5 Unexpected Ways to Become Mentally Stronger

                                                   Photo by  James Pond  on  Unsplash

                                                  Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

Who doesn’t want to be mentally stronger?

Hey guys, no one has time for long introductions, so we’ll get right down to it.

I’ve tested these 5 methods for almost a year each and they’ve greatly augmented my mental strength. They’re backed by famous organizations, famous people, and famous quotes from famous organization and people!

 

1. Work Out, Even If Just a Little

                                       Photo by  Ayo Ogunseinde  on  Unsplash

                                      Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

I used to have periods of time where I didn’t work out for months, or even years sometimes. Not this year. Like a lot of people, I used to think that working out was costly, both in money and time, both of which I don’t always have a lot of.

No matter, in January, I decided to go to the most expensive gym in Málaga and take my health into my own hands. Once it became a habit to workout, the results were phenomenal — not only did I become in the best shape I had ever been, but I had so much more mental strength as well.

I became mentally stronger — I was sleeping better and it felt like my memory had improved.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s what helpguide.org has to say on that:

“Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts overall mood.” — helpguide.org

As a nomad, it’s hard to find a steady place to work out from. When I was on the go again, I had to create a workout routine for myself. Back in February, I posted about one simple full-body workout I was doing that gave me great results:

The Ultimate Daily Excuse-Free 20 Minute Workout Routine
I’m not fit. I’m busy. I’m working 15 hours per day, from 4am to 7pm. I’m a nomad, I don’t stay in the same place for…medium.com

Homework

Start with a small challenge of doing 50–100 of one type of exercise through one day. I had started with pushups.

Can’t do more than 10 in one go?

That’s fine, just do it 5–10 times throughout the day. Your growth will be faster than you expect. Within a few days, you’ll already have doubled your number of repetitions in one session. I’ve seen that with everyone who joined my fitness group back in Málaga.

Bonus

Get yourself an accountability partner! Do it with someone else and you’ll double your motivation. Do it with 10 other people and you’ll 10x your motivation! This is truer than you’d expect. There were days where I didn’t feel like taking part in the fitness group, but at least two were motivated, and all of a sudden, everyone joined in, even if only two were motivated to start with.

 

2. Write For Yourself

                        “fountain pen on black lined paper” by  Aaron Burden  on  Unsplash

                       “fountain pen on black lined paper” by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

This has been incredibly more powerful than I would ever have expected it. You may not guess it from the 300+ stories I’ve written in less than 8 months, but I’m a man of a few words when it comes to speech. It’s not that I’m particularly shy — though I am introverted — it’s just that I guess I value people’s time. I don’t like to tell my story to people who don’t ask for it.

In writing, I can do whatever I want. No one has to read what I write. I write about whatever comes to mind. When I write publicly, I think of myself first. I reflect on the lessons I’ve learned over the years, the things that inspired me to do what I do, the strategies I’ve learned to become more productive and learn more, the lessons learned traveling and writing, and more.

It’s somewhat like a public diary for me, and it keeps me accountable. If the lessons I learned are not of value to the reader, I usually don’t publish and keep it to myself.

But back in January, I started journaling as well. An idea I thought would be dumb, but I instantly filled in 7 pages of notes in less than 2 hours. I was supposed to journal for 15 minutes…

Writing for myself, both on Medium and in my journal has made me mentally stronger by increasing my clarity and awareness of my situation and helped me fight procrastination by being accountable to my readers.

I even did that for a week with incredible results:

You'll Wish You'd Have Done This Before
My Most Productive Week Ever, and How You Can Replicate Thismedium.com

Homework

Grab a pen and paper, go in nature, and start writing whatever comes to mind. Everyone I personally recommend this technique too are uncertain of the usefulness of this method, but without fail, they were all proven wrong. They all report having gained so much clarity within a single one-hour session of writing whatever comes to mind.

Bonus

Do it every day after waking up. Your subconscious does so much work for you overnight. Don’t let all that valuable work go to waste by checking your phone as soon as you wake up, putting yourself in reactive mode and wasting all the creative juice you got from your subconscious.

 

3. Surround Yourself With Motivated People

                                                        Image credit:  jimrohn.com

                                                       Image credit: jimrohn.com

It’s no secret that this quote from Jim Rohn is one of my favourite quotes of all times:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” — Jim Rohn

The first time I read or heard it, I reflected back on who influenced my life.

I took note of the five people I had surrounded myself with the most at 3-month intervals for the past 2–3 years, during college, during high school, and when I was younger.

I couldn’t believe how true his statement was. I didn’t grow up in a family that cared much for education. In fact, out of my 3 brothers, only two of us even finished high school. The results are even worse in my extended family.

I started working in farms at the age of 8, being surrounded by people way above my age. I hung out with people 5–10 times my age. In high school, I felt like everyone was immature… go figure!

I wasn’t particularly good in school until I met my wife and my good friend Henri, who are both academical geniuses. Having the two around at least tripled my mental strength.

And this quote just kept getting truer over the years.

In the following post, top Medium influencers (and myself) share their own most influential quotes:

The 56 Most Inspiring Quotes According To Top Medium Influencers
We’re All United by the Quotes We Live bymedium.com

Homework

Take note of the 5 people you’ve spent the most time with, in the past 3–6 months. Note how they’ve influenced your life — positively or negatively. Noticed how the mentally stronger people around you are impacting your life and bringing you closer to your level.

Bonus

If your average of 5 people has any negative outcome for you, try to find a way to turn that around. Some people will say drop these people — and sometimes that’s the right thing to do — but sometimes there’s something to say about having a diplomatic and honest conversation with the person. The results are sometimes staggering.

 

4. Constantly Learn New Things

                                            Charles Darwin, Wikimedia Commons

                                           Charles Darwin, Wikimedia Commons

This is potentially one of the most overlooked ways to get yourself mentally stronger. Common wisdom says: “In order to be successful, you have to focus on that one thing you’re good at and maximize your time on it.”

