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7 Ways To Look Better, Feel Better, And Get More Shit Done

Productivity hacks are insanely popular right now. People flock to sites like Lifehacker and MarcandAngel because they offer tips on how to do more with our limited time each day.

And who doesn’t want to do more in their day? When was the last time you said “I wish I had more things to do today”? It’s the opposite of course as we try to jam in our jobs, commutes, meals, errands, chores, cooking, kids, and hopefully a little time to unwind in front of the tv before crashing and starting it all over again.

If you’re the typical 9-5 desk dweller, then I can safely assume that you probably lack in the motivation department and most certainly in the energy department. As it turns out, siting on your ass for 8+ hours and eating processed lunch meat every day isn’t all that conducive for feeling vibrant and alive.

Who’d of thunk it??

The Key To Getting More Shit Done

But getting more shit done isn’t just about hacking your time management and looking for ways to skirt traditional means of doing things.

It’s about having the motivation and energy to do it all.

But having energy and being fired up to tackle your day comes at a cost. It will require you to get off your ass and make changes to your routine. It will require you to be healthier than you are at this moment. It will require you to get out of your comfort zone and be willing to challenge yourself.

Here are 7 ways you can get more shit done and look and feel better in the process:

1) Train. Hard.

sweating

You don’t need to be an athlete, be in a competitive sport or look like an Adonis to train hard. Training hard is a subjective term and different for everyone. For me it means doing 12 mph sprints coupled with 42 inch box jumps and plyometric pullups, but to you it may be jogging on the treadmill, doing p90x, or riding your bike for 30 miles.

It’s all about pushing yourself to your capabilities. It’s about going from an intensity level of 3 and taking it to a 7. And speaking from 17 years of experience as a trainer, most people don’t do that. They don’t even come close.

It’s a lot easier to just show up at the gym and work out for the sake of working out than it is to actually train. Training will require focus and determination. You should push past that barrier when your minds says you’re done. That’s bullshit. Your mind will give out far sooner than your body.

Training hard is good for you. It gets the blood flowing, heart pumping, and if you’re doing it right, makes you feel fucking awesome. And if you don’t believe me, read these 40 reasons why you should do it.

2) Go outside.

Everywhere I look I see pasty people. We are spending far too much time in office buildings, malls, and on our couches. Our skin is turning gray from all the incandescent lighting and artificial environments we subject ourselves to each day.

The solution is incredibly simple. Go out and get some sun. I’m not going to list all the benefits of getting a limited daily dose of sunshine because you already know them. Just make a conscious effort to spend 20 minutes or more each day taking it in.

Plus, being outdoors has a way of calming us, freeing up our minds, and giving us a renewed sense of energy.

Do it. You will feel better.

3) Stop being fat.

fat-person

Now before all of you politically correct knuckleheads who can’t believe I just used the word “fat” have a cow (no pun intended), I use that word to describe myself when I am carrying extra weight.

For 95% of you, being fat is a choice. You and only you can choose what to put into your body every day. Only you can decide to stop drinking those Big Gulp’s and binging on Taco Bell Volcano Nachos every Tuesday night. And only you can peel your ass of your couch cushion and exercise.

You may not be visibly overweight or even think you’re fat, but you are. Your body fat will not lie. The average American (men and women combined) has an average body fat level of 28.7%. To put that into perspective, a person is defined as “obese” at 30%.

The solution? Stop using your stomach as a wastebasket. Clean up your eating for fuck sake. Try those weird things called vegetables. Onion rings do not count.

As a side note, don’t use BMI calculators to determine your body fat. They are useless.

4) Drink a shitload of water.

Every one of us is walking around in a constant state of dehydration. This limits all processes in our bodies, including losing weight. And you do want to lose that last 10 pounds, don’t you??

Your minimum daily intake should be 64 ounces, which is a half gallon. If you are exercising, a gallon is recommended. Sure, you will be in the toilet every 15 minutes, but your body will adapt. I have the world’s smallest bladder and when I started drinking a lot of water, I wore a path on the carpet from my desk to the bathroom. But my body adjusted and so will yours.

And if there isn’t enough evidence of why drinking water is vitally important, here are 12 unexpected reasons to start.

5) Stop being an asshole.

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Do you feel better or worse when you are an asshole to someone? If you say better and you are not Tucker Max, you have serious issues.

Think about the last time you were in line at the grocery store. The person behind you is tapping their food and rolling their eyes waiting impatiently for you to hurry up and check out. The cashier gives you a flat stare and barely acknowledges your presence. And your face shows all the disdain you can muster as you can’t wait to get the fuck out of there.

This scenario plays out many times in our every day lives and makes us think the world is filled with assholes. Your job is to not be one of them. Your job is to be the person who smiles in the face of anger. Your job is to be the person who looks past the annoyingly slow person driving in front of you and shrugs it off instead of screaming obscenities at them. Your job is to rise above and be better than that.

And if you choose not to take the job, then by all means continue being an asshole. But that won’t help anyone; least of all, you.

I truly believe that good things happen to good people. Not in a karma type of way, but in a general sense. You never know, you just might have a life changing impact on someone who really needs it.

6) Commit yourself to something worthy and be accountable to it.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be about getting in shape. It can be anything that will make you better, smarter, sexier, happier, or stronger as a person.

Find something that is important to your intrinsic core values and make a commitment to seeing it through. Of course, this is much more challenging than it seems or else everyone would have all great habits and no bad ones.

I suggest finding someone who you can be accountable to. A friend, brother, spouse, or coworker. Hell, you could have even hired me to help you :)

Once you commit, put your ass on the line. If there is no punishment for failure, you have a much higher chance of failing. Try this: offer someone $100 cash if you don’t do what you say.

For example, if your goal is to not drink soda for a month and you are caught drinking one (in your coffee cup, you sneaky bastard!) then you need to fork over $100. This works.

And it’s not about the money either. It’s about saving face and not publicly looking like a failure. People rise to the occasion and you will too.

Just make sure you commit to a worthy goal. Committing yourself to getting your Elf Wizard character to level 50 in World of Warcraft is not a worthy goal. It might be fun and definitely addicting, but will not better you as a person.

Just recently, I committed to running the Army 10-miler race in Washington D.C. Why? Because it was a challenging goal and I was going to do it regardless of how much I hate running. And believe me, I fucking HATE running. It was about pushing myself out of my comfort zone and it worked.

And as a side note, my girlfriend and I were so late that we were literally the last people to start the race. Imagine us sprinting through the empty Pentagon parking lot towards the faint sound of music, trying desperately to make it before it was too late. The starting gun went off 30 seconds before we got to the starting line and we made it by the skin of our teeth.

Coincidence? Good things happen to good people, remember?

7) Read nonfiction (i.e.learn something).

Just because you graduated college 25 years ago, doesn’t mean learning has to stop. It’s a sad fact that 23% of Americans didn’t read a single book last year!!

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And for those of you who are readers, put down that fucking Harry Potter novel and read something that will make you better. There is so much to learn and if we are not continually striving to grow as people, then we die slowly.

Learn as much as you can. Knowledge is power (when applied) and I’ll ask you to challenge yourself to reading one book per month. Put down your iPhone and stop fucking around online. Sit and read. Go outside and read. Just read.

And if you’re interested, I have a ton of suggestions for great books.

Feel Better?

When I first got separated and was away from my daughters, my life was a shit storm of emotion. I had every bad habit imaginable. I ate like shit, drank all the time, stopped exercising, beat myself up, thought negative thoughts, didn’t sleep, and didn’t do a single thing to make myself better.

It took time and I changed. I started small and worked every day to feel better about my situation. After I started feeling better, I started doing more positive things, including exercising again. And then I started to look better.

You see, it’s all intertwined; looking good, feeling good, and doing more with your days. Start making small changes to your daily routine. Add a good habit and drop a bad one. Do something different.

I want you to succeed in whatever endeavor you choose. I want you to be happy. And I want you to start today.

 

So tell me, what things do you do that make you look better, feel better, and get more shit done?

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Don’t Give Up On Your Passion. Ever.

This is a guest submission from Ron Schaffer from fanningtheember.com

Actually, this wasn’t intended to be a post at all. Ron sent me an email in response to a post I write a few weeks ago and he took a great deal of time to try to help me answer some of the questions I presented. He clearly is in the “Passion Camp” and has some great insights, so I asked him if I could use the email as a post.

And here it is…

 

I would like to comment on the excellent article you wrote on Sept. 23, called, “Is Following Your Passion a Terrible Idea?

My answer to the question posed in your headline is an emphatic, ‘NO!’

Not only is it a great idea, it is a must.

Consider what Abraham Maslow concluded after years of research and study. He concluded that, “In order for a person to be happy and fulfilled,” he said, “What a person CAN BE they MUST BE”.

In other words, in order for you to be happy and fulfilled, you MUST realize your full potential. And in order for you to realize your full potential, YOU MUST FOLLOW YOUR PASSION.

Consider this quote by Howard Thurman:

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Following Your Passion Makes You Come Alive

A feeling of passion about a subject or topic is a ‘signal’ that you are on the right track. You make so much more progress in life when you are completing tasks that are energized by your passion. It’s the difference between ‘having to do something’ and ‘wanting to do something’.

In the first instance you are constantly ‘swimming upstream’. You are fighting the current and it wears you out. But if you are following your passion, you go so much further and faster, with much more ease, because you are going with the flow.

We have all had moments where we experienced this.

Some of the most successful people we know got there because they were passionate about what they were doing. You need that passion to sustain you through the highs and lows of chasing your dreams.

That is why I believe we should do whatever we can to find and follow our passion. I have a huge sign in my office that says, “Discover which way your heart draws you and choose that way with all your strength.”

Some Clarification is Needed

HOWEVER, that being said, without some clarification problems could arise.

You outlined those problems very well in your article and pointed out that the discussions surrounding this issue brought up even more questions.

Let me address some of the questions that were brought up as well as some of the serious concerns especially by the author you mentioned, Cal Newport, in his book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

I am going to quote from your article:

“The author Cal Newport’s premise for the book is questioning the often overused catchphrases like “follow your passion” and “do what you love” as it pertains to finding your true calling and/or work that matters.

