The Slight Edge Report Year Seven
On the business & career side of things, the last year has been the most impactful since I started my transformation. And business is like litmus paper, like a visible top of an iceberg that indicates the scale of everything else that changed, so I’ll start with reporting my business progress.
August and September were very busy months for me. My kids had vacations in August. On the one hand, I spent more time with them, on the other hand, my younger son who helped me with creating ads for customers had more time to work. He kept me pretty busy finding new orders for him, he wanted to buy a new computer.
Also, those months were full of additional social and family activities. The back porch for our home was finally finished, so my wife began to invite people for the display.
We also attended one wedding in August and my cousin’s wedding of at the beginning of September. My family from Ireland arrived and they spent several days with us.
Between my half-time job, family activities and growing my book advertising service, I also worked on the next book. I was overwhelmed. The influx of prospects for book advertising was too much for me. And I definitely needed more hands to create more ads. I got the brilliant idea of hiring a couple of sisters from my church community and had the initial conversations with them.
Then, I brought this idea to my supervisory board (read: my wife) and the answer was a resounding NO! My wife was offended that I even considered hiring more people. She took it personally as a critique of her performance. Of course, she could create more ads by herself!
Moreover, my eldest son, who maintained Google tracking sheets for my customers started a day job in the middle of August. Immediately, he slacked horribly on his tasks for me.
So, I was stuck with too much work and too small of a crew.
I remember complaining about this to my mom who was about to visit us. She got a brilliant idea- my father and sisters could help me.
This time, when I hinted the idea of expanding my team my wife didn’t withstand. Somehow, hiring my family was different in her mind than hiring folks from my church community.
Don’t ask. It’s a woman’s logic. I cannot follow it a bit.
It was the beginning of the expansion. My eldest sister became a new ad creator. With time, I also gave her some management responsibilities. Now, I list requirements for specific orders and she puts them in the specific format readable by our team members. She also took over report generation and processing from me. I get the list of high performance keywords from a couple of markets every month with zero involvement on my part.
My father took over maintenance of the Google tracking sheets from my eldest. My wife took over generation of data files, which are the input for those Google sheets, from me. When I experimented with getting back on Medium in February, I taught her how to import and format articles from Quora and my blog. That cut my workload for Medium article preparation in half.
In the first months of 2019, I taught my younger son how to calculate profits for our customers at the end of the month. He also downloads PayPal payment confirmations for me, which I later forward to my accountant.
As you can see, I got a LOT off of my plate in the past year.
And I hired one of the sisters from my church community in April. We had too many ads to do and this time my wife gave her consent.
My attempt to bring new people into my business and the overwhelming workload I was able to present to my supervisory board resulted in a surprising twist. My wife agreed that I should work only quarter-time in my day job! The very next day I had a talk with my supervisor. She was exasperated with me:
“Really? Quarter-time? Why not quit altogether?”
But she agreed. I have been working only 10 hours a week in my day job since October 2018.
Wow! That was a huge blessing. Initially, it hit us a bit financially, but like with going half-time, my side hustle income increased almost immediately. It started generating $2,800-$3,500 a month whereas it dropped below $2k in August and September.
The biggest blessing was a mental one. I got some breathing space. I slowed down. I had the time to tackle some side projects. In October and November, I was busy publishing my new book- “Power up Your Self-Talk.” I could make some video or on-hands trainings and outsource more work to my team. I had more time to spend with my family. I announced to my kids that an hour of quality time with dad a week is obligatory and we were very consistent with this in 2019.
My sleep schedule improved significantly. Getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night became the exception, not the rule.
Downsizing my day job was the one thing that made all other things easier or unnecessary. It was the thing that influenced everything else in my life in the last year. I could make some progress with my faith, family, and personal development because I finally had the time and brain capacity to dedicate those resources to other areas of my life.
I found very challenging to work from home and the challenge’s name was Anna. My wife has never been able to truly wrap her mind around the two facts:
-that I actually work when I sit behind the desk in my home office
-and that an hour of my work is worth about $50
She loves to burst into my office to show me some funny meme on Facebook. And of course, I should help her bring the shopping into the house; she did the shopping, so I should pull my weight too.
