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Tallinn, Estonia- May 19th, 2011. Barbie and Ken are sitting together outside. Ken has his arm wrapped around Barbie.

Our Goals for 2021: Becoming Minimalist, 75 Hard, The 3-Month Rule, and More | The Hart of Health Podcast S1 E28

Joané & Jonathan: (00:03)
Hi. I’m Joané Hart and I’m Jonathan Hart and this is The Hart of Health, the show where we focus mainly on health and self optimization. Here, we like to talk about our experiences and knowledge when it comes to health and biohacking. We hope you enjoy the show.

Joané: (00:34)
Hi everyone. On today’s podcast, we’re talking about our goals for the year.

Jonathan: (00:41)
I feel like I’ve got a little bit of goal setting PTSD from last year.

Joané: (00:47)
Last year, at the beginning of the year, we set goals for the year and then, well, everybody knows what happened then. With a lockdown in our country and the virus and borders being shut down and people not being able to travel, a lot changed and you kind of get scared to set goals because you just don’t know what’s going to happen in the future and things can change at any moment. So we’re definitely not setting travel goals for this year.

Jonathan: (01:21)
I don’t think traveling will be a thing, especially since South Africa has a new variant, which is just typical. It’s sort of one of those things where you realize just how your goals can sort of mean nothing because you don’t have full control of what happens in the world. I definitely think people now realize that you can’t really make such long-term grand schemes because those are the ones that are more likely to not be able to foresee the thing that’s coming. That’s going to completely ruin your ability to do those things.

Joané: (02:05)
Yeah. How many people had business goals and then because of the virus and lockdowns, they weren’t even allowed to work or operate. So definitely don’t set goals too far in the future. I still think goal setting is important and I still really like it, but I learned when to set goals more than three months into the future.

Jonathan: (02:33)
Yeah. That’s probably good peer advice, I think. On a month to month basis, things don’t change too drastically, but in the span of a year or two years, things can change very dramatically. As we’ve now found out. Things were pretty stable for a while, but now we realize just how volatile things can be. Now it’s hard to escape that reality and be like, yeah, I’m going to expect everything to remain exactly as it is now for the next 10 years. It’s like, no. I think shorter-term planning is a good idea and try and anticipate the unexpected as well. So now you’ve gotten that. We’ve now got an example of something that can happen. So you can also maybe now think out of the box a bit more to think of like what could happen.

Joané: (03:26)
Yeah. I think saving money should be one of everybody’s goals. If you’re not able to work, you think, Oh, I’m living from month to month, paycheck to paycheck and then a global pandemic breaks out.

Jonathan: (03:45)
Yeah and that’s a problem. We realize just how many people are living month to month because they took real strain. So I think the lesson you can learn from this is that living month to month is a very fragile position. For the times where things get rough, it’d be nice to have a bit of savings. As this relates to health, that will reduce your anxiety as well.

Joané: (04:14)
Yeah. If you know that you have a safety net in the bank and you get retrenched from your job, then you’re not going to freak out as much. You’re not going to be as stressed. You’re not going to be in such a tight position. I think maybe a lot of people’s goals will involve setting themselves up for the future. Almost like doomsday prepping. I don’t know for sure, but for the last few decades around every 10 years or so there’s some sort of recession happening or some economic problem. Obviously I remember 2008 and then now obviously 2020 was a very bad financial year for most of the world. And then obviously 2021 will still suffer because of it. A lot of people are going to be traumatized by this. Also know you should always be prepared for like some sort of recession hitting or financially challenging times and saving money, building some sort of a safety system for yourself would be good. And also doing things like, Oh, if you have a business, keeping your costs low or getting remote employees or paying freelancers and stuff like that. Setup your business so that you don’t have super high expenses. Then if there is a problem, you can survive a little bit longer. I think things like that.

Jonathan: (06:03)
There were a lot of lessons learned in this last year for many people

Joané: (06:07)
And take care of your health because if a health pandemic breaks out and you have insulin resistance or heart disease or something that you got because you had poor diet and lifestyle before, then you’re going to be one of the people that’s more at risk. So taking care of your health is super important and will also help you in the future.

