Zone of Awesomeness

Today we are gonna redefine what being out of your comfort zone means in my first video from Bangkok… Check it out below.

I was a bit out of it after exhausting flight to do a video, but I think I got my point across and the main thing was to push myself. I failed to do that in Helsinki and wasn’t about to let that happen again. It is all a part of building momentum for this trip. I know the start is gonna be slow anyway cause I just get so unbelievably anxious at first.

Anyway, lets get to today’s subject. As detailed in the video, by Zone of Awesomeness I am referring to that zone out of your comfort zone, pushing your limits.

Just by mindlessly doing tough acts isn’t going to bring you success in itself, but it still beats doing nothing which is why I would always err on the side of challenging myself more.

Of course, there’s the point where you go beyond Zone of Awesomeness, and instead go too far and actually detriment yourself. That happened to me in the army – it was simply too much for my system and instead of making me tougher, it broke me down, at least on a certain mental level. Even then I’d say it did give me certain toughness, at least when I get stressed I know I have experienced worse.

For most people, challenging yourself too much is not a problem. Our lives are too lax, too easy. Learning the habit to push against The Flinch, as Julien Smith calls it, is very useful.

It trains your mind to do what you tell it to do despite the circumstances. Despite being tired, despite being anxious, despite whatever it is that is making you uncomfortable. It is teaching you to not give in just because of some inner, or even sometimes some external resistance. No matter what you feel, just doing it as you planned.

Just doing push-ups on sharp rocks doesn’t develop a well-rounded awesomeness into you, though. It will make you pain tolerant and gritty in a certain sense, but it wont make you any less socially anxious (speaking from experience). That’s why everything you do, you have to find the Zone of Awesomeness in it, not just push yourself in one area.

In some things, Zone of Awesomeness doesn’t even necessarily mean uncomfortable things. It just means the mundane and the repetitive – like practicing some hard new skill with ball when playing soccer. You try and you fail, and you try and try. Most people just kick around when they practice, but you instead focus on whats hard and not so fun. In the end you will be better player even with same quantity of practice. You’re willing to go beyond fun and easy forms of practice.

Zone of Awesomeness exists everywhere and you can always expand it. For some people it might be something as simple as looking someone else into the eyes and resisting the feeling to watch away. For other peoples it might mean crossing the English canal by swimming, or something crazy like that. Hell, those two might even be same people – you can be in incredible shape and still be completely socially anxious.

That’s why its important to push it in the every facet of life and make it a point to push your awesomeness every day. It needs to be a habit. You need to be asking yourself, did I reach the zone of Awesomeness in what I just did?

If not… Well you can always fix it now. One more time. One more effort. When you feel like quitting, going on a little bit longer. It all stacks up over time and makes a big difference in the end. That’s why its important to have a positive mental narrative of it as opposed to seeing it as a drudgery without a point. Even if it in isolation is kind of pointless, you can still see the bigger picture by saying fuck yeah, I reached the Zone of Awesomeness today, and its a small brick in my palace.

It will then become easier and easier to push into it – but at the same time to really push it you need to be doing more and more. I’m all about taking our lives to the limits they can go. I’m not the most extreme guy myself, for me on a day like this it is more than enough to just get a video done, but it builds onto that momentum and to reach my Zone of Awesomeness its gonna take a lot more at the end of the month. I hope I still keep reaching for it every day. Setting the tone right from the start is important.

Drop a comment if this made any sense… or especially if it didn’t :D

Spectator Society

Final two videos from my Brazil/Turkey trip wrapped in this one post – first is about my take on the whole spectator society, second is kind of unrelated video where I just slapped together random clips from Brazil – it’s not really a good video and more for my personal memory, but if you’re curious you can check it out too. But first, let’s talk about how we are living a shadow existence in spectator society.

I’m actually pretty happy about how this video turned out. I am coherent and make my point, with my current speaking skill that’s about as good as I could’ve done. I don’t really have anything to add to it – of course the issue is more multifaceted than just the thing that I talk about, but the point is still valid.

Now lets get into another video I created – this is mostly just long shots of scenery or match footage of crowds during World Cup, I really didn’t bring camera around a lot which would’ve helped in compiling a video like that. It’s kind of a conflict in my life, trying to avoid living through camera lens while at the same time kinda having to cause I have a video blog to make. Finding a balance in Thailand and Philippines will be interesting. As for now, here’s a 20 minute video that’s admittedly kinda boring, just static shots intermixed with me blathering on vaguely about my trip. I think the best part is the emotional ending, but I wasn’t really speaking well there, cause as admitted “I wasn’t feeling it”.

As usual leave me any comments below, see you very soon :)

Honesty

So in while in Istanbul I got lied to and instead of being butthurt in response, I decided to record this video sharing my views about honesty and integrity.

Video came out a little bit feel-good and unclear about some things and there is some sound issues, I don’t know why the mic didn’t work well in this one. Anyway, the stuff that I talk about in the video is something I genuinely believe in, not just a butthurt response over things going not the way I wanted them to go. I don’t think you have to lie and cheat your way to the top, if anything that will only detriment your life.

I know, I’m easily counter-argumented with lot of deceitful people who got it all in life. Perhaps some of them were even happy doing it. But I am talking of normal people here. For me I don’t see any benefit at all in lying. Only thing it would do to me is strain my mind more with having to keep up with the lies. It’s liberating and relieving to not have to manage any image or a web of deceit.

It might sound astonishing that I’ve not knowingly told a lie since probably 2011, but its true. I might have tricked myself and told something like that to people, but I’ve not knowingly lied to anyone. I’m not saying it to be high and mighty to suggest I’m better than everyone – I’m saying it to point out “I know what I’m talking about, I live according to my values”. And I’m telling you, its a much better way of life than toxic little lies that weigh down on you. Everyone deceives and manipulates sometime, but when you don’t consciously do it, its easier to catch yourself when you’re doing it unconciously.

Now you might argue there’s time and place for little white lies… but the thing with those it that it becomes very grey area – what if you choose to lie in a matter that you think don’t matter, but don’t realize it matters more to the person lied to? It doesn’t matter if you never get caught, but if you do get caught with the lie, it can be much more destructive than you think.

