4 things i learned from fasting news & Facebook

4 Things I Learned by Fasting News, Media and Facebook for One Week

So I just finished Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Work Week… and it kinda blew my mind.

Contrary to what the title implies, it’s not a book about laziness. It’s pretty much the opposite. The book challenges much of what we’ve come to accept as the norm: spending the best years of our lives over-working and putting off living until we retire. But in order to to live the life we desire for ourselves (in the present), it takes focus, tenacity and a new commitment to productivity.

One thing he proposes is that if you can free your mind of much of the mental clutter we often allow, without question, you can be more productive, do more in less time and free yourself up to do what you’re passionate about.

I took Mr. Ferriss up on one of the many challenges he gave in his book: go one week without consuming any media or news of any kind.

No idle television viewing.

No news websites or news television.

No Facebook.

Pretty much anything that was not an intentional use of your time. Music and fiction books were ok.

So I gave this media fast a shot and here’s what I learned:

 

1. It’s not as scary as it sounds

This exercise forced me to come to grips with the fact that I was technically addicted to these forms of information. How could I give them up? Facebook and sites like Mashable.com were MADE for mental breaks during a busy work day, right? What would I do instead? I was nervous about that. But as I resolved to write those vices off from my typical day, it became quite easy to avoid them. And it felt good. Do I really need to know what Taylor Swift said this week, or who’s on vacation? I really don’t. I ended up focusing my time on more creative ideas for things I was working on at work and at home.

2. If something happens in the world, you’ll hear about it

I realized that I had a certain level of pride in knowing as much as I could about what’s going on in the world. Whether it be pop-culture, political or just news-worthy. I HAD to know. So when I gave that up for a week I wondered what it would be like not knowing. How would I stumble around in such darkness and ignorance?!?! Well, to Tim Ferriss’ point, if something worth knowing does happen, you will hear about it. People will be talking about it. It’s kind of a nice filter really. Instead of idly checking CNN.com or watching the news, only the most important things bubble up to the top of the office chatter, and you catch wind of it. I had no idea that the Supreme Court voted in support of same-sex marriage until I was in a meeting and people were talking about it. I wasn’t the first to know, but I soon knew. And thats ok.

3. It’s ok to talk to humans

Piggy-backing on #2, I learned that if you’re not reading/viewing news all the time, you have to talk to people. Instead of isolating myself in media consumption, a sense of community is fostered. I can easily find out what’s going on in the world by just asking someone, “So, what’s going on in the world?” Who knew?! It’s kind of a nice by-product of the exercise. It forces you to talk to people and engage with them. And you learn more about people by listening to what they deem as important.

4. My productivity soared

I learned how interruptive reading the news is to my daily work-flow. I thought I needed the mental breaks to be productive, but the opposite was true. I took some of Tim Ferriss’ other advice and made small task lists in the morning, hid my email from view while I was working, said no to more meetings and then knocked out several projects in about 2 days (I would have probably dragged them out for 5 days before). It felt amazing to look back at my day and see all the work I’d done. I felt accomplished and so productive. You really can do so much more in so much less time, just by intentionally focussing on what’s important to get done. I even came up with creative ideas for problems I didn’t even realize I had. I became proactive at work, going above and beyond.

My New Mindset

Now that the week-long challenge of fasting media is over, I’ve found that my need to check-in constantly with what’s going on externally to my own world, has much less power over me. I do read the news from time to time. But hardly. I try to go on Facebook only if I have a task to do there. I’ve become more focused at work and on my personal projects at home. And I’ve found that I worry a lot less, because my mind isn’t filled with all the problems of the world. Just my own. But now I have more of the mental capacity and freedom to creatively solve them. And in less time!

So, I encourage you to give it a shot. Just one week and see how you feel. You can always go back at the end of the week. Will you take up the challenge?