Jonathan: (06:33)
Yeah. This is the message that’s not being spoken about enough. Everyone’s putting too much emphasis on masks, social distancing, sanitizing and all those things. Not to say that I know that those things are ineffective or that no one should bother with those things. Obviously, the research still needs to be done and the jury is still out on just how effective they are for better or worse. But you can say one thing for sure is I haven’t heard any of the mainstream media really talking about like, Oh, people, this is the time where you should get healthy. You should make sure you’re getting good amounts of vitamin D, sleep, zinc or whatever, you know? Just some sort of health advice, even if it’s not necessarily the best advice, like say go plant-based. There’s just nothing.

Jonathan: (07:31)
There are no messages coming through saying how you live and what you eat and what you do directly correlates to your chances with this virus. Looking after your immune system means looking after your whole body. That includes sleep, diet, exercise, and lifestyle factors. That’s definitely what it’s always been. One of my goals is to be super healthy, but I feel like a lot more people have now sort of watershed in this moment. There’s a lot of people who sort of, in this lockdown, didn’t give a crap about their health. I think everyone knows someone who’s gained weight in the lockdown. The COVID-19 pound injection. Then we also know a lot of people who now use this as inspiration to now get up off the couch and do stuff outside and actually try and be more healthy.

Jonathan: (08:32)
So it’s gone sort of two ways. Maybe a few people just stayed the same and didn’t really change. But I definitely noticed there was a swing where a lot of people are now trying to be more healthy because they realized, Oh crap, viruses can be deadly and I want to be more healthy. However, other people just think, if I just stay inside and wear masks and social distance, I can eat whatever I want to get fatter and more unhealthy. Then, when I eventually get the virus, then hopefully there’s a vaccine. I don’t know what you think if you say, I don’t really care about health anymore, especially in these times, because it’s hard for them to be like, okay, there was such a clear example that the entire world got to see of why it’s important to be healthy. I know there are extenuating factors that some people might encounter that make it very difficult, but you can make an impact no matter what your situation and you can swing the odds in your favour by just making a goal to get a little bit more healthy.

Joané: (09:42)
And it’s empowering. There’s so much that’s out of our control. There’s so much uncertainty in the world and that can make you feel really anxious and maybe even depressed, but you can try to take control over some parts of your life. Even if that’s just, Oh, I’m taking control over my decisions and actions every day. If you start exercising, if you do things to take care of yourself, to take care of your health, that’s going to make you feel better. That’s gonna make you feel more confident and more empowered and not as hopeless. If you’ve been affected by the pandemic, if you’ve been retrenched, if you’ve ended up in really bad situations, okay, you can’t help that that happened. There’s maybe not that much you can do, but you can focus on, “what can I do in my life?”. That’s why setting goals is important because that gives you some way to improve your life some way to turn some of the chaos into order.

Jonathan: (10:55)
Which is a very good stepping board from diet and exercise and lifestyle, so you might not be able to work, but you can still get your life in order. You can still manage the space around you. You can still make things neat and turn the chaos into order, like you said. So that’s why one of our goals for this year, which we can pretty safely say, we can still keep as the goal is to try, be more minimalist and get things less chaotic and more organized. Last year threw us into a ton of chaos and we just now need to actually make it a goal to sort out all the chaos that occurred in the last year and try to get our lives in order.

Joané: (11:46)
Yeah. And I just love the concept of minimalism. Just starting by sorting out your house, make your bed, and going through your clothes that you don’t wear. Just clean up your space. Just start there. If you’re going to be stuck at home, you might as well do something and make it a space that nice to live in. A space that’s clean, organized, and that supports your health because clutter can make you feel more anxious. So, we’ve been doing that. We’ve been sorting out our kitchen cupboards and sorting our clothes and reorganizing things. Seeing what systems can we improve. Things like that. I definitely think that it’s a really great goal to have this year and like you said, that’s one that we can definitely stick to because it doesn’t matter what happens in the world. You can still try to keep the space around you tidy. Even if you just have a room, like you don’t have a whole house or a flat or something. You just have your room. Well, that’s great. You have a smaller space to keep in order. Much less to organize, but make your bed and just see what you can do.

Jonathan: (13:12)
Yeah. Whatever stands out to you as being out of place or unorderly, just fix it until you can look at your room and go like, wow, everything’s in order. It’ll make you feel a lot better and you’ll be a lot happier in the space. And that will definitely have an influence on your health.

Joané: (13:32)
If you make a to-do list and then you tick something off, you actually get a bit of a dopamine hit. So if you made a list of things that you could do like wash the car, throw out old clothes, or clean out the fridge. Every time you just do one simple task, you will feel better. You will get that dopamine kick and that’s quite cool. I like that.

