This essay is part of my book titled “Focus”.

If you would rather read the Kindle ebook, you could get it on Amazon.

Table of Contents

1. Where Discipline Comes From

When the sun rose up
I have seen the mountain
I knew what to do

A couple of months before, I was getting into the habit of snoozing the alarm multiple times before getting up, and I didn’t wake up until eight fifteen, then rushing to leave for work with the car around 8:35 a.m. Today, I wake up easily at five thirty and do my morning routine and go to work at eight fifteen on my road bike. I achieve a lot more, and I still have energy in the evening.

Discipline comes from your goals and purpose.

Discipline comes from answering the straightforward question:




In detail:

  • Why do you wake up in the morning?

  • What would you like to achieve today?

  • Are you heading in a direction that will lead you to where you want to be in ten years?

  • Do you feel fulfilled?

  • Do you have a purpose in your life?

  • Are you happy? Are you excited?

  • Are you proud of where you are in life?

  • Are you making decisions today that will positively impact your life tomorrow?

Please take some time to think about your answers and write them in your notebook. Without seeing the bigger picture, your life will be a series of events; life will happen according to the needs of other people. Take control and define your goals, and you will see that you are the only one who is in charge.

To help you further, we’ll discuss your vision and goals for the next ten to twenty years.

Set your goals high, however, realistic. These goals will be with you every day. You have to think about them every morning, every evening, and whenever you feel like you might not be doing what you should be doing.

I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. (Steve Jobs – Speech at Stanford in 2005)

Setting your goals might require some thinking and adjusting; however, once you have defined your purpose, you might find discipline easier. Your goals might change in a couple of years, as everything in the world changes. It is natural. Just go with it. There is only one who needs to be fulfilled. That is you.

In the past few years, I had some vague goals in my mind. However, the details were not articulated. I had items on my to-do list; nonetheless, they were not connected. I lacked the overview, the purpose, so I was not effective at achieving these goals.

I had to rethink everything and write down my long-term goals. I developed the ideas for months yet writing them down took only a couple of minutes. I just had to collect, summarize, and get them out. Take your time. You can start with only one or two important life goals and move from that point.

Start living the life you always wanted. Start now. There can be only one person holding you back, and that is yourself.

The first chapter of part II “Declutter your life” explains one way to organize your daily activities in detail, based on your ten- and twenty-year goals. Following this guide will help you to be motivated and gain some speed at getting things done.

2. Meditation–Why? How?

The world surrounds me
Endless horizon leads me
To inner calmness

The first time I ever meditated was part of my martial arts practice in Hungary. This school is called bujutsu-kai kenshin-ryú [school of fighting techniques, the ones who follow the wise]. We were meditating for about one to two minutes at the beginning of each training session. Our aim was to calm ourselves, leave out all the problems in our lives, and focus on the upcoming training. We were sitting in seiza, which is a traditional way of sitting in Japan. It involves folding our legs under our thighs while resting the buttocks on the heels. I liked these short meditations, as it was helping to focus and perform better in the exercises. Sometimes I wished that these would be a bit longer.

My wish came true during my first training camp where we had to meditate and sit in seiza for about two hours. It was a quite painful, however enriching experience. After ten minutes some people started to complain, wanted to give up, and go home. We had to abide by the rule that if one went home, everyone had to leave as well. We kept on sitting, regardless of the growing pain while our friends, the ones who held a black belt, occasionally came to us and helped us calm down. They helped us push our limits by giving us water and advice on how to be more relaxed. Finally, we all managed to sit through these two hours, which formed a great lesson about ourselves. I had some problems with standing up afterward, so I was sitting and recuperating for about ten-fifteen minutes. I remember walking in a funny (painful) way for the next few days. Later that day I almost skipped the battle, which was the best part of the training camp. A friend with a brown belt recommended that I join the fight regardless of the pain, and I did. It was amazing!

We used wooden sticks covered with thick foam as swords. Now imagine a hundred people in a team standing up against another hundred people on the other side. Both teams line up on opposite sides of the field. One fighter from each group is sent to the middle. They duel. When the duel is finished, the fight begins, and two hundred people start to move toward each other. If you survive the first contact, you are ready to go on for a longer time. The more you push yourself, the better you will feel during the battle and afterward.

