5 life hacks that might help to do your best under the circumstances

This text is an extension of this lengthier post, as well as this more brief one. It focuses on concrete life hacks that will get a person – males in particular – look better, feel better, and experience more valuable things in life. It is directed towards active persons who put demands on themselves. Rather than to try to live the perfect life it is more about to do the best under the individual circumstances. “I am I and my circumstance; and, if I do not save it, I do not save myself”, as the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset has asserted.

1. Consume protein
Regardless of place of sojourn or residence, go find youself some quality, mainly animal proteins. Proteins constitute the basis for a healthy, strong and athletic physique. This is not the same as to say that other (macro) nutrients are unimportant – each and everyone should strive for a balanced diet – but proteins are one’s priority, and vital.

In the Western world it is generally very easy to find proteins, whereas in other locations it is sometimes a bit trickier – quark and cottage cheese can be hard to find in for instance certain parts of Southeast Asia or Africa. But eggs, fish, beef and chicken can be found even in the most distant places. While travelling in emerging markets or far-off locations, I often pay extra for more fish and chicken, in order to cover the requirement, while eating less of foodstuffs such as bread, rice and sauce.

2. Get into shape while saving money for a trip
To travel and to experience trully interesting things ought to be a top priority, although not throughout one’s entire existence. While one saves money and plan for a trip, it is wise to focus on other siginificant things, not the least to come into decent shape.

Let’s face it: if you are going to visit Bali, or New York, or Paris, or some other interesting location, do you want to appear as a random and average tourist or be a top version of yourself (and if not for other reasons, then because it makes you feel better about yourself, and plus looks better in pictures)? 10 per cent of body fat or slightly lower is a good benchmark, regardless of degree of muscularity. Everything above is below one’s true potential.

3. Invest in fashion – not electronics
Besides from a very limited number of professional gamers and YouTube celebrities like PewDiePie – who make up much less than a per mille of the total global middle class – the consumption of electronics will not get you anywhere. It is mere distraction and pastime – at best more or less worthless and somewhat relaxing for those few who actually deserve a moment of numbness after a hard day of work. However, most don’t. The same goes for social media, TV series and films, although there are some particular products that should catch one’s attention. Selection is the key in this regard, both time- and money-wise.

Fashion on the other hand is, in conjuction with physical development and personal hygiene, worth to invest in to a reasonable extent. It makes you feel better about yourself and appear better in the eyes of most beholders. In a competitive society, it is sometimes good demeanor that is the key difference between loneliness or a good relationship, or at least a couple of temporary liaisons.

Just think about it: Who would a girl/woman rather hang out with (if we for the sake of the argument ignore other crucial factors such as personal chemistry): The well-dressed guy with 10% per cent of body fat, or the complacent sucker for social media and online games that is dressed in yesterday’s shirt? Hence, dress well, at least often. For inspiration, check out for instance Exo’s video just below.

4. If you withdraw from the city – do something constructive in the meantime
This conception will perhaps change in the future, but to live in the countryside or in a small town is just boring. The goal should be to live in a city of at least a reasonable size. However, sometimes one just have to stand a period of time of withdrawal from the urban landscape. It can even be a wise choice to do it deliberately, if the goal is to eventually move somewhere else, more akin to one’s individual taste. (Some prefer Uppsala more than New York.)

For instance, at the end of my master studies I resided in my parent’s big house for more than a year. They are just a normal middle-income household, but since they are fine with to live outside city areas, they have taken the opportunity to rent big and quite impressive buildings in the past. To rent a small mansion (herrgård or slottsflygel in Swedish) is actually good life hack if one prefers that kind of living. It is not very expensive but will get you a lot of space in return.

Instead of complaining too much, I grasped the situation and did what I thought was the best things to do: worked out 4-5 times a week, joined the local football team, read tons of books, and dated to the extent to which it was possible in that context. I also visited my friends in Norrköping and Stockholm quite frequently, so that I was not cut off from social life. Occasionally, I also invited people to the big house for dinners and parties. Overall, I think that this time was great in many ways.

