This is a journal of my attempt to go from stuck in a 9-5 job to complete career freedom in 18 months. I will be using 3 books as my main inspiration.
25 Principles of Success – Jack Canfield
Refuse to Choose – Barbara Sher
Be a Free Range Human – Marianne Cantwell
These 3 authors have each inspired me to reach for something that right now feels completely out of the realm of possibility but which I desperately want. This blog will be sharing how I put into practice the techniques and tools these authors explain to create the life I’ve always wanted.
I want to be able to have an idea and start work on it without the restraints of a 9-5 job. I want to have the financial freedom to give some kid from the Make a Wish foundation the time of their life. I want to be able to stop sitting on my sofa in the evenings scratching out various sums on the back of an envelope, working out how long it will take to save to buy a house or pay for a holiday. I want to be excited on a Sunday night at the prospect of what may be in store on Monday.
The journey starts now. 22nd May 2017. No matter what my circumstances are I will be posting on 22nd November 2018 to let you know how far I’ve got.
Everyone’s a comedian! Seriously.
Last night I did my first ever stand up slot at an amateur comedy night in London. I’d kept it quiet because I was worried about bombing. I’ve been told that bombing is a crucial part of stand-up, but I’d rather keep the first one to myself.
Thankfully, as it was an amateur night, everyone was very supportive and laughed in the right places, whether they found it funny or not. But it did mean I sat through 3 hours of other people’s amateur comedy too. Just to let you know how dire some of it was, one guy got up who was so drunk he spilled half a pint of beer all over the stage and basically had some weird stream of consciousness going on about hating babies and then got distracted when his ‘one minute left’ signal happened that he started from the beginning and then gave up and walked off stage.
I went on 17th out of 18 acts so you can imagine how tired and if I’m honest, fed up, I was by the time I went on. I even considered leaving half way through the night. After I’d been on I thought to myself ‘Do I really want to spend over an hour traipsing to these venues, sitting for another 2-3 hours through amateur comedy to do 5 minutes on stage, with no guarantee of being successful?’ The answer is a resounding no. BUT! I’m also highly motivated by one of my favourite people on the planet. In several interviews she talks about how she practices and practices and practices..and is asked in this interview for advice on following your dreams. Her answer inspires me. Which is why in just over an hour I will be leaving to pound the streets of London to go to my second open mic night.
Enjoy. (2:24 for the question mentioned above)
Ok, so it’s been a while. I’ve had a lot on my plate. A lot of inedible, tough, bitter things on my plate. But, things are looking up.
I now have a writing buddy who reads some of the stuff I’ve been writing for my book. Technically we’ve been writing buddies since we knew how to write and used to make up stories when we were kids, along with our own secret language. It was so secret that even we didn’t understand it. But now we have a set arrangement of giving each other feedback on our writing so we’re somewhat accountable.
I’ve also started to address something that has been nagging at me for several years. I like to make people laugh. I somehow assigned myself the responsibility of ‘Cheerer-Upper’. My wife and I have been together 7 years and 6 months and even now she will stop me mid sentence and say ‘You know, you don’t have to entertain me, that’s not your job.’ (As her wife, I would think it’s one of my main responsibilities but whatever).
I’m one of those people that is okay in conversation at making people laugh and was sort of the class clown at university last year but when it comes to preparing something in advance, I suck. However ever since I mentioned I might give stand-up a go, people haven’t let up on it so I have signed up to an extremely secret location and date to try my hand.
So for now, comedy is the way forward. At worst, it ticks something off my bucket list. At best, it’s my ticket to freedom.
I’ve been through a real slump lately. It’s hard to keep my energy up, especially when I’m not seeing dramatic results.
HOWEVER, all is not lost. I have learned some things about myself and I think the more self-aware you the more productive you can be. It’s like being a mechanic and trying to fix a car. If you know how the car is built and what it needs you can get it going quicker and more efficiently than if you’ve never seen under the hood of a car and randomly hit things with a spanner hoping it will spring into life.
Lesson 1) I’m ridiculously easy to overwhelm.
Answer: Break things down in to really small chunks. Recognise small achievements. Stop trying to do so much.
Lesson 2) I’m very impatient
Answer: Look to the greats and see how long it took them. Or re-read my post on Patience and Perseverance.
Lesson 3) NO ONE is going to give me ‘permission’ to do the things I want to do.
Answer: Stop waiting for permission and make it happen.
This is what I want to focus on now. So far on my journey a lot of people have said ‘That is not possible/realistic’. Some people are supportive and tell me to go for it. My mentors (via courses/books/websites/blogs) are saying ‘We’ve already done it and so can you!’