I stopped meditating for some time until I started to work for a company where my project manager was part of a meditation group (One Drop Zen Buddhist Community⁠1), so we began to meditate together with a group of people twice a week, twenty-five minutes each time. I ended up joining two different meditation retreats. From inside a small apartment with curly windows in Budapest, I remember watching the beautiful snowflakes falling during the one-day retreat. It seemed magical. I remember the friendly people. Some of them, I had met for the first time. I remember the camembert, which we made in the oven with garlic.

Let me tell you a bit more about our three-day retreat. We traveled from Budapest (Hungary) to Nagyvárad (Romania) and stayed in a beautiful place. The meditations were in a Catholic church made of wood, and the church room felt like we were in a whale. I bet that we had a better experience than Jonah (Jonas). At one end of the room, there was a huge window, which provided plenty of light inside during the day. We were talking a lot with our friends as we traveled there and back. The others suggested we refrain from speaking as much as possible, so during the day we didn’t talk at all, and in the evening, we spoke only one-two sentences.

We arrived around Thursday evening and started with a few meditation sessions. Each session was twenty-five minutes long, and then there was a five-minute break to walk around and move our bodies. It was coordinated without a word, just by someone hitting wooden sticks together.

Each day we had:

  • 24 zazen (meditation sessions, 7 of 24 was optional)
  • breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • a teaching session

At every meal, we could take as much vegetarian food as we wanted. The bowls went around twice. The first day I ate as much as usual. It was way too much. I felt as though I was bursting. After two meals, I started to pay attention to how much food I ate. I took away about half the portion of my usual amount, and it was enough, as basically we were sitting the whole day.

During the first day, my mind was wandering a lot; however, many things changed after one evening and one day of meditation.

My thoughts were calm, hiding in the background rather than frequently interrupting my serene composure.

My perception changed. I felt humble in my simple clothes, and things were easy and natural.

I smelled the tea, which someone was drinking ten meters away from me. I tasted all the food as I never had before.

I felt free, and everything was so simple and easy.

After just three days of meditation, we traveled back home with calmness and openness in our minds.

I stopped meditating consistently after a while, until five months ago. I’d already started to transform my life, and I thought of meditating a couple of times. One day I received a message from my girlfriend that we should meditate, so soon after this, we started to meditate together. Twice every day. By this time, my approach to meditation had changed, and I now meditated consistently. I usually sit for fifteen minutes. I meditated at home, in front of my apartment on a grass field, on trains, on an airplane, on a bus, and in many other places during travel.

Zen Buddhism

A Zen Buddhism related website⁠2 makes an apt description of Zen. Trying to define Zen is similar to explaining the taste of honey to someone who has never tasted it. Zen is a practice that goes back to Siddharta Gautama-the Buddha, 2500 years ago in India. The practice of Zen meditation (zazen) is a core part of Zen Buddhism.

What is the goal of meditation?

Spiritual awakening, enlightenment (Nirvana)

The purpose of meditation is described a lot better in the book Being without self⁠3 written by Jeff Shore. As he mentions, the first step is samadhi, the second is jhana (dhyana). Samadhi means becoming one; dhyana means being without a self. Samadhi could be achieved by focusing our full consciousness on one thing, for example, paying attention only to our breathing or on counting to one. Samadhi is characterized by a more focused, clearer state of mind. Those who experience samadhi are still conscious, however thinking on a higher level. I refer you to Jeff’s book and encourage you to read his explanation of the next states of mind which one could enter during meditation.

Which positive things have I noticed after meditating daily?

  • It has helped me to clear my mind and start the day with more clarity.
  • It has helped me focus more on the present.
  • It has calmed me, which had a positive effect in other areas of my life.
  • It has made me more aware of my breathing.
  • It has made me more connected to nature.

After only a couple of months, I still feel like an absolute beginner on this journey; however, I encourage you to try it out.


