The List 1.3 - How to work in alignment with your values and priorities

After a long hibernation, we are back! If you are just checking out for the first time, I suggest you to check out my first post as this will be a continuation from my first two posts.
Today, I will go into detail of the ‘Mind’ section of the list, why they have earned their place, how I incorporate throughout my day and some information hopefully you can find useful and bring into your day to day life propelling you to be the best version of yourself.
Making my bed upon waking up, while taking a moment and giving thanks for another opportunity for life.
Why Bed/TY?
It’s the first opportunity to give in to the voice inside your head “I don’t have time,” “It’s just going to get unmade tonight,” “It’s not important” you know the excuses, you’ve heard them, we’ve all given in to them but this is our first win of the day. It’s a small accomplishment, but it sets the tone for the rest of the day and builds momentum for us to take control and responsibility, working to our standard.
It’s also the first opportunity to find abundance, no matter our health, energy level or grogginess, we can take a moment and give thanks for another day upon this beautiful earth. So much of live is taken for granted (see Hedonic treadmill) but by taking a second to be mindful and to give thanks, we can take a deep breath and take a step in the right direction, full of abundance and gratitude.
How I incorporate Bed/TY
Upon waking up, it’s the first thing I do, ‘’thank you for another day” while proceeding to make my bed before I leave my room to begin the day.
Meditation has had a huge effect on my career, ever since I begin practicing it 4 years ago, while I was competing in the Brazilian Super League. Brazil was a gift, the French team I signed with bailed on my contract, I was stranded late in the summer without a job and miraculously an opening in the Brazil Super League (For a Foreign Libero) none less. I couldn’t believe it, it was going to be the best year of my life, I had made it!
It was probably the most difficult season of my career, immediately I became interested in meditation to calm the stress, insecurity and loneliness that dominated my days in South America. This past year, I used my two free weeks to attend a Vipassana 10 day silent meditation retreat and this has lead to an even bigger interest to learn more about the power of meditation and history of this powerful Buddhist technique.
Why Meditate?
Like most people that become acquainted with meditation, I was stressed, unclear with my thoughts and struggling to find happiness that was once abundant in my life. With meditation, we are able to clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to our stress. Whether it’s a mantra, mindfulness, Qi gong, Tai chi or Yoga, the emotional benefits of meditation can include: Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations, being present, increasing self awareness and reducing negative emotions, while increasing creativity.
Personally I’ve been able to become more mindful, in everyday life and on the court in both stressful and pressure situations. It doesn’t mean necessarily that I will always perform perfect in these situations but I am much more clear in what I need to do. For example: Timeout and we are down, the coaches is yelling at the team, tells me to pass the ball better. In the past, I would scoff, tell myself “of course, what do you think I’m trying to do” and drag myself back on the court mopping, feeling hurt and frustrated.
Now, when I hear the same words, I am able to hear the need for the solution, whether the coach has concocted the best choice of words or not, it’s my job to accept the challenge, figure out what I must do to reset as best as possible and prepare myself to make a great pass. With mindfulness obtained through a daily meditation practice, the message is clear, the ego is absent and my mind is clear to quickly find the best solution to help my team sideout.
How I incorporate Meditation
Currently I meditate three times a day; the first thing I do after making my bed, in the afternoon and before bed for 10-20 minutes each session. My goal starting tonight, is to return to the Vipassana meditation, which requires 2 sessions (Morning and Evening) sitting for a hour at a time.
Reading was one of the first staples on my “list” when I created it 6 years ago. Even though I was completely present at training, woke up everyday early to go lift, I still felt empty and dishearten when I went to bed at night. The majority of my day was spent playing computer games, it was a rush while playing them but as I laid down to fall asleep night after night, I felt I had wasted the whole day on nothing but a constant dopamine drip.
Why Reading?
It was one of the first ways I was able to take back control of hold myself accountable to growing a little each and every day. It didn’t matter if I rad 5 pages or 40 pages, I wanted to take a step each day and to invest in my mind, learning more about what make me a stronger, tougher athlete and later in my journey, a discovery of a plant based diet and how I would change the way I viewed food.
How I incorporate reading?
When I first started, I was constantly distracted while ‘reading’. It would be 1 or 2 pages, then a text, 2 pages, then an email, 3 pages then an instagram notification. Now, when I set time to read, I turn my computer off, I put my phone on airplane mode and free myself of distractions (like the pomodoro technique) something I will speak to in much detail on a later post.
Watching Video
I remember being at college at CSULB and watching film on Rich Lambourne (Team USA Libero at the time) and watching him dive and pancake a hard driven ball. I couldn’t believe, it, I didn’t know it was possible but after seeing it, it opened my mind to another level of playing the game at the libero position. It’s the same for young basketball fans, we don’t naturally know how to do a step back fade away but after watching Kobe Bryant do it time and time again, our body and mind conscious and unconsciously soaks in the ideal biomechanics and motor control to make this skill on our 8ft basketball hoop in the driveway.
Video isn’t limited to my personal growth, much of the video I watch is to prepare myself and my line of passers for the our opponents servers and how we can be one step ahead of them as well as reviewing every one of my matches.
Why Video?
Whether it be Erik, Zatorski, Jenia, Salparov or my favorite, Sergio, I watch how they move, tough the ball, the unique angles they make and how they set themselves on defense making play after play, knowing I can take what I love from their game and apply it to my arsenal of skills.