First, I was furious. Then, I was frustrated. It was like the time I downsized my day job to half-time and started to work from home, but worse.
Working half-time, I was away from home every single day. I could do more during the commute. And my wife had this knowledge that I am working on my employer’s stuff, so at home I need to catch up with my own stuff. Plus, she started to do more things for me and whenever she had some question about her tasks it was obvious to her that her question is #1 priority. Always.
My productivity plummeted. I tried to explain my difficulties to my wife, but my arguments fell on deaf ears. Those discussions were more tiring and energy-sucking than enduring the constant flow of interruptions.
In the end, I accepted the situation for what it was. I began my Productivity Ninja training. It’s still a work in progress, but more often than not I can break off from my work when my wife bursts into my office or scream at me because Amazon changed the AMS interface again and she had to do her job in a slightly different manner. I give her my attention and deal with the “emergency”; then, I go back to work.
Research say that it takes about 23 minutes to go back to the previous level of productivity after an interruption. Well, they clearly didn’t research me.
Officially Starting a Business
In January, I established a LLC in Poland. My income-generating activities weren’t fitting the “personal activity” umbrella for some time and I was lucky no authorities inquired perceptively into my income statements.
I delayed with this because the legal environment and dealing with officials in Poland is not entrepreneurship-friendly, to say the least. I seriously considered creating a business in the States and paying Polish taxes from my business salary. But that would mean still dealing with the Polish IRS and with the whole legal background in another country, so I decided to start the official business in Poland. The online nature of my business allows me to live and work anywhere I want, so if it comes to that I can always shut down everything here and look for greener pastures.
I hired an accountant who helped me a lot with paperwork. The procedure of starting the business was very simple and required only one visit in a county office.
I had to become more diligent about documenting my revenue and expenditures. I implemented processes both for documenting and sharing them with the accountant.
The best thing about starting a business was that I could actually write off many expenditures which I already had, like my mastermind fee or a fee for my email management system.
You’ve already read about the expansion of my team, but all this work didn’t translate very well into revenues and profits. In October, we crossed the $2,000 point for the first time and we had four months over this threshold in the past year. But I also had three months just over 15 hundred bucks and the last two months were over 17 hundred.
Running the official business generated some costs too.
At the beginning of 2019 I lost my biggest customer who generated about 25-35% of the revenue. I lost another big one a few months later and some customers who were ‘biggies’ for us are no longer. My ads have been losing the edge over time and instead of generating $300 in profit they generate $50 a month.
Having said all that, the business is healthy. As of writing this report we have 16 customers and one in the testing phase. So, instead of having a few big fish we have about a dozen customers who pay us around $100 a month. I definitely prefer this model.
I fine-tuned my onboarding process for customers. I’m more firm about who I work with. Time after time, I found out that my intuition is (almost) always right. It worked for both directions. Some people begged and forced me to create ads for them and I saw from the first moment they weren’t the right fit. Sure enough, I wasted time and energy to setup their book pages and their ads only to confirm my initial estimation – I couldn’t generate profits for them.
And sure enough, when I reckoned someone was a good fit, every single time I was able to generate profits for them.
I reject about 90% of prospects who inquire about my service.
I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. It’s not that I don’t want to try working with some of them. But I have only so much capacity and if my prediction is right, in the end they will make no money on the deal, so why bother to even start?
I recognized I can’t help them all and I that I need to build my own marketing muscles. So far I got every single one of my clients by referral. To help the rejected prospects and to attract people with some free advice I started to create content on the Resurrecting Books website. I write about topics strictly related to advertising books with AMS – book description, book page, reading the AMS dashboard numbers, and so on.
Pay What It’s Worth
I offered to coach few people about AMS ads when we couldn’t start my standard 50-50 profit split deal. Right now, I have a couple such customers. I could reuse some of the training videos recorded for my team. Also, I run and supervise their ads, like for my standard customers. The added value for them is that they will learn how I run the shop, so they can do it themselves when they are ready for it.
During the last year I’ve been in contact with or worked with some tycoons in the self-publishing space: Bryan Cohen (the co-host of The Sell More Books Show and owner of Best Page Forward), Joe Bunting (the owner of The Write Practice), Susan Friedman (the host of Book Marketing Mentors podcast) and Steve Kidd (the owner of KIDD Marketing). I met half of them through Dave Chesson (as well as half of my prospects), who became a household name in his own right. I feel soon I’ll be able to just hint his name to open some doors which were closed for me before.
