BHAG Follow-Up

On the 29th of February, 2012, I posted about my BHAG. In summary, my BHAG was to become financially free/independent by my 30th birthday. Let me start, right off the bat, with saying that I'm not there yet but I'm a heckuva lot closer than I was back then. I'm about 70% financially free with some very good prospects on the horizon.
I've learned a lot in the almost 2 years since I set that goal and this post is about the most important lessons I learned along the way.
  1. The most important lesson I learned is that, when working on such a huge goal, it's better to divide your goal up into more manageable "mini goals" and schedule them on a quarterly basis. So if your goal is to make R50k/month by the end of 12 months, set up quarterly goals to increase your income by R12,500 per month. This does 2 things: It keeps you on track and it makes the work doable.

    By far this was my greatest obstacle and led to me completely forgetting about my goal for months at a time. I've made huge strides since I set that goal but I also got complacent at times and took MANY steps back for each step forward.
     
  2. Be prepared for your STRATEGY (or philosophy) to change. My strategy was to lower my footprint and thereby reach financial independence sooner. I found that incredibly difficult. Although we don't live particularly extravagant lives, we do enjoy our large 3-bedroom house in a security estate and we also love our sushi evenings and going out for movies.

    Over time, my goal changed from decreasing my footprint (lowering my costs) towards increasing my capacity to earn. My strategy is entirely irrelevant, though. I mention it purely out of interest. The real takeaway is just that you should be prepared to not recognise your first plan by the end of your deadline.
     
  3. Make yourself accountable. I posted about this BHAG on Facebook and on at least 2 forums. I also made a note in my calendar (Google calendar) to remind me once my deadline came around to post a follow-up. That's what I'm doing here and it's not easy to admit that I didn't succeed but it's valuable to compare what I thought 30 would look like compared to what it actually looks like.
That's it. I'm very proud of my achievements and I don't consider this a failure in the least. It's kinda like aiming for the stars and getting the moon - it's still awesome and I'll continue aiming for the stars so that, one day, I might just get them :)

How To Put a Sudden End to Reoccurring Patterns

John Kehoe says that, "Any time you have reoccurring patterns, this is almost always reflections of something within the subconscious." What he's saying is that you are going through the same old rollercoaster because something you believe about yourself or about life or about love or about money is limiting you to your current experience.

There are so many great examples, like the woman who always attracts low-lifes into her life or the guy who can never hold a good job down or the weight-lifter who just cant lift beyond a certain limit. In all these situations, if you're finding yourself in a sort-of loop where you just don't proceed, it's time to sit down and take a deep look within at your beliefs around that topic.

The woman attracting low-lifes maybe believes that she's not worthy of a good man or maybe believes that low-lifes are the norm, as that's all she has experienced.

The guy who can never hold down a good job maybe doesn't value himself highly enough to think he is capable of doing what it takes to keep a great job and move up in the world.

The weight-lifter who can't lift beyond a certain limit maybe simply doesn't believe it's possible.

Once you recognise your limiting belief, you can start counter-acting it with exact opposites. You can use affirmations for 5 minutes every day to change your beliefs and they WILL change. It just takes time and persistence but if you keep at it, things in your life will start improving as your subconscious starts believing these new thought patterns you're feeding and slowly the old beliefs fade away.

I'm currently overcoming some of my own limitations using these methods and it's working wonders in my life. Give it a go and see what it can do for you. But most importantly, give it a go means, try this for a good solid 90-days and never skip a day. This isn't a quick-fix. This is re-imprinting your mind with beliefs that serve you. It takes time but it's time well-spent! 5 minutes a day is all it takes for a change.

Feeling IS Believing

Still on the topic of Mind Power and you get what you BELIEVE more than what you WANT, I discovered something between the transition between last week and this morning...

Last week, I focused my daily Mind Power exercises around contemplating my goals, what it would mean to achieve them, how I could achieve them, the consequences of achieving them and so on.

This week, I'm back on focusing on seeing myself as having already achieved them, feeling the feelings of having already achieved those goals and affirming to myself that I've already achieved them.

The result?

I'm in a state of absolute bliss and last week I was quite miserable. Perhaps I was doing the contemplation exercise wrong or maybe it works best in conjunction with the seeing, feeling, affirming exercises but one thing's for sure, I won't make the mistake of going a whole week without FEELING myself as already achieved those goals. The emotional high I'm on now is so great it's almost overwhelming... in a wonderfully positive way. It has me fired up for the day. GRRRRrrrreat!

