Five years ago I stood here at the same stand up desk in the exact same place in my office. I opened up my laptop after yet another long and stressful night at work and typed a letter to myself. I called it my manifesto. It was a letter to tell myself basically to stop making excuses, stop wasting my life, and do something about everything I always complained about in my life.
I taped two copies and put one right above my computer on the wall, where it still is, and one on my bathroom mirror, which isn’t there anymore. I knew if I put it in those two places, I would definitely see it every day. I wanted it to be a reminder of how I felt that night and what I told myself.
Five years later a lot in my life has changed:
- I have this blog
- My first ever app got named App of the Week by Apple
- I got married!
- I have the Get Busy Living podcast
- Been on FOX Business news
- Made over $200,000 in profit selling t-shirts so far
- Traveled in the United States and internationally. Sometimes flying first or business class for just a few hundred dollars.
What I’m most proud of is that I made all of this happen.
I didn’t just wake up one day and got lucky. I decided to take control of my life instead of just hoping it would get better. It hasn’t always been easy. I’ve had ups and downs for sure, but I can look back at these last five years and feel proud.
I needed to stop doing what I did before in order to get different results. I figured I had nothing to lose to try. Life could not get any worse than how it was in my eyes.
Looking back these past five years, I thought about the biggest lessons I’ve taken away that will help you.
Let go of the past
If you’re holding a lot of baggage from your past, you have to find ways to let it go. By holding grudges or constantly thinking back about mistakes you made in the past, you can’t move forward.
What you’re doing is thinking about the past and getting so angry about it that is paralyzes you. You can’t get anything done. You can’t focus on the present. All you can do is think about things that happened in the past.
Don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you’ve wasted the last five or ten years or your life. You can’t get that time back. You can’t go back and do things differently.
What you can absolutely do is learn from your mistakes and your regrets so that you don’t make the same mistakes again moving forward.
It might help if you write a letter to yourself to let go of that anger you’re holding on to. Then after you write it, burn the letter or rip it to shreds. Often times, you hold in everything that’s been bothering you and you have no one to talk to about it. Get it off your chest so that you can start focusing on what you can do every day to create the type of life you want.
I could have been angry with myself for wasting my 20’s and getting nowhere in life. I could have replayed every decision that led me to where I was and wished I could have done it differently.
I decided to not focus on the past because I had for so many years. Doing so felt like a punch in the gut every time. It would leave me weak and in pain. Not helpful when trying to change.
I had to let it go in order to move forward in life.
If you want different results, you have to do different things.
If you don’t want your future to look like your past, you can’t keep doing the same old s**t. Re-read that to really let it sink in. You can’t keep doing what you have been doing and expect life to miraculously get better.
You can’t keep going to your lousy job, complain to whoever will listen about it, and watch TV four hours every night and expect a new job with a better salary to be waiting for you when you check Facebook for the one hundredth time that day.
I’ll save you time and tell you it’s not going to happen.
You’re not going to attract the man or woman of your dreams by continuously thinking of yourself failure in life and staying at home every weekend and having a pity party for one.
You’re not going to improve your marriage, lose that weight, or start a side business, by doing what you have been doing up until this point.
What you have been doing has gotten you to this exact moment. Is that where want to be? Are you happy about it?
If you want different results, you have to find a different strategy because I can guarantee if you keep doing that, five years from now, you’re going to be the same person in the same situation. The only difference will be your age.
In 2005, I was in a job I hated. In 2010, I was still in a job I hated. Why? Because I kept doing the same thing. I wasn’t taking much action. I spent my nights after work on the computer and watching TV. On my days off, I’d do the same. I rarely went out.
I kept focusing on how much I hated my life. I kept holding the same beliefs in my head like maybe it’s not possible. I kept thinking of the quickest way to make a lot of money. I kept feeling sorry for myself.
That all had to stop!
In 2015, I do work that I choose to do and I’m making more money now than at my job. All because I started doing things differently in my life.
Some of the things I did were start a gratitude journal, filled my mind with clean water, started a morning routine, set goals, and exercise. I didn’t do them just for one day or one week. I did them consistently.