It’s not that I’m so bright or doing the right things. I’m open to be led. The best example is breaking into the Canadian market.
One of my customers inquired if I can run ads for him in other markets. I was about to tell him that UK is an option, but not Canada since Sponsored Ads for books weren’t allowed there. However, I double-checked first and to my amazement the ads could be created! I quickly setup a whole bunch of ads for my books.
Nowadays, about 40% of my sales come from that market. About 25% of the Resurrecting Books revenue is generated in Canada.
I quickly informed my self-publishing friends about this opportunity… and it appeared no one else can run ads in CA. I created the Advantage account a year ago and the CA AMS account through it. This route is closed one. I have almost the whole personal development / business genre for me!
Very little of that was my doing.
I’m firmly convinced that my results are not the outcome of my efforts. I’m not so bright to predict the Canadian market will open in a year, so I created the Advantage account in advance. I do my part of work, the tiny part. I’m led to the fantastic outcomes by Providence.
Since March 2019, I never sold less than 1,200 copies of my books per month. Month by month, like clockwork. Before getting into Canada, I sold over 1,000 copies only during my launches, huge promotions, or during the hot Christmas season.
I had more cases like this, where I didn’t generate the outcome which happened. Yes, I was prepared. Yes, I helped it happen. Nope, I had no intention nor goal to make it happen. It was bestowed on me.
Another story: Dave Chesson introduced me to a guy and said that he has over 200,000 authors on his email list, so I had better do good work for him. Let’s call him Jim. During the introductory call Jim told me that he wants to advertise his father in law’s book.
“I want to impress him, no pressure, huh?” – he said jokingly.
This book has been the best I’ve ever advertised. It got about 40% of the monthly impressions my own 11 advertised book got together. The conversion rates were insane. We sold 1,500 copies in five months.
Needless to say, both Jim and his father in law were impressed.
My eldest son got hired in my day job at a junior position. He worked there part-time since the middle of August till the middle of June. It was a great experience for him. He coped with studying full-time and working half-time for the whole year.
But Salesforce development and support wasn’t his thing. Intellectually he was capable of doing it. He was a match for all those bright university students and graduates who work in my department. Mentally, he wasn’t adult enough to grit his teeth and do the work he didn’t like. So, both he and his supervisor weren’t ready to continue the cooperation
One day in May, it was a Tuesday, I drove with my wife to a place 30 miles away to scrap her old car. In the same location there was a palace complex from the 18th century, so we went for sightseeing.
We approached the palace around noon. A couple of school trips were just finishing their tour. The place was amazing. It screamed prosperity. Nope, it screamed luxury.
In the middle of our tour, I realized we are the only guests in the palace. After visiting the palace complex, we went for a walk in the palace’s park. In the early Tuesday afternoon, we were the only people there.
And then the realization hit me: I made it!
When I started my transformation in 2012, one of my prime motivations was to get rid of the shackles of the corporate world. As a cog in the corporate machine I wasn’t a master of my time nor my destiny. Every single workday 9 to 5, I had been away from my family. Every day, I had been doing things I had no great interest in. I was living to make a living.
That Tuesday, I realized I was no longer a slave to the corporate world; I wasn’t subjected to the constraints of that world anymore.
Yes, I still work in a corpo, but it’s rather my wife’s whim than necessity. Yes, the benefits probably outweigh my salary right now. I would have paid about 40% of my salary in social security fees as a business owner if my employer wasn’t paying them for me. I heavily utilized the ‘free’ medical insurance this year – a courtesy of my employer- working on my shoulder rehabilitation. I have a free international phone plan and official permission to use the phone for my private calls.
So, I enjoy all the benefits and very little of corpo politics. My work is not hard at all, the hardest thing is to motivate myself to do it. My line of work allows me to shuffle my hours around. I can take two days off and have 6 days off in reality.
And I can take my wife to sightsee a palace in the middle of Tuesday.
I got back on Quora, for good. I love it to the core. 90% of my answers are reused old answers because new people ask new questions very similar to what was already asked before. It takes me about 20 minutes to find a relevant question, find a relevant old answer, copy, format and publish it.
