CGC Progress Logs

One nice feature we’ll have in Conscious Growth Club is a special Progress & Accountability forum section for members to share progress updates on their goals, which is great for accountability. Members will be able to comment on each other’s progress logs too, so they can share feedback, advice, and suggestions.

Today I started my own progress log where I’ll share updates on CGC’s continued development as we build out more features and move towards the inevitable launch. Every early access member will be able to see these updates, so we’ll have clear progress visibility within the group.

A lot of people on the early access list said they wanted help with accountability and taking action, so this is one of many ways we’ll be able to provide that kind of support. I think it will be especially encouraging when members see each other making progress. It’s hard not to feel motivated to get into action when your peers are making good progress on their goals.

Here’s a screenshot of the first two posts from the progress log I just started, so you can see what it looks like.

CGC Progress LogImagine how much progress you’ll make in a year by sharing regular updates on your goals with growth-minded people who will hold you accountable – and who are sharing their progress as well. It’s all about moving forward with daily action.

The post CGC Progress Logs appeared first on Steve Pavlina - Personal Development for Smart People.

Posted in: Uncategorized |

An Intimate Retreat to Create Mindfulness, Life Change & Magic

By Leo Babauta

One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced was opening my heart and making powerful, intimate connections with 20+ strangers in the cloud rainforest of Ecuador last year.

It was this experience of connection and vulnerability, mindfulness and reflecting on life purpose, that inspired me to create my own live, intimate experience: the Zen Habits Mindfulness Retreat in San Francisco (April 21-23, 2017).

I learned through my cloud rainforest experience that when people come together wanting to change their lives, willing to be open and share, to open themselves to reflection and learning … magic can happen. That’s what I’d like to help create in April.

The retreat I’m creating is aimed at teaching you key mindfulness skills that can help you transform your life.

I’m limiting it to 16 spots, to keep it intimate, so I would get your spot immediately if you’d like to attend.

What This Retreat is About

It’s a 2.5-day retreat that focuses on:

  • Mindfulness practices
  • Using mindfulness to deal with our struggles and old patterns
  • Finding joy and gratitude in life
  • Seeing the underlying goodness in ourselves & overcome dissatisfaction with ourselves
  • Dealing with uncertainty, developing trust in the process
  • Finding what happens when you have no escape

Through these practices, we’ll help you develop tools that can lead to the changes you’ve been hoping for.

We will learn different types of meditations and practice exercises that help us work with our struggles.

We will also explore San Francisco a bit, putting our mindfulness practices into action in the real world, through:

  • Mindful tea tasting
  • Mindful chocolate tasting
  • Delicious vegan food
  • We’ll go on an easy hike
  • We’ll form connections with each other to support our life changes

I’m so excited to have you join me in one of my favorite cities in the world, working on things that have changed my life completely and that I hope will change yours as well.

The Power of a Retreat

Why go on a retreat? Because in our busy lives, we don’t often have time to step back and look at the big picture.

In this retreat, we’ll be taking time for ourselves. For our happiness and for developing a more mindful life. For understanding how our minds work and how we can start to effect change.

This is something we don’t take time to do, because we’re so busy … by signing up for this retreat, you’re saying that it’s important to take time out for yourself, to work on these issues and to find a better path. You’re saying that you’re important enough to find the time to work on this.

I invite you to make the time, and work with me.

Change Your Life

A lot of us feel stuck in our lives, not able to break out of our old patterns … we have difficulty:

  • changing our habits
  • being more mindful
  • finding our passions
  • overcoming our fears and doubts
  • finding happiness with ourselves
  • connecting to others
  • dealing with anxiety and frustrations
  • being patient
  • and more

This retreat is about breaking through those patterns, understanding why they have such power over us, and finding a mindful path into new territory.

If you go through this retreat with the ability to break through those old patterns and change your life … would it be worth it to you?

Discounted Price for the Retreat

The retreat includes:

  • Accommodations (sharing an AirBnb apartment with other participants, with your own room)
  • Meals (gourmet vegan food)
  • Activities (workshops, tea tasting, chocolate tasting, hike)

It does not include your flight to San Francisco.

The investment for all of this, for changing your life, is $3,395 reduced to $2,395 until April 7, 2017:

Join My Mindfulness Retreat

I’ll be renting a couple AirBnb apartments with separate beds available (each in their own room), so you can stay in an apartment with other retreat participants … you’ll get a bed in your own bedroom (unless you choose to share a Queen bed with a friend or your spouse/partner).

I am really excited about this retreat and I hope you’ll join me!

Questions & Answers

You might have some questions … here are a few answers:

Q: Who is this retreat for?

A: It’s for someone who is willing to take a weekend to change their life. Someone who has been struggling and is open to practicing mindfulness and changing mental patterns. Someone who is ready to let go of old patterns and embrace new ones. Someone who is willing to put in the work for better habits and a transformed life.

Q: Are airfare or accommodations included?

A: Airfare is not included, you’ll need to book tickets on your own. Accommodations for the two nights are included, where you’ll be staying in an AirBnb apartment with other participants.

Q: What if I don’t like vegan food?

A: I’d suggest bringing an open and flexible mind to the retreat, and the food we’ll be eating is pretty delicious, and it’s included in the cost … however, you are free to go off and explore on your own, and buy your own food. In that case, you’ll be missing out on group meals, unfortunately.

Q: Can I book two retreat spots with a shared bed with my partner or friend?

A: Sure! In this case, book two spots. Then email us to let us know you want to share a Queen-sized bed with your partner or friend, and I’ll refund you the cost of an extra bed.

Q: What is your refund policy?

A: No refunds after April 7, 2017. If you buy a spot, you’re preventing others from buying them, as spots are limited. So if you don’t ask for a refund by April 7, you’ll lose your fee if you can’t make it. If you ask for a refund before April 7, we’ll refund 80% of your fee.

Q: I just bought a spot, now what?

A: There is a PDF download that came with your purchase, please download and read that for more info. We’ll also be sending you a few emails over the next month, please read these and reply with your info!

Q: What do I need for this retreat?

A: A notebook and pen for notes, layered clothing for San Francisco’s fluctuating weather, and an open and flexible mind. A willingness to change and practice. An open heart. Toiletries.

Join My Mindfulness Retreat

Write Well Mindfest (Free This Week)

Learning Strategies is streaming their Write Well Mindfest this week (an audio course), which gives you free mentoring to improve your writing skills. It kicked off yesterday, but you can still get access to the whole thing if you sign up for it today. The sessions are pre-recorded, so you can listen whenever you want, but it’s only streaming for free this week.

Get access here: Write Well Mindfest

The post Write Well Mindfest (Free This Week) appeared first on Steve Pavlina - Personal Development for Smart People.

