You are what you did

You are what you did

We live in a world that is fixated on the future.

I’ve lived for many years imagining that someday I will arrive in a fantastical world of the future where I have no problems and everything is milk and honey.

The problem is that I like problems.

The other problem is that by definition - you can never actually arrive in the future.

I’ve recently made a very serious effort to focus more on the present and the process of life.
This is in contrast to perpetual planning, strategizing, and dreaming about a future state of being.

By focusing on the inputs, you will get the outcomes that are derived from the process.

I think there is a real problem with analysis by paralysis. We spend so much time thinking about what we could do.
You can read dozens of books, videos, and consume hours of podcasts about self-help, productivity, habits, routines, diets, fitness plans, and more.

However, I think the issue is that the consumption of the information becomes the thing

This replaces actually doing the thing.

You are what you did.
This requires action.

Your current state of being is the result of actions such as:

  • The number of steps you take each day.
  • The food you eat.
  • The people you surround yourself with.
  • The type of media you consume.
  • The stretching routine you do.
  • The fitness plan you follow.
  • The mobility practice you observe.
  • The way in which you modulate stress.
  • The amount of hours you sleep.

If you want to get better at taking action - you need to take command of your dopamine reward system.

You can do this by rewarding the process, not the outcome.

The simplest version of this is the daily checklist.
Create the inputs, cross them off as they are completed, and get that hit of dopamine.
Repeat forever.


To elaborate, I’ve made the doing the reward instead of the outcome.

The ‘thing’ is still tied to a goal, but the real difference is in how I’m rewarding progress towards the goal.

Think of the classic fundraiser.
You fill in the thermometer with colored markers as funds are raised and you get closer to the goal.
This is focused on the outcome.


I want to measure and reward the process.

How many people did I call?

How many doors did I knock on?

How many posts did I make?

In regards to health and fitness, you reward action.

Did I hit my daily step goal?

Did I do my workout?

Did I get nutritious sleep?

Did I follow my nutrition plan?

These inputs result in the ultimate goal, but they also are a goal and reward in themselves.

This is true if you learn to control your mind.

Reward yourself with a tasty bite of dopamine when you do the thing. 

The reward is intrinsic. 

You don’t get a piece of cake or ice cream - you get dopamine Made in the Y.O.U..

And you can set the bar extremely low.

Instead of making the daily goal to do the workout, the daily goal could be as simple as putting on your workout clothes and/or workout shoes.

The drip of dopamine that you get from completing the task is what we’re after.

Action builds momentum.

I cannot tell you how many 1-mile walks have turned into 3-mile walks.

How many “I’ll just do a short workout” turned into a proper session.

How many “I’ll just write a few sentences” turned into pages.

How many “I’ll just do a few reps” turned into a lot.

You cannot think yourself into good health.

Good health is the result of all the things you did.

Be a doer.

-Wildman Dan

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