Let me take you back to 1999. I’m in my first year at University, many miles from home and I don’t know a soul.
I want to make friends. Furthermore, I’m hopeful I might meet my first serious girlfriend. However, something inside me is changing.
I’m starting to grow resentful of my peer group and questioning the university experience.
The last question sticks in my mind. It bothers me and, as a result, I make a terrible decision.
Fuck’em, I thought to myself. If you’re not going to make an effort with me then I won’t make an effort with you.
As I said, bad move. Soon, I was spending more and more time by myself. Conversations were limited to a “hi,” nod or grunt. I’d attend my lectures, go to the gym, watch tv in the common room, occasionally go the cinema (by myself) and that was how I spent my time at University. It wasn’t that I never spoke to anyone. However, in the entire 3 years I was at university, I could count on two hands the number of meaningful conversations I had with other people, much less a laugh or a good time.
Looking back, I can see the extremely negative impact this had on my state of mind. However, later in life, I also discovered a hidden blessing in my isolation.
This experience, and many more after I’d left university, gave me an insight into loneliness. I know how negatively it can affect your mind. However, I also know there is both a way out, and a way to reduce the sadness of being alone.
It’s this knowledge that I now want to share with you. I want you to know there’s hope and, even if it feels like not a single soul cares, happiness is possible.
Before we explore the potential for change, I must issue a warning. Spending too much time alone, no matter how much you enjoy your own company, is not healthy.
Sure, everybody needs time in solitude and moments of reflection. However, when they start to become your life, rather than a respite, you could be heading for danger.
The damage loneliness causes will catch you unawares. My own experience caused me to retreat deeper into my own world.
Without realising it, I became a prisoner to my thoughts. All I could focus on was a series of psychosomatic ailments that I believed were real. I couldn’t sleep, regularly experienced IBS, chronic shoulder pain and had a bloodshot left eye. Thoughts about not getting enough sleep, how bloated I felt, acute awareness of any twinges in my shoulder and phantom sensations in my eye, dominated my consciousness.
As a result, I wasn’t living. Instead, I existed in my head. I may have walked around and attended lectures but my mind was detached from the reality around me.
How did I get myself in this state?
Essentially, I had nobody to calibrate my thoughts and experiences. Nobody was there to say, “Snap out of it, Joe. You’re young, healthy and there are so many ways you could be enjoying your life.” Instead, because I spent so much time on my own, the focus on my ‘problems’ intensified and, as a result, they became more real.
This is the problem with extended periods of isolation. Without realising it, your focus becomes too heavily directed towards yourself. As a result, it becomes easy to overthink, doubt and allow yourself to get bothered by the trivial.
As harmful as these consequences can be, they say nothing of the negative impact loneliness can have on your attempts to socialise. Social skills are real. Spend a lot of time around other people and you know what to say, can avoid awkward moments and feel connected. Spend a lot of time on your own, and social interactions can be punctuated with awkward silences, miscommunication and an inability to relax when in the company of others.
Just what you don’t want!
You need to meet new people to break free from your loneliness. However, you feel totally unprepared when the opportunity to make new friends occurs.
It’s a catch 22 situation. Fortunately, there is hope.
Spending a lot of time on your own isn’t all bad. There are benefits to your isolation.
First, you can focus your mind in a way that just isn’t possible when surrounded with too many distractions.
If there’s something you want to achieve, or a goal you’re working towards, continued and intense focus upon this objective is required. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve achieved a mini breakthrough in my life after periods of clear focus. These almost always occurred after either feeling low due to spending too much time on my own, or failing at something that was important to me.
Somehow the low mood cleared my mind and prevented racing thoughts. As a result, I was able to focus intensely on what I wanted to achieve (because of the seriousness of my situation, I didn’t want to listen to podcasts, music or be distracted by ongoing debates in my mind). It was as if I’d lost all appetite for mental ‘junk’, and was so keen to improve my situation that disciplining my thoughts was no longer a hassle.
The renowned 19th century inventor Nikola Tesla seemed to agree. He clearly valued time alone, and the opportunity to focus his thoughts, when his said, “Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born.”
The second upside to loneliness is that enables you to focus on what matters.
As much as you may want to feel integrated with a group, or experience loving relationships with other people, there is a downside to too much human contact. Not only does it impact the ability to focus your mind, you could find yourself living a life which isn’t your own.
You get swayed by current fashions and trends, you stop listening to your inner voice and, as a result, can end up directionless.
This won’t happen when you experience prolonged periods of loneliness and isolation. You’ve got time to focus on what matters to you. There are no pointless social obligations, friendships of convenience and other people’s expectations, competing for your time. Instead, you can plan your schedule around what you want to do.
Of course, you don’t want to spend your entire life in isolation. However, if, for whatever reason, you find yourself spending a lot of time on your own, you can use it to improve your financial situation, knowledge and physical health to such a degree that, when you do emerge from your social hibernation, you are a far stronger person.
Ironically, this kind of self-reliance makes you more attractive to other people. Suddenly, you’re mysterious and interesting rather than simply being a loner. Your experiences and knowledge mean you have something to offer in one to one and group conversations.
Despite the benefits of being alone, you are probably, still, looking for a way out. This is understandable. Life is so much richer in the company of people you love and find interesting. Therefore, you want to know how to raise your energy so that when you meet people, you’re able to be positive and engaging. Here’s the method I used (and still do).
Whenever I feel lonely, I remember the words of Yoda. In the second Star Wars film, Episode Five: The Empire Strikes Back, he tells Luke Skywalker,
“For my ally is The Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the force around you. Here, between you, me. The tree. The rock. Everywhere.”
You feel lonely because you feel trapped; imprisoned by four walls or a society that doesn’t care or that you don’t understand. However, you are not trapped.
As Yoda says, you are a ‘luminous being.’ It isn’t reality (the material) that’s trapping you, it’s your energy. Therefore, every time you feel alone or isolated, focus on feeling good.
Amazing changes will happen when you do this with consistency. You’ll be surprised at how you can transform from lonely, to inspired, in little more than 30 minutes. A situation that once seemed inescapable and never ending, now becomes an opportunity. Nothing can stop you.
I hope this blog post has given you something to think about. No matter how lonely and isolated you feel, and no matter how many years you’ve felt this way, you are presented with a very simple and clear choice.
Either succumb to your situation and allow it to overwhelm you or, master the art of raising your energy and watch your life change. In the words of Andy Dufresne, in Shawshank Redemption, “Get busy living or get busy dying.”
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Back in 1903, James Allen’s book As A Man Thinketh was released. The title is an abbreviation of a bible verse from the book of proverbs. In its entirety, it reads, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.”
To our modern world, this is a curious promise. 21st century life is about the material. We value what we can see, touch and, most of all, possess. This is real. The laws of nature, which we believe we’ve discovered, govern how our universe works. As a result, we live with the belief we have almost everything figured out.
Compared to these discoveries, what is a thought? The materialist would probably dismiss it as irrelevant mental chatter or understand it as a reaction to the events of the day. However, what if the relationship was reversed? Is it possible that the thoughts in your mind determine the circumstances and events of your life?
