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Balance 780 views Jul 12, 2011
An Inspirational Week

I spent last week in Santa Fe, NM for a Transformational Leadership Council retreat. These TLC retreats are held twice a year, and this is the third one I’ve attended. It was also the largest, with about 80 members (out of a total of 114) present.

The atmosphere at TLC is like a big family reunion. It’s a place where people who are doing transformational work can come together to help and support each other both personally and professionally. Sometimes business deals happen, but the main focus isn’t transactional. It’s about caring for each other, supporting each other, and helping each other grow and improve.

We meditate together each day, we sing, we dance, and we do fun and sometimes silly activities. We share many laughs and hundreds of hugs. We help support those who are going through rough times. We share our best ideas on how to accelerate the healing of this planet.

We also pool our knowledge and skills to help each other in a spirit of cooperation. For example, at the January TLC retreat in Puerto Rico, I did a presentation on building web traffic. It was rewarding to see that six months later, a number of TLC members had already applied those ideas to reach more people with their positive messages.

On top of that, we do a lot of deep introspection. We push ourselves to grow as human beings, to become more aware and to recognize new truths, to become stronger and more courageous, to connect more deeply and to become more heart-centered, and to more fully step into our missions to help create a better world.

One of the most important elements is that we do this away from the public eye, sans fans and critics alike, so we can keep the energy very positive and loving but also honest and real.

For me, going to TLC is like taking a weeklong spa day for the heart and spirit.

Immersion

Imagine spending a week with 80 transformational leaders, many of whom are the top experts in the world at what they do. Some are fabulously wealthy. Some are deeply insightful and brilliant. Some are very loving and compassionate. Some are incredibly fearless.

You can informally walk up and ask anyone there about anything, and they’re happy to share their best ideas as if they’re your brothers and sisters.

Some of them have been doing this kind of work longer than I’ve been alive. They know all the best methods and processes and whatnots. They know the places where fear, denial, and falsehood love to hide.

Being at TLC is like going to a place where everyone has X-ray vision, so by default you end up walking around naked the whole time, even if you think you’re wearing clothes.

If you speak something other than your truth, you’ll get called on your B.S. But you don’t get judged for your foibles. You just receive more unconditional love and acceptance. The focus there isn’t on fixing ourselves or transcending what we believe to be our faults. It’s about integrating the various parts of ourselves into a complete whole.

The atmosphere at TLC is similar to what you’d find at CGW (especially on the third day of CGW). My ego would just love to credit the brilliant CGW content, but the content is only part of it, and arguably not the most important part. Many of the shifts have more to do with being around the energy of so many conscious people. It can be difficult to define or explain those shifts afterwards, but they’re extremely potent, and they can send one’s life spiraling off in new directions. Every CGW and TLC have had that kind of effect on me. In such an environment, much of the B.S. we tell ourselves simply burns away, and new truths finally have the chance to be seen and heard.

For example, when people at CGW see how their lives could be filled with so much more love and connection, they cannot return to doing soulless work on Monday morning; the utter foolishness of that approach is too obvious to ignore, so they quit that same week and quickly transition to a path with a heart. They finally see that on the heartless path, they were already living without that which mattered most to them, so there was nothing more to lose… and everything to gain… by letting it go.

TLC has a similar effect on me. It’s not really the content we share that’s the biggest element. The content does help, but the bigger shifts have to do with being bathed for several days in the positive energy we create. We could gather with no formal plan or structure, and it would still have a transformational effect. Great content just makes it that much better.

Many TLC members recognize that working on ourselves and working to create a better world are inherently the same thing. Healing the world is a journey of self-healing. We are teachers because we are lifelong students, and teaching is one of the fastest (and most intense) ways to learn.

That’s why I wrote 1000 articles and a book… and why I do workshops that turn out differently each time. By giving thoughts and ideas form and expression, I deepen my understanding of them. If I knew how an article was going to turn out before I started writing it, I wouldn’t need to write it. Everything I share and express is a growth experience for me; otherwise I delete it before it’s done and never post it.

Intensity

Every time I’ve gone to TLC, I’ve returned home feeling like a different person. At times the TLC experience can be like drinking from a fire hose. Occasionally I have to spend some time walking around by myself just to internally process the shifts that occur.

Before attending TLC this time, I was already in a really good place. I’d just finished an amazing Conscious Growth Workshop a couple days earlier, so I was still enjoying that post-workshop high, feeling incredibly grateful and happy and super motivated.

The first couple days of TLC were a bit of a letdown, energetically speaking. It usually takes a day or two for the energy at TLC to amp up, just as it does at CGW. It was great to reconnect with so many friends, but on Day 2 I started feeling bored and listless. By the next morning, I was actually feeling grumpy, and when I turned within to ask myself why, I realized that part of me felt that I really didn’t need a “vacation” right now and that I’d much rather be getting some real work done. Going to this particular TLC seemed like an unnecessary indulgence when I had so many other things to attend to, both personally and professionally. At this particular time, I didn’t want to be on a retreat. I wanted to be advancing. I was already renewed and energized when I got there.

But I still had several more days there, and I didn’t want to be fighting with myself the whole time, so I acknowledged and accepted that feeling and the message behind it, applying a process that was a blend of Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind method and Hale Dwoskin’s Sedona Method. (Both of them were at TLC.) This process took only minutes. In fact, I did it while taking a shower, so it didn’t even take any extra time.

Almost immediately, the grumpiness and boredom vanished, their message received. By realizing that I wanted to be active and productive rather than taking time off and restoring myself, I shifted my focus and saw that I could use TLC to get some actual work done and to make it a productive experience, instead of treating it like an unwanted break. This might seem obvious in retrospect, but it wasn’t obvious to me at the time.

With a better attitude, I launched into the third day of TLC with a lot more motivation and passion, and this energy carried me through the rest of the week. I spent many hours connecting with people I wanted to get to know better, and I deepened some existing connections. I picked up ideas for improving CGW, and I got advice for growing my business. I found several new potential joint-venture partners. I learned new methods and techniques.

I also shared a lot of advice to help others, especially with blogging and traffic building. And I recorded a few videos to help members promote their work.

And I had a lot more fun since I was congruent about wanting to be there.

I took the exercises seriously and worked a lot on myself too. It’s too much to explain in a blog post though. (That’s a B.S. excuse, but I’m hoping you’ll buy it for now while I do more inner work on it and build up the courage to share it.) Suffice it to say that I went through some huge emotional shifts related to my past. One morning I woke up in my hotel room, and all I could do was cry for about an hour, struck by some realizations I’d been repressing for most of my life. Pretty frakkin’ painful stuff. I’m still not sure I’m ready to deal with it yet, but I have to practice what I preach. Sometimes it annoys me that I teach courage.

There was another attendee who arrived later in the week, and her needs were practically the opposite of mine. She’d been on the road for a few weeks, and she was feeling worn down. She came to TLC for renewal and rejuvenation, and she got that.

Authenticity

One thing I love about TLC is that the people there are very authentic.

One thing I hate about TLC is that the people there are very authentic. (That isn’t a typo.)

As much as you might think you’d love it, hanging out with dozens of highly authentic people for a week is tougher than it sounds. That kind of experience shines a light on your own authenticity issues. You may even come to see that the pursuit of authenticity is yet another form of self-delusion.

Many people have asked me how on earth I can publicly share certain aspects of my life on my blog, such as I wrote about in the article Share Your Shame. The underlying assumption is that if people knew the real truth about you, you could be socially ostracized. Your friends and family would shun you. You’d be cut off, abandoned, and tossed aside for being unworthy. In the end you would receive less love.

But the truth is that the exact opposite happens. Initially there may be some tumult, but the long-term outlook is extremely positive.

When you learn to love and accept all parts of yourself, especially the parts you’d rather keep hidden, then you attract a lot more authentic love and support from others. Instead of being shunned, you’re welcomed and invited and included.

We all have these dark parts of ourselves that are difficult to accept and integrate. But your secrets aren’t secret at all. People can see right through you. They just aren’t telling you about it because they can see you aren’t ready to deal with it yet.

Your inner shame is far from unique. We all have similar issues. Only the details are different.

My friends in TLC have plenty of dirt on me. It’s not like it’s a secret.

They know I separated from my wife last year, that I went bankrupt, that I used to be a thief, that I’m into D/s, and so on. And it just isn’t a big deal. In fact, all that stuff is more like a badge of honor. During the awards ceremony one night, I joked that I was hoping to qualify for the most recent divorce award.

The truth, however, is that my issues just aren’t particularly striking or unique. It’s practically a truism that the people there have had to go through some serious challenges at one point or another, such as divorce, loss, addiction, financial scarcity, abuse, and more. It’s a pretty common pattern that a TLC member’s life has been a roller coaster of ups and downs, as opposed to smooth sailing all the way.

The stuff that really tugs at my heart is when these loving and compassionate people have to deal with things like the death of a spouse or a drug-addicted child. And they ultimately process those experiences in ways that allow them to become even more loving and compassionate, even though they have every reason to justify becoming resentful and bitter.

People sometimes ask me, “Is so and so the real deal?” And having met these people behind the scenes, I have to say yes again and again. These people pour their hearts and souls into their missions, and I respect and love them immensely. I feel honored to be included in this group.

The Challenge of Being in the Public Eye

One of the reasons TLC is so important is that doing this kind of work can be very challenging, especially when you’re in the public eye. The exposure to criticism can be brutal at times. It’s really helpful to have a group of supportive friends you can turn to, get bandaged up, and go back out into the world again.

These people aren’t superheroes. They’re very much human. When they take a beating, it hurts them and slows them down, but in the long run, it also makes them stronger and more compassionate.

I can’t say I’ve encountered anyone there who does this kind of work for the money. If such a person exists, I’ve never met him/her. Even the ones who teach about wealth and abundance seem to be primarily motivated by the love of the work and the desire to contribute. The truth is that it breaks their hearts when they see people suffering from lack, and they want to do what they can to alleviate suffering and spread more happiness and abundance.

I think if you got to know the people behind the scenes as I have, you’d feel immensely grateful for them. Even when they’re dealing with major personal and professional challenges, they just keep giving, giving, giving. Maybe their contributions aren’t perfect, but they do the best they can.

What you may not realize is that these people question everything they do. They question whether they should use certain Internet marketing techniques, or if the methods would be manipulative. They wonder about how they can help more people. They wonder how they can be more impactful on each person they connect with. They wonder about what to work on in themselves so that they may become better teachers.

For all the criticism they receive, they are their own harshest critics. If their critics actually knew the personal standards these people hold themselves to, it would make those critics cringe and say, “Whoa… go easy on yourself.”

