Sometimes the most successful people turn out to have pretty eccentric habits. For instance, Steve Jobs wore the same clothing every day. A famous composer named Igor Stravinsky did a headstand for 15 minutes every morning to “clear his brain.” Nikola Tesla claimed he stimulated his brain cells each night by doing toe exercises, squishing his toes 100 times on each foot.
THE MAIN TAKEAWAY HERE? PEOPLE ARE WEIRD.
The secondary takeaway? Weird works.
In a recent conversation with our Director of Student Success, Phillip Migyanko, I realized eccentric habits aren’t reserved for the famously intellectual. In fact, I realized I do a few pretty strange things, myself. As Phillip and I talked about how we maintain our energy to accomplish seemingly impossible things, I confessed to a few of my quirks.
I’M COMING CLEAN ON MY WEIRD ENERGY TRICKS
The truth of the matter is, if you want to accomplish superhuman goals, you gotta do some abnormal activities. If you’re on this page, I already know you’re a high achiever looking to achieve even more.
Whether you are in one job but hoping to secure your new dream career in your off time, or you’re trying to launch your own business, or you don’t know what you want to do but you’re ready to quit settling, it’s going to take hard work. And hard work requires more energy.
So without further adieu, here are the strange habits that have helped me increase my daily energy and accomplish wildly impossible goals:
1. EATING BLACK BEANS AND TUNA FISH EVERY DAY
Ok, here’s the part where you expect me to list off some magic vitamin or plant source in these food items that transforms your body into the Flash. But that’s not quite the why behind my way on the black bean/tuna fish diet.
A few years ago, I was working a job I outgrew, and I was trying to move into a new role. As I brainstormed where to find the time to do what I needed to achieve my new dream, I realized my lunches could be more efficient. Not only could I save myself from decision fatigue each morning, but I could make meal preparation easy and find lean protein for a spark of midday energy.
That’s how I landed on black beans and tuna. They were easy to tote around with me and didn’t require refrigeration, so I had access to these foods whenever I needed them. Eliminating choices, preparation, and long lunches gave me loads of energy.
2. COMMITTING THIS NETFLIX TRAVESTY
Things are about to get real. What I’m about to say is going to infuriate many readers. (I know this because of how Phillip responded when I confessed this during our podcast recording.)
I have a tendency to get sucked into Netflix. You know what I’m talking about. The binges where Netflix asks, “Are you still watching?” not once, but twice, in a single sitting. This recently happened with a show called Punisher. I knew I was in trouble. I love everything Marvel. The release was during a really busy time for our business, and I knew it had potential to rob my energy.
So…after watching a few episodes and realizing I was getting sucked down a black hole of binging, I decided to go to the last episode of the series and watch the last fifteen minutes of the show.
“YOU DID WHAT?!”
Yes. I know. It’s a travesty. I should have my Netflix account revoked. But I realized if I watch the last 15 minutes of the last episode and I like how it ends, then it may be worth my time to continue watching (in moderation). If not, I would just quit the show altogether, saving myself the discontentment I would feel in the end, and giving myself back all the time I could have wasted.
I know it sounds crazy. That’s why I call it a confession. But on the off chance someone out there sees how that could benefit them, I offer my weird habit as tribute.
3. TESTING OUT VARIOUS NOOTROPICS
Nootropics are “smart drugs” that enhance your cognitive function. (It’s okay to feel skeptical. I know they sound a bit kooky at first.) Nootropics can be prescribed or over the counter, and they include everyday energy catalysts like coffee and tea.
I’ve tested out a variety of nootropics to biohack my body, and my favorite one is called Alpha Brain by Onnit. Alpha Brain directly stimulates neurotransmitters to improve memory and focus. I love feeling like I’m accessing all my brain power as I work. (I’ll talk more about nootropics at the bottom of this post.)
4. JOURNALING ABOUT MY SLEEP CYCLE
I know what you’re thinking: What could be more boring than reading or writing about sleep? Well, a while back I was curious about how much impact my sleep had on my daily productivity. So instead of merely logging the hours I laid in bed each night, I decided to start recording how I felt about my sleep, how deep of a sleep I felt I obtained, and what my activity and food consumption was around the sleep times.
After my alarm went off and I felt awake enough to write coherently, I would get out my journal and add my insights. Over time, I could recognize patterns that impacted my sleep, and I began to see how great rest provided great results.
WHAT WEIRD HABITS WILL RADICALLY IMPACT YOUR LIFE?
Now that you know a few of my weird but impactful habits, you’re probably wondering what would work for you. Rather than tell you to stock up on tuna fish and brain pills, I want to give you five major areas where you can create healthy, energy-producing habits. If you’d rather listen to the podcast about these areas, go ahead and click the play button below.