It’s a dangerous idea. After all, if you follow this line of thinking then you become responsible for everything that occurs. If you spend too much money and slip into debt then you only have yourself to blame. Likewise, if, after years of stress, poor diet and lack of exercise, you experience a heart attack or develop a terminal disease, then you must accept responsibility.
Although both of these examples appear to have a physical cause – too much spending and poor lifestyle choices – there is a deeper trigger point. The debt might occur after persistent thoughts of impressing people with your gadgets, cars or clothes. Likewise, the illness might occur as a result of focusing on money to the exclusion of your health.
How do you feel about this diagnosis? Are you angry or upset? Do you dislike the idea of being responsible for your misfortunes?
While total responsibility can be a bitter pill to swallow, there is a silver lining to this way of thinking. Surely, if you create your reality through thought then, within your ability, is not just the potential to harm your life, but the possibility of setting yourself free. Persistent thoughts of success will lead to their material and spiritual realisation. Likewise, persistent thoughts of health and harmony will lead to an optimally functioning body.
Society never promotes this idea. We’re taught that the individual is powerless. Not only are we subject to the laws of nature, but we are also governed by the rules of society. As a result, life is very much out of our control. Illness, breakdown of relationships, accidents and our successes and failures have little to do with what we did. Instead, we are granted the comfort of excuses. It was our genes, our personality, our mental disorder or bad luck.
Which option do you prefer? Are you willing to shoulder responsibility in return for the opportunity to create the life you want? Or, would you rather allow external factors to govern the direction of your life while you remain blameless?
After reading this chapter, my hope is that you will choose the former. In doing so, there is an important point to remember.
The Bible states that, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.” On first reading, this may appear to be an oxymoron. After all, we don’t think with our hearts. However, on deeper inspection, the Bible hasn’t made a mistake.
Thinking with your head is something that, according to a 2005 National Science Foundation study, occurs 12,000 to 60,000 times a day. Most of these thoughts are repetitive (95%) and have little to no (direct) impact on your life. We can all attest to the fact that merely thinking once about a million dollars or a brand-new Ferrari doesn’t result in their manifestation. However, thinking with your heart is something entirely different and is far rarer.
Thinking with your heart occurs when your thought generates an emotional reaction. This might happen when you’re thinking about an upcoming presentation and a wave of anxiety hits you. Alternatively, you might be thinking about achieving your goal and it generates a feeling of joy. This is thinking with your heart and it shapes your reality.
Understanding the distinction between these two types of thinking reveals what it means to be a positive thinker. The common misconception is that positive thinking involves imagining yourself doing well. For example, throughout your day, you might deliberately visualise yourself meeting your future husband or wife or reaching your sales target.
The reverse applies with negative thinking. Throughout your day, you might repeatedly, although this time unintentionally, see yourself failing. However, what happens if these thoughts, whether positive or negative, fail to trigger an emotional response?
Not a lot. The thought, lacking emotion, won’t penetrate your subconscious and form a belief. Instead, it will be dismissed.
Therefore, to be a true positive thinker, you must be a positive feeler. You must be skilled with your thoughts and aware of your emotions. Don’t get frustrated running hundreds of so-called positive thoughts through your mind wondering why nothing is changing. You’d do far better to relax, choose one specific goal, or outcome that you know would make you happy, and, from time to time, focus on this.
After a while, you’ll build up a connection with this goal or outcome and will train your subconscious to respond with a positive feeling. (In NLP this technique is called anchoring, although is typically performed by touching some part of your body or through a routine). When this occurs, changes happen. You’re able to raise your energy and this will have a dramatic impact on your work, creativity, relationships, sports and anything else that is important to you.
Remember, though, this discipline takes time. Your first step is to adopt traditional positive thinking. Imagine yourself doing well even if, at first, you feel no emotional reaction. Work on releasing the negatives as well. If you catch yourself dwelling on an unpleasant memory, or fear of an event in the future, remind yourself to let go.
With time, you’ll figure out your triggers and be able to generate a positive emotional response. When this happens, you’ll discover that your mind operates in a similar manner to a computer. It has to obey your instructions. Positive thoughts, backed by emotions, will bring you answers and encounters that will advance you in the direction of your dreams.
Perhaps your dreams are on an epic scale. Like Elon Musk, you have visions so great you imagine colonising Mars. Or, like Michael Jackson, you believe you can fly (He was once quoted saying, “We can fly, you know. We just don’t know how to think the right thoughts and levitate ourselves off the ground.”)
Crazy, right? These kinds of people are unhinged and don’t live in ‘the real world.’ However, look at what they accomplish.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX created the first privately developed rocket to carry a commercial satellite into orbit. Michael Jackson, despite being told by everyone around him that it was impossible, created the greatest selling album of all time. So, are they crazy for having outrageous dreams or is this kind of thinking a prerequisite for achieving goals that seem out of the ordinary?
We’re always being told about our limits. According to society, so much is impossible. For example, for a long time, it was deemed physically impossible for a human to run a mile in under 4 minutes. However, since Roger Bannister broke that limit in 1955, over 500 people, in America alone, have matched this feat.
In Arnold’s Schwarzenegger’s autobiography, Total Recall, he mentions that,
In weight lifting, for many years there was a 500-pound barrier in the clean and jerk . . .But as soon as the great Russian weightlifter Vasily Alekseyev set a new world record of 501 in 1970, three other guys lifted more than 500 pounds within a year.
Another limit gets broken. How much proof does humanity need before it opens its collective mind to the idea that there are no limits (or, that’s it’s not useful to think of them)?
Perhaps you are apprehensive of removing the limits on your thinking for fear of what other people might say. To prevent this shutdown, we’re going to make a deeper analysis of Michael Jackson’s comment about people flying.
Of course, to date, no one has been recorded achieving this feat. And, perhaps, no one ever will. However, cast your thoughts back to the mind-set of a human living 600 years ago, ponder the possibility of machine powered flight from this perspective, and you’ll see that you’re presented with a similar situation.
Back then, if someone had said that humanity will crisscross the skies in giant flying machines within 600 years, it would have been considered utterly impossible. However, fast forward to today, and this is our reality.
Do you get the point? For the so-called impossible to occur, it takes people with a mind-set like Michael Jackson and Elon Musk. Such a person, living 600 years ago, would have been interested, rather than dismissive, about the possibility of machine powered flight. As a result of this curiosity, research would have been undertaken, prototypes built and, as the centuries passed, and other illuminated minds continued their work, actual flight would finally occur.
A similar situation might occur with thought-powered flight. Or, it might not. Whatever the case, it serves no purpose to dismiss ideas on the grounds that they challenge the paradigms of our day. For, as we have seen with the examples of Jackson and Musk, thinking outside society’s limitations is beneficial for both the individual and for humanity.
To achieve your dream, you will also have to let your imagination soar. Allow yourself to contemplate the so called impossible, go to possibilities in your mind that have never been conceived before and, by doing so, unlock your full potential.
Never say that it can’t be done. What’s the point? If it can’t, then you’re no worse off than before and, if it can, you could be the one breaking new ground while everyone stares in amazement.
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(by Andy Beck)
How many times have you heard that saying? And how strongly do you resonate with it? Not everyone does. And nor did I, for a long time.