He dismisses these statements, claiming they are dangerous and lead to chronic unhappiness and failure.”

That is a pretty strong statement.

I am going to change that slightly and offer some suggestions based on my own experience and the experience of others I have coached.

I am going to change that from

  • They are dangerous and lead to chronic unhappiness and failure.

To:

  • They can be dangerous and lead to chronic unhappiness and failure.

There are some subtle differences here that I believe, if understood, can make all the difference.

Can Anyone Monetize Their Passion?

Consider this statement:

“Do what you love and the money will follow.”

That seems to be at the heart of this debate. Can you monetize your passion?

This statement is not absolute. If this ‘premise’ is followed blindly, it very well could lead to chronic unhappiness and failure. But let’s take a deeper look at this.

Money is only going to follow what you love if there is a market for what you love. A large group of people have to see value in what you are going to offer and be willing and able to pay for your offer.

Problems Could Arise

A couple of different problems could arise when someone considers attempting to monetize their passion.

First, if they can’t see a clear path on how to monetize their passion they believe a path doesn’t exist, so they give up or never get started. They lack belief

Too many people lack the belief that they can accomplish great things. So their passions get buried deep inside them and often stays there.

As Thoreau so aptly stated, “Most people lead lives of quiet desperation and go to their graves with their music still in them.” Lack of belief does them in.

So, occasionally, people’s beliefs get in the way of their success. Consider someone who is passionate about puppets (Yes, I said puppets) and would love nothing more than to turn that into a full time income. But because they don’t see a clear path they believe one doesn’t exist.

Then along comes a guy like Jim Henson without limiting beliefs and creates a multi-million dollar empire around the Muppets.

Second, some people focus on their passion and what they want to do without considering if they have anything of value that someone would want to buy. Often it is only a matter of shifting their thinking to match their passion with a marketable product.

Most people do not have any business training and fail to see how they can make their passion marketable.

Keep in mind that people will pay for solutions but not necessarily pay for what you are passionate about.

Here are some examples of what I mean:

You are passionate about meditation but not a lot of people are signing up for your services.

However, people will pay to learn how to lower their blood pressure without medication and improve their health. People will pay to be able to sleep better. Both of which can be accomplished through meditation. Don’t assume people automatically make that connection.

Plus a big part of being profitable is knowing where and how to reach your target audience. So if you are targeting people with high blood pressure or sleeping problems you will be able to find them and create compelling headlines that speak directly to the problem that you can help them solve. Thus making your passion more profitable.

Here’s another example:

Let’s say you are passionate about helping others increase their self-esteem and confidence. You begin selling a program/book about the topic but sales are weak. That’s because you have not identified a clear solution to someone’s problem.

But what if you advertised: “Do you have trouble meeting new people because you are shy? I will teach you how to find your soul mate in less than 3 months”. That is a specific solution to a problem people will pay for. And you are doing the same thing, helping others increase their self-esteem and confidence. Something you are passionate about.

These are just two of many examples that I could give you. The point is, if you want to monetize your passion, you have to ask yourself, what specific problem can you help someone solve? Sometimes it’s just a matter of reframing your passion.

What if Your Passion is in the Arts?

What if you ask yourself the question, “What specific problem can I help someone solve?”… and you don’t have an answer.

Let’s say you are passionate about art. You love painting and that’s all you want to do. Or any other type of artist: A singer, actor, writer, etc.

Sure there are people who make an incredible living doing these things. You feel you can do the same so you take whatever lame job that you can get and attempt to pursue your passion full time.

You know that success is just one lucky break away. But you become increasingly frustrated because you are having a hard time paying your bills and everyone who cares about you is screaming for you to get ‘a real job’. The term ‘starving artist’ is a cliché for a good reason.

For very creative people, the dilemma becomes; they have trouble keeping a decent paying job because they are bored out of their minds. But they can’t make enough with their art to support themselves, let alone a family. Agony ensues.

First I want to say this. Under no circumstances should you give up on your passion. To me, that is the essence of life. But that doesn’t mean it has to be the source of a full time income. We live in a society that requires paying bills and supporting yourself and maybe even a family. So what do you do?

A Possible Solution

Here is advice I have given to several people and it has worked well for them. The problem is not whether or not to give up on pursuing your passion. That should not be an option. The issue should be to create a source of income that you enjoy and that you can sustain, while you continue working on your passion.

With today’s technology I believe almost anyone can start a part time online business based on their interests, skills, knowledge or even passion. And, for very little money.

Do whatever you have to do right now to work and pay the bills. Then learn how to start an online business in your spare time that is based on something you would enjoy. For example; for an artist it might be a form of graphic design, or offering to create a unique line of greeting cards or T-shirts. Something that ties in your love of art. Something that you would enjoy doing.

It might not be your dream, but what if you could build up that part time business to a full time income. Since you will be working from home chances are you are spending less time making the same amount of money, or more, than you could by working for someone else.

And since you have a lot more control of your time you can work on your passion projects easier. Especially if you are a performing artist. You could take a gig in the middle of a weekday, but if you worked for someone else you might not have been able to.

Here is the best part. If you do manage to create a business that you enjoy and gives you more control over your time, and you are working on your passion on the side, very often you enjoy your passion so much more because there is no pressure of having to make a certain amount of money from it.

And what can happen from there is; you begin making more money than you ever dreamed you would from your passion because all resistance was gone and you were doing it for pure joy. And that’s when you and your talents really soar. And that’s how you realize your full potential.

In conclusion, let me summarize:

  • Everyone should discover what makes them come alive and head in that direction as much as possible. Feeling passion and joy in what you do is the stuff that life is made of. Don’t let limiting beliefs hold you back.
  • You do not have to earn a living doing what you are passionate about. You can still live a passionate, joy-filled life. The key is finding or creating a job or business that you enjoy, while enjoying your passion on the side.
  • More people could create a successful business doing something they are passionate about if they reframed their thinking by offering people solutions to specific problems.
  • With today’s technology, almost anyone can start an online business that THEY ENJOY; and, for very little money. One that they could build up part time and would help them earn a full time income doing something they enjoy. Which in turn, would allow them to work on their true passion without the pressure of earning money. Often this leads to unexpected opportunities because they are pursuing their passion without pressure. Which then may lead to; “Do what you love and the money will follow.”

 

 About Ron

Ron Schaffer is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. His book is called, “Fanning the Ember – creating a life of joy, purpose and abundance.” His passion is helping others realize their full potential.

He also teaches others how to start a profitable online business based on their interests, skills, knowledge or passion. You can learn more about him at www.fanningtheember.com as well as download his free 50 page guide and video to learn to start a profitable online business.

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Want A Better Life? Start Moving Your Ass

I’ve had a few very long weeks. Not because I’ve had to do a bunch of stuff I didn’t want to but rather because I have been extremely caught up in my mind. After reading the book, So Good The Can’t Ignore You, and in response, writing a pretty lengthy post, Is Following Your Passion A Terrible Idea?, I am still pondering the direction of this blog and my future business.

But what I have come to terms with is the fact that I have decided to use the shit ton of career capital I have in the fitness business as part of my business strategy. I mean, why not use the 17 years of experience I have working as a personal trainer, coach, and fitness director?

And what really prompted me to think about this seriously was a comment on last weeks’ post suggesting I incorporate my knowledge of health and wellness into what I do here.

It read:

You were onto something when you were discussing the mental game involved in working out and getting in shape. That’s actionable and can change peoples lives. Getting in shape and getting into the mental game of pushing can translate to all kinds of things like getting out of a bad relationship, jobs, and elsewhere. People are clueless on how to do this. Tell us how. How to wake up early, how to work out properly, how to eat right, how to cheat once in awhile and keep a it correctly, how to bust through plateaus, how to change our body/social identities.

 

She’s absolutely right here. People are clueless about their bodies, how they really work, how to exercise properly, and how to make the right choices for their health. And I think many people fail to recognize the importance of their fitness levels on their quality of life, thoughts and actions.

And doesn’t looking and feeling good play a big part in how you view the world?

The 120-Pound Weakling

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Right now I am 6’0 and 180 pounds. I’ve spent the last 20 years working out in gyms, clubs, parks, basements, and anywhere else I could find. I’ve done a great deal of work on myself to figure out what my body responds to, what types of diets work for me, and how often I should train.

And I’m proud to say that I know my body very well.

And all of this is a direct result of spending my formative years as a short, skinny twerp. Even after hitting puberty at the ripe age of 19, I stood a whopping 5’6 and weighed 120 pounds.

I earned the nickname “stickman” because I literally had no muscles. I was all skin and bones. I had no ass, no chest, and no confidence. My 28 inch waist barely held up my Levi’s corduroy pants and my Guess jeans t-shirt hung on my frame like a trash bag.

By my early twenties, I had started hanging around with some guys who were in really good shape. They would drag my ass to the local World Gym and I would try to do what they did. Fail.

But after a few years of trying new things, finding the type of training that worked for me, and eating like a champ, I started adding lean muscle.

And I dug it.

I fell in love with the feeling I got when my clothes were tighter or when I saw the defined cuts in my abdominals in the mirror. And as my body began to change and improve, so did my confidence. I went from a highly introverted geek too shy to approach a girl to a cocksure guy brimming with self-assurance.

And in 1997, I decided that I wanted fitness to be a permanent part of my life and got certified as a personal trainer. And over the last 17 years, I’ve worked in multiple facilities across the country, run successful camps, classes, and trainings and had some great experiences.

So what does all this mean to you?

Well, I’ve seen hundreds of clients, spent countless hours training, coaching, and acting as a makeshift therapist and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that getting yourself fit, both mentally and physically will improve your life dramatically and in many different ways.

Here is my formula for fitness:

Feeling Great+Looking Great+Being More Confident+Having More Energy=Doing More Shit and Getting More of What You Want

Getting Fit Is Not What You Think

RF

We all want to be fit, right? I mean who doesn’t want to look in the mirror and think “hot damn, I’m one sexy beast?”