Of course this is something I had to learn as well. I spent a good 10 minutes today casting unconditional love at Tony Robbins. He isn’t a TLC member, but it became clear to me that he too must be doing the best he can.

Inspiration

I realize this is a rambling article, perhaps a bit too stream of consciousness, so let me get to the wrap up portion.

This was a mind-blowing week, but one element in particular was especially mind-blowing.

About halfway through the week, Joe Vitale gave a talk on inspiration. I first met Joe and his wife Nerissa at the July TLC in 2009, so I’ve known them for about a year, but this is the first time I saw Joe speak. He was simply brilliant.

Joe and I have something in common in that we are both content machines. He’s authored 52 books, for instance, and he’s constantly giving birth to new products. I haven’t been working in this field as long as he has, but I’ve authored a respectable 1000 articles in less than 6 years, which is enough to fill about 25 books… not to mention getting one actual book published as well.

Joe explained how he creates his content, which I recognized as essentially the same approach I use. When an inspired idea comes to me, I act on it almost immediately. I know that I have about a 48-hour window — maximum — to write and publish that idea. Otherwise the energy is gone. Trying to create that same content later is possible, but it’s much more difficult and takes a lot longer.

The experience is like catching a wave. I might wake up one morning and get an idea for a new article, and I know I need to grab my laptop immediately and let it flow through me. In those situations I can write nearly as fast as I can type, without having to pause to think.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s a real wave and what’s just a minor swell, but this calibration gets better with practice. When you catch the wave and stick with it, it has sufficient energy to carry you all the way through to completion of whatever it is you’re creating, as long as you’re willing to put most other things aside and stick to that wave like glue. Again, it’s like surfing. If you stick with the wave, you can ride it all the way to shore.

Well… as Joe continued to speak, I realized that he does something I don’t. He uses this same method for acting on business ideas in general. I haven’t been doing that. I only use it for content creation, and the vast majority of that content has been in the form of free articles.

Joe, however, also uses this method to conjure up new products, workshops, events, business deals, and so on.

That’s when I gave myself a mental slap upside the head.

Duh. Duh. Duh.

For some stupid reason, I’ve been managing the rest of my business in a much more left-brained fashion. I get inspired business ideas all the time, but instead of acting on them immediately and riding them like the time-sensitive waves they are, I toss the ideas into my inbox for later processing. Then perhaps a week later, I’ll consider each idea carefully and integrate it into my to-do list for future action. But by and large, by the time I get around to them, if ever, that wave of energy has long since dissipated, and trying to start those projects is like pulling teeth.

Consequently, the content creation aspect of my business has always been super easy for me. I know I’ll never run out of ideas there. But the rest of my business changes much more slowly. My website, for instance, has essentially the same design as it did 5 years ago.

Very quickly I got the idea to do a 30-day trial of acting on inspiration almost immediately whenever it hits me, whether it has to do with content creation or some other idea. I decided that I wasn’t going to wait, so I kicked it off while I was still at TLC. To be honest, I really don’t care about the exactitude of the 30-day stretch for this trial, but today was Day 4.

This is new territory for me, so it may entail some hidden risks. I know it works on the content side, but I can’t predict what will happen as I apply this to the rest of my life. In order to begin this trial, I had to remind myself that worst case, I probably can’t screw things up so badly in 30 days that I can’t repair the damage later if necessary. Because the potential benefits are so great, I’m willing to take this risk.

30 Days of Inspired Action

The same day I heard Joe’s talk (Friday), I was in my hotel room at around 8pm, and a stray thought popped into my head. I got the idea to put up an eBay auction for a 60-minute consultation, as I shared in my previous blog post. I began to ponder it, and my initial inclination was to jot down the idea and then consider it when I got back to Vegas the following week.

Then I stopped and smacked myself and said, “No… you have to catch this wave now and see where it takes you. Don’t just let it pass.”

So I dove into immediate action. I wasn’t sure how far I’d get with it, but I started by checking to see if my old eBay account was still good. I hadn’t logged in since March 2001, but the account was still there. I haven’t used eBay in a very long time, so it took me about 30 minutes to create the listing and make it live, something an experienced eBayer could have done in 10 minutes or less I’m sure. Then I spent another 20 minutes writing a quickie blog post about it, and that also fed to myTwitter and Facebook pages.

Imagine that. Less than an hour after getting the idea, it was already up and running. If I’d written it down instead of acting upon it immediately, I could have wasted that much time just pondering whether or not I should do it.

A few minutes later, I was Skyping with Erin, and I told her what I’d done. She loved it. Then she checked on the auction and told me I was already up to $51. I said, “You’re joking… it hasn’t even been up for 10 minutes yet.” But she wasn’t joking. By the time I went to bed, it had reached $132.50. The next morning it was at $425. Today it hit $1000, and there are still 3 days left till the auction closes. I can’t predict where it will end up.

If you want to see what it’s up to now, you can visit the auction page. The auction officially ends on Friday, July 30, at 9:28:29 PDT.

The next day I told Joe about this, and he loved it. I told other TLC members about it as well, and throughout the rest of the conference, people would check in with me to see how the auction was going. I think they were just as curious about it as I was.

One morning at breakfast a fellow TLCer asked me, “So what are you up to?” I started telling him what I’d been doing, and he said, “No no… I mean, ‘What are the bids up to?’”

Some people have asked me what this means. Does it mean I’m going to be doing paid coaching and consulting? Does it mean I’ll do more eBay auctions?

Honestly I have no idea. It’s not part of some grand plan. This was pure impulse. I’m simply going with the flow of an inspired idea and riding it to shore. I can’t say when the next wave will arrive or what it will look like.

This wasn’t even an idea with an intention behind it. I wasn’t intending to make money with it or anything. The motivation for this idea was sheer curiosity. I want to see what happens when I act on these sorts of ideas immediately, without trying to analyze or understand them first.

In order to be true to this 30-day trial, I can’t think and plan ahead. If I schedule a bunch of stuff in advance or try to plan things out, I’m at risk of not being able to ride those waves of inspiration when they come.

One thing I find very interesting is that from today through the rest of the trial, my calendar is completely blank. I don’t have a single scheduled appointment at all — no interviews, no meetings, nothing.

There are still some events coming up, including my son’s 7th birthday and some potential travel, but none of it is in the form of a fixed appointment, at least not yet.

I did have an appointment to meet with someone Wednesday morning, but it got bumped to today, so it’s already done with. And I would definitely say it was an inspired meeting.

I’m used to having a flexible schedule, but it’s pretty unusual to have such a huge block of time with no scheduled appointments. I should at least have a radio interview in there… or a workshop… or a scheduled phone call… or something. But no — it’s totally blank. Is that just a coincidence? I can’t say. But this is an ideal time for me to conduct such an experiment. I could even extend it well beyond the 30 days, especially since the next CGW is still 3+ months away.

A Sample Day

As a typical example of how things are going with this trial so far, I’ll share how today went. I woke up at 5:30 this morning, and immediately my mind was racing with thoughts of writing this blog post. I didn’t originally plan to blog about my TLC trip, but the inspiration was there, so I had to ride it. I went straight to my computer and started writing, which was effortless.

After 3 hours of writing, which passed in a blink, the phone rings. It’s Erin inviting me to go to breakfast with her. I realize that I’m starving and could use a break anyway, so I accept. While at breakfast, I got some inspired ideas related to our separation. Instead of pondering them and hashing them out a bit more, I shared them with her immediately. That turned out to be a wonderful thing, as it sent us down a path towards resolving some tricky practical aspects of our separation. Erin and I both leave happier, with a commitment to taking some specific actions that should make life easier for us both.

From breakfast I drove to Starbucks to meet with a British military intelligence officer. I didn’t have any particular need to meet with him other than the fact that he expressed interest, and my intuition gave it a green light. We ended up having a fascinating 2.5-hour conversation. I learned a lot that I didn’t know about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After a couple hours, the thought occurred that many of my readers might be interested in hearing what he had to say, so I asked him if he’d be up for an interview. He agreed. It turned out that doing an interview would be a win for him too because he’s about to enter a phase of writing and publishing his own ideas, including starting a blog.

By the time I got home, he’d already sent me some article links that we discussed. I haven’t had a chance to read them yet, but I quickly wrote up a forum post to keep riding that wave. I wanted to see if there was interest in such an interview and if people had specific questions. It looks like there is indeed interest, so I’ll compile some questions and send them off to him when I feel inspired to do so.

I wasn’t feeling any major waves of inspiration this afternoon, so I ate lunch, processed some communication, and handled a few minor tasks while watching the movie Pulp Fiction.

Lately I’ve been getting a number of synchronicities associated with the filmInception, which I haven’t seen yet. I thought maybe I’d go see it this evening, and I saw there was a 7pm show at the local IMAX, so I “planned” to hit that show. Whoops.

But around 6:30pm when I was thinking about leaving, I realized that I just didn’t feel inspired to go see the movie, at least not yet. I was starting to feel a mild pull in a different direction — oh yeah, I still wanted to finish up and post the blog entry I’d started in the morning. So I decided to skip the movie and go with the writing wave. You’re reading the result.

While I’m writing the final section of this post, I hear a text message come through on my cell phone, but I don’t check it till now. It’s Rachelle asking about Skyping tonight. That feels right, so as soon as I’ve posted this article, I’ll flow into that next. I haven’t had dinner yet, but I notice I’m not hungry.

There’s another IMAX showing of Inception at 10:20pm. If I go to that show, I’ll still have 30 minutes to Skype, but it would keep me up till 1am. I can’t predict whether I’ll see it tonight or not. I’ll have to wait and see if the energy of the moment is pulling me in that direction.

As I was typing the last sentence, my laptop tells me I’ve got 9 minutes of battery power left. Time to go plug it in.

This is going to be a very unusual 30 days. I have no idea how it will turn out. I can’t even say how much I’ll blog about it along the way — that too will depend on whether I’m inspired to do so.

In any event, you may see some rather erratic behavior from me in the coming weeks. I’m extending this trial across all areas of my life, both personally and professionally. It’s a 24/7 commitment with no breaks except those that occur naturally as the inspirational waves ebb.

