Self-Scaler New-Year Version
The three habits that have contributed the most to my success, 10 books I want you to read in 2022, and what I have been upto lately.
I’m 21 and I consider my present life to be pretty successful.
A chill high-paying job. Zero debt. An incredibly fun and profitable writing side-hustle. Planned investing. Solid 8 hours of sleep every night. Blissful 2 hours smashing weights in the gym. Quality time with friends and family. And ample leisure time.
This lifestyle is no accident — it’s the result of my habits compounding over time. That’s exactly what success is
The compound interest of good habits.
The power of compounding is insane. By investing just $100 every month and with a realistic yearly growth rate of 12%, you’d have close to a million dollars in 40 years.
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it” — Albert Einstein
Habits are like those $100 monthly investments — they don’t seem like much but compound to unimaginable results with time.
All habits aren’t created equal though. Of the many I’ve had, only three have contributed to over 90% of my success in life.
I want to share these with you and they’ll hopefully boost your way to success as well.
The Key to Becoming Really Good at Anything New in A Short Time
A couple of years ago, in my college gym, I spot a newbie who actually seems to know what he’s doing. Fast forward a year, we’re good friends and he’s outdone my physique — although I had been working out for twice as long as he had.
Another day, he tells me he’s begun to learn to code. And within a week, he’s solving problems and building things using Python.
This friend of mine had an uncanny ability to get really good at something new in really little time.
Being smart and dedicated helped, but the real reason turned out to be a valuable habit that soon rubbed off on me as well — He always did his research.
It Drastically Cuts Short the Learning Curve
The trajectory for most of us is — discover something new, get excited, dive right in, make mistakes, learn from them, stumble around, learn a bit, make more mistakes, learn from them again, and so on.
It took 2 years of clueless working out and a disastrous weight-loss attempt to learn what I could’ve in a few hours of proper research.
By doing your research, you capitalize on other people’s knowledge and experience.
You maximize what you learn the easy way and minimize what you have to learn the hard way.
When the stock market crashed last year, I got interested in finance. But I didn’t jump right in. I first spent a week doing my research. And it paid off handsomely — I made around 50% profits in just a few weeks.
Had I not done my research, I could have lost all of my money as over 95% of traders do.
How to Do Your Research
You can start from scratch and become an expert in almost anything using the internet.
To research something new, I use what I call the multiple tab technique — do a simple google search, open the first 5–6 results in different tabs, go through each tab, search whatever you don’t know, and again open each in different tabs.
This process is like a tree with roots, sub roots, and sub-sub roots probing deeper and deeper into the ground.
Once you get a good enough idea of it, what’s next is — learning by doing or the hard way. You can’t learn everything the easy way, you can only maximize what you can.
I’ve been a voracious reader all my life and every single one of the 400+ books I’ve read has taught me something or other.
I believe there are only three teachers in life — books, people, and experiences. And books cover all three — as every book reflects the author’s experiences.
“The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.” — Rene Descartes
What makes a good book so damn powerful is the cascade effect — a brilliant author would’ve read a lot of books, most authored by brilliant authors again. And each one of them would’ve read more books and so on.
So a single book is not only a portal to the author’s mind but also to thousands of more minds.
Now imagine reading hundreds of books. That’s the power of reading.
Of late, reading has become synonymous with nonfiction — self-help mainly. And fiction is viewed as something fit for only pleasure.
This couldn’t be further from the truth as most of my life-changing reads have been fiction — Atlas Shrugged, 1984, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Money: A Suicide Note, etc.
What makes fiction powerful is storytelling — we humans are more affected by emotion than logic. So powerful stories can drive home points much better than plain fact-stating can. As Ann Patchett says,
“Reading fiction is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which makes us more empathetic beings. Following complex storylines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking.”
So don’t limit your reading to just non-fiction. Read self-help. Read crime-thrillers. Read history. Read fantasy fiction.
Whatever you do, just read.
If you’re new to reading or are struggling to stay consistent with the habit, check out these 11 practical habits to build a lifetime reading habit.
Looking in The Mental Mirror
A couple of years ago, I had my first epiphany, and that was when I discovered introspection. Ever since then, it has become an integral part of my life.
