What Does True Financial Freedom Look Like?

Ah, financial freedom!

The golden dream of the modern jobholder, and an untold number of online marketers and aspiring bloggers.

And for good reason. Who wouldn’t love to have the ability to do what you want, when and where you want, with whom you want – all without worrying about money?

Often romantic images of travel and adventure go hand in hand with the financial freedom ideal, but it is by no means limited to people who have quit their day job to make a “passive” living online.

This “financial freedom” can apply equally to a family of 5 living in suburbia, only this family isn’t living week to week or month to month and they are cash flow positive – unlike the majority of their neighbors.

There are many different flavors of this vision and ideal, but they have 1 crucial thing in common.

They’re all fucking lies illusions.
Continue reading “What Does True Financial Freedom Look Like?”

The Ultimate Bubblews Review (2015) – Good, Bad, or Scam?

Bubblews

Bubblews is a controversial new player on the article marketing scene, and as such deserved a level-headed review of its strengths and weaknesses as a money making opportunity for writers.

If it’s true that “any press is good press”, Bubblews is doing something right. I’ve never seen the legitimacy of a writing site so hotly contested.

On one hand, news outlets such as Wired.com and even Fox News have highlighted the opportunity to “shake up” the social media world by paying users 1 cent for every like, comment and share.

And on the other, there are a lot of angry users crying foul and calling the website a scam.

Which is exactly why I’ve put together the most exhaustive Bubblews review on the net (updated August 2014). Because if you’re planning on writing there and have read any of the hysterical opinions – good or bad – you desperately need to get the whole picture.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

Continue reading “The Ultimate Bubblews Review (2015) – Good, Bad, or Scam?”

Excess in Moderation: How to Live Longer, Lose Weight & Live the Good Life

all things in moderation?

Moderation.

It’s like a new-age mantra, most often used to justify eating habits, alcohol, and TV watching.

It tells us that we can essentially do whatever we want so long as we don’t do too much of it, and that this is the key to living a good life where we can responsibly indulge in hedonistic pleasures.

I think that’s completely ridiculous. (Kind of like saying “whole grains are part of a complete breakfast“.)

Continue reading “Excess in Moderation: How to Live Longer, Lose Weight & Live the Good Life”

In The Eye of The Beholder: Are You Successful?

How can we love our life?
Success is in the eye of the beholder

As someone traveling the world while making a living writing on the Internet, I often feel like I’m living in a dream world.

And other times, I find myself feeling like I’m not rich enough, famous enough, successful enough.

I mean, I don’t have that much to show off about, not much to brag about at cocktail parties…or tailgate parties. No fancy car, no big house, no a bank statement that can barely be contained by the edges of the page.

Nothing except the fact I get to do something I love every day from anywhere with an Internet connection. Something that lets me express myself openly, utilizes my skills and interests, and — hopefully — helps people.

This should not be disappointing. This should not be stressful. But sometimes it is.

When there is a disconnect between who we want to be and who we feel we’re supposed to be, we experience suffering: Anxiety, worry, feelings of inadequacy, and uncertainty. Shame, guilt, frustration and “feeling stuck”.

Are You Successful Enough (To Be Happy)?

Society places certain expectations on each one of us. The media and advertising sells images of what success and happiness are supposed to look like, images designed to make us open our wallets as often as possible.

These expectations are different for each of us depending on our age, ethnicity, gender, and other demographic information but have the same underlying themes: We’re supposed to look young (it’s okay to be old, but only if you don’t look it), slender & sexy (without trying too hard), have a high paying job, a good looking (“perfect”) family, a big house and nice car, time for interesting hobbies, be well-read on any subject, and so on.

The message boils down to this: We are not successful enough to deserve happiness.

As a result, we will often pour time and effort into attaining the unattainable. But the emotional toll it takes is far more costly than the time, energy, and money we may spend.

For we can never be happy when we’re trying to meet these external benchmarks of “success”. And the harder we try, the more we suffer.

Case in point, I was always successful in both academics and athletics during school. I constantly heard how smart or great I was.

