 1/2 the day working a job my senior year of high school. If your high school has a similar program, DO IT. You’ll stack some cash, gain experience interacting with people of different ages and backgrounds, and you’ll also have a lot less homework.

I worked at Dairy Queen and volunteered at my old elementary school during my senior year of high school. I learned a lot more about the world my senior year working and volunteering, than I did in Astronomy class.

Definitely take advantage of this program if your school has it.

Go to the Dances + Games

I was really nervous about going to the dances in high school. I’m so happy I went to them though. Homecoming was so much fun. Everyone will also talk about the dances all the time, and they’re going to think you’re weird if you don’t go to the dances. I’m not one for caring about what others think, but there’s a lot of reasons to go to these dances.

The dances are meant to be fun, you’ll have a chance to bond with your friends, get invitations to parties, and they’re a great opportunity to grind eeeeer… dance with girls.

On the same note, also go to the football games if they’re big at your school. I wouldn’t even watch the football games when I went. I’d just talk and hang out with people during them.

They’re a great place to meet people and catch up with friends. The best part about the football games is that they’re like giant parties that everyone gets invited to.

It doesn’t matter if you’re popular. It doesn’t matter if you’re a good athlete, you’re invited because it’s your school. It’s nice to have a fun social event every couple weeks that you don’t have to make any effort to organize.

Take Foreign Language Classes

I took a year of German plus every single Spanish class my school had available. Since graduating, the only skill I learned in school that’s been of any real value is my ability to speak Spanish. If language classes don’t interest you, take shop classes. Learning to fix your car, or build something from wood is of some practical value too.

Of course, you’ll need math and science classes if you’re planning to continue onwards to university. If we’re just talking real-world though, focus heavily on language and/or shop classes.

Eat Healthy

I was a little bit too extreme with my diet in high school as I noted in yesterday’s post. However, eating healthy at least 90% of the time is a great habit to get into. You’ll have more energy, feel better about yourself, and be more attractive to others. You’ll also have increased mental focus that’ll act as a multiplier for all of your other endeavors.

Say Yes + Try New Things

Do stuff. You’re young, now is the time to say yes. Don’t get into any drugs, or things that could damage your future, but try activities you haven’t tried before. Go to that new restaurant with your friends, go to the beach, try asking that girl out. Be bold. Be brave. Now is the time to screw up before you’ve got a lot more responsibility on your shoulders.

Learn Skills

When I was in high school I became a bad ass juggler, learned conversational Spanish, and became an experienced blogger and Youtuber. Use every moment you have to build useful skills for your future. Your future self will thank you everyday.

Read

Most of my best ideas weren’t my ideas. They’re simply ideas I borrowed or combined from other sources. Read about evolutionary psychology, read about finance, read about developing your relationships with women. Read books from great people, and apply the ideas in your own life.

Graduate Early

Probably the best part of my high school experience was finishing a semester before everyone else. If you graduate school 90 days early and save 8 hours a day… Do you see the time savings? If you feel you’re not learning useful stuff in school, do what I did. Graduate early if humanely possible, and use that time to do something cool.

I explored a half dozen countries in Asia, did my first internship, lost my virginity, released a juggling course, got a new job in my hometown and more in the several months my peers were still in school. If you’re going to hustle, graduate early and take advantage of that extra time.

Conclusion

High school can be a lot of fun. I know sometimes I got down on myself in high school. You probably will too. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll do all kinds of Dipshit stuff. But enjoy it. High school is four years of your life. Make them count.

My life is a lot more enjoyable now than it was in high school, but it’s also more stressful. With control of your life comes responsibility. Enjoy having relatively little responsibility, and while you’re in high school give yourself a head start on the rest of your life like I did if you’re so inclined.

Most of all, appreciate high school. Every day is a moment of your life. Of course your situation probably isn’t ideal, but make the most of it. Have fun, create memories that’ll last you a lifetime, learn, and prepare yourself for whatever type of experiences you’d like to have after high school.

