house and car

My early 20s was like one kick in the nuts after another.

In-case you were living in a bubble, or you were raised middle or upper class, or you were sheltered, real life was probably a shit storm for you. It was for me.

I was raised in a mid upper class white area, went to a good school, yadda yadda, the typical scenario you see on front of a magazine advertising universities. Preppy little white boy goes to college. I was given a lot more than most people on earth from the start. Half the battle was already won.

… But it wasn’t until I reached my early 20s (and left college) that I realized how much of a disservice this was.

Except for getting good grades, I wasn’t used to working hard.

I wasn’t used to figuring out shit on my own.

I wasn’t used to solving problems that didn’t have equations to work with (Ahem… success… life… happiness?)

I wasn’t used to HUSTLING.

There were some really hard knocks and life lessons I went through in the five years between 22-27. I’m going to share those with you today hoping that the sooner you realize them, the easier your life will be – whether you’re in your 20s, 30, 40s or later.

#1 The Epic Battle: Your Passion Vs. Your Rent

Truth #1.

Most of what you’re struggling with is going to be two things:

A. Money

B. Fulfillment.

If you were raised in a wealthy family, you’re usually going to choose fulfillment, until you realize you aren’t making money, then you’re going to go for the highest paying job possible, then you’re going to email me because you’re unfulfilled (just kidding, I hope).

Caveat: Unless you’re an immigrant or someone who was brought up struggling – and was told to follow safe/secure routes – in which case you were probably pushed into a high-paying job you hate and wasn’t at all related to what you love.

So it’s going to keep coming back to:

Having enough money.

Doing what you want.

Usually you won’t be having both – the goal is to have BOTH situations occur 90% of the time.

So most days you’re waking up, doing what you want, and have enough money to do what you want.

Surviving #1:

Here’s how I survived #1:

First, I freelanced on the side for the extra $5-10,000 a year it gave me. That was plenty to do whatever I wanted, travel, etc. Learn to freelance if your job isn’t paying you enough (who knows, it might turn into a business too).

Second, learn to ask for raises and how to negotiate. I won’t give you any other resources other than Ramit over at Iwillteachyoutoberich.com. Just follow him, read everything, and buy his products. They’ll make you rich.

Truth: You will almost NEVER get a raise, unless you ask for a damn raise and prove why you should get one (hint: not just because you’ve been there for a few years doing a shitty job surviving).

Learn how to ask for raises and become the “linchpin” at your job. Read this book.

***

#2 No One Cares About You… Only You Care About You

Holy jesus if you learn this one principle you will succeed AT ANYTHING YOU DO IN LIFE.

Look: no one cares about you. They only care about what you can give to them. Yes, even friends. Yes, potential employers. Yes, ANYONE you email.

The sooner you learn this, the higher you’ll fly.

Examples:

Emails: Don’t email someone important or busy and ASK FOR THEM TO DO SHIT FOR YOU. They will either A. Not respond B. Think you’re an asshole, C. Just push delete.

Also, anything over 5 lines instantly gets deleted or archived.

Want a mentor or want to meet someone influential?

Reach out and OFFER help. A book to read. Blog post ideas. Free help with something.

They WILL respond if you make an offer like that. Add value.

Reaching out to make connections:

Again, never tell a busy person “hey could I pick your brain?” Hell no, they’re busy and you’re a nobody – what do you think they’re going to say? (Don’t worry, I’m usually much nicer :-))

Offer something. Provide value. Add value to their life. GIVE.

Friends: Want awesome friends? STOP texting people only when you need something. Text when you have something to offer. A great book. A movie. A game. Free tickets.

They will become lifelong friends.

This is seriously one of the most important life skills you can learn.

***

#3 If You Want Your “Dream Life” You WILL Work Your Ass Off

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IMG_1457

Will You Really Be Happier Living on an Island in Thailand?

The past few years I’ve done the digital nomad thing that seems to be pretty popular these days.

