All These Ads

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“Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzu

I don’t think there is anything more influential than ads that pop up everywhere you go on the internet. More than once they have persuaded me into that item I was only considering hours before.

It starts really simple. First you look something up that you want some more information on and have considered possibly purchasing but then realize you don’t have the money at the moment, so you close the ad and make your way to Facebook. As you’re scrolling along suddenly that same item pops up on your feed; you probably just shake your head and keep scrolling, thinking nothing of it but knowing this isn’t the end because it’ll be back the next time you repeat the same process. Eventually you see the item so many times that you’re practically forced to buy it. Obviously no one is holding you down threatening you with your life if you don’t make this purchase, but your mind won’t let it go. You put the item in your online cart, and then remove it, repeating this over and over.

A few days later you have a package waiting for you on the doorstep when you get home from work. You open it slowly, feeling half guilty and half excited, hoping the purchase was worth the credit card bill you’ll be getting next month.

Most likely the excitement fades over a few days, sometimes you even put it back into the box and leave it there for months, possibly even years before you donate it or throw it away. If you made multiple purchases like this all around the same time, then the excitement of each one fades even faster. You don’t have time to become attached to the item before another one shows up shortly after.

Impulse buying takes away the enjoyment of it. Mostly because you feel guilty about the purchase, and the other reason being you probably didn’t actually want it at all. It just filled that empty spot for the time being.

The best thing you can do is sit on a purchase for a few weeks, by doing this you’re giving yourself the time to decide if you actually want to make the purchase to enjoy it or if it’s just something for the moment.

The next thing to do is block the ad on Facebook when it first comes through, that way you won’t be tempted by the time you’ve seen it the twentieth time.

Focus

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Have you ever been in the middle of a deep conversation with someone else and just as you hit the rise of your story you hear a familiar ding coming from their purse or pocket? You both lock eyes momentarily as they try to hide their reaction, but you can tell the conversation no longer has the same luster as it did just seconds before.

You continue talking, but their eyes become glossed over because you know that you no longer hold their attention. The conversation feels rushed from that point forward. Sometimes they even go as far as to pick up their phone and tell you to hold on a second while they check it. Most of the time it ends up being unimportant and non life threatening, something that could have waited, but because we have the world at our finger tips we no longer have the patience to wait.

Now you feel torn between wrapping it up quickly or trying to bring it back to where it was before the interruption. Not only do you feel completely insignificant to this person, but your ability to tell them something important later on is 100% effected.

It’s crucial to remember that the conversation you’re in the middle of is just as important, if not more important, then the one that interjects. It’s easy to wave off the guy in the same room to pay attention to the incoming messages, but you shouldn’t do it. You should focus all of your attention to the one you’re in the middle of the conversation with. Give them all of you. Dont disregard their feelings or their importance in your life. Just as you should give the person on the other line your full attention too.

These multi conversations are distractions, getting in the way of your relationships and tainting them. Make sure to feed all of your relationships accordingly, and give each one of them your undivided attention. Take turns.

Staying Still

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Ever feel like you stayed somewhere just because you felt obligated? Obligation to something tends to mask any underlying problems. Instead of looking deep into the situation and figuring out what could be changed, we have a tendency of staying still. Partly because we feel obligated and partly because we’re afraid of failing. It’s so comfortable to stay in the same spot, and it generally doesn’t require any extra effort on our part.

I don’t really like standing still. I can hardly sit through a 2 hour movie at the theatre, always growing antsy the closer it gets to the end. Instead I dabble in too many things and have a hard time bringing anything to a close, but occasionally I even get stuck in the bad habit of standing still.

I did this for 8 years at two different jobs. I didn’t particularly like either of them very much and they both made me unhappy. One required a lot of my time, more than I was willing to give up, but instead of changing it I stayed around. I practically became a depressed zombie that just followed through the motions because I felt like I didn’t have any other options. I also didn’t even bother to check any of my other options. When I finally found the courage to leave that job, I didn’t go to a job that I absolutely loved or even had an interest in. Instead I went to a job that I thought society would approve of. I started this new job because I thought it would make me look good, not because it would make me happy.

So of course I experienced the same results. This time it wasn’t time that was an issue, at least not in the same sense as my previous job. At my previous job I didn’t have any time for anything or anyone else because I was working 16-18 hour days 6-7 days a week, but at my new job it was a different experience with time. I was no longer working long hours because I had a 9-5 job with weekends off, instead I was experiencing what it felt like to be WASTING my time. I was sitting around watching the clock or scrolling through the internet anywhere from 4-6 hours a day. Some people’s response to this was “Well at least you’re getting paid to do it!” Sure, I was getting paid (almost minimum wage) to sit around, but I felt like my brain cells were dying. My job wasn’t satisfying me, it was boring me to death, and in return making me unhappy.