We see the CrossFit Games and American Ninja Warrior on TV and wonder what it would be like to be that fit. We then think about all the years of hard work and dedication it took to get there and then dismiss the idea of it all as unrealistic.

And for the vast majority of us, it is unrealistic. I mean, who wants to train like Rich Froning every day? Certainly not me.

But guess what? We don’t have to.

Getting fit is not all about looking great and turning heads. It’s about feeling good about yourself. It’s about liking the person you are both inside and out. It’s about being driven to do more with your life because you can.

I can speak from personal experience when I say that my life, even to this day, improves dramatically when I am consistently exercising and eating good foods. It’s really that simple. When I take my foot off the gas and start to slack, I feel like shit. My motivation dips, I sleep in more, I have less energy, and feel overly average.

That’s no way to create a successful business let alone go through life.

Get Off Your Ass

For those of you who are not gym rats like me or know little or nothing about fitness, that’s OK. You don’t need to be knowledgeable. You just need to get off your ass and move. That’s really it.

If you are a couch potato, then take a walk. If you sit in an office all day, get up and force yourself to take the stairs. If you are jogging 3 days each week, do it 4.

This post is not intended to give you a workout program or anything like that, it’s just to remind you that you can do more each day. You are not living your optimal life (and neither am I), but you can get closer to it by being healthy.

Imagine waking up feeling vibrant and alive. You can feel that surge of energy and inspiration as you get out of bed. You are ready to take your day by the balls and make shit happen.

Do you feel like that now?  If not, wouldn’t you want to?

Why You Aren’t Fit

COUCHPOTATO

Here is something that I know to be unequivocally true; exercising will make you feel better, period. Yes, this is not news to anyone, but the fact that only 15% of the U.S. population belongs to a gym and more than 65% of those people don’t even use is a frightening indicator of our nation’s health.

Now I don’t give a shit if you join a gym or not. I don’t care about the obesity epidemic either and the fact that we are getting fatter by the day. What I do care about is helping people change their lives for the better. And being active and fit is a critical component to making this happen.

And maybe you are working out like a fiend and are in tip top shape. Great. But 99% of you reading this are not. You are working long hours, commuting, spending time with your kids, relaxing, watching football on Sundays and the list goes on and on. It’s just what we do.

And for lack of a better way of putting this, you are fucking lazy. Don’t take it personally, I am too. Most of us are lazy and it’s the society we live in.

But you can do more. And I’m telling you that if you want more from this life, and I know you do, then you need to do more. Go for a walk, bike ride, jog, or hike. Get the blood pumping through your veins and start feeling good.

The biggest reason to start improving your body has nothing to do with aesthetics. It’s about your mind. It’s about knowing that you can do it. It’s about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and doing shit you don’t want to. I mean, it’s a whole lot more fun and far easier to sit on your ass and watch an entire season of Orange Is The New Black than it is to run 3 miles in the rain.

But doing that won’t change your life. Sharpening your mind and body will.

So what are you waiting for?

 

What do you think? How important is being fit to you? What areas are you lacking in?

travel

6 Months And It’s A Whole New World

This is a guest submission from Lauren from TheMadToLive.com

Have you ever been, or are you, in that inertia-filled place in your life when you wake up each morning thinking, “What the hell am I doing with my life? I don’t even have a damn clue as to where to start to answer this question! And dammit I need some coffee immediately!”

Oh, let me tell you, I have been there!

I tried my best to avoid the question by doing things like sleeping as late as my body would let me, and having Netflix binge sessions with Breaking Bad and Orange is the New Black. And while my bed is incredibly comfortable, and those shows are amazing in my humble opinion, that pain-in-the-ass question never went away.

I’m sure you’ve been there. And I’m sure you already know as well, that the question doesn’t go away.

I got sick of that.

Being depressed sucks. Feeling lost and like you don’t have control of your life sucks. That feeling you get when the TV series is over and you realize you just watched 13 hours of TV in 48 hours and have nothing else to show for it except this weird feeling that you just so want Piper and Alex to freaking end up together (OINB reference), sucks.

And while I’m the first to admit I’m still answering that question and will always be answering that question, I did figure out a strategy to get started.

I gave myself 6 months

calendar

Six months to stop trying so hard. Six months to get away from it all. Six months to go explore and just try some new things out and do some things I always wanted to do. This has by far, been the greatest gift I have ever given myself, and as those 6 months progressed, the answers began pouring in naturally.

My 6 Months:

This became my plan:

  1. Three months in Guatemala
  2. Two weeks driving across the US from West to East
  3. Two months working on a farm in Maine through wwoofing.org

Here is some back story on costs and how I made these things happen:

Guatemala:

It’s one of the most affordable countries to visit in Central America. I rented a private room with a bathroom in a hotel with a beautiful view of Lake Atitlan for $5.50 a night. Food costs are low, transportation costs are low, living costs are low. Lake Atitlan is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life, and it became a sanctuary for me to just BE and relax. I spent my days learning Spanish, taking out a kayak that I rented for $1/hour, meditating in the morning and evening, and meeting fellow travelers.

Driving Across the US:

It just so happened that my cousin who lives just south of where I was in San Francisco was planning to drive across the states with his 3 little boys to his hometown in Maryland. He asked if I wanted to join and turn it into a camping adventure, and I didn’t think twice about my answer.

It ended up being one of the best two week periods of my life, not just for the adventure, but for getting to spend time and really connect and share with my cousin, and being around his amazing, adventurous, crazy kids. The constant laughing, good conversations, and life on the road lifted my spirits and awakened my soul.

Wwoofing in Maine:

Wwoofing.org lets you find farms both in the US and around the world where you get to work in exchange for room and board. I’ve met fellow travelers who’ve done this in Italy during the olive harvest, on Vinyards in France, or good ole’ fashioned vegetable farms here in the US. I’ve always wanted to see Maine, and I’ve always wanted to experience what it would be like to work off the land, to work outside with my hands, and to do this kind of labor that’s simple and body intensive.

How You Can Do These Things Too

Go To An Affordable Country

Like I said, I was paying $5.50 a night in beautiful Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Other places like Turkey’s Istanbul, Thailand’s Chang Mai, and places in India etc are also destinations where you can get a big bang for your buck. You can sublease your apartment in the US or rent out your home to help cover the costs, but even if you can’t that’s less than $200 a month for rent.

Check out Wwoofing.org and Workaway.net

Both of these websites have endless opportunities to either work for room and board. Some are even paid positions. Wwoofing is solely for working on organic farms, while Workaway.net has other opportunities like working at hostels and small businesses. Nearly all of these provide lodging, and you just need to get yourself there.

Adventures with Friends

Send an email out to your friends and family and let them know you’re planning 6 months of adventure. Maybe you have an Aunt in Arizona who’d love to have you for a few weeks, or some friends who could use some help renovating their home in Colorado and in exchange for your help you’re welcome to stay there. Or, perhaps, they need a driving partner to cross the country.

You never know what kind of adventures you may be able to line up that are just waiting for you! A lot of these places welcome kids as well if you happen to have children. You can go for a week or arrange several months. I met one guy volunteering at a hostel in the jungle of Guatemala for 3 months!

Whatever it is you want to give to yourself, do it.

How these 6 Months Changed My Life

I Found Confidence in Myself

There’s something about travel that makes you realize you’re capable of getting yourself through ridiculous, or crazy, or scary, or unpredictable situations. This happens pretty much because you don’t have a chance. When you’re traveling, shit happens!

Before I left for Guatemala I had gotten myself into this cycle of feeling very un-confident, and constantly questioning myself. I was living in San Francisco, a city full of ambitious people who all seem to know exactly where they’re going in life. It’s an amazing place to thrive and connect with like-minded people as you can find almost any tribe there. But it felt intimidating at the time since I was at such a crossroads.

It’s a terrible feeling when you don’t know if you truly believe in yourself. When you don’t know if you CAN ACTUALLY DO IT. I think every human being in general, and especially creatives and entrepreneurs, have these thoughts from time to time (and at times more often than not), but when they begin to take over, that’s when you need to get up and do something about it.

And so to Guatemala I went to do something about it.

Not only did getting away from some of the pressures you’ll find specifically in Western Cultures like America (i.e. The American Dream) help, but so did meeting other people like me: People who were living more unconventional lives, people who were traveling until their money ran out, people who were also on personal journeys and looking for something more even if they didn’t know what that more was.

I’d always felt like a bit of an outsider. I can’t stress how valuable it is to find the people who like to hang out in the same corner as you. It changes everything.

I found company in myself

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Imagine spending 10 hours a day, five days a week, working outside with your own two hands. You’re doing this on a beautiful family-run 6 acre farm in coastal Maine, and you’re working alongside a few other individuals who were merely strangers a few weeks ago but now you’re all in it together. You head to bed early at 9PM to be rested for the 7AM start to a day of harvesting corn, beets, squash, tomatoes, cherries, garlic, chard, and more.

The warm sun is on your back, the color green is surrounding you, a cool breeze dries the sweat off your forehead, and it’s just you and the day.
No desk. No computer screen. No sitting down all day long. No indoors all day long. No distractions to keep you from yourself. Just you and the day and good old mother earth.

There’s a certain zen to manual labor, and most of us have forgotten what it’s even like to spend that much time outside away from a computer screen in the first place! Most of us haven’t done that since we were children and we still knew how to play. The only way the majority of us use our hands anymore is by moving the tips of our 10 fingers around a keyboard.

I wanted to have this kind of experience because I wanted to spend time with myself. I wanted to work hard and use my body and tire myself and fall asleep so fast every night because I deserved it and because my body was giving me no other choice. I wanted time without distraction to see where my mind would go and, in a way, listen to it and talk to it.

I wanted to give myself the gift of time. And while it may have been “hard time” working on the farm, it was one of the best times of my life.

Why These 6 Months Will Change Your Life

Here’s the thing – I’ve actually been working for myself for years now. I haven’t had a boss other than myself for years, I haven’t had to be in the office at a certain time for years, I haven’t had to request time off for years. But something was still missing.

