I created this Codex Vitae, or
book of life, as an exercise within the VIP programme on the Coach.me website.
It is a collection of beliefs and concepts that inform my decisions and life. It is a work in constant flux; as my understanding changes, so will my beliefs. The purpose of this document is to pull my beliefs into the light where I can question them more effectively and to share philosophies, concepts, tools, and inspiration that have been helpful to me.
Read this with the understanding that you are different than me. The way I live my life is not the way you should live yours. Consider creating your own Codex Vitae. Feel free to copy anything here that is helpful.
A note on how the Codex is structured. You will see pre-decisions under many of the categories. You have probably heard the story about how Steve Jobs wore the same clothes every day. That was a pre-decision; it reduced the burden on his attention, freeing him to focus on more important decisions. I have some, which I have described below.
I have also included some of my aspirations. These are habits that aren’t habits yet. Trying to form too many habits at once dooms you to failure, so I log them as aspirations and tackle them two at a time: one habit to start, and one to stop.
Chapter One: Philosophy
Beliefs, principles and political values that guide everything else in the codex.
Beliefs are changeable. If they never change, I never grow.
Most of my internally generated views are old. Most of my externally generated beliefs come from reading books. This is why I read a lot.
“Don't wish it was easier, wish you were better.”
Always keep learning.
Learning is fun, but satisfaction comes with mastery.
Keep promises, no matter how trivial.
Some discomfort is a good thing.
It’s the grind that sharpens the axe. Know your strengths. Build on them.
Know your weaknesses. Find other people for whom they are strengths.
Politics and Society
You are free to judge other people’s beliefs if they impact other people i.e. second-hand smoke, poisoning the environment, etc. Otherwise, leave them alone.
Regrets. Specifically, growing old and feeling I wasted my potential or missed out on experiences that matter to me e.g. living in another culture.
My body will fail me. Even worse, my mind will fail me.
Humanity will be destroyed in my lifetime by AI. What am I currently doing to overcome these fears?
Learning to code.
Looking for a reasonably priced UK based company for a detailed blood screen.
Focusing on health and performance in my fitness regime over aesthetic.
Chapter Two: Personal Systems
Systems and tactics for getting the most out of your life.
Obsessing over more efficient approaches to to-do lists achieves nothing.
Letting other people’s priorities drive yours will stifle your effectiveness. Focus on that which will improve people’s lives the most.
Never have a meeting if a phone call would do.
Focus on performance over how you look. One follows the other. This applies to both fitness and work.
Almost anywhere is a more productive environment than an open plan office. Take the laptop and escape the office for focus.
The Pomodoro technique is a great tool for focus and motivation.
Habits matter. People overestimate what they can achieve in a day and underestimate what they can achieve in a year.
Early is on time; on time is late; late is unforgivable.
Avoid the 24 news cycle. Read thoughtful journals instead.
No “yes”. Either “Hell yeah!” or “no”.
Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. Link diet to fitness goals. Lean meals when cutting fat, a calorie surplus when gaining muscle.
Don't obsess too much about food, but making sure you're eating healthy most of the time.
Invest in your health. Spend a significant amount of your money on food. Quality matters.
Saturated fat is OK. Choose butter over margarine. Full-fat milk over skimmed.
Carbs make you tired, so have plenty at dinner rather than lunch.
When in doubt, make scrambled eggs for breakfast. Add bread only if in a weight gain phase.
Take creatine, vitamin D and fish oil daily.
I have had my genome tested. I metabolise caffeine slowly. This is bad for my health, so I have cut caffeine out of my diet.
Choose what you eat for yourself, not to please other people.
Avoid buyer’s remorse by selecting the first thing you like the look of on a menu.
Have at least one day off from alcohol a week.
Reduce sugar intake.
Cook several times a week.
Eat wild food once a week.
Eat more seasonable food.
Get tested for vitamin D deficiency.
Clothing and Style
Being stylish is more important than being fashionable. Good style never goes out of fashion.
You can be casual and stylish. Conversely, it is possible to meet the requirements of a smart dress code and look awful.
Quality over quantity. Only buy and keep clothes that bring you joy.
If wearing a particular item of clothing makes you feel uncomfortable, get rid of it.
