I have a few questions for you, and be honest:
- do you like the man you see in the mirror
- are you the best possible version of yourself you could be at this stage in your life?
- Are you physically, mentally, emotionally and financially strong
- Do you have the respect and status you want?
If you said no, you are not alone. I think most men, including myself, don’t like the answers to those questions if we are being honest.
Are most men lazy or stupid or cowardly? Certainly, some are but in my experience most guys-while not super men-are decent and capable human beings.
So again I ask, Why are we all so disappointed with ourselves and our lives?
I believe it’s because we have been duped into buying a false bill of goods my friends.
Society tells us that comfort and ease will make us happy, instant gratification will make us happy, consumer goods will make us happy, safety, women, drugs, and alcohol will make us happy.
This is WRONG!
Have you ever felt good or accomplished after binge-watching Netflix or playing video games for hours, or did you secretly feel slothful and guilty?
How does the fast food you put down your gaping pie hole make you feel and perform? Do you feel good about your self 2 seconds after rubbing one out thinking about the cute receptionist at your office?
In contrast to those modern comforts that give you instant gratification how would you feel about yourself if instead…
Instead of binge-watching Netflix or playing video games you went outside and interacted with other humans, perhaps while learning a new skill or engaging in some kind of recreational activity or building a new skill?
Would you like the man in the mirror more if you had the guts to have lunch and an actual conversation with the cute girl from work rather than just masturbating to the thought of her?
How would you look, feel and perform if you prepped healthy meals for yourself? Would you be more desirable to women, have more energy to be more outgoing and have the mental focus to kick more ass in your career?
Monk Mode: a Path To Fulfillment?
Men have not taken the human race from hunter-gatherers chasing wildebeest on the savannahs of East Africa to where we are today because of comfort, safety or instant gratification.
The truth is we are hard-wired with “neurochemical reward system” that make us happy ONLY through moving forward, exploring the unknown, struggle, danger and accomplishment.
That is the real secret to a happy fulfilling and meaningful life filled with adventures and great enthusiasms!
Imagine waking up every day with energy and confidence and enthusiasm.
Imagine being the kind of man who rolls out of bed at the same early hour every day, reviews his goals, sets his agenda carpe the fuck out of that diem”
Imagine having the career and income you want and the respect from your peers as one of the very best at what you do.
Imagine having the confidence to walk into any room with shoulders back, your head up and a big shit eating grin on your face and having the status to approach anyone you want whether that’s a beautiful woman or important business contact and confidently striking up a conversation.
Imagine having the energy and focus to explore all your varied interests live a more exciting and adventurous life learning and exploring and building useful skills.
That all sounds great but how is the question.
Enter Monk Mode
“Monk Mode” is a framework for eliminating distractions, integrating winning habits into your daily life in order to better yourself. So you can create the private victories that make you proud to be you and gain you the status and respect you want in your public life.
I first became aware of the concept of monk mode from Victor pride of the “Bold and Determined” blog who uses his version of monk mode for extreme productivity in his businesses.
But as far as I can tell, the person who coined the phrase and concept of monk mode is the anonymous writer of the Illimitablemen.com blog.
The gentleman who wrote the monk mode blog post created a 3 part framework to achieve monk mode.
This framework reminds a little of “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown, which is a worthwhile read about how to eliminate distraction and focus on what truly matters in order to maximize productivity without stress and overwhelm.
Since I am a systems thinker and need to create a standard operating procedure for everything, I have attempted to organize a series of 11 actions and principles within this 3 part framework.
NOTE: My goal for this post is to create a living document that will improve over time to serve as a step-by-step actionable process for practicing "monk mode" as a way for men to become more self-actualized.
11-Steps To Achieving Monk Mode
Let’s begin at the beginning, with introspection. This can be the most difficult step for many.
Because we are under constant bombardment from media, culture and other people’s agenda’s it is difficult for the average joe to get more than a few seconds a day of silence to contemplate his own values, principles, and aspirations.