I’m thinking it’s possible because they’ve told me and they’ve given me indirect permission to chase dreams. However, whenever I have a new idea I always look to see if it’s been done before and if it hasn’t I mope and bite my bottom lip and wish I had someone to talk to about it.
Tonight, as I got out my car, I was enjoying another mini taste of freedom. I was on my own, was doing what I wanted, when I wanted and how I wanted. Walking back to my flat I felt like my freedom was dissolving around me as I heard the usual neighbours shouting angrily at each other, a baby crying somewhere and music blaring. I started feeling trapped again and worried about the future and when I could finally move to a nicer neighbourhood and be free.
Then something occurred to. I need to STOP asking for permission, even from the people I admire. Just because something hasn’t been done (YET!) doesn’t mean it can’t be done at all. Maybe someone else who tried it didn’t have what I have, maybe the time wasn’t right, the audience wasn’t ready or the resources not available. I realised that in some ways I was holding myself back. This is not a new idea, many other people have thought of it before me. But I am also learning that unless an idea strikes you just right and you learn it for yourself, it doesn’t influence you as much.
I need to STOP:
- asking for permission
- restricting my thinking
- listening to negative people
- thinking I need to be given the green light to even try
- trying to conform to other people’s expectations
- trying to do things the way everyone else does them
Who is anyone else to give me permission to chase my goals?!
For about 7 years I’ve had this urge to write a motivational book. One thing I love to do is encourage people to make the most of their time, talents, skills and life in general. When I was 19, it hit me how short and precious life is and since then I’ve wanted to help other people realise this too and get the most out of their time.
The only problem is, I’m not some legendary motivational speaker with a ton of stories to back up my points. Nor am I particularly successful (yet). I thought to myself, who on earth will listen to somebody like me? Then I realised two things. One, this book idea isn’t going anywhere. It’s like indigestion. I’ll be going about my normal day life and then it rears its head and stops me in my tracks and I have to take note. Two, the author of ‘Think and Grow Rich’, Napoleon Hill, was not a rich or conventionally successful man himself. He simply investigated what successful people did and wrote it down into a book.
Therefore, strand two of my journey to freedom will be this book. My desire for it will be to encourage people, to inspire people and get them excited about their lives. I want to throw in some motivational science and theories I’ve learnt about that will help people propel themselves forward.
So, if you have any stories of what you’ve done to achieve any amount of success or fulfilment in your life, do let me know and I’ll add it to the book. Also, I’ll be using you guys for accountability purposes. I will struggle to finish this book on my own (somewhere I have 8000 words of a book I started about five years ago that I didn’t finish).
New York Best Sellers List, here I come!
So you know the expression ‘taking baby steps’ when you’re just learning how to do something? You don’t expect to take giant leaps, just tiny movements in the right direction. Well now imagine baby steps and throw in a room full of treacle. That’s how slow things are moving at the moment.
Part of me is frustrated as I check the sales reports every day to see nothing sold. Again. Part of me is actually really happy with it. I’m learning lots of new things. Fiverr is coming in really handy. I’ve used it to create all my t-shirt designs and am building up good working relationships, I’ve just had someone send me a market research report telling me more about what kinds of t-shirts people like (maybe I should have done that first!) so I can alter future designs a bit. One of the most exciting things I’ve done this week is spend some money advertising on Facebook. With a very small budget I can’t afford to reach many people but so far 2143 people have seen my Not Just Any Job clothing page. I get really excited when total strangers like it! At 100 likes I’m going to do a giveaway. So if you know anyone at university, please share this link with them! https://www.facebook.com/notjustanyjob/
Next up is is making some changes to the designs I have to match the market research information I’ve got. I’m then going to focus on writing a book. I’ve had an idea for a non-fiction book for a while and will give it a go. Apparently it’s one of the best ways to get passive income (after you’ve slogged your guts out) every month, which will be another step towards freedom.
These are exciting times!
I’ve noticed a change this week. Not a dramatic one but enough to make a difference. One of the sayings I love is ‘If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.’
I have a habit of starting something and then giving up when I get bored or it gets difficult. I lack patience and the ability to persevere. However, despite not feeling well at all the last couple of weeks, it’s finally been driven home that if I quit this time, in a year or ten years or thirty years I will still be bored out of my brain, stuck in a 9-5, desperately unhappy and nothing will ever change.
Quitting is no longer an option.