Is honesty painless then? Of course not, if it were, everyone would naturally be honest. But it is in the long run much less painful. You exchange lot of short-term pain for being in long-term in better alignment with your values and life. Often lies are just delaying pain.

Being honest doesn’t mean telling everything to everyone. If I am getting to know a new person, they won’t know much about my pre-existing relationships aside the things I mention in the blog. I tell a lot of my life in this blog and its all genuine truth, but at the same time its only a small glimpse to my life – it’s like looking at surface of ocean, you can’t see what’s in the vast depths below. As person grows in importance in my life, they will gradually “earn” to know more about me.

But this is where absolutes, in my perspective, end. That’s a whole another discussion what should be told and to whom. Also, I could easily lie to a person I don’t know at all. If a beggar comes ask for money, while I usually tell them they need to work for their money, I could just say I don’t have money on me without guilty conscience.

Honesty With the World

Finally there’s the thing about honesty with the world. It represents doing the hard work instead of going for the shortcuts. If you want a successful relationship, the “dishonest” way is to get someone a bit out of your league with trickery and then keeping them in line with manipulation. Leads into a toxic relationship for both that’s ultimately horribly end. Less dishonest way that lot of people do it is just settling on someone that’s kinda good just to get the problem out of the way – then losing passion for that person slowly over the years. The honest way, of course, is to get through the years of grind to become that person who deserves an awesome person, going through a lot of people and ultimately coming out with someone who you really know fits you.

I’m not saying that’s the only way to make it work, of course there’s countless examples that would go against that example, but the general principle is the same – you have to be “honest” with the effort you put in to tip the odds in your favor. You can’t buy a program that promises you to get rich overnight and then expect to roll in cash. No, you gotta do it the hard way through lot of effort and failure, probably even public failure as your first attempts in business go broke. When I was playing poker, I went bust countless of times.

Achieving riches through lottery, for example is cheating the system. You won’t change as a person when you win the lottery, all it is that you now have more cash, which you soon realize its largely just superfluous and doesn’t matter that much to your life beyond your survival and maybe driving around in a more expensive car. If you were uninteresting and unhappy person before winning, you will be that after too. Money can help change that, but unless you’re doing the change yourself, it won’t do a thing.

Often time lottery winners just waste their money cause they haven’t learned the process of managing their cash. As they say, fool and his money are soon parted. The worst thing about losing that fortune for them is that they can’t recover it. If a man who worked a decade loses his fortune, of course he will be as miserable as the lottery winner, but he will get back into the grind next time with firm belief that he can rebuild. That will give him real security and confidence – one that’s based on his own character, not just having a lot of assets.

It’s a hard concept overall for me to communicate, this honesty thing. I know 99.999 % of people lie all the time, and this will probably do little to change it especially since some people can make convincing counter-arguments about how lying and pretending are good. I just don’t agree. I don’t pretend I don’t like people. I either like them or don’t communicate with them.

Isn’t it enough that we lie to ourselves? Why further complicate our coexistence with hidden intentions to each other?

Power Games

Yes, deception can be a form of power. But in this world where everyone are kings in terms of possessions, health, living situation and amount of food we have available, do we really need power games? I don’t want to assert my power over other people aside from how my words might improve their lives through new insights. It’s obsolete – but I guess like fear its one of those obsolete primal responses, faults of human psyche that’s gonna stick around until we start actively modifying it. But you can on a personal level start taking control of it today. But its tough since telling the truth is often punished, especially if it is a hard truth. For me it is easy cause I see the overall picture gets better over that small discomfort, but convincing that to others is harder.

I don’t judge anyone for lying. People I love and still love have deceived me many times. I don’t think they are evil for it. Every time I just look at their senseless lies and think to myself “she didn’t lie cause she’s evil… She was just retarded.”

Yeah, that’s also kind of reframing it funny to call her retarded for it. There’s no judgment in that. We are all retarded. That’s why we lie and are scared and lazy and… well list goes on and on. Let’s just all try to be a little bit less retarded.

Narratives – How Are You Interpreting The World?

Today I’ve got a video up from Brazil as I’m trying to deal with the whole clog of videos I already have ready that I made in Brazil & Istanbul before  I leave to Thailand on October 6th. We are gonna talk about mental narratives and how it makes us interpret the world positively or negatively – which makes a massive difference in our actions and subsequently what our lives turn out to look like. Check out the video below.

I’ll be the first one to admit that wasn’t one of my most coherent ones, but let’s dissect that a little bit more here.

Reality is Subjective – But Malleable

So is the glass half empty of is it half full? The classic example of ways of thinking but of course a cliché and simple one. There are countless of ways you can interpret reality through whatever is the narrative in your head, and everything else is then fitted to that narrative. So just one perspective change can have significant ramifications to your mental space.

We all have narratives in our heads. That’s inevitable. If there weren’t our simple minds just would not be able to deal with the complexity of the world. They help us simplify things in our head. However, faulty narratives that temporarily make us happy by giving us false comfort inevitably lead to our own destruction.

So its very important to be conscious about the way you construct your narrative. Is the story I’m telling myself in my head beneficial to me?

If you think you’re the coolest guy in the world and truly believe it, it is going to manifest itself somehow in your life. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting anything law of attraction type stuff here, but if you do tell yourself good things, you do take more chances and even if you fail somehow, it still has to fit that “I’m coolest guy in the world” narrative so you  won’t let it get you down.

I’m not suggesting you pick that as your narrative by the way, it obviously has its good and bad sides. But we all believe in something, whether its religion or something else – even extreme nihilism is still a narrative in your head, as opposed to reality. Even if you decline all the -isms and things that are taught to you, you still have a mental structure that I call a narrative. What I am just saying is that you become aware and conscious about what kind of a worldview and narrative there is in your head, then mould it such that it actually supports you in whatever are your goals in life.