We often think that as soon as we become a “digital nomad” or create that passive income that we’ll suddenly be happy and have all the answers. And while those are amazing goals to achieve, that’s not the whole picture.

You’ve got to have a purpose. You’ve got to live your life on purpose. You’ve got to wake up in the morning and know what you’re working towards in the bigger scheme of things. Without that, you end up just floating on through life.

These 6 months of exploring, of being, of adventuring, or trying new things, of seeing where your interests and curiosities can take you will open your mind, eyes and heart to just what is out there.

It will take the pressure of society and the so-called “American Dream” off of your shoulders. It will remind you that life is all about the connections we make and the way we affect those around us. It will teach you about spending time with yourself, about being alone and enjoying it, and about who you are on a deeper level.

And it will open up a world of possibility as the ideas begin to flood in when you least expect it.

The only thing you need to do is plan it out and set it in motion, and go in with the intention that you are just going to simply BE so that as the days unfold you discover just who you are. Once you have that down, both your business and your life will really start to thrive. The two go hand in hand.

 

About Lauren

Lauren Rains is the founder of Wild World Creative, working with individuals, companies and nonprofits that are making the world a better place by building them beautiful and effective websites. A traveler at heart, she’s ridden motorcycles along Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan, skateboarded 30 miles from Boulder to Denver CO, and hiked along the Great Wall of China.

She writes on her blog, TheMadtoLive.com, about her pursuits in personal development, conscious entrepreneurship, and world travel. She loves to do WAY too many things to mention in this tiny bio so drop her a line on twitter at @LaurRAINS!

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Is Following Your Passion A Terrible Idea?

Truth be told, I have been struggling a lot lately with my mission. My mission, as I have made clear to you all, is to inspire people who feel stuck in a boring, unfulfilling, or downright shitty job or relationship.

But my goals are not as clear. Yes, I want to help as many as people as possible. Yes, I want to do remarkable things. Yes, I want to earn a full-time income doing this.

But am I honestly working towards that?

I’m not doubting that I have the ability to help people change their lives for the better. I know I can and do.

My struggle, as eluded to in my post, The Struggle Within, comes from a deep emotional level that is hard for me to explain.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my future and what I really want to accomplish with my life and I’ve taken a good bit of time to get away from technology. I’ve also spent some time in solitude (mainly through hiking) in order to gain some clarity.

It was during this time that my good friend, Ian, called me to tell me about a book. He is familiar with my struggles and said I needed to read this particular book.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You

MJ

It’s called So Good They Can’t Ignore You and he told me it just might be able to help me with my internal struggles.

Ian has been a friend and someone I have turned to for business advice since I started blogging in 2010. He runs a very successful tennis instruction site called EssentialTennis.com, and I hold his opinions in high regard.

So I bought the book in the hopes it would shed some light into my frustrations with my business path.

I finished it in a day and a half and what I had hoped was going to be the catalyst for me transforming my business into something greater, I found quite the opposite.

It actually called to attention a much different question; am I on the right path?

The author Cal Newport’s premise for the book is questioning the often overused catchphrases like “follow your passion” and “do what you love” as it pertains to finding your true calling and/or work that matters.

He dismisses these statements, claiming they are dangerous and lead to chronic unhappiness and failure.

And if you know anything about me or this blog, you know that his “wisdom” flies in the face of everything I stand for and basically dismisses what I have come to adopt as my philosophy on living life.

His main point is that following your passion is terrible advice. I, in contrast, preach that following your passion is essential for doing work you love.

The Book

This is not intended to be a book review, but rather an overview of his philosophies. Under other circumstances, I wouldn’t waste my time writing about something like this, but this book makes sense. A lot of it.

The book can be summarized by the following points:

  • The theory of choosing a job/business based solely on what you are most passionate about is flawed because actual “career” passions are rare and trying to find yours leads to high job dissatisfaction rates, job/business hopping, and chronic unhappiness. Since you are always striving to find your “real” passion and never seem to, your life become a hamster wheel of dissatisfaction.
  • Following your passion is bad advice because most people don’t have a pre-existing passion waiting to be discovered and then matched to a suitable career.
  • Passion is a side effect of mastery. In order to love your work, you must provide a rare and valuable service to others. You must also have autonomy and a sense of being connected to others in your work environments.
  • Taking on a mindset of what you can offer the world is a far better (and more effective) approach versus what the world can offer you. It’s what the author calls the “Passion Mindset” versus the “Craftsman Mindset.”
  • Become “so good they can’t ignore you” in your chosen endeavor and you will ultimately find happiness and passion in your work.
  • Becoming “so good” requires an almost fanatical dedication to your work. He mentions the 10,000 hour rule frequently as a way of achieving excellence. This is often a grueling and arduous process but must be done anyway.
  • Focusing on your passions makes you focus on what you don’t like about your work and leads to chronic unhappiness. ( I can agree with this one). By constantly asking ourselves “what do I want” or “what do I truly love”, we are left unfulfilled because there are rarely concrete answers, but rather ambiguous ideas. Cal reports that this mindset is almost guaranteed to leave you perpetually confused and unhappy.
  • If you want something rare and valuable (such as a highly rewarding career), then you need to provide something rare and valuable in return.
  • Having the courage to quit your job is not enough, but rather it needs to be accompanied by skills of great and real value.
  • To find your career passion, you must have a mission. A mission gives you a focus on your goals and maximizes your impact on the world. A mission requires career capital in which we can offer something valuable first.

The Passion Hypothesis

The Passion Hypothesis states “the key to occupational happiness is to first figure out what you’re passionate about and then find a job (or business) that matches that passion.”

This has become an extremely poplar niche for “lifestyle design” type bloggers to write about. Follow your heart and the money will follow, is a common mantra.

Ever since Tim Ferriss wrote the 4HWW, millions of people have jumped on the “pursue your passion” bandwagon and I have too.

Life coaches are popping up everywhere you look and most have a similar message stating that we must follow our passion in order to find our life’s work.

But Cal not only brushes this notion aside but tells us that this is terrible advice.

He instead tells us the following:

  • Career passions are rare. Instead, most are passionate about their hobbies and are not viable business opportunities.
  • Passion takes time. It not just something where you wake up one day and say “I think my calling is saving bottle nosed dolphins.” Instead, he says that we will find our passion mastering certain workplace skills.
  • Passion is a side effect of mastery. Meaning the more efficient you become at something, the more likely you are to consider it a passion.
  • Following your passion leads to us looking for the “right” career or business that is truly our life’s work, which it turn leads to job hopping and self doubt because we rarely find it.
  • Although the “passion” movement has exploded over the last 10 years, we are unhappier as people than we have ever been.

In his words, Cal states:

Telling someone to follow their passion is not just an act of innocent optimism, but potentially the foundation for a career riddled with confusion and angst.

He has examples to prove his theory, which of course can be viewed from either side. He doesn’t share any stories of people who followed their passions and actually succeeded.

Any one of us could do a study proving that following your passion is more effective than his teachings if we really wanted to. But that’s not the point of all of this. My point is that there may be something to all of this.

He states:

If you spend too much time focusing on whether or not you’ve found your true calling, the question will be rendered moot when you found yourself out of work.

The Passion Mindset VS The Craftsman Mindset

The Passion Mindset is the focus on what value your job/business offers you. Like with what I do here. I look at ETG as a way to help people but also offers me the opportunity to work from home, travel if I desire and work from anywhere. Things that I value.

The Craftsman Mindset is the focus on what value you can bring to your job/business. The theory is that once you provide tremendous value at work, you will begin to find your passion and reap the rewards of a fulfilling career.

He shares a story of a particular “lifestyle design” blogger who subscribes to the passion mindset. The story details a man who quit his 9-5 job at age 25 in order to pursue his passion. His passion is being able to live the life of an Internet entrepreneur and show others how to do the same.

According to the author, this blogger’s only product was his enthusiasm for not having to conform to society and work a “traditional” job. Sounds familiar….

The story continues to tell how this blogger struggled to gain readers, keep them interested and ultimately disappears altogether. The reason being is that his enthusiasm was not a valuable trait and he had no career capital from which to draw and build on.

I agree with the fact that we must provide a value to people or there is no business. As it’s been told to me many, many times; blogging is not a business. I get that.

The author’s example shows us one person who tried the passive income route, which clearly takes a great deal of work in order to build something that generates significant income.

But his point also hit a little too close to home for me as well.

While reading this book (and since), I have thought a great deal about this. What value am I offering my audience? Is my passion for ending the grind enough? Is it a business model? What can I provide that will meet this criteria?

Career Capital

capital

Career capital is defined as the skills you have that are rare and valuable to the working world. This is the key currency for creating work you love (according to Cal).

In essence, what he is saying is that those who do not possess remarkable skill at their chosen work (i.e. the millions of people leaving their careers to find something more meaningful, but have little or no experience in) are screwed.

His focus is on creating a compelling career and this is done only by having 3 things:

  1. Creativity. Having the ability to be highly creative in your work.
  2. Impact. Being able to make an impact on people and/or the world.
  3. Control. Being in control of your time and future.

And while I agree with these things, they can be found in any endeavor regardless of whether or not you have innate skills in it.

He suggests that because so many are focused on having all these things in their work, they rarely come to fruition because by the time they’ve invested enough career capital (i.e. learned a valuable skill), they have already quit to pursue something they (incorrectly) think will be more fulfilling.

The Courage Culture

courage

This is something that is very popular right now among lifestyle-type bloggers. It’s the idea that the only thing standing between you and your dream job/business is the courage to take that first step (i.e. grab your balls).

Cal claims this is dangerous because in ignores the importance of having career capital to back up your aspirations and leads to people quitting their jobs for a new situation, which often puts them in a far worse situation than they were previously.

I have to disagree with this flat out. Take me for example. I quit my career, left behind all kinds of “security” and income in order to do what I love.

Am I in a much worse situation because of it? I would argue the exact opposite to be true. While I many not have the same financial resources that I did, my quality of life has improved ten-fold. Can you put a price on that?

I honestly believe that had I stayed in my job, I would have gone the way of stressed out cardiac patient and been a miserable son of a bitch for the rest of my heart attack ending life.