I’m excited about this. It’s going to be an interesting 30 days to be sure. Wish me luck! :)


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    Let’s say you’ve set some goals for yourself, and now you want to map out a basic plan for how you’ll achieve them.  How do you do this? Obviously there are many ways to plan your action steps, but as a generalization it seems intelligent to aim for a plan that you estimate will consume the least time and resources.  All else being equal, if Plan A takes three months and Plan B takes six months, you’ll go with Plan A.  This is just common sense, right?  You essentially look for the shortest path from your current position to your goal. It’s OK if your estimates aren’t accurate — the point is simply that most of us would consider a shorter path to be more intelligent than a longer path.  This is particularly true in business.  A direct path to an objective is considered more intelligent than a circuitous route.  Time is money, and delays can be costly. The myth of the shortest path As intelligent as this logic may seem, I happen to disagree with it (go figure!).  While I think such an approach to optimization is fine for machines, it’s suboptimal for human beings. Why? The problem appears during implementation of the plan.  What do you actually experience during the action phase?  Do you implement your plan like a machine, completing task after task in order?  Or does something entirely different occur? Personally I’ve never met a human being who worked like this, and I’ve never seen a business do it either.  Plans often fall by the wayside during the implementation stage.  Some would say it’s because people are bad at implementation, but is that really true?  Or was the plan flawed from the beginning because it failed to accurately account for human nature? I’ve produced some beautiful step-by-step plans on paper.  But my implementation has usually been less than stellar.  I’ll get off to an OK start for a little while, maybe a day or two.  Then I stumble.  Sometimes I get distracted.  Other times I feel the actions are just too tedious, and I find subtle ways to procrastinate.  And other times I feel lazy and unmotivated to work on them.  Even though I really want the results, I usually reach a point where I just don’t want to complete the next action.  Sometimes I find a way to push through my resistance.  Other times I rework the plan or move onto something else that seems more interesting (often repeating the cycle once again). Have you ever experienced this pattern yourself? Planning vs. implementation At first I figured I just needed to keep working on my self-discipline.  That did help, but it only encouraged me to set bigger goals, so I still eventually ran into the same problems on a larger scale.  After failing to get the results I wanted, I considered that the problem might be upstream.  Maybe my implementation was poor because my plans were flawed to begin with. That wasn’t an easy conclusion for me because planning is supposed to be one of my key psychological strengths.  According to the Myers-Briggs test, I’m an ENTJ, aka the Field Marshall (a good tactical and strategic thinker).  And the test from the book Now, Discover Your Strengths (which I highly recommend) showed that my #1 strength is strategic thinking.  So the last thing I would have suspected was that my planning was flawed.  But I wasn’t getting results by pushing myself to become better at implementing, so I figured I had nothing to lose by honing my planning skills. I bought fancy project management software, studied various planning methods, and learned how to break everything down into intelligently prioritized actionable steps.  But to my chagrin this investment didn’t pay off the way I wanted.  My plans looked better than ever, but I was still no better at implementing them. Of course some people are better doers while some people are better thinkers, and I definitely enjoy creating plans more than implementing them myself, but I’m not presently surrounded by a team of willing doers, and there are some projects that can’t be delegated easily, particularly in the realm of personal development.  I’m certainly capable of taking massive action under the right conditions — I just needed a way to create those conditions more frequently. Planning for optimal enjoyment I put this problem aside for a while, and one day when I was journaling, a different approach came to me.  Instead of trying to plan the most efficient path to my goal, what would happen if I tried to plan the most enjoyable path? My initial reaction was, “Nah, that wouldn’t work.  It would consume too much time and too many resources.  The most enjoyable path would probably be terribly slow.”  But as I gave it more thought, I had to admit my current approach was taking way longer than I’d planned anyway, so maybe an approach that appeared longer would actually take less time than the seemingly optimal one.  Hmmm…. This “most enjoyable path” began to reveal some interesting possibilities.  If I planned a very lengthy and resource-intensive route to my goal, a tediously slow path wouldn’t likely be the most enjoyable one.  So I figured the most enjoyable path couldn’t be too suboptimal. I wondered what such a plan would look like in comparison to its supposedly more efficient cousin.  I thought about some of the changes I’d make to craft a thoroughly enjoyable plan: Select interesting projects.  Favor projects I enjoy implementing vs. only looking to the end result. Add variety.  Break up long stretches of repetitive work.  Work in different locations.  Take field trips. Improve balance.  Blend solo time with social time.  Balance physical work with mental work. Create a pleasing work environment.  Relaxify my workspace so I enjoy spending time there. Involve others.  Find a way to get friends involved.  Form a mastermind group.  Involve my wife. Solve problems creatively.  Favor creative off-the-wall methods when the obvious solution is too dull or tedious. Enjoy plenty of downtime.  Keep motivation high by avoiding overwork.  Take vacations.  Enjoy rewards for achieving mini-milestones. Avoid the unpleasant.  If a step can’t be done enjoyably, find a way to delegate, outsource, or eliminate it. Use intention-manifestation.  Focus intentions to gain assistance from the Law of Attraction. Design for flexibility.  Allow daily choice making where order of task completion isn’t critical. As I began to understand what an enjoyable plan would look like in comparison with an efficient one, I realized it was a very different way of working.  It’s congruent with the Emotional Guidance System concept from the book Ask and It Is Given because the idea is to remain in a state of joy throughout the entire project.  So you still have a specific goal in mind, but along the way your focus is on enjoying the journey rather than reaching the destination quickly.  Instead of planning the steps that will allow you to achieve your goal as efficiently as possible, you plan the route that you’ll enjoy the most. Technically I began working with this paradigm in 2004 when I retired from the computer gaming industry and started this personal development site.  That immediately enabled me to begin selecting projects I enjoyed more.  Although I liked running my games business, I enjoy this personal development business a great deal more.  After working so long with the efficiency-based model, it’s been a real challenge to let it go.  I am getting there though because I find that the enjoyment-based model produces better results for me, both in terms of enjoyment and efficiency.  At least for me, the most enjoyable path may well be the most optimal one. Consider testing this planning model to see what results you get with it.  You spend your entire life in the present moment, so it makes sense to ensure that in this very moment, you’re in a state of joy.  Clearly you won’t accomplish that by planning to spend your life completing tasks that you find tedious, painful, boring, or pointless.  The switch to an enjoyment-based paradigm can fill your daily reality with creativity, joy, and fulfillment.  Ultimately all those present moments add up to your entire life.  If you enjoy your present moments, you’ll enjoy your life as a whole.
    5092 Posted by UniqueThis
  • 27 Jul 2011
    Some people mentioned that I seem to be doing two overlapping trials here. First, I’m doing 30 days of acting promptly on inspiration whenever it strikes. Second, I’m also delving more deeply into the subjective reality frame. So what’s that all about? I honestly don’t know, but I’ll try to make sense of it as I write. Could I separate these two trials? On the surface it sure seems like I could. My initial idea for this trial was just going to be the inspiration part. I wasn’t planning to do a subjective reality trial. But these two aspects got tied together in a strange way, and now they’re inextricably intertwined. I can no longer separate them out. Planning vs. Inspiration The subjective reality aspect actually started first. This goes back to Sunday, July 18th, the final day of the July Conscious Growth Workshop. The final segment on spirituality was from 2pm to 4pm. Dana, a local friend and one of our CGW staff, asked me during lunch what I was going to talk about during that final segment. I said, “I have no idea.” He laughed. I repeated, “No, really. I honestly don’t know.” For each CGW I’ve always gone in well-prepared. I live and breathe the topics I talk about, so I could seriously do the entire workshop off the cuff if I had to, and I’m sure it would still turn out well. But my mental side always likes to plan everything out, so I can know in advance how everything will fit together. I also like to create a good balance of different teaching modalities, including lecture, demonstration, interactive exercises, games, fieldwork, one-on-one sharing, group work, written exercises, Q&A, and more. Good planning is important for pacing too, so I don’t spend too much or too little time on any particular segment. That said, I’ve noticed that as I was delivering this past CGW, I was breaking from my plan a lot. For most segments I felt inspired in the moment to do things differently than what I’d originally planned. I’d change up the order of certain elements, tell different stories than I expected to, and swap in different exercises. And overall it worked really well when I went with the inspiration of the moment. I’m comfortable in front of an audience, so I don’t have to deal with nervousness or anything like that. I’m fine being in the moment, and I trust that I can speak well off the cuff, even for hours at a time. But I know that people come from far and wide to attend CGW, and I want to deliver the best value I can. I’d find it dishonorable to go into a CGW not feeling well-prepared with a solid plan for each segment. When I do a CGW, I commit to doing my best. I always assumed that careful planning and structure were necessary for me to deliver my best and for attendees to receive good value. Now I’m not so sure. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve reached the point where I may be able to deliver an even better experience if I set that plan aside and allow myself to be fully in the moment and go with the flow of inspiration. Can I Trust Inspiration When the Stakes Are High? This last CGW experience was beginning to challenge my notions of the best way to deliver value. Do I truly deliver more value when everything is pre-planned, or am I somehow able to do an even better job when I’m just being there in the moment, and I don’t know what I’ll say in advance? Well, at the end of that Saturday (Day 2 of CGW), I went home to plan out the final two hours of the workshop. I had delayed planning this part of the workshop because I wanted to see how this particular audience handled the first two days. I’d made a lot of changes for this CGW, and there were good reasons why it made sense to apply just-in-time planning for the final closing segment. I’d already delivered this segment three times before at previous workshops, so I had old templates I could have fallen back on, and I also figured it would only take about an hour to make the plan. That night, however, I couldn’t seem to bring myself to create the plan. I wrote something out that seemed reasonable, but it felt hollow to me… heartless. I didn’t understand why my intuition said, “This is stupid.” As I tuned into my intuition for more guidance, the message was loud and clear. Let go and forget the plan. Just get up and speak your truth. It’s already inside you. You don’t need a plan. It will only hold you back and cause you to get stuck in your head. So I left the plan behind and decided I was ready to allow inspiration to flow through me when I delivered that final segment. The morning segment that Sunday had already been planned out, but I broke from the plan a lot. The resulting mixture was probably 70% inspiration of the moment and 30% pre-planned. And it seemed to go really well. I noticed that my energy was shifting to a different place the more I was able to let go. More passion and enthusiasm — and fun — were flowing through me. I normally have a handout for each day of CGW, but for this final day I decided not to use one. That wasn’t due to laziness. The Day 3 handout was already designed since I’d used it for previous CGWs. But I felt we’d be better off without the written exercises that day, so we could do more interactive exercises and fieldwork that morning instead. I thought that worked well. Some people actually liked the fact that there were no written exercises that day. As we got closer to the afternoon segment, I had enough evidence to believe it would work out okay. I could say that I had to push myself with a bit of courage here, but it didn’t play out that way. I was at peace with the decision. The workshop