If you think you’re disgusting and ugly, you will generally put people off. For me that of course was never true, but I had never been called handsome in my life until 23 – only cause I thought I was unattractive.

Significantly shifting your belief systems will feel like living in a different reality. It is rare that these shifts happen suddenly, but when they do, the old narrative feels like a different existence altogether. I don’t know if my mental narratives shifted fast or slow, but one thing is for sure, my life was very different in my old mental paradigms. I was living in the same reality, but my capabilities were greatly limited by what was going on in my head.

Still to this day that holds true – we are all our own worst enemies and the most important battle is fought within our minds. So start asking yourself – How am I viewing this situation? Is it accurate? Does it help me?

I am not a a believer of any Christian religion, but people with strong faith often have easier time dealing with hardships in life. Why? Strong, positive narrative. If you truly think you’re going to heaven or whatever, or that God loves you or whatever they believe, you’re going to have more perseverance than a nihilist who just thinks everything is meaningless and life sucks.

I don’t think either of them are right. I don’t think right even exists, I think every worldview is true to its subject anyway.

A lot in the journey of Becoming Awesome is shifting your narrative. Instead of thinking yourself as a piece of shit, valuing yourself. Forging that narrative that I am awesome stronger. It leads to you going for awesome things. You make a mess of some, but some you succeed – and then you actually are awesome in some way, and the narrative strengthens. It’s a cycle that just needs to be kept going. If you believe world is your oyster… it might well become it. If you believe it is a harsh place where you’re just struggling to cope, that’s probably what’s in store for you.

To me, a balanced narrative has a bit of both in it. A balanced narrative recognized that world indeed is a harsh place, but that if you work hard it can also be your oyster. A good narrative acknowledges the challenges around but reframes them so that they don’t put you down.

But I am not going to spoon-feed you any more of what I think in this post. I hope that stirred up something in your mind, I’m gonna head to my next task before I run out of time.

Drop a comment on what you think about narratives!

100th Post: On Shortness of Life

It’s been way over two years since I opened this blog. So managing 100th post in in bit over 700 days still averages about a post per week. Today we are going to, aptly return to the constant theme in my – and in everyone’s – life, which is that life is short.

Appropriately for celebratory post I chose the put out the best video I’ve created so far. Especially towards the tail end of my trip I seemed to hit another level, but overall the rise in my capabilities to express myself through speaking is significant. Not to say I’m still any good, I am still too mediocre to even retain most of people who stumble onto my videos.

I also added a little bit of compilation of random quick segments from old videos, mostly for laughs. Being able to make fun of myself, maybe another thing that I’ve improved on?

Yes, the name of the post is an homage of Seneca’s On Shortness of Life. I came across it many many years ago – if I had to guess when, it was my late teens. I didn’t really have the focus or attention span back then to really read it, but I did skim it and it gave me a little bit of urgency about my life. I also read a lot more articles like this at that same time, for instance this one. That latter one really hit deep on me. Testament to it is that I still remembered it after over half a decade so well it took me only 10 seconds to find it again, having never read it since that time I read it. Read that shit. It will wake you up.

That’s all I want to do here. It’s a lot of what I am doing with my blog, and with my life. Just shaking these zombies wandering around awake a little bit at a time. We all need to wake up into these bleak realities. They are uncomfortable to stare at, but they will fuel you to an amazing life better than nothing else.

We need lot of shaking awake – I just talked about this last december last time. And I am absolutely certain I will be talking of it again and again until I am dead. It’s the most important truth everyone of us must realize. It’s worth it to throw that old video in there too, even if it might get a little redundant at this point – It’s essentially just worse take on same topic. I think it’s worth it to see at least in terms of how I’ve improved over last 7 months:

Whether you believe in afterlife or not, you still need to understand that this form is limited, and to get as much done in this world as you can, you have to get urgent about it.

If this post made you think, drop me a comment.

Things Will Go Wrong

Post number 99 is here! In warm-up for the grand achievement of 100th post, we will talk briefly about things going wrong.

Lot of things has gone wrong for me over the last couple of years alone. I’ve had a really messy break-up. I’ve failed numerous challenges I set-up for myself. I’ve made myself look a fool countless times. What’s my point here? Well, the point is that if you’re doing something, you will make messes sometimes. If you’re not, you’re simply not doing anything. My video, shot before Brazil, elaborates more on this:

I just came back from Brazil/Turkey combo trip couple of weeks ago. I was abroad for fifty days straight, bit over actually. Shit went wrong. I lost my eyeglasses, tripod, got lost a few times, dropped off at wrong bus stop, spectacularly burned my skin, made a complete mess of a friendship of day, traveled to a remote location to meet someone only to have them not show up, and so on and so on.

To some people that sounds like an absolute disaster trip, but what I am omitting is the mountain of good experiences. And did any of the above really even faze me? Most items on that list is worth a nonchalant “oh, that sucks”, shrug and moving on. Point is, to get all of these peak experiences, to live a memorable phase of my life (I cried during my last night in Istanbul cause I was sad to go home – so obviously my experience overall was amazing), I had to take a few minor knocks.

Shit will go wrong in life. In much, much worse ways than what I listed there. No matter how without risks you live, you will still die. All items you have will break down. Your friend might get leukemia from out of the blue. Are you really gonna let that small shit that could go wrong stop you from living out the awesome life that is out there? You don’t immunize yourself against bad shit by being conservative – you immunize yourself from the best experiences in life. The bad things that could happen are aren’t even worth sheltering yourself from.

Besides, I’d argue going through all that small shit also hardens you for the real trials in life, the real emotional anguish. Mark my words our lives still have a lot of darkness in store for us. This is not a pessimistic, dark attitude to life, just accepting the realities.

I hope this was the much needed slap on some people’s face to wake them up, in the meantime I will start preparing for the 100th post.

Drop by with a comment if the video got you thinking!

18-month Plans

First I planned to do this post as three separate posts, but due to the hallmark of 100th post coming up, I combined it all into one post. What you find in this post is my 18-month goals for three areas in my life – Fitness, Work and Social Life. If you don’t give a shit about my goals, feel free to skip the post, this is more for me to realign myself after most of my yearly goals became obsolete when my move out from home got delayed.

