Self Development

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 :)

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.)

8 Ways I Keep Myself Motivated at Work

The most productive people still have to motivate themselves every day. They spend a lot of time working out what motivates them to keep going and that's how they achieve many of the amazing things they achieve. It's been that way for hundreds of years and will be that way for hundreds more. It's human nature.
"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race" -Calvin Coolidge
Persistence is linked to motivation. If you're persistent, you'll find ways to keep yourself motivated even if you're not completely enchanted by your current work. You'll push through and find ways to keep at it at least, that is, until it guides you to something you are enchanted by - at which point motivation will come more naturally.

My point? The same as Zig Ziglar's:
"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily." -Zig Ziglar
Here are some things I do that help keep me motivated, even when I'm bored with my work or feeling sickly and would much rather stay in bed.

Light Therapy
One of the more recent additions to my daily motivation routine is to use a tiny 11W energy saver light bulb as a desk lamp during the day. I also use it at night but using it during the day, I find, helps keep my spirits up and my brain awake. I discovered this little gem after reading "6 Surprisingly Effective Treatments for Depression." I wasn't depressed at the time but I was looking for some form of motivation and this did the trick. Total cost? Probably around R10 as I borrowed the desk lamp from my brother-in-law and just stuck in my own light bulb. What's important to note here is that the lamp is about half a meter away from me and to my side, not in front of or behind me. Having this light source in your peripheral vision is the key. Read that article or Google "light therapy" for more info.

Music
From heavy metal to Enya, I make sure I always have music playing while I work. If I don't, I get caught up in the feelings that what I'm doing is "too hard" or "too much" or "I don't like doing this" and so on. It can get so bad that I can get lost in thought for two hours or more, just thinking about how much I don't want to do this work. That doesn't help me get bills paid and it doesn't help me find an alternative work to do - it just keeps me paralysed, which is never good.

With some music going on, I tend to focus my emotions more on the music and less on what I'm doing. This helps me get through my work without attaching any unnecessary emotions to it. Most of us do work out of necessity, not passion, so if that's the case, I highly recommend some music to keep you going. Just be careful what you play. Sometimes Enya is great for coming up with ideas and calming down from a bad mood but sometimes you need some heavy metal to code at the speed of light. Figure out your own mojo and then adjust your listening habits accordingly.

A balanced diet, some exercise and sleep
You can try and avoid this one all you like but the truth is that a balanced diet, some exercise and enough sleep will keep you motivated, happy, energetic and sexy ;)

Food, I find, helps me stay positive but I have to be careful what I'm eating. When I stick with a balanced eating plan (note: I didn't say diet!), then I feel balanced, positive & energetic. If I eat junk food or skip my veggies, after a couple of meals I'm downright horrible to be around and my work suffers as well. This is what has worked for me lately:

Breakfast: Cooked oats plus a scoop of USN diet fuel.
A bit later: Meal replacement shake: 2 scoops of USN diet fuel + 300ml of water
Lunch: 2 chicken breasts or portions of fish, or chicken pieces, a cup of veggies or an apple and a small microwaved potato or half a cup of rice or half a cup of pasta. (Or similar)
A bit later: Another shake.
Supper: Similar to lunch.

I'm not saying you should do the same. Maybe you hate the idea of having a meal replacement shake - that's fine but find something that works for you and make sure it's balanced.

As for exercise - that's also a tricky one. Find something you'll enjoy doing. A daily walk around the block will do you more good than you think. Try A swim, a game of soccer, shooting hoops, martial arts or even de-weeding your garden. As long as you enjoy it enough to do it frequently, you'll find that your energy levels will rocket, you'll have great ideas during the exercise and you'll also find it easier to go to sleep at night and easier to wake up in the mornings. It's definitely worth it!

Try sleeping between 7-9 hours a day. Some people need a bit less while others need a bit more. You'll find that if you oversleep or undersleep by 2 hours or more, you'll be miserable the next day - so be careful of that. Even on weekends, I stick to about 8-9 hours of sleep.