Posted in: Uncategorized |

The Main Reason Changing Your Life is Tough

By Leo Babauta

Many of us have things we’d like to change: our exercise and diet habits, procrastination and productivity habits, patience and mindfulness habits, quitting bad habits, decluttering and finances, reading and learning and doing all the things we want to do in life.

But very often we fall short of our hopes.

What’s the problem? Why do we struggle with these changes?

There are lots of reasons, some of them external … but the main reason that it’s difficult to stick to these changes is actually internal.

The main reason changing our lives is hard: we get in our own way.

How? Our thinking is the problem. See if you’ve done any of these:

  • You mess up or procrastinate on your habit changes, and then are harsh or critical on yourself.
  • It’s time to do what you set out to do, but then you put it off and look for something easier. You go to distractions.
  • You are doing something uncomfortable but then look for a way out, tell yourself you can’t do it.
  • When you’re doing something hard, you stress out about it, setting unreasonable expectations and agonizing about whether you can do it.
  • You fantasize about how this will turn out when you meet your goal, but then worry and stress out about whether you will hit that goal.
  • You feel bad about yourself, doubt yourself, beat yourself up … and this prevents you from even taking action.

I think most of us have done these at some time or another, often without even being aware of it. We get in our own way, make things more difficult than they already are.

Why We Get in Our Own Way

Why do we do this, if we’re just making things harder? These are old patterns, built up over the years, that are coping mechanisms for dealing with difficulty.

The reasons we go to the patterns mentioned above:

  • We have lots of uncertainty or discomfort about the task or project, so we look for a way out, and start to rationalize and look for something easier.
  • We create high expectations (our goals, ideals, fantasies) and then fear not meeting those expectations (more uncertainty).
  • We don’t believe in ourselves because we doubt whether we’re good enough to do it (uncertainty about ourselves).
  • Being harsh on ourselves for procrastinating or messing up is a way to deal with the uncertainty that arises when we do these things.

So some kind of uncertainty arises: about ourselves, about how we just procrastinated, about how this project will go, about how to go about doing this task, about whether we’ll meet our goal.

Then we react to this uncomfortable feeling of uncertainty by being reactive: by being critical of ourselves, stressing out about it, procrastinating and seeking distraction, rationalizing why we should quit. These are old patterns, how we cope with the discomfort of uncertainty.

It doesn’t feel good to take these actions, but it’s a natural reaction to the scary feelings of uncertainty. There’s more comfort and certainty in our distractions, running away, self-criticism, harshness, stories about not being able to do this.

The discomfort of uncertainty is what we want to get away from. We get in our own way by trying to get away from feelings of uncertainty.

Getting Out of Our Own Way

So how do we stop getting in our own way?

By getting out of our way.

When we notice that we’re procrastinating, seeking distraction, being harsh or critical, rationalizing quitting or putting something off, stressing out about not being able to do something … we should pause. Just notice what we’re doing.

Then think about how we’re just making things harder. We can make things more effortless by not reacting to the uncertainty.

Instead, notice the feeling of uncertainty in your body. See that it’s there and that you want to get away from it or get control of it. Stay with it and see that it’s just a feeling, nothing to panic about.

In fact, by practicing the mindfulness of staying with discomfort and uncertainty, we can learn to be comfortable with uncertainty.

As we do this, we can just turn back to the task and act. Just simply be with the task, and just take action. Just do.

If we’re procrastinating with a writing task, we can just stop running and instead allow ourselves to feel the uncertainty. Then just start writing, without worrying about running from uncertainty.

If we are beating ourselves up because we haven’t done a good job sticking to a plan, we can notice that we’re being harsh, and instead allow ourselves to feel the uncertainty about ourselves. Then just start again on the plan, letting go of what happened and starting afresh without stress.

If we are stressing out about not meeting a goal or expectation, we can notice that we have uncertainty about this goal, and just stay with it. Then just take action on the goal without worrying about the expectation.

Notice the uncertainty and our desire to run. Stay with it and don’t run. Then act, with gratitude and a smile. We don’t have to get in our way, things can be no big deal.

My Dealing with Struggles Course

If you’d like help with getting out of your own way, I’ve just launched a new video course called Dealing with Struggles, and I invite you to join me for four weeks.

It’s two video lessons a week, and mindfulness exercises to practice with each lesson. You’ll also be able to ask me questions that I’ll answer in videos and articles, and discuss the lessons and your struggles with other participants in a Facebook discussion group.

In addition, I’m offering five bonus ebooks that I’ve written:

  1. Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness
  2. Essential Zen Habits
  3. Little Book of Contentment
  4. The One Skill – How Mastering the Art of Letting Go Will Change Your Life
  5. Focus: A Simplicity Manifesto in the Age of Distraction

I hope you’ll join me.

Check Out the Course

CGC Opening for Early Access Next Week

I’ve made great progress prepping Conscious Growth Club to open for early access, so I expect to start inviting people from the early access list to join starting sometime next week, so by March 31st.

I’ll probably invite the early access people in small batches to start, like 10 at a time, so these invites might extend into early April depending on how quickly I send them out. I’m heading to Phoenix on April 4th to attend the PLF Live conference, so I’d like to get all the early access people invited in before I leave. Rachelle and I will both be active in the forums, so we want to be sure to have time to personally welcome new members as they join.

I’m flintstoning this a bit since I’ll need to manually email invites to members to join the new discussion forum after they join CGC. When we do the full launch a few months later, we’ll likely have a more automated process in place.

So far 98 people have asked to be added to the early access notification list, so I’m really happy about that. I expect we’ll have a very vibrant and active group even well before the full launch.

Today I added a new Progress & Accountability category to the forum, so CGC members can share progress updates on their goals and help hold each other accountable. I added a post there with instructions for creating progress logs, finding accountability partners, and creating mutual accountability groups for people working on similar goals. I’ll likely maintain a progress log there to share updates on my own goals as well, especially CGC-related goals. That way the early access members can keep tabs on how CGC is progressing as we continue to build it out.

The post CGC Opening for Early Access Next Week appeared first on Steve Pavlina - Personal Development for Smart People.

Posted in: Uncategorized |

25 Years Without a Job

It’s been 25 years since I last had a job working for someone else, so I thought I’d share some reflections on what life is like on the jobless path.

Freedom to Choose

The most basic benefit of not having a job is exactly what you’d expect. There’s a lot more freedom to choose how to spend your time and what kind of life to create. This is indeed a powerful benefit, one that takes years to fully realize though.

When you aren’t tethered to a job, it becomes obvious that you’re responsible for your affairs and that you’ll need to make the big decisions yourself. This level of freedom can feel overwhelming at times, and it’s unrealistic to think that you’ll somehow create a masterful life in the first six months. You’ll still be limited by your ability to mentally and physically create the reality you desire.

On this path your personal shortcomings feed into your lifestyle limitations, so this is almost by definition a very growth-oriented path to pursue.

