Escaping Your Own Escapism

beach Escaping Your Own EscapismYou’re staring out at the beach, lounging in the sun and doing nothing, feeling no pressure and completely at peace. For a moment, you might consider what to do later in the day, or tomorrow, but it’s a fleeting thought. Seconds become minutes. Minutes become hours.

Then you might head out for just one drink with some friends you’ve met along the way.

And before you know it, you’ve completely forgotten that you were supposed to actually do some work when you were out here.

At least that’s what I’m going through right now. My first mistake was probably starting in a super busy and touristey place like Bangkok, and then transitioning to super laid-back Koh lanta. The second mistake was likely actively making friends with people who are just here to have a good time.

Nothing is permanent though and I have a few ideas for how to diligently get back in the saddle and start hustling properly again. It helps to be sunburned as you have an incentive to get on the computer, but still, breaking out of vacation mode is surprisingly hard, even though I hadn’t really planned it out as a pure vacation.

It’s interesting because when I take the time to slow down and do some work, there’s nothing inherently worse about the work than lazing at the beach. In a sense it is much more rewarding, but I guess I have idolized the beach life for a long time due to growing up in a rainy town in Norway.

The Great Escape From The Great Escapism

To make staying in work-mode easier, I want to spend time in a place where there’s more of a trend of long-term staying, less beach lounging and the possibility of making friends that are good influences when it comes to work habits. So in a little over a week, I’ll be heading over to Chiang Mai, a known haven for digital nomads and freelancers, and likely stay there for most of the remaining 5 weeks I have left in Thailand. Finding an affordable apartment for a very short stay has proven more difficult than I thought, so if I end up finding a good one, I’ll share all the steps and details in a later post.

Initially I’m going to add a little more structure and be more insistent on getting at least a few hours of work in every day. In the spirit of my earlier experiment, I’m going to set up the initial to-do-list right now, so I don’t end up postponing it.

I’ve already burned into my savings more than I’d like, but we’ll see if I’m able to counterbalance with some extra income over the coming weeks and months.

When Coincidence Seems To Conspire Against You

Sound familiar?

You’ve been planning something for a long time. You’re right at the edge where it’s absolutely crucial that you’re at 100%. Where faltering for a moment can start an unstoppable avalanche of crap you’ll need to deal with in the near future.

Maybe you’d be working towards a promotion, and you get a serious case of the flue and you’re unable to show up for work in the last crucial week. Or you get a bad cold before a speech contest, your cough effectively rendering you unable to compete. Or maybe just before you leave for a long, awesome trip, you get a 1 in 10,000 reaction to a cholera vaccine.

Does that last example sound a little specific? That’s simply because… that’s happening to me right now. Yesterday was a pretty good day. I was feeling unusually energetic, I got to talk to some friends for an extended period of time, and I made some significant progress.  But as I’m typing this, I’m having to struggle to maintain focus. Abdominal pain, nausea, a throbbing headache, complete absence of energy, the distraction of not being able to trust my bowels.

In the past I would take this as a sign. As a reminder of or as an indicator of a larger, downward trend. But not today.

Coincidences happen. Like my friend Vincent reminded me a few weeks back, we simply can’t control everything. But what I can do, what we can all do, is choose how we react to said coincidences.

I am going to interpret my “misfortune” simply as the first of many hurdles to overcome over the course of an UPWARD trend in my life. It would be meaningless to worry about why I took the vaccine in the past. I can honestly say that if this is only showing some milder symptoms of cholera, it’s more than worth it if it helps reduce my chances of getting afflicted when I’m traveling. Hopefully this means that I traded a miserable couple of days while travelling, for some uncomfortable days before liftoff. I will probably enjoy myself more because I was sick before I left. And hey, maybe my inability to properly absorb food means I’ll lose some weight before I leave. Could be worse right?

Haha.

I didn’t write this to get your pity or even solidarity(although the latter would be appreciated), I just wanted to give an example that shows that it is possible to escape a negative mindset. To overcome the sort of victim mentality that stops you from taking risks and doing what you want or even need to do.

Don’t invent a fate for yourself just to give into it. Most of the time it’s just a collection of unfortunate coincidences.

Good health to you all!

Regarding last week’s experiment, my main insight is this: It’s not really rigid enough to propel a relatively undisciplined person to do all the work required within a specific time frame. BUT. It is a great framework for getting more productive things done in your free time. For example, one of the things I consistently dream of is being more organized. And with that shift in mindset, I was propelled to actually take steps to become more organized. Writing detailed to-do-lists, putting ideas into specific notes in Evernote, focusing on habits to solidify a familiar routine.

But if you want to avoid confusion and wasting your time on things you won’t commit to in the long term, getting clear on what’s important and what’s not important to you in the immediate future. It works best if there’s something that you continually think you should be doing, and you use equivalent amounts of mental energy for postponing said thing, as you would to simply go ahead and get it out of your head.

 

 

No More Dreaming – A Mindful Approach To Becoming A Doer (And A Challenge For You)

mindfulproductivity No More Dreaming   A Mindful Approach To Becoming A Doer (And A Challenge For You)Our imagination is like a drug with very inconsistent results. Sometimes it can lead us to great inspiration. To doing great things, or it can remind us of the beauty in life.

