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

IMG_7859So 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.

Seeing as I’m unemployed and live at home, I opted for moving out. The fact that I want to travel, and the fact that I want to live somewhere warm and sunny, and the fact that I have a very limited budget, lead me to buy a one way ticket to Thailand, where after budget travelling for maybe two weeks (all the while keeping up with my writing) I will settle in Chiang Mai for a month. If I don’t make any money, I will run out some time during the second month, and so I will have no choice but to step up and get er done.

That’s why I think living at home can be dangerous. It’s given me a sense that I have all the time in the world “to figure things out”, and it has been negatively influencing my social life and even how I feel about myself. Feeling the pressure of a deadline proved to be the cure for my minor breakdown, along with, of course, some help from my friends.

29 days from now I have a one way ticket to Bangkok Thailand.

But it’s not like I have accepted a job offer and will be staying in Bangkok for a long period of time. And it’s not exactly travelling for leisure either.

It’ a gamble.

After I go to Thailand, travel around for a bit see some sights, I’m going to be living in Chiang Mai. Then after about two months, my next stop is the Philippines, where I’ll be staying mostly in Davao.

I’m wagering my small budget, and this entire year that I’ll not only be able to make a living while “semi-on-the-road” but that I’ll enjoy it enough to keep doing it.

I only have about a 2000$ budget and I’m done taking my parents’ money.  I’ve gotten my first freelance writing clients, and although I had a not-so-minor set back this month, I’m wagering that I’ll be able to make ends meet by the end of my first month abroad.

I’ve got 59 days to go from 100-400 dollars a month to over 1000$ a month of online income.

That’s what an unavoidable deadline looks like (apart from the travel plans).

Get Back In The Saddle, Remember What You Do At Your Very Best

When you fall out of your routine the worst thing you can do is to let this escalate in to a seizing of effort. To use it as an excuse to stop trying. I talked about this in my past post, but I didn’t implement properly.

Now I’m reviewing my past efforts and focusing on my very best times. Remembering what I did differently, and how it affected me. So it’s back to the handwritten checklists for me. It forces me to get a minimal level of time management into my daily routine, and that is enough to instigate a lot more effort.

I just checked off my first item in a while, and it feels great.

I also remembered that I announced my week of superhuman productivity here on this blog, at length, and it actually became the most productive week I’d have. Maybe I should just announce that every week is a week of superhuman productivity. But I suspect it would lose it’s efficiency fast.

Instead I’m announcing my first eBook: “How To Find Your First Freelance Writing Client, Even If You’re Clueless, Lost And Overwhelmed”, where I’ll get more specific about how I got my first client,  the process leading up to it and how you can replicate my efforts more effectively. I’m aiming to address the concerns I had when getting into it, effectively producing a piece of work that will help similar people overcome the same obstacles more quickly than I did. But also any concerns you might have about the subject, so feel free to ask me any questions you’d love to see answered.

As it stands, I plan to release the eBook in 28 days, the day before I fly to Thailand, and this will add another layer of accountability. My accountability to you, the reader, to do a good enough job that I have something valuable to teach you in the pages of my eBook.

Only Tell People Who Understand Your Goal And Believe In You

When you’re trying to accomplish something, the last thing you should do is add a barrier of  shame or self-doubt because of how your friends react. I’ve deliberately been selective with who I’ve told, and instead of people who’ve learned to expect the worst from me, I’ve told my accountability buddy and declared it to the great online community over at Fizzle and one friend. No Facebook status. No mass texts. No drunken bragging.

Not to mention that just aimlessly talking about your goal can make you less likely to follow through. You have to be conscious and deliberate with this.

Also positive reinforcement has been proven to be a much more effective catalyst than negative, so if you can continue to progress and tell people who actually give a shit, you’re giving yourself a better fighting chance. At least that’s what the research seems to suggest.

Remind Yourself WHY You’re Doing It And Where You’re Headed On Your To Do List

This is an interesting idea that was introduced to me by Chase Reeves over at Fizzle (A great learning resource and a great community all in one.) Instead of just writing down items as they are, he suggests that you use a short acronym that describes WHY you’re doing it. So for me I’ve started marking tasks with “LI” for location independence. So most of my to do list items right now look like “LI finish draft”.