This is also a path of self-trust. The one time I had a job, I became an employee because I didn’t really trust myself, and I felt I needed the stabilizing effect of following orders for a while. After several months I realized that I could and should trust myself to lead my own life instead of hiring a boss to manage part of it for me. Surely I’d make some mistakes, but I’d learn and grow from them. And that is indeed what happened.

Achieving Goals

I like that I’ve been able to achieve a variety of personal goals that would have been hard to achieve if I had a job all this time. I created and published several computer games. I wrote a book and saw it published in many languages. I served as president of a non-profit association. I built two successful businesses. I traveled to many places I’ve always wanted to visit like Paris, London, Berlin, Rome, Amsterdam, and more. I built two successful forum communities. I trained in martial arts and ran a marathon. I designed and delivered 16 three-day workshops. I’ve made some unusual and interesting friends.

Or I could have worked at regular jobs for the past 25 years, in which case I probably wouldn’t have accomplished such a variety of personal goals. I would have built a career instead of having a life. Instead of collecting so many amazing memories, I’d be looking back on a much more mundane timeline of my past. I’m sure I still would have accomplished a lot, but those accomplishments would have been less varied and more constrained.

Instead of having to work on achieving an employer’s goals, I love working full-time on my own goals. I don’t have to squeeze my goals into my after-work hours. I don’t even have to squeeze them into my work hours. If a goal is important enough to me, I can push work aside and go after the goal full steam ahead.

This year my big goal is creating and launching Conscious Growth Club, a long-term project I’ve been working on for a few months now. It’s a challenge to be sure, and I’m loving the process of co-creating it with other personal growth enthusiasts. I can’t fathom how I’d tackle a project like this if I had a job sucking up my time and energy.

It’s also great that my work keeps pace with my skills because I decide which goals to set. I don’t have to be bored because my work is too easy or stressed out because it’s too hard. I can keep myself in the sweet spot of motivation by choosing goals wisely. This leads to bursts of high motivation where it’s fun to plow through 12+ hours of stimulating work in a day, followed by extended breaks for rest, play, and social time.

There’s just no substitute for holding the reins and being captain of your own ship.

Self-Expression

One of the key benefits of this path is being able to express my values more congruently than I could if I’d had a job all this time. The more I follow this path, the more it sinks in that my life is my responsibility, and I don’t have to live like everyone else does. I can do things my way because I don’t have a corporation dictating how I manage my time or run my affairs. I’m not a cog in someone else’s machine.

That entails more responsibility of course. I can’t turn around and blame my boss or company when I make mistakes. I have more freedom to experiment, to take risks, and to fail, so the responsibility for my results is more obvious. I can’t just gripe about excess bureaucracy or company politics to let myself off the hook. I’m always on the hook for how my life turns out.

Many people with jobs have to deal with values conflicts with their employer. For instance, you might care about helping customers solve their problems, but maybe your employer wants you to push for more sales. Or you might value good health habits while your company succumbs to a culture of junk food and soda. And quite often employers have chaotically shifting values that are unclear, so you never know whether you’re aligned with them or not.

Values conflicts are a part of life, but without a job, I eliminate many of these issues from my day-to-day life, so I’m able to express my values more congruently. I can write about any topics I desire with no censorship of my ideas. When I eat lunch at work, all the food is vegan. I keep my website free of third-party advertising since I don’t want to distract my readers with clutter. I can take as much vacation time as I desire, and no boss will ever complain.

This works well if you’re very self-motivated. If you need someone to pat you on the back for every accomplishment, like receiving a positive evaluation from your boss, you might miss having people formally recognize your successes. Without a job your motivation has to be more intrinsic to stay on track. You need to be satisfied by the natural rewards of accomplishing your goals and expressing your values because sometimes you’ll be the only one who cares or notices.

Financial Freedom

It took me several years and a bankruptcy to achieve the level of abundance I wanted. Lots of entrepreneurs struggle in the beginning because there’s so much to learn, and so many mistakes are possible. But if you’re intelligent, flexible, and willing to learn from those with more experience, you can eventually enjoy financial abundance without needing a job. This means that money is no longer a serious limitation to creating the type of life you desire.

When money is abundant, it becomes obvious that time is really the scarcest resource. Consequently, having more financial freedom can actually motivate you to improve your time management and to overcome procrastination. You’ll soon realize that money has no power of its own. Fat stacks just sit there and do nothing by default. It takes time to spend money if you want to spend it wisely.

As many friends who’ve built passive income streams have discovered, achieving financial abundance doesn’t automatically create an awesome life. Far from it! You still have to invest your time, energy, and intellect into figuring out what to do with your time. Even if you just travel around, it takes effort to figure out where to go next. It takes effort to figure out what to do each day. And if you aren’t careful, you could fall into a slump of depression if you allow yourself to slack off from personal growth.

Having more money won’t wipe out your problems. It will simply give you a different class of problems to deal with. The post-abundance challenges aren’t any easier than the pre-abundance challenges, but in some ways it’s easier to fall into a slump on the post-abundance side because you don’t have so much financial pressure pushing you to take action. You have to learn how to motivate yourself with positive action even in the absence of financial pressure. For some people this is really hard to do.

I know – it’s an enviable problem to have, but in practice it’s a real challenge to figure out how to spend one’s time when money isn’t such a limiting factor anymore.

I learned that money is a downright awful motivator for me. Even when I was broke, I couldn’t get very excited about following through on action steps to earn more money. Whenever I tried to earn more, I encountered failure, resistance, and setbacks. My path to abundance was to focus on creating a purposeful and fulfilling life regardless of how much money I had. That mindset was my path to abundance.

In retrospect this makes sense because money is a social instrument – really it’s a form of social debt – and trying to make people become indebted to you isn’t very inspiring. Focusing on the social side instead of the instrument side makes a world of difference since then you’ll be thinking about doing something that matters to your fellow human beings. The social side gets you taking actions that lead to social exchanges, whereby money can finally flow to you. Money flows to you through other people. If you focus too much on the money, the people aspect might block you from receiving.

I think many of us perpetuate our financial problems so we can avoid dealing with the bigger, scarier challenges like how to invest our precious days while our death timers are counting down. It can be less harrowing to deal with the challenges of financial scarcity instead of facing harder questions like, What should I do with the next decade of my life? Sometimes it’s easier to worry about the bills instead of your relationships, your life purpose, or your entire existence.

Finding the Best Rhythms

In order to feel grounded and to be reasonably productive, I need to have some structure in my life. In some ways this is easier without a job, but in other ways it’s harder. I don’t inherit the built-in structure of a job, but I can define my own working rhythm that may be a much better match for my personality and goals. I can also do a better job of integrating my work and my personal life. My personal world and my business world can be the same world.

I began today with my usual morning routine. I got up at 5am, went for a run while listening to some podcasts; did some stretching; sat in the park and reflected on life, the universe, and everything; had oatmeal with fresh blueberries for breakfast; and started my workday. I love to begin my days with cardio exercise because it’s an instant mood booster, it strengthens my self-discipline, and it rebalances hormones and neurotransmitters, so I feel mentally sharp for the coming day.