Until a few years ago, I knew intellectually what “you only live once” meant. But I didn’t feel it. This was probably due to my very “normal” upbringing and early adulthood. Preschool, primary school, grammar school, university (where I studied languages), and then a series of 40-hour office jobs that took me through the rest of my 20s.
Sounds familiar, right? Yeah, keep reading.
Around the time I hit 30, I started to question where the hell my life was going. As competent as I’d always been in the office, I didn’t wholeheartedly care about the work I was doing. Friday afternoons were always welcome, and Monday mornings were a bitch. In my teens, I’d always dreamt of being a musician, and I’d dabbled in creative writing. Now, although I was nearing 30, those dreams were still there.
A few months later, back in late 2016, I went into work one morning and learned that my then-employer wanted to put me back into my old department. I appreciated their trust in me, but I really didn’t want to do that. It involved doing work (and talking to clients) that didn’t sit so well with me, and had—in the past—even kept me awake at night.
Worried, I considered my options. I couldn’t stay in my then-department, as my transition there had only been temporary. I didn’t want to return to my old role, of course. But I couldn’t really quit altogether either, not without some kind of plan. I had rent to pay, groceries to buy, utilities to afford, blah blah blah. I tried asking my employer for a 30-hour contract (instead of 40), but was told quite flatly that I didn’t stand a chance.
The days that followed involved some soul-searching, but I decided—finally—that I was done with the 40-hour corporate work week. For the first time in my life, I knew what I wanted. What I wanted, for now at least, was a job with reduced hours that would cover my bills, but give me the time I wanted to build up a side career in music and writing – kind of like strategy B, “The Strategist’s Path”, from Joe’s book Do The Work You Love. What I certainly didn’t want was to retire in my 60s and regret not having lived the life I could have.
And so, in December 2016, I took the leap and quit my job.
Now let me ask you something—has life ever struck you as humdrum? Emotionless? Devoid of meaning? Well try quitting your job. That’s not humdrum. That’s real, baby. 100% real.
Of course, not everyone liked my decision. When I told my parents and close family what I’d done, they were horrified. One of them told me I was “making the biggest mistake of my life”. That’s not an easy situation to be in, when those who you love criticise you harshly.
It took me two months to find a new, 30-hour job. But I got it. And I began to use my new-found free time to craft the life I wanted. A life of Irish/Scottish folk music, and later, of writing a novel on the subject.
Some three years on, I’ve put a CD out, made some money from guitar tuition and gigging, and released my debut novel Folk Springs Eternal, which is gradually selling copies and garnering reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
Fair question. What have I learned from abandoning the beaten path and taking the road less travelled? Well, I won’t lie to you, dear reader—I’m still in the 30-hour job I mentioned above, because I’m not earning enough money yet (underline the word “yet”) to do music and writing 100% of the time. Nevertheless, I’ve grown so much over the past four years. Here are the most key things I’ve learned.
That little voice in my head that used to nag, saying things like “this is a pipe dream, Andy” or “stop lying to yourself”, is a damn sight quieter these days. Three-and-a-half years of finding myself, getting to know my weaknesses, and getting better at eliminating them, has helped with that. It’s true that developing mental fortitude is not a five-minute job. But don’t fret; it’s all part of the journey along the rocky road to success.
2. Asking for help.
Never, and I mean NEVER, be afraid to ask people for assistance. I was afraid to do so, for several years, and it held me back. Don’t make the same mistake I did; the worst that people can do is say no (or ask for too much money). Other than that, start getting people on your side who don’t laugh at your ideas, but believe in you and see the value in what you do. Think of ways that these people might help you with your own ventures. You will benefit from their skills, and learn from their feedback.
This is a big one. Hang out with people who believe in you, not with people who don’t. There are some inspiring and enthusiastic individuals out there; if you’re a bit clueless as to where to find them, Joe’s Success Club (of which I am also a member) is a decent place to start. Once you find some people who resonate with you, ask them to be your accountability partner. This is basically where you each set goals, and check in with each other once a week to see how you’re progressing. In other words, you hold them accountable to their goals, and they you. The likelihood of you achieving a goal is 65% higher if you’ve promised it to someone, because you won’t want to let them down. Book an appointment to check in with that person, and the statistic goes up to a staggering 95% .
My own journey towards Doing The Work I Love might not have been smooth so far, but it’s been truly exciting. It feels good when a contact calls you out of the blue, wants some music written, and pays you for it. It feels good to get emails here and there asking for paid translations (another little side venture of mine). And selling 50 copies of my first novel since it came out in September? That feels particularly nice. The results and the social proof will start to come for you, as well.
My story is relatable for anyone who’s just getting started, because like you, I’m not all the way there yet. On the figurative expedition to conquer the figurative Everest, I’m still climbing at around 2,000m (it’s 8,848m to the top). But as Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante once said, “you don’t lose anything for any other reason than if you just give up on yourself.” And giving up is not what I intend to do. Come Hell or high water, I am going to get to the top, motherfucker.
So now…what about you? What step will you take next en route to your own peak? I want you to tell us in the comments. When I die, at least I can say I’ve done something that truly matters to me. If you want to be able to say that about yourself, then remember this: no-one knows what happens next.
In that sense, you really do only live once.
Andy Beck is a devoted husband, musician, multilinguist, and author of Folk Springs Eternal. More information on Andy, and his book, can be found at his website here
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Although the Coronavirus outbreak and, to a lesser degree, The Black Lives Matter protests, have dominated the news this year, the main story has gone ignored. The health of our planet is spiralling out of control. Temperatures are rising, ice caps are melting, methane stores are starting to be released, oceans are becoming acidified and forests are being chopped down at an alarming rate. If these actions continue unchecked, the consequences could be catastrophic for both our, and future, generations.
Since I was a young boy, I’ve always had a horrified fascination with man’s impact on the planet. I remember being deeply concerned as a 9-year-old, watching Newsround, and learning about the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I’d feel drawn to a book like Mike Berners Lee’s There is No Planet B.
Having recently finished it, I now want to draw out some of the main themes and statistics. Hopefully these will inform you of the major issues facing the planet and encourage you to read the book in its entirety.
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Are you pissed off with life? Do you feel disillusioned with the world?
If so, you are not alone.
Why are people feeling this way and what can be done?
In my attempt to answer this question, I must draw on two sources. The first reveals how our system is set up and the second explains how we, as humans, are wired.
In a popular YouTube video I created in 2018 (How the World Works and Who Rules It), I postulated that there are 3 types of people living on planet earth (categorised by the amount of wealth they possess).
At the top, we have The Kings, representing 0.7% of the world’s population. These people are fortunate enough, either through hard and ingenious work, family inheritance, manipulation or having the right connections, to be in a position where they can do what they want with their lives. The world is their oyster.
Next, we have The Facilitators, representing 29% of the world’s population. The people that fall into this category are the glue that sticks the system together. In general, they live comfortable but dull lives. They work for, and buy The King’s products, making their masters super rich while, in the process, enjoying a small portion of the spoils.
Finally, at the bottom, we have The Poor. They represent 70% of the world’s population and, in general, are ignored. Individually, they haven’t got much money so they can’t contribute to The Kings wealth. However, collectively, they provide a useful resource for the Kings factories, prisons and a host of menial roles.