When confronted with silence, left alone with our own thoughts we often feel challenged, angry, and disappointed but this is necessary in order to gain clarity and direction in our lives.
There’s no sense in the jumping straight to action if you’re headed in the wrong direction, so let’s spend some quiet time in introspection.
1.) Begin With The End In Mind (Goal Setting):
Start at the end, I mean the very end, your death.
What do you want your legacy to be? What will people say about you after your gone-if anything at all? What do you want on your epitaph?
this might sound like a huge question to ask yourself and you may, in all honesty, throw your hands up and say “I don’t know!”
That’s ok because we have never been taught this principle of goal setting, so here’s a chunked down way to think about it.
In “The 7-Habits of Highly Effective People” Stephan Covey talks about how to organize your goals in your mind so you know why you want to be “highly effective”.
I find that men are most concerned about 3 main parts of their lives and the rest is trivial.
Those three parts are:
If you can get your shit together in these 3 areas, you have what can lead to your legacy-a.k.a. the end goal.
Under each one of those 3 areas of your life, imagine what your loved ones would say about those areas of your life and how it affected them- at your funeral. That is the legacy you most want.
Once you have a clear idea of the legacy you want to leave to the world its time to figure out the broad strokes on how to get there.
Life has a funny way of throwing us curve balls and our journey can lead to unexpected places, however, you must have an overall direction and mission or you’ll be lost and unfulfilled.
Ask yourself what will need to happen long term in your life to achieve those goals around your health, wealth and relationships. Then break them down decade by decade.
If you want a family, you’ll need to find a woman who shares your values, get married and have children before she is too old.
If you want to rise above your class and build a financial legacy that will afford future generations opportunities you didn’t have, you’re going to have to build new skills, new networks of people, go into different businesses and execute a series of transactions big enough to get there.
If you want to be healthy enough to work for all the decades it will take to build your legacy you’re going need to be strong, pain-free, disease free, and cognitively sharp until the very end.
Now that you have the broad strokes break down further and concentrate on the goals you need to hit in the next 3-5 years to begin this journey.
Then break that goal down to what you need to accomplish in the next years time.
Break down yearly goals into quarterly goals and quarterly goals into monthly goals.
Break monthly goals down into weekly goals and weekly goals down to daily goals.
Now that you know what you need to accomplish each day to fulfill your legacy, let’s give you a framework for owning your day and getting shit done with maximum efficiency and minimum stress.
2.) Own Your Day (time management):
Fuck your email inbox and your “to-do list”. Those are nothing more than other priorities for your time.
To maximize productivity you need to ruthlessly implement a few basic principles.
I’ve learned these basic principles of time management from Successful entrepreneur and best selling author Craig Ballantyne’s book, “The perfect day formula” is a good read for owning your day.
Single-tasking. Multitasking is for morons, its a myth, you will never be able to do your best work while you’re focused is split.
You must have specific times every day dedicated completely to the most important tasks that get you closer to your goals.
These specific times a day should have a hard start and end time with a 5-minute rest between before moving on to the next task.
Do the most important or challenging task first. you must identify the actions that get you closer to your goals in the most efficient way possible and schedule a time to get those tasks done first thing in your day.
Then schedule your must do items in order of cognitive demand with the most challenging early in the day and the least challenging later.
Now that you’ve blocked off specific times of day for the most important items to get you closer to building your legacy we still have to address the mundane bullshit that is unavoidable in life.
3.) How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything (Organization):
All this means is have a place for everything and have everything in its place.
You will find that a cluttered home or office will lead to a cluttered mind. Don’t wast a mental bandwidth on trivialities.
Make your bed, clean your home, create designated areas for your keys, coat, bills, and mail, etc.
Designate 1 day and time each week for trivial bull shit. I for instance like to set aside 2 hours every Friday to check on bills, cleaning my home, doing laundry or running out to restock the fridge.