High School — What I’d Have Done Differently

I graduated high school in January 2015. I’m pretty happy with the way I approached high school. I ended up in a pretty good spot today — Traveling the world and having a range of experiences that I couldn’t have even conceived of just a few years ago.

However, human beings are a constant work of progress. Over the last two years in the “real world,” I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that you can’t manifest money just by having an abundance mindset.

I’ve learned that you aren’t a special snowflake just because you realize that Corporate America doesn’t care much about how fulfilled you feel in your job.

Let’s stop blabbering about different theories though, and get to exactly what I’d have done differently in high school. More importantly, let’s talk about how you young cats out there should approach high school.

Be More Flexible With Your Diet

When I was in high school I didn’t realize that being too rigid cost me a lot of friendships. I could have been invited to a lot more stuff if I hadn’t been so rigid in some of my ideals.

For example, I was vegan or (close enough to it) for basically my entire high school career. I think I often made my friends feel uncomfortable when I wouldn’t eat animal-based products with them.

I still got invited to some parties and gatherings, but I’m sure my friends often felt uncomfortable because they didn’t know what I’d eat when I came over. They also wouldn’t ever want to go a restaurant with me because I’d just sit there without eating and everyone would feel a little uncomfortable.

It’s the same thing with my girlfriend these days. She’ll pressure me to eat a little ice cream. Or, she’ll say baby open your mouth and she’ll feed me a little of her banana cake.

If this was 3-4 years ago I would’ve told her no. In fact, my brother once offered me $100 to eat a single skittle and I refused on principle.

I was so rigid in the belief that unhealthy foods are evil, and that so much as a taste of them would be extremely harmful. I thought that a single bite of unhealthy food would bring back my cravings for them that had long subsided.

I thought that those cravings would be a constant tax on my willpower. Thus, no matter what happened, I refused to eat even the smallest portions of unhealthy foods.

In retrospect, this attitude was far too extreme. It ignored the fact that there’s social bonding benefits to eating and spending time with others.

These social benefits far outweigh any negligible health effect that would come from eating a piece of cake or what not once a week.

Now for you kids still in high school, don’t use this as an excuse to eat like a pig. Your diet should be clean 90% or more of the time for optimal results.

However, there’s no need to stress about having a cheat meal and piece of cake with your friends once a week or so. Just adhere to your diet when you’re alone.

Be as close to perfect when your friend aren’t around and you can loosen up for maybe one or two meals each week with them. Just don’t make your time with friends revolve around unhealthy foods.

You’ll certainly benefit from being more flexible with your diet than I was in high school. Ironically, the stress you’ll relieve from spending time with friends will probably be a far bigger benefit than a 2% cleaner diet.

Don’t Be Afraid of the “Popular” Kids

I was pretty popular my first two or three months in high school. That was because I made a varsity sport, was willing to make a clown of myself, and talked to everyone before they formed their groups they’d stay in for the rest of high school.

After that, however, I was probably average as far as popularity was concerned. I didn’t care about being popular because I saw the things popular people talked about as being superficial. They’d talk about this celebrity or going to do drink at somebody’s house on the weekend.

I didn’t care about any of that. For that reason, I mostly just sat with people I played with on the soccer. The only problem… I usually sat with all guys. No wonder I never had a girlfriend in high school.

Even now, I still don’t care what anybody in high school talked about. You know what though? The people from the soccer team didn’t talk about many constructive things either.

In truth, basically everyone in high school is figuring out who they are. Not many ideas of real significance are going to be discussed at a high school lunch table. You’re not sitting with high level business owners masterminding.

For that reason I should’ve, and you should focus on what you can learn in high school. You can learn how to socially interact with others, have a good time, and get some experience with girls.

To fulfill this goal, the “best” people to interact with are the popular kids. The popular circle is also going to be the group with most of the good athletes and attractive girls.