When I had a job, I didn’t care so much about optimizing my startup routine for each day. There was a disconnect between my productivity and my results. As an employee I sometimes prided myself on how little real work I got done each day. I didn’t like my boss, especially due to his bad temper and his use of fear tactics to manage people, so perhaps being unproductive was my way of punishing him for being such a jerk.

Without a job, however, being unproductive makes no sense since it’s clear that I’m wasting my precious life. So I’m very motivated to stay sharp and squeeze a lot of juice out of each day. If I don’t keep my standards high, I suffer for it, and there’s no one to blame but myself.

If I ever slack off, I can reboot myself whenever I want. I don’t have to wait till the end of a shift or a weekend. I can set new goals or pivot to a different rhythm whenever I experience one of those golden awareness boosts. If I want to start a new habit trial, I can kick it off as soon as I’m ready. I don’t have to work around my employer’s schedule.

If I feel unmotivated or burnt out, I can take a vacation starting the very next day (or in some cases, the same day). I can stay on vacation for as long as I want. I’ve taken breaks for 30+ days more than once. Taking a full month off can be very restorative, and I usually hit the ground running when I return.

I write when I’m inspired to write, not on some employer-dictated schedule. I don’t arbitrary say to myself, “I have to blog something today.” What draws me to the keyboard is when I’m struck by an idea. I’ve gone as long as seven weeks at a stretch without blogging, and it’s totally fine. It wouldn’t suit me (or my readers) to crank out drivel on a schedule. I’d rather write only when I have something inspired to communicate.

This isn’t the industrial age anymore. Working on a 9-5 schedule isn’t well suited to today’s best opportunities for creative knowledge workers. I feel fortunate that I don’t have anyone imposing such a schedule on me. Discovering my own best rhythms has enabled me to crank out 2 million words for 100 million readers over the years.

My best working rhythms would most likely be punished by an employer. I love putting in 12+ hour days when I’m inspired to work, sometimes for weeks at a stretch. Then I need time to disappear for a few weeks, travel, explore, and switch to a different mode of living – sometimes with less than 24 hours advance notice. During that time off, my subconscious continues working in the background and chewing on problems, frequently feeding me fresh ideas and helping me to figure out new goals. Eventually I can’t hold back the creative pressure anymore, and I’m eager to pounce back into work mode for another cycle. At my best I’m a burster, not a plodder. But what employer respects such a mode of working? If you find an employer like that, maybe that’s a job you should actually consider.

Social Freedom

If I had a job, I’d probably socialize with the same people every day, which could lead to a stagnant social life. I like having the freedom to choose the people I connect with each day instead of inheriting whatever social mandates are assigned by an employer. If someone rubs me the wrong way, I don’t have to deal with them. I can fill my life with friends that I actually like, and we connect socially by choice, not by forced circumstances.

How many people do you connect with each day that you actually like? Most of the social connections I have are with people I genuinely like. If I didn’t like them, I wouldn’t connect with them.

Being self-employed can lead to spending a lot of time alone, especially if you have an Internet business. If you go to an Internet marketing conference, you’ll probably find that the room is 80-90% introverts. Same goes for the speakers. Many of the people you’d think must be total extroverts based on their effervescent YouTube videos are actually quiet and shy when you meet them in person. They can look extroverted when they’re making videos by themselves, but connecting face to face is very different.

Many introverts are perfectly fine with this, preferring to cocoon themselves and do most of their interactions from behind digital devices. If that’s your cup of tea, you might really like life without a job. You can pretty much run your whole life this way today. Or you might prefer a job that minimizes human interaction.

I didn’t want to go that route though since I felt it wouldn’t be as growth-oriented for me, so in the same year I started blogging, I also joined Toastmasters International to develop my public speaking skills. I did this partly to create a better social balance for my life and business. I’m so glad I did that because it gives me the freedom to live as an introvert or an extrovert without being forced to pick a side. Sometimes I love getting away from the computer to engage with people face to face through speaking, workshops, meetups, and traveling. Other times I feel a little overwhelmed with socializing and crave a few weeks to work alone or to enjoy life with my girlfriend.

It’s fair to say that managing my social life has been my biggest challenge since I started blogging. It takes some real conscious thought to strike the right balance, and the right decisions aren’t always clear. I’ve gone through multiple rounds of social expansion and withdrawal to wind my way to a feeling of social abundance that isn’t overwhelming. Building Conscious Growth Club is one of the expansion phases.

I tend to make new friends easily, so I’m glad I don’t have to settle for a socially stunted life. I like having lots of stimulating, growth-oriented friends. I also like having the freedom to create a social life that works for me. I shudder to think of how repressed I’d be socially if I had a job that stunted my ability to thoughtfully manage this part of my life.

I think what I’ve most enjoyed on the social path is meeting other growth-oriented people who like to zig while the rest of the world zags. These people add tremendous richness to my life. And they give me hope that together we may someday entice the rest of the world to stop zagging so much. Haven’t we zagged enough already?

Exploration

Exploring personal growth is my passion, and it would be tough to fully explore this passion if I was tied to a job that limited what I could do.

If I had a 9-5 job, could I have done experiments with polyphasic sleep, water fasting, or going to Disneyland for 30 days in a row? That’s doubtful. Maybe I could do short-term experiments during vacations, but I couldn’t make these kinds of explorations part of my normal lifestyle. And I don’t necessarily want to chew up my vacation time dealing with no sleep, no food, and endlessly looping Disney music.

(As a side note, I finally got most of the Disney music out of my head, but now I’m stuck with the addictive songs from La La Land. And whenever they start to fade, Rachelle starts singing them again.)

Would I have gotten fired for blogging about open relationships or D/s play? Maybe. It would depend on the employer, but who wants to wear a social mask to please their boss? It’s easier just to be myself. I don’t want to have to pretend to be someone else each time I go to work.

I think many people hide behind their jobs as a convenient excuse for not exploring their desires. Exploration involves taking risks and facing fears. It’s easy to settle into a job and tell yourself that you don’t have the time, freedom, or money to identify, clarify, and pursue more interesting goals. Just getting clear about one’s desires can take a lot of work, let alone carving out the time to actually explore them.

I can get wrapped up in my business too, but it’s harder to pretend that I’m not in control of my explorations. If I’m not exploring something I really want to, I have to face and work through the inner resistance. I can’t just externalize an excuse and expect myself to believe it.

The result is that I explore a lot more than I would if I had a job. I don’t have to schedule my explorations during the gaps in my job. I can weave them into my work as well, and there doesn’t need to be a sharp separation between work, life, and play.

Location Freedom

A job can tie you to a single location, but without a job, you can go wherever you want, whenever you want. You can even live on the road if you like.