He also mentions Pamela Slim’s program, Rebuild Your Backbone, which is geared towards people struggling with taking that first step towards following their dreams. He states that this “Passion Mindset” approach strips away merit and that without real skills and real value offered (in addition to the courage needed to follow your dreams), this doesn’t make sense and is a recipe for failure.

The Passion Camp

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I am obviously in the passion camp. I honestly believe that following your passion is how you find what will make you tick. This book does not dissuade me from my beliefs, but I do see many of his points on why solely following your passion may not be the best approach to finding work you love.

I’m also a HUGE fan of Gary V, who is all passion. He screams, curses, and beats it down people’s throats; do what you love and you CAN monetize it.

I wholeheartedly agree.

This book disagrees with this notion. For example, Gary, in his 2008 Web 2.0 Expo speech, says if you love The Smurfs, then you can find a way to make money talking about Smurfs. This book would argue that there is no real value being offered in this scenario and would be a poor decision to pursue it.

 A Few Issues Here..

Here are a few things that I don’t agree with and don’t like about this book:

  • He trivializes lifestyle bloggers/entrepreneurs and almost makes a mockery of this career choice. He also fails to mention any successful case studies of people who are making a full-time living from going after what they love without the “required” career capital.
  • Most of his studies are done on highly educated people (he has his PhD from M.I.T) and the book takes an almost condescending tone towards those not formally educated.
  • He seems to value academic merit and education more than anything else. Education is very important I agree, but there are things far more valuable than getting a piece of paper.
  • Says “regardless of what you do for a living, approach it like a true performer.” For example, although you may hate your job, you should strive to excel in it, which may ultimately lead to you being more passionate about it.
  • Is geared towards the employee mindset people, which many of us are not.
  • Putting all your focus and energy into your job, whether or not you think it’s your calling.
  • Courage to try a new field is not wise because you have no skills or “career capital” yet.

The Big Questions

And as many things that I don’t like about this book, I hate to admit that I agree with some of the things he says, especially the things that are in direct contrast to what I write about here.

After reading the book, I felt like I was a deflating balloon. And because of this, I knew there were some hard truths in here that I was unwilling to look at and/or accept.

I have begun to rethink my business direction and focus because of this and know it can only serve to help me grow as a person and as a business owner.

As I read it (and reread it), I kept asking myself the same difficult questions:

  • What valuable service am I providing right now?
  • What rare skills (or career capital) do I have in my business as a blogger here?
  • Am I pursuing something that I can truly excel at?

My answers are more disturbing than the questions:

  • I am selling inspiration right now. I’m selling the possibility of being able to make a huge change in your life by seeing how I did it in my own life.
  • I honestly am struggling to think of my unique skills. I have many skills that are valuable but I am not offering anything remarkable here, other than my story.
  • I can’t honestly say yes here. I am struggling to find my marketable skills that will set me apart from the million other bloggers. Yes, I can write well. Yes, I have the ability to connect with people on a deep level. Yes, I can inspire people to change. But is it enough? Can I teach YOU how to do what I’ve done and then inspire you to actually do it? And if so, is THAT enough?

These questions and answers are really forcing me to reevaluate my path here and where I want to go.

Also, given the topic and its impact on me, I decided to reach out to Cal and although he claims that he is purposefully difficult to reach (and doesn’t use social media), I sent him an email anyway. My hope is to revive my Podcast one last time and interview him. We’ll see if he responds…

I’ll be sharing more about this in a future post, but for now, it’s over to you…

I really want to talk about this! What are your thoughts on his ideas? Which points make sense and which don’t?

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OK, I Surrender. Now Get Me Out Of Here!

This is a guest submission from Laura Jones from lauragjones.com

I’ve always known I was meant to be an entrepreneur. Maybe that’s because of my issues with authority.

Or my insatiable desire for freedom.

Or the fights I put up whenever I feel restricted.

What can I say, I’m feisty. Don’t fence me in. But when I graduated college as an international student, I had to take a job.

I spent a year and a half after college miserably stepping over my own boundaries and freedom and staring out the window next to my cubicle (at least I was lucky enough to have a window next to my cubicle!) while my bosses gave me menial work and ignored my creative ideas for improvement.

As 2013 neared and I married my husband (which meant a green card was on the way), I knew something had to change.

So I bootstrapped myself an online marketing education.

I signed up for every big shot coach’s marketing list and studied every sales page and e-mail to learn from them. I connected with other coaches on Facebook groups and spent my commute time finishing blog post after blog post (ah, the wonders of limited internet connectivity!)

I spent my time at work listening to podcasts and Seth Godin audiobooks and writing editorial calendars and marketing plans.

When I got home, after taking a hot shower to wash away the stress of the day (still my #1 tip for overworked employees who hate their jobs) I hopped on the couch, food in my lap, to work some more.

Sheer Will Only Takes You So Far

After about 6 months of doing this whole website thing, I was starting to reach my limit.

My coming-home-to-work-on-the-biz routine involved crying on the couch for a few minutes pleading and arguing with God over why I was still in that shitty job.

Every month, I would find a new creative way that I could just leave my job, and suggest it to my husband.

“I’ll go bartend or wait tables for a living!”

“I’ll become a professional babysitter!”

“Let’s just move to the middle of nowhere and live in a tiny shack and grow all of our own food!”

Go ahead, laugh. I’ll wait.

I was desperate.

And, clearly, willing to do just about anything to get away from needing the money from that job.

Learning how to be in business without anyone teaching you the ropes takes a lot of time. A lot more time than I was prepared to invest before seeing any results.

I was frustrated to no end because no matter how much I had believed in myself as a coach, no matter how much I tried to apply what I learned, the results were just not coming fast enough.

Over time, I learned that it’s about more than just applying what others are teaching or doing.

It’s about understanding why you’re supposed to be doing X and Y, doing it at the right time, and most importantly checking in with yourself and figuring out what works for you.

As I learned those lessons, I tweaked a lot – I tweaked my site, my marketing strategies, my coaching strategies, my sales pages.

I unsubscribed to many of the initial marketing “gurus” I had subscribed to who made me feel like I was just a wallet with a face, and subscribed to others who respected their audience a little more.

Then I started experimenting with my own style, figuring out exactly what I have to offer and how I can offer it best.

I started expecting to make mistakes and welcoming them. I realized that failure is not the end, but a stepping board to new beginnings.

As I moved on with a focus on experimenting, I realized that the energy I spent hating my job and wishing I wasn’t there could be better spent on my business. So I made a commitment to fully accept where I was and not give my day job any more of my thought or emotions.

I completely embraced my situation, and that freed me.

I started thinking up creative ways to make my lunches nourishing, instead of complaining that I didn’t get to stay at home and cook when I needed to.

When my boss threw a mean comment my way I just shrugged it off and happily traipsed back to my desk to return to my blog ideas or chat with my co-worker. Best of all, the release of negative energy I was holding on to made me much more productive and optimistic.

And after a few weeks of surrendering to my imperfect situation, I got called into my boss’s office and was handed a big fat envelope with my layoff information.

pink slip

I could barely conceal the big fat grin on my face.

I spent the next few months looking for other jobs while gathering more readers on my site, building connections with other entrepreneurs, and helping my husband with his natural deodorant company.

As soon as my unemployment ran out, I took a 6-week long trip back to Romania to visit family and friends, and returned to brand new clients I love working with.

I guess I don’t need to keep looking for a job after all. The waiting, working, crying and accepting all paid off.

The Lesson Of Surrender

Looking back, I see a similar pattern for every good thing that has ever happened to me. I wish for it, I envision it, I work for it, then I get to the point where I plead, bargain, and stomp my feet.

But no matter how much I’m tempted to stay in that place and will God into making my wish come true, nothing ever happens until I finally surrender and embrace where I am, and let go of my insatiable need for things to go exactly my way.

So if you feel stuck and impatient – give surrender a try. The results just might surprise you.

Have you ever needed to let go and accept your situation before things could turn around?

 

About Laura

Laura G. Jones helps creative grasshoppers find productivity, clarity, and success without having to overspecialize and structure their lives to the point of suffocation. Click here to conquer procrastination with her free 9-day flexible productivity course.

When not grasshopping between her passions, blogging, or making natural deodorants with her husband she can be found taking long walks in the forest and cudding with her two kitties, a good book, and a warm cup of herbal tea.

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The Not So Comprehensive Guide To Getting Your Shit Together

Last week I wrote a post called 8 Things I Know About You and received quite a mixed response. From people calling me out on my offensive language to people calling it the most passionate article they’ve ever read, it was still a post I felt very good about writing.

Shortly after publishing it though, I received an email from a reader who said the following:

“You just pointed out all the things that are wrong with me/us/other people and pissed them all off. Now, what are we supposed to do about it? What solutions do you offer to help change these things about ourselves? Where do we go from here?

You’ve held up a mirror to those deepest darkest fears in our souls. Don’t let us crawl back in under our rocks and hide — encourage us to be proactive in facing those fears head-on, and list ways of doing that (or reiterate what you said in the above paragraphs, such as sharing our emotions in a healthy way, consider alternate employment routes, do something big and new and scary like rock-climbing or starting a new hobby).

To be honest, I hadn’t thought about actually providing a solution, but rather wanted to call to attention some truth’s in hopes of lighting a fire under your ass.

But without a solution, I have only managed to drive home the fact that your life probably sucks and you’re kind of stuck unless you fix it. Well how the fuck can you fix it if you don’t know what to do?

So I’m going to expand on last week’s post and share some of my ideas on how to break free from some of your limiting beliefs.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to getting your shit together and I certainly don’t have all the answers. But I do have a lot of experience in overcoming all of these issues.

And if you haven’t read the post I’m referencing, it’s probably a good idea to do it now so you know what I’m talking about.

Overcoming Your Deep Dark Fears

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1) Being miserable

Being miserable is a state of mind, nothing more. When I was going through the rough years in my marriage (almost all of them), I chose to be miserable. Sure the situation I was in was not good and my life had a great deal of stress, but I looked at everything as a negative.