What does this analysis mean?
If you take one thing from this brief breakdown of how our world is structured, let it be this – the overwhelming majority of people on this planet are living and working so that The Kings can do whatever they want.
The system isn’t set up for you! In fact, it’s set up to exploit you. No wonder you feel so angry, used and out of place. You were never meant to win or be happy. Unless you are part of the 1% (or, more accurately, 0.7%), you are an expendable asset, here to serve the elite’s agenda.
Evolutionary psychology is the theory that evolution plays a significant role in the way our brains are currently wired. For tens of thousands of years (99% of human existence), our environment was wild. We lived off the land, hunted, gathered and later farmed. As a result, we evolved to deal with an environment where food was scarce, threats were ever present and acceptance within the group, or tribe, was everything.
Within a relatively short space of time, though, huge changes occurred. The Agricultural Revolution brought us one step removed from the way we’d adapted to survive, but the Industrial Revolution and, now, the Information Age, has brought us light years from our ancestral origins.
In some ways, this is a problem. Evolution moves at a far slower pace than human innovation and, as a result, we find ourselves living in a world out of sync with how we’ve evolved to adapt.
Evolutionary psychology calls this an evolutionary mismatch and examples of this phenomenon are everywhere.
We crave fatty, and sweet, foods because we evolved to live in a world where food, and energy, supplies were scarce (a disaster for our health now that we live in a world – at least in the developed world – where there is an overabundance of food). We adapted to live in tribal communities (a clan could extend to 100 to 150 people) and, as a result, feel isolated and alienated by the smaller and smaller family, and individual, units where we now reside. Finally, for millennia, we inhabited the African savannah, with its open spaces and abundance of nature. As a result, we feel depressed by living in polluted and overpopulated cities, hemmed in to our office spaces (or, increasingly, our homes), rarely getting the time to venture outside.
Evolutionary psychology highlights a serious problem. We struggle to function in our present-day environment because our bodies and brains evolved for something else.
I hope the picture’s getting clearer. This crazy world is making us insane. It’s alien environment, and practices, coupled with the fact it’s set up to benefit only a very tiny percentage of the population, make it difficult to find happiness, peace and balance in the 21st century.
What can you do?
Step 1: Reconnect with the natural world
Ideally, find a place to live which is surrounded by nature. Perhaps this is in, or close, to the woods, perhaps this is by the sea or maybe it’s on a farm.
If this isn’t practical, enjoy the natural world as much as possible. Go for trips or walks at the weekend, visit a park during your lunchbreak. Grow food in your back garden or an allotment. Do whatever you can to reacquaint yourself with the sights, sounds and smells of our natural environment.
Taking this step will make you feel better. Staring at a sunset, watching the sun glisten on the sea, scaling a hill and looking over a tree coated valley, will reconnect you with the magic of life. You’ll remember that, you too, have an untamed side and begin feeling more alive.
Step 2: Find a tribe
We live in increasingly smaller units. A husband or wife, with two children is upheld as the ideal. However, is this good for our closest relationships and is there an alternative?
The rise in domestic violence, and increase in divorce enquiries, during the recent lockdown has shown the error of our modern family dream. We haven’t evolved to be in the pocket of just one person, day in, day out. We need to be around more people – friends, people who are committed to working on a similar vision, siblings, parents (perhaps even other lovers?).
Such communal living eases the pressure on our most important relationships, prevents the isolation of living alone and fulfils our basic human need for connectivity.
While this might not be possible during a lockdown, think of other ways you can get connected to your tribe. Online groups (try Success Club), hang outs or just connecting with other people in the world who are on a similar mission to you, can make a powerful difference.
Step 3: Take regular exercise
There’s a reason our brains come with a body, two arms and two legs. We were created to move. It’s unhealthy to stay seated at a desk, or work from home, for 8 hours a day and then spend the rest of the evening either travelling or sat in front of a television screen or laptop.
Whether this means the gym, playing a sport, yoga or dancing, find something physical you like doing and do it on a regular basis.
Ideally six days out of seven. However, if a busy schedule prevents this kind of frequency, then an absolute minimum of an hour, three times a week, will suffice.
Sounds like too much commitment?
Well then make the time! Other pursuits will have to be sacrificed. Work (yes, I said work – I’ll cancel clients to make sure I get my exercise in), family time, tv viewing, socialising should, in some cases, be rescheduled to make sure you exercise.
Besides the obvious health benefits (both physical and mental), it makes you feel alive. Your energy will rise, your mind will clear and you’ll reconnect with your wild nature.
Step 4: Do what you love
Forget money. As much as possible, work because you enjoy doing it.
Get lost in an adventure, or project, that means something to you. You’ll learn how to make money along the way. What’s more important is that you spend every day of your life feeling stimulated. This maximises your talents, helps you come up with great ideas and, invariably, brings products and services into the world that are useful to others.
Hell, money didn’t even exist (at least not in the way we now know it) in the environment we evolved to live in. We did things (beyond meeting our survival needs), because we were inspired to do so.
There is a drive inside of you that is non-monetary. Follow it.
We can never go back to our ancestral origins. However, we can learn from them and create a hybrid style of living that honours what it is we need to feel alive and happy.
Reject the system. Refuse to play a game that only benefits 0.7% of humanity.
The more you harmonise your life with the suggestions listed above, the more you give other people permission to do the same. When that happens, real change occurs. Perhaps your children won’t have to experience the alienating environment that you were forced to endure.
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My dream to become a prominent personal development author, and speaker, had its inception back in 2002. Although I took little action at the time, my mind started pondering the practicalities of reaching this destination.
The problem, as I saw it, was that it would take at least a year to write a book. Then, after that, I had no idea how long it would take to get a publishing deal and start receiving royalties. What would I do for money in the meantime (at the time, I was a post graduate living with my parents and, although I wasn’t in any financial difficulty, I didn’t have more than a couple of thousand pounds to my name)?
My savings weren’t going to support a potential 3-year journey (it turned out to be much much longer). Therefore, I had to have another plan. There had to be some way I could make money in a relatively enjoyable way that would also leave enough time for me to write.
As I write this blog post, in 2020, in turns out that there are a multitude of solutions. I’ve experimented with many of them and I’m going to reveal, what I feel, are the best 3.
Before I do so, let me first explain a few of the nuances. One of these methods works best if you are a UK resident (although still applies to Australia, some European countries and US states). Furthermore, I will be using UK based wages and so, the figures, if you live outside of the island, may not be exact. However, the principles and methodology should still be the same, and, therefore, you can adapt the advice to your particular location.
You can use these methods in the same manner that I did (as a way to support yourself while you pursue a greater dream). Or, they can be combined with each other to provide an enjoyable and, potentially wealthy, lifestyle.
What you shouldn’t do, though, is think that any of them are a quick and easy method to making money. Without exception, they all require effort, a willingness to master the fundamentals of each opportunity and a commitment to stick the course until you are successful.
In fact, throughout my 18 years of being self-employed, I’ve never encountered a legit get rich quick, or get rich without putting in the work, scheme. They just don’t exist.