Three outfits suit me (and most men):
A well-made suit with white or blue shirt, snazzy tie, black or brown brogues (depending on if the suit is grey/black or blue/tan) and possibly a pocket square.
Jeans or chinos, smart pumps or brogues, and a casual shirt. Blazer optional.
Jeans, plain t-shirt, pumps.
Socks should complement the trousers, not the shoes.
Never wear clothing with text on it (beyond a small logo).
Shirts must be ironed. As I dislike ironing, it is worth paying other people to do it.
Only own items of clothing that go together with other items I already own.
Keep my shoes in better condition (or find someone I can pay to do this).
Be generous with your knowledge, but don't try to change people who don't want to change.
“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.”
Give timely, compassionate feedback. Be wary of bad feelings festering. If you think you should say something, you should.
Don't look for validation from everyone all the time. Even with people you respect, they won't be right about you all the time.
Introverts have a lot to offer. Find ways to elicit their input.
Remember people’s names.
People are inherently good. Bad actions come from bad situations.
You are the average of the people you spend the most time with.
Invest time in your friendships. It will pay dividends when you need them most.
A £5000 diamond ring = £5 bouquet of flowers. It is the thought that counts. Gift little and often.
If one or both of you are angry with each other, check you are not hungry.
“Get to know your parents; you never know when they'll be gone for good
Be nice to your siblings, they are your best link to your past
And the people most likely to stick with you in the future”
— Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)
I live away from my family, so I try to call mum weekly and want to make the effort to go back home several times a year.
Encourage a large, dedicated family gathering with a consistent date on the calendar. Otherwise, you’ll never see your extended family.
“there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Be the master of your emotions. Your mental health can be independent of what happens to you or around you.
Most people think I am an extrovert. I’m not. I need to be alone to recharge, but too much of this can lead to cabin fever.
The mind and the body are intertwined. See
Physical Fitness and Food. Be grateful. There is always someone in a worse position than you.
Journal daily. Review your journal regularly.
Let go of the bad stuff. Write about and revisit the good stuff.
If you are feeling sad,
smile. If that doesn’t work, laugh. Pay attention to your physical state. It is often a mirror to your mental state. And vice versa.
Keep a folder of
feel good emails. Aspirations
Note what I am appreciative for in my daily journal.
“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training.
It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing
the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”
Focus on performance over aesthetic.
Invest in your health. Most personal trainers are awful. Find a good coach who can teach you proper form. If you are in London, I can recommend
Neil Meekings. Overtraining leads to injury. Avoid injuries and ease back if one appears.
Sleep is important. Make time for it. Focus on quality as well as quantity.
The things you own end up owning you.
Keep only what brings you joy. Remove the junk, so you have room for your treasure. If you are comfortable financially, it can be easy to forget you are and want more. If the only debt you have is a mortgage and you can afford to pay it, life is pretty good.
Quality matters. Buy the best you can afford. Even if this means you cannot buy much.
Chapter Three: Work
Lessons for business, work, and building things.
Simplify. It is vain to do with more what can be done with fewer.
Know what you need to be good at to do your job well. Then become world-class in those skills.
“Be so good they can’t ignore you.”
Leadership and management
Be nice. A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall. Criticising others creates a toxic environment. Don’t do it and discourage other from doing it.
Trust people to do the right thing. Trust but verify.
Delegate heavily and hold people accountable. Support people when they need it.
When it comes to standards, it is not what you preach, but what you tolerate.
If your boss isn’t making a decision promptly or providing necessary support for you or your team, don’t blame your boss. First blame yourself. Communicate better.
The only meaningful measure of a leader is whether the team succeeds or fails.
Write well. It is worth investing time to ensure your ideas are understood easily.
Look for clutter in your writing and prune it ruthlessly.
Don’t write in the negative.
Break the rules every once in a while.
Cut out modifying words. For example, instead of
very interesting, try fascinating. Be yourself in your writing.
Write in the first person. If you are not allowed to, write you first draft in the first person.
Grammarly to check important documents. Public Speaking
Use stories over slides.
Start as you mean to go on; practice without notes.
Only commit to speaking if you have sufficient time to prepare well. No talk is better than a bad talk, or even worse, a forgettable presentation.