The other day I came across an insightful YouTube video discussing the importance of creating your own daily routine and habits, rather than just following the routines and habits that society tries to assign you. The creator, Dan Lok, went into great detail about his own daily routine and the reasoning behind each part of it. I found it very inspirational, so I wanted to share a detailed summary of the key points from the video in this blog post.
Dan starts by explaining that if you don't consciously create routines and habits that align with your own goals and purpose, you'll end up just adopting the default routines and purposes that society tries to push on you. Most people fall into this trap without even realizing it. They adopt careers, lifestyles, interests, and personalities based on what society tells them they should want, rather than consciously choosing goals and interests for themselves.
Dan argues that having a purposeful routine is crucial for living a good, fulfilled life. Your routine determines how you spend your time and energy each day. And how you spend your time shapes who you become in the long run. An intentional routine prevents you from falling into chaos, anxiety, and overwhelm. It also helps you make consistent progress on your most important goals.
In this post, I'll summarize Dan's perspective on the key elements of an ideal daily routine, including the four habits he believes are essential to the "good life." I'll also break down the details of Dan's own daily routine as an illustration of these principles in action.
The Four Pillars of the Good Life
Dan argues there are four key habits that form the foundation of an ideal routine:
1. A habit that builds your mind
This involves some form of daily learning or mental growth, like reading, listening to educational podcasts, taking an online course, etc. As Dan puts it: "Without self-education, you go through life with the same narrow identity and perspective as everyone else." Self-education expands your mind, exposes you to new perspectives, and increases dopamine. Over time it retrains your mind and identity.
2. A habit that builds your body
This means some form of daily physical activity like strength training, cardio, yoga, sports, etc. Taking care of your body prevents disease, boosts confidence, energy, mood, and cognition. It also helps you feel more comfortable in your own skin.
3. A habit that builds your business
This involves working each day on your means of income, whether that's advancing in your career, building a business, monetizing a skill, etc. As Dan says: "The eternal markets in business are health, wealth, relationships, and happiness." Working on business allows you to solve your own problems and help others do the same.
4. A habit that builds your relationships
This means nurturing your close relationships every day through quality time, deep conversations, acts of service, physical intimacy, words of affirmation, etc. Relationships provide meaning, happiness, support, inspiration, and more. They are crucial for a fulfilling life.
Dan argues that success comes down to adopting one habit in each of these four areas, then improving at them consistently over time. If you build your mind, body, business, and relationships daily for 1-5 years, fulfillment and prosperity become inevitable.
Creating a Holistic Goal
Dan argues that the first step in building an intentional routine is to zoom out and define a "holistic goal" - one that encompasses your whole life across the four pillars above.
To do this, first become aware of all the problems or negatives in your current life situation across each domain. Imagine the worst case scenario if you continue on your current path.
Then use that "anti-vision" as a starting point to define a big, inspiring vision for your ideal future self. Make sure it includes targets for your mind, body, business, relationships, and happiness. This goal provides a North Star to guide your daily habits and routines.
The Power of Daily Self-Education
Once you have a holistic goal, the next step is to make daily self-education an "absolute necessity" according to Dan. He argues that traditional education only teaches you a narrow slice of information. Self-education exposes you to limitless perspectives and information to expand your identity.
Dan suggests setting aside 30-60 minutes per day for reading, listening to podcasts, taking online courses, and otherwise deliberately exposing yourself to new information. Over 1-5 years, this conditions your mind with the knowledge necessary to achieve your big goals. It expands your identity and mindset.
Treat self-education as skill acquisition rather than just memorization. Apply what you learn in the real world. The feedback will expose gaps in your skillset for you to focus your learning. Education + application is key.
Acquiring Goal Achievement Skills
Next, Dan argues you need to dedicate 30-60 minutes per day to acquiring the actual skills needed to achieve the goals in your holistic vision. The skills you need are determined by the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in your mind, body, business, and relationships.
So read books and courses about your goal, apply that knowledge in the real world, get feedback, and iterate. For example, if your goal is building a business, read business books and attempt to implement what you learn each day. The real world feedback will force your mind to grow.
Dan emphasizes that monumental skills like learning to walk and talk took years of difficulty and practice during childhood. Achieving big goals takes 1-5 years of applied self-education. But our adult perspective makes patience difficult. Trust the process.
Example Daily Routine From Dan Lok
Dan then provides an example daily routine from his own life to illustrate putting these principles into action:
Morning (Focus Hours)
- 30 min walk to plan day
- 90 min deep work block to write content, books, etc.
- 30 min walk or run for zone 2 cardio
- 90 min deep work block for admin tasks
Afternoon (Energy Recovery)
- Calls and meetings
- Gym session
- Social lunch
- Nap/walk/light work
Evening (Rest and Recovery)
- Nice dinner out or quality time with girlfriend
Here are some key points about Dan's routine:
- He stacks his most demanding creative work like writing early when his focus is best. Administrative tasks come later when he's more susceptible to distractions.
- Frequent walks provide motion, time for ideation, and escape from digital distraction.
- Gym time is a hard cutoff from work mode to recovery.
- Social time is limited to preserve energy.
- His work day is capped at 4-5 hours of focused effort. The rest is recovery.
- He's constantly experimenting to refine his routine. Stagnation leads to less efficiency over time.
The overall theme is optimizing for focused deep work in the mornings, then prioritizing renewal and energy recovery in the afternoons and evenings.
Here are some of the key takeaways from Dan's video and insights about creating an intentional routine:
- Don't default to society's routines. Consciously design your own based on your goals.
- Build your mind, body, relationships, and business every day with focused habits.
- Self-education expands your identity and capabilities over time.
- The gap between your current and goal self is a skills gap. Chip away at it daily.
- Stacking deep work early optimizes creative output before distraction sets in.
- Limiting distractions preserves mental energy for what matters most.
- Rest, renewal, and relationships keep your energy high.
- Experimentation prevents your routines from becoming stale over time.
Creating an intentional daily routine optimized for achieving your biggest life goals takes effort and consistency over years. But it pays massive dividends in the long run by compounding small improvements each day into greater knowledge, skills, prosperity, fulfillment, and impact.
It also prevents the drift and distraction that plagues most people's days when they lack routines designed for their own purposes.
Hopefully this detailed overview of Dan's perspective provides some inspiration and a starting point to reflect on designing your own routine optimized for your version of a life well lived. The time to start is now.
What resonated most with you from Dan's insights? What would your perfect daily routine look like? Share your thoughts in the comments below!