And the results were awesome. I have over six thousand followers on Quora, my answers were viewed over 7,100,000 times and I answered well over 1,300 questions.
And I know for sure that I have more than one book already written in all those answers. In fact, my next book project will be a book about habits that will consist 98% from my Quora answers.
Reusing past answers works like a charm and the answers that were popular in the past are almost guaranteed to be featured by Quora. I republished my popular answer about gratitude journaling and it was sent to over a million Quora users!
And from time to time I get a comment from a user that blows my mind. Like this one:
I was in a funk when I read this. It uplifted me immensely and gave me a renewed sense of purpose in my writing.
God uses me to help people. When I was writing this piece, I just wanted to make people aware how important gratitude practice is. I never aimed to save people from suicide.
Since last August I went to the USA twice for my mastermind’s retreat. I enjoyed both stays thoroughly. The first retreat was especially amazing. I spent a few days living with an American family and I met my dear online friend, Rebeca Patrick-Howard face to face.
It was one of the dreams come true for me. We met together in the Pat’s 1st Kindle Book Facebook group and we’ve known each other for years.
I’m bitching internally quite a lot about my mastermind. It’s not an easy thing to be a single Polish man among 100+ Americans and the time difference makes it very hard to connect with my peers. I cannot be as close to them as I would have wished for. Yet, those short trips to the States more than compensate for all the shortfalls.
I always say I go there for my mastermind buddies and everything is just icing on the cake. However, this time even the keynotes made a difference for me. Mike Michalowicz gave a presentation about the Pumpkin Plan and he certainly encouraged me to fire some customers with whom I was less than happy. And I reflected on my best customers and how to duplicate them. My customer base is now smaller, my revenue didn’t move much (so it also didn’t drop much!) and I enjoy the daily business interactions more.
At the retreat in fall, I was recognized for my persistence and I received the Grit Award. That was a very nice moment.
I hit 40 this year. My sisters made a whip-round, so we could have a weekend trip to Prague with my wife. We went there at the beginning of May. The weather was absolutely awful for this time of year, but we didn’t mind it. You don’t need perfect weather for sightseeing.
In Prague, we met with Hynek Palatin, my friend and book formatter. Like many good things in my life, I hadn’t known him seven years ago. He was our tour guide on Friday (the best guide in this price range in all of Prague; the joke is on Hynek) and we spent an evening over drinks the next day.
I’m not a tourist type, but my wife is. She was stoked to see all the “goodies” Prague had. I was tired of walking, but happy that she was happy.
We could easily afford the trip, both in monetary and time value. The whole trip cost about 10% of my monthly gross income. That Friday was a Polish national holiday, so I took only the Monday off in my day job (we were back in Poland at about 9:30 am on Monday morning).
I even could “afford” to break my only two habit streaks I kept since joining CoachMe in September 2013. On Friday, I forgot to do my workout, since my trigger for it is a part of my morning ritual and this ritual was greatly disrupted because we woke up on a train to Prague. On Saturday, I simply forgot to write. The day was so full of activities that it simply escaped from my mind.
Thanks to my new work schedule we were in a cinema countless times in the last year. I didn’t miss a single Marvel premiere and I was on a few movies a couple of times.
We finally connected a gas system to our home and replaced our coal furnace with the gas furnace. I haven’t had to carry coal sacks for the last two months! This investment consumed about one month’s income.
My wife still has no idea how much money I make. Well, I answered every single financial question she had. I showed her our bank account statements. But she simply cannot wrap her head around the fact. It’s funny how the human mind works, she lives in denial.
For example, when we bought a one-week trip to Greece on the spot (we are going there in September) she was absolutely amazed that we can.
I have a different problem. It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around my time flexibility. We can afford to go to Greece for a week. My wife works from home, me too. They won’t miss me much in my day job for all the whooping 13 hours I took off for that trip. Our kids are grownups, my eldest son got voting rights this year. Like with that one-day trip to the palace I realized we have almost no time-based restrictions.
And this is awesome.
12 Week Year
Right now I’m in the middle of the 3rd quarter of 2019. So, two 12WY “sprints” are behind me. I’m not very impressed with my productivity or the scope of projects I moved forward. I definitely have troubles with planning in the long term.