BS I say!

  1. How do you know what’s the one thing you’re truly good at if you haven’t even tried at least a thousand other things?
  2. In a world of 7.4 billion people, what are your odds of even be a top 1–3% in anything?

Wanna do great in this world?

Follow Robert Greene’s wisdom:

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.”―Robert Greene, Mastery

The truth is, the more you learn, the faster you learn. The faster you learn, the more adaptable you become. The more adaptable you are, the stronger you are mentally. Learning 3 new skills every month has made me much stronger mentally.

Charles Darwin said, on the evolution of species:

“It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin

I often write on this subject. Here’s one of my most recent story on that:

How This Powerful Approach Made me a High Performing Polymath
“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” ― Robert Greene, Masterymedium.com

Homework

List down all the skills you’re currently using to perform all your productive activities. Now, list down all the skills you need to acquire to become the person you really want to be. How do you get there? How many skills have you listed? Which ones are easier to acquire currently, given your current skillset?

Bonus

Commit to working on your skill building on a daily basis. Practice 1–3 skills every single day for a month and note the progress along the way. Try the approach I linked above.

 

5. Celebrate the Small Wins

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Another greatly overlooking technique. I started doing that when I started writing.

In our day-to-day grind, we often forget the big picture. We forget the reason behind why we’re doing what we do. We “win” regularly yet don’t take the time to realize that not everything is going south.

Celebrating the small wins means acknowledging a small “victory” that happened. It could be a nice thing someone said to you, it could be a part of your work that went surprisingly well, it could be waking up at the right time without snoozing, etc. Anything that’s not negative really.

That puts you in a positive mindset. And being in a positive mindset greatly impacts how mentally strong you are or will be.

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” — Hellen Keller

Related story:

Celebrate The Small Wins, Reach For The Big Wins
Constantly Winning Is The Best Boost You Can Getmedium.com

Homework

During the course of each day, take a moment to reflect on what went right. Take note of it somewhere in a journal (paper or app). I use Evernote. When you’re feeling down and need a reminder of why you’re doing something in the first place, take that journal and view all your small wins.

Bonus

Take note of the small win as soon as it happens. Review your win journal at the end of every day and shortly after waking up, before starting your day.

 

Conclusion

I’ve been studying how to get people to action the past month or so. It’s a very important thing because the only way to truly learn is by action. That’s why I’ve included the homework sections for each of the sections of this article.

So don’t waste your time simply having read the article, act on it. If you read this far, I’m sure there are at least one of the ways above that spoke to you.

Here they are, repeated again here:

  1. Start with a small workout challenge of doing 50–100 of one type of exercise through one day;
  2. Grab a pen and paper, go in nature, and start writing whatever comes to mind;
  3. Take note of the 5 people you’ve spent the most time with, in the past 3–6 months. Note how they’ve influenced your life — positively or negatively;
  4. List down all the skills you’re currently using to perform all your productive activities. Now, list down all the skills you need to acquire to become the person you really want to be; and
  5. During the course of each day, take a moment to reflect on what went right. Take note of it somewhere in a journal.

Do the homework(s). Some are surprisingly easy!

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, sharing and following! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/5-unexpected-ways-to-become-mentally-stronger-4ba34304a5c5

If it’s not in my Calendar, I Simply Won’t Do it

                                              Photo by  Curtis MacNewton  on  Unsplash

                                             Photo by Curtis MacNewton on Unsplash

A simple way to get myself to action

“The battle for happiness begins on the pages of our calendars.” — Bob Goff

I rarely procrastinate on my productive activities. But damn do I procrastinate doing the other stuff I should be doing but don’t feel like: calling my dermatologist to book an appointment, get a much-needed haircut, replying to some people, etc.

Last weekend, I realized that I had not yet booked that dermatologist appointment I really needed. Actually, I knew I didn’t it, it had been sitting on the corner of every table from places I’ve stayed at in the past month.

The simple way I finally made that call? I just added it to my calendar. There’s something about having a set time you have to do it. My brain doesn’t want to leave the task unchecked, however much I don’t really want to do it.

So if there’s something I know I don’t want to do, I add it to my calendar. At least 90% of the time, I’ll do it. Even if it’s something I don’t want to do.

Blocking Time for Admin Tasks

Sometimes, the task is so small that it doesn’t really make sense to block a period of time for it. Another thing I’ve been doing for at least a month now that has worked great is blocking time for administrative things I have to do.

From 1pm to 2pm is when I do any admin work. Answering messages, scheduling social media posts, doing some outreach, booking appointments, doing some planning, pay credit cards, etc. Most of the time, I’ll put the things I’ve been procrastinating during that time block too.

Once I reach the end of my admin work block (2pm), I stop and carry over the stuff I haven’t had time to do yet for the next day. The goal is to put a little more than you think you can do and challenge yourself to do them all. I personally find that extremely motivating.

Conclusion

I know what you’re thinking: it’s too simple and it won’t work. Ever since I switched to TeamWeek 4 months back, I started procrastinating less on things I really should be doing. When I put my tasks on there, I do them.

“Yesterday was not your defining moment. The calendar moved forward; why not you?” — Dr. Steve Maraboli

For those of you who have:

  • never tried it, give it a shot. Let us know in the comments how it’s working for you;
  • tried it and it didn’t work, please leave a comment explaining why it didn’t work; or
  • tried it and it worked, let us know your strategy in the comments.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, clapping, sharing, and following! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/struggle-first-thrive-later/if-its-not-in-my-calendar-i-simply-won-t-do-it-e420b1b8ce4f

Don’t Burn Yourself Out. Just Do This For Your Sanity’s Sake!

                                          Photo by  Hernan Sanchez  on  Unsplash

                                         Photo by Hernan Sanchez on Unsplash

How and why I take a vacation frequently

“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.” — Mark Black

I regularly take a vacation from all my productive activities.