How long should someone meditate for? Any length you want. Seriously, you can start small. Do you have three or five minutes? Great! Try meditation twice a week for three minutes, or even for one minute. If you like it, go on, and try increasing the time. I promise you that it will make a difference. If it doesn’t work now, it might work later. Previously, my girlfriend successfully engaged in regular meditation sessions for months in Prague; however, when we started again a couple of months ago, she stopped as she felt it was not the right time. She had way too many thoughts, so she had to spend some time processing the things which had happened. Now just a couple of days ago, she started to meditate with me again, and she said it felt similar to the way she felt before. Don’t worry if meditation doesn’t work for you straight away. Try and see how it feels. You will find that if you’re not successful when you try meditation the first few times, you may experience better results when you revisit it later.

You will find that there are many ways to meditate. I like to sit in seiza; however, in zazen people usually sit in a half lotus or lotus posture. You can even do it in a chair, with your feet on the ground. It is crucial you have the correct posture with a straight back. You should be able to breathe easily, and your body should be relaxed, not tense. I use a meditation pillow and place it on the small grass field located in front of my apartment. It is a fantastic experience listening to the sounds of bells, feeling the grass under my feet, the millions of tiny bugs jumping when I walk on the grass, the ants crawling up my legs during meditation, and seeing the cows and cats nearby. To be honest, sometimes it is challenging to ignore some of these animals like ants or mosquitoes. However, it’s part of the game. If I can ignore them, I will win the most important fight, and I have successfully done this in the past. I can defeat these distractions myself.

I meditate with open eyes as that’s how it is taught in the One Drop Zen group.

Once you find the best place and position to sit, find a timer, and use it during your sessions. It’s great if you have the chance to be consistent, and always meditate at the same time of the day. I meditate as part of my morning routine, so the beginning is more or less around the same time.

I use the app Insight Timer⁠4, which helps to track the time. The app has a courses section and guided meditation too. The courses cover many interesting topics from gratitude, mindfulness, change, sleep, and there are different types of guided meditations.

How should I meditate?

I’ll describe how I’ve learned it; nonetheless, there are many ways and many different types of meditation. Try to calm your mind. Don’t allow your thoughts to take control. Allow them to float away instead. Don’t judge, don’t think, just let it go. It might be hard at the beginning as the thoughts, which we usually suppress or hide, might interrupt suddenly, as our mind will think that it’s an excellent time for this to happen.

There is an alternative way to calm your mind: focus on your thoughts until they disappear.

Do you feel that not thinking of anything is difficult? For how long can you empty your mind? Try it out.

For me, the easiest way to let thoughts go is to count my breaths from one to ten then restart from one.

One: Breathe in.

One: Breathe out.

Two: Breathe in.

Two: Breathe out.

You should breathe into the stomach deeply and release the air very slowly. This will feel natural after you have practiced it a couple of times. Don’t force, just let the air go along with your thoughts. When you feel that you let all the air out, push a little more and start breathing in again. If you lose track of counting, restart from one.

According to Dr. Emőke Bagdy⁠5, we will be relaxed and calm after just breathing slowly in and out five times. This takes only one or two minutes. So if during the day, you feel disturbed but you don’t have much time to meditate, you could still do this quick breathing exercise to calm down and de-stress yourself.

I highly recommend you find a nearby meditation school and try meditation there with a master. They will teach you about the correct posture and how to do it, and it can be a different experience if you meditate with a group, rather than alone.

Next steps:

  • read more about Zen⁠6 if you are interested
  • check out a nearby meditation school






5 Bagdy, Dr. Emőke. Pszichofitness. Károli Könyvek, 2013.


3. Practice Mindfulness

Breathing the fresh air
Aware of every detail
Of the graceful world

Mindfulness⁠1 is a concept of the Buddhist tradition. Buddhism teaches about the four foundations of mindfulness. 

These are:

  • our bodies
  • our feelings
  • our minds
  • phenomena (the world around us)

To be mindful is to be aware of these four things. A bit easier said than done. However, keep in mind that if you are aware of your body, feelings, and surroundings, you could increase your control, understanding of emotions and the actions of others.

The creation of languages as a way of communication is one of the most amazing things in our lives. It is also one of the things which is holding us back. The language of music or simply rhythm is a more elemental part of us, and it is rooted a lot deeper. I am sure that most of you agree with me. You can feel the power and energy if you hear a team of drummers playing together, regardless of whether it is a Yamato concert or a group in the middle of the forest, around the fire on Earth day.