Most importantly, I saved money so that I could travel parts of Europe, The U.S., and Southeast Asia. Another limited period of my life, I spent in a small town, working as a upper-secondary school teacher. Much like while living with my parents, I concentrated on work, meeting some new friends, training and saving disposable income, but always focused on the next step. Thanks to the savings I could afford to go to Iceland, Austria, Morocco and East Asia. That would probably have been much more difficult, although not impossible, if I had lived a more costly urban life.

5. Read at least one good book per month
To read relevant literature makes you smarter, more focused, and extend one’s inner universe beyond the limitations of computers, TV screens and smart phones. If you have more time and read relatively fast, it is reasonable to deal with more than a whole book per month. Sometimes one can read as much as two or three in a week. But overall, only one entire title per month is a decent aim in this respect.

And linked to the above concept: read before you travel and while you travel. For some it is the perfect, perhaps only opportunity to read. In conjunction with trips, there tend to be plenty of time to wait – at the airport, on the airplane, and while travelling with bus or train – and which makes it the best time to consume literature.

About to have and to achieve goals in life – some suggestions

If you are a person who demands something of yourself, then one of the most important things in life is to have concrete goals and to, almost constantly, strive to attain them. In this post I will reflect upon this topic and make suggestions related to what might be a proper approach in this sense, at least for some people, but also more generally.

Firstly, it may be appropriate to avoid the extremes. That is, one should not regard trivial tasks in daily life as goals – it is not worthy of even noticing that people do their jobs relatively well and buy groceries at the supermarket. When a person is young, then some goals, such as to acquire a driver’s license, is rather trivial and one can expect that many accomplishments at later stages in life are both more demanding and cumulative, i.e. you have to do a certain thing before you can move on to the next thing (for instance acquire a bachelor’s degree before a master’s degree). But the bar should not be set too low.

The opposite extreme is to have totally unrealistic goals, such as to marry a famous actor, which I guess that quite many girls dream about at certain phases of their lives. Some narcissistic personalities might even mix reality with dream so to speak, and seriously consider going through with it although it is plain fantasy. The likely result is that the person in question will have reality’s hard hand slapped in the face at some point, and be left with a large dose of disappointment and cognitive dissonance. Of course, one should aim high in many respects – that can be an important motivational factor in itself and make a person active – but things which are just silly pipedreams must be avoided whatsoever.

Another aspect of chief significance is to distinguish between goals which are mostly about money-related priorities from those you cannot buy yourself or in some way accomplish on your own. For example, one of my more modest goals in life is to visit some country in South America – most likely Ecuador – and as much as it is important to achieve it, it is primarily a matter of money and opportunity. If I am able to pay for the tickets and other expenses, then I will go there sooner or later.

The same goes for fitness competitions and closely related phenomena – some are open for everyone who is willing to pay while other require qualifications or even a pro card. To even participate in a competition and do relatively well might be a goal in itself, but one should not fool oneself into thinking that it is as good as to win and to be sponsored.

Overall, it is a whole different story to get a particular job which many compete for and to succeed within a particular domain. To become relatively famous is likewise generally a hard task to accomplish, at least if one makes it with some kind of dignity left. A main difference is generally that people pay and look for you instead of the other way around.

As I see it, it can be good to have goals which are related to both of these categories. (And sometimes the difference might be blurry – if you spend time, money and hard work in order to accomplish a certain thing, as long as it is not entirely unrealistic, then it is more likely to you will accomplish something which seemed beyond reach at an earlier time. Investment, whether time- or money-related, is often required.) The good thing with an approach of this sort is that one is more likely to reach some of them, which in turn increases one’s self confidence, but on the other hand it makes a person single-minded and earnest since there are always new things to strive for. Check. Next.

For me personally, a lot of goals that I hope to achieve – both regarding fitness and academic development, and other – are largely interrelated and cumulative. Some key events and what other people decide might even be crucial. And I think that a lot of other people experience similar thoughts about their respective future.