I had a remote work assignment, I traveled whenever I wanted (about 3 months of the year).

A year or two ago I spent a month in the Philippines with my girlfriend, and then another month and a half traveling around Taiwan seeing an old friend and meeting new ones.

I would work a couple hours in the morning, and then spend my day doing whatever the hell I wanted hoping that this was the “dream lifestyle” I had always hoped for.

I always seemed to meet two kinds of people though:

I would meet the typical 9-5 folks who were on vacation and wished they could have my life (it really wasn’t that great, they often just wanted to travel more).

And then I would meet people who told reality to piss off, and just did the stereotypical “rasta living on the beach and smoking weed” type lifestyle. Aka people that never really wanted to work a real job.

In other words, it was VERY polarized.

Working a typical life + vacation.

Versus:

Totally shunning the traditional life path, not getting married, not getting a real job, just focusing on life enjoyment.

And it got me thinking…

If I had to polarize myself and pick just one of these, which one would I be happier doing?

Would I be happier with either of them?

The Real Truth About Life Satisfaction

It’s funny, when I’m sitting on beaches in Thailand, or when I’m on an extended vacation, I get the same feeling after a few weeks:

What the hell am I doing with my life?”

Maybe you’ve felt it too.

If you’re unemployed and have WAY too much free time, you might be craving purpose and meaning even more.

In other words, you’re looking for “that thing/job/activity/person” that will make you happier and feel like you’re living a meaningful life.

Once you’ve found that thing, it’ll allow you to finally relax and take a deep breath.

Here’s the thing: when I speak with people about this, it leads to the same revelation over and over:

You and I are often happiest when we’re WORKING on things we enjoy and find highly meaningful.

(Aka, not sipping cocktails on the beach).

We’re often happier out building a tree fort, a sand castle, a photo collage or a piece of art, than we are passively watching tv or consuming media.

You follow?

I know it can be tempting to just say “fuck it, I’m moving to Thailand” because you’re working 60 hours a week at a desk job that’s killing you.

But understand that you are only craving that because it’s the exact opposite of what you have.

Most of us are actually way happier when we’re working. In other words, actively engaged, in flow, in pursuit and investing time into activities or relationships we enjoy.

Picasso said:

“It is your work in life that is the ultimate seduction.”

He didn’t say:

“Sitting on a beach in life is the ultimate seduction.”

And that’s because work leads to two things critical for happiness: flow and contribution.

The very act of creation leads to discovering meaning in life: it’s powerful knowing that something would NEVER have existed if you weren’t born.

All I’m trying to say is this: besides the obvious financial situation, stop thinking not having a job and “ski bumming it” will make you happier.

… Research also shows that it won’t.

Even Doc C., in his book Flow mentioned that in the thousands of data points he collected, he found that people are almost always happier at work when their mind is occupied. When they’re in flow.

“A [Wo]man Without a Job is a [Wo]man Without a Purpose”

There’s an old saying, “A man without a job is a man without a purpose.”

You often see it in retirees, too.

I know many older men and women that were successful when they were young – they loved work, they worked a lot, and then they were “told to retire.”

Shortly after their retirement (because that’s just what you do, right?), they fell into a deep depression that no one could rouse them from.

I literally observed one man who was incredibly happy, friendly and bubbly before retirement go off his rocker once he was forced into retirement.

On my way to work one day, I saw him walking around the street over and over and over – and I called a neighbor because I assumed he had Alzheimer’s and wandered out of his house.

And you know what the neighbor told me?

“Nope, he’s just retired, and has no idea what to do now. He’s literally losing his mind.”

So What Now?

Sometimes I feel bad when I write articles.

I want to give you concrete steps for fixing many things, and although I have before, most of my articles have one purpose only:

To draw awareness to some of these key issues in life.

You can’t take action to improve your life until you know what needs improving. You need awareness first. That’s half the battle.