However, implementing this system helped my productivity. Creating the LLC, implementing accounting processes, creating business processes for ResurrectingBooks, training my team- it all was a part of my 12WY.
Thanks to this system I adopted one habit that greatly increased my daily productivity- I create weekly schedules in my calendar and I work with them. I check the calendar many times a day and the Google sheet with it remains always open on my computer
Consulting the calendar many times a day was beneficial from the tracking standpoint. I need to shuffle items around it when I slack or something unexpected happens. I need to have a look every so often to see what’s ahead in my day. One of the aspects of diligent tracking is data it leaves.
Thanks to my 12WY calendars I was able to determine that an hour of my work is worth $30 per hour net, so about $50 gross (about 3x more than my wage in my day job!). I also discovered that I actually work only about half-time in my business, 4 hours a day on average, six days a week. In fact, I work only about quarter-time on Resurrecting Books and the rest of my activities are related to my writing career.
I’m getting better at creating and maintaining relationships. I’m still hopeless compared to some awesome folks in this area (David Chesson and Vincent Pugliese come to my mind), but I’m better than I was. I credit a lot of this improvement to The Big Potential. I read a fragment of this book every morning and it helps me keep my reluctant subconscious on track.
I got a few clients in the past year just because I was willing to reach out. I contacted people whose books were dead to give them some hope or who had some success with ads to exchange experience. And I landed deals as a result of those conversations!
Sometimes random interactions led to business. At the beginning of 2019 I was interested in Medium Partner Program. I reached out to Ayodeji Awosika who has some serious success on Medium. I gave him some advice on how to sell more books on Amazon and he shared with me some tips regarding Medium.
He became my ResurrectingBooks customer and I published several dozen articles on Medium.
A former member of my mastermind approached me asking for help with book marketing. Unfortunately, it was a traditionally published book. All I could do was to share a few tips with him. But a few months later he introduced me to an author who was about to launch a book. We created a set of ads for this author.
A fellow Quoran reached out to me. We had a nice conversation. I helped him a bit with his book launch. He introduced me to another guy.
Iron Sharpens Iron
I started to encourage guys in my mastermind to connect more. I set a call with a new member and he appeared to be a newbie to online marketing. He wrote a few books and started a blog. We spent over 90 minutes chatting. I told him about my success with Quora and we organized the next call when I showed him how I repurpose my content on Quora.
As you can see, The Big Potential worked even without my conscious attention. I don’t need to be a pushy salesman to get business. It’s enough to stay in touch with people I know and get in touch with new people. Usually, almost during every conversation we find some common points and things we can help each other.
This is the most important relationship in my life. And it’s improving inch by inch. I started this year with a goal of having at least one deep conversation a week with my wife. Didn’t happen. I felt resistance, both internal and from my wife.
However, when I was lamenting about it on the mastermind calls my friends didn’t let me off the hook. They were keeping my feet to the fire. This another angle for the Big Potential and power of relationships. I never got much from my mastermind in the business area. But if not those guys, I’d probably have succumbed to my old ways and stop the conversation attempts. They didn’t let me. That was more valuable than any business advice I could’ve ever got. In fact, it’s priceless.
I switched from a weekly goal to a daily one. I’m better with daily actions. We communicate more often and better. We spent more time with each other – remember those trips? We work together.
Also, my wife gives me more space and I attribute it to diminishing her fears. She loves to have me close to herself, but this year she allowed me to go to the Lent retreat, a get-together from my day job and a couple of mastermind retreats in the USA.
I sold over 13,000 copies of my books in the last 12 months. My book sales decreased by about 5% despite selling more books in Canada and selling a few hundred copies outside of Amazon. However, the share of paperbacks in all sales increased from 26% to 42%. My book royalties actually jumped by 35% year-to year thanks to that. At least 20% of my Kindle sales come from a few 99-cent titles (about 33 cents of royalties per copy). On the other hand, my paperbacks generate from $3 to $5 royalties per copy.
My side hustle income grew by almost 17% this year.