If I were a more positive person, I could have looked at my situation in a different light. I’m not saying there would have been a different outcome because there wouldn’t have been, but I could have focused on the good things I did have instead of being pissed all the time about how shitty my life was.

Being a positive person takes a great deal of work (for many) and I wasn’t one of them. Since starting my life over (ie. quitting my job+divorcing), I’ve been fortunate to connect with some positive people online (where I spend most of my time).

People like Farnoosh Brock from ProlificLiving.com. Just read any of her posts and you’ll see what I’m talking about. She has gone through a lot to get where she is today and is one of the most positive people I know in the online world.

Another shining example is Shola Richards from ThePositivitySolution.com. I like to read his stuff because he is sincere and honest, but also seems to be truly trying to be the best person he can be. And his positive attitude is something we all can learn from.

I believe that you are who you hang around, so it makes sense to associate yourself with people you want to emulate, not your douchebag college buddies who still think it’s fun to go out drinking and get wasted every other weekend.

I was not around positive people when I was going through my shit and it made things 10X worse. If this is also true in your life, you need to start looking at how to get involved with people who will raise you up, not bring you down.

You also need to start practicing the art of being positive. If your situation isn’t positive, then put positivity into it. If you are struggling, then DO something good.

Go do something positive.

  • Pay for a strangers coffee
  • Join a church group or a book club
  • Start or join a mastermind group
  • Start to volunteer somewhere
  • Have a conversation with a stranger and take interest in them
  • Tell someone you love them
  • Give money to a person in need
  • Reconnect with a long lost friend
  • Find a group of like minded people and figure out how to associate with them
  • Call your mother, dammit!

2) Wasted talent

You are probably well aware that you are not using your God given talents and skills to make your life better. Most people work in fields they have little interest in.

When you are using your natural gifts, you will know because you will feel the energy surging through you. You will also find that you excel at them.

If you are in a job that you know doesn’t use your best skills, you don’t have to quit necessarily but here are a few options:

  • Find a way to use them in your job. Volunteer for projects that may use them. Look for lateral movement within your company to exploit them.
  • Start a side business. Sell shit on eBay if you are a skilled Internet marketer. Start a local event like a 5k for breast cancer if you are a great organizer. Find a few freelance writing gigs if your passion is writing. Start blogging if your strengths are connecting with people and building relationships. There is always a business opportunity for something you are remarkable at. Always.
  • Volunteer somewhere you can use them. In 1997, I had just gone through a very personal coaching workshop called Lifespring. In it, I realized that my natural strength was being in the service of others. I had tried so hard to put up a front of being cocky (and a player) that I refused to let myself see my gifts.So I decided to volunteer at a shelter for homeless and abused women. It was an incredible experience and I built relationships with several women who were highly reluctant to trust people (let alone a man). And interestingly enough, I was offered a job, which I took, and had a wonderful experience that taught me a great deal.

3) Your relationship

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What can I say that hasn’t already been said in War Of The Roses? Just kidding, it wasn’t that bad.

We all know the divorce stats and they are insanely high. Why? I believe it’s because our legal system makes it easier to get a divorce than it is to get a fishing license. It’s actually so ridiculous, it’s almost comical. Almost.

For me, it was a matter of meeting my ex and our attorneys in some dingy office, answering a few questions under oath, and going about my day. Confirmation came by mail a month later. In all it cost me around $1,000.

What a joke.

Growing up, I told myself when I got married that I would never divorce. I witnessed the bitter divorce of my parents when I was 6 and subsequently harbored a great deal of resentment towards my mother for many years.

But when I was in my marriage, my commitment to myself started to falter. And as the years went on, it became harder and harder to consider the possibility of spending the rest of my life with someone who was so obviously wrong for me.

I honestly believe that divorce is a last resort. And we reached it.

If you are struggling to stay together, you need to ask yourself a few important questions:

  • Why are you staying together? If it’s for money only, that’s a bad idea.
  • Is your relationship salvageable? Mine wasn’t. We had done too much emotional damage to each other to ever recover from. Maybe yours is different (hopefully).
  • Will your life truly be better without your spouse in it?
  • Do you still love your spouse?

Seeking help in the form of counseling, therapy, and/or workshops is very important. There is no way you can say you gave it 100% if you haven’t exhausted all possibilities to make it work.

4) Scared to leave your job

This is probably the most prevalent one on my list. The U.S. workforce alone is roughly 120 million people and 70% of them are not happy at work. You do the math.

But people stay in their jobs because they think it’s secure and they are too scared to leave and try something else. These are very real and rational fears. If you didn’t have them, I would say you are reckless and irresponsible.

Up and quitting is not usually the best option, so what can you do if you know you don’t want to work in your current job?

  • Stay there and grind it out (bad move)
  • Look for another job in the same field (safe move, but still a bad one)
  • Get a job in another field, one that you actually like (getting warmer)
  • Keep your job and hustle your ass off to build something that can ultimately replace your day job income
  • Quit to pursue your passions. This will usually be in the form of starting a new business

Obviously I’m biased towards business but there is no right or wrong answer here. It’s up to you to decide your future.

Personally, I believe the safest option is to create a business for yourself around what you are most passionate about and what you are best at. You need both.

For example, I would love to be a guitarist in a heavy metal band. It would be awesome for me, but I have zero musical ability. It would take me 10 years of non-stop practice to become proficient at it and I still would probably struggle to keep up with those who are naturally gifted at it.

Instead, I use my innate skills of serving others, building relationships, and helping people. My compassion, caring, and teaching abilities are what makes me unique and allows me to do what I love.

If you don’t already know, take the time to figure out what your strongest skills are. Start by taking the free Jung Typology Test, which is similar to the Myers-Briggs.

5) Needing a change

You already know that what you’re doing right now isn’t working. You are burned out, bored, frustrated, and sick and tired of being sick and tired.

So you need a change. Like yesterday.

The first step in change is acknowledging that you do in fact need one. Not just want one, but need one.

If you don’t have a sense of urgency and have an acute pain, you very may well tolerate your situation indefinitely. You must have that sense of immediate need.

The people who consistently say “thank God it’s Friday” or “same shit, different day” don’t have that acute pain. They have a chronic pain that they are now accustomed to and are numb to it. Don’t allow yourself to fall into that trap.

You also need to know what you want to do instead. Don’t just up and leave your career because you think you might strangle your boss tomorrow. Take the day off to cool down and then take the time to plan out your next step.

I did a lot of research and due diligence before I quit my job to work at a gym. In the end, it made sense, so I did it.

You may not even need a life altering change. You don’t have to leave a great job behind like I did. You don’t have to get divorced like I did. Maybe you just need to get away. Maybe you just need to reevaluate your situation. Maybe you just need to clear your head.

6) Feeling hopeless

If you’re feeling hopeless or near hopeless, I don’t need to tell you how limiting this is for you.

First, do something, anything, that brings you joy. Whether it’s going to a matinee by yourself or going to the driving range and hitting a bucket of balls. Find a sliver of happiness in something. This will help you see that there is life out there.

When I decided to turn my life around, the first thing I did was go running. I had stopped exercising, which had been a big part of my life for years, when I was at my lowest point. So when I decided to make a change, the first thing I did was exercise.

I would suggest you doing some form of exercise as well. Even if you are a beginner, you can do something. Go for a walk, take a hike and enjoy nature or dust off your bike and go for a ride. Trust me, you will feel amazing afterwards (and probably a bit sore).

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If you are new to fitness and/or just need a push in the right direction, I can help. 16 years in the fitness business has taught me a few things and I’d be happy to help in any way I can. Contact me directly with questions.

Of course exercise is not the sole answer to feeling hopeless and I could write 3,ooo words on ways to address this in other ways. However, I will share a very powerful article by my friend, Benny Hsu called A Letter to People Who Feel Hopeless About Life, which hits the nail on the head regarding this topic.

My friend Sebastian also shares a lot of insightful thoughts on this topic over at pg4life.com.

7) Life has little meaning

This has nothing to do with your value as a person but rather how to view your contribution to this world and your place in it. If you are feeling unfulfilled, unproductive, unloved, and uncertain, you might have a difficult time thinking about the importance of your life.

You are special. You have gifts.

You can achieve anything you want if you commit to it.

The problem may be that you don’t know what your purpose is. Now I don’t believe that we all have some special purpose that defines us. I believe that we all have different things we can succeed at and certain things that light the fires in our hearts.

Finding your purpose is way too cliche for me to preach about and I don’t think any amount of solitary deep thinking, yoga, meditation, or anything else will allow the universe to open up and send you a message with your one true calling.

You will figure it out, but it does take work. You actually have to think about it, be committed to figuring out what you honestly love doing, and be willing to hone your skills.

My friend Jacob from Sensophy.com is a huge proponent of finding your purpose and living it. He has some great ideas and thought on it and has done far more research into this area that I ever will. One my favorite posts is WTF Should I Do With My Life? and is a must read if you are wanting to explore that area of your life.

8) Feeling selfish for wanting more from life

I can’t say this enough, but life is way too fucking short to spend it doing shit you hate. Period.

Whoever told us that we needed to follow the path that everyone else is on is wrong. Let someone else punch a clock until they’re 70 years old. Let someone else grind out a dead marriage. Let someone else be a martyr and suck it up. Let someone else wake up every morning with nothing to look forward to.

Not me. And not you.

I think the selfish person is the one who allows themselves to live life that way. The selfish person is the significant other who not only doesn’t support their partner, but thinks that personal sacrifice is more important than personal growth.

Ask yourself why you do what you do each day. Is it just to pay the bills and support your family? Is there a specific reason you work where you work? Why are you choosing to play life in such a small way?

Now ask yourself if this is what really makes you happy. There is no reason you cannot provide for your family and do what makes you feel alive. Nowhere does it say that you have to sit in endless meetings listening to things you don’t care about (except your employee handbook). Nowhere does it say that you must tolerate idiotic coworkers or spend 3 hours commuting each day.

So why are you doing it?