At the risk of sounding like my life is now a cheesy 80’s motivational montage from a Rocky film, I want to assure you it’s not. For example, if it was I’d be cheerfully selling loads of t-shirts, working hard but doing well etc. However, apart from 2 t-shirts I bought myself, my Teemill site remains deserted. So, when I can bear it, I’m tediously uploading my designs to another site, Redbubble. This site appears to be better known and I’m hoping I will actually sell something now.
I have the above picture on my wardrobe. Around my flat I have several quotes I find motivating. One of the pieces of advice I see in all the books I read is to keep going, keep persevering. In Jack Canfield’s ’25 Principles of Success’ he lists several examples of this at work. Colonel Sanders got rejected 300 times before someone accepted his KFC receipe. A quick google search shows me that JK Rowling got rejected 12 times before publishing her first Harry Potter book.
What strikes me is these people didn’t have a special spotlight on them that announced that one day they were going to be successful. They had to believe in themselves, despite their friends and family, however well intentioned telling them they were crazy and should be ‘realistic.’
In her book ‘Be a Free Range Human’, Marianne Cantwell asks 2 really good questions.
1) Who has told you to be realistic, stay in your 9-5 and accept life the way it is?
2) Do they have a life you want?
It was an ‘oh yeah!’ moment. Without exception, every single person who has told me to be realistic has lived the 9-5 lifestyle. Without exception, every single book I’ve read or advice I’ve seen from someone saying ‘there is more to life than this and you can have it too’, has been from someone who has already made it. Would I not be foolish to listen to the unhappy people rather than the successful people?
In his biography, Lee Mack talks about having a delusional quality with regards to his ability to succeed. I’ve noticed this in many, many successful people. They have, against the odds, believed they can achieve their goal and have gone out and done just that. I remember seeing Pink in an interview say that when she was 18, she ran up to one of her idols and said ‘You don’t know me yet, but I’m totally going to be famous’. That self-belief was clearly there again.
So, I will be patient, I will persevere and I will believe. Like Will Smith once said, you just have to decide and believe that it’s done and then wait for everyone else to see it.
So you guys, you don’t know it yet, but I’m totally going to be successful.
I announced on my Facebook page today that my t-shirt store is open for business. I got a lot of support which felt great. One of my friends asked me if this was going to be what I lived off now and I tried to explain the dream but was too excited at the time to give a long answer. So, here it is.
The answer is no.
So, I hope that cleared things up. Feel free to ask any more questions.
Just kidding. The short answer is no. The long answer is, maybe, eventually. Or, more likely, it will be ONE of the things I make my living from. In many books I’ve read about ‘Multiple Streams of Income.’ It makes sense, especially if you’re a Scanner, to make money doing a lot of different things as it stops you getting bored. Plus that way, if one source of income stops, you do get bored or it goes through a rough patch, it won’t be as bad as if you’ve just lost your job or your one source of income. I can just get creative by starting another.
I’ve never done plate spinning (professionally) but I imagine it’s a bit like that; you get one thing going then you can leave it to do its thing for a bit and start a new plate off. Or, if you were ever forced as a kid to sing in ’rounds’ one group of kids starts singing ‘Row, row, row your boat’ then another group starts. Basically, you start something off, get it going and then move to the next thing.
My t-shirts are my first plate and it’s not even spinning yet. I’ve just put it in position to start spinning. First I need to get a constant stream of buyers before I can start on my next project.
It helps to look at your reasons as to why you’re doing it. For me, freedom is not worrying about being at a certain place by a certain time with a boss breathing down my neck. It’s not having to say no to fun social events because I have work the next day or I because I can’t afford it. It’s having as much variety as my little Scanner heart desires. It’s about wearing what I want and not having to be formal or be expected to tug my forelock at managers (which I don’t do anyway – I once told a ‘high up’ to ‘be my guest’ when he threatened to go to the papers about me because I wasn’t giving him special treatment).
Just as a reminder to myself, it’s still not even been 2 weeks since I set my 18 month goal and I’m already taking steps! I’m so excited!
If you know any university students – please share my link with them!
One of the things I love about the steps to becoming a Free Range Human is the lack of commitment and preparation needed to start a project. The whole point is that it doesn’t tie you down. So very quietly this week I’ve been working when I can (and have the inclination to) on starting a line of t-shirts. 10 minutes ago I quietly pressed the ‘launch store’ button and am waiting for it to start. The whole preparation for it cost me less than £15 and I have about 8-10 products in store. My work for that is done, I can play around with advertising it if and when I want to for little to no money. I’ve lost very little money if it doesn’t work and have already learned a bit about liaising with designers and what’s possible to do.