had been going so well up to that point that I felt that even if I semi-flubbed that final segment, people had already received so much value, so I felt I had enough social capital to take a small risk without it being a big deal either way. I also believed that I could share plenty of insights and ideas without a structured plan, so I really wasn’t worried about screwing up. I felt competent and confident to do this segment without a plan. My main concern was that I’d open too many threads, and I’d have a hard time wrapping everything up on time. How was I going to pace myself? I felt it was okay to let go and trust in that area as well. If I opened a loop that I wasn’t able to close, I could always blog about it later. Speaking from Inspiration When I got up to speak, I didn’t even know what the first words out of my mouth would be. But the words were there. I ended up talking mainly about the question, “What is the true nature of this reality?” That led into a discussion of subjective reality vs. objective reality. I shared the details and results of some experiments I’d already done, going back to 2006. We didn’t do any special exercises, but the segment became very interactive. Lots of people asked questions and shared their own stories, and instead of holding Q&A till the end, I integrated all of that on the fly. It was like a dance where neither partner is trying to lead, but somehow they still synchronize their movements. The segment didn’t feel like a presentation. It was more like a conversation, almost like I was talking to myself. Would you pre-plan a conversation? Would that even make sense? I felt like I was listening a lot more. I was tuned in to what people in the audience were thinking and feeling. As I spoke, I was mainly addressing the energy I perceived in the room. I was constantly looking for eddies in the audience’s energy and seeking to smooth them out. If I sensed confusion, I simplified by offering up analogies people were already familiar with. If I sensed mental overwhelm, I shifted into story-telling mode. If I sensed curiosity, I shifted to Q&A. If I sense the pressure build-up of people wanting to say something, I invited them to share their experiences. If I sensed eagerness to hear more, I went back to exposition. These are the things we naturally do when we’re engaged in a compelling one-on-one conversation. The flow of that segment was very different from the previous times I’ve done it. So was the content. I felt that the audience was really with me. People were much more present — leaning forward, nodding in reaction to certain segments, asking questions, sharing their own insights. I loved every minute of it. It was such a wonderful experience to be fully present and to enjoy such a cool dialog with like-minded people. Of course we’re like-mindedsince we’re all projections of the same mind! I didn’t seem to be sharing answers or advice or solutions, not really. Mostly I was sharing questions, observations, experiments, and stories. It was like having a conversation with myself. Even as I spoke about subjective reality, I began to slip into a subjective mindset. If you want to have a really strange experience, try believing that you’re actually dreaming while you’re speaking in front of a live audience.  Subjective Blogging This is the same manner in which I’ve been blogging this past week. I’m sharing my observations as a fellow explorer, not as a teacher with answers to share. But perhaps that’s the best form of teaching anyway — to explore and share along the way. That’s what got me started with blogging in the first place, and it’s why my website’s URL is my own name instead of something more generic. This website is a chronicle of my personal journey. My best writing comes through when I’m writing for myself, fully living my life and using blogging to deepen my understanding along the way. I feel that, and others notice it too. What really fascinates me is that I’ve been getting tons of positive feedback about my blogging this week. It’s a major brain-pretzelizer to try to understand why subjective blogging generates more positive objective feedback than objective blogging does. Why the heck do you like it better when I blog just for myself and not for you? Perhaps it’s because the idea that you and I are separate is truly a delusion. When I blog for myself, I am in fact blogging for you because we’re the same self. When I try to blog for you as a separate person (or group of people), then I’m actually splintering myself, and my writing reflects that. I wonder if your experience of reading my articles is the same. When I blog for myself, do you feel like you’re reading your own thoughts and feelings? When I blog objectively, do you feel more distanced from me, like we’re just not on the same wavelength? Do you feel closer and more connected with me now than you did a month ago? If subjective reality is false, then why does it generate results that are objectively better than an objective mindset? In 2006 I increased my financial results dramatically through subjective experimentation, and I’ve always enjoyed an abundant flow in that area ever since. Now I’m seeing huge positive shifts in my relationships too, results that are way beyond what I was able to achieve with an objective lens. If subjective reality is bunk, then I’d expect a decline in my results. But I’m seeing the opposite. That gives me good cause to go further down this path, since I’m seeing more and more evidence that subjective reality is the more accurate lens of the two. When you realize that you’re dreaming, you have much more power to change the dream vs. when you’re unaware (or in denial) that you’re dreaming. You can’t launch a satellite into orbit if you believe the earth is flat. Perhaps we’re both projections of the same consciousness after all. Perhaps you’re also awakening to the possibility — no, the likelihood — that this is a dream world. This dream world blog you’re reading is reflecting back to you your own shifts in consciousness. As you awaken to the notion that you’re really dreaming, this blog is manifesting those shifts. I’m here to reflect back to you the truth that yes, you are indeed dreaming, and I’m a projection within your dream world. In the weeks ahead, many of your own thoughts and feelings are going to show up here in written form, in such synchronous ways that it will be harder and harder for you to deny what’s happening. You’ll be pushed further down the rabbit hole. But you’re ready to take that leap, aren’t you? It will take courage to leave your objective comfort zone, but by now you’ve already concluded that the old path is a dead end. You can’t go back. You can only press on. Silly Rabbit After that CGW, I began feeling it was time to go deeper down that rabbit hole myself. I almost couldn’t help it. After speaking about it for nearly two hours, my mind was already shifting into subjective mode. One thing I really like about CGW is that it’s such a flexible workshop, so as I learn and grow, the workshop and how I present it can continue to evolve. The core principles of Truth, Love, and Power all make sense whether you view them through the objective lens or the subjective one. For example, we can talk about objective Truth (science) or subjective Truth (awareness). We can talk about love objectively (relationships and social support) or subjectively (joy and sorrow). We can talk about power objectively (cause and effect) or subjectively (intention and manifestation). I think it would be an amazing experience to deliver CGW #5 in October from the subjective frame. Just thinking about that excites me and freaks me out at the same time. What the heck would it be like to deliver a 3-day workshop while believing I’m actually in a dream world the entire time? That would mean I’m actually doing an entirely internal workshop, talking to various parts of myself and seeking to elevate, expand, and integrate them into a more complete whole. It’s still 3 months away, but this does feel like an inspired idea to me. If people like my subjective blogging better, would they also prefer a subjective workshop? On one level, I regard this sort of thing as risky. What if it just turns out to be too strange for people? What if I don’t seem to be delivering enough value? What if people get upset with me because I don’t deliver the kind of experience they expected? On another level, what if it works? What if it delivers more value than I previously thought possible? What if it creates a much deeper level of connection and raises the energy of the room to higher highs? What if it leads me into a whole new experience of communicating? And what if every CGW afterwards benefits from this? What does value even mean in a subjective dream world? I can only be delivering value within myself. In that regard, value equals healing and re-integration. I think these risks are manageable, even in an objective sense. For starters, not many people have signed up for CGW #5 yet because it’s still 3 months away. I think we’re at 8 registrations so far, which is actually really good to see this far in advance. If any of those people think CGW #5 may turn out to be too strange after reading these recent blog posts, I’m happy to offer them a refund. However, one of those people already shared with me how excited she is about this new direction, so that’s a good sign. Objectively speaking, I have a solid structure for CGW already worked out, as it has evolved over the previous three workshops. So I know I always have that game plan to fall back on if I feel it’s wise to do so. I don’t have to take the risk of going into a 3-day workshop with no plan at all. I can actually play it safe in this case since the fallback plan is already there. I’m pretty good at gauging the audience’s experience, so if I start out delivering CGW #5 this way, and I see that by the morning break on Day 1, it isn’t quite working, I can always back off and switch modes. It’s a 3-day workshop, and there’s plenty of room to experiment without risking a serious degradation in the overall experience and the value people receive from it. I can solicit advanced feedback as well. So if you like this idea — if some aspect of it resonates with you and makes you more likely to attend CGW #5 — please tell me. If you don’t like it and you feel it would make you less likely to attend CGW #5, please let me know that too. If there’s a lot of support for this idea, I may update the CGW page to reflect that. If I’m really honest with myself, I have to admit to myself (and to you — what’s the difference anyway?) that deep down, I already know that this is the path I must take. But some part of me fears it, and so I project those fears onto you. I assume that you probably won’t like it, or you’ll think it’s crazy. At least that’s what I tell myself, so I can reject the idea in advance. After all, I have to give you what you want, and if you don’t want this, then who am I to argue with you? But I haven’t even asked you yet, so how can I really know? And what if the answer comes back that you’d really love to experience such a thing? And what if we do it that way and it works amazingly well? Will we ever be able to come back out of the rabbit hole again? Will we lose ourselves in that world for good? Will we finally swallow the red pill instead of just tucking it away in our cheek? The Connection Between Inspiration and Subjective Reality My inspiration trial is entangled with subjective reality because they both hit me at the same time. By following my inspiration at the previous CGW, at the point where I finally let go, I was inspired to talk about subjective reality. Then as I moved forward with a subjective perspective for the next few days, I began to receive an even greater flow of inspired ideas. I started seeing inspiration itself as a form of communication with the true dreamer of this world. That led to some intense curiosity, and by the middle of that week, I began thinking about doing a 30-day trial of acting on inspiration 24/7. I couldn’t escape the subjective lens though. By that time I was becoming too immersed in it. I don’t fully understand the link between subjective reality and inspiration, but I can see and feel that there’s definitely a connection, and it isn’t a trivial one. The more I act on inspiration, the more it’s shifting me to view reality subjectively. These inspired actions and their consequences make a lot more sense to me when viewed through the subjective lens. I can’t objectively explain where these inspirations are coming from. But subjectively something quite beautiful and amazing is unfolding. The dreamer and the dream world are becoming one. Likewise, the more I shift into the subjective reality mindset, the easier it is for me to receive and act on inspiration without hesitation. If I were on the objective side, I’d be too worried about the consequences. It would be much harder to let go and trust the flow of what’s happening. But if I know this is a dream world, I’m less freaked out by the strangeness of it all. If this is a dream, then anything is possible. If I know that reality is a dream, I’m inclined to give more weight to certain aspects of the dream world. For example, I consider the inhabitants of the world and my relationships with them to be of greater importance because they all represent parts of me. Interacting with the characters of this world becomes utterly wondrous and fascinating because it’s like I’m delving deeper into the contents of my own subconscious. I’m deeply invested in creating positive, loving relationships with the other characters in this dream world because to me, it is all self-love and inner harmony. If I see conflict anywhere, I’m motivated to gush love all over it to resolve it, since otherwise I’m neglecting an internal conflict within my own being, and it can’t be healthy to let that fester. Consequently, I’ve