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…

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.

How to Retire in Your 30s

A video based on my mission to retire in my 30s, how I intend to do it and how I will share my story going forward

To start with this video was insipired by the Guardian article “Can anyone retire in their 30s? Meet the people who say yes” by Stephen Moss.

Stephen interviews several of the better known FIRE (financial independence retire early) advocates including some the US based Mr Money Mustache and the UK based Barney Whiter of The Escape Artist.

Get Better.. Get Paid

You know that thing you really love? That thing you do whenever you have the time? That thing you secretly wish you’d managed to become a pro at?
What if you still can?

Right now you do something for enjoyment and you do it better than you think. You are an expert, maybe not an outright expert in the field but compared to someone who has just started you have a huge amount of knowledge. If whatever is springing to mind for you is an activity you only began recently, even better. Documenting your mistakes as they happen can be even more useful than discussing them after the fact.

Remember how long it took to get to the level of skill your currently at? Remember all the time you wasted doing something wrong? You can cut someone else’s learning curve in half. You can cut 1000 peoples’ learning curve in half if you just write down what you now know.

And here’s a secret… you can get paid for it.

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Nearly everyone hates to sell, for most people it feels seedy and disingenuous but here’s the rub: how far would you have got without anyone else’s advice?

There is someone, online or in person, to whom you owe a lot for their advice in getting you a good proportion of where you are today. You have since taken that advice, added your own discoveries to it, removed some steps that you don’t think are necessary. This has given you a unique angle.
Whoever you got this advice from wrote or spoke in such a way that appealed to you at the time but they won’t appeal to everyone. There are people out there who would find you a more compelling person to learn from than your mentor.

You have the power to positively influence other people’s lives in a way that other people cannot.

Maybe your unique angle is that you started from a different position in life, a different geography, you took a different approach. Maybe you found a quicker way or just a more entertaining way to explain the method.
Your knowledge potentially has incredible value to others. Sharing that knowledge is a great way to improve your own understanding, get paid for what you love and help others at the same time.

Whatever your thing is find a way to coach others, write a blog, film a youtube video. In the War of Art Steven Pressfield explains that the professional just turns up. The professional does the work everyday and doesn’t worry about perfection. Become professional.

Get started. It will open doors down the road and give you the opportunity to maintain fair exchange by charging for your time and expertise either directly in person or just through ad revenue on your site.

Get Better with Keystone Habits

“I haven’t got time to exercise”

“I will get my finances in order when I earn more”

“I’d rather watch TV than read, I’m too tired by the time I get home”

Sound familiar?

Here are just a few phrases that I have heard hundreds of times from people who in many other ways have their life in order. You may meet a business executive making a massive salary that slurps fizzy drinks and orders pizza every night. You may meet the fitness freak that doesn’t pursue education. You may meet the professor that refuses to exercise. The most common of all is someone that eats like hell, doesn’t exercise, doesn’t read and whose debt is forever on the increase.

Now, everyone is given the same 24 hours in the day, so logically it would make sense that if someone has one area of their life in perfect order they probably wouldn’t have time to perfect the other areas? Right?

But generally that’s not we see – usually someone either has everything in good order or nothing at all. Why could this be?

What if, just like compound interest, having an area of your life in order made it exponentially easier to tidy up other areas? In my opinion this is exactly what happens.

There are a few things in life that give back you vastly more energy than you need to give to achieve them. These habits, if done well, can have knock-on positive effects in all other areas of your life, activities that give back many times what you have to put in are known as ‘keystone habits’. Today I want to discuss 3 keystone habits that once implemented gave me massive returns on my time and effort investments.

If you have not yet got a reasonable routine around any of these areas of life I can’t recommend enough that you make the change, the impact will always be more than you could have reasonably expected.

Health

Leading a healthy lifestyle is the ultimate keystone habit and is the one that you should start with if you aren’t already smashing it. Health has the advantage of having 0 barriers to entry. Everyone from the poorest to the richest, the bored to the time strapped, the Brainiac to the dummy can improve their health habits.

There are 2 main facets of health – diet and exercise, below are some basic ideas about what bad health habits tend to look like vs better versions.

 

Bad vs. Good

I walk up and down stairs, that’s exercise vs. I have a regular sport/hobby that leaves me out of breath and aching the next day

I don’t regularly wear exercise clothing vs. I have a bag filled with gym gear that I use regularly and for a variety of different activities

I consume more than one chocolate bar/fizzy drink per day vs. I do not consume anything obviously sugary on a regular basis

I eat salad occasionally vs. most of my meals are based on either fruit or veg

I buy fat free vs. I consume good fats in the form of avocados, Greek yoghurt, almonds etc as a staple of my diet

I don’t have time (to cook/exercise/do anything else positive) vs. I make the time to these things because at the end of the day my health is a huge priority and it’s my responsibility.

I do exercise sometimes vs. I have an activity that I do at least 3 times every single week

Shifting from the left to the right in these habits will leave you with more energy, clearer thought and higher self-esteem. Getting your health right can have unexpected effects on all other areas of life. Realising you can control and positively influence your body leads you to the realisation that you can control and positively influence other aspects of your life.

Finance

You can (and we will) go very deep on finances in futures posts but everyone should know the basics:

1. Earn more than you spend.

2. Control your spending with a budget that prioritises what’s important to you.

3. Get rid of as much consumer debt as possible. Do not take out more loans.

4. Invest the difference in a low fee index funds.

Having your finances in order and seeing your net worth grow month by month is extremely positive for your mental health. Knowing that one day your passive income will exceed your expenses is even better.

Education

Not in the sense that I think it’s wise for everyone to take out a huge loan, pack their bags and head off to University (I have been there it’s mostly drinking games). What I mean is committing to continual self-education through books, podcasts, documentaries, interpretive dance or whatever means you find most digestible. Seek out people who have what you want, learn from them. Even more seek out people who have had what you think you would want and turned their back on it, find out why.

By continuing your own education, you ensure that your skills, knowledge and the level at which you understand life will never peak. You ensure that every day you will be slightly more intelligent than you were the day before.