While this is undoubtedly better than hearing that you’re stupid and a loser, it had a toxic effect: I came to believe I always had to be perfect, to win, to succeed and that I could never show signs of weakness…of mortality.

So when I developed tendonitis while studying jazz guitar (an unexpected career move for someone perfectly suited to science) at the University of Manitoba, my pride would not let me stop playing.

I have it written in my practice log: The last day I practiced before my body literally gave out I practiced for 13.5 hours. (This was not abnormal by the way)

I had struggled with tendonitis for about 3 years to this point (September 2009). And my urgent need to “not fail” made me think that 13.5 hours of direct aggravation of my injury was a reasonable idea.

In July of 2012, when I turned 24, I still could not drive, use a knife and fork, or pretty much do anything requiring fine motor control or gripping. (One year later, I’m finally about 80%-90% better on good days)

But I’m Not Obsessive!

Clearly, this is an insane, obsessive behavior that no rational person would ever do right? I wish. We all do things like this – perform some action that is totally counterproductive to our well being, just often in more subtle, more insidious ways.

Like trying 17 different diets instead of working on your self image & values – which will dictate any necessary lifestyle changes.

Or a middle-class cubicle jockey working overtime to make extra money instead of spending time with his/her children – because it’s home reno season!

The problem with keeping up with the Jones’s isn’t just that they’re going broke, it’s that they also hate their empty, frustrating, stressful, unfulfilling lives.

So how can we stop the madness and live true to ourselves? To escape consumerist propaganda & well-meaning but harmful parents/teachers/authority figures?

Especially when there’s nothing wrong with having a big house, a high salary, or a bodacious six pack. How do you know where the real bullshit ends and you begin? How do you tell if one of these expectations is helping or harming you.

I’ve found that writing the answers to these questions posed by Brené Brown in I Thought it was Just Me (But it Isn’t) helps clarify things nicely:

How do I want to be perceived: (ex// successful, clever, a good father, perfect life – has it all together)

How do I NOT want to be perceived: (ex// a failure, weak , boring, stupid/ignorant, an unfit parent)

Knowing how you want others to perceive you is just as important as how you perceive yourself. When we judge ourselves as not living up to these ideals we create, we suffer for it. But now that you have awareness you can ask yourself:

Is this a reasonable expectation? (example: Make $150,000/year…maybe unnecessary?)

Can I be/do this all the time? (80 hour weeks, like many lawyers and accountants I know)

Do these expectations conflict with one another😕 (look young AND natural AND model-thin AND not worry about food…)

Am I describing who I want to be or who others want me to be? (…and what actually matters to you?)

If someone perceives me as having/being the items in the “not” list, what will happen? (If someone thinks I’m a failure…then what?)

This is not something you can do once and change your life with, but it WILL give you some critical awareness that will empower you to choose actions that better align with your values – instead of other people’s plans for you.

And that’s the most important thing:

If you go through life without self-awareness, you are doomed to lead the life other people planned for you.

And if you go through life with self-awareness, you’ll become the author of your life, free to pursue your passion and express yourself as you please. And that’s a great recipe for happiness.

How to Make a New Years Resolution You Can Keep

This is one of my early posts from an old blog that I wrote back in 2010. I’ve put it here as a means of seeing how my views have changed over the years.

It’s just about that time of year again: in the heart of winter, the calendar rolls over, and millions of people promise themselves that this year will be different. “This is the year I’ll quit smoking,” “I’m going to exercise every day,” and “ I’m going to lose enough weight to fit my grad suit” are the most common themes.

Now, I’m not going to lie, I always used to think New Year’s resolutions were stupid – no two ways about it.

Really, they get a bad rap for being empty promises to ourselves, because let’s face it, most resolutions fail. I’ve come to realize that this is not a reflection on the resolution making or goal setting process, but is rather an indicator that we should be looking more closely at how we set these goals so we can set ourselves up for success.

The Biggest Reason Resolutions Run Awry

First, the good news: The biggest reason people fail to meet their goals has nothing to do with willpower. No, in fact, if you learn to properly set goals, strength of will becomes an essentially-irrelevant concept.