been spending a great deal of time on communication. Whenever a problem or conflict arises, I do my best to act immediately. I can’t ignore it and hope someone else will handle it. If I’m the dreamer, then I must be 100% responsible for it. Everything I see in the world… is me. My role then becomes that of a healer. By healing damaged relationships within the dream world, I’m healing myself. I’m becoming whole again. This is a huge shift in thinking, and very quickly I developed a backlog of relationships that I feel need to be cleansed and healed with love and forgiveness. I’m tending to them as best I can. I may not be able to heal everything overnight, but the progress within just this past week has been stunning. Money and possessions, on the other hand, become almost inconsequential. What does it mean to own something in a dream? You can still acquire dream stuff if you want, and most dream characters will respect your claims to dream property, but it’s still a bit silly to think of dream objects as something you can own. Even if you buy something with dream money, is it really yours? It’s just a dream object you associate with your avatar’s dream inventory. You can just as easily enjoy the physical aspects of the dream world without having to own any of it. You can use up your dream money or spend it too fast I suppose, but it can’t be all that hard to replenish it either. When you view reality through the subjective lens, your focus shifts a great deal, especially with regard to what you define as important. If your life isn’t quite working, if you aren’t happy or if you aren’t getting the results you desire, could it be that you’re focusing on the wrong things? Could it be that the objective lens has led you astray? Are you still asleep, unaware or unwilling to accept that you’re dreaming? What would your life be like if you did your own 30-day trial of inspired, subjective living? Is that part of your path with a heart? At present I’m feeling more inspired than ever. And I’m also viewing reality as a subjective experience more than ever. That cannot be a coincidence. You’re feeling more inspired too, aren’t you? 
    3344 Posted by UniqueThis
  • 12 Jul 2011
    Yesterday I returned home from a 23-day road trip. It was an incredible experience, and I’m really glad I took the time to do it. I drove 4100 miles (6600 km) through 9 U.S. states (Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona) and 2 Canadian provinces (British Columbia and Alberta). Beginning in Las Vegas, I traveled through Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco, Ashland, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver (BC), Kelowna, Banff, and Calgary with Rachelle. Then Rachelle flew from Calgary to Winnipeg, and I drove solo from Calgary through Glacier Park, Columbia Falls & Kalispell (MT), Flathead Forest, Yellowstone Park, Grand Teton Park, Salt Lake City, and finally back to Vegas. Day 21 was the most memorable for me because I pushed myself beyond my comfort zone. On that day I got up at 4:45am in Columbia Falls, a small Montana mountain town west of Glacier Park. I packed up and hit the road at 5:50am and drove 400 miles to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, visiting Earthquake Lake along the way (this lake was formed in 1959 when a 7.5 earthquake caused a massive landslide that buried a campground and choked a river). During the first hour of the drive while I was driving through Flathead Forest in the dark before dawn, a large deer sprang out of the dense woods at full speed and darted in front of my car. I instinctively swerved to avoid it and missed it by a split second. It was fortunate that I didn’t lose control of the car or crash into a tree. My heart was racing for several minutes after that. Later on that same drive, another small deer ran onto the highway as well, although with enough distance that it was easy to avoid. I later learned that in Yellowstone Park, about 100 animals are killed each year by motorists. I don’t think they’re counting small rodents like squirrels and chipmunks. I made it to Yellowstone Park just before noon. I explored the west side of the park for 4 hours, visiting many interesting sites along the way including rivers, geysers (including witnessing a timely Old Faithful eruption), various hot springs, Yellowstone Lake, and seeing gorgeous terrain all around. I saw many deer and bison as well as a wolf and a small bear. At 4pm I drove south through Grand Teton Park, enjoying its amazing sights, especially the snowy mountains near the Snake River. Then I continued driving for several more hours down many single-lane Wyoming roads until I reached Salt Lake City at 10:30pm. I didn’t know where I was going to stay in advance, so I used my phone to find a hotel and booked a room at the counter when I got there. Fortunately there was a 24-hour grocery store across the street where I was able to procure a late dinner. I drove 790 miles that day, much of it on winding mountain roads at 45 mph. I probably spent 13-14 hours behind the wheel. That’s more than I’ve ever driven on a single day in my life. It was an amazing experience seeing all the magical natural beauty from Montana to Utah. When I finally collapsed into bed and closed my eyes, I still felt like I was speeding down the highway. I kept dreaming that I was driving. I can’t condense 23 days of travel into a single blog post, but I can say that this physical journey helped me see my life from a new perspective. It gave me more clarity about what’s important to me and what isn’t. In some ways I was reminded of Elizabeth Gilbert’s experiences in Eat Pray Love, although a more accurate descriptor for this trip would be Eat Play Drive. One realization I had is that I need to change the way I manage incoming communication. My current approach isn’t working for me, so as of today, I’m changing it. Years ago I realized that I can’t possibly respond to all of the feedback I get, but on this trip I had a further realization. People shouldn’t even be sending me so much email in the first place. I don’t even want to look at it anymore. I’m referring mainly to messages people send me through my contact form, but this applies to some other communication channels as well. For example, the last time I checked my voicemail, I had 22 messages: 2 were hang ups, 2 were fan feedback messages (both from the same person), and 18 were spam calls from solicitors. What was the point in listening to it? And how much of my life should I continue to devote to this? When I first started blogging in 2004, some of the feedback I received was useful and actionable. But somewhere along the way, after tens of thousands of messages, it became too much of the same — a “been there, done that” sort of thing. To the individual senders, it may seem like their messages are unique, but to me it has become nothing but re-runs. The routine of processing email has become pointless — and extremely boring. I think the road trip highlighted these feelings because I was away from my daily routine for so long. Set against the backdrop of adventurous travel, I was able to clearly grasp a waste of life it is to spend my time reading messages that I don’t need to read, regardless of how well-intentioned they may be from the sender’s perspective. I still value quality feedback, but these days the actionable items come from people who know me really well — normally people I see in person. People who only communicate with me via the Internet seldom provide actionable feedback; they’re almost always projecting some aspect of their psyches onto me, as a way of asking me to solve the problem within themselves that they aren’t ready to face yet. They don’t understand the details of my situation well enough to be of help. Another aspect is that many of the messages I receive are very needy. At one time I was glad to help anyone who requested it, but it’s become clear that the people who email me so casually are almost always seeking quick fixes rather than real growth. They contact me because it’s easy and because I’m accessible, but when I give them an honest reply, they take no direct action because they aren’t ready to change yet. A person who is ready to change will do a lot more than send a casual email to someone they’ve never met; by and large these people simply aren’t serious. They’re doing what’s easy because they’re hoping to avoid having to do what’s hard, such as quitting the meaningless job or leaving the unfulfilling relationship. They don’t like being told that the path of conscious growth requires them to face their fears, not hide from them. It’s a mistake for them to contact me. I don’t sell Band Aids. So I’m shutting the door on that kind of communication. I could hire an assistant to process all of this communication for me, but what would be the point? Most of those messages are directed to me personally, and they don’t serve any essential business purpose, so there’s no real basis for outsourcing to an assistant. Consequently, I realized the best solution is to simply put a brick in my mailbox, so to speak. Turn off the pathways that invite so many casual messages from being sent in the first place. So I’ve done exactly that. This morning I removed the contact formfrom my website. In its place is a message explaining that I’m no longer available to be contacted through this site. There are plenty of what-if scenarios that could make this seem like a bad idea. But in weighing the pros and cons, I feel that overall this is the right decision for me. It probably wouldn’t make sense for most other online businesses, but it’s a reasonable solution for my particular situation. It’s also easy enough to go back to the previous approach if I don’t like the results, but I doubt I will. I may tweak the solution over time, however, so that I can keep high-value, low-volume communication channels open while closing low-value, high-volume channels. I also unfollowed the 300+ people I’d been following on Twitter. It’s not because I don’t like them. It’s because when I follow someone, they can send me direct messages there, which creates yet another inbox for me. Twitter doesn’t seem to provide a way to disable DMs, so this is the only viable solution I can see. The small number of people who connected with me via DMs can contact me in other ways anyway, so all this really does is simplify my communication pathways. As for other channels like Facebook and the forums, I’m not sure what, if any, changes I may make there. Those are less problematic though because people have to be friends/members in order to send personal messages, so the direct communication volume is much lower. For now I’ll just maintain the status quo unless it becomes an issue. Does this mean I’m becoming anti-social and hiding behind a virtual wall? It’s really the opposite of that. I’d rather connect with interesting people face to face instead of receive messages via the Internet. And I’d rather spend more time traveling since I find it beneficial for my own path of growth. So if you’re reading this website, and you feel the urge to contact me with your feedback, question, proposal, etc., don’t do it. If that bothers you, well… I suppose you’ll have to get used to disappointment. I don’t even care to receive typo reports — people will still be able to figure out the message, despite the Typo Gremlin’s mischief. I could offer up an explanation for why this is a good thing for everyone, but it will save us all time if I fess up that I’m doing this purely for selfish reasons. That may not be entirely accurate, but the simplicity of this assumption will save me some typing. So what’s the growth lesson here? Perhaps it would be wise for you to do your own soul-searching. Are your communication channels adding tremendous value to your life, or are they simply wasting your precious life? What would happen if you bricked up some of those inboxes and made yourself less available? What if you did it as an experiment for a week or so? Would your whole world come crashing down? Or would it free up more time to do some of those crazy, adventurous things you’ve always wanted to do… like take a monstrous road trip to places you’ve said you’ll visitsomeday. Is all of that emailing and forum posting and Facebooking really helping, or would you rather be smooching someone beside a beautiful waterfall? You decide. There’s no right or wrong answer here per se — just decisions and consequences. In my case I’m willing to accept the consequences of being less accessible, so that I can direct more time, attention, and energy towards other pursuits. Here’s an extra travel tip: Do NOT eat the nachos made with 10 different kinds of beans in Banff an hour before driving to Calgary!
    3038 Posted by UniqueThis
  • 12 Jul 2011
