So Near, Yet So Far…

Among my group of mates we have a tradition of booking what we call ‘Secret Holidays’. The idea is simple; one person books flights and accommodation and the rest all find out the destination when we arrive at the airport. It has thrown up some interesting places and the one I have us all booked for in October is somewhere the others wouldn’t even have heard of. Should be interesting.

This will be our eighth excursion under this format and I’m looking forward to seeing their little faces light up upon the revelation. I only hope that this trip lives up to laugh fests that we have encountered previously. I’m sure it will.

As quite often the only single one of the group, I am requested to download Tinder and start making connections. This became a tradition on our Gothenburg trip in an attempt to find out the best places to go in the area. And it worked. We had a brilliant night.

I have carried this habit on any time I have gone away, only this time it is out of curiosity for who might be out there. I am so pulled in by the idea of meeting ‘Mrs Right’ yet I feel in no way prepared to be in a relationship. It turns out that this apprehensiveness has its roots stemming from shame.

Social media is great advertising. You can make anything look great if you know how. From personal experience I often used Facebook status updates as a way of telling the how many hundreds of ‘friends’ I had how good life was. All the while I was dying inside. This has me wondering if this is happening for anyone else.

With endless choice in everything in life now, we have lost our patience. If something isn’t going our way we can sack it off and do something else. I did this with jobs in my younger age every time I got the hump about something. However, the biggest problem here might be a trust issue. If we’re telling the world how great life is with our pictures, interests and hobbies, then we’re not revealing the full truth.

I followed my manic, hedonistic mentality and it catapulted me into depression quicker than I could say “let’s do shots!”. Before I knew it I was £45k in debt, in a miserable relationship and I made the Cookie Monster’s eating habits look quite reserved.

So if we paint this fabulous picture of ourselves then what happens when life’s inevitable struggles come along from time to time? We’ve been sold bliss from someone’s profile and now all of a sudden we’re having to get our hands dirty. We didn’t sign up for that. And there lies the issue regarding trust. We’re not trusting ourselves to put the real ‘us’ online. Why? Fear of ridicule and judgement, perhaps? I would say because it doesn’t promote this desire for perfection.

This is why I don’t trust social media as a platform to meet ‘the one’. I know many married couples that have met online and good luck to them. It just isn’t something that I can get to grips with myself. Through extensive work on myself I have learned to open up more, however, from what I have been learning about lately, that may not be such a good idea.

Recently I have been studying the works of Brené Brown. She’s a researcher that studies topics such as vulnerability and shame. She tells a great story about a guy that approached her after a talk telling her that he feels as though his wife and three daughters would rather see him die on his white horse than fall off it. That hit a nerve with me.

I know from my own pervious experiences in relationships that women want their men to be more open but we stay locked down. However, according to Brené’s research, women seem unable to handle it when a guy opens up. So, as a guy, I personally would find myself caught in this perpetual cycle of wanting to express how I felt but at the same time not wanting to. And it was my issue, not theirs.

Being willing to show vulnerability, by admitting in certain moments that everything wasn’t ok, would cripple me. Therefore I would keep my stiff upper lip and plod along as normal. Whether it is a guy way or the British way or whatever I have no idea. The truth is I wasn’t courageous enough to open up during times of struggle. To accept that at times maybe I’m not a mountain after all would feel as though I was admitting defeat.

Aside from having a coach I don’t have anyone in my life that I feel safe with showing the real me. The positives and negatives. That is an incredibly tough pill to swallow. Only now am I realising just how messed up that is. This blog is my platform to open up and be honest which I am sure many people would consider to be brave. It isn’t that brave because I know that nobody reads it so I still remain in my safe zone.

As I mentioned at the start, all of this comes down to one thing; shame. I’m ashamed of myself because it is me that hasn’t accepted the negative parts of myself while at the same time ignoring the positives. None of my previous girlfriends ever stood a chance in all fairness.

My coach told me recently about our three main fears. Poverty, loneliness and illness. Oh how these three things have had a stranglehold on my consciousness for quite some time. Having started my journey into self-employment with low self esteem I started to let the fear of poverty take over and ironically winded up in all that debt. This meant that I cut myself off even further from society whilst increasing my stress levels. It is fair to say that I was on the path to experiencing all three to some degree.

Recently I started putting together a list of things I was critical of myself for but have now come to love. Firstly, I don’t handle pressure. Not one bit. As someone with a disdain for authority I have no problem telling someone to go fuck themselves. Yet I was always at the mercy of other people’s opinions or it may have been a work scenario that I desperately needed so I kept my mouth shut on more occasions than I should have. Now I feel as though I am coming into my own and beginning to align my behaviours with my values.

Another pressure I can’t handle is time. Which is great because, for one, it makes me more organised and efficient, and two, it means I am now taking on less. Taking on so much was as a result of fear of missing out (FOMO). This doesn’t just apply to the fun stuff in life. In my case it was work. And I am now in a position to start claiming my life back, for example by transitioning out of working weekends.

The third thing on my list is my over-thinking. I consider myself to be somewhat philosophical and so I am always pondering something. I am convinced that as a society we have built a lie and so I want to look deeper. I want to explore consciousness and not be confined to the belief systems and social ‘norms’ of the masses.

I am excited for where this list will take me because for each addition I get ever closer to that estranged feeling of unconditional love of myself. I have put so much time, energy and effort into my development and I am amazed at the progress I have made personally, I just never expected the journey to be so long. I guess good things come to those who wait.

Curiosity will continue to get the better of me. I feel as though in a world of instant connection that we are further apart from one another than we realise. We are social beings after all and we seem to be replacing the ‘love hormone’ Oxytocin, accessible by something as simple as hugging, with dopamine, the brain’s pleasure chemical. Every time we get a match on Tinder we get a quick dopamine hit. This becomes addictive and all of a sudden we become more interested in clocking up the matches than we do with the original purpose.

This just leads to conveyor belt dating. Well one thing is for sure; I don’t do auditions. Why is it that we all of a sudden have the chance to pick from a parade of people instead of sourcing out the right person in real life that we can genuinely connect with? I can’t be the only one to find this epidemic so perverse. Surely?

Perhaps I am sounding like an old fashioned git and ignoring evolution in full flow. Who knows, maybe I get it wrong about online dating? Based on what I have seen so far from the typical profiles of listing out expectations along with likes: “Gin, Wine, Coffee, Brunch, Travel…”, it would seem that the idea of being ‘perfectly imperfect’ has little room for manoeuvre. My idea of changing the world is to bring people closer to love, not as far away from it as possible.

The Dark Side of Money

Back when I was 15 I was approaching the last few days at school and I was given a heads up by my mum that a limo was coming to pick me up and take me in. Given that I feared embarrassment of any nature I thanked her for the warning and got out the door quick to take a different route to school by foot.

Back when I was 16 I began a long love affair with boozy nights out followed by donner kebabs, dodgy taxis and an attempt at womanising. That last one took a while to get off the ground. Of course, I also became quite accustomed to the ‘day after the night before’ feeling and a hearty serving of the good old English fry-up.

Back when I was 25 I began developing feelings of sadness and subsequently depression. I was feeling the strain of a relationship that was rife with insecurity and anger on both parts and a job that kept me on red alert for trouble every single night. I started becoming more aware of where exactly I was in Australia and seeing first hand what I wasn’t seeing up until that point.

These three particular times in my life have only one common denominator.

Why the limo? Well, it was in reward for being present for every single day of Key Stage 4 (years 10 and 11). Though it was quite ungrateful of me to make a run for it, I just couldn’t handle any pointing and laughing that may have come my way for being ever present at a school that had quite low standards.

My mum served on the board of governors at my secondary school and was once asked by the Head why I never missed a day. She wanted to know in the hope that she could find a solution to the ever growing absence rates. I loved school. I loved every minute of it. Getting towards the end of Primary school I started to develop an apathy. Secondary school was different, I was itching to get started and bounced out of bed every morning ready to go.

Sixth form was an even better experience as I started to develop a greater amount of freedom. There was less class time, bouncers of local nightclubs never checked ID and my part time job at McDonalds funded plenty of Smirnoff Ice. To top it off, I would soon be able to drive. Life was good.

Upon leaving school I started working in banking and insurance which would take me to branches and offices all over London and the South East. It opened me up to even more nights out in new places with new people. I was starting to grow up. Well, kinda.

After 5 years of office work I deemed there to be more to life than the standard 9-5 routine and so I set sail to Australia to backpack to my heart’s content. Even to this day I have people ask me why on earth I ever came back. The answer is very simple and it ties in with that one common thread that you have been reading about so far: Socialising. In the case of coming back home from Oz it was more a case of lack thereof.

I had an absolute blast in Australia and met some great people. In fact, I am soon to be ‘best man’ for one of them. However, one by one people were starting to head home or to other places to travel while I found myself quite settled in the Queensland city of Townsville. I had a good job that offered to sponsor me and I was leasing a house with my then girlfriend. Sounds like a dream of a life, right? Nope.

I couldn’t shake this downbeat feeling that had swept over me. I had experienced mania and now the inevitable depression was starting to kick in. It was taking a stranglehold of me and I had no idea why I was feeling this way. All I knew was that I just had to get out of there and focus on heading in a new direction in life.

As part of my obsession with studying human behaviour and potential I have become increasingly informed about values. I had no idea back then just how much I valued socialising. It is so true when people say that it is not where you are that matters, it is who you are with. It is what you make it.

My mum’s response to the Head teacher that day was that I just needed to be around my friends. It was like an addiction. She was right. Lessons were boring. I would sit in every class and day dream my way to the end. Despite lessons accounting for most of the time each day I lived for morning breaks, the lunch time kick-about and the walks home.

School was a laugh. Clubbing was a laugh. Travelling was a laugh. Reality sucked. I returned home in late 2010 from Australia at the time when the Credit Crunch had a tight grip on things in the UK. Jobs no longer existed, at least not for unqualified schmucks like me. Never fear, I was enrolled for my PT course before I had even left Australia.

Now here is why reality sucked. I now had to build a business. In a new industry. With zero confidence. And a complete lack of self esteem. Oh, and in a recession. My survival became my fixation and I couldn’t think of anything else. I needed clients in order to make money. I went from viewing people as companions and connections to money and opportunities. People. Actual real life people.

It is only now that I have figured out that I struggled so much in the beginning, not because I was bad at sales but because I didn’t have the belief in myself that I could provide adequate value for what I was expecting people to pay. And so my feelings of unworthiness led me to take course after course in the hope that I would figure out what I needed to. It didn’t work. It got me in debt. A lot of debt. Now the pressure was really on.

I have nothing against Capitalism. In fact I love it. It has just become apparent how much it has been taken out of context from it’s origins. Providing a service that meets the genuine needs of the people. Brilliant idea. Only, greed took over when Generation X were given everything their parents never had. Yet it is Generation Y that are labelled the entitled ones. Not at all. Only now it is Gen X in all the powerful positions that the set behaviour is now to tread all over each other in order to get what you want.