Your Beliefs Decide Your Situations and Circumstances

In doing my Mind Power exercises this morning, I felt inspired to write a bit about beliefs and the impact they have on our lives. As John Kehoe says, it's not your hopes, dreams or desires that decide what kind of life you will have, it's your beliefs. If you hope for and wish for a million Rand, you won't get it. You'll get it if you truly, to the bottom of your core, believe you can have a million Rand.

This is key because a lot of us, myself especially, run around with limiting beliefs all day long. Things like:

  • Work is hard
  • Making money is hard
  • Living a prosperous lifestyle is hard

And yet if we take some time every day to start to change those beliefs, we can find that the opposite becomes true.

  • Work becomes easy
  • Making money becomes easy
  • Living a prosperous lifestyle becomes easy

You can look at it a number of ways, from The Secret's law of attraction to Christianity's "God helps those who help themselves". I'm not Christian but I find it helpful to use The Bible as an example for my friends who are. Somewhere in there, it's said that by faith alone, you can move mountains. Faith is the strongest type of belief there is and I 100% believe that if you believe you can move a physical mountain, you can. The trouble is most people just don't believe it's possible. We have all this "science" saying that it needs to be done in a certain way yet there is so much that science can't explain or is only now beginning to come to understand through quantum physics.

So if there's any area of your life where you're experiencing greatness, look at your beliefs are that area of your life. And if there's any area of your life where you're not quite content with your results, look at your beliefs around THAT. You'll find that your beliefs match your results but they are not CAUSED by your results. Rather, your results are caused by your beliefs.

How do I know that? Simple - I've tested it. I'm not a very social, outgoing or confident person. Or at least I wasn't. I'm becoming one. How am I doing that? By changing my beliefs. I'm telling myself every day that I am social, outgoing and confident and, over the past 4 weeks, I've become ludicrously more social, outgoing and confident.

I'm still experiencing difficulties with this change so I'm going to keep practising visualising, affirming and seeding that until it comes to me naturally and effortlessly but the point is that I've seen the changes and it was worth the work.

It takes daily discipline to change your beliefs because it took daily repitition (or a few traumatic experiences) to instill them in the first place so the key here is persistence but if you think you can handle 15-30 minutes of daily work for a better future, then I'd say it's well worth the effort!

How To Change Your Life in 5 Minutes a Day

I'm listening to John Kehoe talk about how our beliefs are the building blocks of our reality and it reminded me of a realisation I had a day or two ago:

I have, over the course of the past 2 years, completely and DRAMATICALLY changed my belief systems by simply holding on to a few good thoughts or quotes from great minds that resonate with me. I now quote these out of memory and they sculpt my thinking, my direction & my future. They make it easier for me to remain disciplined, focused and motivated. They keep me going when the odds appear to be stacked against me. They remind me that, even though the odds APPEAR stacked against me, they're actually stacked in my favour and are guiding me in a new, more rewarding direction.

Be careful what cliches, quotes and beliefs you hold on to. They can, and do change who you are, how you live your life and your life's circumstances and situations. They transform your energy and your energy determines what happens to you - even things that appear to be outside of your realm of control.

How do you change your life in just 5 minutes a day? Pick something worth aspiring to and visualise or affirm (or visualise AND affirm) it to yourself for just 5 minutes every day. Use a timer so you don't stop early. Never stop. Persistence is the only secret ingredient here. You only have my permission to stop when you've attained that goal. At that point, celebrate, and then pick a new goal worth aspiring to.

Financial Independence by my 30th Birthday - Join Me!

A few weeks ago, I'm not sure of exactly when, I decided to set a BHAG (Big Hairy-Ass Goal) for myself to become financially free (or financially independent as I'm now calling it) by my 30th birthday. My goal is not to be rich and famous, just financially independent. That is to say that I want to be in a position where I can choose, each day, whether or not I want to work.

I enjoy some of my work but I also would be a lot happier doing others things with my time. Things like:
  • Playing guitar
  • Going to guitar lessons regularly
  • Getting skilled in martial arts (Jeet Kune Do)
  • Learning languages (Portuguese, Spanish, Mandarin, Italian & more :))
  • Spending time with Tanya just bonding / keeping her company while she does whatever it is that makes her happy
  • Raising our (future) kids
  • Playing with the dogs... and the cats (I need a laser pointer!)
  • And other stuff I'll think of along the way
I imagine my list isn't that different from many other married geeks. We all like a lot of the same stuff and, as humans, we all have some basic, common needs. These needs don't get fulfilled by sitting in front of my laptop, working, or sitting in front of the TV, recovering from work. So a key ingredient to my goal is going to be the dimishment (err, it sounds right so I'm sticking with it) of my work.

