Statiscally, Where is Your Life Heading?

[Today’s post comes from a personal friend and colleague, Mike Crespo.  Mike is a freelance copywriter who writes persuasive marketing materials for companies.  I hope you, like me, enjoy reading his story.]

 

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting in the small room of my college counselor and he said something I still can’t forget – “I’m happy you’re going back to school.  Statistically you’re not supposed to be here.”

I know he said it in a thoughtful way and didn’t mean anything bad by it.  But it was like a punch in the gut.

I walked in there with the confidence that I can do this.  And in a few short years I’d have my bachelors and could get a job at an agency making a decent living.

I walked out thinking, “what the hell am I doing here?”

I knew exactly what he meant.  Being a high school dropout on paper meant I was doomed to live in poverty…that I didn’t have the proper training necessary to have a real J.O.B.

At the time, I almost bought in to the BS.

Don’t let anything stop you…ever

I was there because I felt sorry for myself.  My copywriting career was floundering – along with my confidence – and my marriage was reflecting those same negative emotions.

I had decided to put copywriting on the back burner, go to school and collect a check from my G.I. bill.  I didn’t feel that I was properly trained to be the A-Level copywriter I wanted to be.

I didn’t just want to get by as a copywriter…I wanted to excel.

Statistically, I was meant to be some laborer building sweat equity in a dead end J.O.B.  Life has pushed me around and dealt me a tough hand.

At one time I was homeless, living out of my ’89 Camaro.  Abandoned by my mother at a young age and living with my father (who was busting his butt 90 hours a week just to keep a roof over our heads) left my brother, my sister and me to fit in where we got in.  Which wasn’t always with the best crowd.

Not to mention my severe stuttering problem that complimented my slurring lisp.  Plus my dad thought I looked pretty handsome with long hair so I rocked a ponytail throughout elementary and middle school.  I give credit to all these factors for my mean right hook!

No one ever taught me right from wrong.  I didn’t know about reading personal development books to grow my inner self.

I always felt like the outsider in my family.  When I would do or say something not in par with their thinking I would be made fun of or ridiculed as if I thought I were better than them.

Never feel sorry for yourself

Back to sitting in my counselor’s office.  I remember feeling like I was quitting something …yet once again.

Like going back to school was my way out and excuse for not becoming the copywriter I knew I wanted to be.

I remembered a book I’ve read more than a dozen times, and which I now read to my kids: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.  It’s about a little boy named Brian who was stranded in Canada’s Northern territory left with nothing but a small hatchet.

One night Brian was attacked by a porcupine.

As he laid there with the quills penetrating his leg he began to weep saying, “I can’t do this, it’s too much.”

Later on Brian recalled that moment and said something I never forgot…

Self-pity doesn’t work.

Not just because it’s wrong, but because it really doesn’t work.  You can cry all you want but at the end of the day you still have quills sticking out your leg.

Crying doesn’t make it better or worse.  It just makes you waste your precious time.

Several times in my own life, I regrettably turned to self-pity.  But it never worked.  I had to answer to myself when I looked in the mirror.

Get outside your comfort zone – where the REAL magic happens

Fast-forward to the present.  I’m now a paid copywriter.  And my clients are happy to have me working for them.

Action got me here.  I got off my butt and went out in the world waaayy outside of my comfort zone, where all the magic happens.

I got in front of crowds and spoke with the confidence of a seasoned professional speaker.  I made the calls and built the relationships needed to earn greenbacks in exchange for persuasively written words.

Have I reached success?

Partially.  Success is a personal thing.  One of my goals was to earn money from this here laptop.  So I’ve succeeded in that along with a few other goals.

I still feel those emotions of fear and self-doubt, but I drink them in and then swallow them away to the blackness of hell.

Nothing can stop me now.

I’ve found my core emotion complex of why I want to be a copywriter.  I’ve written out my goals and laid out a plan to get there.  Whenever I’m feeling like the long-haired stuttering kid, I revert back to my why.

I tell myself, “winning is fun but winning when nobody thought you could is AWESOME!”

Somewhere some self-proclaimed genius came up with the statistics my counselor was referring to.

But they forgot to account for one thing: A burning desire to succeed through all cost with the ability to overcome substantial obstacles.

Neither my past nor my present can dictate where I can go.  Only I control my destiny.

Where are you on your path to personal success?  Have you found your why?  Do you have the burning desire to succeed no matter what life brings your way?  I’d love to hear your story.

Leave your comments below and we can help motivate each other to reach what we truly desire.

 

Veni, vidi, vici,

Mike Crespo



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Resume = Sales Letter

In corporate America, your resume is your sales letter.

In freelance America, your sales letter is your resume.

Both must build trust, familiarity, and respect.

For good results, show that you can do the job.

For better results, show that you have already done it.

 

In both cases, you have a choice.  It’s up to you whether you will get creative and wow your audience, or get uniform, and try to please everyone.



