Back in 4 Weeks

Hello followers and fly-ins. This is a short message to let you know that the blog is going to be on hiatus for the next month or so. I couldn’t leave it for this long without saying something though, ya’ll would be worried sick. All 4 of you, panicking for no reason, like parents at a kids party when the birthday boys decides to drop an F bomb.

They’re going to learn swear words and shit eventually. Your nervous laughter and and insistence that the word is not to be repeated only informs the kid that those words are cool and meant for adults so, naturally, they are words they will take every opportunity to use from that point onwards.

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Anyway, panic not, put the sandwich boards down and let me tell you why I’m ducking out for a few weeks. I’ve been posting on here for a couple of months now and it’s been great. Like, really really great. As far as live tests go, this couldn’t have gone better for me personally.

I set out to discover whether what I have to say about my efforts to improve myself has any value for anyone else. Turns out, it does. That’s hugely rewarding in itself, but I think I can do better than that.

Without going in to too much detail I’m taking some time off to work on a more complete content schedule and assess some ideas I have to add more value to the site. My plan is to relaunch in October under a new name and with a new objective.

I do hope you’ll stay tuned. For now, please look after yourselves and others and try not to be too much of a dick the rest of the time.

Cheers

Ben x

Midweek Mini: 5 Questions you should ask yourself regularly

I’m still catching up on myself a little here so please no one point out that it’s actually not midweek any more and we’re approximately 70% of the way though the working week here in the UK because I know that already. I worked it out on the calculator and everything.

Today I want to get you thinking about some questions you should put to yourself every now and then. This doesn’t have to be a daily practice (although it can be) but at least a couple of times a month.

If you’re reading this, I assume that you have something that you’re working towards achieving. Personal goals and ambitions help establish meaning and structure in our lives and a body in motion tends to stay in motion according to my main man Newton.

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With that mind, make sure you keep your body (and mind) in motion by regularly asking yourself the following questions.

1. Am I closer to achieving my goals and ambitions than I was the last time I asked myself this question?

This is key, if you’re not moving forward with your plans you’re going backwards. There is no standing still.

2. What mistakes have I made and what can I learn from them?

It’s important to remember that mistakes do not define you, they merely present an opportunity to refine your methods.

3. What successes have I had and how can I build on them?

Repeating what works makes total sense and helps you get better and achieve your goals faster.

4. What more could I be doing to move closer to achieving my goals and ambitions?

Always look for ways to do more. Within reason obviously, you still need to have some down time.

5. What more could I be doing to help others move closer to achieving theirs?

Helping others achieve their goals won’t directly help you with yours, but you reap what you sow and if someone has an opportunity to support you in the future, they’re much more likely to do so if you’ve helped them. Plus it’s nice to be nice.

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Be honest with yourself when asking these questions. It’s not nice when someone lies to you. It’s worse when you lie to others. But to lie to yourself jus crazy and will always do you more harm than good.

Midweek Minipost – Choose your Problems Wisely

So I was chatting with a good friend of mine recently, we were at his daughters birthday party and he and his family were in the middle of moving house, his wife had recently decided to work freelance and he had no idea what he was going to do for work once their house move was complete. This would be enough to send most people in to a spiral of panic.

He was a picture of calm in telling me all this though. Not concerned about the fact that he didn’t know where his next pay check was coming from. Excited at the thought of getting to spend more time with his kids. He had problems coming out of his ears but he wasn’t letting them get the better of him. Why do you think this is?

Let’s rewind a few years first and see what problems he had back then. He was a successful and high flying engineer working for one of the most prestigious consultancies in the country. He was swamped with work, was left unfulfilled by what work he was doing and struggled with personal issues as a result.

What’s the difference between who he was back then and who he is today? In both cases he was, like the rest of us, up to his eyeballs in problems. The difference is a simple one, back then his problems were negatively impacting his life and his happiness, whereas now he has swapped those problems for ones that he has chosen.

This is something that many of us don’t realise is even possible. We will always have problems in our lives, no one gets a free pass. The key to being happy is ensuring that your problems are ones that you choose and that you want to solve. Ones that you love to solve, even.

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Personally, I have chosen to solve the problem of brining in enough money to sustain my family every month. I have chosen to take on the problems that come with raising young children. I have chosen to tackle the problem of finding meaning in ones life. I wake up each day ready to face these problems because I chose them.

If your problem is that you’re struggling for motivation at work, perhaps you could swap this for the problem of starting out on a new path? If your problem is that your partner isn’t giving you what you need, maybe instead have a potentially problematic conversation with them and be ready for other problems like what the hell do people do on first dates these days and which pictures should you put on your Tinder profile?

You don’t necessarily need to be trapped by your problems but at the same time you’re not getting through the rest of your life problem-free. Realising and accepting these things will prepare you to be able to consider things and choose which problems you want to deal with. And that, my friends, is a big step forward for anyone.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

The title of this post is perhaps one of the most well known quotes in human history. It is often wrongly attributed to Confucius when in fact it came from one of his peers, Laozi. It has stood the test of time because it is both intrinsically true and because the lesson it teaches us is of great value. Whatever the task ahead of you is, the only way to start is simply to start.

Perhaps I should start here with a few caveats to set expectations. I’m not an expert in the field of self improvement, I think of myself rather as a keen student. I’m not a writer, I honestly can’t remember the last thing of any real value that I wrote voluntarily (meaning it wasn’t a response to a message from someone else or a work email). You can’t count my tweets or Facebook posts, they’re mostly nonsense. I’m not a high flying business owner or entrepreneur, though I do just fine and have bags of time left over after work to spend with my family and do my own stuff.

This just so happens to be the first time I have felt like I have something worthwhile to share whilst also possessing the will to translate that something in to action. That feeling of having something worthwhile is as much down to self-confidence as it is faith in the material, I might add.

Action is going to be a common theme in my posts on this blog. Clue’s in the title. Being a student in the field of self-improvement, I know how easy it is to sit and watch hours of TED talks and other seminars, read book after book and try and absorb the wisdom of all the social media posts of all the top influencers in the field. I also know how it feels to then go merrily on my way with every intention of putting it all in to practice, only to slip back in to the same old behaviours and the same old mindset, all that advice melting in to the background. I can’t imagine for a second I am the only one to have experienced this struggle.

It took me a long time to be able to put in to action the things I learned from reading and watching and listening to all the advice about how to be a better me. Still longer to see actual results. Longer still than that to be able to join up the results to the teachings and start forging my own path through all the noise. It’s an ongoing project to this day, nearly 2 years in. Perhaps you think I’m not far enough along yet to be of any real value to you or anyone else, but I believe otherwise.

My intention here is to distil some of the things I have learned across many different areas of self-study including, but possibly not limited to; mindset, personal development, professional development, mental and physical health, psychology and philosophy.

I’ll also do my best to give you a takeaway from each post that you can put in to action straight away. This blog is for everyone. Whether you want to improve the quality of your relationships with others, enhance your career prospects or refine a particular aspect of your character.

If you’re looking for a takeaway from this post then let it be this: absolutely everyone has the capacity for self improvement. It doesn’t need to be a daunting task and you don’t have to be the CEO of a Silicon Valley start up to make self-work worthwhile. Whatever your goal is to improve yourself and your life, the only way to start is simply to start.