This sentence alone probably brings a lot of questions in your mind:

  • Maybe Danny doesn’t like his work?
  • Maybe Danny just can’t handle the pressure?
  • Maybe Danny is just a slacker?
  • Something else?

The truth is, I love what I do. Everything I do.

I’ve been coping surprisingly good with pressure considering the number of things I do all at once, like running Power Level Studios, writing on Medium, writing two books, working on two other startups, etc.

And because of the above, you know I’m no slacker. On the opposite, I work so hard that to maintain a peak state of mind, resting is a necessity.

It’s like when you work out, the most productive thing you can do for gains is to rest in between to let the body recover.

 

Losing Momentum

Last month when I came back to Canada to do some paperwork and visit friends and family, I had lost my momentum. Seeing new groups of people every day and rushing to get paperwork done completely drained me mentally.

I had lost the hard-earned momentum I had built from the last 3 months in India.

I didn’t have to energy to wake up at my regular hour. I even skipped working out two or three days in the past 30 days. That was the thing I swore not to skip.

  • I hardly made any progress on Soul Reaper.
  • I stopped writing every day on Medium.
  • I fell behind on all my activities.

I’m sure this kind of lost momentum happened to you as well at some point.

In fact, even though I’m a highly self-disciplined and productive guy, I’d say to happens to me regularly.

It’s normal. Our high-stress environments are not meant to be lived at high pace every day, 365 days a year.

Because of that loss of peak state, I decided to rest for a few days when I arrived in Toronto again a week ago.

 

Resting

Sometimes, you just gotta rest.

It’s not the first time I write about this subject, but it’s so true that I had to write about it again.

This morning is the day I returned to being productive again. I woke up at around 5am, my usual time. I’m excited to start my productive activities again.

Do you ever feel like that coming back from vacation?

I certainly did this morning. I also felt that way the last three or four vacations I’ve taken.

The biggest factor in my excitement to be productive again comes from having rested.

I’m talking about truly resting. A real vacation. A break from everything. No technology, unless necessary (like Maps or Translate).

I did not touch my computer at all until yesterday.

I forced myself not to think about work. I try to empower my team to be self-sufficient, so it’s easier to disconnect. I trust them.

And I think this is an important part of disconnecting. Prepare your colleagues before you go and trust in them. If you can do that, you’ll be able to free your mind.

During my vacation, I slept, napped, did light sightseeing, played video games, read, meditated and journaled.

 

Restoring Momentum

Obviously, I’ve just started my productive activities again an hour ago, so it’s a bit pretentious of me to even mention “momentum” at this point.

But I’ve been through that cycle multiple times now, and it worked every time.

The thing is, if you have truly rested during your vacation, you’ll have an incredible amount of energy you’ll need to spend.

Use this energy. Get back to your most productive habits. Listen to your body and mind. Don’t overdo it. Follow the principles in my most actionable article:

How These 23 Key Principles Helped Me Overcome My Challenges and Made Me Unstoppable
The definitive guide to building lasting momentummedium.com

Little by little, and with perfect consistency, your momentum will be back. Just not right away.

And that’s normal. It takes me 2–3 weeks to reach my peak state.

Once you’ve earned your hard-earned momentum back, you’re on your path to “success” again.

 

Conclusion

When you’re feeling overwhelmed and can’t perform at your peak performance, it’s time you start thinking about resting.

You don’t need to go away or even take a few weeks off. A few days is usually enough to “recharge your batteries”, provided you really do switch off during your break. No technology, no work, nothing.

Relax, get back to your hobbies. It’s your time, do things you want to do that doesn’t work towards your productive activities.

When you’re rested, get back to your productive habits and be consistent with them.

So next time you feel overwhelmed, dare take a break and rest and rebuild your momentum. You deserve it.

You can do this!

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/dont-burn-yourself-out-just-do-this-for-your-sanity-s-sake-c00b398043d8

How This Powerful Approach Made me a High Performing Polymath

                                                 Photo by  @federize  on  Unsplash

                                                Photo by @federize on Unsplash

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” ― Robert Greene, Mastery

Nine months ago, I was a software engineer, specializing in backend and video games. If you ask me today, I don’t have a clear answer for you.

I remember the day everything changed. I was in Cambodia, working from the AngkorHUB co-working space, slowly chipping away at my video game, working 14 hour days, 6–7 days a week.

Needless to say, it was exhausting.

Have you been in a similar situation?

Then one day I woke up at 5:30am as usual, thinking to myself: “How can I learn more — faster?”. I started reading and watching videos on learning new skills and came across a video debunking the myth that learning a skill takes 10,000 hours of practice. Mastering a skill may take that much, but simply learning to be proficient at something can take much less time. As low as 15 hours from my experience.

In the video, the speaker went in front of an audience with a guitar. The short version is that he claimed to have never played guitar until 45 days ago. I was baffled when he started playing. To me, it sounded professional. He was playing existing songs, but also improvising on the spot. He claimed it only took 15 hours of consistent practice over a period of 45 days.

I had to try for myself.

That same day I brainstormed skills I thought I’d never be able to learn. The list was too large, so doing one every 45 days would take me years to learn them all.

What skills do you think you simply cannot learn? Why not?

So here’s the approach I have used for nine months in a row, learning 27 new skills along the way:

 

Learn 3 New Skills Every Month

Granted, going from learning one skill in 45 days to learning three in 30 days is borderline insanity, but it’s not as hard as it seems.

Why 3 Skills

The first step for me was to cut down on the number of hours I was doing. 14 hours of the same type of work on the same day is not healthy. So I did some simple math: “how much time must I do in a day to reach 15 hours in 30 days?”.

The answer is 30 minutes.

Everyone can find 30 minutes in their day. I knew I could easily find 90 minutes in my day, so that’s how I went for three skills instead of one.

From my experience so far, I found that doing too much of the same type of activity during the day drains your brain power, but if you vary your activities and work different areas of your brain, you can stay energized longer. I’m no brain expert, but it’s as if the different sections of our brains had different energy levels.