    If you really commit yourself to the idea, can you earn $1 from doing something you love? Very often people who are stuck in the pattern of doing work they dislike will shun simple opportunities to earn small amounts of money doing something they love. They assume that if they could only earn a few bucks here and there doing what they love, then what’s the point? They won’t consider it unless they’re convinced such work will bring in some serious money… more than enough to cover all their expenses. A few dollars is just too trivial and pointless. That mindset is a huge, huge mistake. If you want to make a living (a great living), doing work you truly love, then a necessary first step is to earn that first dollar. Be willing to receive Allow that first dollar to arrive. Allow yourself to receive it. Make it feel welcomed even when it isn’t accompanied by 10,000 friends. The first day I generated any real income from StevePavlina.com was February 14, 2005. Hmmm… I didn’t even realize until now that it was Valentine’s Day. How disgustingly appropriate! Now back to our story… That was the first day I put some ads on the site. I earned a whopping $2.36 from ad clicks. I’d been blogging for 4-1/2 months at that point, so I already had dozens of articles on the site. I might have had a few affiliate links up before then, but they really didn’t perform. So Feb 14, 2005 was basically the first day StevePavlina.com began to earn any real income. Now was it worth my time to do all of that work just to earn enough to buy a gallon of gasoline? (This was back when gasoline was less than $2 per gallon — today you’ll need a lot more ad clicks for that same gallon.) Twenty months later my daily income from this website had increased by more than 500 times. Don’t scoff at the extra few bucks when they show up. If you treat them well, they may tell their friends about you. Since dollar bills can really get around, they often make a lot of friends. When you accept that first love dollar, you tell the universe, “Okay, I’m willing to be paid for this kind of work. Can you bring me more opportunities like this?” And the universe will say, “Absolutely… no problem.” But when you block yourself from receiving that first love dollar, you tell the universe, “No, thanks. I don’t want to be paid for doing what I love. I’d rather make a living doing what I hate. Then I’ll take my leftover energy and try to do what I love on the side. Please give this golden opportunity to someone else. I’m too busy implementing my plan for lifelong unhappiness.” Accept the opportunity — in your pajamas if necessary When the opportunity to earn that first love dollar arrives, it probably won’t be wrapped in a beautiful gift box with a bow on top. It will more likely sneak in the back door when you aren’t even looking. When you catch a glimpse of that opportunity, your first inclination will be to say, “Sorry, this isn’t a good time. I’m in my pajamas. Would you please come back later?” Of course if you do that, the universe will reply, “Argh… wrong vibration. This bozo ain’t ready. Next!” The correct response is to accept the opportunity even while you’re still in your pajamas. Just run with it. Try to maintain a playful, childlike spirit. The next time you feel inclined to turn down an opportunity to earn money (even a puny amount of money) doing something you love, give yourself a good smack upside the head, and do it anyway. Remember this quote from the movie Ghostbusters: When someone asks if you’re a god, you say, “YES!” Intend the opportunity If you’ve never noticed any opportunities in your life to earn love money, you are really, really, really blind. Such opportunities are everywhere. When you train yourself to start noticing them, you’ll see them everywhere. You’ll start seeing so many of them, you won’t even know what to do with yourself. Even if you’ve been (consciously or subconsciously) rejecting opportunities to earn some genuine love money, you’re always free to request another chance. Take a moment to set this intention right now: I am now noticing and accepting an opportunity to earn at least one dollar from doing something I love. Feel free to rephrase that intention (including the currency and the amount) however you like until it feels right to you. Just keep it positive and in the present tense. The exact phrasing isn’t really that important though. The most important element is whether or not you can feel the reality of the intention. As you think about that intention, imagine it becoming real. How would you feel if it actually happened? Grateful? Amused? Surprised? Impressed? Put yourself in that place of feeling those feelings. Take a minute to do this right now even before you read the next sentence. I’ll even do this with you. I’m already earning quite a bit from doing what I love, but consciously intending more of it certainly can’t hurt. Maybe I’ll notice an unusual opportunity I’ve been overlooking. This reminds me of something that happened at the gym this morning. I started exercising on one of the elliptical machines, and I noticed the water bottle holder on this particular machine had a bunch of coins in it — some pennies and some dimes. It was probably around 35 cents total. I left the money for someone else to find, but the point is that I could have gotten paid for doing something I enjoyed if I’d accepted the cash in exchange for exercising. I would have earned about a penny a minute. Hey, it’s a start — toward what I don’t know — but I doubt it was random chance I picked that particular machine today when there were dozens of others to choose from. Most likely when you hold this intention, something will come up within the next few days. I usually see an alpha reflection for my intentions within about 48 hours. In this case my alpha reflection already happened in the past, but I didn’t recognize it until now. Sometimes that happens. As soon as you notice your intention coming into physical reality, accept what you get and run with it. See where it leads. Don’t worry about whether or not it will lead to massive riches. Take the inspiration and run with it Often opportunities will manifest in the form of ideas. Your job is to turn those ideas into action. Here are some random ideas for earning $1 doing something you may enjoy. Some guy earned about $5 auctioning his air guitar on eBay. Surely you could earn $1 auctioning something you created. (In case you don’t know what an air guitar is, it’s nothing but air — it doesn’t even exist!) Write a poem, an article, or a song. Share it with as many people as you can, and ask if they’ll pay you a quarter for the value they received from it. Get four people to say yes, and you’ve earned your dollar. If no one agrees to pay you, ask them what you could create that would be worth at least a quarter to them. Ask someone if they’ll pay you $1 for a 10-minute neck and shoulder massage (assuming you enjoy massaging people). Ask someone if they’ll pay you $1 for you to listen to them talk about anything for 10 minutes. You can market it as inexpensive therapy. Ask someone you know if they’ll pay you $1 to brainstorm 20 potential solutions to one of their problems. As simple as these ideas are, if you actually take this exercise seriously and go do it, it shouldn’t be that difficult to earn your first dollar doing something you enjoy. Although the money you earn may be financially insignificant for the time invested, it will feel good to get paid doing something that doesn’t feel like work to you. If you find a way to make a small amount of money doing what you love, you can gradually earn more. Maybe at first you’re earning a rather pathetic, unstable, unreliable income. That’s perfectly okay. If you keep at it, several things will happen. First, if you really enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll get better at it. You’ll be able to build your skills much faster than people who hate their work. It’s really hard to compete against someone who loves their work. Second, if you work cheap and produce halfway decent quality, you’ll start to get repeat business. If you can give a good $1 massage, it’s a safe bet that your happy clients will come back and request another — even if they’re just friends or coworkers. A 50-minute Swedish massage at a decent spa in Las Vegas typically runs about $150. $1 for 10 minutes is a real bargain. Third, people will start to refer new clients to you. They may even gift their friends with your $1 massage. Fourth, you can re-invest what little money you make to improve your service. Eventually you’ll be able to buy some scented candles, a relaxation CD, massage oil, a massage chair, a massage table, etc. You might buy a book on massage techniques or become a certified massage therapist. But initially all that matters is that you enjoy giving someone a back rub and hearing them moan with pleasure. All of these factors work synergistically. If you keep at it, you’ll eventually get so much repeat business and so many referrals that you’ll absolutely have to raise your prices to keep up with the demand. Eventually you’ll be able to make a good living doing what you love. Finally, when you get good enough, you can earn even more money teaching others to do the same. Erin’s story This is exactly what happened with Erin. A few years ago, she began doing psychic readings for people — just for free at first. The feedback was very positive, so she started offering her readings via her website. She didn’t earn a lot of money at first, but her prices were low for her skill level, so she was able to attract a steady stream of clients. After doing readings for a while, Erin’s early clients began booking their second and third readings, and they also started referring their friends and family to her. Erin started getting more clients than she could handle, so her waiting list began to grow. Eventually Erin began hearing complaints from clients who didn’t want to wait so long to get a reading, so she raised her prices to restore balance. This pattern kept repeating itself several more times… with further price increases dictated by supply and demand. Two years ago a 30-minute phone reading with Erin was $55. Today a 30-minute phone reading with her is $295, and a 60-minute reading is $395. She keeps working to improve her skills, and she continues to get lots of repeat business and referrals. Erin is now earning five figures a month from her psychic readings with no end in sight. When I first met Erin in 1994, she was working as a secretary for $9 per hour. Even then she was very psychic. She loved talking about her intuitive impressions, and she prided herself on being able to read people accurately. She used to take me to the Psychic Eye bookstore and explain various oddities to me. Occasionally we’d splurge on a 15-minute reading with one of the psychics, and she’d comment on it afterwards. At one point she took a retail sales job in a different metaphysical bookshop where there were psychics doing readings. More than a decade ago, she was surrounded by opportunities to get started on the path of doing her own readings, but she kept turning them down because she was still in her pajamas. What recurring themes — what opportunities — keep resurfacing in your life… even as you repeatedly turn your back on them? Say yes! I think we’re often sent small opportunities to test our readiness. If we block those small opportunities, we’re broadcasting that we aren’t ready to receive the bigger ones yet. Say yes to small opportunities to receive love money, and bigger ones will surely come your way. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we’re already doing that we don’t allow ourselves to receive the golden opportunities that come to us. We don’t answer the knock because we’re too busy paying attention to what we already have… instead of noticing the arrival of exactly what we’ve been longing for. Don’t make the mistake of intending what you want and then rejecting it when it arrives, especially if that first package is smaller and less exciting than you’d like. Prove to the universe that you’re willing to receive the small package with love and gratitude, and bigger opportunities will soon follow. If you fail to accept the small packages, you’re telling the universe you aren’t ready for the bigger ones. That first dollar of love money is more important than you think. Don’t downplay its significance. Don’t tell it you’re too busy. Don’t slam the door when it asks to come inside. Treat that love dollar like royalty. Prove to it that you’ll be a good host for its thousands of friends. What can you do within the next 24 hours to earn $1 from doing something you love? If you’re already doing work you love, how can you earn an extra dollar from doing something else you love but have never been paid for? How can I earn an extra dollar from exercising? Hmmm…
    2995 Posted by UniqueThis
  • 27 Jul 2011
    A Roller Coaster of Emotions Throughout this trial my emotions have been all over the place. Sometimes I’ve felt incredibly blissful, and other times I’ve felt very stressed. When I feel stressed, it isn’t related to events coming up or anything like that. My calendar is still essentially blank. So I’m not feeling anxious about anything I “have to” do. If I wanted to I could just be a couch potato for days on end. I believe this stress has to do with the nature of this experiment. My whole conception of reality has been stretched to the point where I’m actually feeling a sense of loss or grieving with respect to my old life. I’m too far down the proverbial rabbit hole to be able to turn back, so part of me knows this is a permanent shift of some sort. That isn’t easy to accept, and I’m experiencing different waves of emotion as I try to understand the consequences. “Loss” may be the wrong word. I’m not teary eyed about it. But it’s such a huge change that it sometimes feels like I’m floating through space with no solid ground beneath me. I don’t have enough familiarity with this way of living to know what’s coming up, so I really can’t predict the long-term consequences. Life has become much less predictable, and the rate of change is extremely rapid. The changes I’ve experienced as a result of this trial have been incredibly positive, even in the objective sense, but positive change can still be stressful. Events like moving to a nicer home, getting married, or winning the lottery can add a lot of stress to your life. So that’s what it feels like for me. I love the positive changes, but collectively I’m feeling a lot of stress about it. Fortunately this stress seems to be gradually decreasing over time as I get used to living this way. In many ways I feel like a baby, having to relearn so many things from the ground up. It feels like I’ve torn apart my life, and I’m rebuilding it from fairly basic building blocks. That takes time. On the other hand, sometimes I’ve been feeling totally blissful, happy, and excited too. I believe I can handle the stress. I just need to pace myself