You know what that means? You’ll easily find a lifting/exercise buddy. Plus, now you’ll have an in with the most attractive girls. I get that these girls aren’t cultured, and you’re probably not going to have the most intellectually stimulating conversations with them.

But, that’s basically all girls. That’s basically all people. When I was hanging out with my soccer friends and the other random guys that sat at my lunch table, I was hanging out with a lot of guys that were in decent shape at best.

A lot of those guys were also scared to talk to girls, or simply didn’t know how to structure their relationships with women. They lacked experience, and they weren’t going to be getting it any time soon. That’s not to hate on my old soccer friends. I loved them, and love them more by the day.

It’s just saying, however, that you should want to spend your time with people that can move you forward in life. Having fun is important too, but usually the top 10% of people socially are also those that are having the most fun.

In short — don’t be scared of attractive people. Sure, they’re superficial in high school. I get that some of them are absolute pieces of shit too.

So, just pick the friendly popular guys and get lifting with them. Chat with the not completely superficial girls in that social circle and practice socially interacting with them.

You’ll gain discipline from lifting, probably have more fun than you would’ve with the people that are bitter about not being “popular,” and you’ll become more comfortable being in the presence of high-status guys and attractive women.

That my friend, is something that’ll be valuable for you long after you graduate high school.

Get a Job as Soon as You Can

Look, most of the jobs you can get as a high school student are going to suck. Trust me, I know. I worked at Dairy Queen. I lucked into my position at one of the local Dairy Queens because my brother had worked there before me.

You might even have trouble getting a shitty job. Keep trying though. You won’t want to work that shitty job forever. However, a year or two of retail or fast food experience can be really valuable.

I’m not talking in the traditional resume sense, though it could prove to be fairly useful there too. I’m saying that job could be useful in terms of cash flow.

Getting a job in high school guarantees that you’re going to have several hundred dollars of income each month. Save $100 a week and you could have $10,000 after two years. That’s enough to live in Asia fairly comfortably for a year.

Getting a job will also teach you the value of money. You’re likely to spend your money a lot more wisely when it’s not simply being handed to you from Mommy.

I was always disciplined in saving money, but what I most learned from working at Dairy Queen was the value of time and skill sets.

I learned that I could make a living at Dairy Queen if I wanted to. You can certainly survive as an individual on the US minimum wage. It’s not fun. However, unless you’re living in a super high cost of living city like NYC or have a family to support you could certainly scrape by.

Did I want to be doing that though? Of course not. That taught me that money is important. I learned that doing something you love may be valuable, but so are skills.

Being skilled will allow you to have control of your time and allow you to make enough money to do the things you love. Just recently I began working as a freelance writer for a startup.

I make a Western hourly wage, and can work from wherever I want in the world. I can also work at whatever time I want. I now have almost complete autonomy over my life (provided I stay with this startup).

I make enough money to do most of the things I want, and I’m in control of my life. I’m only in this position now, however, because I’d written hundreds of articles in the past to improve my writing abilities.

Now we’re ranting… What’s the point? The point is I wish I would’ve gotten a job sooner. I could’ve saved more money, had more interactions thrown my way to practice my social skills, and I would’ve learned earlier on how important it is to build a valuable skillset.

Conclusion

While there’s probably countless other things I did wrong, these stand out to me as my biggest mistakes from high school. These are the things I’d change if I had the chance to go back in time.

Of course, I’ve been pretty dialed in on lifestyle optimization since I was 14 years old. For that reason, my mishaps are probably fairly minor compared to others. This post is probably most useful to you if you’re already hustling fairly hard.

Tomorrow, however, we’ll discuss what I did right in high school. That may be a more relevant read for you if you’re a young cat just starting out with personal development and lifestyle optimization.

Keep reading kid. Keep learning. I know life can get pretty tough in high school at times. Never give up though. Work on your skills and never stop hustling. Your life could be amazing in just a few years.