Back in 2004, I joined a UK based network marketing company called Utility Warehouse. Our M.O. was to sell utilities (gas, electricity, broadband, mobile) at discounted rates and acquire customers from the mainstream providers. Also, as with other network marketing businesses, a large part of the work involved building a team, operating underneath me, who I would train to find their own clients and, as a result, earn a commission off their activities.
I paid £200 to join, received a training day from the company and support from the person who signed me up.
Ultimately, my foray into the world of network marketing didn’t last long. I was with Utility Warehouse for two years. However, despite my brief tenure, I could see that the model worked.
The services they provided were good, it was run by a competent CEO and their share price on the London stock exchange has over 10x since their inception. I feel confident that, if I’d made Utility Warehouse my main focus and sole form of income, I could have, within 5 years, been earning £5000 a month (this was the estimated length of time and monetary figure they were touting to prospective distributors). Subsequently, I have met people who are making a full time living from this particular company.
Of course, the network marketing model expands well beyond the company I worked for. You might also be interested in;
Arbonne – cosmetics and nutrition
Amway – health, beauty and homecare products (if you’re interested in this particular company, then contact Marcus Suitor. I can vouch for him being a great guy. He also helps organise my Success Club meet up group)
Forever Living – Aloe Vera based drinks and bee derived cosmetics
doTerra – essential oils (contact Margaret Holvec – similar to Marcus but she doesn’t have a connection with Success Club)
The beauty of network marketing, if accomplished successfully, is that the bigger you grow, the less work you have to do (this is because it’s possible to build a small army of distributors working underneath you, from whom you earn a monthly commission on all the products they sell and the people they sign up). After 5 years, you might only have to put in 10 hours work a week, yet the cheques will keep rolling in.
At this point, you could enjoy your copious free time, or go all in with your main dream, knowing you are financially stable thanks to your business.
In 2003, I began working as a tennis coach. By 2005, I had added hypnotherapist to my freelancing roles.
The selection criteria for these professions followed a 3-part process,
If you follow these criteria, you could find yourself in an enviable position. As a freelancer, you get to control your hours and charge more than you would if you were performing the same skill as an employee of a company. However, this type of work is not without its downside.
Client acquisition could be your biggest hurdle. Just because you have the skills, and the qualification, doesn’t mean clients will flock to you. It took me a year and a half before I was making a liveable wage from my tennis coaching and I’ve never reached the point where seeing hypnotherapy clients alone could sustain me.
Despite this drawback, though, freelancing still provides an excellent opportunity to make a liveable income. After working in your industry as an employee, you might already have the skills and qualifications needed to make the switch to freelancing. If not, you could consider any one of these options.
Website, or mobile, developer – approximately 1 years’ worth of training and earning around £3000 a month
Photographer – length of time to qualify varies greatly, but an average seems to be around 2 to 3 years, with the potential to make between £20,000 and £30,000 a year
Personal Trainer – you can qualify in under a half a year and charge £30, and more, per hour
Plumber – approximately 2 years of training with the potential to earn around £25,000 per year (or more)
Uber Driver – a matter of months to receive your license and then you could be earning around £500 per week
This option works best for those residing in the UK (although also works for Australia, some European countries and US states). I started matched betting at the end of 2018 after attending one of Ben Father’s excellent masterclasses (see below for more info).
The concept is relatively simple although, if you want to take it to the level whereby it provides a full-time income, you must be prepared to invest time to master its nuances.
Get started by signing up to online bookmakers like Ladbrokes, Coral and William Hill (sign up to all of them). Receive free bets for doing so and then use online software (which you can find out about in Ben’s training) to find the sporting events, and odds, that will enable you to use the free bet in a way that guarantees a profit.
For example, the online software informs you that Arsenal beating Tottenham 2-1 in the Premier League is a matched bet. You then bet for this outcome to occur (using your free bet) at a bookmakers like William Hill. Then, you head over to a betting exchange like Smarkets, and bet against Arsenal beating Tottenham 2-1. Because you are using a free bet, and because of the genius of the online software, you will win money regardless of the outcome.
You can trawl through every conceivable online bookmaker using their free sign up bets in this manner. Then, after you’ve exhausted this initial phase, the bookmakers will, in conjunction with various major sporting events (for example, when Wimbledon is on), offer you more free bets. Repeat the process and rake in the money.
Sports betting isn’t the only avenue for taking advantage of matched betting. Once you’ve mastered it, make your way over to the online casinos and use the free bets that are offered.
I experimented with Matched Betting for 4 months. In that space of time, I made a profit from exhausting all the free sign up bets.
At this point, I stopped. The demands of being a writer, speaker, tennis coach and hypnotherapist were just too great for me to continue with matched betting. However, my brief experience taught me that it worked.
£500 a month was the figure I kept hearing at both the masterclass training seminar and from other matched betters in the community. This was relatively easy to make and required approximately an hour of your time each day.
If you want to take it further, it appeared there were people making thousands of pounds per month from mastering matched betting, teaching others how to do it and being an affiliate. A full-time income is possible and, most importantly, it can be achieved without working full time hours.
SPECIAL OFFER: TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT MATCHED BETTING, ATTEND BEN FATHER’S FREE ONLINE TRAINING THIS MONDAY THE 13TH JULY AT 8PM UK. SIGN UP HERE
IF YOU’RE READING THIS BLOG POST AFTER THE 13TH OF JULY, CONTACT ME AT JOE@ESCAPETHESYSTEMNOW.COM, PUT ‘MATCHED BETTING’ IN THE SUBJECT BAR, AND I SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET YOU ACCESS TO A REPLAY.
I hope you’ve found these 3 options useful. It is possible to make money in an enjoyable way that doesn’t eat into all your free time.
If you enjoyed this blog post, or know a friend who might benefit from reading it, then please share with them or on your social media. Also, if you want to learn more on this subject, then check out my new book, Do The Work you Love. It expands on the ideas listed here, helps you identify your passion and gives you the roadmap to making a living doing it. To learn more, click here.
(image taken from Pictures of Money photostream flickr.com)
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I was teaching a tennis student last weekend and she said to me, “I’ve got to find some way to be famous.”
Ain’t that the truth. Fame, above money and power, is where the real juice is at because fame, unlike money and power, carries with it the implication of excitement and fun. You can be rich and powerful, yet still have a boring life. However, if you’re famous, even if it’s only in your own little universe, you have freedom and fun.
A person can be famous in so many different ways. Youtubers like The Hodge Twins are famous. An author like Conn Iggulden is famous. A financial mogul like Warren Buffett is famous. Even a reality TV star, considered the lowest level of trashy fame, is still famous. Their lives are enjoyable and without the drudgery of having to do things they don’t want to do.
Even an ex-bodybuilder like Flex Wheeler, who’s been through so much pain, is famous, and can fall back on his fame to turn his life around. Keir Starmer is famous (for those of you outside the UK, he’s a politician and leader of the UK’S Labour Party). Even though his profession is completely different from the aforementioned individuals, the fame ensures it’s fun. Therefore, aim for fame in something you are good at and that you enjoy, and you’ll never live a dull day in your life.
I think most people, if they were honest, would admit to themselves that they want to be famous. However, if required to give a public response, they would say that they don’t because they’ve been conditioned by the system to play small.