I once fantasized about going fully nomadic, but I like having a stable home base to come back to, and I sometimes feel burnt out from traveling too long at a stretch. I’m more productive in my home office, and some experiments are much easier to do at home. What works well for me is to oscillate between time at home and time on the road. I’ve gotten pretty good at taking spontaneous trips when I feel it’s time to get away from my desk.

I love that travel isn’t just a dream, but it’s something I can make real whenever I want. Going to other cities and countries has enriched my life tremendously, and I see this being a part of my lifestyle for decades to come.

Skill Breadth and Depth

As an employee I might be able to get by with a narrow set of skills, but to survive and thrive without a job, I’ve had to develop a great variety of skills.

As I shared in the article Mile Wide, Mile Deep, going broad with a skill set doesn’t mean being shallow. You can actually gain more depth from complementary skills that enhance each other.

On my path without a job, I’ve developed skills in programming, writing, business, public speaking, negotiation, coaching, event management, sales, marketing, creating income streams, community building, website development, product development, networking, and more. My college degrees in computer science and mathematics seem like such baby steps with respect to all that I’ve had to learn since then. It often feels like I must continue to earn the equivalent of a new college degree every year or two just to keep up with the rapid pace of change, especially when it comes to doing business online. I always feel like I’m behind in one important area or another, and that pushes me to absorb and apply new ideas quickly.

It’s important to me to have the freedom to direct my own educational path. Every week I devour information, and the more I learn, the more I’m exposed to the naked edges of my understanding.

Lately I’ve been enjoying other people’s coaching programs. I belong to two paid communities at present and will likely join more. Learning this way is more expensive financially, but it’s cheaper time-wise because I can learn faster from experts and coaches than I can from just reading books. I love reading and typically go through about two books per week, but that isn’t what moves the needle forward most of the time.

I think that if I were an employee, I’d fall into the trap of being too comfortable resting on my existing skill set and not pushing to expand and deepen my skills every month. I think I’d spend too much time doing my work the same way over and over instead of questioning how I work and continually seeking to build relevant skills for tomorrow’s world.

Having so many economically useful skills makes it hard to fail since I can always pivot to one skill set or another. I can write articles or books. I can do public speaking. I can do Internet marketing. I know how to build websites, web traffic, and online communities. I can write software, plugins, or video games. I can do basic audio and video editing. I can do consulting or coaching. And so on. I don’t have to worry much about a shift in my field rendering my skills obsolete. In fact, I love it when shifts happen because it allows me to pounce on fresh opportunities before most people even know what’s happening… like when I got into blogging in 2004, the same year WordPress came out.

Developing a variety of skills has made me a faster learner too, so I’m able to quickly build competence in new skills and start using them productively. The more skills I learn, the faster I seem to be able to pick up new skills.

This constant pressure to keep learning can burn some people out. I’ve seen friends go through periods of overwhelm related to worries that they’re falling behind. I succumb to that feeling too sometimes, but overall I love the stimulation of pushing myself to learn, learn, learn. I love looking back on the past month or quarter and taking stock of what I’ve learned. This month I’ve learned a tremendous amount about creating membership sites since I’ve been studying that intensely, especially with the help of resources like Chris Lema and The Membership Guys.

Gratitude

The main emotions I feel when looking back on 25 years without a job are gratitude, appreciation, and relief. This wasn’t a smooth road, and I took some lumps along the way, but I’m really glad I decided to pursue a jobless lifestyle. That decision pushed me to grow in so many ways I doubt I’d have experienced if I’d gone the employee route.

When I think about the next 25 years on this path, I feel happy, excited, and optimistic. Even if I just keep living the way I am now, I think I’d be pretty fulfilled on this path. But I’m sure there will be many changes ahead, and I’m looking forward to navigating them, even if they throw me off balance now and then.

Receive Steve's new articles by email.

The post 25 Years Without a Job appeared first on Steve Pavlina - Personal Development for Smart People.

My New Video Course: Dealing with Struggles

By Leo Babauta

I’m really excited to tell you guys about my new video course, Dealing with Struggles, which I’m launching today.

It’s for anyone who is struggling with:

  • Frustration
  • Procrastination
  • Changing their habits
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Feeling down or unmotivated
  • Relationship problems
  • Unhappy with their direction in life
  • Feeling bad about themselves

In short, this is all of us, to some extent.

It can seem like there’s no way out of our difficulties, but there is. It just takes some practice and a bit of courage.

This course helps us to get to the root of these common struggles.

What’s beneath all of our anxieties about ourselves, our struggles with habits and procrastination?

How can we develop the tools and the mindfulness to work with the root of all of these problems?

We’ll dive into these ideas in this course.

What You Get

In this course, you will:

  1. Get two video lessons a week
  2. Get a mindfulness exercise for each lesson
  3. Be able to submit questions that I’ll answer
  4. Work with very powerful tools to unravel our old problems
  5. Learn to deal with difficulties and the resistance we often face
  6. Learn how to break old patterns and form new ones, to create the life we want
  7. Deal with each moment with mindfulness, equanimity & compassion

These tools have helped me to change my entire life — from changing all my habits, helping me to be more mindful and compassionate. I offer them to anyone who is struggling.

I’m opening my heart to anyone who joins this course.

It won’t necessarily be easy — you’ll have to put in some work — but it can be life-changing. And I’ll be there with you.

Bonus Ebooks

In addition to the course, which I believe is already very valuable … I’m offering five bonus ebooks that I’ve written:

  1. Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness
  2. Essential Zen Habits
  3. Little Book of Contentment
  4. The One Skill – How Mastering the Art of Letting Go Will Change Your Life
  5. Focus: A Simplicity Manifesto in the Age of Distraction

I’ll also be answer questions submitted by course participants in articles and videos that I’ll publish during the course. And we’ll have a Facebook group for discussion of the course by participants.

I hope you’ll join me.

Check Out the Course

4 Step Guide to Letting Go of the Past

By Leo Babauta

We’re constantly struggling with the past, in so many ways:

  • Mistakes we’ve made that we regret or that make us feel bad about ourselves
  • Anger about something someone did to us
  • Frustration about how things have progressed up until now
  • A wish that things turned out differently
  • Stories about what happened that make us sad, depressed, angry, hurt
  • An argument that we had that keeps spinning around in our heads
  • Something someone just did (a minute ago) that we’re still stuck on

What if we could just let go of things have have happened, and be present with the unfolding moment instead?

What if we could let the past remain in the past, and unburden ourselves?

What is we could see that our holding onto the past is actually hurting us right now … and look at letting go as a loving act of not hurting ourselves anymore?

It can be done, though it isn’t always easy. Here’s the practice I recommend, in four steps.

Step 1: See the Story That’s Hurting You

In the present moment, you have some kind of pain or difficulty: anger, frustration, disappointment, regret, sadness, hurt.