Listen, I can’t sit here and preach to you about all the things you should be doing because I spent most of my life doing them. Yes, I’ve made changes, big fucking changes, but it took a great deal of effort to get to where I am now.

I want you to simply recognize that you are worthy of living the life you want. I want you to feel good about starting that blog, starting that business selling Amazon products, or doing something that brings you to life.

Please understand that just because you have financial obligations and a family doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your happiness. You can be happy and take care of all that you need and want to. You can have it all.

Now Get Off Your Fucking Ass

If you’re still reading this, kudos to you! But now comes the hard part.

Doing the work.

It’s time to stop thinking about it and talking about it and start doing shit about it. Everything you do from this day forward will be a direct result of the small step you take today and then tomorrow…

I’m here with you and for you.

Now take that step…

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Embracing My Inner Rebel

This is a guest post from Carla Krueger from carlakrueger.com

I was a rebel as a youngster – someone who took risks, truly explored places and had lots of (legal) fun most adults frowned at. The motivation to be creative and do exciting things continued into my teenage years and onto University, where I was popular for being ‘my own person’.

But then, as I moved further into my twenties, a combination of factors began to lessen my individuality. It happened slowly, over time, so that I didn’t really notice. I began to feel less happy, less motivated, less content – and I didn’t like it, so I decided to figure out why and try to put it right.

A Trip Down The Mediocre Path

carla kreuger

What were the factors that made me less adventurous, opinionated and creative?

After a long hard think (about two years solid!), I narrowed it down to four fundamental reasons:

  1. Lack of enthusiasm for my ‘proper’ job. I had a regular salary that paid the bills, but hardly any creative output. I had a bunch of meaningless targets to meet and a manager who was less qualified than any of the team they ‘led’.
  2. Dissatisfaction with other people’s ideas about where my life was supposed to go – like my mother with her “nice house, mortgage and car” dream, or my mother-in-law, who saw me as a grandchild-production-machine (and wasn’t afraid to keep saying so…!)
  3. A very stressful, long-term problem with a close relative characterised by manipulation, control and high expectations of love and kindness without much being reciprocated.
  4. A general sense of loss and confusion within – a sense that, even though I liked some elements of what I was and what I did – I was not really myself anymore. I was not PROUD of who I’d become.

To cut a long story short, I wanted to understand what was going on and possibly re-learn how to be that creative person again – and here’s how I did it.

Three Steps To Change

First and most importantly, I accepted there was a problem. It sounds like something a health professional might say to an addict, but it’s essential.

I was NOT happy with my job. I did NOT care about money in the same way many of my co-workers did. I was NOT ok to let the imbalance in my family relationship continue.I did NOT agree that “women’s only desire in life should be to become a mother,” and I did NOT want to live a lie, plugging away at things I didn’t care about, pretending to everyone that I was happy to let my true personality hide.

Next, I got professional advice. I visited both a relationship counselor, to ask about my family problem and a careers advisor, to find out how easy or difficult the kind of changes I planned to make would be. Sometimes it’s unsettling to talk to a stranger about your life in that detail, but I can almost guarantee its power as a tool of self-improvement.

Even when I was told it would be hard to solve all my issues (almost impossible for some), I surprised myself with my own reaction – I said, “I don’t care how hard it is – I’m determined to do it.” I had, in that instant, got back my motivation to really succeed in life, and not just to be perceived as succeeding by people who are too scared to break a few rules.

Last but not least, the final step in the process is this: THERE IS NO FINAL STEP! When you’re finally where you want to be, fighting hard for what you believe, doing what you love, you just keep doing it, over and over, wherever you are, in whatever company – and you never give up.

When offered a promotion at the job I didn’t care about, I declined, with a polite, but genuine reason. I said, “I don’t want to be a fake anymore. I’m not built to work in a business like this – and the extra money doesn’t make it anymore palatable to me. I’ve got new plans …” When asked by friends and family why I’d “looked the work gift-horse in the mouth,” I told them the truth.

They were surprised by my choices and started to accuse me of recklessness, but this time I didn’t let it affect me. I was strong. I let them have their concerns. I even let them judge or pity me. When I told them what I wanted to do instead, they went crazy! “Have you lost your mind?” “That’s such a tough career path!” “You must be mad to waste your time on something that pays so poorly.”

I used to hate judgement and disapproval more than anything – the fear of being judged was one of the reasons I started doing things people agreed with in the first place, but I lost my individuality by being scared of what people thought. Now, I simply accept not everyone can think like me – and then I calmly remind myself – and them – that it’s a good thing.

So, What Did I Ditch My ‘Real’ Job To Do?

For many years, I had secretly written fiction as a hobby – often drawing from my life experiences, both good and bad. One day, on a whim, I showed one of my stories to someone I trusted and they looked at me with an expression I can only describe as amazement. Thankfully for me, it wasn’t amazement at how shitty my idea was.

It was respect.

That moment changed my life for ever. I’m now a full-time author, creating the work I love with no regrets.

In case you’re interested, I found that to go from a salaried, standard job to a successful career as a self-employed writer I needed:

  1. An unstoppable desire and determination to fight for what I wanted;
  2. Flowing ideas that seem to never cease and plenty of time to implement them;
  3. A style of communication that’s recognizably mine and doesn’t alienate my readers;
  4. Flawless grammar and presentation skills, even if I ditch them sometimes in the name of fun;
  5. A supportive partner who accepted that I needed help both emotionally and financially in the early stages;
  6. Good social and networking skills, online and in the real world;
  7. A strong passion for the themes that run through my work; and
  8. A pair of army-grade slippers and a tea mug with an unbreakable handle.

Changing my life – and what wasn’t right about it – was not something I wanted to do overnight. I’m not the sort of person to run away to New Zealand and live in a tent or dye my hair red or do anything else on a crazy whim. Those snap decisions don’t usually work anyway, in my opinion. I knew if my situation was going to change for the better, on a long-term basis, it had to be thought about and planned properly.

And then, when I was ready, I simply went for it.

 

About Carla

Carla H. Krueger is a psychological thriller and dark comedy writer based in the UK. She splits her time between Manchester, her vibrant home city, and London. She can be found via the social webs on Twitter and Goodreads.

Her home is a writing retreat, nestled in the little-known countryside between Manchester city centre and neighbouring Sheffield, but always the explorer, and a lover of people, Carla likes to travel as far and wide as possible when time and money permits, to keep her creative spark alight.

live your passion

8 Things I Know About You (And You Won’t Admit)

I like to consider myself somewhat of an expert in the field of human nature. I’m someone who can spend 10 minutes talking with a person and have a pretty good understanding of who they are, what they value, and what their life is like.

This skill has served me well over the years and I’ve forged and terminated relationships because of it.

Now, I have had little to no interaction with most of you who are reading this right now, but I am willing to bet that since you are reading this, you are doing so for a specific reason.

And that reason may be:

  • You hate your job and are looking for a solution
  • You are looking for a dose of inspiration to get you through your day
  • You like to read my story because it is very much like your own
  • You like my writing style and feel connected to me in some way
  • You love reading F bomb laced articles!!

In any case, I’m glad you’re here and I hope you find what I do to be valuable.

I Know You

For more than a decade I was doing exactly what you are doing right now; grinding out a life that you didn’t necessarily want but feel trapped in.

I know how you feel on Sunday nights. I know what goes through your head on your commute to work. I know how you feel when you sit down at your desk on Monday morning. I know how you feel when you can’t share your feelings with someone about all of this.

And it fucking sucks. Bad.

So here is what I know about you:

1) You are fucking miserable.

You won’t admit this because you think you will be seen as a whiner or ungrateful. But fuck, you ARE ungrateful! Why should you be grateful to have a shitty job earning just enough to pay all your fucking bills?

You think it’s noble to go out there and hump for a living because that’s what is expected of you. Fuck that. I’ve said it before, but there is zero nobility in doing shit you hate just to pay some bills.

How about being happy for a change?!? What a concept!

As for whining, I believe that sharing your unhappiness with your closest friends and family should be a reason for people to respect that fact that you are open enough to admit you are unhappy. Sharing your misery is not whining (unless of course you are whining, and in that case, knock it off).

Sharing these emotions is the first step in getting the fuck out. And when these emotions become so strong that they are debilitating, you will then be forced to make a decision; stay the course and risk giving yourself a stress induced heart attack or make a change. Choose change when you get there or better yet, choose change right now.

2) You are wasting your talents.

You aren’t using them because you aren’t required to in your current job. It’s tough to use those amazing creative skills when your job is doing data entry. The world will never know your gift for coaching because you work in retail.

I have the gift, if you can call it that, to excel in video games. It’s such a nerdy thing to say as a 43 year old former financial advisor, but it’s true. I don’t use this skill to create an awesome iPhone game that could make $100,000 because I am embarrassed to do it.

Why? I will look like a complete dork and don’t want to be “that” guy. So instead I use my other talents to build my online business, my coaching business, and my personal training business.

You also have skills that can be used to make your life better and/or more fulfilling. Maybe you don’t even recognize them because they have been left to rust in the inner workings of your mind for so long.

Do some soul searching. Ask your friends what they think you are best at. What are your natural talents and abilities? Put some effort into figuring this shit out, it’s important stuff.

3) You are not happy in your relationship.

Let’s be honest here. We have a 50% divorce rate in the U.S. which means that half the country has the balls to call it like it is and separate themselves from a bad situation. The other half doesn’t have the balls to do that. Sure, there are millions of happy couples out there, but there are far more that are simply tolerating their significant other because it’s easier.

I would never tell anyone to divorce, because that is miserable beyond words, but the alternative of staying in an unhealthy relationship is worse.

Living quietly with sadness, loneliness, and heartache is the worst thing you can do. It can and will sap all your passion, energy, and dreams from you and leave you feeling like you got hit by a mack truck.

Take it from someone who spent many lonely years in a near passionless marriage. Just because you chose the wrong partner doesn’t mean you are stuck or will never find someone who is more compatible. You will.

4) You are scared shitless to leave your job.

Of course you are. I was too. I spent weeks of sleepless night pondering the effects of my decision to leave a $200 million dollar business behind to pursue my passion for fitness. It was an awful decision to make and caused so much anxiety that I thought my heart might explode at any given moment, but I did it.