Two years ago I was just finishing high school. Now I’m able to travel and have relationships with exotic girls I never dreamt I’d ever be with. This could be you too. Just keep hustling. The world could be at your fingertips soon.

Listen To Your Mentors ESPECIALLY When You Feel Emotional Resistance

You’re going to have a lot of difficult decisions in your life. Should you break up with your girlfriend? Should you approach that cute girl? Should you move to a different city? These are all very difficult decisions.

When making a tough decision, it’s often wise to consider what out mentors would do. Would my mentor go to the gym if he was tired after work? If the answer is yes, you’d better put your shoes on. Would my role model approach and introduce himself to a girl he found attractive? Probably, so I better do it too.

Of course, sometimes you’ll know on an intellectual level what your mentor would do. You’ll say, I know if my mentor was in this situation he would do CHOICE A. However, you may feel emotional resistance because you know this is something that’s very difficult to do. CHOICE A isn’t always the easy choice.

For example, I once knew that I should break up with a girl, but I procrastinated doing so for over a month. I knew my mentor would’ve broken up with the girl if he was in the same situation, but it just wasn’t something I wanted to face.

After more than a month of procrastinating I finally did it. It was a difficult night, but almost immediately afterwards I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. The month after I made that choice I was happier than I’d been in a long time.

Another example was the first time I flew to Asia. There was a large part of me that was excited, but I was also suuuuper scared. I considered intentionally missing my flight. However, I knew on an intellectual level that getting on that plane and coming to Asia was the thing I needed at that point in my soul’s development.

For that reason I got on the plane. Fast forward two years later, and I’m grateful I made that decision almost everyday of my life. Do you understand the lesson?

Sometimes you’re going to feel emotional resistance when being forced to make difficult decisions. When you know something is the right choice on an intellectual level, you’ll often feel resistance and try to make rationalizations to avoid making the right choice. It’s up to you to ignore those rationalizations.

Understand that when you make the right choice for those difficult decisions, your life will improve in an amount proportional to the amount of resistance you felt.

It’s that resistance that was intended to keep you in the same place, doing the same thing. Transcend that resistance, and you’ll transcend your current limits. Of course, you’ll have to continually repeat this process, but that’s life 🙂

2016 Review: What Did and Didn’t Work

While 2016 wasn’t as personally dramatic as 2015 was, 2016 was still a busy year. Before we go into a deeper analysis of what did and didn’t work, let’s take a quick look at each month of the year.

January — Committed to making 2016 the year I gained enough experience with women to have either:
A: a rotation of reasonably attractive girls.
B: A physically attractive girlfriend that had a good personality, and would also be compatible with my lifestyle.
In addition, I visited Penang, Malaysia for the first time this month. I believe it was this trip that created a year-long obsession with Indian food amongst both me, and my girl.

beach in penang

February — Visited with my parents, aunt, and brother in Vietnam. Also took a trip to Mui Ne, Vietnam with the girl that would eventually become my girlfriend.

pho with parents in Vietnam

March — Traveled to Da Nang (pictured below) and Hoi An, Vietnam.

Da Nang

April — Traveled to Can Tho, and Cao Lanh, Vietnam for the first time. Had the opportunity to go on a boat in Can Tho and see a floating market for the first time. Also began using Baselang to revive my Spanish which had been neglected for nearly two years.

floating market can tho

May — Visited Phnom Penh, Cambodia for the first time. Unfortunately, I had quite a traumatic trip, but can be grateful that things didn’t end up even worse. Continued using Baselang until I reached a comfortable conversational level of Spanish at the end of the month. Also created an unsuccessful men’s health niche site this month (this project was later terminated) in an attempt to learn more about affiliate marketing. Traveled internationally with my primary girl to Penang, Malaysia. Finally, I learned how to drive a motorbike.

my motorbike

(The motorbike I spent a month learning to drive with.)