Fitness Goals

I’ve been kinda letting my workouts go on their own weight lately, just going through the motions day by day without necessary any grander goal or progress. There’s been a bit of progress, but definitely it feels like I’m moving nowhere fast – it’s time to put an end to that. So I’m going to formulate 18-month plan for my progress that will be the true north in my fitness compass. Every session I will have to ask whether the things I’m doing is taking me towards my goals. As there is more than one area to fitness, there will be multiple goals.

Overall Physique

I am not going to aim for certain look, as it stands I am actually quite happy with how I look. What I am going to focus on is gaining weight, ideally without getting too puffy (which should be impossible anyway should I attain my other goals). My goal is to reach morning weight of 85 kg shirtless in 18 months time.

Conditioning

The best ever shape I was in this regard was actually in 2008 summer, when I was in the army and managed to complete 3000 m on the 12-minute running test. I will set my sights to that same goal which shouldn’t be too hard to achieve. As I will be 28 by the time, it will be one of the last chances for me to be at my absolute peak fitness, so I am going to grab onto that opportunity with both hands.

Strength Goals

I am kinda hesitant to put any numerical goals… but what the hell, let’s try. The ideal of course would be to be capable of deadlifting twice my bodyweight, which at 85kg would be 170kg. However, I think 61kg increase over 18 months is a bit ambitious especially since I can’t weight train that much. So I will aim instead towards a much more modest goal of 140 kg. And hey, that’s still strong. As for bench press, I’ve never been a big fan of that exercise, but I might as well try to get my result in that to match my bodyweight of 85kg. If I can reach that early, might as well go towards 100 kg which is what I ultimately wanna reach. I don’t really care about going higher in that exercise, in fact probably as soon as I can do 100 I will mostly stop bench press, cause I don’t feel any need to strain my shoulders further.

I am more a proponent of bodyweight exercises anyway. My biggest goal for a long time has been free-standing handstand and this is finally the time to do it. I already have the strength to do it, so its more of a skill goal to learn to put the pieces together and developing the motor skills. If I reach it faster than that, naturally next step is to go towards handstand push-up.

Another thing I really want to go for is beating my old record of chin-ups. Its not gonna be easy as I’m not currently in my best chin-up shape to begin with, and I will be working to gain a ton of weight during the 18 months which will naturally make chin-ups even more challenging. Still, with 18 months of time it is definitely possible and my record isn’t anything outrageous. There’s people who can do hundreds of these, so my goal is still modest compared to that.

Flexibility / Health

I’d like to finally achieve the level of flexibility where reaching my toes wouldn’t be such a challenge – I can do it after a long long long warm-up of stretching to my hamstrings, but not without it. I’d like to be able to do that without any warm-up and maybe get even my palms on the floor with little warm-up. Another thing is that I want to get rid of my back issues which will involve lot of hip region stretching, psoas stretching and probably other stuff I don’t even know about yet. Also it will involve sitting less. Being capable of sitting in seiza for long periods would be another nice side goal as well that I will work towards. Also, half-lotus, enuff said.

Finally I want to improve in all other facets of my working out, but the improvement can and will be slower as things listed here take more of a precedence over them.

In Short:

  • Gain weight until 85kg
  • Run 3000m in 12-minute test
  • Deadlift 140kg
  • Bench press 85 kg
  • Free-standing handstand
  • Record in chin-ups
  • Become much more flexible
  • Get rid of back pain

18 months starting from August will be February 2016… So that will be the time I see how far I went in these goals. Only time I’d reset my goals before is either by something going badly wrong or by me reaching all these goals before 18 months. Considering the rate of my progress so far I consider the latter to be unlikely, but naturally I’d be hoping for it. February 2016 will also likely be the time of the year when I will be reconsidering my future anyway, as the year wherever I have moved to will be up by then.

So, my 18-month plan series continues with my plans for my income over the next 18-months… Let’s delve right into it!

Work / Income Goals

As you might know, I am currently doing normal 40-hour workweeks at my job. I can’t due to my contract clauses tell you details about what I exactly do, but needless to say I work in a kind of regular job, just that its online. I get evaluated every six months and if I do well, I can get a raise. So my income and time commitment is kind of fixed in this regard.

But naturally there’s still things that I can do for my income. As said, I get evaluated every six months so my primary concern will be to perform strongly to earn at least one raise over next eighteen months. Basically week-in week-out this will be about learning to work effectively higher and higher percentage of those 40 hours, until I reach the level where I work with steel focus and unwavering discipline, effectively hour after hour.

There’s three chances over the course of next 18 months to get a raise, so I’d think one time is a realistic aim. Two times… That’d be a massive success. Three times I don’t really think so cause I’ve not been up to my full potential lately and the past work affects the ratings.

Other Endeavors

There’s of course lot of other ways to make an income aside my regular work. So let’s go through the ones I’ve been using one by one and see what I plan to be doing with each of them.

Fiverr

I’ve had writing gigs up on Fiverr since forever and I’ve made some decent income from there – but considering the time investment, Fiverr isn’t nearly as lucrative as my regular work is. Furthermore, every hour of work I get from there is just additional strain on top of my 40 hours so there’s obviously a limit of how much I can do.

So all I am going to do with my Fiverr is to keep some gigs up that have been doing well for me, do a little bit of extra work there and earn tiny side income, that’s all I need from there. On 18-month scale, Fiverr is not an important source of money for me, so aside that I am not going to set any specific aims. So on 18-month scale, the only goal is to tweak Fiverr income as effective as possible – meaning a good return for effort I put in, or gigs that are fun to do. I already have fun gigs on there, I just need to figure out more stuff that I think is fun that I could earn money from. Not important on grand scale, but still a nice opportunity.

oDesk

ODesk is actually where I do my work anyway, but through oDesk its naturally possible to get all kinds of freelancing work. And obviously I should start diversifying on there – getting a flow of other work going on so that my profile there looks even stronger than it already is. Fact is, I will not always have the job I currently have, but if I play my cards right even if I get fired my income doesn’t completely dry up.