Our body is our mind, and our mind is our body. They are both interconnected, and anything that happens is reflected in both.

Our bodies

Being aware of my body means I pay attention to it, during physical exercises, when I need to drink, eat, sleep, or when I feel pleasure, and pain.

Our feelings

It is essential to understand our emotions. All our actions are based on our feelings, so we are better off if we can understand them. What we do or feel originates in our childhood. Some of these feelings could even be unconscious. Recently I was thinking through some events in my youth and discussing these with my girlfriend. I realized that some things that had happened many years before have an apparent effect on my current life and actions. Afterward, I worked on resolving these issues, moving on, and changing my actions. I advise that you pay attention to similar issues and write them down once you become aware of them. I think this is a topic that should be discussed in schools, as events happening in childhood can fundamentally change someone’s adult life, ruining it or making it successful.

Our minds

Our minds create our world. We invent it.

Think of the placebo effect. Expensive pills work better than cheap ones; even when both are actually placebos⁠2.

The world is our constant hallucination. We should be aware of the state of our mind—how calm or disturbed it is. I feel this quite clearly during my meditation sessions. When my mind is disturbed, I need more time to calm down.

Meditate for an hour every day unless you are too busy. In that case, meditate for two hours. (Zen proverb)

Phenomena (the world around us)

The world reflects us. We only see what our mind sees or creates. We should be aware of what is happening. Watch and listen without judging. This is hard for me to do as sometimes when I’m looking at others, prejudice and labels come to my mind. I am working on avoiding these fake categories and looking at the world as it is. As a child. It’s like I’m trying to create a fresh start for my mind.

The importance of empathy

I talk a lot with my girlfriend, and even after being together for a long time, we keep surprising each other by how different yet similar we are. In many cases, when we think about a movie, a book, or someone else, we have different perspectives on the same thing. In some aspects, we agree or disagree; in some cases, we tell each other new ways to look at and understand the world.

This comes down to our experiences from childhood and adulthood. If we talk about a topic, and she is saying something for a reason, I might easily think that the reason is completely different. It is crucial that if I am unclear about this, then I ask about it and we discuss. In many cases, it has turned out, that I have reflected my views upon her. Once we have discussed the details, we can understand each other a lot more, and this helps us grow together in our relationship, and in life generally.

Simply put, the more you think and discuss things, the more interesting the conversation gets. You can learn new ideas or perspectives from anyone you meet.

Whenever you talk about something sensitive, please pay attention to the words and also to the motivation and emotions of your partner.

Our emotions drive us

If you talk with someone, you can try to think through their feelings by imagining yourself in the same situation. This will give some insight into how they might feel. Your understanding may still be distant from the true nature of their feelings, however hopefully it will bring you closer to each other.

There’s an interesting quote from the Bible:

Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. For the way you judge others is how you will be judged—the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you. Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye but not notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when you have the log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First, take the log out of your own eye; then you will see clearly so that you can remove the splinter from your brother’s eye! (Matt. 7:1-5 [Complete Jewish Bible⁠3])

I would underline especially the first part of this section. Don’t judge, so you won’t be judged. This is all about expectations and relationships. Treat others in the same way you would like to be treated.

This is simple but powerful advice. Think about it for a moment.

The Buddhist teaching of mindfulness

Most Buddhist schools teach mindfulness which is:

Mindfulness is the quality and power of mind that is deeply aware of what’s happening—without commentary and without interference.⁠4 (Joseph Goldstein—Buddhist teacher)

It is fascinating to find a clear connection between the Bible and the teachings of a Buddhist teacher. The emphasis of this quote is to be aware, be mindful without judging.

Based on my experience, occasionally this can be quite hard to do. Even so, the more I practice, the more I remind myself not to judge, and the easier it gets. This helps me become more helpful to others and also become more aware of my surroundings, motivation, and the emotions of other people. It keeps me calmer. I am also keeping my feelings and fears out of the game. I move on easier and react to things in a much more positive way.

The Zen Buddhism website⁠5 mentions the law of attraction, a Buddhist concept called Karma. It is a universal law, which says whatever you send out into the universe, you will receive back. If you send out love, you will receive love. If you send out hate, you will receive hate. If you send out scarcity, you will receive scarcity.