June — Had a fairly serious health crisis. I also attempted to learn to program and improve my Vietnamese. Both projects I quit shortly after beginning them. The project I didn’t quit this month, however, was learning to write sales copy. Going on the advice of copywriting legend Gary Halbert, I spent one month spending a minimum of 1 hour per day copying famous sales letters by hand. This greatly improved my ability to write in persuasive manner.

copying sales letters

July — Began working on a university degree, and visited my hometown in the U.S. for the first time in a year. I also had the opportunity to try rock climbing for the first time.

rock climbing

August — Had an uncle fly into Wisconsin from Texas for a surprise visit while I was in the US. We spent some time at a festival together (pictured below). Also came back to Vietnam from the US, and made MASSIVE progress with university. Began calling the primary girl I’d been seeing all year my girlfriend.

home in usa

September — Visited Da Nang again, (this time with my girlfriend) and went ice skating for the first time! Also went on a HUGE Ferris wheel and my first rollercoaster in years. Equally important, I spent a lot of time working this month, and had one of my most professionally productive months ever since I began living in Asia.

ice skating da nang

October — Spent about 45 minutes per day learning Esperanto — The most popular constructed language ever created. Reached a basic level (Able to say ‘I love you’, the ‘colors’ the names of various animals, simple sentences, etc). Continued making rapid progress with the university courses I’d been taking on Straighterline.

Learning Esperanto

November — Began a month-long juicing feast. I paid a few hundred dollars for the month, and in exchange I’d head to a smoothies/juice shop near my house to pick-up five healthy smoothies and juices each day. This was extremely useful in increasing my intake of fruits and vegetables here in Vietnam.

smoothies and juices

December — Probably the best month of the year. After earning 57 college credits in 5 months (basically half of a four year degree) using CLEP and Straighterline, I decided to put my degree on hold and begin learning computer programming. I also celebrated one year since the day I met my girlfriend last year by going to one of the most famous restaurants in Ho Chi Minh. We went to Noir, a fine dining in the dark restaurant. I also acted as Santa during a performance for around 700-800 children at an elementary school. Finally, I landed an exciting new position as a content creator at an innovative tech company.

Cameron as Santa

Review

Now that we’ve seen the major events of the year, let’s take a little time to diagnose what did and didn’t work. More importantly, lets identify why certain decisions led to the various successes and failures of the year.

What Worked in 2016

WIN #1 Women

I completely transformed my dating life this year. Just over a year ago I was unsure of what the dating market was going to hold for me after ending things with my ex-girlfriend. I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. Although I spent more time chasing tail the first half of the year than I’d like to admit, I did learn a lot.

I gained a lot of confidence in my social skills, and attractiveness as a man. I ended the year with a girl that’s physically attractive, sweet, and loving. More importantly, I developed a more masculine presence that allows girls to both have fun AND feel safe around me. I also gained the confidence to walk away from girls, as I’m now confident in my abilities to find another attractive woman to date fairly quickly.

As far as the girl I’m dating now, the great thing about her is that she appears to be quite compatible with my travel lifestyle. We’ve already taken several trips together. If all goes well, I’ll groom her from being just a girlfriend into a dynamic travel partner the latter half of 2017. After she graduates she has the potential to become my business assistant and partner on the road as I become more nomadic over the next year or so.

Why was this area of life a success this year? Because I spent the first half of the year going on lots of dates, pushing myself to try new things with girls, not accepting a dating situation I was anything less than overjoyed about, and voraciously examining my behaviors for what did and didn’t work in my interactions.

girlfriend made food (To respect her privacy, I’m simply uploading a meal my girlfriend has cooked for me, rather than a picture of her.)

WIN #2 Travel

I traveled to just one new country this year (Cambodia), but I also traveled to Penang (twice) and a number of new cities in Vietnam. I also had the opportunity to visit the US after living abroad for a year. It was quite interesting how little had changed back home, and how quickly I adjusted to being back in the US.

This year I learned a TON about Vietnam, and also gained a lot of experience in traveling with a partner. While I do enjoy solo travel, I enjoy traveling with someone I enjoy spending time with even more as it gives me someone to share the new experiences with.