Setting aside a specific day and time to get this busy work done gets those trivial “to-do list” items out of my head and keeps my thinking focused on more important things day to day.
Tim Ferris is well known for his idea of automating, delegate or eliminate, from his bestseller “The 4 Hour Work Week“.
We all could take a lesson from a minimalist approach to life. We all can look around our homes right now and see tons of shit we don’t need or use on a regular basis we could easily throw out and never miss.
You can automate a great deal these days like paying bills or having Amazon deliver staple household items automatically at predetermined intervals.
Given the means, you can delegate the cleaning of your home, your car, your yard work to a professional who will do a better job, save you time and cost you less than what you could otherwise be making if you worked those hours.
So much of what robs us of our true purpose and happiness in life is constant distractions that promise instant gratification but leave us feeling ashamed, weak, and unproductive.
The dopamine hits we get from porn, social media and entertainment will take a strategy to eliminate from our lives.
It is our distractions that keep us from working on the long term goals that allow us to build new skills and become better men who deserve what we want in life.
Have you ever marveled at someone like Elon Musk or Leonardo da Vinci or Benjamin Franklin?
Men with a seemingly impossible number of varied interests that they excel at. These so-called renaissance men are brilliant individuals but I believe every man can build a well-rounded set of skills and enthusiasm with the time we could all save from eliminating impulsive distractions.
4.) Eliminate Impulsive Distractions:
We have already covered time management. Simply having your days regimented with only the most important activities will go a long way to save us from our self-destructive impulses. Idle hands are the devil’s playground you know!
But that not enough! I recommend identifying your top 3 impulsive distractions.
these could include:
- Video Games
- Internet Porn
- Social Media
- going out and drinking with your loser friends who drag you down
- shitty snack foods, candy and baked goods that are ruining your health
These can vary from person to person, just pick the top 3 that are currently robbing you of your time and eliminate them.
Give your video game counsel away, delete your social media apps off your phone, change your number and tell your loser friends to fuck off, stop banging worthless sluts, and cancel the cable.
Elimination will be difficult if you don’t replace these habits with something more constructive because of its not just the neurochemical addiction but the ritual.
Pick something that makes you better than you can do quickly when you feel the impulse do something counterproductive.
My personal favorite is exercise but it can be any number of things.
If you feel the urge to take a break from productive activity and watch t.v. or play video games drop and give me 20! I’m serious, a 3 exercise circuit is a great way to get some exercise in, boost energy, improve your health and cognition!
If your feeling like jerking off, do 20 air squats, 20 push-ups real quick, then get back to work.
5.) Embrace The Hero’s Journey:
No one becomes a hero without slaying their own persona leviathan, yet we seek a life of ease and feel like victims when the going gets tough.
We must go towards our goals knowing that it will be harder and take longer than we expect.
Overcoming challenges and solving problems is what makes winners after all.
as Tony Robbins said, “don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better!”
Understand that nothing worth having is easy to obtain and the greater the challenge the better you will feel once you obtain it.
Here’s what the “hero’s journey” looks like according to Joseph Campbell:
- The call to adventure
- supernatural aid
- the crossing of the threshold away from life as you know it into the unknown
- challenge and hardship, and temptation
- The epiphany, the death of your former self
- transformation into the hero
- atonement-the reaching or the goal the correction of the wrong
- returning victorious and reaping the rewards
So when the going inevitably gets tough, remind yourself that your living your hero’s journey and keep going, which leads us to number 6…
6.) Relentless Persistence:
This may seem more like a battle cry or just positive thinking but there are actionable techniques that will give you more endurance and fortitude when pursuing a goal or simply trying to rebuild your lifestyle by staying in monk mode for prolonged periods of time.
The first trick to relentless persistence is counter-intuitive. You must ask yourself, “is this plan of action sustainable over the long run?”
In the united states, we are accustomed to the all or nothing, binge mentality of pursuing goals.