How to Choose the Skills

Given the information above, and if you do want to become a polymath, you have to choose skills that work different areas of your brain. You don’t have to be an expert to figure this out.

Start with this well-known fact: the left side of the brain is more logical and the right side is more creative. Knowing that, you can choose a creative skill and a logical skill. On the creative side, think about music, art, writing, etc. In the logical side, think about math, science, programming, business planning, etc.

Once you’ve decided on a “branch”, be specific. If you’re thinking about music, are you thinking about an instrument or singing? If it’s an instrument, which one? If it’s the violin, what cords do you want to learn? If you’re thinking about singing, what type of songs? What techniques?

For my first month, I chose these three skills:

  • Logical: Classification using Machine Learning techniques;
  • Creative: Learning line-drawing + coloring using Photoshop; and
  • Language: Learn the past and future tenses of the most common Spanish verbs.

How to Practice Them

Now that you know which skills you want to learn, you have to plan the “what” and the “when”. For each skill, start by asking:

What steps do I have to take to learn that skill? What is the 20% effort required to learn 80% of the results (Pareto Principle)?

For the “when”, start by figuring out how much time you can afford to spend on skill learning, in blocks of 30 minutes. I’d suggest at least two. I do three on average.

The next step is figuring out when you can, on a daily basis, get blocks of 30 minutes of uninterrupted time. For most of us, that’s either early morning or late at night. I personally do it in the morning when I still have all my energy.

Now that you know the “what” and “when”, take your calendar out and put exactly what you need to do for each day. You may have to adjust along the way.

For example: learn how to read music 1/3 on Monday, 2/3 on Tuesday, and 3/3 on Wednesday. Also, write the intended quantifiable results. Wednesday I take this specific test and score 90%.

Every day, give yourself a score on how well you achieved your desired result, on a scale of your choice, with 0–10 recommended. At the end of the week, sum up your performance and ask yourself these questions:

  • What went right?
  • What went wrong?
  • How can I do better next week?

Then re-adjust accordingly. I’m usually pretty satisfied with 50+ out of 70. I never want to go lower than that. And it’s extremely motivating.

 

Conclusion

This approach turned me into a high performing polymath in a very short timeframe. What’s important to know is that the more skills you have, the easier it is to learn new ones, as proven by science. And I’ve certainly witnessed that.

Being a polymath also makes you a more interesting and relatable person. When you meet new people, you have more chance of having something in common with them.

Want to know if you’re high performing? Try this out (from Brendon Burchard).

Try this 3 new skills a month approach. Choose new skills at the end of every month and take a few hours to plan it out, then execute on each of them daily, reflecting on your performance along the way.

In no time, you’ll be a more skilled individual who can take on many more challenges.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, sharing and following! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/how-this-powerful-approach-made-me-a-high-performing-polymath-a2f6e61b455e

Is the Nomadic Lifestyle for you? It Really Does Change Your Life — For Better or Worse

32.jpeg

Three years ago, my wife and I “left” our jobs to travel the world for a year.

It was an amazing journey.

We saw the most impressive sights, ate the best food, had empowering volunteering experiences, but most of all, we met the most incredible people.

Lately, many people have come to us to ask for advice on long-term travel. So I decided I’ll share part of our story here.

When I said “left” our job, I meant we didn’t work for the year. We actually both negotiated a leave of absence.

So when we were “done” with our travels, we came back to Toronto. Back to our well-paid full-time jobs.

 

The Not-So-Glorious Return Home

It was painful.

We both liked our jobs. We both really enjoy Toronto. But it just wasn’t the same.

Most people didn’t give a damn about our journey. A lot of our friends were at a different point in their life. A lot of them just had kids. They had settled, we didn’t.

One of my brothers was completely avoiding me. To this day, I don’t even know why. Maybe he was jealous? Maybe he couldn’t handle our non-traditional way of life?

We were even kicked out from one of our family’s house because they could not handle the fact that we were helping people outside of our own country when, like any country, we also needed help.

  • Gone were the new amazing sights.
  • Gone was the deliciously cheap food.
  • Gone were the volunteering experiences (for me).
  • Gone were the incredible new acquaintances.

Coming back from traveling long-term is hard. I’m far from the first to write about that. Thankfully I was traveling with my wife, so we were in this together.

Whenever we could talk to other people who also traveled extensively, we did. It felt great to share experiences, but it was mostly great just to be understood by someone else.

 

Poverty And NGO Work

We were somewhat miserable coming back.

The biggest thing for us was that we saw so much poverty everywhere that every time we heard someone complaining about their first-world problems, it was hard for us to relate.

Audrey (my wife) started volunteering remotely for an NGO called Sundaraalmost as soon as we came back to Canada. That was her way of remaining connected to the world.

But it wasn’t enough.

That October, we went to Uganda to help with Sundara’s operations there. We had partnered with other NGOs there to provide them with water. Long story short, they had no access to clean water. People were dying from diseases and dehydration.

I helped bring awareness to the cause by taking photos (like the one above) and Audrey handled the operations and the outreach.

It was a life-changing experience.

 

The Turning Point

Then on November 11th 2016, we were sitting at the Foggy Dew Irish pub. We were talking about how we were not satisfied with our current situation in Toronto. At one point I told Audrey:

“Why don’t we just leave and travel again?”

That was our turning point.

We were so in agreement with this idea. Truthfully, I never thought she’d be up for it, but it turns out she needed that even more than I.

A few months later she applied for Doctors Without Borders. She got the job really fast.

In my case, I had applied for a competitive grant for Soul Reaper and got it. I could work from anywhere. My team was already remote, so it wasn’t even that big a change.

So with that, we left our jobs for real this time. We took a vacation in June and July 2017, and then we parted ways for her to do her first mission in Central African Republic, and for me to work as a digital nomad in Cambodia.

 

The Better

You will be more interesting

With all the places you’ll have seen, all the food you’ll have eaten, all the activities you’ll have done and all the different friends you’ll have made, you will have a repertoire of interesting stories to tell for years to come.