My suggestion today is this: make finding a career you’re interested in, that pays you enough, your life priority. If you’re young, and aren’t in a relationship or married, put this as your #1 priority, above relationships, above hobbies, above anything else.

Go take those Thailand vacations, go sit on the beach, and if you don’t believe me, quit your job and do the nomad thing to see for yourself if what I say is true.

I think you’ll find what I found: people are often happier working, but only when we’re working on things that matter.

Remember: the right work leads to Flow, Growth and Contribution.  They’re critical to happiness and fulfillment. And they are things you won’t find on a beach in Thailand.

Alex

Thoughts? Tell me below.

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Beach

Note from Alex: This is a guest post by my friend Andre over at Chilledliving.

You can learn more about him and what he does at the end of the article.

From Hero to Zero In A Heartbeat… To Living Our Dream Lifestyle

Hi guys and gals –

When Alex gave me the outline for this blog post I nearly had heart failure…lol

The burning question was, “How do I limit the content to between 500 and 700 words?”

It was nearly as bad as when we had to reduce everything we owned to 30kgs after we lost $15 million, our home, our properties, our cars and our businesses.

This is a real life story of how we went from being very wealthy to losing it all and then to living our dream lifestyle on a tropical island.

In a nutshell, or a 30kg suitcase, here is our story…

We built 4 multi-million dollar businesses from the ground up that generated in excess of 15 million in revenue per year.

We personally earned more than $2 million per year.

We owned 5 properties, luxury cars, and lived in a 6000 square foot home.

We were wealthy by most people’s standards.

But…

Although we had money we didn’t have a life.

We were slaves to our work, our staff, the banks and our clients.

We were prisoners to the life we created.

And

All we ever wanted was to earn enough money, spend our life together and be happy.

So

When things started going wrong our whole life came crashing down…

We lost everything in less than 12 months.

We were broke, devastated and unhappy.

During our ordeal we learned some very profound lessons that helped us to turn our life around.

***

Lesson # 1 – Make the right choices and your life will be easy.

When Myra and I met 8 years ago and got married within 3 months we were told… but you hardly know each other…

Little did they know that it’s not about how long you know someone or how much you know about someone that matters.

Knowing someone is about that connectedness you share, from that first moment when your eyes meet, and you know you have loved this person your entire life.

We knew getting married was the right thing to do so the decision was easy!

Which choices in your life have been easy and which one’s have been tough?

Based on your own experience what is your take on this lesson?

Lesson # 2 – Don’t become a prisoner to your own life.

Although we earned a bucket load full of money and had all the “riches” most people want we really didn’t have a life.

As a family we shared a home, but never shared our life… it was a total disconnect with what we wanted.

We were stressed out from working 15-20 hour days 7 days per week.

That is not living!

This is the new home that we already had designed to build before our life collapsed around us:

 andre image 1 andre image 2

***

Lesson # 3 – Don’t build your castles with sand.

To live a happy and successful life you have to have a strong and solid foundation.

You need to create a business (work) that supports your lifestyle and not a lifestyle that supports your business (work)!

In the end it is not about the money or the stuff you accumulate, it is about the lifestyle you have had.

What foundations are you building your life on and what is your lifestyle plan?

How do you plan to Live, Work and Play Successfully?

Lesson # 4 – Never limit your right to Live The Way you want to live.

We had some tough decisions to make as our past choices limited us badly.

To a major extent we were controlled by others and had very little freedom to live the life we wanted.

We made the decision to Live Our Dream Lifestyle and decided to:

Create a new life somewhere else,

We wanted Chilled Living and not stressed living,

We wanted Time, Money and Location Freedom.

But most of all we just wanted to be together and spend our days in anyway we choose.

We redesigned our lifestyle, sold everything that still belonged to us for cash, reduced our possessions to 30kgs each and moved to South East Asia.

andre 3

andre 4

Since then, we created the “SMART Lifestyle Business program” which shows you step-by-step how to build a successful online business and live your dream lifestyle.

You can learn more about it here.