Society worships fame. Look at the people who flock to celebrities, desperate for a photo or a scribble on a piece of paper; somehow believing that the illusory magic of the famous person will rub off on them. Or, more likely, that said photo or autograph will enhance their status.
Fame, if you’re a man, certainly improves your mating options. Physically beautiful women (although not necessarily inwardly beautiful – which is more important for any long term relationship) flock to famous men. However, what lies above fame?
The ultimate aim of the person who craves fame is the destruction of this status. In a world ruled by love, there would be no need for fame. We wouldn’t be trying to escape the system because the system wouldn’t exist. We’d realise that no one man or woman is better than another and that connection is so much more important than adulation.
In this world, every day would be fun and filled with love because we wouldn’t be running around, working our asses off, so the 1% can live like kings. However, while we live in this money driven world, fame is an understandable desire.
Fame represents escape, freedom and the realisation of your potential. There are few things worse than having to spend your life compromising your desires to the point where you are controlled by societies expectations.
So, seek fame, break free from the system but realise that, ultimately, love is what you should aim for. Use your fame to break the wheel and set up a world where status, hierarchy, and even money, are a thing of the past.
(Image taken from Mitchell Goudie photostream flickr.com)
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If you’ve read any of my previous work, be it books, blog posts or even watched my YouTube videos or attended my talks, you’ll know I’m passionate about letting people know they have options. You don’t have to accept the life you are presented with. If you want something extra, or different, it is within your power to create it.
If you’re familiar with my work, you’ll also know I’m fond of misquoting Henry David Thoreau. In his book Waldon, he stated that, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Over the years, this quote has been embellished. Some creative, and wise, soul, added the words, “and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
For me, this improves on Thoreau’s insightful observation. Yes, the majority of people living in the so called ‘developed world’ are desperate. Mental health medication rates and suicide figures reveal this. Divorce is also an indication of our dis-ease. Even our inability to sleep (two thirds of the adult UK population report experiencing disrupted sleep) reveals that something is amiss.
We’re not happy with modern living. It’s fast pace, polluted space, endless written and unwritten rules and various forms of media distractions, disconnects us from nature, our fellow man and the deeper calling of our inner selves. However, rather than protest this malaise, as Thoreau suggest, we suffer in silence.
Why does this happen? Why won’t anyone speak out?
The simple answer is that we believe we are wrong for feeling the way we do.
Since childhood, we’ve been conditioned to accept the world as it is presented. This is ‘how the world works’ we are told, if we ever complain about the stifling limitations imposed upon us.
The implication behind this statement is life could never be any other way. Therefore, we are left in a predicament whereby we must adapt ourselves to the world. If we were to protest, we would be laying ourselves open to looking stupid and courting ridicule. Why challenge the unchallengeable? Far better to get on with life and make the best of what you’ve got.
This is why our desperation is “quiet.” Voicing it appears pointless. Instead, we suffer in silence and attempt to finish the job society started by telling ourselves that we should,
• be happy with a boring job that offers little more than a monthly pay check.
• tolerate a total lack of free time to do what we want.
• accept a passionless marriage devoid of intimacy.
• ignore our increasingly failing health as we prematurely age and deteriorate.
We should accept all of these things because that’s what ‘good people’ do. They get on with things, think about others and don’t complain (or only complain behind closed doors). However, try as we might to force ourselves to fit into the narrow confines of what society wants us to be, the unease and desperation never leaves.
What is the impact of living in a state of “quiet desperation?” Sadly, we shut ourselves down. We trade passion and meaning for security and comfort. As a result, all that we could have been goes to the grave without ever being expressed.
This begs the question, what could you do with your life? What is your song?
Could you have a positive impact on the world through a unique message you need to share? Might you have the potential to entertain millions, bringing joy and amusement into their life? Or, might you make a discovery that will save lives? These are all possibilities. However, they are only possibilities when you open your mind to the idea that you are right to want something more (or different).
Giving yourself permission to ‘want more’ may sound selfish. It’s the antithesis of what we’ve been taught. According to society, you should put others first, be humble and realistic. This makes you a reasonable and likeable person. On the other hand, those that ‘want more’, or something different, are either selfish or troublemakers.
Few people want these labels. They’d rather avoid the criticism and hassle. However, try as you might to be what other people want, there will always be a part of you longing to be itself.
The only way to free this part, and end the internal turmoil, is to embrace your desires. Go for what you want. Don’t be restrained by society’s notions of achievability or acceptability. By doing so, not only will you get to express your ‘song,’ you’ll also have the potential to inspire others.
The rest of this book teaches you how to do this. The method I’ve chosen to achieve this aim is telling stories. You’ll find that some of the sections are based on my personal experiences and most use examples taken from historical, and current, figures and various informative books or studies. Around each story, a lesson is offered, giving you the insight needed to get closer to creating the life you want.
What will this life look like? That’s up to you to decide. I can’t know the individual nuances of your desires. However, what I do know, is that you’ll find your guidance within.
Within you, is an untapped well of ideas, visions and urges, all pushing you in the direction of greater creativity, fun, love and enjoyment. Tap into these. Use them to start piecing together a future where you set your own schedule, have the financial freedom to only do the work you enjoy, have time for your hobbies and exercise, can travel when you feel like experiencing something new and have meaningful relationships that enrich your life. This is your aim and it’s perfectly achievable with a combination of the knowledge in this book and your will to use it.
So, take flight. Let this book be your guide as you attempt (and then succeed) at living life on your terms. There are few greater rewards than being able to say you crafted your own existence. Today marks the first step of achieving this aim.
I would say ‘good luck,’ but you don’t need it. The power is within you.
Below is the contents page. The book has been designed so that you can either read it cover to cover, or dip into specific sections that are relevant to you. I expect it to be released some time in August and, if you want to go on a list to be notified of the exact date and receive an early bird discount, just enter your email address below the list of contents.
Chapter 1: Guidance for living an extraordinary life
Why you should aim for the ‘impossible’
How to avoid living a life you regret
What happens if you don’t follow your dreams
Chapter 2: Free your mind so you can achieve the impossible
Why you should stop living in the ‘real world’
Why trusting authority can be dangerous
Why you shouldn’t trust mainstream media
How you are being manipulated by science
Why you can push The System’s boundaries far more than you think
Chapter 3: Challenge the 9 to 5 to find something greater
Why it’s bad to have a ‘good job’
How to know whether you should quit your job
Why your work should be about achieving a mission, not selling ‘stuff’
Chapter 4: Embrace your individuality and shine
What to do if you’re not ‘normal’
Why you should feel happy about being depressed
Why you should be proud to be in a minority of one
Chapter 5: Change your thoughts to change your life
How to use the power of belief to achieve your goals
How to avoid the ‘over thinking trap’
Why you shouldn’t place limits on your thinking
Chapter 6: Vital skills to become outstanding
How to reconnect with your genius
How to get rid of self-doubt once and for all
Why it’s so difficult to break habits and how you need to approach change
How to learn new skills quickly
How to perform under pressure
Chapter 7: Daily practices for peak performance
How to coordinate your conscious and subconscious to create the life you want
How to use meditation and self-hypnosis to rid yourself of anxiety and program your mind for success
What happens when you meditate every day for a year
How to set up a quick, daily motivational routine
Chapter 8: Strengthen your soul to overcome any challenge
Why you must have a positive self-image
Why your perspective determines your success
How to bounce back from wasted years and regrets
What to do if you’re worried about getting old or how you look
Chapter 9: Advice for when beginning your journey
Why hope and desire are enough to get you started on your journey to a better life
Why you only need £50/$60 a day to create the life you want
How much T.I.M.E should you invest in your project or business each week?