ENERGY-PRODUCING CATEGORY 1: SAVE ENERGY FOR YOURSELF
Does it ever feel like you run out of steam before you accomplish the things that matter most?
Many times, we push off what we WANT to do until after we’ve completed the things we feel like we HAVE to do. But if the thing you want is finding your dream career, launching a business idea, or kicking off a new workout regimen, you’re not going to be able to attain your goals when you’re already out of gas.
Instead of thinking you can only pursue goals after everything else is covered, begin to ask yourself when you feel at your highest energy levels. Is it as soon as you wake up in the morning? At midnight? At happy hour between 5 and 7? Whatever this time is for you, block off time for yourself. Plan to use your highest amount of energy for your top priority.
Saving energy requires intentionality, so go ahead and block off time today.
ENERGY-PRODUCING CATEGORY 2: FIGURE OUT YOUR FOOD
I recognize that a daily lunch of black beans and tuna fish doesn’t sound appealing to the vast majority of the population. But the thing is, it worked for me. You have to find what works for you.
There is a ton of research on how super foods, keto diets, balanced macronutrients, and green smoothies can impact your whole day. The key here is to not only find a meal plan that provides maximum levels of energy output from the food input, but also to build a plan that is easy for you to achieve. What’s the point of drinking green smoothies for brain energy if actually making the smoothies or driving across town for your fresh liquid greens sucks away an equal amount of productivity?
On a similar note, hydration is essential. Carrying a water bottle around with you may encourage you to drink more often, and the benefits of proper hydration are limitless. To name a few, water helps your nutrients move throughout your body, water keeps away dehydration and resulting headaches that destroy focus, and because water composes 75% of muscle tissue, it promotes improved physical performance and speed.
ENERGY-PRODUCING CATEGORY 3: FIND YOUR NATURAL BRAIN ENHANCERS
Let’s go back to nootropics. Remember that movie Limitless? Bradley Cooper took a pill that improved his brain functionality so much so that he learned piano, became multilingual, and wrote an entire book in only four days. The magic pill gave Cooper the ability to use more of his brain.
Although the movie takes a dark turn and the pill and plot are fictitious, it does make you wonder how much of your own brain power is left untapped. Nootropics can help you tap in by providing essential brain nutrients you may be missing in your typical diet.
Nootropics include creatine supplements, ginseng, ginko biloba, and rosemary oil. A few of the more popular and trusted nootropics include coffee, tea, and vitamins like B12, D, Magnesium, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Many companies produce natural brain enhancers in the form of a pill. If you consider adding a smart pill to your daily diet, make sure to consider the source where you research and do your due diligence on the company.
ENERGY-PRODUCING CATEGORY 4: GET BETTER SLEEP
What if I told you that you already have access to the greatest performance enhancement drug in the world? You don’t need a large sum of money or to be born into royalty for access to this super power. You simply need to get better sleep.
At a base level, everyone knows sleep is important, but people rarely give it the priority it deserves. There have been numerous tests proving a lack of sleep provides the same effect as intoxication. Bodies need rest to function properly, and chances are you’re not taking advantage of this opportunity.
Here are a few ways to capture better sleep:
- Eliminate blue light two to three hours before bed. Put away your screens and avoid bringing them into the bedroom. Blue light from screens delays the release of melatonin and disrupts circadian rhythms.
- Set the same bedtime every night. As you create this routine, your body begins to realize it should begin shutting down at your chosen time, allowing you to fall asleep more quickly and achieve deeper sleep for longer.
- Exercise regularly. Activity in the daytime will help your body get into a rest state when it’s time for bed. One study found that exercise decreased the amount it took participants to fall asleep by 55%.
ENERGY-PRODUCING CATEGORY 5: CUT “IT” OUT
If you spent any time in front of the television in the nineties, you probably watched a few episodes of Full House. One of the characters, Joey Gladstone, was famous for his line and accompanying hand motions, “Cut it out.”
When it comes to getting more energy, you decide what the “it” is. What have you set as obligations in your life that aren’t actually necessary? Maybe it’s a certain show you watch, a game on your phone, a daily phone call, time on Facebook or Instagram, or administrative tasks associate with your job that an assistant or contractor could take care of. The point here is to find areas that you can let go of so you can put your focus where it matters.
To quote my buddy Phillip (who was quoting someone else), the key is “simplify to amplify.” Eliminate non-value-adding activities so you can pour your energy into value-adding activities.
Or to use the latest trendy lingo, you can Marie Kondo your way to career happiness. Your main activities don’t spark joy? Throw them out.
To listen to our podcast episode on increasing your energy, press play on the podcast player above.