So now I should be doing as much work on oDesk as possible to make myself look great there. Also it is not just about money – my job is kinda monotonous in some senses. It doesn’t actually teach me that much new skills. So to keep expanding my skillset and sharpening the saw on the existing skills, I need to get varying jobs on oDesk to keep challenging myself.

That being said, especially when I am traveling I can’t take more than 10 hours extra workload per week, so there’s a limit of how much I can do. But on an 18-month window, it’d be good if I could work up to at least steady 10 extra hours on other gigs on oDesk. Even if I get paid lowly 10 bucks an hour, that’s still 400 bucks a month extra on top of my income, and more skills being built in the process – not to forget building an impressive work history there as well, which would make getting more work even easier, should I ever end up needing more.

Amazon Kindle

As people might know, I have a book available on Kindle, Healthy Eating. Looking back at it, I think the book definitely needs some revisions (not for inaccuracies, more about how it is overall), but it is still a valuable book and I think writing it taught me a lot about putting some consistent work in. I’d honestly love to write another book, but the thing is, with my audience and promotional skills and all the resources I have available, I just can’t get that much return of investment for all my effort.

Maybe I’ll do it anyway, but thing is, right now I don’t want to do anything on Kindle. Am I passing up a huge opportunity? I don’t know. Fact of the matter is though that I could not capitalize on it fully anyway cause writing a book takes a lot of time. Even if I worked 100-hour weeks, I’d get just couple of books a year out anyway. Or who knows? Maybe I am aiming too low. That being said, as far as Kindle goes I am not going to set any further goals. If I can find the time to do tweaks on my existing book, that’s awesome. Anything else would just be an additional bonus.

Affiliate Marketing Websites

Again, I have a pre-existing site that’s reasonably SEO’d and making some sales, though I think Google has taken my current ranking away which is something I need to sort out.

In any case, there’s potential in my existing site to even be a bigger cash cow than it is, but it needs work to develop into that.

So this is actually something I would want to get to, especially cause it isn’t all on me – I can actually have my brother help me work on it. It still requires some effort on my part, but this is definitely something that is worth the effort in many ways.

So my goal for this would be to get my affiliate site up and running back again, with regular new content, at least double the current traffic and profit. It’s hard to kind of exactly define how far I should get with this in 18 months. So in short, I think I would want to have a well set-up site full of content and a steady stream of traffic coming in without me having to think about it too much – I think earning $500 a month from this site is perfectly reasonable goal.

Adding in New Projects?

For the longest time I considered expanding the scope of my income creation. For instance, creating a business of some sort is something I might ultimately want to do.

But the thing is, right now I don’t think the time is ripe for that. I have enough in the projects I already have ongoing. Now is time for learning. That’s not to say jumping into my own business wouldn’t be lot of learning, but I still feel I have a lot of things to figure out before committing into something that will take a massive concerted effort over a long period of time. Before that, I want to read a lot more books, visit more places, figure out myself and life. I don’t even feel like I am stalling. I feel like the insight I have right now is guiding me to take this path of waiting  a little while. I already have my writing, I already have my work, and for now, at least for next 18 months, that is enough.

Overall Income Goals

Over the next 18 months, my goal is to simply add another thousand bucks to my monthly income.

In Short:

  • Add $1000 / month to income
  • Get one raise over next 18 months
  • Add steady 10 hours / week of oDesk work
  • Work your SEO site to earning 500 bucks a month
  • Start reading 2 hours a day every day (kinda indirectly related to this and didn’t really fit anywhere else)

Social Life

In my goals for 2014 I set out for this year to be focused on Becoming Social aspect of Becoming Awesome. It has come true a little bit but not much to be honest. I am more social creature now than I was 7 months ago, but by any standards I consider myself introverted – however people I’ve met up with for the most part have started to reject the notion that I am shy, so I guess I have to conclude I am making some progress in it.

Truth is though that I have almost no social life to speak of. On my Facebook I have about 30 friends and you know how much of a “friends” the people you have added there are. So really the people I stay contact with are just a handful and really close I am with even smaller subset of them.

Frankly I think that’s something that’s gonna stay like that. As anyone who has known or followed me for a longer time can attest to, I am a bit “out there” personality wise. So it is definitely rare the kind of personalities that match with me enough to sustain long-time friendship or anything else. Also I feel like I have very limited bandwidth to keep up and sustain much bigger social circle anyway. Years of being a recluse and increased work output have made my ability to be social very limited.

However since I am devoting a one whole segment of this post for social life it obviously is an important thing for me and an area where I seek improvement.

At the same time it is the kind of thing that it is hard for me to put easily quantifiable goals down. Income isn’t all numbers either, but adding thousand bucks to your income is much more useful goal than “getting 10 new friends.” So I obviously won’t be using numbers on this one.

One thing is clear for me when it comes to my social life and relationships – I am looking to retain my freedom. After my messy break-up I realized I am in a phase of my life where any commitment is just a premature burden. That doesn’t mean I am not looking for love, bond and connection, just that I am not willing to give up my freedom for them. I’ve always considered freedom one of my biggest values in life, and giving up a little bit of it for my former commitment to my ex was always a point of internal conflict for me.

Going Beyond Normal

As I previously stated, meeting up with people (mostly from online) over the recent months I’ve gotten a lot of feedback that I am not shy, and that I am normal. So there goes the premise of my whole blog, right? Nah. I am still by my natural inclinations an anti-social person and there’s lot of holes in my inter-personal skills that I can kinda cover when chatting with someone one-on-one, but that would expose themselves over a longer interaction. But that’s besides the point – for sake of argument, let’s say that I have moved from a place of creepy anti-social weirdo to some sphere of being “normal” socially. Of course with everyone being more socially crippled these days than just couple of decades ago, me just being able to hold eye contact and being able to talk normally constitutes normal these days – whereas compared to a higher standard I’d still be very mediocre.