For the last 7 years I have put so much time, energy and effort into making something of myself. With a few lucky breaks here and there lately I have found myself in a position that I never in a million years would have dreamed of back when I started out. Debt free and earning a pretty penny. It just doesn’t feel like I have found what I went searching for.

I had made money my driving force. Self interest was the go. Attachment to my own ego telling me that I lived in a state of perpetual lack. I was caught up in this whirlwind of striving to survive. When I became debt free I had a profound shift to a greater level of consciousness. I discovered that I had disassociated myself from my default mindset of constantly needing more and began seeing how so many people live this way. I was becoming free and being able to observe the trappings of so many others.

My amygdala was starting to quieten down and as the dust settled I saw more and more just how I had let money control me. Bemoaning all the while that my youth had slipped away from me. Only my youth wasn’t gone at all. I just had prioritised money over health instead of finding a balance. The stress hormone cortisol flowing through my veins kept draining my energy and leaving me fatigued. Not wanting to exercise and making me binge on pack after pack of biscuits, cookies and anything else I could get my hands on.

My coach, Martin, recently made a interesting comment about money. He said that he loved money as it enabled him to do things. Although at what cost do you allow it to take. What he meant by this is that he would always opt for 4 clients a day instead of 8 if ever given the choice. This is because he knows that having 8 clients a day would take him way from other things that he wants to do.

Simon Sinek, in his book Leaders Eat Last makes a very compelling argument for how we are so gripped by self interest yet biologically we are not equipped for it. Our human nature dictates that we are designed to cooperate instead of compete to the degree we are currently doing so. In times of hardship we pull together. In what he terms as ‘Destructive Abundance’ we have a throw-away attitude that makes us value things a lot less.

As someone that has always been neat and tidy I have found a love for minimalism. I no longer seek the material possessions that I once did and even though I now own very few items, I am still looking for where I can further de-clutter. Truth be told, it starts in the mind. We have been conditioned with the idea that we need more and more. We don’t. We are already enough.

Another great book, Minimalism by Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus gave me further insight into this new movement occurring in the developed world. Particularly on the subject of work. They state that you can have either a job, a career or a mission. To me, a job and a career fuel self interest whether we realise it or not. Of course we all have bills to pay. It is ‘mission’ however that brings us fulfilment. Something we can do that is so big that can change the world. A cause that inspires us to get up and make a difference.

I’m one of those crazy people that believes they can change the world. And of course, all change starts from within. My mission is and always has been to educate the world. I am a seeker of truth and am on a journey to find it and share it. Us Gen Y and Millennial types aren’t so much as entitled as is made out. We are impatient (and constantly distracted) according to Simon Sinek. I am inclined to agree with him.

I want to make a difference in the world. I want to make a impact for the good of humanity. I have discovered first hand just how unfulfilling my self serving attitude was. What I have now realised is that at 32 years of age, I am not expected to have changed the world yet. In Gary Keller’s book The One Thing he asks what is the ‘one thing’ you can do right now that would have the biggest impact on your biggest goal. For me, if you haven’t already guessed by now, is studying.

My iPhone has stayed on my bedside table and I have stepped up my already high consumption of information. Either side of getting all this off of my chest, of course. (And an increase in gym time). The thing is, study or no study, I already know what the truth is. I have already found it. And I keep working towards finding it within myself, each and every day.

The truth eradicates all beliefs that we have been conditioned to store in our subconscious minds. It goes beyond judgement and ego. It goes beyond even our own value systems. The truth transcends our emotions, taking us out of the limbic system and into the frontal lobe, connecting us to a higher state of consciousness.

The truth, is love.

Now What?

Back in January 2004, aged 18 I started working for a well known High Street bank. It was my first step out of blue collar and straight into supposedly white collar. Though retail is retail at the end of the day. Only this time I was wearing a tie. I’ve always been about the grit. If I ever wanted something I would do what it took to get it. In this case it was interview after interview. I knew I just needed an in then I could gain experience and work my up.

The concept of wanting became all too intense when I started learning about how loans and credit cards worked. Well, I say learning how they worked, however, what I really mean to say is that I now found out they existed and that I could buy whatever I wanted right there and then. Building up a credit rating subsequently led to other companies wanting to give me credit cards and so began the slippery slope.

I remained at the mercy of my flexible ‘friends’ until the age of 23 when I had planned to go to Australia and needed to shift £5000 of credit card debt. That was the first time I ever really grasped the power of intention and somehow managed to forget its lesson ever since. Knowing that I wanted to take £5000 away with me, I had a year leading up to my flight to go from the red to the black. A £10,000 swing in my favour.

Sacrifice was my middle name. First time for everything, I guess. I stopped going out drinking as much, I bought fewer clothes and consumables. I was completely committed to getting rid of the debt and freeing myself up to having money to take away with me. The feeling I got when I made that last payment was incredible. Being free from debt for the first time in five years was truly liberating.

Despite having $AU 14,000 I asked my mum to ship my credit card over because I drank most of my travel money. As well as rocking a lot of fancy coloured board shorts! And then it began all over again. Drawing out 500 bucks here and there as cash advances soon added up. Before I knew it, my credit card debt had risen to almost £4000 again.

Leading up to coming home I was putting away around 800 dollars a week and brought what equated to be around £8,000 back home with me. Given that I was going to be studying for 3 months and then not guaranteeing an income after that, I decided to use that money to live off of. However, I could never just live conservatively for some reason.

The money started to dwindle. On Adidas attire, gym equipment and needless business costs. Before I knew it, the money had run out, I was paying rent to a commercial gym and I had sod all in the way of clients. Oh and I still had a £4000 credit card bill hanging over me. You would be forgiven for thinking that I am a bit of a schmuck when it comes to money. And it only gets worse.

Fast forward a couple more years and we’re in 2013. The place of work was Covent Garden and I was working 60-80 hour weeks delivering Personal Training and teaching fitness qualifications. Every ounce of energy I could muster up went into working. I could never just relax and chill out. I had this fear that work would eventually die up yet I wasn’t saving anything and I wasn’t paying anything other than the minimum payments off of my credit card.

The only thing I could exchange for money was my time so I felt the need to try and get a business off the ground that would generate me a huge tonne of money. I didn’t quite think that one through. I went on course after course trying to get the ins and outs of the business world. I was going to seminars, business coaching programmes, online programmes. You name it.

Mid way through 2014 I realised that I had to finally face up to how much debt I had gotten myself into. I was actually impressed by my own courage in this moment. So I started adding things up and taking into account everything I owed. At its highest point it was close to £45,000. I couldn’t believe how I had let myself get so out of control.

There have been, in my view, three ‘crushing’ events in my life that have turned out to be the most amazing blessings I could ever have wished for. This was one of them. Being in so much debt, feeling completely helpless and crying myself to sleep more nights than I care to remember taught me to wake the hell up and start learning how to manage money and build wealth.

This week marks the first time in 14 years that I have become consciously debt free. What I mean by that is that I am debt free with the awareness of how I managed to get myself into debt in the first place. The time leading up to going to Australia was only short lived because I still had that consumer mindset which got me back into debt. Now I feel I have greater wisdom to make to more calculated buying decisions. I have certainly learned the hard way.

For the first time in a long time I feel as though I have choices. And I keep asking myself what it is that I would really love to do to earn a living. I have a great thing going on at the minute with teaching fitness qualifications yet I can’t help but think that it has a shelf life as the industry starts to evolve.

Going forward I know that finding something I love doing is of the most importance as opposed to doing things just for the money. For the last 7 years I have said yes to everything purely because I felt that I needed the money. Debt will do that to you. It will make you live in fear and can ultimately control you. I don’t have anymore energy to give to that.

The most disturbing thing about my sorry experience with money, especially in the last 7 years is that it all could have been avoided. Though I cannot argue with the lesson it gave me. You see, every episode I had with money involved giving it away. Buying consumables and depreciable items that would go down in value. In regards to the courses, I got great value but I didn’t have the self awareness at the time to make them work.

And that is the answer. Self awareness. I had made my approach to self employment so difficult because I had such low self-esteem. Feelings of not being smart enough to be able to help people. Feelings of unworthiness as a result of such contempt for myself which I kept projecting onto others.

Contempt is an interesting emotion which I have been looking into quite a lot lately. I found some very interesting blogs which highlighted a lot in myself. Certain characteristics kept popping up such as narcissism for example. This I can most definitely relate to as since being in debt and being self employed I made everything about me and have no doubt given less value than I could have a lot of the time.

Relationship insecurities is another one. Always thinking that my girlfriends would eventually see right through the worthlessness that I am and so I would become distant, cause arguments and then just leave. This pattern kept repeating itself over and over all the while I was blaming the other person.

Expecting perfection from other people ranks high on my list of douche-bag tendencies. I always prided myself on being a perfectionist but all it was doing was covering up insecurity. Then bemoaning when others don’t act in the same way. A lot of frustration, anger and inner conflict just kept pouring out.

The one that really sunk in and hit me hard was that of a ‘Machiavellian’ personality. Truth be told, I’ve always been a shit stirrer because it was how I could get people to like me in the short time. If I could find a way to side with them then it would be by any means necessary. I’m not proud of it and I have begun to stamp it out of my behaviour.

Needing to be liked is a classic case of low self-esteem. Not being able to like or love the self results in us seeking it from the external. This then creates attachment. My attachment all this time was money. I was attached to the promise of abundance, the fear of scarcity and the fantasy of acquiring it with ease. My initial relationship with money caused me nothing but stress. Now I see it for what it is. An incredible tool that can enable one to live according to their highest values.

So what are my highest values? Every few months or so I sit down and take myself through a values determination process. It is no surprise that learning comes out on top and has done every time since I have been doing it for nearly 4 years now. Only this time I looked a little closer. I looked at the topics I study, the way I apply my new knowledge and where I see myself going with it. It all points to one thing in particular. Raising consciousness.

I’m fascinated with human potential. I can’t get enough of studying it and speaking about it. My mates and ex-girlfriends have always thought I was deluded since I got into the field of personal development. Which is totally fine because I know I am right. We’re here to lead fulfilling and magnificent lives. There is no two ways about.

I can’t deny that as I continue to build wealth there will be a Jaguar and the odd Rolex perhaps. Perks of the journey I would say. I now know just how unfulfilling it is to work solely for the money. Knowledge, awareness and intelligence have always been a bigger void than money ever could be. Money is simply a vehicle that can enable me to keep filling that mental void for myself and hopefully others that are on a similar path.

We’re seeing major changes in the way we lives our lives. The knowledge of humanity doubles approximately every ten years according to self-esteem expert Nathaniel Branden. Forbes predict that by the year 2020 (less that 3 years away!) over 50% of the American workforce will be freelance and I wouldn’t be surprised if those figures were mirrored here in the UK.

Now more than ever, I am convinced that we need to find out what is truly in our heart’s mission and start living accordingly. Latest figures show that productivity rates are down meaning less pay rises and less taxes going into the system. A crash is coming and in all truth it is long over due. The world needs each of us to be authentic to who we really are. Not how much ‘stuff’ we have bought using credit.