and take steps to keep the stress manageable. I’m optimistic that the stress feelings will continue to diminish with time. I’m constantly out of my comfort zone, but I expect that given enough time, I’ll eventually become more comfortable with this way of perceiving reality. Comfort and Grounding For most of this trial, I haven’t bothered to stick to much of a routine. If this is a dream world, then what’s the point? Well, I’m starting to realize there is a point to having a routine. Against a backdrop of uncertainty, some daily structure can have a soothing effect. It reduces stress and provides a sense of security and stability. Feeling like you’re floating through a cosmic wonderland might be exciting for a while, but doing that for weeks at a time can be very unsettling. Simple things like going for a walk, preparing and eating meals, and even breathing help me feel more grounded. I may know it’s not real, and in a dream world, much of what I do may not even be necessary, but I’m finding good reasons to do those things anyway. Nighttime dreams are usually very brief, lasting only a matter of minutes. But when you have a dream that lasts for weeks, it really does feel nice to populate the dream world with some persistent structures in time and space, if only for emotional reasons. During this experiment I’m feeling very appreciative of my home, long-term relationships, and other things that give me a sense of stability. Even eating an apple helps me feel grounded because it’s familiar. I’m reminded of the scene from the first Matrix movie where Cypher is enjoying a steak dinner with Smith. He says he knows the stuff in the Matrix isn’t real, but he doesn’t care. I can relate to feeling much the same way. I know it’s all dream stuff, but for now I still need to connect with what’s familiar for a sense of stability and grounding. Synchronicities On the flip side, the more I embrace the belief that life is a dream, the more the dream world reveals itself as such. For starters, the number of synchronicities I’m experiencing is way off the scale, and it’s not just with me. All my inboxes have been flooding with similar messages from others reporting a major increase in synchronicities lately. It feels as if the whole dream world is shifting. I’d say that on average, I’m seeing about 3-5 striking synchronicities every day now. They’ve been coming in nonstop since this experiment started. Have you seen an increase in syncs in your life this month? I wonder if it’s related to this experiment somehow. For example, about a week ago, I had the strange inspiration to go rent the movie Alice in Wonderland (the recent version with Johnny Depp). An hour or two before I left my house, someone had just emailed me a quote from the Princess Bride, which is my favorite movie of all time. As I walked into the video store, I saw the Princess Bride playing on a TV there. On my way home, I was listening to “When Tomorrow Comes” by Eurythmics, the first line of which is: Underneath your dreamlit eyes, shades of sleep have driven you away. The song before that one was “Sweet Dreams.” This is on their greatest hits album. About a block from my house, I see a real rabbit sitting in the middle of the street. He stares at me as I drive within a few feet of him. Funny that I would see him while driving home with Alice. I watch Alice while having dinner, and the movie is overflowing with subjective reality references like, “It’s just a dream” and “All I have to do is wake up” and “I make the path.” Alice even refers to the Mad Hatter as a figment. At the end of the movie, she leaves her old life behind and gets on a boat. In an objective sense, the movie is only so-so, but it’s a lot more interesting when viewed through a subjective lens. Reality is practically beating me over the head with validation that yes, this is a dream world. At times I feel that life has been dropping me hints about this, but it took me a long time to see the big picture. The whole 11:11 phenomenon was one of many clues — it makes perfect sense that such events would occur in a dream world. Dream People One funny aspect of this experiment is that since I’m doing it publicly, most of the people in my life know about it (or so it seems). So when people email me or call me, they often address me as a character in their dream world or as a projection of mine. Same goes for phone calls. Objectively I could say they’re just playing along. But subjectively it’s as if they’re finally acknowledging the truth. I’ve been spending a LOT of time on communication lately. It’s sometimes a challenge to maintain the frame of a dream during an immersive conversation, but I’m gradually getting used to it. I’ve noticed that conversations take on a whole different flavor when I view them through the dream lens and when I address the other person as a dream character. So far no one that I communicate with regularly has objected to being treated like a dream character. Actually it’s just the opposite. Most people seem intrigued and enjoy playing along, and we end up having some pretty deep conversations as a result. Even people that I thought were very left-brained are revealing different aspects of their personalities that I seldom see. They typically become much more playful, open, and light-hearted. One day when I was spending time with my dream daughter Emily, I asked her to consider that life might actually be a dream. Then I began pointing things out to her that seemed dream-like. I showed her rooms in my house that have no furniture in them, asking her what kind of real house would have empty rooms like that. It must be a dream house. Then it started pouring rain, and I took her outside and showed her that it was raining, but the sky was blue, and it was bright and sunny out. I asked her if that seemed at all like a dream. She seemed a bit suspicious while we pranced around in the rain. Was it real rain or dream rain? On a different day, I took Emily out to dinner. As we were driving back, stopped at a crosswalk, a pedestrian crossed in front of us with an umbrella. I asked Emily why someone would be using an umbrella when it’s not even raining. Must be a dream! Interacting with dream people is a lot of fun. In fact, I think I’ve been getting over-addicted to socializing during this time because the interactions are just so amazing. On many days I’ve spent hours on the phone. Lucid Dreaming Last week I had a lucid dream during a 20-minute nap. Within the dream world, I was in my own kitchen, and I knew that my body was asleep on the couch and that I was definitely dreaming. I decided to try doing telekinesis in the dream world. I couldn’t make it work at all. At best I was able to possibly make some leaves on a tree rustle a little, but it could just as easily have been explained by a dream breeze. It didn’t really feel like I was controlling it. In fact, I didn’t seem to wield any special abilities in the dream world at all. The whole experience could just as easily have happened in this reality. Now this is a strange development indeed. Normally when I have a lucid dream, I’m able to do all kinds of cool things like flying. But not this time. By believing that I’m dreaming while awake, is it possible that I somehow infected the next deeper level of dreaming with my limiting beliefs about this world? So far this was the only lucid dream I’ve had during this experiment. I wonder what will happen as I have more. Dream Food Some dream characters asked if there was a risk of eating non-vegan food during this experiment. I don’t see that as a serious possibility since I don’t regard non-vegan items as food. Even in my nighttime dreams, I still eat vegan, and if I ever dream that I eat something non-vegan by mistake, I actually get grossed out within the dream. I’ve been vegan since 1997, so I’ve been eating this way for most of my adult life (or at least I dreamt it that way). Eating non-vegan dream food would be like eating dream sawdust or dream bugs. I simply have no appetite for such things, regardless of the true nature of reality. That said, I’ve done a lot of experimenting with vegan dream food. Initially I figured I should be able to eat whatever the heck I wanted. How could it affect me if it’s just dream food? Would the awareness that I’m dreaming be enough to change how the food affected me? So I consumed lots of complex foods like pasta, pizza, soy lattes, and even some wine. I stopped exercising completely too. Haven’t been to the gym in weeks. About the only exercise I’ve done was going for some walks. I also didn’t pay as much attention to hygiene. What does it matter in a dream world? Sometimes I wouldn’t shave for more than a week. And guess what happened. I gained a few pounds. I started feeling sluggish. I didn’t get sick, but I definitely didn’t feel as good in my dream body. After a few weeks of that, I began to feel somewhat disgusted with myself. I began having strong cravings for healthier, lighter foods like fresh fruit. I knew I’d feel much better on those foods, even if they weren’t real. Then I realized that I could be seeing these results because I expected them. My subconscious was still filled with beliefs and memories about how certain foods would affect me, and the effects I experienced were all in line with those expectations. So I had the thought that if I wanted to have a healthier dream body, I should consume foods that I believed were the healthiest and avoid those that I believed were unhealthy. So several days ago, I shifted to doing that. I went to a local farmer’s market. I bought the foods I considered the healthiest stuff I could put in my body — celery, cucumber, dark leafy greens, fresh berries, grapes, etc. I hit a sync there too: As I walked up to the farmer’s market, a friend from Toastmasters was just walking out, so we hugged hello right at the entrance. I began eating foods I believed would make me feel good without negative side effects. And lo and behold, I started feeling much better within a couple days, and the excess weight began to drop off. Presently I’m really craving raw foods, and I know I feel best when I eat mostly fresh produce, so I’m doing 95-100% raw for now. I’m eating mostly fresh fruit, fresh veggies, and greens in various combos. The only cooked item I ate was a stir fry of fresh zucchini, yellow squash, and bell peppers. Now I’m starting to feel a stronger urge to exercise since I know it will make my dream body feel even better. What kinds of dream exercise might I do to put my dream body into optimal condition? These may seem like subtle distinctions as compared to the objective perspective, perhaps almost circular in nature, but for whatever reason, everything is different on the subjective side. Even things that were working for me objectively, I have to rebuild them on the subjective side with a new mindset. Eating based on my beliefs doesn’t feel quite the same as eating based on objective nutritional science. The same goes with exercising. Instead of having to objectively figure out an optimal diet by learning the science behind different foods and doing lots of trial and error, I can now simply eat whatever I presently believe is the healthiest and avoid what I believe to be unhealthy. This introduces a new level of self-honesty, since it’s harder to delude myself about my own beliefs. For example, on the objective side I may drink some coffee. The chemistry of coffee is so complex that apparently many scientists still don’t know what to make of it. So it’s easy to justify drinking it. It can mentally place it into the gray area of health by focusing on the potential benefits. Or I can simply enjoy the indulgence. But on the subjective side, it’s a lot harder to do this. When I ask myself how I honestly believe coffee will affect me, I can’t pretend it’s a health food. I have too much history with it and too many memories of how addictive it is for me and how it messes with my thinking. So for the moment, I must deal with my subconscious expectation that coffee will negatively impact my health. Subjective Rebuilding It takes a while to rebuild my life from the subjective side. I feel very fortunate that I have the time to do so because it looks like it’s going to take many more weeks. I’ve made major progress in the area of relationships, and this week I seem to be focusing on health a lot. But I have yet to dive into the career and financial aspects of my life. I sense that’s coming up though, perhaps within the next few weeks. It’s hard to say because I’m just going with the flow of inspiration. Apparently this flow is taking me through a process of recoding my whole life part by part. As I mentioned earlier, this has been somewhat stressful due to all the changes, but it’s also pretty exciting to see it unfold. I’m certainly pleased with the results thus far. Even in areas where my life may look relatively unchanged, my inner experience has shifted massively. I may be eating similar foods once again, but it feels so different to buy, prepare, and eat foods with a dream world perspective. I know that I have so much more to explore from this perspective. Right now I mainly want to get the basics right. I don’t want to attempt anything too fancy. I want to see what it’s like to get my overall life working subjectively and to maintain that for a while. Right now I feel like I’m only 30% of the way through this initial process of subjectively refactoring my life. I can see that there’s still a lot more to go. The Power of Belief As I move forward with my subjective life, I have a few options when it comes to dealing with beliefs. The first option is that I can work within the framework of my existing beliefs. This suggests that if I do what I subconsciously believe will work, I can expect a positive outcome. So I have to get clearer about my existing beliefs and stay true to them. The second option is to condition new beliefs to replace