Joané: (14:03)
Digital minimalism. You also want to sorta digital clutter.

Jonathan: (14:08)
I was searching that. That’s something that’s difficult. It’s actually easier to stay on top of then to go back after years of not staying on top of it.

Joané: (14:17)
And unsubscribing from email lists that you don’t want to be part of or sorting out your social media accounts. Are there social media accounts that you don’t want to be on anymore? Do you want to delete your profile? Or people say, if it’s Facebook or LinkedIn, are there connections or friends that you have on those platforms that you don’t want to be associated with anymore or connected with. Like tidying things up, deleting files, and having some sort of organizing system.

Jonathan: (14:52)
Yeah, that’s definitely one thing we learned from our trip to America. Too many things and options and things to do is actually very anxiety-provoking. Here in South Africa, you go to a store, even a mega store like a Walmart, you’ll go to the cheese section and they might be max six or seven brands of cheese and that’s it. And you look at them and you can say, okay, I’ll go with this one. Where in America you go to Walmart and the cheese sections got like 62 different types of cheeses to choose from. There’s like no way in hell you’re ever going to get to the bottom of trying all the cheeses, first of all, and you almost get like paralyzed by all the decisions that you could have. It was like just too many options and you can correlate that to, “Oh, I’ve got too many things to do and try and figure out”. What can you delete? What can you…

Joané: (15:53)
Simplify? I liked the whole idea that the word decision comes from the word incision, which means to cut away. So it’s like, what can you cut away? I think it was Arianna Huffington I was telling you about this earlier today. So sometimes the best way to complete a project is to quit it. Delete it or whatever.

Jonathan: (16:22)
Yes, you’ve got to ask yourself, is this incomplete project so important? Is it going to change everything or is it very vital to going forward or is it just something that you felt like you needed to do or wanted to do? And it’s not actually that big of a deal. Because the quick thing to do would be just to cut that project out.

Joané: (16:46)
Go through your calendar. Are there things that you’ve put on your to-do list months ago that you just really don’t feel like doing anymore? I read in Tim Ferriss’s book, Tribe of Mentors, yesterday, someone said if you get asked to do something, you should ask yourself, would I do this on Tuesday? Because so many times you get asked to do something weeks or months in advance. And now all of a sudden it’s a Sunday and you see on your calendar, I have to do this thing on Tuesday. Would you want to go or not? So it’s like sometimes if something is weeks or months in advance, it’s easier to say yes to it. But then if you had to ask yourself, well, if it was only two days from now, would I want to go? If the answer is no, just don’t do it.

Jonathan: (17:42)
Yeah. Obviously, you’d have to take each situation individually. But yeah, it’s a good thing when people say like, Oh, come do this or do that or wants you for this or that. Just because they’re asking about next month, don’t just agree and then say no later. Rather say from the beginning, “Im not really interested in doing this”.

Joané: (18:12)
Yeah. Become good at saying no, but also learning the art of the slow yes. Now I can’t remember where I heard this idea at first, but just don’t say yes immediately. Give it some time before you say yes to something. Really think about it first.

Jonathan: (18:33)
Yeah. You can even say, give me some time to think about it.

Joané: (18:35)
Yeah or I’ll get back to you about that. So, you’re responding to someone, but you don’t want to say yes too quickly. Now all of a sudden you’re stuck with a project or you have to go to this party or something that you don’t want to do, or you didn’t want to go to, but you felt too bad to say no or something like that. Getting good at saying no is also part of minimalism. Your calendar won’t be full of clutter.

Jonathan: (19:07)
Yeah. You can very quickly get your calendar so full. And often when you start getting into this spiral, then other things start happening. So now, oh shit, you didn’t have time to do everything. So then you worked late. Sleep gets affected. When your sleep gets affected, your diet gets affected. Your exercise gets affected. Your whole lifestyle gets affected if you’re taking on too many things and not saying no enough. So you’ve got to set boundaries and say, no, my health is important. I’ve got to get X, Y, and Z in place as a minimum, you know? Look at our four pillars of health for ideas on things you can do to sort of get your health prioritized.

Joané: (19:57)
Yeah. The four pillars of health are; sleep, diet, exercise, relationships. Those things are really, really important.

Jonathan: (20:07)
Also, with one of the pillars missing it, it doesn’t really stand up, but we can definitely say that sleep is the most vital pillar and people definitely end up sacrificing that one first for goals.