Notice this difficulty, and see that it’s all caused by whatever story you have in your head about what happened (either recently or in the more distant past). You might insist that the difficulty or pain is caused by what happened (not by the story in your head), but what happened isn’t happening right now. It’s gone. The pain is still happening right now, and it’s caused by whatever story you have about the situation.

Note that “story” doesn’t mean “false story.” It also doesn’t mean “true story.” The word “story” in this context doesn’t imply good or bad, false or true, or any other kind of judgment. It’s simply a process that’s happening inside your head:

  • You’re remembering what happened.
  • You have a perspective about what happened, a judgment, a way of seeing it that has you as the injured party.
  • This causes an emotion in you.

So just notice what story you have, without judgment of the story or of yourself. It’s natural to have a story, but just see that it’s there. And see that it’s causing you difficulty, frustration or pain.

Step 2: Stay with the Physical Feeling

Next, you want to turn from the story in your head … to the feeling that’s in your body. This is the physical feeling: it could be tightness in your chest, a hollowness, a shooting pain, an energy that radiates in all directions from your solar plexus, an ache in your heart, or many more variations.

The practice is to turn and face this physical feeling, dropping your attention out of the story your head and into your body.

Stay and face this feeling with courage — we usually try to avoid the feeling.

Stay and explore it with curiosity: what does it feel like? Where is it located? Does it change?

If this becomes unbearable, do it in small doses, in a way that feels manageable for you. It can get intense if the feelings have been intense.

But for most feelings, we see that it is not the end of the world, that we can bear it. In fact, it’s just a bit of unpleasantness, not all-consuming or anything to panic about.

Stay with it and be gentle, friendly, welcoming. Embrace the feeling like you would a good friend. You’re becoming comfortable with discomfort, and it is the path of bravery.

Step 3: Breathe Out, Letting Go

Breathe in your difficulty, and breathe out compassion.

It’s a Tibetan Buddhist practice called Tonglen: breathe in whatever difficult feeling you’re feeling, and breathe out the feeling of relief from that difficulty.

You breathe in not only your own pain, but the pain of others.

For example:

  • If you’re feeling frustration, breathe in all the frustration of the world … then breathe out peace.
  • If you’re feeling sadness, breathe in all the sadness of the world … then breathe out happiness.
  • If you’re feeling regret, breathe in all the regret of the world … then breathe out joy and gratitude.

Do this for a minute or so, imagining all the frustration of those around you coming in with each breath, and then a feeling of peace radiating out to all of those who are frustrated as you breathe out.

You can practice this every day, and it is amazing. Instead of running from your difficult feeling, you’re embracing it, letting yourself absorb it. And you’re doing it for others as well, which gets us out of a self-centered mode and into an other-focused mode.

As you do this, you’re starting to let go of your pain or difficulty.

Step 4: Turn with Gratitude Toward the Present

As you feel that you’ve let go, instead of getting caught up in your story again, turn and see what’s right here, right now.

What do you see?

Can you appreciate all or some of it? Can you be grateful for something in front of you right now?

Why is this step important? Because when we’re stuck on something that happened in the past, we’re not paying attention to right now. We’re not appreciating the moment in front of us. We can’t — our minds are filled up with the past.

So when we start to let go of the past, we have emptied our cups and allowed them to be filled up with the present.

We should then turn to the present and find gratitude for what’s here, instead of worrying about what isn’t.

As we do that, we’ve transformed our struggle into a moment of joy.

My Upcoming Course: Dealing with Struggles

I wanted to let you guys know about an upcoming video course that I’m launching next week — it’s called Dealing with Struggles, and I’m very excited about it!

This course is aimed at anyone who has struggles:

  • Anxiety about life or social situations
  • Frustrations with themselves or other people
  • Difficulty with procrastination
  • Trouble forming new habits or quitting old habits
  • A feeling of unhappiness with ourselves
  • Struggles with finances, clutter, productivity, health issues
  • Stress about work, life, relationships

As it turns out, we all have struggles.

This video course will aim to get to the root of our struggles, and learn how to apply mindfulness practices to work with them.

It’s a four-week course, with two video lessons and two mindfulness practices a week … and it will start in April. More next week!

How to Attract Growth-Oriented Friends

A survey I did a while back revealed that about 40% of my readers have zero friends they’d consider growth-oriented, and another 20% only have one such friend. Many people who are attracted to my blog don’t have much social support for their personal growth pursuits. They often feel isolated as they explore different ways to wake up, grow faster, and live more fulfilling lives. They’re the aliens and oddballs in their social circles.

Over the years I’ve received many emails about the problems and challenges such growth-oriented people encounter. Working on their personal goals while dealing with social drag is a major issue for many people. Perhaps the biggest obstacle is dealing with your own self doubt when friends, family, and co-workers don’t understand or respect what you’re trying to accomplish.

Sometimes your decision to actively work on improving your life will stir up resistance in those around you. Sometimes people will get triggered by your actions or feel threatened or clingy. Sometimes they’ll even try to slow you down, although such reactions are usually subconscious.

You can try to persuade such people about the merits of your path. You can try not to let their unsupportive attitudes affect you. But in the long run, your best bet is to build a circle of growth-oriented friends who will understand, nurture, and support your desires. Such friends can also help you stretch beyond your initial intentions and avoid selling yourself short.

A Growth-Oriented Social Circle

What does a growth-oriented social circle look like? How will it affect you?

The main benefit is that you’ll have real friends who understand you and like you as you are. They know the benefits of pursuing personal growth, and it’s a no-brainer for them to enjoy connecting with you. Conversations flow easily and naturally. There’s no need to explain or justify why you’re exploring some personal growth pursuit. They’re a lot like you. They get it.

When you hit a snag on your path, you’ll always have people you can email, call, or meet to discuss your situation. People will happily give you advice. They’ll share resources with you. They’ll proactively tell you about new opportunities that might interest you. Instead of people sharing random Internet memes and cat photos with you, you’ll have people sharing useful leads that align with your goals. Your friends will know your goals, so when they spot something that could help you, they’ll tell you about it.

Did you know that every income stream I created for my business came to me through other people? Not a single stream was my original idea. I put my own spin on each idea’s implementation, but the basic ideas all came from other people. Other people told me where the diamonds were, so I didn’t have to go prospecting myself. I didn’t even have to search for publishers for my book because a publisher offered me a book deal before I wrote a single page of the book. I can’t imagine how many years it saved me to have a network of growth-oriented friends and contacts. These benefits are still ongoing. Whatever I want to accomplish of a growth-oriented nature, I have people to turn to for help. That makes a huge difference.

Imagine having a social network that keeps sharing practical ways for you to generate income… or improve your health… or enjoy fulfilling relationships. Growth-oriented people naturally do this for each other. However, they need to know you’re one of them before they’ll take the risk of sharing such info with you. People in this circle don’t want to waste their time investing in someone who won’t take action and who won’t keep the flow going.