How to find the perfect mentor or mentorship

How to Find the Perfect Mentor (without actually looking for one)

Apprenticeship, then, isn’t a class you take or a mentor you meet – it’s a choice you make… It’s the intentional process of choosing the opportunities you need to create your life’s work. – Jeff Goins

I used to think that mentorship needed to look a certain way. I thought I needed an older, wiser man to take me under his wing and walk down the path of growth with me. And it had to be done with a once-a-month coffee or lunch date or it wouldn’t work. But I was wrong.

Having a regular time with someone who’s agreed to come alongside you is obviously a great thing, and if you’re in that camp, you have something truly special. I see the value in it and I too would jump on the opportunity if it presents itself.

But it’s the whole searching thing that I’m learning just doesn’t work. It’s the sizing up of anyone who’s older or further along than I am, you know, like in college when you meet a girl for the first time and think, “be cool, this may be the one!” That’s the part that just doesn’t feel right to me. But rather than remaining in that mentor-less space, I’ve taken a look around and realized something: I’m already being mentored.

Choosing the Mentors That are Already There

If mentorship is for the sole purpose of growth and development, whether that be in business or life, then the opportunities surrounding us are astounding. But they must be recognized and identified. Once I realized I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I began devouring podcasts. I asked other entrepreneurs, searched online and found some amazing people with incredible podcasts telling the stories of people just like me who learned to do business well. And so my mentorship began.

Over time a shift began in my mind. Instead of feeling sorry that my mentorships were not traditional ones and that I’d spend more time in Atlanta traffic than in Starbucks soaking up wisdom, I decided that I was going to do everything I could to learn right where I was at. With the time I did have. I spend almost 2 hours in the car commuting each day. I was feeling trapped like I was wasting my time away. Now it has become my university, the podcasts, my professors.

A frustrating commute became a launchpad for success with a simple shift in perspective.

My Current Mentors: Podcasts

There really is no shortage of great podcasts out there. Whatever your passion is, chances are there’s someone online talking about it. Below are the top five podcasts that I’ve been learning from lately:

1. The Smart Passive Income Podcast with Pat Flynn
The Smart Passive Income Podcast - Pat Flynn

The Smart Passive Income podcast is by far the most informative one I listen to. I sometimes want to pull the car over and take notes on marketing ideas with this one. Simple and fun interviews with people, some high profile, some not, about their businesses and what they’ve learned. I like Pat because of his humility. He’s just a regular guy trying to figure out what works in online business.

2. StartupCamp with Dale Partridge
StartupCamp Podcast with Dale Partridge

Dale Partridge, of Sevenly t-shirt fame, uses his podcast to interview successful entrepreneurs. Dale is fantastic at getting to the person’s story and how their business affects their life and family. He’s a family man, and preaches that being successful in business and at home does not have to be mutually exclusive.

3. The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins
The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins

If you’ve read some of my other posts about Jeff Goins, you know I’m a fan. His podcast is shorter in length than the others I listen to, but covers all aspects of what it means to pursue the work you feel called to. Jeff is an author at heart, so has great insight into building an online audience.

4. The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes
Lewis Howes - The School of Greatness

Professional athlete turned online entrepreneur, Lewis Howes’ podcast is the most diverse in the list. That’s mostly because of the wide range of business leaders he interviews on his show. It can range from very instructional, to much bigger picture wisdom for your life.

So, Who Are Your Mentors?

Mentors are everywhere. In the right light, and with a little awareness, you can choose to grow in every opportunity. So if you’re struggling to find a traditional mentorship, relax. The time will come. But in the meantime, don’t neglect the mentors that are already there.

Do you have any untraditional mentors? Let me know who they are by leaving a comment!

 

A review of The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

Book Review: The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

We all want purpose in this world. As children, we dream big and believe we can do and be anything. Somewhere along the way, whether through daily routine or difficult situations, we resolve that maybe those dreams were just childish fantasies. But the yearning remains and eventually a voice awakens: “What if I can find purpose and chase my dreams?

In an earlier blog post, I mentioned on of my most impactful moments that came out of reading Jeff Goins’ book, The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do.