Joané: (20:24)
Oh yeah. It’s easy to sacrifice sleep for other goals. It’s always stupid if you wake up at 3:00 AM to exercise and you’re only getting five hours of sleep because you’re waking up early for the sake of your health, because you need to exercise, sacrificing that sleep, and then putting the stress on your body from exercising is actually not that great for your heart. Make sure you get the sleep first and then try to work in the exercise. See where else you can manage your time better, but try to make sure you get enough sleep.

Jonathan: (20:57)
Yeah. The benefits from exercise aren’t from the exercise. It’s from the recovery from the exercise. So there’s no use waking up at 3:00 AM to exercise on four or five hours of sleep because there’s no recovery in that equation. You’re now in a massive recovery deficit and you’re going to have to really rest the next few days and make sure you get on top of your sleep to recover from what, how much stress you put onto your body. You can put a lot of stress on your body, but then you’ve just got to recover the same amount or like the same degree. Because if you are overworking and under recovering, you’re actually declining. You’re not improving. You’re not getting healthier. You probably getting more unhealthy and you’re probably gonna run down your immune system, which is now important for everyone. Everyone’s realized that this is an important thing. You’re not realizing how much it’s affecting other things because you think like, okay, I’m going to wake up at four o’clock every morning to exercise because that’s my, my goal. But you don’t realize it’s having a cascading effect on everything else. So you’ve got to try to keep things in balance.

Joané: (22:22)
I was just thinking about you saying that you get the benefit from exercise and the recovery, the only benefit that I get from exercise that is immediate, where I feel like this is the benefit that I got from the workout in the moment, is the mental health benefits. So exercising is very good for anxiety relief. Obviously, all the other benefits come from the recovery, but if I’m feeling anxious and I pick up that kettlebell and do a few exercises, I feel much better or go for a walk. Then you also get sunlight, which is great. Because last year, beginning of October, I started exercising regularly. Well, I joke, I say playing around with the kettlebells and the dumbbells and stuff, and it’s just done wonders for my mental health and my mental health really suffers without it.

Joané: (23:19)
But it makes sense because if you’re in the fight or flight mode and a lion is going to try and eat you, or somebody’s going to try and kill you, you should run away or fight, which are very physical actions. So, if you’re anxious, but you’re just sitting still, you have all this cortisol and adrenaline floating around in your body and it’s harder for your body to get rid of that If you’re not moving. So moving and breathing automatically forces you to breathe better. It’s such a great combination for anxiety. I definitely recommend that people add exercise into their goals for the year, because even if you have to stay home, you can do home workouts. There are so many home workouts on YouTube and challenges that you can do or just go for a walk or do something that you enjoy. Exercise is a type of goal that you can add to your life, where, it doesn’t matter what happens. You can do it. Okay… Obviously, if you’re in a terrible accident and you have to recover, you can’t do that or you’re paralyzed or whatever, but if you can exercise and your not, try to make that one of your goals.

Jonathan: (24:38)
Yeah definitely. I was referring to the physical health benefits, but obviously, for mental health, it’s a different story.

Joané: (24:47)
But if you’re sleep-deprived, then you don’t necessarily get as much of an anxiety-relieving effect from the exercise because the sleep deprivation is messing with your adrenals and you’re feeling more anxious because of the sleep deprivation.

Jonathan: (25:01)
That’s why sleep is the main pillar.

Joané: (25:04)
Yes, the main pillar. Exercise is only third on our list.

Jonathan: (25:08)
Yeah because what you eat is more important than exercise.

Joané: (25:12)
And the quality of your sleep is almost always more important than what you eat.

Jonathan: (25:17)
Yeah and that’s why we ranked them in that order. So yeah, don’t set too long term of a goal. Unless it’s something that you know is within your control, no matter what the situation.

Joané: (25:36)
I have a long-term goal. It’s kind of a forever goal, but I’m only like allowing myself to think and plan for three years, although you can’t really plan ahead three years in advance for this. But for me, it’s to post blog posts every day because one of my goals is to become a better writer. So it’s also about practising that skill and forcing myself to do more research and stuff like that. That’s a goal that I can do forever because as long as I have a phone or a laptop, okay, if I lose internet connection, then I can’t do that. But as long as I have an internet connection, I can stick to that goal. Like, it’s my website, it’s my blog, I have control, I can post on it. So that’s a long-term goal for me. But other than that, I’m just focusing short-term like three months in advance max.

Jonathan: (26:29)
Yeah. And if you don’t have health as one of your goals currently, then yeah.