We managed to turn our life around completely and have designed the program to help you do the same.

If you have any questions please feel free to send them to us via Alex because we will help you in anyway we can.

***

You can learn more about Andre & Myra at www.chilledliving.com.

Thoughts, questions, comments on Andre’s story?

Leave ‘em below:

- Alex

Image: freedigitalphotos.net

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Tropical 2

I get emails all the time from people telling me “If only I found my passion and purpose life would be so easy!”

… And I think these people are sometimes seriously deluded.

The implication in every single one of these emails is that “living your passion” is something that is easy. Just quit your job and follow your passion. Just work on your business and it will blow up if you love it enough and work hard enough.

But the reality is way less sexy. Let me tell you what reality looks like. What the reality of “making your dreams happen” looks like.

Daily hell schedule

I work 9-5 in my dayjob. I go right from work to the gym. I’m home around 6:30/7. I cook dinner. Then I work on my business for 3-5 hours. Then I sleep around midnight.

That’s my entire life right now.

5/6/7 days a week.

You know where you often find me on Friday and Saturday nights? Alone in a cafe working. (Today’s Friday, I’m going right from work to the gym for an hour, then right to a cafe until 9 pm for 3 hours of work before going out). I won’t be home before 10 pm.

Guess what I do on my Saturday and Sunday afternoons? Freelance and meet clients for extra money (to travel), and work on my business and passion projects. Most weekends I set my alarm on Saturday, and Sunday.

Do I still get to travel? Yeah. In fact, this year I took four vacations. Two of them were international trips (costa rica & thailand). I actually spent about 8 weeks on vacation this year, maybe more.

But the truth is that it’s really goddamn exhausting.

I’m not saying this to try and discourage you or anything. I’m saying this to just remind you: yeah, pursuing your destiny, your dream, your passions is 100% worth it – but you will suffer, and you will pay for your success.

In other words, you have to give something to get the life you want. And often you have to give a shitload before you magically “arrive” at the life you want.

And for those of you whose passion might involve building a business or becoming an entrepreneur:

Guess what? If you’ve never done that before, you can look at investing hundreds of hours (like 500) before even earning your first dollar consistently.

Do the math – that’s 1.5 hours a day for a year – and that’s being optimistic. Most of you it will take several years of failures before creating a business that succeeds.

It Ain’t All Unicorns and Rainbows…

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nice scenery

I’m really pissed off.

The other day I read yet another article on “7 reasons you’ll never do anything great/achieve greatness in your life” – and I immediately thought:

Who gives a fuck?”

Seriously, in the grand scheme of things, when I’m 80 years old and I’m looking back, I will give zero fucks about how “great” my life was – the only thing I’ll care about was whether or not I lived the life I wanted.

You’ve heard all the deathbed regrets of people in hospice care:

  1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard (assumption: on something you didn’t give a shit about)
  3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
  5. I wish I had let myself be happier

At the end of the day, we just want to enjoy life and live a meaningful one.

Most of the other stuff, e.g. success, we pursue feverishly because we think it’ll bring us closer to that life enjoyment, fulfillment, and meaning.

But it’s not true. Remember a few weeks ago I talked about how I was becoming miserable working 12-14 hours a day, even though it was on projects I was passionate about and loved? And do you remember the solution?

Doing nothing. Just sitting in a cafe with an espresso people watching and enjoying life.

Doing more in life is not how you die happy.

Doing the right things is how you die happy – whether or not that leads to achievement or “getting stuff done.” This is possibly the most backward aspect of western society.

You see it all the time – high achievers that are miserable old bastards because they pursued achievement without fulfillment. The irony is that success and achievement often come as a side effect – but when you pursue them directly, you fail to get there, or find yourself miserable.

They bought into the false belief that since we’re dying, since the clock is ticking, you might as well cram as much shit as possible into the short human lifespan, because that’s what’ll make you die fulfilled, right?

***

Live the life you want.

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