One Year Of Discipline, Day 14: Every Day Counts

One Year Of Discipline


You either move towards your goals or away from them. If you stand still, time pushes your goals further away from you. What happens if I don’t work on my fitness this week? I have one week less to get to 8% body fat.

If we do nothing, we don’t “delay” taking action. We simply move backwards.

Of course, we won’t die immediately if we only have Fast Food for a whole week. And we won’t become lean and ripped after just one week of daily workouts.

“Phew. Doesn’t seem so bad after all, right? I’ll start my workout next week. Until then, I’m just gonna take it easy.”

Those have long been my thoughts on any life improvement. “Yeah, good idea, but you know, no need to rush.”

That didn’t feel stressful at all.

And that’s the danger. We don’t “need” to stress out if we skip a workout. The roads towards our goals consist of small steps. So easy to do.

And so easy to forget.

Then, one year comes around. 5 years. 10 years. And all of a sudden, all those days where we could have worked towards our goals are gone forever.

Recently, I took inventory over my finances. The German in me has diligently scanned every receipt over the last couple of years. So I have all my expenses recorded on my hard drive.

When I looked at them, I was shocked. I spent $300/month on average on sweets and snacks, fast food etc. German chocolate in the US is expensive. Takeout food from the local deli: $10. It all adds up.

People that are addicted to alcohol drink their money away. Well, apparently, you can also eat your money away. Now and then I would go out with friends and spend more than $100 per evening. That is not a big problem in the grander scheme of things. The consistent overeating and overspending is.

I started my research job in New York City in the fall of 2008.

$300/month, that is $10/day.

Over six years? $22,000. That money finances a year of frugal living without a regular job, in which I could build up a business with potentially higher gains beyond that year that would allow me to not work a job again in my life.

I literally ate away my freedom and did not notice. A couple of dollars per day? Does not sound like much, until you do the math.

Jeff Olson had this simple exercise in The “Slight Edge“.

1. In every area of your life, think about what you did today and write it down.

2. Imagine how your life will look like 10 years from now, if you keep doing what you did today.

Will you be in a better place than now? Or will you be worse off? Here are a couple of examples.

1. Social Life:

a) I talked to my friends today and briefly discussed arrangements for a farewell party of a colleague. If I do something like that every day for the next 10 years, I will have a good social life.

b) In the past, I had days where I would focus the whole day exclusively on my work and greet people only on my way to and from my institute – if at all. If I kept going on that path, my life would be pretty lonely and miserable 10 years from now.

2. Health:

a) Every day, I am doing my calisthenics. 20 minutes, that’s all it takes. I a slowly becoming stronger and leaner. In 10 years, I’ll be in reasonably good shape.

b) A day without workout and clean food will, if repeated, mean that I’ll probably go back to 30% body fat and higher. I might get a stroke or require double bypass surgery. Will my insurance pay that operation? What if not? That’s a pretty bleak outlook.

3. Career:

a) I did all the experiments I needed to get done today. In general – even if I do just one experiment per day, I will be able to write several manuscripts over the next ten years.

b) If I waste my days away with checking my emails and surfing the internet, then I will be very likely out of work in 10 years.

My point is this:

Success consists of a long line of small, daily steps. These steps are often easy to do, yet they accumulate through the lens of time. On the long run, you even gain momentum.

However, these steps are also easily forgotten. If you don’t do them, you won’t see the effects immediately. But they are there, slowly destroying any progress you could possibly make.

You either move towards your goals or away from them.

You make this choice every day. Every moment.

If this sounds too stressful, remember: even a small step per day is a step towards your goal. Reading one page of a book per day is completely doable, yet it is the difference between having read 10 books and no books after 10 years. If you manage to read 10 pages each day… 100 books in 10 years.

Of course, the bigger your goal, the more time, effort and focus you will invest into it.

Good luck on your way!


Summary of Day 14

Below you will find

(a) a quick description how I fared on my main goals – losing body fat, working on my blog, installing good habits;

(b) my thoughts for the day;

(c) how the rest of the program went and whether there were any irregularities or other noteworthy points.

Day 14

Losing body fat

Body fat down to 22.6%. Let’s see if it stays that way… if I am at 24% again tomorrow, I won’t believe it.

Breakfast: coffee and protein shake.

Lunch: Steak and Asparagus.

Dinner: Tomatoes.

Today’s juice: Apple-Carrot-Collards. Delicious. Wouldn’t have thought that greens could taste so… ok. Not good yet, but I am getting used to them.

Calisthenics routine:

36 good form push-ups (one more than yesterday!) + 84 in ok form (half way down). I’m getting there.

120 squats in good form.

120 sit-ups in good form.

I did the exercises immediately after I got home.

Working on my blog

Read more of Franklin’s autobiography. I’m almost done. I was not aware that he apparently drafted one of the first versions of a contract that would unite the original US colonies to a union.

If you already want to check the book out, you can click here. (*)


(a) Emotional Health: Was more social with colleagues. I’m pretty happy that way, since I also get my normal work done.

(b) Spiritual Health: I continued the Happiness Habit. What was I grateful for?

1. Enough sleep.
2. My warm apartment.
3. Reading a good book.

(c) Mental Health.

10 exotic places for a hotel.
1. Inside a geyser.
2. Within an iceberg.
3. On an airplane that constantly stays in the air.
4. On a space station.
5. On the bottom of the Marianna trench.
6. Within a meteor crater.
7. In a cave.
8. In a haunted house in Transylvania.
9. Inside a pyramid.
10. Within NYC’s subway tunnels.


Thoughts for the day

What did I do well?

Immediately I came home, I did my daily calisthenics – logic and discipline before emotion. I have to do the exercises anyway. So better to get them over with sooner rather than later.

What do I want to improve?

I realized that I still get into the habit of “letting go” when I am home from my “normal” job. But keeping this blog is not a hobby, it’s something I really want to put work into.

How will I improve?
I think I clearly need a change of mindset. This change needs to already start at my “day job”. I need to stop seeing that work as a mere “job”. How? I’ll only see the work I do during the day as a succession of tasks that are necessary to advance me towards publishing a manuscript. If I see my research “job” as an expression of my passion, then it is not so much different as my blog.

My passion is to solve an important question in biology, but I also want to help people to find the life they can be happy with. So if I look at the passion at the root of BOTH the blog and my research job, there is no difference between both activities.

I think I also found a good way to save time writing articles for my blog: I use a digital recorder to record my thoughts over the day – then, in the evening, I can basically listen to those thoughts and write them down.

Rest of “30 Days of Discipline” went fine.

Video Summary Day 14


To check the description of the “One Year of Discipline” challenge, click here.

To see yesterday’s post, click here.

To get back to the homepage, click here.

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