Being called normal is nice for sure after 26 years of being an outcast (or at least perceiving world like that), but I am looking to move beyond just normal. Is next 18 months enough of a time frame to complete that? I’d say its not easy, but it is definitely possible if I push myself.

What does going beyond normal mean for me? Well as opposed to just coping with social situations, I’d like to thrive in them. I’d like to learn to enjoy conversing with strangers, to be comfortable with initiating conversation.

I’d like to reach a point where after some unwinding (we all need that) I am comfortable expressing myself even in social gatherings where I don’t know everyone, even in front of big groups (as said, one-on-one I am actually alright nowadays, but in groups I fade away). I want to be able to assert myself and be able to influence people just with my presence.

We all have an ideal self inside of us, a mental projection of awesomeness. In lot of ways, this is about moving towards that ideal for me.

Online Contact

I pretty much exclusively use online means to make new friends. It has worked for me great, I have to say. I met my ex through online (yes, ultimately it ended bad but I thank my ex for a lot of what is good in my life today), and have met up numerous other people, some of it I’ve become very close with. Indeed there’s a handful of people I am already quite close with even though I haven’t met them. I love having connections like this, and my experience online has been almost solely positive. But there has been some unpleasant moments as well, where I’ve been led on cause lets face it – its easy to pretend to be something you’re not online. I’ve come across some posers.

I am not going to stop leveraging the connectivity of the internet to make friends all over the globe, but I am looking to stop using it as a primary means of communication. I’ve already proved through numerous meet-ups with people I originally contacted online that I can be likable and “normal” as stated in even face-to-face social situations, even in cases where the other person doesn’t know much of me.

I can push through the barriers of shyness in these cases. Another process I have down is just being able to talk and do videos in public places – so I have the processes down to make even richer social experience possible – all it is lacking now is drilling the new habit in, working those new neural pathways into my brain and literally rewiring myself to be able to do that with just anyone, not just when I am talking to a camera or a person I just met from online.

Now of course, just like making videos and meeting friends from online, this is something that requires practice. During my first online meetups I was visibly shaking and nervous. Now I can be quite normal right away and usually within short time I am fully able to express my crazy personality. During my first videos I just blathered something incoherent, more pre-occupied with people watching me than being able to focus to task at hand. Now I’d say I’m pretty good at remaining focused and not giving much of a shit what people around think of me. Similarly, now I am barely able to talk to a stranger, but if I force myself go through repetition I will become able to do it.

Where I am now I naturally can’t practice it a lot, so that’s something that’s mostly going to be reserved for my travels and eventually for my move away. Over 18-month period I want to have this down though.

Quality Over Quantity

Now once I have the above habit down, I am not just limited by the number of people from online I get to meet me, I can just walk up to any stranger and start talking to them. Though I have build good friendships and more through online communication, fact of the matter is that unless there’s physical meet up involved any online friendship is just like having imaginary friends. In real face-to-face talks are where the deep bonds are made so this shift is naturally positive in that regard.

It doesn’t help though if I creep out and put off people, but as we’ve established there’s proof that people don’t react to me negatively. However I am sure there’s still plenty of times ahead of me where I creep people out. You cant undo 26 years of social crippledness in matter of months.

Quality is hard to assess though, especially when it comes to something like social connections. Is it that I make people enjoy my company? Well, that’s some part of it for sure. If I improve their lives? Well that’s something I totally want to do for sure. I can’t quite put my finger on it – but I want to develop a mindset where I am focused on giving value to people and just able to express myself more and more fully, with less pretense. Not everyone will like what I am once I take the mask off completely, in fact some people will for sure hate me… perhaps even majority. But strong reactions from people to me is just a sign that I have moved closer to that real, unfiltered expression of my true self.

Emotional Balance

I am a pretty happy dude nowadays, but close human relations is the final frontier where anyone’s emotional balance is put to the test. When someone else is having a bad day and they take it out on you, it’s a good litmus test for your own calmness. Being able to just remain good moods yourself is a challenge, let alone helping picking up that someone.

Life will throw shit at your face and dealing with people is good training for that stuff. From every friendship I mess up because I freak out over nothing or lose my cool, I learn something and take it to make the next thing better.

What I am going to here is that I want to keep healing the past scars that still affect me. Everyone of us have been damaged somehow. We all carry pain from the past that makes us act up, and it is healing that that I am looking for. I want to make peace with my demons. All this rosy language is meant to just say that I want to keep stripping away the things that make me unhappy. I will probably write in the future about how I believe that being happy is the default state that happens when there’s nothing making you unhappy. So ultimately in my social life I want to reach a point that nothing gets me down. It is not something that’s gonna happen in 18 months, but I believe that’s something I can improve upon significantly over this period of time. I want to become mentally strong even when other people fail to be.

One measure of becoming stronger and finding balance for me will be finally burying the ghost of my ex from my mind. Will it happen through simply forgetting her and completely moving on, or can I make a peace with the situation somehow? I do not know yet.

Wrapping it all together

So what exactly am I trying to achieve? All that heady theorizing aside, what are the things that are actually actionable over next 18-months. Well, definitely starting to approach people once I reach over Thailand for my next trip (yeah, it’s already booked and ready to happen, I won’t be staying home for too long). I have learned a lot from my Brazil trip on how to streamline my processes to hit the ground running when it comes to being social – lot of it is momentum and in my trip to Brazil & Turkey I felt I got all the momentum all too late. I will talk about that later, that’s for sure.

Aside approaching people, I will look to keep making friends online but to lesser extent than before. I have limited time as it is to keep contact with my existing friends so to keep adding to it is difficult. However I’d like to have people to Skype with to kinda keep my social groove going – here at home my lifestyle is such that I don’t really talk to people much, which causes me to atrophy in my social skills whenever I am not traveling. Just to slow that down, Skype is an useful tool, especially if I can find new people to talk to over there. That’s always better in terms of my goals, cause talking to a new person is always a bit more challenging than to someone I already know well.

I’d also like to learn Portuguese. Yeah it’s not a social goal as such but since it didn’t fit under the other two really, it will go under here. I learned a minuscule amount before and during my Brazil trip, but enough that I feel inclined to keep building on it and learning it properly. Will Brazil be the destination of my long term move… Who knows, but adding languages to your repertoire is never a bad idea.