I’ve since completed it, and as an avid reader with a propensity toward book ADD, I’ve moved onto my next reading adventure. But I wanted to share the heavy impact that Goins’ book has had on me, the way I think, and my future.

What The Art of Work is About

Simply stated, this is a book about discovering your calling in life. Your passion. Your vocation. That one or few things that you come alive when doing and were meant to do.

I’m no stranger to self-help books and admit I was skeptical with the title of this book, but at the same time, intrigued. I was feeling like I was coasting through life with a lack of purpose so the title really grabbed my attention.

Often we read stories of the big guys – the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg types – who were either so lucky or so brilliant to solve a problem in the world and gain success. But The Art of Work is a collection of stories of “regular” people, woven together to highlight the journey one takes to a calling. These are folks like you and me who I probably never would have heard of had I not read this book.

There’s a story of a 5 year old, left paralyzed and blind after an operation, and his father, who turn their situation into one of hope for others by completing triathlons together. A mother in Indonesia who was alienated by her family for choosing to not have an abortion who goes on to become one of the first doulas in her country. Or the family that moved from the comfort of South Africa to the coffee fields of Burundi to discover themselves and serve the coffee farmers of that region.

The stories in this book opened my mind up to a new hope. Not only is it possible to discover your calling, but it’s something that anyone, even I, can do. With a little work, patience and embracing of mystery, it can be done.

A Proven Path to Discovering Your Calling

So here’s the Cliff’s Notes version and what has impacted me.

1. Listen to Your Life

This was the grand-daddy of all take-aways for me because it allowed me to think about things that I have done all my life that point to me to my future work. You don’t “just know” what your calling is – a lie that has held me back for years – but it is an intentional process of discovery. Looking for clues along the way will point to your purpose. Do not sit and wait to know what to do. Start walking, believing you have a purpose and paying attention to clues along the way, and your calling will become clearer.

2. Accidental Apprenticeships

Everything that happens to us is a learning experience if we choose to see it as such. Sometimes life throws a major curve-ball. There is death and pain and things we don’t expect. But what if each of those moments and the people involved could be teachers and mentors to what we are called to do? Finding a mentor is hard, when  you think of it as some official relationship that is face-to-face. But there’s actually mentors all around us. The books we read. The classes we take. The podcasts we listen to. You can be an apprentice to them all

3. Painful Practice

This is where the rubber meets the road. Where the work is really required. Goins tells the story of failed American Idol contestants – some that got tossed into the embarrassment pile, and others, like Colbie Caillat, who were rejected by the judges but later went on to win a Grammy. The difference being that Colbie took the rejection, not in pride, but as a chance to work harder and push herself beyond what she thought was capable. Goins writes:

Unwilling to try new things, we settle for good when called to greatness. Why do we do this? Because it’s easy. To push ourselves past what others expect, beyond what is normal, is difficult and sometimes awkward. But it is a necessary part of the process.

4. Building Bridges with a Series of Intentional Decisions

Jeff expounds on the “You ‘just know’ Illusion” and makes it ok to embrace the mystery. This is the whole reason why I started this blog you’re reading. I love building websites and doing creative things so I decided to start writing about it. I don’t know what will come of it but I’m learning a heck of a lot, and feel like I have much more clarity about myself than when I started.

5. Pivot Points and Learning from Failure

Sometimes we think that challenges and failure are a disruption to what we feel called to do. But it’s often failure that can lead us to success, not prevent us from it. If you want to find what your purpose is, you have to be ok with failure, there’s no way around that. It’s what corrects our course when it’s heading in a wrong direction.

6. Becoming a Master: The Portfolio Life

This chapter was like a confirmation of my very identity. Our purpose is not just one thing, but can be a number of things. What you do is not just your job but it is made up of multiple things. You could be a father, a husband, a pianist and also a writer. They are all connected, a portfolio of your life. My wife often jokes with me that I have too many hobbies (she’s probably right). But the truth is, I enjoy doing a lot of different things. The challenge is to understand what are truly just hobbies – like my love of flatland BMX, or “tricksy biking” as my wife calls it – and what may be something more tied to my purpose – like blogging or photography. We can master a few things that are core to who we are, simply enjoy the fun things and thus lead a fulfilled life.