Phnom Penh palace

WIN #3 University

I wasn’t sure whether I should call this a success or failure. Using CLEP exams, and the Straighterline website I managed to accumulate 57 college credits in just 5 months. If I’d have continued my studies I could’ve very realistically finished a bachelor’s degree in under a year of part-time studying. That’s cool, but where would that have led me? Most likely, teaching English abroad, which is something you can already do without a degree in much of Asia (albeit less officially).

I may still finish my degree at some point considering it’ll take just a few thousands dollars, and likely under 500 hours of studying. Yet, I just don’t know how useful a degree will prove to be for me. Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t have spent any money or time doing university courses this year. Yet, I’m still going to consider this 2016 university campaign a success considering I did something most people could only dream of doing.

Straighterline English Essay

WIN #4 Landing New Gigs

Although I haven’t been actively marketing my content creation and SEO services, I’ve landing some solid article and SEO client work this year. This has mostly been a result of past seeds I’ve planted. The majority of work I’ve received has come from referrals and clients that were impressed with blog posts that I’d written months or even years ago.

I’m happy to have been receiving this work passively, and not have had to do much outreach in order to obtain it. That has greatly increased my hourly rate when I have spent time doing online work.

Of course, I’ve still had to deliver outstanding work, but I’ve always been more successful at offering great services, rather than being a successful marketer.

I do suspect, however, that I’ll have to be much more proactive in pitching for new work once I leave Saigon and begin traveling full-time.

Although I had a great hourly rate, I made very very little money freelancing this year. Fortunately, this should change with my new position at the start-up.
indian food obsession (Nothing beats getting an email bringing more client work to you while enjoying Indian food.)

WIN #5 Coding

I’ve tried learning to program a few times before. In fact, I bought my first MacBook in 7th grade simply because I wanted to learn how to program iPhone apps. Of course, I always ended up giving up on programming after being unable to build anything more complicated than “Hello World”.

I also tried learning to program in June this year, but got frustrated. In fact, I couldn’t even figure out how to finish installing all the software I needed for a learning to code website call the The Odin Project.

However, at the beginning of December I decided that I didn’t want to get caught in the trap of being an entry-level English teacher abroad forever. For that reason I decided to put my degree on hold and focus on a skill that’s incredibly compatible with the nomadic lifestyle I intend to lead. That skill is of course, programming.

For that past month I’ve spent 15+ hours a week learning to program. In fact, I’ve kept a diary of everything I’ve been doing and learning about programming this month and this diary has exceeded 17,000 words! I’ve learned a lot, and am now capable of building very basic websites.

I’ll learn a lot more about coding, and more specifically web design in the coming months. They say that you can expect to be ready for a junior developer type position after 1,000 hours of coding. I intend to reach that and hopefully be able to support a “digital nomad” lifestyle creating websites within the next year or so.

Instead of chasing some obscure passion as I have in the past writing ebooks, or teaching a juggling course or yadadada, I’ve simply decided to follow the money. Considering that I can already produce great content, I know SEO, and I’ve got a solid grasp of internet marketing knowledge I know I can make good money in this field.

You know what’s ironic? As Cal Newport said in his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, I started becoming a lot more passionate at web development as soon as I developed a basic competency in it. As I continue to get better at it, and earn solid money building websites, I know I’ll only grow to enjoy it more and more.

1990s style website I created

(A webpage I coded from scratch. It does have an outdated 1990s look, but I was still very proud to create a webpage from nothing in my first week of learning web design. I’ll have better projects being displayed on my codepen in the coming months.)

WIN #6 Trying New Things

This year I experimented with lots of new things. The list goes on and on. Learning to drive a motorbike in a HUGE city with crazy traffic, learning to have hour-long chats with Venezuelans using only Spanish, building a website that marketed and sold male contraceptives (*cough* condoms *cough*), traveling to countless new cities, learning to rock climb, trying new foods, learning to ice skate, dining in the dark for the first time, and learning Esperanto.