Unfortunately, our overcome net income decreased by 9% because of giving up another quarter of my day job salary and because of the fixed cost of running an official business. It isn’t as bad as it looks. First of all, our income is high enough to not miss much this $5k a year. Most importantly, my working hours decreased by 22%! I work less for more money.
In November 2018, I published my latest book, “Power up Your Self-Talk.” It generated a few thousand dollars in royalties. The launch went very well. You can read the full launch report here:
We had two main investments in the past year – we fixed a leaking roof and connected our home to gas system. We also replaced a coal furnace with a gas furnace. This investment consumed about 10% of our yearly income.
I paid off, apart from the normal plan, over 5% of my mortgage. Our savings ratio dropped to 9%; mostly because of the volatility of the business income. We drew from our saving a couple of times. Once because I miscalculated my business cost and had to cover them from savings. One month we saved less than $100. But there were a few months when the savings ratio jumped to almost 30% too.
I wasn’t sick even one time in the last year. How much additional productivity is that?
But I strained my shoulders doing pullups and didn’t listen to my body. I continued to exercise despite the pain. I injured my shoulders. I spent the last nine months in rehabilitation. My shoulders improved, but not much. At least they don’t hurt when I do everyday activities like they used to.
One of psychical therapy guys told me that doing pullups in this state would be idiotic. Well, I sometimes do idiotic things. A couple of months ago I get back to pullups, but I’ve noticed an immediate and dramatic deterioration of my shoulders.
My new workout of choice is doing burpees. Even one minute of burpees punishes me. Two minutes of doing them as fast as possible? Excruciating. My pulse was 192 at one time.
Connoted with my shoulder problem is a back problem. Muscles around my shoulder blades are constantly tense. I introduced a couple of new habits to deal with this- self-massage with a massage ball and stretching that replaced my morning cardio workout.
Those disciplines keep the tension at bay, but I can hardly recall a day without tension in my back in the last several months.
My problems with my shoulders made my workouts less intensive and less frequent. My weight started to climb back. I still keep it roughly in the 138-144 lbs. range, but for the last several months I haven’t seen 138 lbs. on the scale even once. And I’ve seen 144 lbs. or more much often than I would like.
And it’s hard to fast around my wife. She feels like it’s her purpose in life to feed me at least once a day.
It’s hard to put my finger on a specific discipline that helped me grow in this area. Well, implementing 12 Week Year definitely helped me here. Tracking my whole time forced me to be more productive and forward-thinking. It eliminated plenty of excuses to not do things today, mobilized my ability to act and cut off procrastination. Constant tracking keeps me constantly on my toes.
The sheer amount of my daily activities forces me to get better. Trying to get a bigger impact on Quora, being active in a few authors groups on Facebook, networking with authors and entrepreneurs. Even my day job helps me grow. I became a trustee of my supervisor. She recognized my progress as a person and sometimes she just dumps on me what’s going on around. She knows that copro politics don’t interest me in the least and I’m still a part of the team and company, so I actually know what she is talking about.
I discovered Brian Buffini’s podcast this year. My reader (thanks XXX) sent me a link to the podcast after one of my self-pity party in my email broadcast. Brian is a lot like Jim Rohn; no wonder, Jim was his mentor. I still have about 100 episodes to catch up with. Brian’s stuff is top notch. I learn a lot listening to his podcast, but reinforcing what I already knew is even better. Sometimes I hear him saying things like taken directly from my books. It’s very encouraging.
At the Lent retreat I heard that self-love is 101 of personal development. Well, I skipped this basic lesson on my journey and had to go back to basics. I struggle immensely in this regard. I’m my own harshest critic.
I’m constantly worried that I’ll let myself off the hook if I’ll be too permissive to myself. Well, for that hesitation I received the answer that the best way to avoid this is to invite others into your internal world and show them how you are doing.
I have been doing this for years with my two accountability partners, my church community, my mastermind and in my writing. I also ‘hired’ my friend who was with me at the retreat to be my accountability partner in the area of spiritual life. And, of course, my spouse is the best detector of self-indulgence in the world.
Thus, having secured against the possibility of leniency, I could focus on loving myself more. It’s going painfully slow. Like with The Big Potential, I understand the need intellectually, but it’s a total enigma for me at the emotional level. I lived without self-love 40 years, why would I need it now?