I thank my lucky stars that I have a clean slate. I have learned my lesson and am now much more aware of my impulses. The key to life is to find what you love that serves people. I have always known what I have wanted to do I just have never allowed myself to accept it because I have always doubted my ability for it.

I want to raise consciousness. And the next phase of my journey is to figure out how to monetise it.

The Difference Between Successful And Unsuccessful People

Provocative title, right? A step by step checklist for aspiring people driven to succeed? Perhaps a dig at those whom would be considered to be unsuccessful? Make of it what you will. I don’t consider myself to be either successful or unsuccessful, as I’ll be explaining throughout this post. If anything this is a checklist for my own benefit and if it helps sparks some sort of curiosity in others then great.

Firstly though, the term ‘success’ is very vague. I am going to state what I believe to be the definition of success. Here it is: ‘Self-actualisation’. There are many ways of defining this. We could state that it is the realisation and application of one’s own talents. An individual living in accordance to their own highest values. It could simply be defined as someone that lives their life from their heart. All of the above centre around one key element; fulfilment.

The Humanist philosopher, Abraham Maslow, designed his original hierarchy of needs with ‘Self-actualisation’ as the pinnacle of his well designed pyramid. However, he later went on to criticise his own work by stating ‘Self-transcendence’ as the new peak whereby an individual would give themselves to a higher purpose bigger than themselves. The way I see it, there is no reason why these two cannot be one and the same. Combining one’s own talents with grateful service to others is surely the recipe for fulfilment and ultimately success.

Before we get to that stage though, in my humble opinion, and through my own limited mindset over the years, there are certain actions and principles required in order to travel the path to the promised land. I’ll openly admit that I am far from this myself and through studying successful people for the last seven years I have realised that adopting many of their methods will help me get to where I want to go.

You would have a hard time convincing me that we are not here to lead a magnificent life on our own terms. However you would define that to be. And quite frankly, it baffles me why so many people aren’t living their life doing what they love, or at least working towards it. Although that is none of my business, of course. So without further ado, here are some success principles in no particular order. Successful people…

…work hard

An obvious one to get us started and one that surprisingly gets overlooked. From a personal perspective, whenever I have felt my survival threatened in some way I have got my head down and grafted. It is a trait I am proud of and know that having it in my locker makes me feel that little bit more certain about my long term future. This is because I know the hard work will pay itself back in the long run.

One question that I ask of myself based on following content from Gary Vaynerchuk is, would I work fifteen hours a day for ten years in order to create my dream life. Absolutely yes! Reason being is that I have come to realise that life is long. We can bring up the old cliché of getting hit by a bus tomorrow making life very short. Life is long. We have so much time. That is not to say to waste it! However, knuckling down for 10-15% of your entire life to really set yourself up and start building momentum for the long run is surely worth it. No?

…are patient

This leads nicely onto our next point of patience. Growing up I was the least patient person on the planet. I wanted everything there and then. When I went self employed for the first time around seven years ago I realised just how impatient I actually was. I would do all I could to create some kind of success for myself. All to no avail.

It is only recently that I have come to appreciate the necessity of patience. We have a lot of time, as I have already mentioned. I was always so anxious of time and ended up taking on so many things because I thought that was the answer. The truth was, I was splitting my focus far too much and throwing my toys out the pram when things weren’t going my way.

The outcome I want for my life is currently being lived by so many in the fields of personal development and human potential. It took quite some time for the penny to drop that most of these people are around twice my age. It was foolish of me to compare myself to different generations and then beat myself up for not matching up to their level of success. Good things come to those who wait.

…enjoy the process

When getting to grips with developing patience I noticed that I was very achievement driven and less enthused by the journey of such achievement. I always remember reaching milestones throughout my life and thinking to myself “now what?”. I feel as though I am shifting more into loving the journey even more than the achievements that will come along with it.

That is not to say that the achievements aren’t important. I just seem to get this feeling that we are here to grow and evolve. ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ co-author, Jack Canfield was once asked what the meaning of life meant to him. His response was that the only thing we know for sure is that the universe is expanding therefore wouldn’t it make sense to keep growing yourself and expanding your conscious awareness?

…work on themselves

I couldn’t imagine a day going by whereby I don’t work on myself in some way. I spend pretty much all my free time developing my body, mind and spirit. It all started out when I was struggling to make ends meet seven years ago when newly self-employed. Now I cannot believe my own luck that I have found this path.

What you’ll find in so many instances is that successful people will not take their knowledge and results for granted. They will always look to grow, develop and evolve. They appreciate that nothing stands still for very long. Change happens regularly and they learn how to adapt in order to move forward.

…forgo folly

When you’re in the trenches of business ownership or self employment it can very often feel as though there is nothing else going on in the world. Your focus has to be fully on the task at hand. From my experience, my attention was always elsewhere whenever I was with my mates or girlfriend. I just couldn’t seem to relax because I felt as if I should be doing something productive.

Even though things are a little bit easier today, I have come to accept that I can’t do all the things that I used to find fun. And I am ok with that now. To be honest I have moved on a little from wanting to do so many things. My main priority is my journey to success. There will be times here and there when I have a break which will of course be welcome. However, I now appreciate what I would rather dedicate the biggest amount of my time to.

Right this moment we are experiencing one of the hottest weeks on record in the UK. As much as sitting out in the sun is relaxing and pleasurable, I am indoors writing this post. I am not here because I have to be, I am here because I want to be. Perhaps I’ll grab an hour in the sun later today. Right now all I want to do is put this post together and then carry on with my studies.

…say no to things

Saying no to nights out, weekends away and most other social scenarios is one thing. Saying no to work is a whole other. Anything that provided me with an income I would say yes to. What I was blissfully unaware of at the time was just how much productivity I was losing. Spreading my focus too thin meant that even though I was constantly busy, I wasn’t actually getting anywhere.

Taking an honest look at my diary I realised that I could let things go and focus on a smaller number of projects. Giving up Personal Training for example and focusing just on tutoring and assessing opened the door for a great opportunity with one provider and my income doubled overnight. It is scary at first to turn things down but when making the commitment to make something work I am pretty confident that it will work out well.

…live simply

Streamlining your working life can have great carry over benefits to other areas of your life. When I did this and freed up more time I looked around for whatever I could find to get rid of. Clutter was the obvious choice. I had a great clear out getting rid of so many things. I have stumbled upon minimalism and haven’t looked back.

Doing so made me feel as though my mind was clearing at the same time. Letting go of so much has been a very liberating experience. All of a sudden I have a lot more time and space. The universe would be so proud! Given this new found luxury, I have found myself having greater focus on fewer things that once demanded so much of my attention.

…have greater clarity

Through the reduction of so many things I had become attached to I started to realise what was most important to me and it was no surprise that it was my own personal development. Therefore I am beginning to structure my time and my life around doing what is most important to me. One day I want to coach and teach all the things that I will have succeeded at so now I get the chance to accelerate to this point.

With greater clarity comes less distractions. It is so easy to check your phone every five minutes. I catch myself doing it all the time. Raising your awareness to what is really important can help to reduce the time you waste doing unimportant tasks. I use YouTube for a lot of my education and sometimes find myself using it for entertainment by watching stand up comedy clips or music videos. I got into the habit of deleting these things from my history so that they stop appearing in my recommendations.

…think big

Whenever put in a social setting and I start talking about human potential I am met with so much resistance. People seem to think that your capabilities are set at birth and that is your destiny accounted for. I couldn’t disagree more. I don’t claim to have achieved much, but at almost 32 years of age I have gone way beyond my own expectations and what was expected of me by others.

This is because I am relentless in my pursuit of success. I’ll have many falls along the way, I’m sure. And there is no way I’ll ever give up when they happen. Learning doesn’t stop when we leave school. If anything it starts. Having immersed myself in the field of personal development I have begun to focus on possibiltles. Exploring the fields of quantum physics has made me realise that ‘reality’ as we think we know it, is anything but real.

I consider myself to be of the existentialist mindset whereby we all have our own free will to create a life that we desire. Dr Joe Dispenza talks about how the brain processes 400 billions bits of information per second but we only have an awareness of 2000 bits. Therefore could it be possible that we’re missing a lot of reality? Those 2000 bits are based on the conditioning that we have had since birth. Be aware of your limits because they are not actually yours!

…embrace challenge

Having a big vision will bring to the fore its very own challenges. When pursuing something meaningful, in order for us to have a refined vision and get clearer, we will meet with challenges that help us achieve that. From my own personal experience of developing my intelligence I have had to overcome a stored belief that I wasn’t very clever. The more I saturate my mind with information the more it sticks and then I move on to understand certain topics on a deeper level.

An entrepreneur will accept both sides of the coin when building businesses. They understand that they cannot have it all their own way. Otherwise what would be the point? When operating from a lower level of consciousness we will do whatever it takes to seek pleasure and avoid pain. My advice would be to dismiss this hedonistic mentality as quickly as possible and start seeking out inspiring challenges yourself before you’re met with ones that don’t inspire you.

…believe in themselves

During a recent session with my coach he helped me identify a lot of long held insecurities. I started to notice just how I had let insecurities get in the way of allowing myself to be myself. I have often found that things are quick and easy to fix when you become of aware of them. It is the awareness in the first place that is sometimes difficult to obtain.

I have since been using an affirmation in a bid to change this thought process to one of confidence. It is making a huge difference so far. Successful people believe they are going to make it even if the odds are against them and no one gives them a chance. With a willingness to never give up, they will get there in the end.

…believe they deserve

This has been a difficult one for me to get to grips with in all honesty. Everywhere you turn there is someone successful that is being criticised for seemingly having everything while so many others have little to nothing. I used to be one of the people criticising and for me personally it was pretty much out of jealousy.

Operating with a mindset of successful people being ‘bad’ in some way was preventing me from getting closer to success. I was playing out the role of the victim with everyone else. I have come to realise that the people that have the most typically give the most. Sure there may be exceptions to the rule. On the whole, a successful person is someone that has most likely built a business that serves great numbers of people while providing jobs for others. Why wouldn’t they deserve the riches?

…don’t care what other people think

Following on from the last point, I kept holding myself back because I was too scared that I would be an outcast among society and my own social circle. Again, another one that I have found difficult to let go of but now am starting to care less about what people may say about me because I am not responsible for anyone else’s train of thought.

As far as I am concerned, I don’t need anyone to like me. I was once very dependent on people’s acceptance of me. Now it really makes no difference as I develop a deeper relationship with myself. I am starting to focus more on what I think and what I want from life. No one will ever be able to please everyone so just go for it. I am led to believe that the opinions of others is the number one thing that holds people back from living a life they truly want to live. Time to let go of the shackles.

In all honesty, how objectively do we actually look at things anyway? If you’re being criticised then reframe it. Maybe that person has a point and you can learn from them. If this is the case then it would only be your own ego that would stop you from taking their points on board. Maybe that person’s ‘2000’ bits is conditioned in a way that completely opposes your viewpoints. Who is right and who is wrong? It doesn’t matter.