Wow! Even I didn’t know the list extended that far until I actually wrote everything out. It’s been a year where I tried lots of new things, and I suppose that’s appropriate given that I’m 19 years old and saying farewell to my teenage years in under a week.

beach hoi an

What Didn’t Work in 2016

Now, let’s look at what went wrong in 2016 and how I’m going to make sure I don’t face the same issues in 2017.

LESSON #1 Cover Your Ass

After the Cambodia crisis and health issues I faced in June, I realized I’ve got to be more careful. I have to remember which part of the world I’m in, and the unique risks someone in my position faces.

I’ve seen a good friend who had a seemingly awesome relationship with a great girl get married. Less than a year later he’s having lots of drama with her and it became so unbearable he had to leave the country to get away from it all.

I’ve also slept with a girl who was in the process of getting a spousal visa to go live in Hawaii. After we finished she even had a Skype call with her boyfriend so that they could talk about the next steps they had to take so that she could come live with him.

Although I’ve seen girls cheat before, I was shocked when the girl told me to sit quietly because her boyfriend was calling her on Skype to talk about the visa. She acted like nothing happened, and even sounded sweet when she told her boyfriend she loves him.

He’s oblivious that he’s got the type of girl that would actively lie to both of us to take whichever guy is closer and give the other sloppy seconds.

Of course this isn’t meant to be a rant about relationships going wrong. I’ve also had problems in Cambodia, seen my girlfriend struggle to get paid from her company, and countless other things this year. I’ve really learned this year that while it’s not necessary to get jaded, it is necessary to cover your ass and be very careful about who you trust.

Use condoms, keep your money close, watch your drink, and be careful about who you do business or go into private places with.

Penang

LESSON #2 Stick to it

I’ve succeeded at everything I’ve been persistent with this year. I satisfied clients and had them coming back to me for more and more articles for months at a time. I improved my Spanish. I learned more about Asia, and especially about Vietnam.

I learned to write better sales copy and persuasive text. I improved at driving a motorbike (though I choose to no longer drive). I improved my programming abilities. I improved my social skills. I made great progress towards a college degree.

Everything I stuck to, I made progress with. That leads to the most important lesson of 2016.

motorbike carrying chickens

LESSON #3 FOCUS

If there’s one thing I can’t afford to do it’s have another year like 2016. That’s not to say 2016 was a bad year. It wasn’t. I learned a lot, and got to spend a year of my youth experimenting with countless things. By all means 2016 was a SOLID year. Yet, I’ll be kicking myself if 2017 plays out similar to 2016.

Like I said before, I did manage to improve at everything I worked at this year. Yet, the problem was that this work was dispersed across such a wide range of activities that my life isn’t dramatically different than it was a year ago. The progress I made in my dating life and university was admirable, but that’s about it. I was all over the place in 2016.

If my life is going to dramatically change in 2017, it’s going to be the result of one thing. Focus. I’ve got to choose one thing to go all-in on. My life is going to change dramatically in 2017.

I’m cutting out all the excess noise and focusing on the one thing with the highest leverage to dramatically change my life. For 2017 that one thing is going to be my career as a web developer.

Mui Ne Sand Dunes

Slumming It Up VS Living The Baller Lifestyle

I’ve been on the road for over a year now. During this time I’ve had periods of extreme frugality. I’ve had times where I’d skip the bus and walk for an hour to save $0.30. I’ve had times where working at home was difficult due to slow internet speeds, yet I’d refuse to go to a cafe with faster internet because I wanted to save the $1.40 a drink would cost me. I’ve had times where I’ve stayed in hotels as cheap as $6/night.

I’ve also had times where I’d basically said fuck it to budgeting. I’ve had times where I’ve stayed in luxurious hotels with rooftop pools costing $400 a night. I’ve had times where I’d get a taxi to the mall when it was only a 5 minute walk away. I’ve had times where I’d take my dates to any restaurant in the city and pay for them without a second thought.