Om du är en person som kräver något av dig själv, så är konkreta mål, målsättningar och följaktligen måluppfyllelse några av de viktigaste sakerna i livet att sträva efter. I det här inlägget kommer jag att reflektera lite kring detta ämne och föreslå ett förhållningssätt som kan vara relevant för vissa, men också mer allmängiltigt.

För det första är det viktigt att undvika ytterligheter. Man ska inte se det som ett mål att mäkta med vardagsbestyr som att göra en relativt bra insats på jobbet eller köpa mat i den lokala butiken. När en person är yngre kan visserligen en del mål vara ganska triviala, som att skaffa körkort, och mycket är också kumulativt, det vill säga att man först måste uppnå ett visst (del)mål för att sedan kunna uppnå ett annat, högre mål (till exempel måste man första ha kandidatexamen för att sedan kunna ta en masterexamen). Men ribban får inte ligga för lågt.

En annan ytterlighet är totalt orealistiska mål, som att till exempel gifta sig med en känd skådespelare, vilket jag antar att en inte obetydlig andel tjejer drömmer om under någon fas av livet. Vissa narcissistiska personlighetstyper kanske rentav blandar samman dröm och verklighet och överväger seriöst att försöka uppnå ett sådant mål trots att det är ren fantasi. Troligen kommer dock förr eller senare verklighetens hårda hand att slå en i ansiktet, och följden blir både förtvivlan och en rejäl dos kognitiv dissonans. Självklart ska man sikta högt – det kan i sin tur vara en oerhört viktig motivationsfaktor som kan få en att bli handlingskraftig – men sådant som är rena önskedrömmar bör till varje pris undvikas.

En annan mycket viktig aspekt är att skilja mellan mål som mest handlar om att ha råd och prioritera från sådana som inte enbart handlar om egna finanser och/eller ansträngningar. Exempelvis är ett av mina mindre högtflygande mål att besöka något land i Sydamerika – troligen Ecuador – och även om det är viktigt i sig handlar det mest om att ha tillräckligt mycket pengar och möjlighet att resa iväg. Om jag har tiden som krävs och kan betala för biljetterna och andra omkostnader är det bara att åka förr eller senare.

Detsamma gäller fitnesstävlingar och liknande fenomen – vissa är tillgängliga för alla som är villiga att betala för att delta medan andra kräver kval eller till och med proffskort. Att över huvud taget delta i en tävling och göra ganska bra ifrån sig kan ses som ett mål i sig, men man bör inte lura sig själv till att tro att det är samma sak som att vinna och/eller bli sponsrad.

Överlag är det en helt annan sak att få ett särskilt konkurrensutsatt jobb och att bli framgångsrik inom ett specifikt område. Att bli relativt känd kan generellt vara svårt att uppnå, åtminstone om man gör det med bibehållen värdighet. En huvudskillnad är i allmänhet att människor är villiga att betala dig i stället för tvärtom.

Som jag ser det kan det vara lämpligt att ha mål som är knutna till båda dessa kategorier. (Och ibland är skillnaden oskarp – om man spenderar tid, pengar och hårt arbete på att uppnå en särskild sak, så länge det inte är helt orealistiskt, är det mer troligt att man kan åstadkomma något som verkade bortom räckhåll i ett tidigare skede – investeringar är ibland ett måste). Fördelen med ett sådant förhållningssätt är att det är mer rimligt att man uppnår vissa av dem, vilket i sin tur ökar ens självförtroende, samtidigt som det gör en konstant målmedveten och framåtsträvande eftersom det alltid finns nya saker att sikta mot. Check, nästa, ungefär.

För mig personligen är många av målen som jag strävar efter att uppnå – både fitness- och akademiskt relaterade, och andra – i hög grad sammanhängande och kumulativa. Vissa nyckelhändelser och vad andra personer beslutar kan rentav vara helt avgörande. Och jag tänker mig att många som läser det här bär på liknande tankar om sin egen respektive framtid.