Excuse me while I do a proud parent moment, this is the logo for my new brand!
If you’re anything like me, patience is not one of your strong points. If I decide to do something I want it done in the next 30 minutes or I get frustrated. However, a good tip I got from Jack Canfield’s book ’25 Principles of Success’ is to do 5 things a day towards your goal. If you keep chipping away doing 5 things a day, eventually you will get to your goal. So for example, once my store has finished launching I could send the link to a bunch of Universities (so far the products are aimed at university students), I could buy one or more of my own t-shirts and be my own advertising, I could send some t-shirts for free to influential people to wear. If I kept plugging away, it could be that my line of t-shirts becomes really popular. I like it because it takes the pressure off me having to do everything RIGHT NOW.
I’m also reminded of a saying about fitness. It goes something like ‘No matter how slow you’re going, you’re still running circles around the person sat on the sofa.’ Linking it to my t-shirts, no matter how slowly they take off, I’m still running circles around the me of 2 weeks ago who was just sitting and wishing for money to fall into my lap. Watch this space for the link to my store!
It’s been 8 days since I started an 18 month project, by the end of which I wanted to be completely free. In the first few days I was really excited because possibilities and options make me happy. Then I experienced ‘analysis paralysis’. I had so many ideas I wasn’t sure which one to for go for or how to get started or who to target things towards. I’d start one idea, get frustrated because things became tricky or difficult and then move onto something else. I spent hours trying to figure out how to get one of my ideas going.
Then with a surge of excitement I remembered I didn’t have to do everything by myself. I contacted a graphic designer on Fiverr (a site where you can contract someone to do any number of things for you, from around a fiver) and asked him if he could help me with one of my ideas, which he completed in less than 24 hours. He’s now working on a second piece of work for me as I write.
I’m also happy and excited because I had my first taste of freedom this weekend. I was able to visit family the other side of the country, do some sight-seeing and do what I wanted, when I wanted. I also happened to write and publish my last blog post on the two hour train journey, using my laptop and the train’s wifi. In the evenings I used the hotel’s wifi to research my idea and contact the graphic designer on Fiverr.
If you take advantage of this kind of stuff all the time it won’t be all that exciting. I try to spend as much time in the moment with the people who are around me rather than staring constantly at something on the internet, so it’s a novelty to me. Not once did any of it have to wait till I got back home, nor did it interfere with my schedule over the weekend, I just fitted it in around seeing my family and relaxing with my wife.
Marianne Cantwell (author of ‘Be a Free Range Human’) suggests you try and put in as many little bits of your dream life as possible whilst you’re on your way. So for example, if you desire variety, even something small as taking a different route to work can be a start. Being able to ‘work’ around what I wanted to do this weekend felt amazing. Not being tied to a location or a time of day was fantastic and I can’t wait for my next taste of freedom.
After my last blog post, two of my friends commented straight away that they thought they were Scanners too. I decided to go searching for other Scanners and Free Range Fledglings in the blogosphere.
I found a few without even trying very hard and made contact. All the successful people I’ve listened to have said to surround yourself with people who share your goals and visions with. I’ve got to the point after 31 years of listening to people who do not have the life they truly desire that I’m going to listen to the people who do have that kind of life. No offence guys, but I’d rather you think I’m unrealistic and naive and end up living the life of my dreams than be miserable for the next 40 years having listened to your advice. Feel free to keep telling me that stuff. I have a response for you:
I’ve mentioned in other posts the sort of thing I’d like to have in terms of career freedom. Just to give you an idea of the kinds of interests I have see below:
Book writing (I have 4 book ideas rolling around my brain)
Card writing (There aren’t enough sarcastic cards out there)
Sketch Comedy (Kristen Wiig is my hero)
Stand Up Comedy (it seems like fun)
Selling T-Shirts (researching copyright law is giving me a headache so if you already sell t-shirts, or know someone who loves researching that stuff, hit me up!)
Motivational Speaking (I’m already doing it, might as well get paid for it)
Song Writer (Lyrics not music…..so if you write music, let me know!)
Career Coach (Highly qualified and I have a sign in my bedroom that I made myself that I’m the world’s greatest careers advisor)
Photographer (Maybe Pink is looking for one!?)
Video Editer (Maybe Pink is looking for one!? Or Kate McKinnon. Or Kristen Wiig. Or Melissa McCarthy)
And that’s just off the top of my head. That’s not even what I have in my book of ideas (there are some pretty good ones in there).
So Scanners and Free Rangers unite! Let’s go together confidently in the direction of our dreams!