You can probably guess that one’s quality of life isn’t being maximized if they’re willing to spend an hour walking to save just $0.30. Yet contrary to what you expect, I also wasn’t happiest during the times I’d allowed myself to spend money without any concern for the future.

However, before I tell you the conclusion I’ve come to in regards to personal spending, let’s quickly compare some behavioral differences between the man that protects his pennies and the man that’s quick to throw his money at any perceived need or desire.

Penny Protector

*Is willing to spend signficant time researching how they can reduce their expenses
*Often inconvenience themselves to conserve money
*Often sacrifice or live repetitive social lives (spending less time with others, doing the same activities, and/or eating at the same restaurants)
*Willing to sacrifice personal comfort to save some money
*Sometimes passes on experiences or material goods they money could purchase even if spending that money would lead to a true increase in their quality of life
*May use the law of compounding interest to convince themselves their extreme frugality will be worth it one day

The Impulsive Purchaser

*Often willing to spend the majority, if not the entirety of his salary to get the most luxurious lifestyle his income will provide.
*May think spending money is a way of impressing others.
*May be using money as a way to avoid discomfort (taking taxis instead of walking short distances, leading with money in their dating lives because they feel lonely and desperately want someone to share their time with, etc.
*Usually fails to see how the money they spend obligates them to future work commitments (ex. If someone making $15/hour after tax spends $5 on ice cream they’ve effectively enslaved themselves to 20 minutes of work to pay for their ice cream.)

The Best Personal Spending Philosophy

You don’t have to be a genius to recognize that neither the penny protector, nor the impulsive purchaser are managing their money in the ideal way. There’s elements of both that you’ll want to incorporate in your personal spending philosophy. Your personal motivations and goals will determine just how far you’ll lean towards slumming it up or living a baller lifestyle.

In general however, the list below should give you a baseline for how to manage your finances. The intelligent spender understands that…

*Time is more valuable than money. If one can use money to buy back their time it’s often worth it. (Ex. taking a bus instead of walking, hiring a maid to do your cleaning and laundry, etc.)

*Spending a sufficient amount of money on your social life will help provide you with a healthy quantity and variety of social interactions.

*Using money isn’t an effective means of impressing or gaining the affection of women. At the same time, it can still be used to in a number of ways to make you a more attractive man with a better dating life. Money can purchase you a gym membership, quality food, the means to practice interesting hobbies (guitar, martial arts, travel, etc.) as well as an attractive and well-located apartment to bring your girl(s) back to.

*Purchases are contracts that bind you to the number of hours you’ll have to work to pay for them. (Ex. at $15/hour after tax a $450/month apartment requires 30 hours of work/month. However, a $750/month apartment will require 50 monthly hours of work at $15/hour after tax.)

*It’s worth spending extra money if doing so will lead to a marked improvement in quality of life. There’s no use saving $30/month on your apartment if it’s filled with bugs and gets you a toilet that doesn’t flush.

*Spending money on activities or tools likely to lead to a future increase in earnings is never a bad idea. Purchasing a faster computer that doesn’t spend an hour everyday loading while you work is an investment that’ll pay for itself and more over time.

*Managing one’s energy is hugely important. Spending  money on high-quality food, a gym membership, and a good bed will give you more energy to produce well paid work. Even hiring someone to do your taxes or visa papers is often a good use of your money as it saves you time and preserves your energy and focus for the activies you use to generate income.

*Sometimes living simply can inspire greater creativity. Without the internet or an abundance of recreational activities available to you, it’s often easier to focus on work and the other important fundamentals in your life.

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Was inspired to write this post while staying in a $6/night hotel room in Phnom Penh. I was amused at the contrast after staying at the internationally reknown Singapore Marina Bay ($300-$400+ per night) last year. Completing this post was made significantly easier as this simple guesthouse doesn’t even include free wi-fi.