It can lead to an amazing insight that completely changes our lives, and the lives of the people around us.

Other times it can lead to feeling overwhelmed. Despairing despite nothing having actually happened. Despite not having tried yet.

Like when you need to get something done, but the fear of failing keeps you from getting started.

When it’s easier to plan every step of the way and dream about success than actually sit down and work through the to-do-list and get there.

It’s easy to get stuck in the planning stage, and then ultimately give up on something.

In the lives of the caveman, this was undoubtedly a lifesaver. Back then taking chances and risks, trying new things, meant putting your ass on the line. Your very life in the balance every single time. So having processing and planning as a default was probably a great thing. And in many ways it still is. But at other times, it’s a huge obstacle to making progress. To just getting shit done.

I used to be a thinker. A dreamer. I have had a strong tendency to space out thinking about doing something when I was supposed to be doing something, or what things will be like after doing something consistently for a while. Like dreaming about being able to play the piano well by ear. Or being able to make a comfortable living from freelance writing when I’m supposed to be pitching and writing.

So in order to combat the tendency I’ve had in the past, I’m testing if just acknowledging that it exists, and taking a second to remind myself to be present is enough to make a considerable change to my level of productivity.

For the next 7 days, whenever I find myself drifting, or thinking about the past or future, I will refocus on thinking about what I can do RIGHT NOW to achieve the desired result. And then I will do it.

  • If I find myself dreaming of becoming in better shape, I will go work out, or maybe prepare some healthy meals in advance to avoid defaulting to something unhealthy.
  • If I find myself dreaming of becoming more productive, I will knock some items off my to-do-list.
  • If I find myself dreaming of meeting new people, I will go meet new people, or make unavoidable plans to go meet new people if it’s very late.
  • If I find myself dreaming of becoming a better piano player, I will go practice.
  • If I find myself dreaming of writing a novel, I will start fleshing out one of my ideas.
  • If I find myself dreaming of success in business, I will take the first logical step right then and there.
  • If I find myself dreaming of being happy, I will immediately do something that makes me happy.

I’m basically going to blindly follow my wishes to minimize the time spent on wishing and maximize time spent on doing, and see if that’s a sustainable and effective way to do things. What I’m doing on a daily basis is very much aligned with what I’m dreaming of achieving, so there should be good synergy. But on the flipside, money is a core part of most dreams, so you can spin it around that way if you have a dayjob when you’re daydreaming of getting away from work, or working from home.

And of course, this wouldn’t be complete without a challenge to you. If you’re a dreamer, and you want to become a doer, I want you to try this for 7 days with me, and share your results after you’re done.

An important thing to note is that I will heavily focus on things that I have already decided to focus on. Focus is important if you want to accomplish anything. But in my free time, if I find myself dreaming of something completely different, instead of leaving it at that, I’ll take the first few steps. If you’re undecided on what direction to go over the coming months and you attempt to do this, there might be too many different things, and the logical step in that case, is to map out which ones you actually care the most about.

Ideally the end result will be that I’m a little more action oriented than I was when I started. If it feels worth doing, I will most likely keep it up as a long term effort and take note of shifts in mindset, overall productivity and other relevant things.

If you have something that haunts you. Something you’ve always dreamed of doing. Something that takes up hours of your time every month. Then it’s time to start making it a reality, step by step.

(Or if it’s purely a distraction, take steps to get it out of your head.)

Picture by Caleb Roenigk

How To Light A Fire Under Your Own Ass When You’re Not “Feeling It”. (And 29 Days To Liftoff)

fire How To Light A Fire Under Your Own Ass When Youre Not Feeling It. (And 29 Days To Liftoff)So you’ve set the goal for yourself and you’ve started working towards it.

But most of the time “you’re not feeling it”. It’s not “clicking”.

You do the bare minimum to sense some sort of progress, and to feel good about yourself, and then that’s that.

When you have no deadline, it’s all still an abstract project. And sure, while there’s no real risk of failure or giving up, there is absolutely no sense of urgency. No extra propellant to drive you to go the extra mile.

Let me give you an example from my own life.

When I first started trying to make money online, I had the abstract idea that “some time during 2014″ I wanted to be making at least 1000$ per month. And I’ve got to be honest. It became an excuse. I felt like I had “all the time in the world” and whenever I had a minor success, I felt comfortable just putting my feet up and tapping myself on the shoulder for a job well done.

My parents are too nice and polite to tell me to get my ass in gear, I have to do it myself. And just standing in front of a mirror telling myself “man you need to get your ass in gear” never seemed to do the trick for me. The only thing it invoked was a feeling of guilt.

So here’s what to do instead:

Set An Unavoidable Deadline And Get Specific

Whether it’s a plane ticket, notifying your landlord that you’re going to move out, or telling your boss you’re leaving at a certain date, an unavoidable deadline gives you something tangible to work towards. It also forces you to think pragmatically about how you’re going to make the deadline, helping you eliminate endeavors that won’t be helpful in the short term. Continue reading