Take fitness, for example, the magazines have headlines like, “lose 30 pounds in 30 days”, “insane” workouts that will get you “ripped in 90 days!”
But when you go towards a goal with the all or nothing mentality you neglect other important areas of your life, you burn out and don’t enjoy the journey and sooner than later you quit.
Instead of pursuing a goal like a child chasing an ice cream truck how about we use the Ben Frankin approach.
Ben Franklin was known to set aside an hour a day for reading, learning new skills and introspection.
This seemingly small investment of time obviously paid big returns as Frankin became a great statesman, inventor, entrepreneur and inventor and apparently a prolific ladies man.
If your goals involve the field your currently working in and you can dedicate all day every day to its pursuit, awesome, have at it.
Most of the time, we are pursuing a new course of action or something not directly related to our career and setting aside a realistic amount of time each day to work towards it is the way to go to make sure you can continue the effort as long it will take to reach the goal.
Don’t worry about not having time either, in monk mode you won’t be wasting time with bullshit like t.v. or video games and you will be shocked at how many hours you have in the day to become a better man.
The second trick to relentless persistence is the integrating of 1 success habit at a time.
Leo Babauta of the zenhabits.com blog calls this “The single change” method. He points out that when attempting to integrate new habits into your day to day…
- If you try to integrate 1 habit at a time you will have an 85% success rate.
- Add just one more habit and try to integrate 2 habits at once, your rate of success will plummet to just 35%
- Add a 3rd habit at a time and your chances of success plummet again to just below 10%
You can take as little as one week or an entire month to integrate a new success habit into your day to day lifestyle, the important part is to keep integrating better and better habits over time so that soon the default lifestyle that you live without even trying leads to success and happiness.
The last technique I want to share with you will make you more relentlessly persistent every day starting today!
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.
The 6-steps to the Pomodoro Technique:
- Decide on the task to be done.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes
- Work on the task.
- End work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
- If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a 3–5 minutes break, then go to step 2 and get back to work.
- After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1
Finally, time to take action!
These are the most important ACTION steps to entering monk mode! Integrating other success habits into your lifestyle later is fine but if you want to enter monk mode and win, start with these.
7.) Optimize Sleep
sleep is everything. If you don’t sleep you crave sugar all day and you eat like crap. If you don’t sleep you have no energy to workout and take care of yourself. If you don’t sleep you can’t concentrate for the long hours it takes to excel in your career.
Because you sleep every night and is so critical to every part of your life, Optimizing sleep is a great first success habit to integrate into your daily life. Here’s how…
The number 1 rule for optimizing your sleep: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every night 7 days a week.
To get to bed on time you must have a wind-down ritual:
- Stop drinking caffeine 10 hours before bedtime-even when you don’t feel the effects, caffeine can keep you out of deep r.e.m. sleep
- do not use alcohol or THC to wind down. Although these are both suppressants that make you feel tired they too will reduce your deep r.e.m. sleep.
- Use blue light blocking glasses as soon as the sun sets.
- Stop the use of anything with a screen at least an hour and preferably 2 hours before you want to be lights out.
- Be in bed 30-60 minutes before you want to be lights out, reading a book or journaling, anything that doesn’t involve a screen that helps you wind down.
Optimize the sleep environment:
- Keep your room as dark as possible.
- Keep the room cold, research indicates that we sleep better in a colder room.
- Keep the room as quiet as possible.
- don’t have a t.v. in the room you sleep in
- If you must keep your phone in the room put it across the room and put it in airplane mode at night.
8.) Eat Clean
Along with sleep, no other aspect of your day to day life will impact your performance in monk mode than your diet.
There are a lot of nutrition cults out there and almost all of them are bullshit. If you want to use nutrition to optimize focus and productivity in monk mode here’s how to do it.
Go carnivore for 30 days. This will do 2 critical things for you:
- Rid your diet of any or all of the foods that inhibit your performance.