When you have lots of growth-oriented friends, you won’t have so much doubt about your own personal growth pursuits. You’ll have plenty of other people validating the benefits of this path for you. You’ll receive positive encouragement and support. You’ll have people checking in with you to see if you’re still on track. People will care about what you’re working on and will want to learn from you too.

Life becomes less of a struggle. When you feel beaten down, people will lift you back up again. When you set a new goal, they’ll share leads and resources to point you in the right direction. You won’t have to solve every problem on your own. Sometimes people will even help you avoid problems before you get snared by them.

When you have a growth-oriented social circle, it also leads to invitations to connect with more like-minded people, even while you’re traveling. As your social circle expands, it becomes a resource for connecting with intelligent, growth-minded people wherever you go. I’m currently in Calgary, and it’s only my second time here ever. I enjoyed a stimulating discussion with several people about subjective reality during one hours-long breakfast. Tonight I’m going out to dinner with other friends, and we’re doing a video interview as well. These sort of connections happen effortlessly, even when I go to a new city I haven’t been to before. Once you have a big enough network of growth-minded people, you can leverage it for introductions and stimulating connections wherever you go. I think partly this isn’t because of the network itself but rather the expectation that comes from having growth-oriented friends. You expect to have that experience automatically, and so you do.

Of course there are the basic benefits of having good friends too – friends who like you as you are. You’ll have people to spend time with, share laughs with, cuddle with, and more. But instead of having to put on a social mask or hide part of your personality when you hang out with such people, you can talk about all the things that really matter to you too. You can talk about your life purpose, the nature of reality, productivity hacks, and all of your juicy and delicious growth pursuits with the same people.

These are delightful benefits to be sure. So how do you get there?

Be a Giver

One of the best ways to attract a growth-oriented social circle is to prove to the world that you’re a growth-oriented person. And a good way to do that is to help other people grow. Don’t just focus on your own growth. Invest some time and energy in helping others too. This can quickly transform your social circle.

For the first several years that I was into personal growth, it was mostly a private pursuit. During those years I read hundreds of books, attended seminars, practiced skills, wrote mission statements, analyzed my past, and so on. I did a lot of inner work. I occasionally helped people, but only on a small scale like in a discussion forum or via email. I didn’t make any substantial efforts to help other people grow as a regular part of my lifestyle.

For the most part, I was still the oddball in my social circle. I often felt more ambitious than the people around me. I lacked mentors to show me the ropes. I worked hard and tried to make the best decisions I could, but I struggled a lot, especially in business. In 1999 I went bankrupt due to racking up way too much debt trying to make my business work.

I came out of that experience with a very open mind. Going bankrupt was actually a relief, and it gave me a fresh start. I still loved being an entrepreneur, but I knew I couldn’t live the next five years like the previous five. I challenged my old assumptions and began exploring and experimenting with different ideas. I figured I had little to lose since my old approach clearly wasn’t working.

One of those experiments lead to volunteering in a trade association, writing articles, and reaching out to help others. Later I started a free discussion forum for indie game developers. I also began speaking at conferences to share ideas. I shifted my approach from working on personal growth in private to trying to be more helpful in public. My life transformed tremendously when I did this. My business finally started doing well too.

Within a year or so, my life was rich in growth-oriented friends. It all started with making the effort to help other people grow.

From 1999 to 2004, I did a lot of service-oriented work. This eventually led to starting my blog in 2004. My blog did well right out of the gate, but what many people don’t realize is that I’d been building up to this for five years prior. Before I published my first blog post, my articles published on other sites had already attracted thousands of readers. So I had lots of positive social support for moving in this direction when I finally made the shift. That social support made the transition much easier.

There was still some social drag. Many game developers and software developers think personal growth is cheesy, so when I decided to start a personal development blog, some thought it was a questionable shift. Yet those same critics love working on their personal growth. They just don’t label it as such. They prefer labels like education, skill building, social dynamics, and quantified self. The more android-sounding a label is, the more they seem to like it. But it’s still personal growth with a different tag.

The social drag didn’t matter though because I had plenty of positive social support. The positive social support is where you want your focus to be. If you try to convince the negative people in your life to get on board, you’ll waste a lot of energy and probably have little to show for it. If someone is getting in your face every week, stirring up your self doubt, or incessantly whining at you, then by all means let go of connections that are clearly not aligned. But otherwise it’s usually more productive to focus on adding positive social support instead of fussing over those who can’t give you what you need.

Graduate from Loyalty

What about loyalty? Shouldn’t we be loyal to the friends we already have, even if they can’t support our growth-oriented directions?

Questions about loyalty only seem to be asked by those who are being held back by negative social circles. People who are immersed in positive social support never seem to ask about loyalty. Why do you think that is?

Loyalty is forced obligation. The word itself is a trap used by clingy people to enforce relationships based through fear. Genuine relationships are chosen for mutual benefit, not enforced through obligation.

Do you want your friends and relationship partners to cling to you from a sense of obligation? Is that the kind of loyalty you desire? If not, then don’t be such a friend or partner to anyone else. Be loyal and true to your best self, and seek relationships that are aligned with your best self. Be loyal to your values, and let other people be loyal to theirs. Seek connections with people who are more loyal to their values than they’d ever be to you. Someone who’d put their relationship with you ahead of their highest and best values isn’t someone you can trust anyway.

An important corollary here is to get clear about the values that matter most to you, and do your best to live in alignment with them. If you value growth, then be shamelessly growth-oriented. Don’t hide your most sacred values. Let the world see you as you are. How else will other growth oriented people be able to recognize you?

Growth-Oriented People Are Looking for You

There’s a world of growth-oriented people that can be hard to see if you don’t publicly put yourself out there as one of them. If you’re always working on your personal growth in the shadows, such people will have a hard time spotting you. You’ll just look like another zombie going through the motions. You need to give such people a way to recognize you. If even one such person spots you, a single invitation can open up an entire network of new growth-oriented friends.

I was pretty shocked by how quickly other growth-oriented people flowed into my life when I started putting myself out there as one of them. It began happening from the time my first article was published in a software industry newsletter. My email address was included in the byline, and a few people wrote back to share feedback and thanks. As I continued down this path, there was a steamrolling effect. The more I expressed my values through published writing, the more like-minded people recognized me and offered some kind of connection.

If you were a growth-oriented person with a rich and vibrant network of growth-oriented friends, and you spotted a like-minded person who seemed to be all alone, largely unaware of what life could be like with a network like yours, what would you do? Would you keep quiet and let that person keep struggling, or would you reach out and offer some kind of invitation?

The counter-intuitive idea here is that if you want to receive such invitations yourself, then seek to become the kind of person who will reach out to help others. You can do that starting today. This is perhaps the most effective change you can make to demonstrate that you’re a good match for a growth-oriented friendship circle.

