What would it take for you to maximize your power?
Not power in the classic tyrannical sense; think of it in the Nietzschean one. In other words, what would it take for you to reach your peak? What would it take for you to fully express your idiosyncratic potential? What would it take for you to become the best individual you could be?
These are not easy questions. There are probably an infinite amount of subjective answers to them.
This is just one of many.
I came up with a way to approach this problem out of necessity. For better or worse, I am obsessed with planning and structuring things. The more abstract, the better. Unfortunately, this has gone a little too far, and I am now generally incapable of getting to work if I do not have a detailed plan of action.
After having watched Tim Urban’s hilarious Ted Talk on procrastination, one key point really stuck with me:
We all unconsciously procrastinate on tasks that have no obvious deadline.
If you have a project, a presentation, an exam, etc. it usually comes with a due date. You might procrastinate and put it off, but you know that you will probably get to work right before the delivery.
But what about ongoing projects? Those that do not have an obvious deadline.
One day I will fix my toxic behavior in relationships.
One day I will take care of my health.
One day I will learn a new language.
Procrastinating on these is almost too easy. There is no real plan or sense of urgency. They are slightly esoteric and hard to translate into action. So, you put them off. What’s worse, you probably avoid writing them down because you know it would mean you now have to act.
Giving these problems a structure is the best way for you to stop lying to yourself.
Now you have a plan… what are you going to do about it? Even if you stand still, at least you will feel a bitter sense of guilt and regret. Because you know what to do – you just don’t do it.
You are – arguably – the biggest project you will ever embark on. That is not to say other things are not important. However, we paradoxically do better at projects that involve other people, than we do at keeping ourselves accountable (e.g. it’s easy to clean your apartment because a date is coming. It is harder to do it for yourself).
This is why I came up with PEAK.
I wrote down, several times, all the things I would like to excel at. Anything.
I want to master playing the piano, but also be proficient at playing poker.
I want to know all about Greek and Roman history.
I want to learn how to learn effectively.
I want to speak eloquently.
I want to have a beautiful and capable body.
I want to discover my passions and set meaningful goals.
I want to learn all about philosophy, art, psychoanalysis, literature…
Anything goes, really. Whatever it was, I brainstormed it into a piece of paper. After having approximately one hundred bullet-points, I basically winged an amateur, non-scientific (albeit careful) factor analysis to reduce them into as few categories as possible.
Every time I did this, I came up with four.
- All variables related to the body, its health, performance and looks
- Anything related to the process of absorbing and projecting knowledge
- All things related to self-discovery, self-discipline and accomplishment
- Any variable related to knowing timeless wisdom and practical skills
I then sub-divided each main category into two, to help make things more actionable.
The final result – after playing around with the name for more than I would like to admit – was the PEAK system. I tried to put it somewhat beautifully for us to read:
I am well aware that the divisions leave some stuff out. You inevitably lose some specificity by boiling down elements to their core. Alas, I am happy with the result, and I think it covers most of what anyone would like to tackle in individual development.
This system will be the new structure of the blog. Each article and series to come will fall into one of the categories. It is a lot to cover, so things will start slow.
Reaching the peak of your power is the journey of a lifetime. Hopefully this structure will help you – however humbly – to climb your way to the top with me.