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.
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!
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!
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!
So, if you’re anything like me, your job isn’t working out for you. But you don’t know what you want to do. Frustrating isn’t it? You get this feeling that there has to be something more than this. This CANNOT be it for the rest of your life.
You shuffle through your work day, trying to look busy whilst really all you’re doing is working out how many hours until retirement.
Let’s see….36 hours a week, roughly 48 working weeks a year, for another 40 years…
Then you see how long you have left and you cry.
You voice your concerns to loved ones who shrug their shoulders and say ‘That’s life’.
Well, sod that! Life is way too short and precious to feel this depressed 36 hours a week. Without even having to look up any scientific research I KNOW I am more productive, creative, helpful, happy, giving and hardworking when I am enjoying what I’m doing.
So, for the past few days I’ve been making a list of all the things I enjoy doing. It’s pretty varied, from random acts of kindness to scaring people (what can I say, I’m complicated), from watching documentaries on body language and deception to playing Hide and Seek. Let’s stop pretending that we are shallow two dimensional people and that we always have to be professional, or silly, or the student, or the parent. We can be all of these and more.
How can you create a life you will love if you can’t list what you love doing? My list is currently 24 items long and growing. The next step will be figuring out how to get paid for doing those things. (Just in case you’re interested, I have already been paid to play Hide and Seek, I guess that makes me a professional).
Walking into my office, I saw a stack of paperwork waiting for me on my desk. The same paperwork I had been doing day in, day out, for months. The same paperwork that would build up again and be waiting for me tomorrow.
It wouldn’t have hit me so hard if I hadn’t been at a concert the night before. The singers and dancers had genuine smiles on their faces, loving what they did for a living. Watching them move across the stage they seemed to be having the time of their lives. I wanted that level of joy and passion in my job.
I was literally bored to tears.
I decided I had to find something I was passionate about, that I enjoyed doing, that I found worthwhile. Common sense, family and friends all told me the same thing; that work is meant to be boring and hard. You go to work, do what you have to do and try to enjoy your evenings and weekends.
But why should that be the case? Why should I just muddle through with a half decent job, trying to pay my way through life, living for the weekend? Who dictated that work must be boring or hard? Why should the best bits of my life be squeezed into tiny time slots throughout the year? Must I really wait until retirement, which isn’t even guaranteed, before I live my life properly?
If it had been a Hollywood movie, I would have resigned there and then, walking out of the building to some epic guitar solo (in slow motion). In reality I had rent to pay and food to buy and I stayed in that job for another YEAR. (I know, stupid.)
It did, however, start me thinking. I decided to start trying to find what made me happy, what I was passionate about and how on earth I could make a living from it.
I am still discovering, but know for sure that one single formal job is not for me. Not just any job. For the past few years I have been reading about so many people who have broken free from the daily grind, the rat race or the career cage. I refuse to believe there is something special about them which sets them apart and makes that kind of life off-limits to me.
There are 2 reasons I am starting this blog. I have made several false starts towards becoming what Marianne Cantwell would call a ‘free range human’. I need some accountability. Without no one but myself to answer to I give up way too quickly and easily. I plan to share this with friends and get some support.
The second reason is that I also want to show that I am a real person, in a real 9-5 job that is sucking the life out of me and making me die a little each day. I want to share the ups and downs of the journey I am about to take from living in a 2 bed flat, not able to save much money to buy a property, deeply unhappy with my professional life, to feeling alive and excited about what I do each day and actually thriving financially and contributing so much to the people around me.
My motto for this journey will be a quote I love.
‘The question isn’t who is going to let me. It’s who is going to stop me.’ Ayn Rand