- Teach your body and brain to use ketones as energy-a far more abundant and efficient energy source than carbs/ glucose.
After you complete 30 days of a carnivore you can experiment with re-introducing foods back into your diet one at a time to see what foods enhance performance which foods degrade performance.
After this 30-day induction phase, I find the most sustainable performance-enhancing diet for most intelligent ambitious men is the good ol’ fashion “steak and eggs” diet from old school bodybuilding legend Vince Gironda.
Gironda created the diet back in the 60’s to help his bodybuilders-including Arnold Schwarzenegger to get shredded for bodybuilding shows.
The steak and eggs diet is essentially combining an intermittent fasting eating schedule with a cyclical ketogenic diet.
It looks like this:
Monday through Saturday:
- Skip breakfast
- Eat steak and eggs for lunch
- Eat steak and eggs for dinner with a mixed green salad.
In this diet, Sunday is a cheat day where you can eat whatever you like including carbs, here’s what I enjoy doing.
- grab a cup of black coffee and take a casual stroll for about an hour in the morning.
- Go to brunch and have french toast or pancakes with syrup and 2 eggs
- Go to dinner and have sushi, Thai, Indian, Mexican, Italian-whatever carb-heavy food I’m in the mood for.
- Sometimes this can also include day drinking with friends
Developing metabolic flexibility and making red meat the basis of your diet will help you achieve monk mode by:
- Using ketones give you relentless all day energy and mental focus you need to maximize productivity in monk mode.
- eliminate the need to use valuable decision making on what to eat, since you will be eating the same thing most of the time.
- teach your body to break its sugar cravings making it easier to eat healthy
- drops unwanted body fat and gets you washboard abs lean without having to try.
- greatly reduces inflammation in the body reducing your chances of all lifestyle diseases common in developed western countries.
- Fasting will allow your bodies natural detoxification processes called autophagy to rid your body of potentially harmful and weaker cells.
Daily movement is a non negotiable if you want to enter monk mode.
If you want to optimize your software (your mind) you must take care of your hardware (your body).
The mind and body are not separate they are one and the same. A weak body leads to a weak mind.
There are many ways to get some worthwhile exercise but the basis of your exercise program should be strength training.
You can take the minimalist route and use primarily body weight along with a few basic implements such as a chin-up bar, gymnastic rings, and kettlebells at home.
Or you can be more ambitious and use a barbell and a power rack for some serious strength training.
There are many ways to organize your weekly workouts.
You can alternate days between strength and conditioning. You can use a workout split that allows for daily lifting. It all depends on your personal preference.
The hard fast rules are that you set aside a specific time every day for physical exercise.
If you can work out first thing in the morning, it is often preferable because all your distractions are still asleep and you enter your work day with a win and high energy and confidence.
Let’s look at couple basic examples of workouts you can integrate into your life.
Minimalist at-home body weight/ kettlebell workout:
- kettlebell goblet squat
- Kettlebell clean and press
- single leg RDL with kettlebell
- pull-up/ chin-up on a bar or gymnastic rings
- Kettlebell swing
- push-up on the floor or gymnastic rings
- reverse lunge holding kettlebell
- inverted row on gymnastic rings
Now let’s look at a workout utilizing a barbell, power rack and cable machines you have access to at a commercial gym.
- Barbell squat 5×5
- bench press 5×5
- romanian deadlift 3×8
- seated cable row with straight bar 5×10
- Deadlift 5×5
- over head barbell press 5×5
- bulgarian split squat 3×8
- pull-up/chin-up 5xamrap
10.) Prayer/ Meditation
If there is 1 almost universal practice among top performers its a meditation practice.
The reason for this should be obvious. We are bombarded at all times by society and our own subconscious with thoughts and emotions that can easily make us unhappy or throw us off our path.
Meditation teaches us to quit our mind and create distance between ourselves and our thoughts and feelings so that we can have the presence of mind to act rationally instead of reacting emotionally.