You will make new friends

The connections you make while traveling tend to be really strong. You share wonderful experiences that most people don’t get to live. When back home, you’ll occasionally meet like-minded people and the bonding will be that much easier.

You will have a deeper appreciation

A deeper appreciation for everything. When you see that people in other countries don’t have the things you take for granted, well, you don’t take them for granted anymore.

You will be more positive

When you are in new environments frequently, it’s stressful. You panic. You yell. You cry. Then you’re back and things feel so “easy”. You start thinking positive about every situation.

You will be more open-minded

You’ll have met people with all sorts of backgrounds. You’ll have eaten food you never even thought existed. Your prejudices will go away and you will start to appreciate everyone and everything for what they are.

 

The Worse

You will be less tolerant of meaningless problems

The so-called first-world problems become so hilarious at times. You’ll hear people complain about the most meaningless of things when you’re back home. Sometimes you’ll find it funny, but sometimes it will irritate you.

You will become really cheap

A lot of countries can be cheaper than home, depending on which country you’re from. When you’re used to paying little for meals, it’s hard to come back and pay 5–10x the price for less authentic meals. It’s the same for accommodation and other things.

You will lose connections

I mentioned that above. Your friends will have a different lifestyle. You won’t connect on the same level anymore. Striking a meaningful conversation becomes harder when you don’t have anything in common anymore.

You will annoy people

You will be interesting to some, but you’ll be annoying to others. You will be perceived as pretentious. You will be so excited about your wonderful journey that when you talk about it, people will think you speak in a superior tone.

If you watched The Big Bang Theory, it’s similar to when Howard came back from space.

You will not be understood

People will not have lived the things you have. A lot of your close family will not agree with your new lifestyle or ideas. This can be difficult.

 

Conclusion

Traveling long-term is an amazing way of life, but is not without its downsides.

  • Your journey will have its ups and downs.
  • It will shape the person you are and will be for the years to come.
  • It will change your life, sometimes for the better or sometimes for the worse.

Ultimately, once you go past the bad, nothing beats the good you get out of it in my opinion.

  • Are you considering a similar path?
  • Are you ready for the most amazing ride of your life?

Let us know in the comments.

You can do this!

First published here: https://theascent.pub/is-the-nomadic-lifestyle-for-you-it-really-does-change-your-life-for-better-or-worse-4918c395ece9

15 Minutes Later… Blank Page. How Overthinking Diminishes Authenticity In Your Writing

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300 stories later…

I’ve written 300 stories on Medium in the past 7 months. That’s a pretty freaking high number if you ask me. Very rarely there’s a day where I wake up, sit in front of the computer, and no inspiration comes to me for writing a story.

Normally when that happens, I just turn away and don’t write anything in the moment. In fact, it’s one of my tricks from one of my latest stories: don’t force it. I only write when I’m inspired. On average, I’ll write once a day.

Somehow, today is different. There are many things I could write about just from things that happened yesterday: I bought property in Montreal, I’m back in Toronto after 13 months on the road, I had a really nice chat with the founder of the Arena Virtual Coworking, I met a lawyer turned hip hop “star”, I realized I made more money by being sloppier, I learned some new awesome quotes, and more.

But I didn’t want to write about any of this. For 10 minutes, I brainstormed ideas in front of my computer.

Blank page.

When I started writing back in January, my sole purpose was to improve my writing skills, it certainly never was to write 300 stories in a little over half a year. I thought I’d have nothing to say to the world, even though I was living a lifestyle a lot of people are jealous of, I run a video game studio, I started an “innovative” approach to learning new skills, etc.

Today, for story #301, I wanted to write something special. None of the above are out of the ordinary:

  • Other people buy property (though probably not as quickly as I do…);
  • Other people live a nomadic lifestyle;
  • Other people chat with other interesting people;
  • Other people meet other people who dramatically change careers;
  • Other people are making money by being sloppy; and
  • Other people read quotes and learn lessons from them.

None of that stuff was original enough in my mind. I stayed there, staring at my monitor…

Blank page.

A little while back, I wrote a piece about how authenticity makes a story original. Everyone writes about the same shit. I had that sad realization a few months back, which actually made me want to stop writing. Most of the stuff I had written and have written since that realization was not original.

You can easily find the same advice I give reading people like Nicolas ColeDarius ForouxChristopher D. ConnorsZdravko CvijeticTim RettigAytekin TankTom KueglerAleesha LaurayBenjamin P. HardyZat RanaTim DenningElle KaplanDave Schools, and more.

And it’s not that I copy them. To be honest, I don’t even take the time to read them anymore. But we all read the same books, experiment and come to similar conclusions. And there are others who just read from these guys above and simply rehash their stories with a not-as-good headline.

Every time I find myself writing something that’s not authentic, I don’t publish. I couldn’t find true authenticity from my brainstorm this morning. Staring at my monitor, I still hadn’t written a single word.

Blank page.

My coffee was already empty and had not written a single word.

Then I told myself: “Screw it, why don’t I just write about that!”. Truth is, that’s not original either. Writing on writer’s block is probably even more common than any of the topics I was brainstorming.

Fun fact: I usually don’t brainstorm and just start writing, so that could be why nothing was happening on my page.

But here’s why this story matters: even someone who has written many stories before will not always have something authentic to say. Stories are about experiences you’ve lived. If you haven’t lived something worth writing about, it won’t be authentic. That’s the sad truth.

Another truth is that a lot of times, one doesn’t realize what makes them authentic. People write about productivity tips they read somewhere else, when in reality their most interesting stories are when an event triggered on their way to work, when they do things differently, when they have an handicap, when they have an addiction, etc.

This is where the real value is. This is where people relate to your stories.

Blank page?

F yeah, I’m sure you can relate to that. But I do have a “cheat” for that, which I wrote about here:

Getting Writer’s Block? Here Are 21 Ways To Find Inspiration For Your Next Story
“It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.” — Jack Kerouacwritingcooperative.com

Most of the advice in there will showcase your authenticity.

