Start where you are, use what you’ve got.

Start where you are use what you’ve got

This is the quote I’ve had in my head and repeated to myself many time, until today I had no idea where it came from.  It turns out the quote comes from a guy named Arthur Ashe and the version I had heard was somewhat butchered. The original quote Was actually:

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do you what you can”

Arthur also seems to have had a plethora of other good quotes that I haven’t heard before, including:

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome”

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to pass all of us at whatever cost, put the urge to serve others at whatever cost”

Arthur was an American professional tennis player who in his career 3 Grand Slam titles, this isn’t a history lesson but interesting trivia all the same.

Standing at the foot of large mountains

The utility of the start where you are quote  for me has always been to break down what seems like a dauntingly massive task. It’s easy to look at gigantic a far reaching goals and know exactly where you want to be but extremely difficult to see those first few tiny tasks on the path through to completion.

For some unknown reason I’ve only recently got round to reading the four hour work week by Tim Ferris. Despite having heard it mentioned on 1000 podcasts and cited as inspiration for 100 of the books I’ve read I’ve never actually got round to buying a copy and sitting down with it.

In this book,  as I’m sure you’re aware, Tim talks about breaking down tasks into the smallest possible actionable units. This works in much the same way.

By breaking tasks down into tiny actions we can move along the path. We can take action towards our goal. The trouble with these tiny actions and the reason is that so hard to do in the real world is it they provide us none of the satisfaction that sitting and thinking about achieving Our lofty goals does. It’s much more satisfying to sit on the sofa and think about summiting the Mountain than to start the painful process of stepping forward.

Push your stone

Every time I set my mind to Achieving something important to me I find that my brain wants to achieve the goal and a single sprint. A Single set of actions that I can start right now with a linear path to the finish line. In reality though, nothing important is Achieved this way.

The way to achieve the truly life changing stuff, the kind of stuff that sets you apart from other people and puts you in the small percentage that are willing to take the sacrifice necessary to make real change you must treat your goal like a heavy stone. If you had to move the heavy stone down A long path you would never consider trying to do it on a single sprint. For some reason millions of years of evolution has allowed us to see physical tasks like this much more clearly than conceptual goals.

Consistency is king

On the journey of shifting that stone you’d break for lunch, take a nap, maybe even take a few days off and come back to it. You take the time between pushes to consider the best route forward and ways to make it roll easier without beating yourself up for procrastination. If each  time you return you can move it a few inches forward over a weeks months or years it will get where it needs to go.

Actions yield results

This approach separates the successful from those who only dream and is the reason why the first steps are so critical.

Want to be a rockstar? Learn a chord.

Want to be an artist? Paint a canvas.

Want to be an blogger? Write a post.

And another the next day. And another the next day. And another the next day. Now, How can you make it better? Read a book written by master. Now another and another and another. Stop and think, how can you reach more people? Who do you know that may be able to help? Another, another, another.

Repeat. repeat. repeat.

This is the truth of how empires are built, all great art is created and of how empires are built.

The fact that it’s difficult and unglamorous And can take many years or decades is exactly why great success Is rare. The process will be exhausting and painful and you will see no success for just long enough to make 99% of people quit.

It’s an old but accurate cliche that it’s very hard to beat a man who won’t give up.

Ultimately we all choose our results, we choose the pain of decades of toil after something we love or we choose the easy life now and questions of what would’ve been later.

Positives of Negatives

Setbacks are a bitch.

As I sit here typing with one hand I’m fully aware of just how much a pain in the arse a setback can be to your life.

I’ve spent the last seven years building up a consistent gym routine never missing more than a couple days in a row. With the exception of holidays  I’ve stuck to this habit religiously,  for me fitness has been a keystone habit. When I saw the positive effects I can have on my own body it gave me the drive and confidence to start having affect on other areas of my life.

On the shoulders of fitness I build my financial habits, My finances gave me the ability to seek more beneficial work arrangements. My work arrangements give me the knowledge and time to pursue passion projects.