Let me share two small ideas; you might find them useful or interesting.

One way to reflect is to sit down for five minutes somewhere without disturbance or noise. Imagine the situation that you are meeting with a friend, except this friend is yourself. You talk with yourself, as though you’ve met for the first time and ask simple questions. Even so, the more you do this, the deeper you go with your questions. I find this is an incredibly strong tool to examine your current state of mind, to explore your real drives, and what you actually want.

Another quick method is to do a self-check, which is useful in your daily life, or while doing sports.


State of your mind—How clean and focused are you? Are you doing the right thing? Are you doing the thing right?

State of your body—Do you feel pain, energy? In which parts and how severe? Can you still ignore it? Do you need to do something?

Your surroundings—Do you pay attention to what is essential? Is there something you need to focus on?

Next steps:

  • practice mindfulness
  • be aware of your surroundings, your inner values, and thinking
  • try an introspective method







4. Know Your Values

The fearless tiger
And the flexible bamboo
Both know what they are

Your opinion, thoughts, and emotions all matter. You need to know and protect your values. Only you should decide what you want to do. I encourage you to have self-esteem and confidence in yourself. Do not brag about your accomplishments; however, be proud and talk about them when there is a place for it, not to show off but to help others, to motivate them, and to demonstrate it can be done.

You need to represent and promote yourself. If you do not, nobody else will. In today’s corporations, the only thing these companies are looking at is the profit. Is the final number positive or negative? If negative, let’s remove some of these lines in their Excel sheet. “Oh, those lines are people who are getting fired? Too bad.” Excuse me if I sound negative, however this is the reality in most corporations.

I recently read a story about a company that wanted to fire someone who was faltering in their role. The recruiter questioned the manager, in which area does this employee demonstrate strength? They discussed it and simply changed the role of the employee, who then became one of their best employees in this new role.

You need to know your value to the company. Do you know how hard it is to find good talent in a professional setting? Out of ten to twelve people interviewed, you can only hire one. That is, if you do not want to compromise quality and team fit. This fact makes you incredibly valuable to a company, even when you do not realize it. You have to work on it too and promote yourself.

The cost of getting someone new would mean paying a recruiter, paying for the time which is lost by having to train the new colleague, and lost time for the people who help with the ramp up. Money is lost as releases and / or products have to be postponed, or the quality of the service provided decreases. So you really think you do not deserve that raise? Bullshit. Most companies can afford your raise easily; yet, they will want to keep the money if they can.

However, if you find that your situation is not where you would like to be, even twice the wage would not help in the long term.

I ask you to think about two things:

  1. What values are you creating in the company?
  2. Are you representing yourself in the best possible way?

For some companies, you are merely a commodity, and you can be replaced. However, always think about ways to increase your value to the company, as this is why you were hired. Not just to follow the commands blindly. Your job is to say no to bullshit, help your colleagues, develop your career, and move your company ahead.

Make them want to keep you, no matter what. If you are irreplaceable or replaceable only with high costs involved, your position is excellent.

How will you achieve this?

  • Take the initiative, show that you are willing to put in the extra effort, and show that you think outside of the box. Do not complain; recommend solutions instead.
  • Help others: keep the mood up, be positive, train, and help your colleagues with pair programming (together by sitting next to each other), or by giving presentations, or simply teaching them a more effective way to do something.
  • See the big picture: keep in mind the company’s goals, yet make sure your team goals are also met. It is a nice challenge to balance these two.
  • Protect your people: if you are in a leadership position, you need to protect your team from upper management and give them enough freedom to do things their way, train and encourage them to take responsibility, and make them accountable.
  • Motivate your team: lead by example, but also coach individuals and members as a team too, and build your culture.

The more you do these things, the more it will be recognized by your peers and managers. People don’t leave their colleagues; they leave their managers. A good leader can do wonders; a bad one can kill projects.

Next steps:

  • recognize your values and your strengths
  • work every day on using your strengths to help your colleagues and to help your company to achieve its goals
  • promote your team first; nonetheless, take credit when appropriate. Other people might take credit for the things you have done. Almost certainly, you can not avoid this. Handle it in a smart way.