Anyway, I guess my page isn’t blank anymore…

With all that, my point is:

Your experience is what makes a story authentically great.

Something as insignificant as the premise of this story is relatable, authentic, and hopefully inspiring to other writers.

It doesn’t matter how many stories one has written. I wouldn’t be proud of saying I’ve written 300 stories if most of them were not authentic. I could have written 1,000 stories if all I was writing about came from things I read in the past.

So here it is: Story #301. Is it the big story I envisioned? F no. But seriously, who cares. Another truth is that as a writer, you never have a freaking clue as to what stories will do well.

Seriously, no clue at all.

What I think are great stories, I have close to no views. “Shitty” stories I write in 30 minutes sometimes get a great number of views and generate $50+. What I think is my best piece yet got a little number of views, yet took me over a month to put together. Please check it out after:

The 56 Most Inspiring Quotes According To Top Medium Influencers
We’re All United by the Quotes We Live bymedium.com

But that’s usually how it is when you self-publish. For that one though, it didn’t make sense for me to send to a publication. You’ll see why when you open it.

Random fact: this story is my highest “ranked” ever on first try on Grammarly!

 Grammarly ranking. If you don’t use Grammarly when writing, you should!

Grammarly ranking. If you don’t use Grammarly when writing, you should!

Conclusion

A great storyteller can turn a mundane event into a truly authentic piece.Don’t write what you read, write what you experience. Write what’s on your mind, not what you think people will want you to write about.

Next time you find yourself staring in front of a blank page, either follow the tips from the article I shared above, or just write about that noise you just heard outside, about the dropped glass on the floor, about how you chugged your coffee in 2 minutes without realizing, etc. Write about something.Anything. When authentic, publish it.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, sharing, and following the wonderful writers in this post (and myself)!

First published here: https://writingcooperative.com/15-minutes-later-blank-page-how-overthinking-diminishes-authenticity-in-your-writing-9e332423d923

Screw Excuses, Don’t Overthink, and Act — A Recipe to End Inaction

                                            Photo by  Cristina Pop  on  Unsplash

                                           Photo by Cristina Pop on Unsplash

An Important Lesson From Richard Branson

“Screw it, let’s do it” — Richard Branson

That attitude has led him to start, or help start, over 100 companies. He crossed the Atlantic ocean on a hot hair balloon, made the craziest product announcements the world has ever seen (look it up!), met and befriended Nelson Mandala, Barack Obama and other world leaders, and more.

Another interesting thing I highlighted from his latest book, Finding my Virginity, was:

I do almost everything on emotion” — Richard Branson

Now that interested me a lot because we’re always told to contain our emotions and act rationally. Truth be told, I believe in acting rationally, but where has this led us really?

Rationality oftentimes leads us to inaction.

We analyze something for too long and find a detail we think we can’t overcome, and then voila! we don’t even try. Gone was that good idea we had. We don’t even give it the chance to become a great idea.

I started having this go-getter attitude about 13 months ago when I left Canada to be a nomad.

 

How I Personally Apply This

Everything, with the exception of my game company, is a manifestation of Screw it, let’s do it.

My writing? I gave close to zero thought about writing before I started. I just wanted to improve it, so I wrote on Medium.

My first book? It was an idea I had in the shower, and I put it together, with help, in less than two weeks while working full-time on Soul Reaper and other projects. I did research on how to make this happen after the shower and acted on it right away.

My website? Someone asked me if I had one at the co-working space I was working from. I didn’t. He was right that I needed one though. So I put it together the next day and launched it the day after.

Viking Boutique? I saw a webinar on dropshipping and was intrigued. I put a Shopify store together that same night just to test it out. When I knew how things worked, after one or two more nights of playing around, I decided I would do something serious. That was the first version of Viking Boutique. I put it up in 4 hours.

My photography gigs? I volunteered to take photos for Sundara for a project of theirs in Uganda. I had no clue what I was doing. Back in April, I took photos of the opening of a new WeWork location in Bangalore. I simply asked if they needed professional shots.

This story? Just like 95% of the other stories I write, I have no clue what I’m going to write about when I wake up. Heck, I never even know until I start writing. And somehow, according to Medium, I’ve written more than 400 stories (includes replies).

You see my point?

I’ve left quite a few jobs in the past. Almost every time I thought about switching jobs, I did so at most two weeks after having the thought.

I remember some previous colleagues repeatedly mentioning they would quit; a thought that, at the time, had never occurred to me for myself. And he said it for at least a year. When I decided to quit, I quit. I was gone much before him, and I heard he left one or two years after me.

 

Conclusion

Whenever you catch yourself saying: “I will do <x>”, you should stop yourself and think: “why not now?”. Chances are, you’ll have a pitiful excuse (sorry).

If time is your excuse, I’d say that 95% of the time, it’s a case of bad time management. It’s not the point of this story to explain how to manage time, but reflect on that the next time not-having-time is your excuse. Elon Musk and Richard Branson are busier than you, yet they make things happen.

“If you don’t have time for small things, you won’t have time for big things.” — Richard Branson

So I give you this challenge:

Whatever idea you’ve been off-putting for a while, just put it in motion. Just dip your feet and see how it feels. Slowly, little by little, you’ll catch yourself being in the pool and acting on things you thought were impossible for you.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, clapping, sharing and following! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/screw-excuses-dont-overthink-and-act-a-recipe-to-end-inaction-364b9bf02e4

Why Meaningful Relationships Are Key to Undeniable Self-Awareness

 &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;Photo by  Eric Ward &nbsp;on  Unsplash

                                             Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

“A meaningful relationship is one that’s open and honest in a way that lets people be straight with each other” — Ray Dalio

  • Who can you tell it to when they’re on the wrong path, in health, wealth, love and happiness?
  • Who tells you when that happens do you?
  • How many people are open and honest with you?
  • How many people do you dare be open and honest with?