Also, above the list instead of “To do list” it says “LOCATION INDEPENDENCE BY APRIL 2014!” At the very least, it makes me smile and helps me escape negativity and self-doubt when I’m not feeling 100% but need to get started.

To me this is an exercise to help put things into perspective. There’s nothing exciting about sitting down for the extra half hour and getting your daily word count. But when you set up a system that actively reminds yourself what it’s contributing towards it gets a bit less difficult.

Should You Have A Plan B?

Maybe you should. At the surface level it seems like a no brainer. Of course I should line up further studies that I can accept if nothing works out. Or line up a job. My worry is that this will undermine my determination to go through with this wholeheartedly, and make me focus on my doubts, setting myself up for failure.

Right now I’m leaning towards no Plan B, but I have the freedom to do so only because I’m still young and not struggling with heavy debts. If your life situation is different from mine, I urge you to adapt accordingly and put a plan B in place.

Maybe I will change my mind and put in some applications for a marketing degree at a minor University before I leave and leave it at that. There’s something a little unsettling about putting all your eggs in one basket. I would love to hear some thoughts on this.

More on this later.

Anyhow, I’m leaving in 29 days.

I have 30 days to get things in order after that.

If nothing else, I can promise you that things are going to get interesting around here!

Picture credit: Ben Watts

11 Responses

  1. Micah February 20, 2014 / 12:03 pm

    Oh man can I relate. I suffer with nondeadlinitis all the time. Along with no-urgency syndrome. I’ve been reading Stephen King’s book, On Writing, that is delivering a pretty savage but much needed butt kicking to my ego right now on the need to simply choose to commit, no excuses. But the point you make about non-negotiable deadlines and, in particular, only telling people who’ll understand and who believe in you, I think, is the biggest deal. Doing something that’s a little outside of convention is by it’s very nature unsafe and can make some people respond by trying to shout you down from your goal. Not helpful. A lesson I’ve learned the hard way.

    Gotta say I’m pretty excited about your bold move to Thailand. I hope you’ll be blogging about your travels and the culture. I love oriental culture (a visit to Hong Kong a couple years ago and I fell in love).

  2. Aljoscha Laschgari February 20, 2014 / 8:37 pm

    Bold move! Make your experience. It will be valuable in any case!

  3. Jeremy February 21, 2014 / 3:21 am

    Shit, I wrote such a long ass comment and I accidentally hit back… Gonna try and remember what I said.

    Ragnar, I admire your courage man! I can tell you’re really stretching yourself out of your comfort zone. I think you are going to go far.

    How’s it over at Fizzle by the way? Looks pretty impressive man, I first heard about it from Scott Dinsmore over at Live Your Legend. I’m currently over at Wealthy Affiliate, but pretty inactive right now, because I decided after a few months that I wanted to use whatever fundamentals I learnt over there to build my personal blog instead. I just felt like the money can wait. I’m aiming to eventually earn online though.

    I’m pretty much for having no Plan Bs. Like Will Smith says, “there’s no reason to have a Plan B because it distracts from a Plan A.” Just like how you described it. But then again, this isn’t always possible. I would say you’re one of the lucky few who are this wise to take advantage of your young age to go all out for your plan A. Average people at our age still think they have many years ahead of them to “figure things out”.

    I think the best people to tell your goals to are people who genuinely want to see you succeed. People who support you and encourage you, and best of all, people who NAG at you when you’re procrastinating and make you feel terrible for not doing what you SAY you will do. Heh.

    My first comment here man. Looking forward to seeing more of what you’re up to. Best of luck with your ebook and much success to you! :)

    Jeremy

    • Ragnar Miljeteig February 21, 2014 / 2:07 pm

      I do that from time to time so I know how annoying that can be man! I just figured that if I’m going to figure things out, it’s best that I spend that same time also learning some valuable skills. Like self-discipline, time management, writing, how to market yourself, building good looking websites, getting better at learning new things and if I went for a retail job which is literally the height of a job I can get without a considerably amount of dedication and effort, I would have to do all of that outside of work. With freelance or independent work if you want to succeed you have to learn a number of skills that will serve you for life if you do it right.