I never did any of those things before. When I began to make them a part of my life, then I started to see serious changes. I was getting results I had never gotten before.
You can’t change unless you’re ready
You can read all the articles you want, listen to my Get Busy Living podcast and others, and read books that are recommended by successful people, and even be told exactly what you need to do to get the results you want, but nothing will help until you decide you’re ready to change.
You have to decide that you’re open to trying new things. You have to be willing to do whatever it takes today, tomorrow and every day.
You have to decide that you’re so tired of living life unhappy and unfulfilled that you’re ready to take action. You’re tired of sitting on the sidelines. You’re tired of being unhappy every single day.
Until you are ready, no amount of advice will help.
Be comfortable with change
Change is so hard because you don’t like disrupting your routine. Your routine is safe and doesn’t give you any surprises.
Doing anything different is uncomfortable.
Learning anything new is a challenge. There’s that awkward stage of being a complete beginner. You wish you could bypass that and go straight to being an expert, but you can’t. You think about the mistakes you’ll make, how dumb you’ll feel, and what others may think. You’re not comfortable with that at all. So you don’t even try.
To go from where you are now to where you dream to be, you have to be comfortable with change. You have to know it’s not going to be easy. You will mess up. You will want to pull your hair out sometimes. You will want to go back to your old ways to just avoid the agony.
Successful people understand and accept that is part of the journey. That’s what you need to do as well.
In order to make changes in your life, you have to take risks. That means you have to start without knowing exactly what the outcome will be.
You hate risk because you fear the unknown. What if I fail? What if I lose money? What if I don’t like it? What if no one buys? What if no one reads it? What if people laugh at me?
You play the “what if” game, but every outcome you can think of has you losing.
When doubt creeps into your mind, think of the opposite. Think of it in a way that will push you forward. “What if I lost 50 pounds? How would that change my life?” or “What if I made an extra $1,000 a month? How would that help my family?”
That’ll get you motivated to take risks because if you were to achieve it, it would change your life. If doesn’t turn out like you hoped, you’re just back where you started, but now with experience and lessons to help you the next time you try.
By not taking any risks, you never give yourself an opportunity to achieve great things.
I’ve taken many risks in my life that have changed my life drastically.
I knew nothing about how to develop an iPhone app. I never hired a company to build one for me before. All I knew about the company I hired from Elance.com was what I learned from their profile and the interview I did with them. I risked $1,900 on an idea I had with a company I never worked with before.
One thing I didn’t do was play the “what if” game. What if they steal my idea? What if they take my money and run? What if my app is a complete flop? What if I don’t make my money back?”
If I had thought of every what if scenario, I would have been so terrified to even try because every answer I came up with would be horrible.
Instead I was willing to take a risk. If I lost $1,900, it would suck, but I could still pay my mortgage. I felt I had nothing to lose by trying.
It paid off in the very first month when I made $30,000 thanks to Apple deciding to feature my app.
I’ve also taken risks that haven’t paid off. Two years ago, I spent between $5-10k on a calculator app that I thought would do really well. I realized it was costing too much, but I had already spent a lot and didn’t want to leave it unfinished.
I felt this would be my golden ticket out of my job finally since at that time i was still working while building my online income to be steady enough to quit.
The app, however, flopped hard when it came out. I’ll never get my money back on it. It hurt in many ways. After that app, I decided to completely stop coming up with new ideas and making it into apps.
That failure didn’t stop me. It allowed me to think of other ways to make money online instead of apps.
Every time I’ve taken a risk, I grow from it no matter what the outcome is.
Nobody gets the life they want without taking some kind of risk.
Stop finding your passion
I spent my 20’s racking my brain for what I was passionate about. I was looking for that one career that I would love to be doing for the next forty years.
I read books, took quizzes, searched job postings for something that would spark an interest for me to pursue.
I had a lot of ideas that sounded great, but I wasn’t sure if it was my passion though. I didn’t envision myself doing it for the next 40 years.
