Uncommon Wisdom: Volen Vulkov
“Uncommon Wisdom” is about sharing those habits or stories that we wouldn’t normally think to share. There’s so much talk about morning routines and self-care practices these days but a lot of it can seem kind of superficial or maybe just predictable and repetitive. This is why we asked a bunch of high-performing creatives and entrepreneurs a few questions about awareness, energy, and productivity. We wanted to learn something a bit more unexpected, and here’s what we found out.
Who is Volen Vulkov?
Volen Vulkov is one of the co-founders of Enhancv – an online resume editor trusted by 1 million users from all over the world. The company goal is to put a professional and holistic resume on every hiring manager’s desk. Previously he was part of Microsoft, AIESEC and ESN. Nowadays he’s focused on making people proud of both their failures and successes when applying for jobs while also watching his favourite team Liverpool dominate both English and European football.
#1. What's something unexpected or uncommon that made you more aware?
If it has to be uncommon – horse riding. For me awareness is realizing what I need, want and don’t want in my life. But sometimes, this is an uncomfortable process – I have to give up on something, do something, tell someone something that I don’t want to or even admit something to myself. When I’m on the horse, there’s no running away from doing what is needed. I can’t let the horse do whatever it wants, neither can I blame it or change its character. I have to be aware of what I want (or don’t want), find the way to accomplish it (which is a struggle most of the time) and most importantly hold on to it. Otherwise, sooner or later, I’ll fall down.
#2. What's something unexpected or uncommon that gives you energy?
Usually, the things that make me happy – those I really want to do, rather than “have to” do – are the ones that give me energy. But in the craziness of daily life, I quite often end up accomplishing only the ones that I “have to” do. At the end of those days, I often can’t understand why I’m not feeling happy or why I can’t find enough energy to keep going. One thing that helps me is maintaining a very long but simple “joy list”. Basically, it’s a list of “easy-to-achieve” activities that make me pause, reflect and enjoy my day. For example, making a cup of coffee and staring through the window, or taking a 10 minutes walk in the park. Each day I have a daily reminder to look at the list and choose one activity for today and when I accomplish it, I either have more energy or at least I feel okay with not having any.
#3. What's something unexpected or uncommon that makes you more productive?
I’m unproductive when I’m working on something that lacks a clear “why” or “how to” in my head. Usually what helps me in those situations is just having a chat with someone. And the conversion most of the time is about whether this thing is important and doable and what exactly needs to be achieved. When I don’t have anyone to talk to, and the task is important, I slow down, cut everything else, and try to be completely okay with myself not having the answer. With time the task disappears (as it turns out to not actually be an important one), I find a way to get it done, or I admit to myself that I just can’t do it. In short, clarity is crucial for me to be productive.
#4. What does your morning ritual look like?
As I tend to procrastinate in the morning, I try to get up quickly and make my bed. Usually I put on a daily news podcast in order to not use my phone for anything else. I focus on small and easy tasks (but still things that I want to do) that give me the sense I am following my daily routine. Nowadays those are doing a 5 minute Spanish practice on Duolingo while I have breakfast or a meditation on Headspace. Of course, also I have days, usually on the weekend, when I don’t have any agenda in the morning. That takes the pressure off and instead of feeling like I’m “wasting my time”, I create some space for more relaxation and spontaneity in my life.
#5. What does your evening ritual look like?
I use the evening to prepare myself for the morning as the morning is definitely more difficult for me. I take care of things that will require me to make decisions in the morning, and I try to address in advance anything that might take me ages the next day. It’s stuff like preparing my breakfast, choosing my clothes for the next day, packing my bag for the office and tidying up my space. When I feel overwhelmed, angry or frustrated, I know I won’t fall asleep easily. For those moments I have the habit of writing down the things that disturb me or I lay on my acupuncture mat. It may sound like a crazy voodoo ritual, but literally after 10 minutes, my body is so relaxed I even fall asleep there.
You can find Volen at @volenvulkov
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