Oh, I discovered one thing I have been doing for a long time which helped a lot. I didn’t do it with the intention to love myself more, but that was the end result. Part of my gratitude journaling is self-appreciation. For years, practically every day, I’ve been noting a few things I’ve done right on the current day.
So, I guess I didn’t miss the whole 101 personal development lessons. My growth was too rapid for that. I just wasn’t very intentional about it and I suppose I still have a lot to learn and practice in the self-love area.
I solidified my prayer habit. 12WY helped me with that. I purposefully added prayer blocks into my schedule. I was praying constantly next to doing anything physical, but I noticed all too many times finishing my prayers in bed. I simply don’t have yet a full power over my mind and switching between activities plus doing so many things every day occupied my mind leaving very little space for prayer.
I hope I didn’t overwhelm you with this detailed report and a lot of minor things which happened throughout the last 12 months. The point of those reports is still the same -to feed your belief that small habits can lead to extraordinary changes.
I remember like yesterday my starting point. When it came to business I was not only completely clueless, I also didn’t believe I could provide something of value to the marketplace. It was a purely theoretical possibility for me. Nowadays, I lead a team of seven and we are selling thousands of books every month.
Another huge change that was outside the realm of my belief was my marriage. In the last few years I grew almost desperate in my attempts to reconnect with my wife. It didn’t seem to lead anywhere.
Yet, I kept my daily tiny disciplines. I’ve kept a gratitude journal about her since September 2012. A few years ago, after reading an online article on the positive influence of looking at cute small animals I started sending her one image a day. Then I changed it to gifs with animals and added 1-line commentary to them. Another tiny thing I kept doing was sending her every morning my book sales reports. The initial goal was to sooth her mind when she quit her day job. It probably worked, hence she agreed to downsize my day job to half-time and later quarter-time.
Small habits compound and interconnect. Joining my first mastermind in 2016 and the current one in October 2017 was a business-driven decision. I knew I needed to build a business to break free from the corpo world. I was also motivated to be around people more successful and better than me according to Jim Rohn’s adage:
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
However, so far I got the most of the masterminds in regard to my marriage. When I shared my marital struggles those folks didn’t allow me to quit although it crossed my mind more than once. I credit the positive shift in my marriage to their influence.
I also hope I demonstrated in this and every past report how habits are applicable to every area of life. When we think about habits it’s usually about productivity or personal development. But habits are overarching. They encompasses the core of your being like no other human activity. I improved my marriage; I improved my spiritual life; I improved my health.
The next point: habits don’t need to be grand to be effective.
They need to be regular. Sustainability is what you aim for when you think about creating a new habit.
My biggest habit is writing every day. It takes me now about half an hour a day.
Ask any pro writer, it’s not that much. Yet, this “not much” produced over 2 million words, 16 books, hundreds of blog posts and thousands of Quora answers. Still, it pales in comparison to my other habits.
Health is the most impressive area of progress. My habits here are miniscule: weighing myself every day, eating one raw vegetable or fruit a day, doing 2-minute workout a day, running stairs instead of climbing them, tracking my sleep, taking naps, avoiding elevators and so on.
An apple a day keeps a doctor away.
Simple stuff. Small stuff. Yet, I can do 100 pushups even with my crippled shoulders. I do 50 pushups without breaking a sweat. My immune system is strong as ever, I was bedridden for the last time in January 2018. Even my allergy symptoms went way down.
Another important thing: the answers are inside you.
You know best which habits should you start to improve your life. I still keep a few disciplines I started in 2012 when I brainstormed what I can do daily to reach my goals. You don’t need seminars and courses to start. All you need are disciplines which you can continue doing for the rest of your life. Simple stuff. Small stuff.
Changing your life is not as complicated as we make it. Success is a few simple disciplines repeated over time. You don’t need hypnosis. You don’t need enlightenment bestowed upon you. You need to do small simple things day by day.
In general, we are absolutely hopeless when it comes to changing our beliefs. This is what stops 99% of us. Changing your daily habits is the best way to change your beliefs. You do new things and you get new inputs. You start to believe you are capable. You start to believe you are enough. You start to believe it’s possible.
Then, you take more and bolder actions which shift your beliefs even faster. But the whole cycle starts from those daily habits.