Bugger it, let's skip to the good news! I'm 10% of the way there!
We're 2 months in 2012 and I'm 10% of the way to my goal. My goal is a bit rough and based on thumb-sucking more than actual budgeting and math but I'm also a believe in "getting going" rather than "waiting for it to be perfect". So I'm working on a plan to make sure I know exactly how much I need, each month, to call myself financially independent.

Your Money or Your Life
Up until 1 or 2 weeks ago, I had the goal of being rich or, at least, living rich. That changed when I started reading a book called "Your Money or Your Life". In it, the authors talk about what it means to be rich and, really, rich has no meaning unless you compare it something or someone else. I don't know about you but that's not how I want to live: aiming for something that never comes. I get dis-heartened with projects that have no end in sight so I know that aiming for an ever-moving goal won't work.

Instead of having a goal being "rich", the authors suggest a goal of being financially independent. (What I like to call financially free). Their definition of financial independence is having enough, and then some. The idea being that there is a tipping point, on the graph of "stuff-acquiry", where you no longer get fulfillment from the stuff you buy and you actually start feeling LESS fulfilled by all of the "more" until you die, completely unfulfilled.

The point to aim for is where have enough of everything we need - that which brings us basic fulfillment - and then a few of the luxuries. This is quantifiable and it will be different from person to person.

I know that, for me, I have most of what I want already. When I'm not working, when I'm relaxing with my wife, family & friends, I'm pretty darned fulfilled. I don't need a Mercedes or a bigger house or a better TV or any of that other stuff. What I've got is just right for me, right now. So the only thing left is to take care of my finances.

How I'm Doing It
The most important part of being financially free, to me, is to have the money come in whether I work or not. I started a new "business" about a month ago where I do that. My employee does the initial work and, provided the client is kept happy, and we don't screw anything up, they'll just keeping paying every month.

I now have 20 clients like this - which puts me at about 10% of my goal. After I reach 200, I should, in theory, be able to live off the monthly income. The stability and security with a monthly income like this is that the risk is spread across 200 clients. Unless I completely screw up, there's just no way of falling down back to zero.

Contrast that to other ways I've earned passive income (and active income) in the past and you'll find that I was simply playing it too risky before. I was living month-to-month with no idea of where next month's income would come from or IF there would be an income next month.

When you have all your eggs in 1 or 2 or 3 baskets, you're always living on the edge. I've lost a R6,000 a month passive income before and it ain't pretty. Google decided to close my AdSense account and, suddenly, I was in serious trouble.

So my MO (modus operandi), and I owe this to Hannes Dreyer, is to focus on wealth creation, not opportunity seeking. Very quickly, opportunity seeking is the act of trying to figure out "the next thing" to do to make you money. Wealth creation is about building a business that works whether you do or not, and building it on solid, old-school principles of business. Forget about fads, forget about being lazy, just do your work, every day, and work towards your goal.

As I reach big milestones in my progress (30%, 40%, 50% & so on), I hope to blog about my experiences.

So far, here's what I've learned:
  • Set a BHAG and give it a specific date. (Financially free / independent by my 30th)
  • Give yourself time. (I gave myself just under 2 years. I have a lot of marketing experience and a captive audience (my existing clients) to market to - perhaps you'll need more time to learn about internet marketing and to find your captive audience. 3-5 years is probably fine but don't let it be too far in the future, or it won't light a fire under your arse and, believe me, you want a fire lit under your arse.)
  • Get some of the admin out of the way early on. I signed up with SnapBill.com and use them to automatically bill my clients every month. This has already saved me TONS of time and head-aches. My clients just sign up online, get invoiced automatically & send me proof of payment. The system emails them reminders so I don't have to. The more automation like this you can use to eliminate the usual admin that is needed in a business, the better, because it gives you time to market yourself and do the work.
  • Focus on the long-term cashflow. Focus on getting and keeping clients - people who pay you monthly. I'm offering my clients something for R99p/m (~R1,200 p/a) that I would normally charge at least R3,000 for. I'm sacrificing the initial cashflow for long-term cashflow. This is important, it means that I have to do a LOT more freelance work just to make ends meet and it means that some of my creditors get paid late, while others don't get paid at all for a few months. If you're employed, the best way to do this would be to keep your current job and build your passive income business on nights and over the weekends. But, if you're already in business, this is going to be a bit tougher and you'll just have to stick it through. The payout will be worth it!
  • Make sacrifices. I value my sleep schedule but, for the last 7-10 days, I've been screwing it up royally by going to bed at 3am every night, so that I can stay up and do what needs to get done to get me to my goal. This is also why a specific goal, with a specific date is important. You can't do this forever but, like a med-student studying all-night long year-in and year-out, you can do it for a while, if the end-result is worth it to you and if there is an end in sight.
  • Re-align your values. Buy the book, "Your Money or Your Life" and use it to transform your relationship with money. "More" is not always better. More money & more spending could be the death of you, literally. Rather aim for "enough" and then some - you'll enjoy the ride a lot more!
That's it for now. That's what I've learned so far. Hopefully this will help somebody else out there to get to their financial indendence - whatever that may look like :)

WordPress Ain't so Bad After All

I've been a Drupal developer for a number of years now. I use it for everything from e-commerce stores to blogs to gaming sites to tiny 5-page brochure-ware websites. It has served my needs really well and will continue to into the future.