Five years ago, I decided to stop searching for my passion. Why? Because by searching for that one thing I thought I was meant to do in my life, it overwhelmed me. What if I made the wrong choice? What if I spent the next two years doing it but then hated it?
Again it’s the dreadful “what if” game.
I felt like whatever I decided that it would be final. It added even more pressure on me to find the right passion.
I was 32 at the time and spent too many years waiting and hoping that my passion for suddenly appear.
So I took a different approach. I would start doing something that I was interested in. I didn’t look five years into my future. I just thought about what I’ve been wanting to do for many years, but kept putting it off. It was something that piqued my curiosity.
What that was at the time was start this blog. I didn’t envision being 55 years old and still blogging. I wasn’t looking that far ahead. I was focused on doing something that that was more productive than watching TV.
I had a desire to start a blog about personal development. I owned the domain getbusyllivingblog.com for a couple years at the time. It was time to do something about it.
I realized that creativity was sorely missing in my life. I felt like a zombie working at the restaurant. I did the same things every time I worked. By starting this blog, I woke up that part of me that had been asleep. Once I started, I would lose track of the time when setting up my blog, customizing it, writing articles and reading articles on blogging.
By even starting and trying, I could figure out if blogging was something I wanted to do. If after a couple months that I was losing interest in doing it, then I’d move on to the next thing.
Instead, I really enjoyed the process even when I had very few readers.
Everything I’ve worked on since then has been because it’s interesting to me. The idea of creating iPhone apps, creating online courses, writing a mini ebook, learning how to travel hack, starting a podcast, and selling t-shirts online.
They all piqued my curiosity so I wanted to try.
Am I passionate about what I do now? I wouldn’t say so if I define passion as something I will do forever. I don’t envision myself doing this for the rest of my life. I know my interest will change. Do I enjoy it now? Absolutely.
Don’t get stuck on finding your passion. Just think of something that you’ve been putting off doing and get started. Don’t play the “what if” game. Don’t worry about the outcome. Doing that is better than sitting around doing nothing.
Follow what others have done
Whatever it is you want to do, it has been done before.
So why not learn from others who have paved the path for you? There’s no need to figure everything out on your own.
Find a book someone has written. Invest in a course someone has created. They’re going to share what you need to learn and they’ll help you cut down on the mistakes along the way.
When I started my blog, I read other blogs about how to start and then get readers. When I started selling t-shirts online, I bought a course to learn how to get started. When I started my podcast, I didn’t try and figure out what I needed to do. I followed the free tutorial Pat Flynn created.
When I wanted to change my life, I read book from authors who had helped so many before me do the same.
Experiences will bring more happiness than material goods
I couldn’t tell you exactly what I’ve bought these past five years. I kinda of know, but nothing I bought brings back great memories compared to experiences I’ve had.
I could tell you exactly where my wife and I have traveled to and memories from each of those trips. The experience that we got from traveling outweighs everything I’ve bought.
In 50 years, I’m not going to remember what I bought. I’ll still be talking about the trip my wife and I made flying on Singapore Airlines in the suites with a a double sized bed, zip lining in Costa Rica in 2012, or our trip to London and Paris in 2014.
I value experiences way more now.
I’ll think really hard if I need a $10 item, but won’t hesitate to spend $1000 for a trip for the two of us to go to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Before 2010, I spent money buying stuff thinking it would make me happy. Now I just have a bunch of stuff I’d love to get rid of. When I bought my house in 2004, I spent lot of money on nice furniture. I thought that would make me happy. It did temporarily, but now I look at it and wish I hadn’t spent so much on expensive furniture.
I don’t regret the money I’ve spent on experiences
So stop buying stuff to make you happy. It will temporarily, but once that happiness is gone, you’re looking for the next thing to buy. Spend money on experiences that will make you feel alive, teach you about yourself, learn something new, and give you memories that will last a lifetime.
Now it’s up to you
These are the main things I would tell anyone who is in the same position I was in. These are the lessons that have helped make what I’ve achieved these past five years possible.
What advice really stood out to you? What do you believe you need to start doing?