I have had many a time when I have doubted the knowledge that I have been obtaining over the recent years. This is because I see so few people living in accordance with success principles. I started to wonder whether I was kidding myself. And that maybe I am not cut out for success after all. Now I ignore other people’s opinions because I know I am right and my results are beginning to show.

…don’t complain

While we’re on the topic of things I have been struggling with, this may be the biggest one. Boy, did I love a good old moan. Those 2000 bits of information that circulate around my conscious awareness were all based around what is wrong with the world and how it and everyone in it was against me. It was brilliant fuel for my victim mentality.

Successful people avoid judgement of themselves and others. Instead they focus on service and give the people what they want. They have a greater amount of context and tend to have less opinions. Again, it is a such a liberating experience when you begin to let go of complaining. I’m not completely out the woods with this one yet though. FFS!

…care more

I cannot claim to be an expert at this one either. Reason being is that I found myself in such a low place that I knew I needed to sort my own life out first. You have my word that when I feel I am set up then all I will want to do is help others. Successful people know that there is plenty to go around and are more than willing to help when asked.

A couple of years ago, I went through my LinkedIn contacts and picked out well established entrepreneurs and messaged them cold. I was blown away by the help, support and advice that I was being offered. Many were willing to share their contacts with me and even made phone calls to people on my behalf. It is easy to have pre-conceived ideas about successful people but quite simply, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

…are solution focused

In his book ‘Secrets of the Millionaire Mind’, author T. Harv Eker gives the definition of an entrepreneur as “someone that solves problems for people for a profit”. Problems exist everywhere. An entrepreneur cares enough to go identify them and create a solution. Good luck to them for coining it in along the way. More power to them I say.

Part of our nature is to solve problems because that is how we evolve. Leaving it as an obstacle will stunt the growth of humanity. Look how far we have come as a species yet we haven’t even scratched the surface yet. James Altucher has a daily ritual of thinking up ten ideas in order to strengthen his ‘idea muscle’. This has led to him consulting with big businesses everywhere. There is always a way!

…are mentally strong

We’re really uncovering all the things that have held me back to this point now. Mental toughness is not only a very admirable trait in my eyes, it is also a vital one. The successful person has the wisdom to know that good times and bad times come in equal measure. However, they are able to zoom out and look at the bigger picture. They are undeterred by events and merely see them as an another obstacle to overcome.

I feel I have always been resilient to a degree. For example, I am known to be a hard worker and I have great physical stamina. The mental toughness required to succeed from a business perspective, let’s say, has been of immense difficulty for me to develop. Thankfully I am beginning to see the tide turning now and it ties in a lot with ignoring other people’s opinions and raising my own deserve level.

…control fear

Mental toughness also ties in with emotional stability. Something I have been absolutely terrible at. Until we get control of and manage our emotions, I am convinced that success will elude us. Being emotional takes us into our limbic system within the brain. Yet it is our most evolved brain, the neocortex, that we want to be tapping into. It is our executive centre.

Within the limbic system is a little structure known as the Amygdala which is shaped like an almond. The Amygdala sends out our fear response to the body to prime us for danger. In this instance we are reactive rather than proactive. We end up making rash decisions that likely will compound our existing fear and create a vicious circle.

I have spent the last seven years living in fear of some kind of apocalypse. It is nothing more than my emotions giving me a hard time which goes back to my insecurities. Once I identified this through a recent coaching session I have been able to start shifting my focus more into a confident mindset than an insecure one. Allowing fear to rule your life will deteriorate your health over time. It is wise to address it quick.

…manage money wisely

My biggest flaw of all. I have learned the hard way how to manage money and you’ll be amazed at the results. I am often flummoxed when people complain about money or constantly state they have no money for certain things. I am a little less forward about my new found knowledge in relation to money because I am met with so much resistance that I just cannot be bothered to argue. Now that my results are improving even more I am becoming justified to just go all in!

As a result of combining my out of control fears and deep rooted insecurities, I got myself into a lot of debt by going on courses, workshops, seminars etc, in a bid to become successful. I have no doubt that because of the connections and information that I collected during these programmes that they will pay themselves back in the long run. However, there was a long time whereby I was just sitting on that debt and worrying. Feeling hopeless.

I told myself that I would master this thing called wealth. And I wouldn’t stop. There may be people that think I’m money driven or greedy. That’s totally fine. Yet they wouldn’t have the full context as to why. I have my reasons and that is all that matters. We always have money for what we value. I shifted my values to that of saving and investing. I started with a £25 birthday cheque and within ten months I had saved over £12,000. This eased my concerns around money and my debt is almost gone.

The key is in paying yourself first before (yes, before!) any bills go out and commit to raising the amount every few months. This is where I am met with resistance. I’ll admit it is scary. You’ll be amazed at what happens to your finances when you begin to trust and apply this process. I am now in a position to seek out higher yielding interest accounts as my next step to wealth building.

…take responsibility

Part of how I define success is self-reliance. This is why I am not particularly into politics because I have no doubt in my mind that we have everything we need to sustain ourselves. We have an intellect, a physical body and a value system. It is easy to point the finger at a person or situation and then claim to be the victim yourself. I should know, I had been doing it my whole life.

There will come a time, hopefully sooner rather than later, when you say to yourself that enough is enough and start knuckling down. This is what I had to do. I knew that if I wanted to elevate myself to greater levels of consciousness then I would need to take full responsibility for myself, my actions and anything in my life.

The obvious choice for me was finances as mentioned above. I want to be financially independent in the next 3-5 years. In my particular example, finances are where my self-reliance begin. Slowly but surely I am beginning to unhook whatever dependency I have had on others. Not only would this free me, but it would free them as well.

…have self awareness

Some people are fortunate enough to have self awareness from a young age. Tiger Woods first picked up a golf club at the age of two. Mozart observed his father play violin and began himself at three years old. I, myself, am somewhat of a late bloomer. I went through my life being completely unconscious. I coasted through school simply by day dreaming. I went through job after job of just clock watching.

I needed a wake up call. Self-employment and debt was just the ticket. I have always been a non-conformist and rebelled against authority so working for myself was always the logical choice. Now I’m obsessed with human potential. I study several topics that relate to personal growth and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. Being able to live my life on my own terms and then teach others how to do the same is what gets me up every morning.

Self awareness also relates to flaws as well. Knowing what you’re good at and what you’re bad at will help you focus on your strengths more and delegate out anything else. This is what helps build momentum. Deep down we all know what we’d love to do. We just may not have brought it to our awareness yet.

…take action

Having self-awareness is the first step to greatness. Now comes the action part. The scary part. Yes it is horrible but it just needs to be done. I remember when I started out as a Personal Trainer. No one was going to build my business for me and so it was up to me to approach people on the gym floor and attempt to build a client base. I froze every time I tried to step forward. Then I would make excuses, get angry and blame everyone else but me.

My fragile ego couldn’t handle potential rejection so I did all I could to avoid those situations. Well it only meant I was being rejected by money instead. The truth is that we all have to start somewhere. Some times you just have to say to yourself “f**k it”, and just do it. What is the worst that can happen? Is it going to matter in a year from now? I have built up enough embarrassing moments in my life that I am actually becoming immune to looking like a complete t**t. I heard once that the key to self-confidence is to not get so attached to your own dignity. Wise words.

As a budding Physicist, it would be remiss of me not discuss Newton’s Laws of Motion when talking about action. We have so much potential energy stored within us and it is only by applying force i.e. taking action, that we can turn that into kinetic energy and overcome inertia. We can sit and dream as much as we would like but it will only happen if we get off our a**e and do something. Ultimately, every decision we make comes down to just one of two choices; love or fear.

…make their own luck

Hard work and action taking will lead to results eventually. This is something that I am sure everyone can agree on. At least I would hope! Very often, unsuccessful people will look at successful people and say that they are lucky because they have all this success. This reminds me of the quote “The harder I work, the more luck I have.” Believed to be attributed to Thomas Jefferson.

When you’re focused on one chief aim you will centre your awareness around this. I am convinced that we create our own reality and that the reality we ‘see’ is merely a projection of the images we have stored in our mind. Within the brainstem we have what is called the Reticular Activating System which mediates our overall level of consciousness. The RAS is responsible for filtering our reality based on our belief and value systems.

Remember those 2000 bits of information out of 4 billion that I mentioned earlier? Well start paying attention to what they are showing you. Then train yourself to start seeing what you want to see. I have caught myself saying the phrase “knowing my luck” more times than I can remember. Be very aware of how you talk to yourself and start to change it. We can create whatever thought process and whatever ‘reality’ we want to.

…do what others aren’t willing to

I’ve never seen an episode of Game of Thrones. I have no idea what is is about. Reason being is because I’m typically working or working on myself. I see every spare moment as an opportunity to improve. Yes I’ll watch the odd thing on TV and a football match here and there because sometimes I feel the need to step out in order to step back in stronger. The point I am making is that I keep entertainment as a low priority and education as a high priority.

As I mentioned previously, I will forgo a lot of the stuff I used to deem as fun in order to manifest the bigger picture. I’ll do the nitty gritty stuff because it needs to get done. If it moves me forward then I’ll do it. In my line of work there is a lot of back office admin. I don’t like doing it because it can be tedious and boring. I’ll get it done because it will take me one step closer.

When thinking big it is easy to get caught up in it all without understanding that the mundane stuff needs doing until we are in a position to be able to delegate it. Starting out on a journey may be exciting, and of course it is. However, until you face up to the fact that you’ll have to really get down and graft you’ll never get to experience what true success feels like. That I am sure of.

…live by their values

Values is a topic that is very misunderstood as far as I am concerned. Values are individual, not collective. People often cite character traits or social ideals such as honesty and integrity as their values. If a war was going on and you needed to feed your family, you would completely neglect every moral you ever thought you had and do whatever it took to feed them.

Values are as individual as your finger prints. Your life demonstrates what you value. The way I see it is that the belief system can very often override the value system. Beliefs are what we have been conditioned with. They are someone else’s. Values are our own and what our heart truly desires.

Finding out what your values are will help in your pursuit of self-awareness. Values come as a result of perceived voids that we have encountered in our life according to ‘Values Factor’ author Dr John Demartini. In my case it was intelligence and awareness. I had no idea what was going on in my childhood. All I did was play football. I knew nothing about anything. I didn’t pay attention in school, I was never fully present in discussions with my peers. I lived so unconsciously it was ridiculous.

Now I am on a journey to ever greater levels of consciousness. That is my ‘magnificent obsession’, my ‘chief aim’ my ‘telos’. Getting into so much debt taught me to value money and build wealth. Now I am able to link the two and see how my wealth building can serve my great mission of raising consciousness in myself and subsequently others. If you gave me millions right now, the first thing I’d do is immerse myself in education including investment strategies. As appealing as the fancy lifestyle is, my driving force is to better myself, grow, evolve and share.