Becoming Social was my main focus for this year, and while that didn’t exactly come true, it is still a major focus of my next 18-months – it’s not as if my income is going to skyrocket or my physique going to shift massively – no, the biggest gains I am looking to have in this area.

In Short

  • Approach people when abroad and get used to talking to strangers
  • Look to express yourself with less barriers, more freely. Knock people off the fence so that they either like you a lot or hate you.
  • Learn Portuguese at least to such extent you can have basic conversations.
  • Retain your freedom by not committing into anything yet.
  • Become calmer, kinder, less judgmental – generally just keep ironing out the personality flaws.
  • Get a social circle of friends wherever my journey takes me next. Retain and deepen the existing friendships.

In Conclusion

Whoa, I turned this into the War & Peace of goal-setting posts. 4.5 thousand words! If someone is still reading at this point, please let me know in the comments. If someone really cared that much, I thank you. Lot of this was, as I said, just personal realigning and not necessarily something that I should publicly declare, but hey, it usually acts as sort of a good-luck charm.

Now I have plenty of goals to go for over the next 18 months. Every day from now on I will be looking to work towards these goals – if not all of them at any given day, at least a good number of them, and within every week there should be numerous actions taken towards bettering every one of them.

It’s a mix of simple goals and harder-to-reach goals. A mix of easily quantifiable goals and those that are harder to quantify. Nonetheless, I feel like these are the things that right now matter to me most and the ones that I am best equipped to move toward right now.

18-month Plans & Digital Cleanse

I am back from my long trip. In the end I didn’t just spend 37 days in Brazil, but also extended the trip with a 14 day stay in Istanbul. So in total, I spent over 50 days away from home.

It naturally affected my blog activity, for I didn’t have much time to post on here.

Now I am going to focus on blog and everything else useful on much more intense focus, for I am also starting a digital cleanse. I talk about this in my newest video:

I don’t remember where I picked up that 18 months thing, but it makes perfect sense. I definitely need a re-evaluation of my mid-term goals – After all, the goals I set for the year were pretty much thrown out of the window as soon as my Malaysia move fell through. Also my sense of consciousness was definitely shifted after 51 days abroad, in 2 countries, 6 cities and on 3 continents (Istanbul is partly in Europe and partly in Asia).

Anyway as I was waiting for the new video to upload I watched some of my other videos I created, there’s some of my best shit coming up – watch out for it :) I am not the kind of guy who generally gets too excited about my own stuff, I am usually more self-critical, but I think at least one of the videos I created really hits the target for once.

If you have any own experiences about digital cleanse or making 18-month plans, let me know in the comments!

Expanding Your Comfort Zone: Jumping into the Deep End vs.

Waddup freaks! It’s your favorite weirdo writing today from Goiânia in Brazil, some way off the beaten path. I shot a video this morning following a discussion with a friend of mine about growth and what approach should you take to it.

Her approach was more based on doing a little bit every day, slowly stretching the limits of what she was capable of, whereas she perceived my approach to be more “jumping into the deep end”, just doing really challenging stuff like travelling to the far ends of the end, etc.

After pondering about it for a while, I decided to do a video about my conclusions. Check it out below:

I can definitely say that I have plenty to improve in my expression, but at the same time I feel like I’m improving. Anyway here’s what I was trying to communicate:

Your comfort zone is like the intensity you can grow at, like I said in the video, going far out of your comfort zone is like doing an intense workout. But doing a single intense workout won’t make you jacked – it takes a long time of consistent effort to be able to achieve that. Once you get used to more intense workouts though, your potential increases immediately. It’s the same concept, just applied on a grander scale.

So obviously wise approach is to consistently push yourself, and always be leaning to the edges of your comfort zone. If you can handle jumping to the deep end every now and then, that can can then fuel even further expansion of that comfort zone, especially once it becomes hard to push that comfort zone in your regular day-to-day life. The growth itself, on the other hand, doesn’t happen linearly at all. Just like in working out you can actually get weaker in the short term despite pushing yourself, or plateau for a long time, you improving yourself and your life overall won’t happen linearly in a straight upward slope.

That’s why you have to focus on the process. Push yourself and trust that eventually results will come. Be more concerned on how well you are spending your time, rather than the actual results you’re getting. And of course, be happy of small victories, like I was today for getting out and doing that video (it actually still isn’t easy at all).

Hope that makes any sense, I’ll get back to you soon :)

Brazil Preparation Challenge

In case I haven’t made it publicly obvious enough on here, I am headed to Brazil on June 9th for the World Cup. This is something I’ve been talking a lot in multiple posts, but now the talk is actually becoming reality. It is going to be my most intense trip yet, so it calls for some preparation, not just in terms of booking flights and tickets and stuff – I need to also have my routines razor sharp to be able to pull the trip off with honors.

Working Vacation

I guess the first thing to note regarding Brazil is that I will have to be able to retain my industry in terms of working through the whole trip. I am allowed have some slight dips, but nothing more than that. I know already from my trips to Malaysia and Hong Kong that this is extremely hard equation while traveling. So I have to do my best to have everything ready and drilled while things are still easy back home. Here I don’t need to figure out logistics every day, here I don’t have anything unpredictable going on, here practically it’s just a matter of putting in the hours. So if I can’t do it with absolute perfection here, what hope do I have far away from home where logistics might be completely against me?

Another thing is that I need to start getting used to doing the things I will be doing in Brazil – in other words, getting out and creating some videos. Cause that’s exactly what I plan to do in Brazil. As usual when traveling, I don’t want to waste the chance without getting some videoblogs done. This is something I was really unhappy about in Hong Kong and Malaysia, and to an extent in my Lapland trip as well. All of those resulted in just one video, which is better than nothing, but certainly in hindsight I wish I would have done more.