Introspection is the practice of questioning and reflecting on your thoughts and actions — thinking about your thinking or metacognition.
Without introspection, true self-improvement is impossible
To improve yourself, you first need to be self-aware. How can you improve when you don’t know what or even whether you need to improve?
Most of us aren’t even aware that we aren’t self-aware. And most of us don’t want to be. As self-awareness is painful.
It shatters our illusions of who we are and lays bare the harsh reality.
Before my first epiphany, I used to think I was a big muscular “macho” guy feared and admired by everybody. In reality, I was a fat cringe-f*ck.
The first time you look in the mental mirror, you won’t like what you see
And that’s completely fine — it's only when you truly see who you are that you can take steps to become who you want to be.
“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
Introspect regularly. At the end of each day, sit down, replay the entire day and ask yourself questions like — “Why did I react that way?”, “What made me say that?”, “How could I have done that better?”, “Why did that thought pop in my brain?”, and so on.
It’ll be uncomfortable initially, but with time, you’ll see the benefits. In fact, once you do this for long enough, it gets programmed into your subconscious brain.
Basically, introspection goes on auto-pilot.
Within seconds of saying, thinking, or doing something, you’ll be unconsciously reflecting on it.
And when introspection is on auto-pilot, so is self-improvement.
10 Books I Want You to Read in 2021
I plan on reading 50 to 70 books this year but for those of you non-bookworms, here are 10 that will give you the best for your buck:
12 Rules For Life by Jordan Peterson (448 Pages). More than the rules, the elaboration sections for each blew my mind. Drawing from psychology, experience, theology, and philosophy, Jordan packs a ton of value in this.
Atomic Habits by James Clear (256 Pages): This is a masterclass in breaking bad habits and building good ones — logical frameworks, practical tips, and easy-to-implement roadmaps.
Deep Work by Cal Newport (304 Pages): This paired with the above will revolutionize your productivity and the way you work.
1984 by George Orwell (328 Pages): This book made me lose an entire night of sleep and taught me more about totalitarianism, power dynamics, psychology, etc. more than any class could.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (320 Pages): Despite being set in a humble mental health ward with only a handful of characters, this proved to be my most emotionally stirring read ever.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (576 Pages): Exploring the layers of the human psyche, sub-layers, and layers even under those, this heavy-duty book will take you on a perspiration-inducing philosophical rollercoaster.
Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis (400 Pages): Amis exposed to me a side of money that I did not know existed. Shocking, unapologetic, and raw, this is the tale of an obese, perennially-drunk, street-brawling sex addict.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (384 Pages): Set in the backdrop of war-infested Afghanistan, this is the tale of two women from different generations, brought together by the vagaries of fate — a heart-rending struggle to survive, raise a family, and find happiness.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari (443 Pages): Calling this book a masterpiece would be a gross understatement. No book has widened my perspective and swelled my knowledge as much as this has.
What I’ve Been up To
Before you lambast me for missing the last 2 weeks’ self-scalers, let me apologize → I’ve been super-swamped. It’s like a juggler juggling far too many balls.
All the paper and legal work pertaining to my grandpa’s recent death, my grandma’s breast cancer treatment, my day job, this newsletter, my Medium writing, and a couple of other things.
I wrote 2 free (value-packed) short ebooks - you can grab them here and here. These (books+landing pages) took close to a week to complete.
I also finished migrating my other newsletter Ma(n)ximize from Substack to Mailchimp → the real pain part was making sure I didn’t compromise the experience of my readers.
For this, I had to do a ton of designing and testing. Atop all this, I ran a brutal Russian 3-week squat program that had me sleeping 9+ hours every night, aggressively foam-rolling, and eating like a hog.
Not to mention my mother’s insane nagging that has been pushing me to the edge of my patience.
Phew! You must be tired just reading about all this. But anyways, I’ve something huge planned for January!
It’s a secret as of now but should soon be live. Once that’s sorted and I get back to Bangalore, things should ease.
Happy New Year! Have a blast. This year, don’t just set resolutions, also achieve them with a 100% guarantee.