…are grateful

When you are grateful for what you have you get more to be grateful for. This is because your RAS sees only abundance and not scarcity. This is a very difficult one for me to apply. I am still relinquishing my default behaviours. The key is instead of having what you want, want what you have. Sounds similar, right? They are worlds apart. It would be wise to really study that statement.

I could easily carry on living on that lower level of consciousness whereby I would bemoan the hardships that I have encountered. The truth is that without them I don’t think I would be moving towards what I would deem to be a fulfilling life. I have gone down the rabbit hole now and there is no going back.

My dad dying when I was very young gave rise to my disdain for authority. This meant that it was inevitable that I would go off and work for myself. In doing so it brought to the surface all my insecurities and meant that I would really have to go and figure out as much as I could about myself and life as a whole to be able to get anywhere. Now I have such a big vision of myself that I couldn’t imagine not working towards it.

Successful people know that everything happens for a reason and it all serves in some way. Even the stuff we perceive as ‘bad’. One by one they are all guiding us to be balanced, to be present and help us along our journey toward our destiny. When I put it like that I am able to feel gratitude and know that I wasn’t meant for a ‘mediocre’ life. I am meant for greatness. Everyone is. I know it.

When letting go and just allowing yourself to be, that is where the magic happens. It is easier said than done. Gratitude for how things are and knowing that it is what it is meant to be can help to alleviate stress and improve our wellbeing. Bringing ourselves out of the limbic system and into the neocortex means that we can think clearly.

Just how in control are we? Well, look at your hand. That is made up of bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles. Zooming in even further it is made up of cells. They are the building blocks of the entire body. Cells are made up of molecules which are made up of atoms. On the subatomic level we have protons, neutrons and electrons.

Protons and neutrons are made up of quarks. String theory states that quarks are made up of vibrating ‘strings’. Max Planck, one of the founders of Quantum Mechanics famously stated that there is no such thing as ‘matter’. Inside everything is just empty space. We are nothing but electromagnetic waves that vibrate at a certain frequency. When we follow our heart and do what is most meaningful to us we vibrate at a high frequency and we draw in the people, situations and events that help us get to the next level.

Gratitude is the key that unlocks the heart. Having spent a lot of time working on eradicating my judgement process I have found myself feeling much more at ease with how things are. Less stressed and anxious. Though I am not completely there yet I have noticed a profound difference compared to where I was even just a year ago.

I am convinced that within each of us there is a divine genius waiting to be explored and unleashed. You would have a hard time convincing me otherwise. What prevents people from realising this is the desire to just go for it, accept the ups and downs along the way and be grateful for all that happens.

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed”. – Booker T. Washington

Trying To Run Before I Could Walk

We’ve all been there. Often times getting too ahead of ourselves we miss out the finer details of things that turn out to be the most important. Whether it be excitement, exuberance, lack of maturity, I have lately been identifying my own reasons. Which if I am being completely honest have been largely attached to fear.

In my previous blogs I have often brought up how having gone self employed around 7 years ago I have felt an overwhelm due to the sheer survival instinct that I have imposed on myself. Looking back it started a little earlier than that when I was working in a bar.

The backpacking life had brought me to a point where I needed to start earning some money having just blown a load on the East Coast of Australia. As fun as it was, the survival mode started kicking in and I knew it was time to graft.

I managed to blag my way into bar work having never even pulled a pint before. I am convinced the managers knew this and would question me on a few things here and there. Luckily, the General Manger took quite the shine to my housemate and therefore thought that keeping me sweet could be a way in.

Given that I had no experience and that there was quite a few staff I realised that if I were to keep getting regular hours then I would need to work hard and figure things out quickly. I am not sure whether I pride myself on this or not; I have always been someone that takes ages to figure things out but when it clicks I guarantee I will be the best at it. I guess there are worse traits to display.

As I was getting in with the management and securing hours, the owners found out about some shenanigans, fired them and brought new guys in to replace them. This put me back to square one and even at a slight disadvantage because I found it difficult to resonate with the new guys.

I was just starting to get comfortable and then all of a sudden I had new people that I needed to suck up to. The new main manager was all about having fun and was very much into organising said ‘fun’. Now that I was back in survival mode, I just wanted to work and, ironically, I felt that my working hard was actually leading to the detriment of my position there.

My hours were ever so slightly being cut each week and alarm bells were starting to ring. Thankfully, the owners had seen me graft from day one and thought very highly of me. They even offered to sponsor me to stay over there. Having them on my side helped me buy time, otherwise I was convinced that he would have gotten rid of me soon enough.

Things always have a way of working out in the end because as I worked harder and harder and grew more distant from the managers, they ended up getting fired and replaced by two new guys. Their first job? To whittle down the members of staff that were in line with that regime and promoting the one person that got his head down and got on with the job. Me.

I was made a Duty Manager. Within seven months I went from pulling my first pint to becoming responsible for running one of the busiest bars and nightclubs in one of the roughest parts of Australia. Not bad considering I was 24 years old at the time.

Lately I have been having this feeling that the mentality I created from this moment in time in my life could have had a big influence in my struggles since coming home from Australia. It didn’t pan out all that well with my managerial position. Having put myself through a lot of stress in that role I found it really overwhelming at times, to the point where I threw the keys at one of the part owners and walked out.

What I have identified is a common pattern. I would work as hard as I could in a bid for survival, get to a point of success then take on so much more that I would become overwhelmed and would just throw all my toys out the pram in a fit of anger.

This has been a vicious cycle for over eight years now. Just going from one extreme to another. Panic mode to overwhelm and back again. Yet it is only now that I am beginning to figure why. As I mentioned previously, it is all wrapped up in fear.

Fear is a hot topic for me at the moment because I have been going through and identifying my fear as they come up and I investigate them. Since embarking on my personal development journey back in 2010 I have been searching for what it takes to thrive, be fulfilled and have meaning in our lives. Yet all this time I have been struggling for survival. Which is the complete opposite of thriving of course.

Therefore if my words say thrive but my attention is on survive then all my brain will do is identify for me as many things in life to be afraid of. It will keep me on red alert by activating high frequency Beta brainwaves. Fine in the short term when I walk past that lion in the jungle I pass through on my way to work every day. However, in the long run; faster ageing, adrenal fatigue, increased risk of illness and disease. The list goes on.

So here I am with this potentially destructive pattern beginning to oscillate in my psyche which controls my behaviour and subsequently my results. Survival mode is locked in and that is all I know. Survival mode is hard. It is a slog. It is a grind. It is painful. It is soul destroying. It is everything that goes against the ease that I thought life was about. Up until the age of 24 I had had it relatively easy.

When living every waking moment in this way, all I could think about was freedom of some kind. I wanted the good old days back when I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. With no ties, or responsibilities of any kind. I had become so accustomed to a life of ease without difficulty. Therefore I had to go searching for the ease again.

And this is how I attempted that; I allowed my ego to make out that I knew it all. What I meant by this was that I assumed the Personal Training certificate that I obtained was a licence to be an expert in all things health and fitness. Then I got more involved with personal development and again somehow appointed myself as ‘King of all knowledge’.

What I was trying to do was be the holy grail for advice giving, wisdom and enlightenment. I was completely ignoring the fact that I had my own journey to think of first. Of course I want to be that person that travels the world doing public speaking and hosting seminars and workshops. It is only now that I realise that I am also on this journey myself too. I still have stuff that I want to figure out. And the journey is never ending, right?

As I figure more out about myself and learn more about life then I know I’ll reach that tipping point of confidence whereby I am able to coach to a high level and give advice because I know what I am talking about a lot more.

Before I figured this out I was exhausted. It just got too much. Always thinking that I had to know the answers. It made me afraid to try things because I was scared of failing and getting found out. I had to front so much and it got to a point where I just had to come clean. I am not this wise old sage, I am not the messiah. I am Paul. I am someone that loves to work on myself daily. I want to see what I am capable of. I want success, riches, six-pack abs, you name. I want it all.

To have all of the above there is one thing that I work on constantly which is my ‘deserve’ level. Before it was an elevated sense of entitlement because the world had ‘done me wrong’. It was all about getting because I felt I should have it all. It is still about getting, only now I realise that what you get in life is directly proportionate to what you give.

And I was giving a lot. An awful lot. In terms of energy that is. It was all in the wrong direction. I gave energy to worries. I gave energy to fears, I gave energy to anger and frustration. Resentment to those that were doing well in life while I was having a pity-party. My attention was going on the illusions I held about the future whilst being held back by emotional baggage from the past. Giving hardly any time, energy and attention to the present moment.

And it is the present moment that gives us the ability to take the walk into the run. The present moment is the appreciation of the process. It is the loving of the process. I want to be successful in the conventional understanding of success. I make no secret of that. I now see it as chalking off milestones on the journey of ever greater levels of consciousness.

Recently I have taken on a more minimalist way of life whereby I have been getting rid of so many possessions. I don’t doubt that one day I’ll have a Rolex and all the fancy things. That isn’t why I do this anymore. Before it was to impress people and to seek approval from them. In reality all I really want is to be present. I want to be in control of my emotions, my fears and worries.

I want to spend my time doing what I love which is to work on myself and ultimately build a business out of helping others do the same. I want to study all I can about life; human behaviour and potential, personal growth and anything that relates to consciousness. I kept pulling my focus away from this because I was immersed in worry as a result of my survival mode.

Upon reflection, it was time that was of most distress to me. I have always felt that I was running against the clock all the time. Trying to fit so many things in that I end up losing time, getting anxious and very overwhelmed. I am not quite sure what I thought, and still think, would happen?

I guess I fear ‘making it’ but then running out of time. It was as if I needed to set myself up to a point where I could just enjoy life and live easy. I think that defeats the entire object of life doesn’t it? Any self-actualised person would most likely tell you that the goal is to enjoy the journey. Be consistent and do the little things well while reaping along the way and moving onto the next.

I am pretty certain that I am now beginning to get the cart back behind the horse.

Is It Really Me Against The World After All?

Throughout the last 7 years, as I have been consumed with the field of personal development, I have noticed several defining moments that have led to certain shifts in my life. None more so than my most recent one which has been the eye-opening experience of my de-cluttering. Since reading books such as Stuffocation and American Mania: When More Is Not Enough, I found myself highlighting certain behaviours in myself that I wasn’t originally aware of.

I have always prided myself on being a grafter. I could out-work anyone at anything because I needed to be better. Little did I know that it was just a way of seeking approval from a higher authority. I felt as if I needed that pat on the back from people that, for whatever reason, I had put on a pedestal.

To my shock I realised that I was putting everyone on a pedestal. No matter who it was, I needed to gain their approval in some way. It was all rooted in a fear based mentality that made me so afraid of offending people that I just kept things bottled up. I kept myself shut off from the world and kept my distance. For so long I felt separate and left out.

While everyone was going about their lives I would watch from afar and envy. Envy because these people appeared to have a confidence to be themselves that I could only dream of. So afraid of people’s judgement and ridicule I never really gave myself permission to follow what truly matters to me.