I’m not gonna go all out either like in Japan and make a video everyday, but I’d like to be working on my videos on most days. Now I probably do shorter form shooting – in other words, have longer videos pre-planned, and then shoot just one segment per day for that video. I might not even cut anything in Brazil, certainly sounds a bad idea to me to be doing a lot of video editing while I could be enjoying a new country, especially given how much work I’m already doing daily.

If I decide to do some videos where I talk more about the trip itself rather than about my life philosophy etc like in most of my videos, then I might slap those together much quicker and indeed upload online there, since it’s more timely content. But if it’s me talking about some higher concept then there’s no reason to overwork myself to get them online before being back home.

Brazil Routine

I’ll explain the routine here in the video:

Now as most of you won’t watch the video (and I’m fine with that since I’m better at writing anyway), I’ll recap most of the content here. Also the vid was made earlier on the week, so now it’s practically only two weeks until Brazil – I’m slow.

Basically I have my day divided up into just three components that I need to complete daily.

Work Component

Basically this is just sitting down at a computer for two stretches of four hours and trying to remain relatively undistracted to get as much work as possible done. Ideally that would be 7-7.5 hours and my daily bit of writing 750 words. If I pull this off, I don’t even need to do work every day of the week, I can have one full day off, or couple of days where this component is halved. Between the two four hour halves I could go eat, do another component, go out, whatever. The idea basically is just that once you sit down, you’re staying there for four hours and whatever you get done, that’s that.

The method behind this madness is quite simple – if I ‘ve noticed anything while working is that having a simple focus is what helps productivity more than any other hack. Just setting a time for four hours and then sitting through it, knowing that it is the time for work-mode, is an effort to override all the over-thinking and procrastinating processes inside you. Four hours as a time span is too long for beginners, but I no longer have the luxury to call myself a beginner, so I go for it – it is not completely overwhelming either that something like ten hours might be.

Besides, all it means is that the timer is running – you don’t actually even have to work for the four hours straight, you can take short breaks during it, as long as the overall focus remains and you still get reasonable  amount of work done. Three hours of work out of four hours of it is absolute minimum, though.

Physical Fitness Component

You know how nazi I am about this stuff, and for a good reason – when I drop off my routine, I drop off badly, so I can’t afford to let myself get there. My intention is to keep working out through Brazil, and simplest way to do that is to lump your physical activities together and do them at once. So starting with my typical 30 minutes of stretching (or doing 15 mins in the beginning and 15 minutes as a cool down)  and then working out just makes sense. Now I would imagine I have no problems with playing football in Brazil, so I at least have one easy access form of working out – then again, I’m a huge proponent of bodyweight methods so pretty much my full range will be available for me at any place.

Video Blog Component

Lastly there’s the part of the day that defines how much I output into this blog. Practically in Brazil this means that I  strap up my camera and tripod with me and head out to visit some place that would offer me a scenic shot and then do the bit that I have prepared for that day. This might just smoothly and naturally integrate with rest of my trip while in Brazil, but I want to have the habit of creating videos already formed here so that it will be automatic when I arrive in Brazil. You don’t want to start overthinking things when you are having crowds around you – better get the process down well here where its quiet.

Ideally I want to shoot such short segments that I can have pretty much everything I want to say in my head at once. Either that, or just shoot the kind of video blogs where I talk about the trip freely, where it doesn’t matter that much what I blather. My aim for Brazil is to make 2-3 videos where I talk about the approaches I have to life and then perhaps do some videos where I document the trip itself more. I am not yet decided on how I go about with that, but that’s largely irrelevant now. Now matters that I have the right habits down.

Simple System, Simple Usage

As you can see I didn’t devise anything very complicated for myself. That’s cause the older I get, the more I realize that it’s the simple stuff that actually brings the results. There’s always a temptation to think that getting a lot done is something you achieve by complicated systems, but no, you really achieve it with very simple systems and then just retaining consistency. Retaining it when handling with the chaos of life.

This was all thought with the consistency in mind, and making remaining consistent as easy as possible. It’s made so that I can stay on top of my things with just using my simple mind, and not needing using any complex productivity tools like my Universal Awesomeness Score for instance is. I will of course keep tracking that throughout the trip, but partially this simple system exists to make that easy as well – cause everything is made into very clear, consistent blocks of work, applying them to my system at the end of the day will be easy.

The hard part, like with any system, is actually applying it and following through. That’s what the next four weeks before Brazil will be about. If you go through my blog you will find a TON of failed systems I’ve devised for myself. Some of those sucked, some of those were okay, but on most of those I had no follow through. Now there’s the emotional leverage though – I can’t afford to fail. This trip has already required massive investment both in terms of effort and finances. So I am not about to let it drip through my fingers without getting the best out of it. I need to be well drilled ahead of it.

Finally let’s talk about priority of all the different components. It is very simple actually:

1. Physical Fitness Component

2. Work Component (at least one half of it)

3. Video Blog Component

Even if a day is full of stuff, logistics don’t work, something else goes wrong – I can always go do my workout, if nothing else then running. Hell even if I get jailed I can still do push-ups and handstand holds in the jail cell, among other things. And even if I’m lacking time, I still should always strive to get at least one half of the work done. The video blog is not absolutely necessary so if things go a little wrong or if I’m just a bit slow during the day, that is easy to drop to save some time.

Ideally all components should be completed, but I’d guesstimate this is about 11-12 hours of time investment every day to complete all three. While traveling in a foreign country, accounting for wandering around, getting lost, figuring directions, etc. etc. etc. it is impossible to get all of that done every day, even if you take no rest and just blast away all day.

In the end I won’t absolutely have to complete 40 hours of work every week either – if I get to 30 every week things won’t be disastrous either then. Finally the actual order of doing this stuff will vary a lot, but usually if I know I surely have the time to do everything, I’d start with the work.

So anyway, thanks for sitting through another War & Peace of Blog Posts, nearly 2000 words again (is it just me or is my average blog post getting considerably longer than it used to be?), I’ll head out to completing my “components” for the first time.

Drop me a comment below! Also share the post if you liked it, I’m not promoting my blog at all so if it’s gonna spread it has to happen through word of mouth.

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