I’m willing to bet it’s hard to come up with a large list of people for these questions.

Ideally, you would have the same names in all lists. It’s a relationship after all! If you are open and honest with someone and vice versa, then it’s a truly meaningful relationship.

 

Why It Matters

Identifying your meaningful relationships is important to understand who to 1) go to in times of need, and 2) get valuable feedback on important decisions.

It is the people you surround yourself with in business and in life. It’s your business partners, your spouse, your parents, your children, etc.

A meaningful relationship is strong. You know the other person’s got your back. If something is wrong, they’ll tell you straight, and you’ll grow from it.You don’t grow from people hiding the truth from you. It might feel good initially to not face the brutal truth, but it will eventually hurt when you fall.

I learned to embrace the brutal truth a few years ago. I can’t remember the exact point in time, but I know since then I’ve had more “success” in whatever I’m doing since then.

I’m happily married and our relationship is based on trust. We can tell each other the brutal truth. We’re stronger for it. We’ve been together 14 years. I’m only 31.

In business, I try to surround myself with people who won’t shy away from telling me when I do something wrong. I always ask for feedback from people I trust. In return, they trust that I’ll do the same.

Obviously, there are ways to give brutally honest feedback, and not everyone can word it properly, but sometimes you have to read between the lines.

I personally like when someone tells me something I did is s***, provided they have points to back their opinion up.

You don’t have to agree with everything, but that’s what being “open” means. Understand and value the person’s opinion, and make up your own opinion based on that.

 

Conclusion

Take time to reflect on the meaningful relationships you have. Make a list. Make those connections even stronger.

Strive to build more relationships based on openness and honesty. You’ll grow as a person and you’ll become a better business partner, spouse, parent, etc.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, clapping, sharing and following! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/on-the-rise/why-meaningful-relationships-are-key-to-undeniable-self-awareness-6df70e36fd56

Life Changing Lessons Learned from Van Gogh, Steve Jobs, and Lao Tzu

 &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; Photo credit:&nbsp; iamfearlesssoul.com

                                                  Photo credit: iamfearlesssoul.com

If You Can Learn Something New Every Day, You Can Better Adapt to the Future

Last week I shared a collaboration post about some of Medium’s top influencers’ favourite quotes. The results were amazing. I learned so much from the quotes they chose and their views on them. The quotes from this post were borrowed from the answers I received from Jessica JungtonLincoln W Daniel, and Jonathan Greene.

Here’s the post, to read after this one:

The 56 Most Inspiring Quotes According To Top Medium Influencers
We’re All United by the Quotes We Live bymedium.com

Lesson Learned from Vincent Van Gogh

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” — Vincent Van Gogh
 &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; Vincent Van Gogh. Photo credit:&nbsp; wikimedia.org

                    Vincent Van Gogh. Photo credit: wikimedia.org

This is one of the key lessons I learned that helped me build momentum and stay productive for extended periods of times. Breaking everything down to a series of small things working towards a greater ambition is a key to action. It’s easy to procrastinate when we know a task or a goal is too big, but it’s motivating to do a simple 15-minute task towards a greater purpose.

Also very important: the small things need a common goal. When you have clarity on your main goal, that’s when you can break it down into smaller things that matter.

Here’s what Jessica Jungton had to say about the quote:

“This mentally helps me overcome discouragement. When tasks are overwhelming or my goals feel far away, I focus on what I can do right now, even if seems unimportant in the larger scheme of things. Knowing that all of these “small” decisions and actions will combine to create something more significant helps me to keep going and not give up.”

 

Lesson Learned from Steve Jobs

“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” — Steve Jobs
 &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; Steve Jobs. Photo credit:&nbsp; thenextweb.com

                                    Steve Jobs. Photo credit: thenextweb.com

We see “overnight successes” in every walk of life. It’s easy to look at someone successful and say that they got lucky to have risen to fame. There are exceptions of course, but the majority of the time, successful people are successful because they’ve worked their asses off, crafting their craft with persistence.

Many times, one is not an overnight success because of this:

I’m guilty of giving up too early to be an overnight success.

Here’s what Lincoln W Daniel had to say about this quote:

“It’s lazy and, perhaps, harmful to think that a successful entity came by its success easily, especially if you’re an entrepreneur. I have learned the hard way that true success comes with time, planning, and sacrifice. Fairy tales are easy to write after the fact, especially when the grueling details are omitted.”

 

Lesson Learned from Lao Tzu

“He who knows others is intelligent; he who understands himself is enlightened” — Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching (The Book of the Way)
 &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; Lao Tzu. Photo credit:&nbsp; thoughtco.com

                                          Lao Tzu. Photo credit: thoughtco.com

Do you truly understand yourself? When’s the last time you reflected back on what makes you who you are? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you aspire to become? What’s your main goal in life?

These are the kinds of questions I reflected on during my self-improvement week. These are the kinds of questions I reflect on when I journal.

Having clarity about yourself is a major stepping stone to reaching your burning desires.

Here’s what Jonathan Greenehas to say about this quote:

“We can learn so much from others, but until we understand ourselves we will never reach our peak. I have learned this first-hand and have finally gotten to a place in my life where I can be open with myself. What makes me tick. Why I get up. What drives me. It provided a level of confidence in life that you can’t get any other way.”

 

Conclusion

In short, here are the three lessons I learned from the quotes above:

  1. Breaking bigger goals into smaller goals keeps you motivated and gives you a sense of direction;
  2. Successful people are successful because they’ve worked their asses off, crafting their craft with persistence; and
  3. Having clarity about yourself is a major stepping stone to reaching your burning desires.

These are three of the most important lessons one can learn. They were applied by Vincent Van Gogh, Steve Jobs, Lao Tzu, and pretty much all other successful people we’ve known throughout history.

I often lack persistence and give up too early. Sometimes it’s because of a lack of purpose behind something I’m doing. I start many things without thinking too much about how it fits with my chief aim, leading me to work aimlessly and ultimately give up.