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Happiness Week – Financial

Study after study prove that money does not buy happiness.  Nor does it prevent happiness.  What gives?  Should we try to get more, or give more of it away?

Answer: it doesn’t matter.

The money itself is nothing more than a tool.  A tool with quite a bit of leverage.  So while most people agree that money doesn’t buy happiness, we constantly sacrifice our time, relationships, and energy to have more of it.

It doesn’t matter how much you can collect.  At least not as far as your happiness is concerned.  What matters is your attitude toward it.

“For the love of money is the root of all evil.”

~1 Timothy 6:10

Note that it doesn’t say money is the root of all evil.  It’s the love of money.

My happiness is much more contingent on things like freedom, autonomy, and control over my life.  It’s when I feel like I’m not where I want to be that I feel most stressed, or most anxious.

Finances are such a constant focus for us because as goals, they stink.  The absolute worst kind of a goal is one that moves, because you never reach it.

I’d like to talk to you about your 401(k)

If you saw someone dangling a treat in front of a cute puppy, just teasing him with it, pulling the treat away when the puppy’s drooling mouth got close, with no intention of ever letting that puppy have it, what would you think?  Mean?  Cruel?

We do that to ourselves with our financial goals all the time.  As soon as we get close to reaching one financial goal, we yank it higher, never to be reached.

The way to instant financial happiness – lower your targets.

Think more about how you can spend less, and think less about how you can earn more.

Yes, money can buy things that get you closer to freedom, autonomy, and control over your life.  Wanting more of it does not.



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Happiness Week – Physical

Watch this one-minute video:

 

“The less you do, the more you do”

~Kunu, Forgetting Sarah Marshall

 

Physical wellness is the heart of the upward spiral.  It includes:

  1. Sleep
  2. Play
  3. Eat

Nothing new, right?  Here’s where I want to focus: building the habit of doing all three well.

The problem is that most people let two or three of those operate in automatic mode for some time.  Until they feel the pain of not fitting into a pair of jeans.  Or they don’t like that picture in the mirror.

Then, our natural (emotional) response is to call out the troops, and give everything we got to fighting that painful feeling.

We eat like rabbits, and exercise like Michael Phelps.

That’s a recipe for success.  At least for a week or two.  Maybe a month.

We see some progress, get comfortable, and settle back into the cushy leather couch.

It’s a cycle.

Focus instead on a slow, upward spiral.  Intense bursts of effort land you where you started.  Constant upward progress makes you a new person.

Sleep.  Everyone is different, so I’ll stay away from prescribing sleep.  Just get enough sleep for your body to recover from what you did the previous day.  And keep it consistent!  Going to bed at the same time every night will do your body good.

Here’s a short list of sleep benefits, according to Health magazine: lower weight, lower anxiety, less depression, better memory, more creative, more focused, better physical performance, and a longer life.  What more do you need?  Oh, and sleeping more will also mentally prepare you to exercise.

Play.  When you’re fully rested, it’s a good idea to do some exercise.  My method is a bit different than most, though.  I know the thought of having a beach body in 30 days is sexy.  But that is the kind of effort (and cycle) that makes most people give up.

If you’ve been on that roller coaster before, then I suggest you try the method of doing less.  Here’s the catch, you need to do it every day.  Do so little that you actually enjoy exercise.  Once you enjoy it, then you can make changes to it, and get more intentional about it.  The workout routine I followed for over a year (and took me from 23% body fat to under 17%) involved two workouts a week.  Each one lasted 15 minutes.  And both were done in my garage.

Stop convincing yourself that you need to spend two hours a day and four hours of salary to lose weight.

Eat.  You will feel a natural surge of energy, motivation, and excitement after you exercise.  Use that to continue your upward spiral by eating healthy.  Don’t fall into the trap of giving yourself forgiveness treats.  Set a diet and stick to it.  Find out what works for you.  For me, I don’t mind eating the same thing every day, but I hate cooking.  My solution – cook large quantities of food, once a week, and eat the same meals over and over.  It would drive most people insane, so I don’t recommend it.

But I do recommend you find what works for you, and doing that.  Again, once the habits are in place, then you can make adjustments and changes.

Start now, and tweak later.



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Happiness Week – Social

“Only a life lived for others is worth living.”

~Albert Einstein

Yesterday I mentioned an easy shortcut to adding to your happiness.  The second “step” was to find out what you like to do, and do it repeatedly.  The social part of that step is sharing your passion with others who also enjoy it.

While it’s a good idea to do that, it’s also a bit short-sighted.  It can lead to clique mentality, where anyone who doesn’t share your interest, or isn’t as skilled, is outcast.

What’s better is to seek out people who have the interest, but are not skilled.  Find the people who are struggling, and show them the path you took to get where you are.

Include shortcuts.

Everyone, in some way, can teach you something.  It’s your job to find out what that is, and then learn with an open mind.

If you really believe that, and do it constantly, then you will have no problems finding people who want to be around you.