As I plunged deeper into the field of personal development I found that I was creating more distance between myself and others. The reason being is that I am a dreamer, I have a vision and I feel that we play far too small compared to what we are capable of. Frustration was getting the better of me because so many people just aren’t willing to listen. Yet it was myself that I was most trying to convince.

When you don’t have the same mentality as virtually the entire world’s population you find yourself becoming very lonely. I haven’t had the best of luck in relationships mainly because I have trust issues about letting someone get close to me and partly because girls I have been with in the past haven’t really embraced my desire to better myself. In many cases I have been called deluded.

Of course it would be easy to say that I have attracted a few bad apples along the way. Although I am not sure that is the complete truth. If I am being honest with myself then I would say that I have been looking for them. If you surround yourself with negativity long enough it will become engrained and all of a sudden I am on red alert for anything that matches that bias.

The fact that I have spent pretty much my whole life with this mindset creates a big conflict when I am looking to make something of myself. Talking about all of the opportunities, possibilities and successes that life has to offer soon makes you an outcast in your negative environment. So how do I react to this? I sulk. I get frustrated. I sink back down into a hole. I let other people’s views be the deciding factor.

Well not anymore. I am tired of letting other people think they know whats best for me. From now on they can do and say whatever they like that is best for them and I will do what is best for me. As I approach 32 years of age I have finally found myself coming into my own a lot more. By having a major de-clutter physically and digitally I have noticed that it has happened mentally as well. I have cleared my mind a lot and have become less attached to people’s views.

I was once part of an ‘evidence based’ fitness group on Facebook and some of the conversations that were taking place originally made me feel good because it meant we could openly attack people. If it wasn’t backed up by the holy grail of science then it was fair game. It turned me into an obnoxious little shit because it made me believe that I had free reign to attack anyone and anything that I felt like.

I was attacking spirituality in particular and the New Age movement. A concept that led me into science because I had a yearning to know more. I was attacking a vital step in my development. All the while I was distancing myself from the loving people and nature that the New Age movement is known for. For whatever reason I didn’t think it was acceptable to appreciate both science and spiritually so I found myself having to pick one.

For as long as I can remember I have always been complaining about things that I deem to have hindered me in some way. The more I drew my attention to all these things, the more they kept showing up. Or did they? You see, events come and go. It is our emotional response to them that bring them into our awareness and we then decide how significant they are to us. This is essentially how the Law of Attraction works.

All these events throughout my life that I thought were holding me back and pushing me down were actually helping me up. Teaching me to grow and evolve. Giving me necessary challenges in order to better myself. Yet all the while I was trying to play the victim in order to first get sympathy and also to use as an excuse for not achieving anything in life.

I would say the biggest defining moment of them all was losing my dad when I was very young. I was lucky enough to have a step dad that I have always got along with but the void of losing my biological dad definitely had a huge impact on me. I repressed my emotions for so long and it is only recently that I am able to feel open to discussing it.

Deep down I have used this as a way of reinforcing a belief that I am not good enough. I am not worthy of love because it will just get stripped away from me. Again, playing into that victim mentality and using it as an excuse. However, what if I were to re-frame it? What if I were to identify the positive aspects of this experience?

There is no question that this is what has given me so much drive and determination. Having to prove myself and my worth may seem like such negative components of a personality. Now I see them as a positive fuel to help me grow and expand. Only this time I am doing it for me and no one else.

Then I look at when I was growing up and ‘smarter’ kids were going to grammar schools while I went to the local comprehensive that had a less than favourable reputation. I had comments aimed at me quite regularly by their parents. Something that at 12 years old you don’t really know how to deal with. It made me believe I was thick and that I wouldn’t be capable of much.

Now what if I were to re-frame this as well? Let’s just say I did go to the same schools, get the decent grades and fitted in with this middle class way of living? I can only hazard a guess that I would have come out, got a job, met a wife, got a mortgage, had kids and waited for retirement and subsequently death. I have nothing against the people that want to live in this manner. More power to them and I applaud those that are happy living in a way that suits them. However, this particular way just isn’t for me.

So what have I done instead? Well, having deep rooted father issues gave me a disdain for authority which led me to working for myself and entering the business world. With so many people disillusioned by their job and waiting for 5pm and the weekend to come around I cannot believe my own luck that I get to run my own diary as well as pursuing something that I love and having the time to do it.

My once hedonistic mindset was cursing just how hard I had to work to survive. Now I see that the hard work was serving me for a much greater purpose and one that outstrips hedonism by far. It has taught me about taking responsibility for myself, given me a vision for the future and a desire to make something of myself.

In regards to growing up believing I was thick. As soon as I got into Personal Training I discovered that I was able to understand the theory components. This gave birth to a new belief that maybe I could be intelligent after all. I have since gone on to learn about topics such as neuroscience and quantum physics as they relate to consciousness. That void has driven me to value knowledge and education. I wouldn’t be anywhere near as smart as I am now if I hadn’t have been somewhat disparaged about my lack of intelligence as a kid. I no doubt would have just rested on my laurels and had no desire to grow and develop.

This entire journey that I have been on has put me on the most important quest to learn how to love myself. Only then would I know what true love in a relationship surely is. Starting out with such a low view of myself has led me to go deeper and deeper to collapse stored baggage. What if I had the bog standard life as described above? I am not convinced that I would have ever felt true connection that I know is coming my way one day.

Through experience I have had to learn money management skills the hard way too. Getting myself into a lot of debt ‘chasing the dream’ taught me to wake up. I am now on a mission to become financially independent in my thirties. The alternative that would have been to hopefully retire in my sixties having spent forty-plus years working a job I wasn’t inspired by.

I have always bemoaned my experiences in relationships and I now know why. Holding back from getting attached I never really gave much. I certainly haven’t loved, I know that. To protect myself from hurt I wouldn’t allow love. So what did I do? I kept finding fault. I only made myself aware of the bad stuff. The things that annoyed me or frustrated me. That way I could distance myself because I had an excuse to.

My last two girlfriends have pointed out the same thing; that I always think that anyone and anything is against me. They were right. As much as I don’t like to admit it and it is now time to face up to the truth. Though going through those relationships with my protective barrier meant that I was creating a lot of conflict. I wouldn’t budge an inch on anything and instead would cite all arguments as an all out attack on little old me.

And maybe that is what has been holding me back all this time? By viewing the world as against me has given me the perfect excuse not to love myself fully. By finding fault in anything I possibly could gave me fuel for my so called victimhood mentality. It also made it a lot easier to judge anything I could. Creating so much hate within me. If I only look at the bad stuff in life then it gives me an excuse not to participate in it.

Now it is time to let all that go. The view I had of the world was merely a projection of how I have long felt about myself. But I deserve better. I deserve to have all I want to in life and I will continue to pursue it. I have had many defining moments up until this point and I am looking forward to many more. All those events that I thought were trying to drag me down were actually freeing me up to go on to bigger and better things. I finally see that now and couldn’t be more grateful.

“Change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

Time To Start Looking Ahead

Recently, I have been having the mother of all clear outs. Minimalism is being taken to a whole new level in my life. Over the Easter period I read a book called ‘Stuffocation’ and the message really resonated with me. I am a huge proponent of capitalism, only in its current format it just isn’t sustainable. I learned all about the damage that we are doing to this planet purely because of the accumulation of ‘stuff’.

I wouldn’t say that I am boycotting materialism completely because I am not looking to get rid of my BMW any time soon, unless it is to buy a Jaguar. On the whole, I knew I needed to start getting rid of things. I had spent so long accumulating things that I forgot why I was doing it in the first place. Then it dawned on me, it was attached to my need to keep up with the Jones’.

Brands and fancy things have never been my forte and my fashion sense is questionable at best. That didn’t stop me pursuing the riches as if I was into those sorts of things. Reason being is that I attached my worth to accumulation. I had so many attachments that I didn’t even realise just how much they were holding me back.

And so began the clear out. I was getting rid of clothes, old souvenirs, paperwork. Everything was going. I decided to take it digitally and deleted hundreds of saved emails, Facebook friends and phone contacts. I even deleted my entire LinkedIn account. With each deletion I kept finding myself thinking “Oh but I may need that one day”. As if my life somehow hinged on it.

Little did I know that I was embarking on a new found sense of freedom. And I still haven’t gotten anywhere near finished yet. I had spent so long accumulating the past that it was steadily building me into a prison. A prison of attachment. For so long I felt as if I had nothing. Trust me, start throwing things away and you’ll realise just how much you do have.

So my physical surroundings were becoming clutter free, my digital presence was also going down the same route. I was finding myself becoming more carefree and present. However there was something else that also warranted my attention which was my body and mind. I have come to learn that the body is the unconscious mind and all those experiences and so called beliefs that we accumulate throughout life just store up in our bodies.

I’ll give you a recent example from a session with Mind Body Connection Coach Martin Feaver. As he was working on my left side he brought up the subject of ex-girlfriends and one in particular kept coming to mind which kept causing me a lot of pain in the area he was working on. When he made me focus my attention on something else the pain went. He made me realise how I can switch it on and off. He helped me open up about what the issue was and all of a sudden the pain just went and I felt a compassion for this particular person.

I have just begun the process of a body transformation using the expert skills and knowledge of a peer of mine. We took before shots so that I can track my progress. What I noticed on the rear shot was quite severe scoliosis in my spine which I thought I had gotten rid of to a degree. There is a muscle in the lower back called the Quadratus Lumborum (QL). One of the left and one of the right.

The one on my right is jammed up good. It hampers me in most things such as running, squatting and even driving. Given that I have had more pissed off ex-girlfriends that I have hot dinners then I’m pretty sure that I have these jammed up muscles all over my body. Not to mentioned other episodes in my life that I have also held on to.

More so than any previous girlfriend, I feel that the biggest issue I have faced was that of my dad dying when I was very young. Many people would often state their sorrow when they found out and I didn’t really think anything of it because I didn’t really know what was going on at the time. Little did I realise that I would repress so much emotion. In all honesty I feel that repressing emotions to the degree that I have all this time is what has probably led to having a long line of pissed off ex-girlfriends.

So far I have only really scratched the surface of these issues and I am now starting to understand how important it is to bring them out in the open and deal with them so that I can truly move on in life.

What is interesting to me is that having spent a lot of time in the last few weeks going through and deleting things from Facebook I got to see just how my personality has changed. My photos were mainly of me going out drinking and having fun which continued and even occurred to a greater extent during my time in Australia. I thought that life was one big party and so I would act as if it was. It was merely a cry for attention. Perhaps something I felt may have been a void since that young age.

I went from Mania to Depression and it is only now that I am beginning to open my eyes to that sweet spot in the middle whereby I can look to the future instead of the past. I spent a long time working with Elite Life Coach Tony J Selimi and he gave a great analogy when we first started working together.

He said that you cannot build the shard with the foundations of a three storey block of flats. That message has stuck with me because ever since that day I have kept digging and digging. What I keep finding has been uncomfortable to say the least. The more I keep bringing to the surface and collapsing, the more I can live with an inner peace and calmness that deep down we all crave far more than whatever material possessions we think we want that often only serve to hold us back.