Does he jump serve, jump float? Where is his best serve? What area of the court can he not hit, can we leave this area and pinch his hot zone? Does he have a short serve? When does he use it, after a timeout, after an ace, to start the set? What about their float servers? Does he give away his serve with his hips, can he no look down the line? Does he switch his serve after a real point, or he is consistent with his target, leaving us to pinch that passer and relieve him of too much court.
When I was in Brazil, I had a teammate who had spent years playing with Sergio. I asked him what made Sergio the best in the world, which he replied that Sergio knows what’s going to happen before it happens. This is my goal, relentlessly preparing, scouting and knowing what the servers want to do before they do it, while making sure both of my other receivers know this too.
How I incorporate watching video?
MMG Volley Videos on Youtube has been one of my bookmarked channels for quite some time, featuring video from the last 4 years in the Plus-Liga (Polish League) After every game, I’ll take the full match from our scout man and watch each touch I had, review what went well, what didn’t go well and how I can incorporate better purpose into next week’s training to address these issues.
Scouting opponents has varied in the past, whether it’s stealing my coach’s computer and taking it home for an evening (Finland) watching 2-3 full matches without any data volleyball (France) or now, our scout man makes a montage for each game and uploads it on youtube. I’ve found it best to make my own scouting journal, containing all the teams we’ve played, so I can easily check back to see if the trends have remained the same for the 2nd round of games.
We all want to be happy, free of stress, worry, anxiety and I believe we can’t let go of the past and be in the present with clutter. (mentally or physically) Let’s look at how clutter affects the brain, according to a study conducted by the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, having multiple visual stimuli present within range of one’s view will result in those stimuli competing for neural representation. Therefore, the more clutter you can see, the more easily you’ll find yourself distracted.
Why Clean?
Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute have found that clutter does affect our ability to focus and be productive. Clutter is more than an annoyance, it’s a serious roadblock for getting things done. Just like making your bed, it sets the tone for the day, setting a clear foundation, to be clear pursuing the goals and priorities you find most important.
How I incorporate Cleaning?
When I’m done with breakfast, I clean and put my dishes away, before I go to bed, the pots and pans are cleaned and the coffee table is clear. When I leave my house for a road trip, I leave it, knowing I’ll come home to a clean organized house and have the space and clarity to get back to work instead of being foggy with clutter overtaking my clarity.
Cafe before 2
Caffeine is a drug, the most popular drug in the world, it’s natural found in over 60 plants but it's still a drug. But what many people don’t know is that once in the body, caffeine will persist for several hours: it takes about 6 hours for one half of the caffeine to be eliminated.
Why Cafe before 2?
Researchers from the Sleep Disorders & Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital and Wayne State College of Medicine embarked on a study to analyze how caffeine disrupts sleep when consumed at different points in time during the day.
During a study to analyze how caffeine disrupts sleep when consumed at different points in time during the day. Researchers from the Sleep Disorders & Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital and Wayne State College of Medicine gave the participants a fixed dose of caffeine, along with placebos, at 0, 3, and 6 hours before bedtime. 400 mg of caffeine was administered, which is equivalent to around four cups of coffee.
When caffeine was consumed at 0 and 3 hours before bedtime, participants perceived that it was a disruption to their sleep. When caffeine was consumed 6 hours before bed, they did not report any effect to their sleep quality. The sleep monitor showed a different story, though. They found that caffeine consumed even 6 hours before bedtime resulted in significantly diminished sleep quality and sleep quantity.
How I incorporate Cafe before 2?
I start the day with a cup of coffee or two (easy) The difficult part is when I’m in Europe, the sun is hibernating and it’s below 0. If I am lacking energy going into my evening practice, I’ll try and do a quick coffee or matcha tea before 2:00PM, if I am still lagging, I’ll make a juice before I leave to the gym.
Write 30
Write for 30 minutes is my newest addition to the list and something that scares me a little. I’ve always enjoyed writing but when I get a little nervous, anxious or in a block I stop all together. This year I’ve made a conscious decision to free up more of my time by stopping my consumption of professional sports and with this time, I can give myself the opportunity to write, fail, write, fail and then write some more.
Why Write 30?
Just like myself when I was a kid, there are so many young athletes all over the world who want to be the best at what they love the most. I was lucky in that I was stubborn, had parent’s that never focused on my stats, wins or loses and I was able to push forward time and time again after one failure after another. I want to write more, not only to share what I’ve learned over my journey - to help speed up the progress of younger athletes but to also share my failures as well, the hopelessness I’ve felt and the solutions I came up with to push forward.
How I incorporate Write 30?
Using the Pomodoro technique, turning off any notifications from my computer and phone, I put a timer for 30 minutes, sit down and write until my timer goes off. If I am in a good groove, it’s up to me if I want to continue writing but the most important aspect is the complete focus to writing and this is done without the interruptions of notifications of any kind.
I hope you enjoyed reading about how I work with intention while I am overseas and my pursuit to prepare my mind and body for when I step on the court and for the day when I step off the court, for good. When attempting to create your own list, I recommend starting with 4-5 habits for the first week to find your groove and to build from there.

1 comment

  • Love your blog Dusty, it helps me find some motivation to keep going. I’m not even a volleyball player, I’m at Medical University, but sometimes I just feel burned out and at those moments you keep inspiring me via your blog texts or ig posts. Thank you, you’re doing a good job <3


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