Since every new level of life requires that we take on more responsibility and therefore stress its no wonder that captains of industry and sports starts are always talking about their meditation practice.
Like fitness, there are many ways to meditate. However, there are a few central themes that many different types of meditation practice stress.
The first principle is learning to simply take time to sit or walk in meditation with the intention of silencing the racing thoughts in your mind and allowing yourself to stand back and notice the feelings and thoughts that come up, realize that you are the thinker and not the thought and watch those thoughts and emotion drift through your mind like dry leaves on a river.
You can do this by simply sitting in a comfortable position somewhere quiet and concentrate on your breath. To help you can count your inhales and exhales until you reach 10 and start over, you can synchronize your inhale and exhale with your steps in walking meditation, you can simply focus on the sensation of the air flowing in your nostrils and out your mouth, or you could use a mantra which you repeat to bring your thoughts back to the present when you feel your mind begins to wonder.
If you’re a type A guy who needs a goal and a purpose for meditation, not to worry. Although worthless-often broke-hippies would probably give me shit for having a goal, meditation can be a hugely useful tool for staying focused on your big picture goals and recreating yourself.
Here is a morning meditation sequence that I like to use for just 10 minutes immediately upon waking.
- Breath and count my breaths for a few minutes until I feel my mind settle-usually about 5 minutes.
- Acknowledge a higher power and…
- give thanks for 3 specific good things in your life
- ask for help to be your best
- envision your big picture goal-your legacy, the man you want to become and the life you want to have.
- rapid rehearsal of your day: picture being your best self conquering every aspect of your day with efficiency, focus, and strength.
- use a “trigger to action”: once you have your vision and intentions for the day use your trigger to internalize and embody your vision and activate yourself. This can be anything of your choosing, I simply like to stand up from my mediation, snap my fingers and go into my day.
- kick ass and take names
11.) Strategic Hedonism:
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy after all.
Being in monk mode and making it a sustainable part of your lifestyle is important to achieve your highest aspirations.
Time to socialize and cut loose can and should be used as a tool to drive achievement.
The way most people seek pleasurable company or hedonistic enjoyment is unconcious and impulsive which we all know leads to nowhere.
So instead of wasting valuable time at happy hour every day, distracting yourself chasing multiple women all week or getting so shit faced and sleep deprived on the weekends you cant perform your best on Monday I suggest what I call “strategic hedonism.”
Shcedule one day a week completely away from your work. Usually this is Sunday for most people. As a driven man this will be difficult at first but ultimately wboosts perfromance on Monday.
taking a day off to to be lazy and drift through your day with no plan or goal is the goal. Fill sunday with a walk, a hike or soe other recreational activity.
Have your best girl over Satuday night, sleep in, have some morning sex and go to brunch.
Meet up with high quality ambitous friends for a “sunday funday” and unwid, solidify your relationships, and maybe talk a little shop.
You can also be anti-social and stay home and read a book, go to a movie or workout, binge watch game of thrones or yes, even play video games, whatever you feel you need-just no work.
The other way to use strategic hedonism is as a mini reward for hitting short term goals.
Think of your 1 day off as a reward for kicking ass all week.
I like to set up a long 3-4 day weekend once a quarter as a goal and reward for killing my quarterly goals.
You could even schedule your yearly 2-4 week vacation in advanced as a way to motivate you to hit your yearly goals and earn your vacation.
Being in monk mode is not about punishment or sacrifice. Monk mode is about reaching your highest individual potential so that you can enjoy the good times knowing that you earned them.
What Monk Mode Really Is…
I get the impression that monk mode is seen as a temporary flurry of self-denial for the sake of extreme productivity or self-improvement.
I respectfully disagree.
I think monk mode is a way to create a long term sustainable lifestyle and framework for eliminating the impulsive distractions of the modern world and achieving self-actualization through the focus on meaningful work and the things in life that truly make us happy in the long run.