However, over the past 4 weeks, I've been working extensively with WordPress and I've realised that it has a place in my world, too. I wouldn't use it for anything too hectic but for blogging and basic websites for SMEs, it beats Drupal every time. You can go from zero-to-blogging in just as long as it takes you to upload WordPress to your host and install it. With Drupal, you need to put in a bit of work to make blogging easy and fun. (Image handling, rich-text editing, etc, all require a bit of configuring before they'll work seamlessly.)

But it's not all sunshine and roses.

The biggest problem I have with WordPress and, specifically, its plugins, is that they allow too much room for error. Drupal has strict standards on how to write modules and how they need to interact with the rest of the Drupal infrastructure whereas WordPress allows you to do pretty much whatever you want. That might sound nice but it means that anyone can throw up a piece of code in the middle of nowhere and it will work. That probably still sounds nice until the project begins to grow and all those bits of code thrown up start unsticking.

(Of course, if you know what you're doing, solid coding standards will go a long way into coding up a WordPress site that any professional PHP coder would be proud of.)

WordPress reminds me of early PHP. PHP forgave everything and allowed the newest of the newest newbies to get coding in minutes or hours instead of months. It was great but, as time went by, I realised that the ease with which I could program PHP also meant that my code was too buggy and prone to security problems.

Over time, the PHP people fixed things (like having global variables enabled by default) and PHP started looking more and more like a real programming language. That seems, to me, to be what's happening with WordPress. Bit by bit, with each new release it's encouraging good habits and good coding.

It's worth keeping in mind that I don't just "use" these CMSes, I program advanced functionality into them every day. For me, a good CMS has to be more of a PHP framework and less of a blogging tool. That's why I fell in love with Drupal. With Drupal, the same amount of effort can take you from "installed" to "blog" as what it would take to get you to "gallery" or "article site" or "basic mailing system" or "simplistic CRM" or "ad serving engine" or or or...

With powerful tools like Views, CCK, ImageCache and more, I can create for R20,000 what I normally would code from scratch for R90,000. That's the rub. With WordPress, I still have to charge that much because I'll have to do a LOT more coding to arrive at the same end-result.

So WordPress is great and I'll keep using it for blogs and simple projects but for the REALLY important, hardcore stuff, I'm sticking with Drupal.

Pearl Jam Kicks Ass

I've always liked some of Pearl Jams' songs but it was mainly their more "mainstream" stuff:

  • Wish List
  • Last Kiss
  • Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
  • Better Man

I always thought their other stuff was too "weird" but now I'm an absolute Pearl Jam freak. My favourite album is "Backspacer" and, specifically, these songs just kick ass :)

  • Gonna See My Friend
  • Got Some
  • The Fixer
  • Johnny Guitar
  • Just Breathe
  • Amongst the Waves
  • Unthought Known
  • Force of Nature
  • The End (Beautiful, deep song. Your girlfriend/wife will cry.)
  • Push Me, Pull Me (Vitalogy Album)

Go check these out on YouTube or iTunes and enjoy :)

How Freelancing Works

A good friend of mine asked for a quick run-down of how freelancing sites like vWorker.com work. Freelancing is a great way to earn extra money on the side. When work dries up, I go to vWorker.com and bid on projects and make some quick money. It's not going to make you rich but it'll keep you alive or give you some extra spending money :) And if you enjoy your work, like I do, then it's fun. So here it is, short & sweet:
  • A person with a project posts it and requests bids
  • Then you as a worker bid on the work saying u can do it for $xx.xx and how long it will take, etc
  • Then they pick out of the pool of bidders
  • If you win a bid request, 15% of your bid goes to vworker.com for facilitating the process
  • The rest goes to you
  • Money is paid into vworker (escrow / safe-keeping)
  • And u get it once you're done
  • Then person rates you
  • Once you get some good ratings, you can charge more and win more and also start getting invited to bid on more projects
  • Unfortunately, i don't know a way around being cheap at first
  • And u can bid on 100 and get none, or get all 100
  • In many cases, it's purely about price
  • So bidding lowish but bidding on many projects seems the best strategy, at least to start out with
  • Be warned, it can take a lot of time to bid on them all and then you wait
To get started with freelancers jobs, click here.