I used to go to bed at about 10PM each night but found that I would only wake up at around 8 or 9 so, instead of trying to wake up earlier (which is nearly impossible in winter), I started going to bed at midnight or 1AM. Now I feel much better.

The key to food, exercise and sleep (and everything else, really) is to find the balance that works for you. It's not likely to be the same for everyone but you can start with something that works for someone else and then tailor it to suit your own needs.

Look at the cash figures
For work-related motivation, I find that this one helps a lot. It might not help people in jobs but, for us self-employed folk, it's a very helpful motivator.

I look at both the figures going out and the figures coming in.

My income motivates me to work harder and faster so that I can get paid and spend that money on something fun.

The expenses motivate me to work "or else". If I know I have to pay my medical aid and I'm short some cash this month, a quick reminder of that fact will often help kick my butt into gear and get some work done.

If you're not keeping track of your income and expenses, start now. It will make a difference to your motivation levels AND to your eventual financial independence because you'll be able to see what you're overspending on, what to do more of to make more money and so on.

Know what you're going to do before you begin
Having a list of what needs to get done for the day helps you prevent distractions from getting in the way of the important stuff. I find that, on the days that I work from such a list, I get LOADS of work done while, on the days that I don't, I sit wondering where the day went to.

It's important to have a list that you made and don't let others influence that list. It's often easier said than done and you won't always get it right, especially not in the beginning, but you'll find that you achieve amazing things when you do.

Ignore email, Facebook, Skype, your cellphone, Google Talk and all the rest of them
It's fine to check these things once or twice a day but if you spend your whole day chatting and checking email and reading statuses, you'll never get anything done and you'll never improve your life. What I do is I only check on these after I've achieved something significant and, even then, only briefly. You need to be aware that these distractions will rob you of really important experiences and achievements if you allow them to.

By all means, socialise, have fun, chat to friends, share funny emails but don't let them rule your life. When it's time to work, work. Don't work and chat or work and check emails and... and... and... I'm sure you get my drift :)

Find ways to make your work go faster
This may sound simple but if you find real, predictable ways of making your work go faster, you'll get more done in less time and have more time left to yourself. Again, this is a bit trickier for people in jobs as working faster could mean just getting more work to do. It's different from company to company.

What works for me is to copy my work down to my local computer and work from there. I find that I code faster and, because of that, I actually enjoy my work instead of dreading it. It allows me to do my best and I believe it's human nature to want to do your best. So, take control over what you can to ensure you can do your best work as quickly and efficiently as you can.

Another way I make my work go faster is by swallowing my pride and NOT re-inventing the wheel. As a programmer, I'm often tempted to rewrite code in order to make it "better". The trouble with that is that I end up working slower and taking longer to solve a problem that's been solved before. And I don't get paid extra for that time, either. So I've stopped doing that. I now copy code I've got working elsewhere and I get on with solving problems instead of trying to make everything "perfect".

Of course, I'm still a programmer so, while I'm working, a throw in a dash of genius in now and then, for my own satisfaction and without allowing it to negatively affect my deadlines.

Brain Boosters
When you're really struggling to keep focused, you can use brain boosters. One brain booster I use is an MP3 I bought here that helps me focus creatively. I got a whole bunch of other boosters with the pack but the "creative focus" MP3 is the one I find myself coming back to time and again. It's just a 20-minute sound clip that you can listen to while you work. I play music at the same time and it still works incredibly well.

It works so well that I forgot what it feels like to hit a brain-block while coding. I'm serious! One day I forgot to put the booster on and I hit a brick wall and I couldn't figure out why I couldn't solve what should have been a simple problem. Then it dawned on me and I put on my brain booster track. 5 minutes later, I solved the problem and carried on working on other things. Magic!

You see, the trouble is that we surround ourselves with so much stress and so many inputs from the world around us that we struggle, these days, to focus. So while you might feel that a "brain booster" sounds weird and unnatural, I think it's the most natural thing. If it wasn't for all the other noise in our lives, we'd be able to focus any time we wanted. That's my story and I'm sticking to it ;)

I also find that the relaxation and deep-relaxation MP3s, available in the same pack of boosters, help a lot. I doze off and wake up, 20 minutes later, ready to take on the world. I would suggest these to anyone - they really work.