Why you have a 66% chance of success
How your intuition provides reliable guidance during your journey
Chapter 10: Essential knowledge for achieving results
Why you must become obsessed with your most important goal
Why you must show understanding to yourself when trying to make progress
Why the effort you put into a project isn’t always reflected in the results you achieve
Why you shouldn’t let expert advice stop you from experimenting with your own ideas
Why you shouldn’t give a damn about being successful even with your most important projects
Chapter 11: Practical tips and strategies for getting your work noticed and more
Why advertising might be a waste of your money and what to do instead
Why you should use your existing network to sell your new product
How to highlight the benefits of your product to your customers
Why you should consider rationing the amount of TV you watch
How to overcome the anxiety of sharing your work, project or business with the world
Chapter 12: Clarity when you feel like everything is lost
Why you shouldn’t listen to naysayers
How to cope with heartbreak
The 3 questions you must ask before giving up on your dreams
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Life is a belief game. Henry Ford famously once said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you are right.”
Your beliefs set your boundaries and parameters. Believe your possibilities are limitless and that you can do anything you want, and you’ll have the ideas needed, and meet the people necessary, for this to come true. Believe you’re average and that life is full of limitation, and you’ll overlook the very real opportunities that exist to become great.
Dr David Eagleman explains how this phenomenon works in his fascinating documentary, The Brain. The take home message is that nobody sees the world as it truly is. In fact, we mainly see projections of our own beliefs.
This occurs because of the way our brains work. We take in information from our eyes and this then travels to our Thalamus. From the Thalamus, the information then travels to our Visual Cortex, where all our memories and beliefs are stored. After that, it moves back to our Thalamus and on to our Cerebral Cortex, where the information is used and understood.
This may seem like a fairly routine passage of information through the brain’s networks, but something incredible happens when it travels back from the Visual Cortex to the Thalamus. 80% more information is added to the original input received from our eyes.
What does this mean?
Essentially, that you add your own meaning to the information you receive. Therefore, life is a fiction and you are the author. You will notice the things that are already important to you and see evidence of the things you already believe. In short, you are always confirming your own biases.
If there is no universal reality, and all you experience is your own reality, mapped out according to your beliefs, then those had better be good ones. You could, unwittingly, be chaining yourself to a life far smaller, unhealthier, poorer and lonelier than it needs to be. Change your beliefs, and you change your life.
Of course, many of your beliefs were not consciously created. They might have been handed down to you by your parents or conditioned into you by the school, and work, system. The great news is that you no longer have to accept them. Once you realise that they are not the truth but, instead, just one way of looking at the world, you are free to create new beliefs that serve you better.
What should these be?
The following, are my four suggestions. They have served me in my most difficult times. When I’ve felt like my world’s been caving in, and that I’m doomed to play out the same lonely script I adopted in my adolescence, I remind myself that,
Let’s break them down now.
Repeat this belief before you make an important phone call, attend an interview, give a speech or presentation, before and during a sporting contest and while you are creating your product. Back yourself. Believe you can achieve whatever it is you desire.
Of course, repeating this belief is no guarantee that things will immediately change and you’ll be successful in all your endeavours. The power of belief doesn’t work that way. However, what it does do, is open your subconscious to the idea that you can be successful and encourage it to start looking for answers to make this happen.
Eventually, or perhaps sooner than you expect, these answers will come. Telling yourself that you can do something, will enable you to learn. It will also help you relax enough so that you can give the best performance with the resources you currently possess.
Your mind has a powerful grip over your body. By reminding yourself that you ‘can do this,’ you’re activating all of the neurological and physiological networks to achieve this aim. Whether you achieve your goal now, or later, just know that this is the best belief to have when it comes to fulfilling your potential.
Is this statement true? When you look at the job section online, or in the papers, nothing is available. Furthermore, there appears to be no way to make money from doing the work you enjoy.
Perhaps this lack of opportunity extends to your love life as well. You never randomly meet any good-looking potential partners and you only encounter flakes while dating online. How could you possibly believe that the world is full of opportunity?
Because doing so is going to help. Remember, notions of ‘the truth’, or past experiences, are irrelevant when it comes to what might be possible for your future. The world you’ve seen up until this point is, pretty much, a reflection of your beliefs. Therefore, you might have been, unknowingly, trapping yourself. What would happen if you were to change your mind-set and start believing there are opportunities everywhere?
You’d start to see them. Your brain would change its filters and, the information you’d take in, would include opportunities for your advancement.
Perhaps you’d notice a job online where, previously, you’d browsed straight past it. Or, perhaps, a meeting with someone you’d never considered an ally, might lead to the discovery that you share similar interests and then result in a fruitful business partnership.
Whatever you want to do, the opportunities are out there. When I first started selling my book on Amazon, I would barely make 1 sale a week and I couldn’t see how this would ever increase. However, in the space of the last 18 months, I’ve;
There’s a scene in the Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies, where James Bond and his Chinese spy partner, are being chased through the streets of Saigon. First, 4 by 4’s are chasing them, then other motorbikes and, finally, they are hunted down by a helicopter. As it appears all is lost, and the helicopter traps Bond and his partner against some buildings and an iron gate, his partner says to him, “trapped!”
Bond’s reply is quick. “Never,” he says, and as he looks around, he finds a hook attached to a close line. This, he uses to perform a daring stunt, where he skids his motorbike under the main propeller of the helicopter (the copter is almost vertical with the blade pointing down) and attaches it to the rear propeller, causing it to get entangled and crash. Had Bond accepted his fate, he’d never have had the ingenuity to look for this solution.
Unfortunately, many people can’t see beyond what appears to be the finality of their situations. When the doctor tells them it’s terminal, they accept it, when the authority in their industry implies they’ll never make it, they give up and when they face rejection after rejection when trying to get a date, they believe they’re unlovable.
None of this is true. Have you ever stopped to considered that human history is one of solving problems?
The cold, and elements, used to kill us so we sheltered in caves, discovered fire, built homes and then installed central heating. Viruses like Polio used to cripple us and many died during surgery, so we discovered vaccines, improved our hygiene and refined our surgical procedures.
There is no problem we can’t solve and you are part of this shared genius. Once you start to believe there is always a solution, no matter how desperate the situation may appear, you’ll tap into the universal mind and discover the multiple options available to assist you in escaping from your predicament.
You don’t have to be perfect or get it right first time. Furthermore, you don’t always have to beat other people or meet their standards. All you have to do is improve. Over a long enough time scale, this will lead to success.
To do this, though, you must adopt a growth mind-set. You must understand that you are not fixed to your so-called innate talents (or lack of). With every day, you can learn something new or experiment with a different strategy.