Unfortunately my hard won fitness routine has had to fall by the wayside this week. At the weekend I was out riding my mountain bike at a local jump track, When my ambition exceeded my ability. The result of this was a bad landing the bike throwing me off to one side and landing square on my shoulder. After an hour long trip to the hospital it was confirmed, a double clavicle break.

file-78

The upsides of downsides

Don’t get me wrong I always knew mountain biking was reasonably dangerous and that broken collarbones are a common injury, I continued to ride knowing that the value I got from biking was enough to outweigh the relatively slight chance of a major injury

Broken bones resulted in me being in a sling for at least the next six weeks with a small possibility of surgery being required. Until I get confirmation of this I’m left with the dilemma -what now?

Finding a way to use The time I gain back from fitness in a positive way is going to be key to overcoming my setback.

Stoicism is your Toolkit

Setbacks are unavoidable for any of us, the reps are put in reading stoicism pay dividends exactly these kinds of times.  If you haven’t already, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus should be essential reading For every teenager.   If you’re new to stoicism I strongly recommend grabbing yourself a copy of Ryan Holiday’s “The Daily Stoic “.

New focus

Although many of my main areas of interest are now off the cards for the coming weeks there are several things I can still do. I can concentrate on my work, my side hustles and the exercise that I can still do.

By shifting my focus onto the things that are still within the range of possibility I can keep my momentum and snatch the positive from a negative.

Revise your goals, write it down

I’m in the process of writing down exactly how I’m going to use the next few weeks to push areas of my life but normally have restricted time allowance to new highs. By being totally clear on my goals, writing them down and systematically checking them off I can use my time wisely and stave off the inevitable negative mindset that arises from having your life restricted.

Let’s look at the positives:

  • I have more time – I can’t exercise because I can’t drive, I won’t need to commute.
  • I’m not missing out on all the more important activities by being At home.
  • It was not my dominant arm.
  • Chicks dig scars.

My intentions going forward to keep his blog updates more regularly, be intentional with my new time and journal my results.

Chin up

I realise in the grand scheme of things myself back is not devastating but by concentrating on the opportunities it presents rather than the restrictions it enforces I have the ability to play it to my advantage. The results of the inevitable setbacks in life are much to do about how we feel about them, the stories we tell ourselves. Ultimately all setbacks Fade and become part of the adversities you once faced on your journey to where you’re going.

In the immortal words of Winston Churchill:

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Footnote: in case you’re wondering how long it took me to type this with one arm, I’ve become very familiar with Apple’s voice recognition. I will probably have never learned about its utility had I not ended up injured, Just one practical positive I’ll be pulling from this!

Get Better with Less

As I began to throw each item away I noticed a distinct pleasure in returning to each newly clear sideboard. The satisfaction not only of having less to worry about but also realising that with the less stuff you can’t help being tidy.

For a person like me tidying never came easy but as my wife noticed what I was doing she was keen to help with my new found enthusiasm for decluttering. Soon she began spontaneously sorting her and stuff and removing what she didn’t need.

Sometimes we can all feel trapped under the burden of our stuff. Whether it’s the guilt we feel with the arrival of each new Amazon package for the bi-yearly clear of the wardrobe that we dread.

We feel embarrassed to admit to our other half that the thing we bought they said was a waste of money has never been used and is now ready for the trash.

Fighting for Less

It can feel like an act of extreme self-control to limit our purchasing to only that which we really need. The advantages though could be massive.

If you’ve been living under a rock minimalism is going mainstream. If you’re unaware of the minimalism documentary or Matt D’Avellas podcast I strongly suggest checking them out.

Bringing minimalism home

Recently I’ve been on a one man crusade against stuff. I’ve been ridding my house of everything that doesn’t provide value to my life and consequently I’ve found that less has a value all of its own.

It first started as one of those spring cleans that we all hate, start trawling through the clothes right at the bottom of the cupboard that you haven’t seen since the last time you carried out the exercise. Having to make 100 decisions based on how much something costs how, much you use it and how likely you are to use it in the future. Arguing with Your spouse about that T-shirt you’ve had since you were a teenager,  It’s got sentimental value right?

Something this time was different,  I’ve been watching minimalism documentaries and listening to podcasts.  I bought into the Clean white apartments and the overall aesthetic of minimalism. What started with the Spring clean moved onto the miscellaneous drawer and then onto all the trinkets with no real place on the exposed surfaces.

Value

As I began to throw each item away I noticed a distinct pleasure in returning to each  newly clear sideboard. The satisfaction not only of having less to worry about but also realising that with the less stuff you can’t help being tidy.

For a person like me tidying never came easy but as my wife noticed what I was doing she was keen to help with my new found enthusiasm for decluttering.  Soon she began spontaneously sorting her and stuff and removing what she didn’t need.

Within a couple of weeks our house is spotless, friends come round and comment on how great it looks. There is an immediate sense of pride and satisfaction but this is only the beginning.

Anti consumerism

Once you begin transforming your home into a place where everything has a purpose you want to defend the situation. You’ll be into question purchases do you really need that thing from Amazon? Where will it go?

Suddenly the difficult task of placing your own purchases becomes easier you get satisfaction from not buying something that immediately occurred to you. This is the double advantage of keeping your house tidy and keeping your wallet fat. Not just like you feel a sense of control suddenly you’re great with money, you’re not the kind of person to make stupid purchases.

Your home feels Tranquil. This is further Backs up the sense of control. Without realising it you’re on top paperwork your emails are sorted and your life is more Orderly.

Keystone Habit

I’ve spoken before about keystone habits and minimalism is perhaps the easiest to implement.  No long-term commitment required just start getting rid of what you don’t need. The power to tidy up one thing Will soon spill over into other aspects of your life. It’s hard not to be frugal when you’re a minimalist.

Give it a go start with one cupboard, one draw, the boot of your car…

How much do I need to reach FI and Retire Early?

 

In this Video we go deeper on the 4%, safe withdrawl rates and how they came about.

Links mentioned in the video:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity…

https://monevator.com/how-to-improve-…

https://monevator.com/why-the-4-rule-…

For more Financial Independence and Motivation content check out: https://www.Improv-r.com

https://www.maxmccallion.com

Live like a relay

A mental hack to ensure that I dodge the regret reminder conveyor belt is to think of my life like a relay race. In a relay everyone does there part for their given distance. You’re not responsible for what happens before you recieve the Baton and you’re not responsible for what happens after. Your only mission is to run your distance as effeciently as possible, setting up the next guy as well as you can.

Regrets, we all have them. If your totally honest how often does a past mistake pop in to your mind and send you shivering with embarasment?

These regrets are often from years ago, even childhood and are usually mistakes you would never be unwise enough to repeat, yet for some reason they still appear in our consciousness.

Why do we spend so much time on regret?

We can spend excessive time dwelling on these regrets, letting them knock our confidence and blowing way out of proportion when compared to all the times you didn’t mess up the same thing. We are programmed to remember regrets much more vividly as a survival mechanism, its important not to step on snakes, but like so many instincts that saved the human race for thousands of years they no longer serve us in todays environment.

If we can detach ourselves from the ongoing “you” narrative these regrets become much easier to deal with. If you wake up every day thinking about the mistake “you” made when you were 8 years old your going to waste your time right now. If we can realise your 8 year old self is not really “you” at all. There is the old addage that all the cells in your body replace themselves every 7 years, this means in the most literal sense you can’t possibly be that same person as all those years ago.

Living life like a Relay

A mental hack to ensure that I dodge the regret reminder conveyor belt is to think of my life like a relay race. In a relay everyone does there part for their given distance. You’re not responsible for what happens before you recieve the Baton and you’re not responsible for what happens after. Your only mission is to run your distance as effeciently as possible, setting up the next guy as well as you can.

If we can wake up and realise “you” are not the same guy as 8 years ago, 8 months ago, 8 days ago or even yesterday it absolves you from the responsbility to relive those regrets. You don’t need feel the need to loop anyone elses regrets over in your head. This leaves you free to concentrate on running your distance (today) and setting up future you in the best possible position.

If you can play this trick on yourself everyday it allows you to be productive right now. In the War of Art by Steven Pressfield he drives home the point that just showing up gets you a huge percentage of the way there in the long run. By concentrating purely on today we can show up for the things we need to do without being hamstrung by guilt about the past.

Future “you” will be proud

Once you are seperated from the need to question and doubt yourself you are free to that work you know you need to do. If you show up and do that work your future self will have less regret, its a self reinforcing cycle!

Whilst we can never totally purge ourselves of past regrets we can find ways to put them in context and ensure that these survival mechanisms don’t hamper our ability to thrive in the present.

Live life like a relay, pass on todays productivity to your future self.