Keep a list
I have a list of "Things that Work for Me". Yes, that's what it's called :)

All it is, is a list of basic ideas that help me work when I'm not really feeling up to it. I go over the list and put some of the suggestions into action and, eventually, I start working. Here's the exact list I use, every day:
- Sleep properly (8 hours, even if I go to bed late).
- Look at the cash figures - both due out and due in. They can be inspiring.
- Write down what needs to get done before switching PC on.
- Ignore email/facebook/skype/phone/gtalk.
- Copy site down to local PC. (Or a ZA host)
- MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC. Boring music is better than no music!
- Creative focus brain booster (better than constant concentration one)
- Copy code that's working elsewhere.
So that's it. Take what works for you, drop what doesn't and come up with your own list and you'll find that, even on the worst days, you'll be able to get something done and maintain momentum which, I believe, is incredibly important. A little bit done every day makes a big difference.
"Make measurable progress in reasonable time." -Jim Rohn

At Last! I'm an Internet Millionaire!

"Remember, a monthly income of R1000 from an automated knowledge product is akin to having R150K in the bank, earning interest for you. So, if you are earning about R7K a month from these sort of sales (through a variety of means, maybe), you are effectively an internet millionaire, receiving the interest on R1M in the bank, for which you do not have to work." - Frank Muller
If you do the math, keeping in mind that Capitec Bank offers savings accounts with a per annum interest rate of 8%, it works out. With that in mind, I've been an internet millionaire for a few months, then :)

Sure, I don't own the Viper RT/10, the huge flatscreen TV or any of those other things that I might normally associate with being a millionaire but I do have a lot of free time. I took yesterday off to spend with my wife to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. I generally only get in the office at 10am. I seldom spend more than 2-3 hours at a time in the office at a time because I take longish breaks for lunch, my USN shakes, and so on.

In fact, if it wasn't for my debt, I might actually stop working at the tender age of 27.

I recognise that I still have a ways to go but it feels good to know that, on some levels, I have arrived!

Having said all that good stuff, I also figured out today, thanks to my income spreadsheet, that I work too hard. This month, if I do nothing else at all, I will still earn over 50% of my required income via passive income source and yet, I have still booked up just under 100% of my time with "normal" work. It would appear that someone is having trouble letting go of the work-life! We won't mention any names but he looks, sounds and acts JUST like me. Silly rabbit.

80/20 Principle Tidbit

I'm reading Richard Koch's "The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less". It's a book about how 80% of your successes / achievement / profit / etc comes from 20% of your input / effort / investment / etc.

The principle, then, is to focus on the 20% that gives us the 80% result rather than focus on the full 100%. The idea being that you can work less and achieve more when you apply this principle.

I've been applying this sort of thinking with my work with great results. This month, for example, I've doubled my income by refusing to do any new work and focusing on the 20% of work/clients that pay me the 80% of my income.

I'm less stressed, less overwhelmed and also, richer :)

Here's a cool tidbit of things to do to put the principle in practise. (From page 39 in the book)

- Celebrate exceptional productivity, rather than raise average efforts.

- Look for the short cut, rather than run the full course.

- Be selective, not exhaustive.

- Strive for excellence in few things, rather than good performance in many.

- Delegate or outsource as much as possible.

- Choose careers and employers with extra care and, if possible, employ others rather than be employed.

- Only do the thing we are best at doing and enjoy most.

- Work out where 20 percent of effort can lead to 80 percent of returns.

- Calm down, work less and target a limited number of very valuable goals where the 80/20 principle can work, rather than pursuing every available opportunity.

- Make the most of those few "lucky streaks" in life where our creativity peaks and the stars line up to guarantee success.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, over-worked and under-paid, read through this every day until you can find reasonable ways (or even drastic ways) to make these bits of advice work for you.

Buy it here: