The Life Hack You're Probably Missing, From a Pro Surfer

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Matty Schweitzer/Island Eye Productions

A waterman since birth, Zane Kekoa Schweitzer holds 15 World Championship victories, including ISA World Champion, two-time Ultimate Waterman and four-time Master of the Ocean Champion. He leads a full and present life as he travels the world competing, chasing giant waves, teaching surf clinics to adults and children and talking story. Schweitzer is the author of Beneath the Surface, a book that weaves teachings with tales of his travels, competitions and motivations that all led to his InZane life.

I’ve had to continually adapt to a new daily routine due to my schedule and travels. The only practice I can confidently say that I’ve held over my professional career has been journaling. The rewards have been profound, and I owe so much of my success professionally and personally to this single practice. 

I remember visiting my grandmother Diane Schweitzer before my first world tour circuit at 11 years old. She said, “Zane, one day you’ll be old like your grandfather and me, so write down your experiences with the world and its people. Then, they’ll never be forgotten,” and gave me a journal.

Fast-forward 15 years, and journaling has been a part of my daily routine ever since, no matter the time zone, the location, the state of mind, or intensity of tasks to that day. I have two journals on me at all times. One is for short-form gratitude and manifestation toward daily desired outcomes, and the others are for performance growth and wisdom: competitive experiences through wins and losses, training and diet. There is also room for in-depth, long-form journaling about skills, relationships, knowledge, lessons learned and ever-growing philosophy. Journaling has made me the man that I am today, the champion I have become and given grounding mindfulness to continue a relentless, purposeful pursuit of my dreams. Here’s how I do it.

Daily Reflections and Meditation

Every single night before bed and every single morning when I wake up, I journal. When looking within, dreaming up a destiny, bottling up lessons and embracing moments of growth along with defeat, we continue to find our purpose to create waves of success. These things drive me to put the pencil to paper. This routine has been my lifeblood since the beginning of my career, and it continues to be the one truth I hold daily.

I usually wake up well before sunrise and start my day with gratitude and five minutes of journaling. I open my daily journal and jot down three to seven things for which I am grateful. Always come up with new ideas, avoiding repeating the same thing twice. My grandmother and most prominent life coach, Carolyn Jackson, always reminded me that, “when you are grateful, you’ll always have a reason to be happy.” 

During morning journaling, I find it is essential to manifest your desired daily outcome, goals and plan of attack to execute tasks. I do this by listing at least three things that would make today great and set me up for a fulfilling day.

To finish my morning journaling, I make a daily affirmation. Affirm that you are stronger than you know, smarter than you think and braver than you thought possible with a self-affirmation to set you off with confidence to start your day.

In the evening before bed, I reflect upon my day. Reflecting on what made the day feel like a win and what could’ve gone better is the perfect way to end. I do this by listing at least three amazing things that happened that day, followed by a selfless action or “Blue Life Choice." I finish with what I could have done to make the day better.

I am no stranger to the ocean, and I have been privileged enough to accomplish so much in my life thus far. My father is an 18-time world champion windsurfer and my grandfather is the inventor of windsurfing. You can imagine that most of our days were spent at the beach, immersed in the ocean, riding the waves and harnessing the wind with great company. There are few victories that I reflect on more than high-octane endurance races and surf-sports with the best water sports athletes.

In the last year, I have been stepping back to emphasize bettering the environment, my community and oceans around the world. My competitive experiences and success have given me the knowledge, humility and opportunity to share with the people I meet along the way. Through speaking engagements, beach cleanups, clinics or my actions on social media, my drive to “Innovate and Inspire” really is the fuel that keeps me going more than anything. 

I find it so valuable to journal on these goals and measures of preparation along with life choices and routines that you commit. Writing down commitments and habits that will help you get closer to your goals, choice after choice, day after day turn into the formula for success. After all, I believe that success is when preparation meets opportunity.

In this journal focused on competition and performance growth, I often track my training, diet and mental and physical well-being leading up to and following matches. 

Pre-competition, I often journal with the practice of pre-manifested destiny as if I have already met my goal and embrace the feelings when visualizing that success and spill it to the paper. Post-competition, I often track my results and actions/choices that lead to my victory or defeat. If I walk away from an event knowing what was good and what was terrible, then I’ll be more confident and prepared for the next one. I will also have my notes to review to ensure that I don't make the same mistakes twice. I’ll be more confident about meeting a success.

Long-Term Thoughts and Wisdom

The third journal contains long-form memoirs, creativity and experiences that I feel need to be treasured or locked away in some form of a time capsule. I also include philosophy and values to be remembered. In this journal, I go into detail to dissect emotions and decisions that led me to intense highs and lows, along with enlightening lessons and values or epiphanies. 

The greatest gift I could’ve ever received is one that an 11-year-old boy realizes the inherent value. Today I’m grateful that my experiences with the world and its people, my life journey and lessons learned are preserved and archived. I can be proud to leave behind my words for future generations and the world. Aloha and Mālama pono. See you on the water.

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