I dreamed of leaving my job all the time. Not only was it boring but it required me to do a lot of sales, which I also don’t really like. It felt like I was going against my own personal views to meet the company’s expectations. I didn’t like that, but I still stayed. In fact I stayed for 4 years, while I worked my way through school and got my Bachelors Degree in Music Production. I kept reminding myself of the perks of the job, like paid vacation and weekends off and paid holidays before finally coming to the conclusion that those things didn’t matter to me. I only felt like they did because of my previous experience at a job.

So after careful consideration I decided I would quit my job and pursue a business providing music lessons for kids. Earlier in the year we booked a trip to Thailand for two weeks in July, so I decided to take this opportunity and put my notice in two weeks before I left for my vacation and dive right in.

Honestly, it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I wondered about all the typical things, like how I’d pay my bills and feed my kids every month, but I decided the only way to find out if it would work was to dive right in. I made the decision from the very beginning that it didn’t need to be something I was afraid of. Mostly because I wasn’t working anywhere that provided me an income that I couldn’t go out and find again. I wasn’t making a 6 digit income, I was barely even making an income.

The beginning started off slow and the money didn’t flow in right away, but as I waited and put in my best effort the word got around. Each new customer brought in more customers and since then I’ve had full classes. The number one thing I learned from this journey wasn’t about the money or the time, it was about the feeling I got from doing something that I actually enjoyed. I love helping people and I love making an impact in someone’s life.

So I encourage you to take the leap if you’ve been waiting. No, it doesn’t mean you need to quit your job tomorrow, or maybe it does. It’s really up to you and what you want. It’s not about what anyone else wants, or my story, it’s about chasing after something important to you and to stop standing still because it feels comfortable. It’s actually not comfortable at all, because you’re giving up something of yourself every day to something that holds no significance in your life. Find your happy place.

 

 

Expanding Business Ventures

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I think of mostly everything in business opportunities. If I’m looking for something in the area and it’s not available, my mind instantly wanders to the possibilities. Just recently we were looking into a rock climbing gym, and discovered that we have only one option anywhere within 45 minutes of our house, and it happens to be a court club so it isn’t even a rock gym. My mind started wandering off to how I could build this business and how much it would cost me upfront to get it started. I do this with nearly everything.

In July I opened a music studio and do guitar/ukulele/general music classes for kids anywhere from 3-12, offering private lessons to anyone over the age of 12. It started off slowly but has expanded into full classes for each new session. It’s been extremely successful, and part of that is because no one else in the area offers this service. Around here kids learn music because they’re in band or from music class in school, and I decided they shouldn’t be limited to only these options. I find it important for kids to have the opportunity to discover their craft, and parents need the opportunity to let them.

I’ve been looking into expanding the service into an online platform so that I can reach more people. We’re not the only people with kids in a rural area that want their kids to have the option to learn an instrument. There are a lot of guitar lessons for adults, but not many programs that tailor specifically to children. I’m going to start with building the video tutorials for a beginner course, and offer an option to order a printed version of the book or download it directly to their computer themselves. I’m hoping to eventually expand this option into an app version, since children frequently spend time on electronic devices.

Although this is my main business venture, I’m also looking into other business ideas so that my eggs aren’t all in the same basket. I prefer low hours that provide the best income opportunity. I also prefer more of a business model that makes an impact, because I love to help people. Brainstorming some ideas but have nothing in particular in mind yet.

Denial Is The Reason You Don’t Succeed

Last week I wrote about an app I had previously downloaded called Moment. It’s an app that lets you track how much time you spend on your phone every day, breaking it down into categories so you can see where you waste the most of your time. I decided I would spend the first week without putting a time limit on myself so that I could get a better estimate for how much time I really spend on my phone.

The result…

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I waste A LOT of time on my phone. Not to make too many excuses but it was my sisters 18th birthday this past weekend and I spent a reasonable amount of time researching flights from Portland to Hawaii or Portland to Paris, but aside from that I still found myself picking up my phone at every possible opportunity. The more I focused on not spending time on my phone the more I was drawn to it. I fell into a deep trance multiple times and kept trying to pull myself back out, but failed miserably the entire week.

I kept denying the results to myself, hoping that I would miraculously just put my phone down and get back to my life. I tried to make excuses; blaming it on the plane ticket research, which then led to research on a new car, and then countless hours on Facebook scrolling through different profiles and reading posts in different groups. Each day waking up and putting 40 minutes on my phone before doing anything else. I was so distracted by the results I couldn’t focus on how to succeed. The more I sat around wasting time the worse I felt. By doing this I was just denying myself the opportunity to succeed, because I wasn’t giving it a chance. Instead I was falling into a dangerous way of thinking, assuming that because I had failed so far there would be no hope so I should just continue down the same destructive path. But I was wrong, because if there is way in, there is always a way back out.

It was depressing knowing that I was doing something I didn’t enjoy spending my time on, yet continuing to do it. Almost as if it was an addiction that kept pulling me back in every time I tried to get away. I found that I was most successful at not thinking about my phone or missing its presence as long as I didn’t have it with me. If I knew it was in my pocket or on the night stand next to me then I felt drawn to it, constantly wondering what was going on in the rest of the world while I was doing other things.