Otherwise if you believe you can’t help anyone right now, then next year you’ll probably believe the same, and the year after that, and so on. And growth-oriented people will continue to ignore you because you’ll seem to be too self-absorbed to be a good match for them. This is because personal growth is easier and faster with a network of givers. The more givers and contributors you see in a network, the faster everyone grows. So it’s just common sense for such networks to repel non-givers who only seem to care about themselves since that would only weaken the flow.

Start Giving Now

It’s important to give in such a way that feels good to you. This won’t work well if you’re too self-sacrificing or if you feel that your efforts aren’t appreciated much. It may take some experimenting to find the right calibration for you.

I love writing. For me writing is like a meditation. Combining writing with an Internet business is a great outlet for me. But for someone else, this may not be a good fit. If writing is painful for you, you might prefer other ways to contribute, such as by helping people one-on-one, volunteering, recording audio or video, starting a forum, or hosting a meetup group. Don’t feel you have to copy someone else’s approach.

Realize that you don’t have to be an expert to do this. I wrote articles about business success even before my business was doing well. I talked to people who were doing well and contrasted their habits and strategies with those who weren’t doing well. Writing those pieces was a great way to compile this knowledge for myself too. By sharing such ideas publicly, I received feedback to help refine the ideas. I also received lots of encouragement from people who applied those ideas to their businesses with good results. I didn’t have to pretend to be more successful than I was. I could compile and share other people’s lessons just as well. Many successful bloggers and podcasters started out this way.

You can sometimes make a profound difference in someone else’s life just by sharing a simple tip or observation. For example, I observed that the independent software developers who were doing well financially often spend about 50% of their time on marketing activities. The developers who weren’t doing very well usually spent less than 20% of their time on marketing (often less than 5%). Many of the developers who weren’t doing as well in business were highly skilled on the technical side, but they hadn’t invested much effort in learning marketing and sales. Just by sharing this simple observation, some developers shifted the way they allocated their time, and they saw rapid increase in their sales. I also applied this lesson to my own computer games business and saw great results.

You can become an authority by being a good listener and by paying attention. You can do research and share what you learn. You can do your own experiments and share the results. And if you keep doing this sort of thing, you’ll eventually become a legitimate expert in your field, and you’ll attract lots of smart, growth-oriented friends by raising your social profile.

Don’t assume you have to complete a big project in private first to earn the right to help people. You can find a way to be helpful starting today. Just go to a forum or a meetup group, and start helping out where you can.

Give sustainably in ways that feel good to you, but don’t become a people pleaser who says yes to every little request. People pleasers waste energy on low-value giving that isn’t appreciated instead of seeking meaningful contributions that fulfill and uplift them. They distract themselves with scraps instead of planting orchards.

The challenge of deciding where and how to give gets harder over time. The more you give, the more you’ll attract opportunities to give more. Eventually you’ll need to say no to some otherwise amazing invitations. This year in particular, I’ve had to say no to some invitations that I’d have jumped at in the past, so I can focus on the contributions that feel most aligned. It’s never easy to say no to the good in order to pursue something better.

There’s a social reason for focusing your contributions as well. After you attract a lot of growth-oriented friends, the next challenge is to attract friends who are strongly aligned with your biggest goals. Otherwise you may find yourself being pulled in too many different directions. Having growth-oriented friends with lots of different interests can be stimulating for a while, but eventually you may want some friendships that can help you stay focused on your biggest and most important goals.

Give More and Grow Faster

Be sure to align your giving and contribution with your personal growth as well.

Make sure that your giving continues to give you a sense of growth and improvement. Don’t let your contribution outlets become stagnant. Keep raising the challenge level. For instance, I went from writing about 5 articles per year before I started blogging to averaging about 100 articles per year since then. I went from doing 7-minute speeches in 2004 to doing 3-day workshops in 2009. If you keep raising the challenge level to keep pace with your growth, it’s less likely that you’ll feel bored or checked out.

Keep raising the bar for your contributions. Seek to become increasingly helpful by helping people in deeper ways, by helping more people, or both. Look for opportunities to increase the depth and breadth of your contribution. Don’t rest on your laurels.

The more ambitious you become about contribution, the more like-minded people you’ll attract who can encourage and support you in taking the next steps.

This will help you advance further beyond the limitations of social drag. You’ll meet people who strongly resonate with what you’re doing and want to see you succeed.

When you see your social support drying up – which may happen from time to time – that’s a good indication that it’s time to raise the bar on your service. Maybe you need to raise your standards for contribution by tackling something more ambitious and exciting, or maybe you need to shift the type of service you provide altogether to find that sweet spot of meaning and purpose again.

Make Invitations

My last tip for building a thriving social circle is to be proactive about making invitations. Don’t wait for people to come to you unless you want your social life to be a desert. When you find someone growth-oriented that you’d like to be friends with, make an invitation.

Additionally, make it easy for people to connect with you, especially face to face. One way that I do this is with a Meeting in Person page on my website. I also added a Meeting in Person FAQ to make it easier for people who might feel a little socially uncomfortable, doing my best to reassure them that they can expect a warm and friendly reception. On average I do a few of these meetups each month. I include a map and the address of the Starbucks where I often meet people, and occasionally I switch it to different locations if I ever get bored from going to the same place too much. The point is to reduce friction to make it easier for like-minded people to connect. These meetups also help me connect the online work I do with real human beings that are affected by it.

When was the last time you invited a growth-oriented friend to share a meal together? It only takes a minute to send an email. But if you get in the habit of doing this, it means more face time with like-minded people. And it means more invitations for you as well.

* * *

To build a strong friendship network, seek to become the type of person who’d be an obviously good fit for such a network. Be a giver. Contribute positively to people’s lives. Share what you’re learning along the way. Look for ways to sustainably deepen and expand your contribution. Express your values openly. Don’t hide. You can potentially inherit an entire network of great friends with a single invitation from the right person, so do what you can to make it easy for such a person to recognize you. And be the kind of person who seeks to elevate other growth-oriented people as well.

Receive Steve's new articles by email.

The post How to Attract Growth-Oriented Friends appeared first on Steve Pavlina - Personal Development for Smart People.

CGC Payment Plan Details

So far 92 people have asked to be added to the Conscious Growth Club early access notification list. I’d have been happy to see 20 for the early access, so I’m delighted to see so much interest. I continue to receive enthusiastic emails about CGC each day. I still think we’re on track to open up early access for CGC by the end of this month.

I haven’t written any blog posts this month yet since I’ve been busy working on setting up the membership site, the sign-up process, and the payment plan option.

I just updated the CGC pricing section to share the payment plan details if you’re curious about that.

I’m currently in Calgary where it was about -18º C (0º F) when I arrived, which was a great incentive to stay inside and work. It’s now a balmy 3º C, so tonight Rachelle and I will venture out to see a play.

The post CGC Payment Plan Details appeared first on Steve Pavlina - Personal Development for Smart People.

Posted in: Uncategorized |