How will an extra half an hour of work each day impact your results? What will happen if you make adjustments to your technique and alter your swing? There is no area of your life that can’t be improved and there are numerous sources to learn from that will enable you to do so.
What about when you get older? Is it still possible to be learning and getting stronger?
Absolutely. While some physical decline is inevitable (although the extent is up for negotiation), strength can be defined in many ways. You can strengthen your resolve, become wiser and more loving. There are always ways to improve so long as you reject society’s understanding that ability is fixed and dependent on age.
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These are strange times. For the first time in my life, it feels like external events are having an impact on what I do. I’ve lived through multiple government changes, wars (not that I ever took part), 9/11 and the 2008 credit crash. None of these events had a direct impact on my day to day existence. However, the coronavirus pandemic does.
Now, I find myself limited in what I can do. I can’t teach tennis lessons, I can’t play tennis or go to the gym, I can’t treat hypnotherapy clients in person, my monthly Success Club meet ups have to be moved online and I can’t see friends and loved ones. While this isn’t depravation or prison, my life, for the short term, has changed.
Despite this change, though, I refuse to focus on what I can’t do. You shouldn’t either. It’s not good enough to say you’ll shut down and wait for the problem to blow over. Instead, you must look for ways to thrive. You must get as much out of life now, as you did pre lockdown. Here’s how,
It’s undeniable that the lockdown is far from ideal. All being well with the virus, you’d rather it was lifted and life could carry on as before. However, as of this moment, you aren’t permitted this option and, therefore, must adapt to the circumstances as they are presented to you.
To do this, stop thinking about what you’ve lost. Instead, ask yourself, ‘What can I now do? What opportunity has this lockdown presented that I didn’t previously have?’
For me, the change of pace has been a Godsend. No more rushing around. No more feeling like I’m being pulled in three different directions as I have to see tennis and hypnotherapy clients and then promote my new book. Instead, I have a wealth of time.
This means one thing – the perfect opportunity to finish writing my third book. Therefore, limitation actually brings freedom. Not being able to do 10 things, means I can focus on one thing.
What about you? Is there anything you’ve been putting off for months, or maybe years, because you’ve been too busy?
Perhaps, like me, it’s writing a book. Maybe it’s learning a second language. Perhaps, finally, you have the time to research starting a new side-hustle and can get a second income stream going.
Maybe it’s none of these. Instead, it could be something as simple (but important) as going through your entire house, or apartment, ordering it, recycling what you no longer need and making small renovations. There will be some project or job, that you’ve been putting off for months or maybe years, to which you can now give your full attention. Do it, and make the most out of the restrictions on your life.
If you want a suggestion for how much time you should commit to this project, follow the advice in Gary Keller’s, The One Thing. In this excellent business philosophy book, he states that we should set aside 4 hours every day (excluding weekends), to work on our major life project. He calls this the ‘Time Block’ and recommends (although it’s not essential), that it’s completed in the morning.
You are permitted to take breaks during this 4-hour time block, but you can’t get mentally distracted by other activities – no phone, no browsing the internet, no talking to other family members and no responding to emails. This provides enough time to make significant progress with your project while also leaving time free for family and hobbies.
While your major project should consume the largest amount of time while on lockdown, there will be opportunities to do other activities. Exercise should be at the top of this list.
Try to set up a routine. At a minimum, workout (or exercise) 4 times a week for anything between 30 minutes to an hour a day. Select the activities you enjoy. This might mean you cycle twice a week for two hours and, the other two days, you perform calisthenics. Or, if you prefer online fitness classes, tune into these 3 times a week and then do one online yoga session on your spare day.
The combinations are endless. Just remember, what you do isn’t as important as actually doing it. You might not have exercised for a long time, or be recovering from an injury or illness that won’t permit high intensity training. If that’s the case, try to go on four strenuous walks per week, putting in some hill walking to make it harder.
Reading is another activity you should be building into your daily lockdown schedule. Try to do it for 30 to 45 minutes every day. While you might read a novel before going to bed at night, I’m recommending non-fiction during the day as a means to learning and enhancing your knowledge. Here are some recommendations (aside from my new book, Do The Work You Love), covering four important areas of your life.
Can’t Hurt Me, by David Goggins. Excellent memoir and self-help guide with a powerful message – you can endure, and push yourself, far more than you think (very appropriate for our current predicament).
Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki. A great time to learn the strategies the rich use to ensure they remain on top regardless of markets or world events. There could be some financial opportunities once the lockdown lifts. This book will position you well to take advantage of them.
The Truth, by Neil Strauss. I’m currently reading this book and it’s an excellent exploration into the world of modern-day relationships, addressing the question of whether marriage and monogamy are outdated concepts. Although written from a man’s perspective and, probably, for, a male audience, any woman wanting to learn more about what some men really think and feel would do well to read it.
As a Man Thinketh, by James Allen. A timeless classic that won’t take you more than two 45-minute reading sessions to finish. It’s message, that your thinking determines both your happiness and outcomes, is particularly relevant at a time when it appears that external events are robbing us of both these qualities.
Aim to read all four before the lockdown lifts.
The last thing you should build into your lockdown routine is reflection time.
This can take many forms. You might want to meditate for 10 minutes each day. While, ostensibly, you’re not actually thinking about anything during this time, it’s a great way to clear your mind of worries and stresses about the future or questions about how long the lockdown will last.
If meditation isn’t your bag, then how about priming? Tony Robbins talks about this in a podcast interview with Tim Ferriss. He mentions that he spends 10 minutes, or more, each morning focusing on the things he wants to achieve.
Perhaps the best form of self-reflection is keeping a journal. Every other day, spend 15 minutes writing about how you’re feeling at present and what your plans are for the future. This will give you a sense of clarity that, will put the lockdown into perspective, and leave you prepared for when it finally lifts.
I appreciate that not everyone’s situation is the same as mine. You might still be working a full time job from home and, therefore, the first point on this list won’t apply (or you won’t be able to dedicate the same amount of time). Or, you might have children to look after, and teach, and find that you have even less time than before.
Whatever the case, a step that we can all take is to reduce the amount of media coverage we engage in. It won’t do your state of mind any good to watch the news, or scour the internet, for hours on end, waiting for the latest updates. After all, the mainstream media’s job is not to keep you informed. It’s to keep you addicted. Therefore, the images and stories you’re going to read, and see, will be at the extreme spectrum of what’s actually occurring.
It’s more than likely that you, and your family, are not under any serious threat from coronavirus. A short-term lockdown might well be necessary but this doesn’t mean you have to live in fear. Don’t pay any attention to the stories of healthy 19 year olds dying from the virus. These are incredibly rare occurrences and don’t paint an accurate picture of what’s going on across the entire population. In fact, if the media were to report on what’s happening in most people’s lives, it would be showing images of people sitting in front of a television, looking bored. That’s not going to grab anyone’s attention though.
Please don’t think I say this to downplay what is probably a serious issue (and the last thing I want to do is upset anyone who’s family has been affected). My point is that by detoxing from the mainstream media, you put yourself in the best state of mind to make the most of this change in circumstances.
It could be a few months before we return to the lives we used to know. Make sure you emerge stronger than before.
(image taken from FolsomNatural photostream on flickr.com)
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