On the contrary, if you’re constantly trying to impress people with your own abilities (or skills, knowledge, influence, power, money), you will have no problems finding people who want you to fail.

It’s not about you.

…except when it is.  And then it really isn’t about you.



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Happiness Week – Mental

I wrote a 5,000 word post for today about happiness.

Then I remembered the importance I place on brevity.  Seth Godin calls it respecting time.  I call it “using small enough words for me to understand”.

So here’s my resolution: I will write two versions of the four blog posts on happiness, as promised.  The version I publish here will be short and sweet.

The long (story) version is going to be published in my eBook, at the end of next week.

If you want a copy, send me an email and it’s yours.

Happiness Week – Mental

In the spirit of brevity, here’s a “three step guide”.

  1. Happiness starts within you, and is not determined by events, circumstances, or even possessions
  2. Learn which activities you do that make you happy; do them frequently, relish in them, and share them with others who also enjoy them
  3. Align your actions with your beliefs; eliminate conflicts between them

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”

~Marcus Aurelius

 

Catch you tomorrow.



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HAPPY Labor Day – Happiness Week Introduction

Today we celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers (according to Wikipedia’s definition).

Vague?  Yes.  But hey, it’s a day off work, free time to spend with family and friends, and a reason to do absolutely nothing.  Let’s celebrate thatreasons to be happy, regardless of the original intent.

Happiness is one of those things I tend to bobsess about.

According to the Declaration of Independence, I’m entitled to pursue happiness, courtesy of my Creator.

I’ve read The Happiness Project, and have started several mini happiness projects of my own.

I’ve blogged about how to make other people happy, and finding happiness in simplicity.

 

That said, I am well prepared to give you a full week of posts on happiness.

Starting tomorrow, and going through Friday, I will explore happiness from four angles:

  1. Mental & Emotional
  2. Social
  3. Physical
  4. Financial

This week will be interactive and simple.

Be ready to comment on the blog, or respond to me through email.

You only need to spend 10 minutes daily on this for the next four days.  That’s less than one hour of your week.  One hour of your life.

One hour to make yourself happier.  To feel less stressed and to enjoy life more.

Is it worth it for you?

If so, I’ll see you tomorrow!

 

PS – to my Bobservation insiders (that is anyone who gets Bobservation emails).  If you complete all four days’ assignments, you will get The Happiness Spiral ebook free.  It will be published as a compilation of this week’s content.  It will include more happiness tips than I can fit into four days of blog posts, and it will help you to continue the progress you start this week.



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The Squeaky Wheel is Just Annoying

I’ve heard plenty of bad advice.

One that irks me more than most is when someone justifies their complaining by stating, with pride,

The squeaky wheel gets the grease!

While it’s sadly true in some scenarios, it’s not as universal as it might seem.

In business, it’s not nearly as true as it may be in the home or with your friends.

The problem is that the decision makers in your business don’t want to encourage that behavior.

Think of a whining dog at the door.  Sure, you want to let him in to stop the whining.  But any dog trainer will be quick to point out the message you’re sending: it’s OK and expected.

You can use it to get what you want in the short term, but over time, there will be big disappointments.

If you would like to get what you want in the short term, with no long term setbacks, try this instead:

  1. Provide significant value in the area you’re unhappy.  If you spend a large part of your day doing some menial task, find a way to make it faster, bigger, cheaper, or automatic.
  2. When your boss notices the progress you’ve made, then,  and only then, ask for what you need.  Ask with a frame of further improvement.  “I’m excited about the progress.  We can continue to improve this task if [insert your request here].

The squeaky wheel may get some grease, but in my scenario, the wheel that pulls the cart fastest gets promoted to a bigger, better cart.  And it gets the grease too.



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Win Friends and Influence People

The two-step “how to” method on making friends:

  1. Learn about other people, and how you can add value to their lives
  2. Add value to their lives

Shortcut: You can add SIGNIFICANT value to most people’s lives by speaking words of encouragement or belief in them.  One of the best gifts my parents ever gave me was not just telling me that I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up, but telling me in a way that I believed it, and I believed that they believed it.

Now I just gotta grow up.



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The Most Important Thing You’re Not Doing

I have a list of tasks I try to do every weekday.  They include:

  • Write for Bobservation
  • Exercise
  • Eat healthy
  • Build my Excel training course
  • Respond to emails
  • Read some of a book (or listen to an audiobook)
  • Floss

This list is very important for me to follow.

It is the foundation for the habits that keep me moving forward.  Moving closer to my goals.

But as important as it is for me to follow this list, it’s more important that I don’t allow other tasks to sneak their way onto it.

Because the sneaky tasks usually don’t just sneak onto it and stay content.

They creep.

Slowly, but surely, they creep to the top of the list.  In doing so, they cause me stress of overwork and underachievement.  And they cause the more important tasks to fall off the list.

The most important part of my list is what’s not on it.

Protect your task list like you protect your house.  Lock your door, and make new tasks knock before they enter.



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