      One of my long term goals is to become so used to doing what I say I will do, that saying I will do something is enough without the accountability and help of others. Right now it’s unrealistic, so I’m acknowledging that and taking the help I can get. Positive reinforcement is better than negative reinforcement so I’d say yes you want to feel bad when you’re not doing what you told them you would, but not necessarily because they’re giving you a hard time. But because you like and respect them, and you know that they expect better from you. While on the other hand you need someone who’s not afraid to set you straight when you’ve gone too far and you’re underperforming and sabotaging your long term success. But not in a generic way like “You need to step up!” More in a “What are possible barriers that are keeping you from performing your best?” And having a constructive discussion that way. I’ve been lucky in that my accountability partner is a seasoned coach, and so he checks out all across the board.

      • Jeremy February 21, 2014 / 4:10 pm

        I never really thought hard about what you say on accountability, but I really like your approach. Especially the part on feeling bad BECAUSE you respect them and you don’t want to disappoint both yourself and that person you so look up to.

        “One of my long term goals is to become so used to doing what I say I will do, that saying I will do something is enough without the accountability and help of others.” ==> I was right about you man! Most people will never search deep enough of themselves to know and realise that they might not be able to do this alone.

      • Harry February 25, 2014 / 10:33 pm

        Thanks Ragnar,

        Good post, I’ll take “seasoned” as a complement!

        Looking forward to the follow up.

        Harry

  4. jamie flexman February 28, 2014 / 1:49 pm

    Pretty inspiring stuff here! Great article.

    You’ll find that because you’ve already committed to the decision, you’ll grow into your situation. You’ll find a way to make it happen. When we remove all elements of doubt, that’s when the good stuff happens.

    I have 11 weeks to my new goal of moving back out to a 1 bedroom apartment with just the money I make from guitar lessons and online. Scary stuff.. but it’s possible.

    You don’t need good luck – you’ll be fine! :-)

    • Ragnar Miljeteig March 3, 2014 / 8:52 am

      It’s definitely possible man, you just gotta believe! Haha. I’m starting to think that it won’t become a reality until I’ve left the country and the countdown begins. That’s the period that will make or break the idea of a “new and improved” me. If I rise to the challenge, which feels likely at the moment, I will be able to make my own opportunities in the future.

      Thanks for the encouragement man, and I feel the same way about your endeavor! Forget the luck, you’ll make it man!

  5. Ludvig Sunström March 3, 2014 / 8:00 am

    BURN THE SHIPS!

    Well done Ragnar. That took some serious balls. I wish you the best for 2014!

    Will you be staying with anyone else over there? Or have you planned to meet/apprentice for a fellow blogger or online entrepreneur?

    Kevin Cole & Vincent Nguyen might be good guys to see, if you have the chance.

    • Ragnar Miljeteig March 3, 2014 / 8:47 am

      Yeah I’m going to be meeting both of them at some point during my trip. If I’ll be apprenticing for an established entrepreneur that will be out of necessity, or if I meet one in person and things just end up that way. Which is totally possible, as many do work that inspires me and makes me want to get involved. Otherwise I’m prepared to do the work required on both ends of the spectrum for myself. Making money, and saving as much as possible until my income gets up. I do have a bit of a cushion thanks to my upper-middle classness, but ideally that’s to be left completely alone.

  6. Steve March 4, 2014 / 4:25 pm

    Way to go. Thailand is awesome, I was there a few years ago and just loved it. I didn’t stay in Chiang Mai for very long though, but it’s a cool place.

    This kind of reminds me of the story of the Spanish when they went to South America. When they arrived, one of the generals burned down the ships. Then they only had two options: success or failure. It’s definitely a big motivator.

    Although I like your approach more. You have committed yourself to this project and getting yourself going, but you still have an escape route if you truly need it. I wouldn’t necessarily call what you’re doing a gamble since that implies you’ll be ruined if things don’t work out. I’d say it’s more like a risk.

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