The biggest reason resolutions aren’t kept and goals aren’t met is because most people see them as an all or nothing proposition. That is, if you revert to an old behavior even once, you’ve failed – and then the resolution is dropped and the undesired habit resumes as if the resolution was never made. Familiar?

With my old blog, I had a goal of writing every single day, but some days I wouldn’t feel like writing. On these days I would try to willpower my way through, but eventually the inevitable happened, and I failed to create a new post. While this was a very bad goal to set, the real mistake was thinking that because I hadn’t published, I couldn’t “do it,” and the blog faded. I’ve done the same thing with food too – I gave up potato chips, and went a whole month without them before recently indulging myself. Only now, a little older and wiser, I don’t consider this a failure, but a month of success. Instead of plowing through a bag of chips every couple days to a week, it now would take me a couple months to do the same.

The point: if you “cave,” look at how far you’ve come, refocus on the goal (even adjusting it if necessary), and carry on! (Also, read the next section of this article)

How to Set Goals That Are Guaranteed to Succeed

In order for a goal to be achievable, there are 5 factors it must have. If it’s missing even one, you’ll probably have to willpower yourself to victory. If you have all 5 and have eliminated the all-or-nothing mindset, then you are armed with a delectable recipe for success.

1. The goal must be specific: An archer doesn’t kinda aim in the direction of the target, he aims for the bulls-eye. You don’t travel to “sorta around France-ish” – you head to Paris, Versailles, Marsielle. Goals should be the same. You don’t want a vague sense of direction, you want an exact destination in mind.

Bad: Lose weight. Write on my blog. Paint the house.

Good: Lose 25 pounds. Write an article about goal-setting. Paint the living room to compliment the new leather furniture.

2. The goal must be measurable: You’ve got to be able to track your progress, whether that’s losing weight, lifting weights, increasing the net worth of your business, or completing a household chore. It doesn’t always have to be measured in a number amount (a checklist might be better in certain cases), but there must be some way of tracking your progress.

Bad: Sell my ebook. Lose Weight.

Good: Sell my ebook to 20 people in the first month. Lose 25 pounds – measurable and specific really go hand in hand.

3. The goal must be sufficiently challenging: This one is likely less intuitive, but it really is crucial. If your goal is not sufficiently challenging you will become bored and not bother to follow through. If your goal is to lose 1 pound, I doubt you will feel very motivated. If your goal is to make one dollar, or write one article, this is probably not sufficiently challenging to inspire action from most people.

4. The goal must be achievable: The flip side of the challenge, the goal you set must also be achievable. You probably won’t lose 50 pounds or make $1 million in a week. If a task is too daunting, it won’t feel like it’s even worth starting. A balance must be struck between “challenging” and “achieving.”

5. The goal must have a time constraint: this one I cannot stress enough, if only because it’s the most often overlooked. If the goal lacks a time frame, it really feels the specificity qualification, but it is worthy of distinction here. Setting a deadline that is both challenging and achievable is the greatest possible catalyst for action. Instead of “getting around to it whenever,” it demands you take action and remain focused.

One thing you may have noticed is that I never mentioned anything about how to actually achieve your goal. This is because it’s not actually all that important – the “how” is usually something you figure out along the way, and is often different from what you envisioned. If you are too set on a particular “how,” you may miss important information in terms of feedback or opportunities.

One Final Ingredient: The Secret Sauce of Success

The steps outlined will help you successfully set goals or “resolutions,” but I still haven’t addressed the motivation or “willpower” aspect of all this. The problem with willpower is that it’s something you must think about. Mental tricks and stunts you pull to convince yourself to do something that clearly, you don’t want to do. If you find yourself relying on willpower, it’s time to go back and do some serious reflection about why you’re doing this.

Real motivation comes from passion, which is an unlimited reservoir of emotional energy. It’s not something you can think, but something you feel. It’s the difference between thinking you should be doing something and wanting to do something. Use logic to go through the 5 steps outlined above to set goals intelligently, but then let passion take over and guide you there. If you think of your goal as a cheeseburger, then passion is the secret sauce that makes your taste buds buzz, sets off fireworks in your brain, and keeps you coming back for more.

Happy holidays, and here’s to an incredible 2011!