The Self-Perpetuating Cycle of Letting Go and Mental Clarity

Three days ago, I started a 30 day mental clarity experiment. This might as well be the most effective personal development exercise I have every done.

This experiment isn’t about adding anything extra to my already cluttered daily routine. On the contrary it is about letting go.

My previous 30 day experiment was reduced Internet usage experiment. Without knowing it back then, that experiment was a kick start to the mental clarity experiment.

Back then, I made a list of Internet usage habits and wrote next to them what the ideal usage would be. I achieved 90% of that list.

Results So Far

At the start of the mental clarity experiment, I made a new list to pay attention to. I already reduced my caffeine consumption, which had a huge impact on my sleep and emotional stability. Both of which were on my list of items to improve.

I have already reduced distraction and daily calories. There was another item on my list that could be improved further. That item was space.

Another Point of Improvement

By space, I mean giving myself more free time for recuperation and reflection. Yesterday, I made another list of the habits that still consume my time and attention.

There were two important items on that list. This blog was one of them and Steemit was another. It was obvious to me that I couldn’t sustain both of them at the same time. One of them had to go.

Each one of the habits, a personal blog and Steemit, could take as much time as a full time job and more. I already have a full time job. That meant one of them had to go. Having three jobs was just not sustainable.

Steemit vs. Own Blog

Steemit was paying me. Not great sums, but the rewards I received were promising for the future. However, I had to dive deeper. This wasn’t something I could do next to my full time job and blog.

My blog didn’t pay me anything yet, but I already published 120+ posts and 100K+ words. I’ve built a list of 30+ email newsletter subscribers and 300+ Medium followers. I know those numbers aren’t that much, but I built them organically, not artificially.

It would be a pity to quit a project where I created so much that it could easily fill a book and some following. I want to complete the first six months and publish a book, and then see what I will do about it.

Steemit is an interesting project for sure. It has its challenges. Maybe, it will pick up, become mainstream, and I’m missing an opportunity at this moment. Maybe, its market capitalization will keep decreasing and so will the rewards it gives to its users. I don’t know.

In either case, the decision was obvious. I had to give up on one of them and it had to be Steemit, because I already made too much progress in my blog to quit it right now.

That decision was a liberating one. When I was spending time on Steemit searching for a post that is worth reading and commenting, I knew it was a waste of time.

The signal to noise ratio on Steemit was around 1 to 100. That is 1 interesting post, which I could learn something from vs 100 useless posts. That was a huge waste of time, even if it promised financial rewards.

Improved Decision Making

One important result of higher mental clarity is that decisions become easy. They are almost obvious. When I’m in that relaxed state, I ask myself how I couldn’t see something this obvious before.

Decision making is an important part of human life. Hesitancy not only keeps us from succeeding in life, it also causes a lot of stress.

I have already written about decision making before, but now that I have experienced a higher state of mental clarity, I can say that mental clarity is a critical part of decision making.

What am I going to do with the extra time?

There are four things that I want to spend more time on. Recuperation, reflection, reading, and writing my book.

Sleep

Recuperation includes more sleep. I can’t emphasize enough the difference between a day after a good night’s sleep and a bad one.

The difference isn’t only physical, but sleep has a huge effect on mental performance as well. I just can’t go through my days with reduced mental performance just to work an extra hour a day.

That extra hour of work stolen from your sleep has a much higher cost in the rest of your working day.

Reflection

Reflecting on my life and on my future is something I enjoy doing. This is something different than just thinking and mindstorming. Thinking and mindstorming have their place, but they aren’t a replacement for reflection.

In reflection, I ask myself a question and don’t actively think about it. I get into a relaxed mental state and let the answers come up. Then, I write down the answers and act on them.

Sometimes, the answers don’t come immediately, but later in the day while I’m doing something completely irrelevant like driving.

Those answers are so subtle that you have to notice then when they come up and write them down in the first opportunity, because you never know where they will lead.

Reading

What I have missed in the last month is consuming quality content. I spent a lot of time reading low quality content on Steemit to comment them. Even though there were some interesting ones which I learned from, the majority of it was not worth my time to say the least.

Unfortunately, I have done this with Medium as well. The idea explained in many how-to guides was that you should read and comment other people’s posts, especially the ones with a small following.

I disagree. My strategy for building a following will be writing the best content that I can write on a consistent basis. In other words, I will focus on the essentials.

If that strategy doesn’t work out, so be it. I will just not waste my time reading low quality content, to comment it and to grow my following.

There are way too many interesting, original, quality books, audiobooks, and posts on my list that I want to consume. I just don’t want to consume anything less interesting, less original, and lower quality than that, for whatever reason.

Writing my Book

As I have mentioned before, there are 120+ posts and 100K+ words published on my blog. There exists a book in all of that content.

I don’t mean publishing a selection of blog posts. I mean a complete book based on those ideas, but organized in a way, there’s a logical flow. Each section, each idea builds on top of each other and the book is complete from fundamental principles to applications.

Yesterday, I made a mind map of all of my blog posts, organized in topics, which was an interesting exercise. I could see how those posts were concentrated around certain topics and how they could be organized in a book.

When that book is complete and published, I will consider this blog again, whether I want to continue with this or not. If I want to continue, how do I want to continue?

Conclusion

As I let go of old habits, I achieve more mental clarity. Then, I become aware of other habits that don’t serve me at this moment in my life. It’s only logical to let go of them as well.

Participating at Steemit and reading content just to comment it were two of such habits that didn’t serve me. I let them go and created some more space which will contribute to my mental clarity.

Moreover, I’m going to use that extra time for more useful things such as recuperation, reflection, consuming quality content, and writing a book.

The more I let go, the more mental clarity I have. The more mental clarity I have, the more I let go. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.

Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.