These three lessons, when applied correctly, help get clarity, focus on the right things and be persistent in action.

So take the time to understand the lessons. Gain clarity on yourself. Break your goals down into bite-sized goals. When done, take action. Don’t procrastinate.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, sharing and following! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/life-changing-lessons-learned-from-van-gogh-steve-jobs-and-lao-tzu-26eac738236b

How Writing Daily Can Help you Free your Mind, Gain Clarity, and Boost Your Confidence

 &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; Photo by  Thought Catalog &nbsp;on  Unsplash

                                          Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

5 Tried and True Tips to Help you Write Daily and Reap its Benefits

I never thought I’d write on a regular basis, let alone make money from it. To be honest, I thought I’d have nothing interesting to say.

But then in January, I figured it was time for me to improve my writing skills, so I decided to write once a day on Medium.com, with the sole purpose of improving my skills.

But Medium is not the only place I started to write on — I started journaling that same month.

Every morning I would write anything that came to mind in my journal. Being an entrepreneur, a lot of the stuff I would write about was different projects, but also self-reflection, goals, and more.

I never meant to continue with either going forward, but it had been too beneficial to stop.

Some people travel to get clarity. When I traveled around the world for a year with my wife, we both got the opposite result. We were so damn lost. Traveling opened up new opportunities we never knew we had, and suddenly we didn’t know what to do anymore.

Has this happened to anyone else?

It’s when I started writing both publicly and privately that everything aligned and managed to gain much-needed clarity, and ultimately freed my mind from overthinking things.

Yesterday, I saw my cousin I had not seen for 5 years. He’s had very rough patches during that time. He recently managed to get back on his feet and took matters in his own hands. I asked him how he did it, and he said something like that (translated from French):

“It’s simple, I let go of my thoughts — good or bad. I trusted my subconscious to guide me where I needed to go. Suddenly, and effortlessly, I started getting ahold of myself, made more money and started being happier.” — Cousin Denis

One way he let his mind go free was by starting to write a book.

See the pattern?

If you’ve got demons, why not try writing — publicly and privately?

And if you’re an introvert like Denis and me, writing is a fantastic way to express yourself. And everyone needs to express themselves. I’m not comfortable telling my story in a group, especially if I don’t know everyone in the group. But in writing, I tell my story all the time, and it’s strangely liberating.

I’m willing to bet a lot of the writers we read on Medium.com are introverts like me.

Now that we agree writing daily can help gain clarity and free up your mind, how do we actually do that?

Read on for some personal tips I learned from the past seven months of writing every day (on average), writing over 300 stories during that time!

 

1. Don’t force it

That’s crucial! It’s when you overthink it that words don’t flow. For this story, like 98% of the 300 stories I’ve written, I started with a blank page, not knowing — at all — what I would write about.

If words don’t flow, don’t force it.

Step back and forget about writing entirely. I mostly write as soon as I wake up. That’s when I have the most clarity and my mind isn’t cluttered by thoughts from the day. But occasionally, it just doesn’t flow. So I don’t force it. Then when I least expect it, ideas start flowing.

In Learning to Learn, on Coursera, Dr. Terrence Sejnowski claims that by letting your mind free by doing activities like jogging or simply taking a shower, your subconscious works for you and gives you a new perspective on things.

I’ve seen that time and again. Most of what I consider my “genius” ideas come from taking what I call a “thinking shower”.

Remember Denis’ story from above?

It’s when you don’t overthink and let your mind go free that you get the clarity you seek.

2. Medium is a safe haven

Again, a very important point.

I have yet to see someone make fun of a writer who’s opening up. On the contrary, readers relate more. Medium is a place where readers seek genuine stories, not an opportunity to troll.

No one laughed at me when I said I grew up in a very poor family, when I said I didn’t learn to ride a bicycle until I was 21, when I said I was afraid of heights or drowning, and more.

Because of that, I opened up more and more, and suddenly my confidence got a boost.

If you’ve got a problem or an addiction, Medium is the place to write about it.

3. The more vulnerable you are, the more liberating it is for you

Tiffany Sun had a terrible boyfriend experience abroad, Anthony Mooresuffered from addiction to pornography, Nicolas Cole was a compulsive video game player.

These people inspired me and many others to improve our lives. When they started writing about their problems, they weren’t “big” like they are today. They became what they are today because they swallowed their pride and shared their genuine stories, and people love them for it.

Can you imagine how liberating that must be?

Finally letting out a “big secret” you have is the foundation of finally accepting yourself the way you are.

4. Journaling is not a dumb thing

I was sure journaling would be a dumb thing, but everyone was talking about it, so I gave it a try. Back in January, I bought a pen and paper, and tried journaling at the co-working space in Málaga. I filled a page in what seemed like 2 seconds. So I continued. After 30 minutes, I realized that I actually really needed this. I decided to go to the beach to see what would happen.

I journaled for 3 hours straight!

It’s insane the number of things you have on your mind without even realizing it. Needless to say, I was proven wrong — it worked. To this day, I still write in my journal almost on a daily basis. Whenever I need clarity, I go to it.

5. Writing daily teaches the power of habits

I can’t prove the following claim, but I found that the more good habits you form, the easier it gets. Once I integrated writing and exercising into my daily habits, other habits seemed to form easier and faster.

And the good thing about writing as a habit is that it’s “very easy” to do. You don’t need to go anywhere or have fancy equipment. You don’t need money either. If words don’t flow, just write about your day at the end of the day. You know what you did — or didn’t do — so no need to think much on it.

Once you write for one, two, three months, it will be second nature. Then you can focus on the next good habit!

 

Conclusion

Remember, don’t force it, don’t be afraid to share your vulnerabilities, journal, and write daily.

When you do all that, you’ll free your mind, gain clarity, boost your confidence and form great habits.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, sharing and following! :)

First published here: https://writingcooperative.com/how-writing-daily-can-help-you-free-your-mind-gain-clarity-and-boost-your-confidence-68a6cf069b7