And when I quit, I know in my heart that it was the right thing to do.

You probably feel like you can’t quit your job and that’s very common. Too common fortunately. But I have some news for you, it’s all bullshit. I don’t care if you make $500,000 per year and are the sole bread winner of a family of 8, you are not trapped in your job.

Right now, you are comfortable with your job, may feel lucky to even have a job, and have put the thought of leaving out of your mind because it’s unrealistic.

Well, it’s fear that is stopping you from entertaining those conversations. It’s far easier to punch the clock, log another day in the system, and earn your wage, than it is to confront the voice in your head that is screaming “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!?”

5) You desperately want need a change in your life.

Day after day, you are doing the same things. Get up, go to work, come home, have dinner, play with the kids for a few minutes, watch TV, go to bed. Repeat for 50 years. The end.

Sounds awesome, huh? Well this is exactly what you are doing right now.

You can bullshit yourself all you want, but you can’t bullshit me. I know you need a change and need it right now. Your fear of change is holding you back from trying something else. And that fear will persist until the day you die.

Unless you control it.

You don’t think I was scared to leave a highly lucrative career with a great company and loads of money on the horizon? You don’t think I was terrified of leaving my family in order to start my life over and try to find some semblance of happiness and peace in my life.

Of course I was.

Now it’s up to you to control your fears and make a change, big or small. Start today.

6) You feel hopeless (or damn close).

There is no shame in feeling lost and hopeless. I spent years feeling this way and it wasn’t until I started sharing my inner most thoughts on this blog in 2010, that I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

For me it was the feeling of being trapped in my job and my marriage. It might not be so bad for you. Maybe it’s one or the other and for your sake, I hope that’s the case.

When you feel so low that you don’t think it’s conceivable that change is possible, you have a problem. Digging your way out is incredibly challenging, I won’t lie.

But it can be done and must be done. If not, your life will not improve. And you don’t want that.

If there is any one thing you take from this post or for that matter, anything I have ever said, it’s this; there is always hope and always a way out. Your life can be infinitely better and you have the power to change it right fucking now.

7) Your life has little meaning to you.

I’m not saying you feel worthless or are worthless because that’s just not true. What I am saying is that you feel as though you are not doing what matters most to you; your life’s work.

Maybe that’s playing golf, working in a battered women’s shelter, writing sci-fi novels, or speaking on stage in front of thousands of people, but you aren’t doing it and it’s crushing your soul.

I don’t believe it’s realistic to think it’s possible to be super charged 24/7, but I do think it’s possible to wake up each day and feel like you are working towards something worthwhile.

What if your life had real and deep meaning? And for those of you with children, I know that raising them to be well adjusted, productive, hard working, and honest adults is highly meaningful to you. And it is for me as well.

There is nothing I want more in this world than for my daughters to be happy and have a great life. But my life has to have meaning as well. I know my girls will learn from how I live my life. If they see me moping around, working crappy jobs, and eking through life, they will come to think that’s how life should be.

It’s not and I’m not going to teach them that.

What will give meaning to your life?

8) You feel selfish for wanting more out of life.

You wake up each morning, drag your ass out of bed, and prepare for yet another day at the office. Same ol, same ol. Your life is on auto-pilot and you are bored to fucking tears.

Life has to be better than this you think as you hop in your car and prepare for the hour long commute. You can’t tell your spouse about this, because you will be seen as weak and as a complainer. You can’t tell them that you want nothing more than to quit and do something else, anything else.

You think that by wanting something better, you will have to sacrifice your family’s stability and risk losing your home and everything else you’ve worked so hard for. You tell yourself it’s selfish to want out of your situation because it might be difficult for your spouse to handle.

But I can tell you right now with all the conviction I have in my body; you are not selfish for wanting to be happier and more fulfilled. You should be commended for not wanting to settle for what life has given you and to spend the rest of your days going through the motions of life inside your self imposed prison.

Wanting to be happy is not selfish. Those who let you think that are not the people you need to be around. Let them be miserable. You don’t have to be.

Pissed Yet?

I’m sure some of these things touched a nerve with you and no doubt will piss some of you off. “He doesn’t know me” you might say. But I do know you.

I know you because I was you.

 

Your turn! Am I wrong about these? Did I hit the nail on the head?

I’m not expecting many comments here because those of you who resonate most with this are afraid to admit these things (at least publicly). And that’s OK, I know you are there :)

alden tan

Sorry, But Online Business Ain’t All Unicorns And Rainbows

This is a guest submission from Alden from Alden-Tan.com

Quit your shitty job. Tell your crappy boss you’re done and leave.

You decided to do what you love instead. You plan to create a business out of your passion instead and also make the world a better place.

There will be no more nine to five, because you always felt that made you feel like a cog in the machine; part of the system; a piece of data in the matrix.

Life is all living! You need to travel the world, meet people, absorb different cultures and feeling alive!

That’s what most people think about when it comes to ending the grind.

It Ain’t All Unicorns and Rainbows

Sorry to burst your bubble buddy, but it’s ENTIRELY not what you think it is, especially if it is as contrived and naive as the above.

Heck man, it’s also not about simply not giving up, trying your best and then overcoming your challenges. That’s the gist of it yes, but it is always easier said than done.

Take it from me.

I’m Alden Tan, and I started my real grind in 2011. I started my “quit my job to follow a dream” thing back then and I’ve never looked back since.

Not So Typical Lessons

And of course, there are lessons. But I like to think mine aren’t as easy and normal as any rag-to-riches story tell.

I’ve been scammed before. I’ve made and lost friendships. I’ve made money online and I’ve even inspired people to not kill themselves with my writing.

Read on. Be inspired and absorb the realness.

Passion is a cliché. You still need to work it

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Look…

EVERYBODY seems to have passion today. Everybody in business also likes to emphasize that you need passion in order to run your business.

It’s a cliché.

Sorry, but passion isn’t going to solve all your problems. Just because you do what you love or have an inspiring message to tell doesn’t mean the universe is going to cosmically serve you whatever it is you want.

You still need to work it! You have to put in the effort, sacrifice and work your ass off. Add to that, because it’s a cliché? Nobody really cares that you have passion.

You still need to be different. You need to show how you’re unique. From a business standpoint, you need to have a strong positioning and also brand yourself well.

It’s easy to be swayed by people

During your journey, you’d no doubt connect with a lot of other people in whatever field or niche you’re in. Some of them are super successful and you’d probably look up to them. Some of them may just be starting out.

And all of them would have different opinions on how to run things. Some of them would be very aggressive too. So, the crucial thing is, are you going to listen? Or go your own way?

It’s extremely easy to be swayed by others, especially the successful ones. But not everything others say, as well-meaning as they are, may apply to you. You need to make your own decisions. Be firm. Stand your ground and don’t be swayed.

More often than not, it’s best to do things your own way first so you can learn from it fully. There’s no point doing things that makes you half-hearted. You’ll just be unauthentic.

Some “good” people are not good at all

This is how it mostly is when you connect with new people:

You’ll add each other on Skype. You guys hop on a call and chat for 30 minutes. Your new friend would end the call with “Let me know how I can help you out bro.” That line has turned into a fake formality because it’s the textbook answer to Networking 101.

Sorry, but not all good people are truly good people. They’re all talk.

More often than not, they’re just being nice so they can get you to buy their product or service. Or, like in my experience, they’d willingly do you a solid favor first, then come back later to ask back for a favor which is totally out of proportion.

A lot of “good” people work through “I’ve scratched your back, now you’ve to scratch mine” mentality. It’s just how it is. Talk is cheap. Be very wary of such people. Connect as much as you want, but follow your gut if you smell bullshit.

You’ll fail. Be thankful for the struggle

Let’s get the F word out of the way.

You’re going to meet a lot of challenges and try out a lot of new things. Your hopes will be very high too. But disappointment will come. Not everything you try will give you the results you want.

Don’t let that get you down. Failure is actually a good thing. That’s how you learn the best. Be thankful for the struggle and don’t be afraid to fail. You don’t have to be perfect, like what others say in their how-to articles and whatever.

Just keep forging your own path and fail as fast as you can. You’ll get better.

You need to break rules

breaktherules

Most people, when learning how to create a business will have to start somewhere. We have our webinars, articles, coaching etc. But as mentioned, not everything you learn will apply to you.

Eventually, you’re going to have to break some rules and start calling the shots on your own. This is going to make you extremely uncomfortable.

And it must be done.

Look at it this way: If doing what you love is enough, then everybody with passion would be in business. If business was as easy going through some coaching program, then everybody can draw a month’s pay from some shitty job, get the program and be in business.

Nope. Doesn’t work that way. You need to learn, apply the knowledge and eventually top it off by calling the shots on your own. And some of these shots are going to piss some people off.

Money is indeed important so make sure you’re covered

I personally think that inspirational rag-to-riches stories of successful people going from broke to super stardom are overrated. What’s more, it becomes dangerous when they preach, “Money is not everything.”

Money isn’t everything, but it is very important. You need it to survive! I honestly count a day to be good when I managed to kill it with sales whereas a day of killing it with the best article I wrote in a burst of inspiration isn’t.

That’s how I went broke for an entire year because I thought passion was all I needed.

So make sure you’re covered. Quit your job only when it makes sense. Get your sales funnel and business model set up and ready from the get go.

There will be no more journey if you don’t have money.

It can take a long time and that doesn’t feel good at all

It’s an ongoing process and an everlasting journey. And truly, a couple of years (of failing and not getting what you want) is really short. It’s just a tiny ripple in the whole river.

Stop thinking about overnight success or how some others seem to have it “lucky” just because they’re making more money than you or whatever.  Concentrate on your own journey. If you want to shorten the time to real success, keep grinding and working hard.

That day will come.

 

About Alden

Alden Tan is a passionate Bboy and writer. He writes honest and real stories to inspire people, so you know there’s no bullshit with him. Check out his free book, 12 Things Happy People Don’t Give a Fuck About.

Life's Too Short For Bullshit!