Totally Addicted To Stress

We’re just three weeks away from a general election in this country and I have always tended to keep myself out of politics. Partly because like everyone else, I know absolutely nothing. Mainly though it is because I am on a journey of self-governance. Bit by bit I am starting to take more responsibility for myself. It was a journey that started around 7 years ago and has brought up to the surface more pain and discomfort than I could ever have imagined.

The first time I went self employed I had no idea just how hard it would be. I just assumed that I would have clients queuing up wanting to be trained. I had unknowingly thrown myself in the deep end and was starting to sink, fast. In a bid to overcome this discomfort I went looking for answers. I enrolled on courses, I bought books, I spent hours on YouTube, you name it.

Every minute of every day I was switched on, looking over my shoulder expecting some kind of apocalypse to happen. I feared not knowing, I feared being left behind. Endless hours of worry consumed my life. It kidnapped my focus and attention. I wasn’t present in situations. Everyday was a struggle. Every second was a struggle. My energy was waning more and more as time went on.

Money was the major source of my struggle. I always attached money to my security and I attached my security to that of the approval of others. It was my assumption that the more money I made, the better lifestyle I could live therefore I would be approved of. I needed that approval because I had such a low opinion of myself that I just had to try to find it from somewhere.

The irony was that I was trying to leverage money I didn’t even have. I was booking courses and programmes using credit cards and racking up debt. I thought these programmes would be the answer because I could get the knowledge I needed to make more money and so on and so forth. Little did I know at the time that I was just spiralling downwards.

I was taking on as much work as I could in order to cover the excessively high minimum payments on my credit cards. We’re talking 60-80 hour weeks, quite often working every day. Tutoring, assessing, Personal Training. Anything that I could do for work in order to get as much money as possible. I was desperate and I was splitting my time and focus in so many different directions that I was beginning to burn out.

Knowing that I was unable to find funds to put myself through any more courses and living up to the eyeballs in debt I felt completely stuck. In fact, the word that kept coming to mind when I was alone with my thoughts was ‘hopeless’. I felt completely down and out and with no idea what I was going to do. I even looked into an IVA which is a type of bankruptcy. I was so close to going for it.

In my vast book collection, there are of course many that are about wealth, money management, finances and economics. I realised that I needed to educate myself on the subject rather than trying to build a business out of thin air. I started applying the techniques (which most people say are ridiculous, something I’ll be writing about in future posts) and mercifully, the tide began to change.

I started to make myself more important that any of my expenses by saving the first portion of my income each month and made a commitment to keep raising it. Things started to shift. My mindset began improving, money was coming out of places I wouldn’t have expected and business was starting to take off. I now find myself almost debt free and, more importantly, with a much brighter outlook for the future.

So here I am now, writing this from a point where my worries have greatly subsided compared to what they were perhaps just 6-12 months ago, business is ticking over nicely, I have a great steady income and I finally see a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. You would think I’d be happy with that right? Well of course I am given the struggles I have put myself through in the last few years.

All of a sudden I no longer have to be working 24/7. I no longer have to take on as much work as possible. In fact I am in a position now where I don’t have to work weekends if I don’t want to. I have staff that carry out most of the business admin and I can even let go of certain tasks and duties that are not important.

I have just discovered how hard this is for me to accept. Whether I liked it or not I had gotten myself used to the demand of my time, the struggle and fight. I am so grateful that I don’t have those same demands anymore but I found myself really struggling to adjust. Having spent so long looking over my shoulder I am now in a position where I can relax a little bit, take stock and just breathe.

This is a position that I wanted to get to for so long and even though I still want to get further and further in life I am very grateful to have come this far. However, my body is still playing catch up. It only knows stress because that is all it has been exposed to for so long. Even before going self employed I was very much a worrier. If I am being completely honest with myself then I still am to a degree.

I have so much free time on my hands that I could be getting back into my memory training, I could be reading and studying more, I could be spending more time in the gym. And I will. What I really want to do though is allow myself to get bored for a while. I want give myself as few commitments as possible in order to shake off as much of the ‘stress residue’ as possible.

The reason being is that I feel as though I would only be doing certain things for the sake of it rather than because I actually want to purely because of how I have programmed myself. I now have the perfect opportunity to really master meditation and get to know myself a lot more as I continue my journey to self awareness. As much as I love my study I feel I am really being drawn into spending more time alone with my thoughts. Often quite a daunting thing to experience at times.

The deeper I dig, the more solid foundations I can lay down. Meaning that I can lead a more authentic life that gives me greater purpose. One of the best things is that I can become more aware of what challenges I want to pursue rather than having them thrust upon me by my unconscious mind.

I could very easily bemoan the struggles I have faced over the last 7 years. That isn’t going to get me anywhere though. Those struggles were necessary as they have given me the strength to take on the next 7 and see what happens. For so long I was chasing the so called ‘good life’ where everything was easy. The pleasure that Hedonism promises. Deep down that is not what I want. I want to grow, develop, evolve. This will bring me new obstacles to overcome as I expand my comfort zone further.

One particular path I am putting myself on is that of a body transformation. I have always wanted to be lean and ripped and have a great physique. I now have the time to dedicate myself to that journey. I was too ashamed to admit where I would be starting from and so I always made out that I wouldn’t ever want to look a certain way. Deep down I did and now I want to do it because I feel that my body deserves to be the best it can be.

All along I have been this ‘perfectionist’ that beat myself up because I wasn’t ‘perfect’. I felt as if I had to have ‘made it’ and even acted as if I did. I kept trying to dish out advice because I was an ‘expert’. The truth is that I haven’t made it. Who ever does?

Now I have humbled myself enough to state that I am still at the start of my journey, pretty much, regardless of how far I feel I have come. I am happy enough to show my imperfections here at the start and instead of striving for an end goal as such I am more accepting of the idea of loving the journey and the process and reaping the accomplishments along the way.

Maybe the best thing out of all this is that I am not scared of the mistakes and failures that will likely come up. This is because I know that they will teach me so much that I want to learn as I continue my journey to self-governance.

Dealing With Depression

Writing is something that gives me a lot of pleasure. I find it very therapeutic in being able to pour out what is in my mind. What appeals to me most about writing is that it seems as if it is the only platform I have that I feel safe to be open and honest. Even though I post blogs that could be accessed by virtually anyone in the world, I do feel as though it is just for me.

I have found that I go through phases when it comes to blogging. I will blog non stop for six months then get so busy that I just stop. I seem to let, what I deem to be, more important things take over. It is only now that I have figured out why.

In the last few weeks I have been in the process of de-cluttering my life. The obvious things went first such as material junk that I have no use for. I decided to go even further by deleting my LinkedIn account, hundreds of contacts in my phone book and a few thousand saved emails. Not only did I realise that I had become so attached to things via fear based thinking, I also noticed just how much I actually have in my life.

Throughout the process of de-cluttering I found that my work was beginning to stabilise for the first time in a long time. I felt less of a need to be working all the time which is a feeling I have never had in the almost seven years that I have been self-employed. It is actually quite a peculiar feeling and is certainly taking some getting used to.

All of a sudden I have time for myself therefore I felt that it was the perfect opportunity to start writing again. In the last couple of weeks I started to put a blog together which I have yet to publish. I am happy with it, I just realised that given how I am going through a big shift in my life I have this need to start up again by being as honest as I can.

So here goes; I feel now is the time to open up about my experience of suffering with depression. Anyone that knows me and interacts with me on a regular basis would never know that I have gone through this. (Well at least I think that would be the case). Operating with a ‘brave face’, I have always been someone to repress my emotions and just get on with things. Although very regular bouts of anger and frustration would surface just to remind me that they exist.

It wasn’t until last year that I finally admitted to myself that I had depression and that I had to seek specialist help. Up until that point I was just going by the assumption that life was a struggle and that I just needed to keep going. If I am being completely honest with myself, even though I thought that the struggle was what caused all this, I came to realise that it began as far back as 2009 and even has roots much further back than that.

I first became self-employed in early 2011 and had no idea just how hard it would be. I was always looking over my shoulder wondering when the next pay cheque is coming and where it was coming from. I lacked confidence badly and felt myself being overrun by fear. Always worried about the future and my own survival needs.

The truth is that even though it was still an exciting time to be entering a career I would enjoy, I began to slump long before then and little did I know just how that would affect me. I set off to travel Australia towards the end of 2008. I had an absolute blast for the first few months until I found myself travelling alone for a while. It was the first time in my life I had ever been by myself and it was an extremely uncomfortable and obviously very lonely place.

Always out partying and socialising I never before had felt what it was like to be alone with my mind. It was a very scary experience. Being around people all the time meant that I had others to bounce off of and seek guidance from because I never felt confident in myself of knowing what was best. I never had the trust in my own intuition.

The experiences I had in Australia were an equal measure of highs and lows. The highs were the fun social times. The lows on the other hand were the lonely times. The lowest of the low came when my big social circle in Townsville had disbanded and I was still there in a relationship that was falling apart and a job that stressed me up to the eyeballs. Only this time I had no future meet ups to look forward to because one by one everyone I was with originally started to head home.

The true origin of my depression was mania. Growing up I was always that over excitable kid that was full of beans. In my teens and early twenties I lived for the weekends and was always wanting to be out having fun. By the time I was ready to go to Australia I had taken that mania up quite a few notches. I would never have guessed that life gives you downs as well as ups. The downs were a complete shock to the system. My somewhat hedonistic mentality was starting to get me into trouble.

After two years of highs and lows I headed back home with a renewed zest for life. I enrolled on my PT course ready for an inspiring new career. The start was the biggest struggle I ever thought that I would have to face. I just couldn’t obtain enough clients to get a steady stream of income and began feeling very low in myself.

A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of personal development and I have been hooked ever since. I started to learn just how small we play. What I have since found is that it is all very well thinking and believing big, however, having an appreciation for both where you are now and the journey it takes to get to the big leagues are just as important.

Even though I have always sought the authority of others, I have always been a non-conformist. This created a lot of conflict in me. I have always wanted to go against the grain. I could never buy in to the typical lifestyle of doing any job that pays the bills for 40-odd years and marrying any woman for the sake of playing 2.4 children. I have always wanted to find meaning and a genuine connection in things.

Up pops another conflict because I have shut out meaningful connection with people ever since my dad died when I was very young. No one has ever really gotten close to me. I have found myself in relationship after relationship with the wrong person. I was never fully invested in any of them because I wouldn’t set myself up to ever be hurt.

All the time I have been studying personal development, along with human behaviour and potential, I have been seeking answers. I have spent the last seven years working my fingers to the bone striving to be successful because I thought that was the answer. I felt that if I had all the success then I would be revered and admired by others. I needed their validation in order to feel worthy.

In my pursuit of success I found myself constantly trying to dig my way out of a hole. I got myself into a lot of debt by putting myself through courses and programmes that I thought would springboard me to the upper echelons. I kept living in the future instead of the here and now. I feared the opinions of others and shied away from my true essence.