Let me know what Qs you have in the comments :)
 

How Your Childhood Emotions Affect Your Present-Day Well-Being!

I enjoyed a lesson today from Laura, of the Silva Method ($99), who talked about how she cured herself of her cat allergy. Her allergy started in her adult years and she was confused why this suddenly happened. Eventually she had had enough and decided to do something about it. Being born into the Silva household and having continued her dad's legacy by continuing teaching the Silva Method to people around the world, she decided to use the "glass of water" method to find a solution to this problem.

The "glass of water" method is the only Silva Method that uses an object outside of yourself to help you find a solution to a problem. The technique is quite simple. First, you should know that most of the Silva Method is based on meditating and entering a deeper state of mind (known as alpha although you sometimes go deeper to theta) to re-program your mind to improve your life. It's also used to find root causes of problems so you can find solutions to those problems.

This particular method involves a glass of water. You take the glass of water to bed, drink half of it and close your eyes. Tilt your eyes slightly upwards. This helps you enter Alpha quicker. Especially if you've been practising deep relaxation meditation. Then you say to yourself, "This is all I need to do to find a solution to my problem." Keep your mind focused on whatever problem it is that you want to fix. Really believe and convince yourself that this is the only action you need and that, when you wake up in the morning, and drink the remaining water, you'll have a solution to this problem.

The way this works is that you let this thought "incubate" in your mind while you sleep. Your subconscious is far more powerful than your conscious mind and it hates unresolved questions so it will work hard to find a solution for you. Other explanations include, "putting out a problem to the universe to solve", and so on. You can do it for whatever reason you like, as long as you really feel that it will work and aren't just faffing around with the idea.

In the morning, you repeat to yourself that this is all you need to do to find a solution to your problem and you drink the water. She has found that, in some cases, you will wake up with the answer. In those cases, she says that you should drink the water and say a word of thanks (in your mind, or you'll choke! ;)) for the solution.

It's also suggested that you hold the glass with both hands. She says this is because you're putting your energy into it so, both times, use both hands.

If you don't immediately get a solution, keep aware during the day. You might overhear the solution in someone else's conversation or open a book to just the right page with your solution staring right back at you. Or you might have a fleeting thought or hear something in a song that answers your question. The important thing is to be aware of what's going on during the day and keep that question in mind. The answer will arrive if you do this right.

This works similarly to what happens when you get a new car. Before you got that car, you didn't notice it on the road much. But once you've bought it (or decided to buy it), your mind is more aware of those cars and starts noticing them EVERYWHERE. It's not that these cars have appeared out of the blue but, rather, that your mind is more focused on them so pays more attention to them when it notices them.

So, what she found is that, as she awoke the next morning, she immediately and very vividly remembered a time in her childhood when she was putting clothes to hang up outside and heard a commotion inside her house. She came to see what was going on and saw that her sister had a kitten that everyone was doting over. She wanted to hold the kitten but every time she came close, her sister moved to face her back towards her again. Basically purposely making sure she could not hold the kitten.

Out of anger, Laura pegged a clothes peg on the poor kitty's tail and, of course, the kitten freaked out and scratched her sister and generally caused a scene. Laura was punished for this and, obviously, never let this incident go. She never got closure.

Now it's things like this that may seem silly to you but they affect you into your adult hood because the EMOTIONS are the same. The feelings of rejection, loss of control, fear, etc affect you, whether your childhood event was something silly or not. (As a child, it wasn't silly, it was very very serious to you!) And unless you deal with all that stuff from your childhood, you could find all sorts of things still bugging you today, but in the form of fears, allergies, headaches, knots in your tummy and other things. (Keeping in mind that your emotions affect your physiology. It's been scientifically proven that negative emotions prevent good chemicals being released into your body, which begins to affect your organs and so on. For more info on that, check out the movie, "What the Bleep do we Know?". Check out the sources for the info and do the research if you like. I'm not asking you to believe anything on blind faith.)

After doing this exercise, and discovering the cause, Laura found her allergy was gone and that was the end of that episode.

If you're struggling to figure something out, give this a shot and post about your experiences in the comments. Even if you don't use the Silva Method but use some other form of meditation or some other method of allowing your subconscious to help you find a solution or reason to a present-day problem, please post a comment! I look forward to hearing your story! (And it can help others reading to see how you used your subconscious to help with a problem in your life.)