I don’t want to be controlled by something so small. I want to spend my time on things that are important to me, rather than things that just aimlessly pass the time. This week I’m going to set myself a time limit of 1 hour and 30 minutes. To make the process transition smoothly I plan on staying off my phone first thing every morning; no Facebook, no checking email, no texting until after 10am. I would like to fill this time with something else that I enjoy doing but I don’t have anything specific in mind yet, so I will work through that as the week goes along. I also plan on leaving my phone home when I leave the house, unless I plan on being gone for multiple hours (I run a business from home, so I don’t want to miss too many calls), this way I won’t find it necessary to pick up my phone every time an awkward silence breaks through or I’m waiting for something.

Hoping to slowly lead myself into more productive ways to spend my time.

Minimizing With The KonMari Method

I follow all these minimalist groups on Facebook and I always see them talk about something called the ‘KonMari Method.‘ Since I had never heard of it before I decided to do some research, and see what it was all about. It turns out it’s a method for decluttering your entire house one section at a time. This seemed like the perfect fit for me because I’m notorious for moving piles of stuff from one room to the next, and never dealing with the underlying issue. I also, surprisingly, really HATE clutter. It distracts me. I’m easily overwhelmed by too much stuff, and can’t wrap my mind around taking care of it. I generally avoid any section of my house that is too full, which in return really limits my ability to take action and dive right into hobbies.

After searching through the comments section of some posts, I found someone who mentioned an app that breaks everything down into sections and lets you track your progress with before and after pictures of everything. I decided to try out the first section, which is clothing. You start with a before picture, which consists of ALL of your clothing items, including: tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, socks and stockings, underwear, seasonal wear, bags, hats and belts, scarves, jewelry,  and shoes. You round-up EVERYTHING and put it into a pile, so that you can really grasp every piece that you own. It’s important not to skip anything in this process. After you’ve rounded it up into a pile and taken your picture then its time to start going through each individual section of your clothing, making sure to touch every single piece. Touching every piece is crucial part of the method, because you want to see if it holds any meaning for you. There will be things you don’t care about and aren’t exactly sure why you’ve held onto them this long, and there will be things you absolutely don’t want to part with. Both options are okay.

Here is my before picture:

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I was actually really surprised that I owned this much clothing, because I rotate the same 3 shirts around throughout the week and only wear shorts year-round. Compared to a lot of people this may not seem like that much, but for someone who wears a very basic outfit this is a substantial amount of clothing that is just wasting space. I managed to go through everything and get rid of anything that didn’t fit, and shoes and hats that I no longer wear.  I also had some cycling outfits that I never even took the tags off of, so I posted those up on eBay. After about thirty minutes or less, these were the leftovers..

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The next step in the process is to fold and organize it neatly, making sure each piece has a place of its own. I plan on looking more into the method before I do the organizing part of it, so for now I’ve just placed it back where it was before. I purchased the book for my kindle and will be reading it this week!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way to Banish Clutter Forever
by Marie Kondo

 

Too Much Wasted Time

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I was sitting there aimlessly scrolling through Facebook, thinking about all the things I needed to get done. Not just the things I NEEDED to get done, but the things I always complain I never have any time for. And then it hit me.

What if I stopped wasting so much time on my phone, and used those precious hours on something more important? Before I could do anything, I wanted to get an estimate for exactly how much time I was wasting on my phone in total, so I downloaded this app called Moment, and set myself a limit of 1 hour and 30 minutes.

By 4 PM the alarm was already going off any time I unlocked my phone, letting me know I had used all of that 1 hour and 30 minutes. I was a little dumbfounded that the day was still full, yet I had used up all of my phone time before it was even dinner time. I had a mix of emotions, mostly withdrawals. It was a weird feeling that made it seem as if I missing something by not being on my phone, like something detrimental was happening and I was stuck somewhere else and completely helpless. By 8PM I extended the time limit to 2 hours and 30 minutes, and then managed to max out that time.

The next day I decided that I wouldn’t put a time limit on myself at all, and instead would just see how many hours I spent on my phone during a normal day.

The result…

5 HOURS AND 43 MINUTES!

Wow…If that’s the normal amount of time I spend on my phone daily that means I spend roughly 40 hours on my phone every single week. That is a full time job. I could do SO many things with 40 hours! That’s exactly where all of my time is going, and it was so easy to get trapped in this repetitiveness without even realizing it.

I’m going to keep tracking this daily and see if I have any habits that I can break. Like for instance, I know that I spend around 30-45 minutes on my phone first thing in the morning while I lay in bed. I have a 45 minute guitar practice schedule that I try to get in daily and this could be the perfect opportunity for it.

I’m going to test it for the rest of the week, and make adjustments accordingly. Because with 5 hours and 43 minutes a day I could build a new business..or two.