Anyone that goes through depression will know how hard it is to admit it to themselves let alone speak up about it. There is a big drive at the minute to take mental health more seriously which is about time. In my experience I didn’t want to seem like a failure for going against the grain of society’s conventional methods and getting it wrong. It is now obvious to me that that was simply the necessary divorce procedure.

Although I have never let anyone get all that close to me, when I felt unable to speak about how I was feeling with those people that were the closest, I knew I was completely alone. One girl I was with most recently had grown up with her mother suffering depression and made comments about not wanting to experience that again. When you can’t be open and honest with your girlfriend, the one person you feel you should be able to, it is time to take stock in your life.

A couple of years ago I noticed that I was running out of energy. I had spent the previous 12 months going through a horrific break up with another girl whereby I just had to get out. I finally packed up my stuff and moved back to my parents’ and set up camp in the loft room. I was 29 at the time and felt an overwhelming sense of shame that I was living back at home and up to my eyeballs in debt. So much for all that personal development stuff. Fearing the opinions of others had always given me that drive to keep going.

Towards the end of that year I just needed a break. Leading up to Christmas 2015 I decided to leave all my tutoring positions and take a month or so off while I did some soul searching. With a few quid in savings and some backlogged invoices still to come in I had the ability to do so. However, it turned into six months and I began to panic at not having found whatever it was that I was looking for.

By summer last year I went back to Personal Training at a commercial gym and finally realised that all this time it was depression that was holding me back. There had been a few moments previously whereby I questioned whether I had depression but I just shrugged it off and ignored it. Not wanting to admit it or make a fuss.

As part of my agreement I was to deliver a set amount of hours in exchange for free rent at the gym. Part of those hours entailed outreach for membership sales around the high street. We had a stand set up in the local supermarket and spoke to shoppers as they passed. It didn’t feel right being there. I just couldn’t seem to muster up any enthusiasm. The first time I was by myself I was alone with my thoughts again, only this time I didn’t have much of a hiding place. It was here when I finally admitted to myself that I had been suffering depression all this time.

A wave of emotion came over me and I kept having to sneak off to my car to cry. Not knowing where to turn I spoke with my GP whom referred me to a course of counselling. I had long criticised my GP for his apathy; this time he delivered. Counselling helped me uncover a lot of stored baggage and set me up on a new path.

Even though there were many dark days, I couldn’t be more grateful for the last eight or so years because they have taught me so much about myself and helped me build character. It is an experience that has humbled me and identified a lot of negative behaviours and toxic thought patterns. I feel as though I am getting to a point now where I can honestly say that I have the ability to love myself.

And that is all it ever comes down to. A choice between love and fear. Fear takes us out into the future which is simply an illusion. Love brings us to the present moment. Love can come in many forms, it isn’t all just about relationships. I would always endorse finding out what you would love to do and just do it without the limitations that we impose on ourselves.

Going through the process of de-cluttering not only freed up space physically, it also freed up my mind. I began just letting go and allowing life to happen rather than trying to control it. It was such a liberating experience that I found myself becoming more present and more content with what I already have. I let go of the need for material possessions and have since shifted my focus more on developing deeper connections with people. I want to break through that protective barrier I set up for myself.

I will always see myself as ambitious. I am on a mission to see just what I am capable of across a range of things in life. The difference now is that I am doing them for me. I no longer do things for the benefit of seeking approval from others. I will do things that feel right for me. I am beginning to unhook all that attachment I had to the future and remove myself from competition with others. I still have career aspirations and long term goals.

My number one goal in life, however, is to simply always be myself.

Have I Been Getting This Evidence Based Approach All Wrong?

Six years ago this week I started my Personal Training Diploma course. I was very excited about embarking on a new chapter in my life having landed back from a two year stint in Australia just a couple of days before. I still had jet-lag when I started so naturally waking up before 5am helped me get prepared for each day.

I loved my course. Absolutely loved it. Ten weeks of learning started to give me the belief that I could be intelligent. Up until that point I had only read one book since leaving school. Entering the fitness industry has seen me build a library of upwards of 300 books. Hardly any of which are fitness related believe it or not.

Upon completing the course I started my Personal Training career in a leisure centre in South East London. It would be easy to cite a low socio-economic area for my initial struggle in the fitness world, but the truth is that I was about to start my journey of figuring myself out. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.

In order to get clients I would need to engage in conversation with members and offer them taster sessions in the hope I could convert them to a full paying client. I would write scripts of what I would say to people when I approached them. I would plan out how the conversation would go. I would prepare and plan it all but when push came to shove I was paralysed and I just could not take that first step.

Growing up I had a lot of anger issues and any little thing would annoy and frustrate me. I was always complaining about one thing or another. Suffice to say, my predicament with trying to obtain clients left me a tad wound up. Of course it was everyone else’s fault. It was the Personal Training agent’s fault for putting me in that gym. It was the members’ faults for not being able to afford Personal Training. Everyone’s fault but mine.

Looking back now I am very grateful for the struggles I faced because this was the very start of my journey to grow up. It was the first time in my life that I had to take responsibility for myself and it was extremely uncomfortable. Life was easier when I could just blame someone else for something  and then walk away when I wanted to. Only this time, I couldn’t walk away. I needed the work and I had no fall back. It was time to buckle up.

Mentioning my struggles to my friend Jake, he told me he had been watching Brian Tracy a lot on YouTube. A personal development guru that went from living in his car to becoming an incredibly successful salesman, author and public speaker.

My initial struggles with selling myself were down to the illusion that I wasn’t intelligent enough to help people with their health and fitness. Learning about Brain Tracy’s story was the first time in my life that I realised that regardless of your education, it has no bearing on what you are actually capable of.

It was from here that I fell in love with personal development. I was spending as much time, if not more, on learning about sales techniques and personal growth as I was on fitness related topics. I loved learning about how to become successful. It became an obsession. I had to be successful, I had to be somebody, I had to be validated in some way.

This was all just unconscious behaviour designed to be loved and respected by others because I didn’t have that within myself. Before I knew it I was loaded with credit card debt because I had put myself through courses and programmes that promised me success but hadn’t delivered. Of course, it was always the fault of someone else.

By this time I was in full swing with my conspiracies. During my Personal Training course we were told how research can get manipulated because of who may fund a journal. We were also learning about how Organic food is superior to non-organic food because there are ‘no chemicals’ in it.

When you are new to a field you are impressionable so hearing things like this speaks to that value of mine of wanting to be intelligent. I bust a few myths and all of a sudden I heralded down the street as some messiah with an IQ that is off the charts. At least that was the plan.

In an attempt to separate myself further from the pack we call ‘society’, I started learning about entrepreneurship. Being self-employed I was already half way there. Right? Not quite. I found myself being swept up reading books by thought leaders and visionaries telling us about how the world is moving from underneath us and that we need to keep up. Hence why I enrolled myself on all of those courses.

So let’s add all these things up together. Scientific research is biased due to funding, all food is sprayed with chemicals that will deform you, society has it wrong by playing small so get a business going and keep up to date with the visionaries. Checking the calculator I can see that it all adds up a grand total of… FEAR.

I had found myself swept up on the fear mongering merry-go-round. Making it worse by sharing these things with everyone and anyone that would listen. When pressed on any of these matters I found myself coming unstuck and unable to back them up. I was merely passing on information that I had heard without even questioning it myself.

Things began to change as I found myself in new circles that promoted critical thinking, scientific reasoning and an evidence based approach. This was a whole new world to me. I had gone through a spiritual influence and the idea of science seemed so pointless to me. I was of the opinion that if only we became more spiritual then science wouldn’t matter. Not quite sure how I came to that conclusion but hey, ho.

However, I stuck with it. I started to unlearn a lot of the things that I had found myself studying previously and began to question everything. My confidence sky rocketed, my knowledge increased and my mind was less permeable. Trust me to take things to extremes though because all I wanted to do was be a dick about it.

I joined in with the ones that mock and ridicule the so called ‘woo’ and ‘quackery’ that I once believed. I was criticising the people that were only saying the things that I was a few months previously. All because I wanted to look intelligent.

My quest for intelligence is there because I was ridiculed for not having any when I was a kid. So my response is to become intelligent myself and then mock others for not having any themselves. Doesn’t quite make sense does it? It is nothing more than hypocrisy. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

What I have come to learn is that intelligence comes in many forms. I am driven for academic intelligence as I have many questions about life. Science is a field I want to explore deeply and I am currently doing my degree in Mathematics & Physics. I’m loving it so far and of course building confidence in my academic ability.

Another form of intelligence is emotional intelligence. Understanding people is a vital component of life. Alienating others wont get us anywhere. I found myself going from one extreme to the other but all I was doing was alienating a different group of people each time.

I put a status update on Facebook recently about how I have gone from overly altruistic to overly narcissistic and at some point I will strike a balance. This is where I feel I am at in my life now. I feel as though I am finally bringing myself into that healthy balance for the first time in my life.

I didn’t realise how altruistic I was until I went self employed and had to make a living from scratch. Over time I began to open up my narcissistic side and made it all about me instead. The important thing is that I had to experience both of those extremes to get me to this point today.

The reason I have embarked on a scientific journey is because I wanted to know and understand things as best as I could. The spiritual journey brought me to that point of wanting to know more. Why should I criticise it? I was a vital piece of my overall puzzle. It was necessary for me. I just became ready to be no longer swayed and instead wanted to find things out for myself.

Likewise, I can bitch and moan about signing up for all those programmes and getting into debt. The fact is I wasn’t self aware enough to know what to do with those programmes. However, getting into debt gave me the biggest lesson in money management. It is almost gone and I have a great savings and investment plan in place. The stress I put myself through wasn’t pleasant but it was all part of my growing up and taking responsibility for myself.

I am a lot clearer on where I want to take my career. And it is all thanks to my initial ignorance. I am evidence based but I don’t need to just reject innovation for the sake of it. I do want to understand things from a scientific point of view but I have no reason to ridicule those that don’t.

Earlier this week I had a knock on the door from two creationists. I believe they were Jehovah’s Witness. I stated that I didn’t believe in creationism because I believe in evolution. One of them knew that he wouldn’t have been able to convince me otherwise and I knew that I couldn’t convince him. So we had a pleasant conversation whereby we politely shared our views and we each went about our day.

There would have been no reason for either of us to force our views on one another and instead we just accepted each other for how we both are. The world is big enough for us both to exist. It is the differences among people that make the world so interesting. I don’t need the world to be, think and act like me. Yes, I want to know evidence and I will question things, but there is no reason for me to be a dick about it.

All in all, if you click with another person you won’t care what their views are. You will support them no matter what. It is not anti-science of me to let religious people have their freedom. It is their choice. If I am pro science then wouldn’t it be in my best interests to get better at it, instead of trying to tear down anything that appears to oppose it?

I do feel as though emotional intelligence could get you further in life than academic intelligence. Then again, that would depend on what it is you actually want from life. The irony is that I stumbled upon EQ by striving for IQ. I am very grateful that I have the opportunity to apply both in my life.