+ Nate Chai unveils five ways that you can use Jeff Olson’s Slight Edge principals to vastly improve your quality of life
Jeff Olson’s The Slight Edge is a great book for those who are new to personal development (review here), but those who have read more widely may be crying out for some more actionable advice.
The principle of the slight edge is the idiom “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and advocates building something in a steady (albeit slow) way. What I’m going to talk to you about today are five ways I’ve implemented the Slight Edge in my life and (hopefully) inspire some ways that you can give yourself a slight edge.
1. Ride a bike/walk
There’s an old Canadian Air Force exercise manual that gives some advice about how “working out” is not the way to stay healthy, the key is leading a healthy lifestyle. Riding a bike to work (or walking) is so easy not to do, but is an excellent investment – here’s why:
- I save $2.50 (£1.30) a day from not using the bus
- I burn around 400 calories (my commute is 30 minutes there and back)
- I’m actually faster than the bus, arriving on average five to ten minutes earlier than my colleague
- I have an hour a day to listen to audiobooks
Through riding a bike to work I’m saving money, getting fit, and improving my knowledge which is a pretty good deal, to say the least.
2. Take the stairs
My apartment is on the seventh floor and my job is located on the fourth floor so in an effort to improve our fitness my girlfriend and I promised to take the stairs. Initially, it was incredibly difficult to break the years of simply using a lift, but now (after a month) taking the stairs feels natural. And, strangely enough, using the stairs is often just as quick as using the lift.
It may just be a silly psychological boost but taking the stairs gives me an odd sense of control. Instead of standing around waiting for the lift to arrive I’ve SEIZED CONTROL AND WILL REACH MY DESTINATION AS SOON AS MY BODY GETS ME THERE. Also, walking up four flights of stairs is an easy way to exercise your hamstrings.
Again, here I’m building toward fitness and the mindset that exerting myself will give me quicker results.
3. Allocate some time to a personal project daily
When we’re looking to start a business, learn a new skill, or improve ourselves in some way, one excuse we often make is “I don’t have time” or “I’m too busy”. One of the Slight Edge’s guiding principles is the idea of slowly building momentum toward accomplishing something.
My personal project is improving my writing ability. I spend a couple of hours on writing and running a small writing business each day. With those two hours, I write posts, send query letters to publishers, and research articles. However, for many even an hour is a lot to ask for. If you spend 30 minutes a day on developing a skill or learning something, that’s a yearly total of 182.5 hours (which is roughly the same amount of time as two university modules).
4. Cook your own food
At my current job I finish at 10 pm, so the last thing I want to do is spend any more time working. When my girlfriend suggested that we start cooking instead of picking up take-out on our way home, I thought to myself “That sounds like the worst”. But, it’s actually really nice cooking together. We get to work as a team, spend time listening to music or podcasts and decompress together. Not to mention the fact that we have simultaneously made lunch for the next day.
Like riding the bike, cooking food is a fantastic investment:
- I’ve halved my food costs from $10 (£5.35) a day to $5 (£2.67)
- I’ve vastly increased the nutritional value of the food I eat
- I’m improving my ability to cook
- I’ve got more options with what I eat
The long term goal with this is to be able to lead a healthier lifestyle by controlling what I put into my body, and the ability to (happily) live below my means.
5. Spend an hour before bed without any devices
This one originally came from some sleep issues I was having. Up to the minute before I went to bed I’d be on my laptop or using the tablet, but found I had trouble falling asleep.
As soon as the devices were put down my mind would go into overdrive thinking about all the things I wanted to do with my life, business ideas, poems I wanted to write: I literally could not stop thinking.
After my girlfriend and I implemented the device deadline we found ourselves in bed, and something incredible happened… we started chatting. Sometimes we chat about nothing, and sometimes we chat about our dreams, or things we want to do the next day. It’s greatly improved our relationship and now we both sleep like babies.
If you’re a singleton, the same effect can be achieved by writing in a journal before bed. Try drawing a picture, writing a poem, or think about all the tasks that you’d like to accomplish the next day. I guarantee you’ll sleep better.
Obviously, what I’m trying to do here is improve my sleeping schedule. An added bonus, my partner and I’s ability to effectively communicate feelings, desires, and ideas.
These are some things that the Slight Edge has inspired me to do, things that are just as easy to do as they are not to do. You’ve probably noticed by now that most aren’t focused on business, and I have two things to say about that:
- Personal development is about the betterment of all aspects of your life
- Everything you do to improve your life directly affects all the other areas of your life
What Slight Edges do you give yourself? Let me know in the comments.