This Post is Way too Long

So there you have it. Kind of a quick and dirty run-down but I hope it has inspired you. I highly recommend this book. To everyone. It will help you better define why you do what you do, where you want to go in life, and some of things about your calling that you really knew all along but needed some guidance to bring to the surface.

You can check it out on Amazon here (affiliate link): The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do.

 

Shabby Chic distressed wall art on wood

How to Distress Wood & Create Wall Art

My wife and I made this custom piece of wall art back in our apartment days. We recently purchased our first home and as we decorate it, this is still our favorite thing on the wall and the one that gets the most comments.

A couple years back, one of our New Years resolutions was that it would be a creative year. My wife & I wanted to try new ways to have fun and create together. We’ve had great opportunity when we moved to a new apartment. It was like a blank canvas, begging for color. We have some amazing friends of ours paint a bright blue to give our living room some life.

The blue looked great up against all our furniture but the wall over the couch was bare. So the race was on to create something for that wall. As it was, it was like a giant blue monster threatening to devour us all.

So to Pinterest we went for all our shabby chic wall art needs! We collected ideas and I researched how to beat the crap out of wood to make it looked distressed and we were on our way. It was a lot of fun to search through together and pick out the styles/approaches we liked. We had decided a while ago that we wanted our wall art to say “Nothing Is Impossible”. We wanted it to be a constant reminder to us to always have hope and to trust God for our dreams.

So here’s a few photos of our crafty adventure and the steps we took:

Our weapons - We had a lot of fun on our balcony driving the neighbors crazy by hitting the wood for quite some time.

1. Beat the Crap Out of Your Wood

We went to Home Depot and bought six 1″ x 6″ wood boards and used various forms of weaponry to bang it up, making it look older and worn. Don’t hold back here. Get out your aggression for the best results.

We started with a base of gray paint we had leftover from painting our foyer. Then we did a light layer of white, allowing some gray to come through.

2. Attach the Wood Planks Together and Paint

We laid our boards on the ground and staggered the edges and screwed 2 strips of 1″x2″, a screw in each board, to hold them all together. We also bought 2 hooks that we screwed into he top of the 1×2 so we could hang it on the wall. If you want to get the distressed, shabby-chic look, you can do that with two coats of paint. For our wall art, we used some leftover gray paint as the base coat and let it dry. Then we took white paint and randomly brushed it over the gray, giving it the look you see in the photo above.

We printed out the font and then used tracing paper to apply it to the wood.

 

3. Print Out Your Design and Trace

The next step probably involved the most thought. I used photoshop to design a layout of our words that we liked. Once I had the layout, I started a new Photoshop file that would be 8.5 x 11 inches, and then increased the size of the design. The goal is to print out your design, 1 page at a time, so you can trace it large enough onto your wood. You’ll want to allow for some overlap of the letters so you can trace it correctly.

We laid out the pages, lined them up and taped them together. Then we went over them with the tracing paper.

Transferring the design to the wood

4. Trace onto Wood and Paint

Use the tracing paper and a pencil to transfer your design to the wood. Then paint the letters in.

Finished Nothing is Impossible Wall Art

 

5. Hang it and Enjoy!

We used some wall anchors to make sure it would stay secure on the wall. It has a decent amount of weight to it so make sure to properly secure it!

The most honest post about blogging you'll ever read

The Most Honest Post About Blogging You’ll Read Today

I want to be honest with you. It’s been just over a month now since I started blogging, and I still don’t know what I’m doing.

At least that’s how I feel at the moment.

Is this getting me closer to my life’s calling? Is anyone reading this? If so, is it helping them? What’s the point? Shouldn’t I be better at this? Shouldn’t the words just flow out of me like some raging river of poetry and truth?!

I probably ask myself these questions a few times a week. I usually post on Monday, then I fight negativity all week until I somehow manage to begin writing a new post, have it finished by Friday, and get ready to start the cycle again the next Monday. It can be tiring. If I let it.

Using Negativity for Good

I hope you can detect the irony of this post. Using your blog to write about how you don’t feel like blogging? Touché, Daniel.

But it’s illustrative of the truth that the fear, negativity and uncertainty can be overcome. The creativity is there, even when it’s hard to see. And this down-and-out moment of self-pity and fear too shall pass.

Whatever your work is, you have the power to turn those destructive thoughts on their heads and add fuel to your creative fire.

How to be Creative in the Midst of Doubt

Here are a few things that I’m learning to remind myself of when my own negativity tries to derail my creativity:

1. Practice Makes Perfect

There is no better time to hustle on your craft than when the stakes are low and not many are looking. Last week, this blog only served about 389 pageviews. And many of them bounced. But I remind myself that this is my time to narrow down my focus. To practice my writing. To find my voice. So when the masses do find my blog later down the line, the content that they’ll find will be content that I’m proud of. Because I put in the time, and got it right when no one was looking.

If things move too fast for you, you won’t be ready or able to keep up. Success can crush you if you don’t have the wisdom and time under your belt to manage it. Keep practicing. And if you fail, so what? Better to fail in front of 100 people now, than 10,000 later.

I recommend Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job by Jon Acuff where he tells the story of all the hard work he put into his first blog, writing at his kitchen table, early in the morning. He says,

“You can’t allow your results or the measurement of your progress to control your dream. What you do, the message, so to speak, has to be true and honest and come from the core of what you care about, not be a whim in the whirling winds of analytics.”

2. I Am Not Alone

I used to think that I was the only one who struggled with finding the motivation to create and to grow as a blogger. But blogging takes time. Lots of time. And that’s just the truth. No matter what your work is, there will always be aspects of it that are not fun. Things you need to buckle down and just get done, so you can get to the fun stuff. That’s true for me and that’s true for everyone. And whenever I want to wallow in my own lack of creative success or laziness, I remind myself that I’m not the only one who feels this way or has felt this way.

I recently heard Jeff Goins interview Ruth Soukup, the blogger behind Living Well Spending Less. In the interview she talks about how she spent about a year learning to write great blog posts with great SEO before she saw much traffic on her blog. Now her traffic is in the millions. With time and patience, it’s possible. But even the successful ones had to work at and struggle a bit. It takes years to become an overnight success.

3. Negativity Only Has Power If I Allow It

This all come down to choice. I can choose to allow the negativity to run amok in my head, or I can do the work of keeping the pesky thoughts in line. Thoughts are like unruly toddlers. Sometimes they need to be put in their place. They need to know they’re not in charge. I struggle with this one. I don’t want to do the mental gymnastics of managing my mind but I know I can’t believe every thing it says.

Check your thoughts. If the majority of them are not constructive toward you being who you want to be, dismiss them and move on to the ones that are. Give yourself grace and know it takes practice. Over time you’ll be able to quickly recognize the thoughts that are not grounded in the truth of who you are and replace them with ones that are.

4. Clarity Comes in the Process

It’s been a month since I’ve started this journey and most days I still feel pretty lost. I’m soaking up so much information on online business, entrepreneurship and leadership. It can be overwhelming. But things are getting clearer, even if it’s a slow pace. I knew I wanted to start blogging again, so I focused on this site. I didn’t know what to write about really, but I just started doing it anyway. And now I’m a month ahead the game than if I started today. I know more about blogging now than I did a month ago. And I’m finding my voice. Finding what resonates with others. Finding my contribution to this thing called the world.

Don’t put off the thing you want to start just because you’re not sure what the end goal is. Start walking and see where life takes you.

So, that’s where I’m at at the moment.

What about you? What’s one aspect of your work that you struggle to find motivation in? Let me know by leaving a comment.

 

Pin This Post