the old ones, and see how those new beliefs affect me. There are a number of different methods for this, but it’s tricky work because beliefs interact with each other. It can also be pretty time consuming because we have a lot of subconscious beliefs. A third option is to reduce my reliance on beliefs altogether. I can realize that they’re simply experiential filters, and I don’t necessarily need them. There are methods to do this as well, such as Ho’oponopono. Right now I’m mainly shifting into the first option. I feel intuitively drawn to explore that space first. That’s the space I understand best, and the results I can expect there seem the most stable, grounded, and predictable. That should give me a stable base for exploring other options. Then I suspect I’ll explore the third option more intently, working to reduce my conditioning and seeing what effect it has. I want to build up more experience living subjectively before I attempt anything like that in earnest though. What I’ve already done so far is enough of a shift to process. I wouldn’t want to add more change to my life just yet. I’m barely able to handle the current pacing. Beliefs essentially act as experiential filters. They constrain the dream world. I don’t feel ready to release too many of those constraints just yet, but I suspect that with enough experience living this way, I’ll eventually feel ready to explore that part of dream life. Recoding the Dream Even though I don’t want to make major changes in this area, I can’t resist the temptation to play around with some dream reprogramming work. It’s too much fun to avoid it altogether. For starters, I’ve been recoding the dream characters in my life to experience greater financial abundance. Secondly, I’ve been working to inject more peace and harmony into the dream world, such as by imagining the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as ended. I started doing this a couple weeks ago. I’m curious to see if it has any noticeable effect. As for what technique to use, in a dream world the specific technique doesn’t matter. What matters is that you believe and expect it will work. A method is meaningless unless you create the belief in it, and that belief would be pretty hard to manufacture on the objective side. On the subjective side, however, such a belief arises as a natural consequence of being in a dream world. I believe I have the ability to make changes in the dream world through the application of thought and intention. I’ve seen this in the past with my own life, and I’ve seen how it’s possible to reprogram other dream characters at times. One specific method I use is to “remember” a dream character differently and to stop validating a less desirable reality for them. So if they’re currently broke, I refuse to feed any more energy to their brokeness. In my mind’s eye, I remember them as already abundant. And then when I interact with them, I affirm them as enjoying financial abundance right now. If they disagree with me initially (some are ornery), I point out that they must be crazy or blind not to see all the money that’s flowing through their life. Or I imagine them as more flexible and more grateful. Objectively speaking you could say this is a form of hypnosis. However, I find that it works even if I don’t tell the dream characters what I’m doing on their behalf. Now maybe you think this is crazy (or I’m just imagining that a dream character might react in that way), but it seems to be working — and in a manner that’s so over the top, I’d have to be blind not to notice that something has shifted. Since I started doing this, and even before I told anyone what I was doing, various dream characters started reporting windfalls of extra money coming to them, often in unexpected ways. That’s been really cool to see. If you haven’t seen this happening in your own life yet this month, you’re about to see it soon. When the money shows up, be sure to receive it with gratitude; say yes to it. So if you don’t mind, I’m going to remember you as a financially abundant dream character and treat you as such. I’m no longer interested in feeding any energy to your financial struggles. Financial scarcity is so last dimension. I’d rather enjoy a dream world where every dream character can enjoy plenty of abundance. The subjective mindset takes responsibility to a whole new level. I have to feel a sense of responsibility for everyone in my dream world. I do my best to focus on affirming the positive for them. However, I haven’t practiced this enough to make it an ingrained habit yet, so I still flop into the habit of affirming what’s already present at times. I’ll get better with time. Does this mean I see myself as some kind of god? No, it just means I’m a dream character with some degree of programming skill. I know how to implant suggestions into the dreamer’s subconscious, and then they manifest in the dream world. I can’t say who the dreamer is, and I don’t always know what the effect will be or if the new commands will be accepted. But I can see that there are effects being created, and they can be pretty intense and dramatic at times. I’m reminded of these lines from the Depeche Mode song “Lie to Me”: Experiences have a lasting impression But words once spoken Don’t mean a lot now … So lie to me But do it with sincerity Make me listen Just for a minute Make me think There’s some truth in it In other words, you don’t have to be loyal to a present reality you don’t want. You can creatively “lie” your way into a new reality. I wouldn’t call this a fake it till you make it approach. Faking it implies you don’t believe it. In this case, you have to know that you have the power to implant commands into the dreamer’s subconscious and that they’re going to manifest in the dream world at some point. When you believe you can do this, the process of implanting a command is as simple as declaring it. If you don’t believe you can do this, you’re right. If you believe you can do it, you’re also right. A Special Challenge for Our Forum Community Since this experiment began, our forum community has exploded with activity. This is the most active month we’ve ever seen, and we’re currently averaging more than 1,000 new posts per day. I think it would be really cool if in the forums, for at least the rest of the month, we could all focus our energy on creating what we desire. Let’s collectively stop feeding energy to what we don’t want. Let’s stop validating any negativity we see in others. No more pity parties or group griping sessions about what isn’t working. That has never worked. Let us instead affirm the potential we see in each other instead of the lack thereof. Even if we must creatively lie to each other, I’d love to see what kind of effect that would have. I think it warrants at least a couple weeks of experimentation. For those who want better relationships, treat them as if they’re already attracting the relationship of their dreams. For those who want more abundance, interact with them as if they’re already rich; even ask them for financial advice. For those who want a new career, affirm that they’re already doing what they love and that they’re inspiring others as well. Treat everyone as the best version of themselves that you can imagine. We only need a certain number of active members to hold the energy of this experiment. Once critical mass is achieved, the experiment will become infectious. It might even spread to other forums as well. If you don’t like the results, you can always go back to complaining about what isn’t working in September. What do you think would happen if we did this as a group? Let’s find out.
    2897 Posted by UniqueThis
  • 12 Jul 2011
    This article continues our exploration of Polarity.  If you haven’t yet digested the first article, you’ll probably want to do so before reading this one, since now we’re going to extend those concepts even further. A quick review Every thought has two components:  content and energy.  Content is the data portion of a thought, and energy is the carrier that gives a thought the power to manifest.  Think of each thought as being like a radio wave.  The electromagnetic radio wave is the energy component, and the information being transmitted is the content. Our bodies behave like energetic receiver-transmitters, translating the energy that flows through us into emotional states.  High-energy thoughts generate intense emotional states.  Low-energy thoughts generate little or no emotion. Thought energy has a polarity.  That polarity is either in-flowing or out-flowing.  In-flowing thoughts focus on receiving and acquiring.  Out-flowing thoughts focus on creating and giving. The thoughts with the greatest power to manifest are those which are highly polarized, meaning that your attention is primarily focused on inflow or outflow but not both.  It is possible for the energy component of a thought to have a mixture of both in-flowing and out-flowing polarities, but those opposite polarities will cancel each other, and the thought will have significantly less power to manifest.  Electromagnetic waves at the same frequency can interfere with each other, so even though the overall energy of each signal is high, the content of both signals ends up as garbled static.  Thoughts behave similarly. The manifestation of a highly polarized thought can occur through motivated action or passive synchronicity or (usually) a combination of both.  Ultimately the intentional energy is what sparks the chain of events leading to the eventual manifestation. To improve your ability to manifest an intention, make a choice to use either in-flowing or out-flowing energy but not both.  As you will soon see, that choice is much more significant than it appears at first glance. What goes around comes around As you might suspect, the flow of energy never stops.  It is always circulating.  Consider the basic patterns of polarized energy flow. Polarized outflow:  In this situation you focus your attention on the outflow.  Your intention is aligned with creating, giving, or contributing.  Your outward flow of energy causes an associated energetic response from the universe, so the energy flows right back to you again.  It may flow back to you through other people, through money, through loving relationships, etc.  But there will always be a compensating return flow.  The best way to receive that return flow is with gratitude; then send it back out again to generate more outflow.  The rule for this polarity is:  Giving is its own reward. Polarized inflow:  In this situation you focus your attention on the inflow.  Your intention is aligned with getting, acquiring, or achieving.  Your inward flow of energy causes an associated energetic response from the universe, so this energetic debt must flow back out of you again.  In this case the compensating return flow will be some kind of payback.  It may be an outward flow of money, work to be completed, the manifestation of competitors, etc.  The rule for this polarity is:  we live in a competitive world, and you have to look out for number one. Mixed flow:   Attempting to mix the two flows together will generally create an energetic mess.  Instead of building a strong, steady flow in one direction, you will manifest chaotic turbulence.  Your job is to focus on one end and let the universe handle the return flow.  This is what it means to “go with the flow.”  If you focus on giving, you will receive too.  If you focus on getting, you will manifest a compensating outflow.  But if you send out energy in both directions, you will have to deal with the summation of both return flows.  This constant shifting of your energy will make your life seem far more random and accidental than it really is, but you’re really just be tossed around by the wake of your own thought waves. Creating energetic chaos by constantly shifting polarities is something you’re always free to do.  If you wish to be tossed around by the currents of life, go ahead.  In fact, most people do exactly this.  But it’s a mistake to blame outside forces for your current situation when you’re only dealing with the natural reflections of the energies you’ve produced in the first place. Karma The concept of karma is easy to explain in terms of polarized energy flow.  The energies you put out will always come back to you.  The polarity of outflow generates positive karma, while the polarity of inflow generates negative karma (i.e. karmic debt).  If you heavily favor one polarity over the other, it’s easier to observe the karmic reflections.  However, if you frequently switch polarities or mix them together, you’ll have a hard time connecting the dots between your experiences and the thoughts that spawned them. I want to emphasize that negative karma isn’t necessarily a terrible thing if you’re willing to accept the karmic reflections and pay them willingly.  Karmic debt is much like financial debt.  It can be used constructively, or it can overwhelm you.  Those who are skilled with the polarity of inflow learn to accept the karmic debt created by their intentions and pay it willingly rather than resisting it. Understanding inflow and outflow  In the previous article, when I explained the polarities of inflow and outflow, I failed to do them justice.  As I scanned the feedback (via email and forums), it was clear that many people thought I was describing two sides of the same coin, like yin and yang.  Some suggested the best option would be to balance the two polarities.  But these polarities are not something you’d want to balance.  Saying that you should balance the polarities of outflow and inflow is like saying you should balance your good deeds with evil ones… or that you should punch as many people as you hug.  In this case balance is not a desirable quality, unless you want to be a very conflicted individual. The confusion was my fault for selecting terms like inflow and outflow that imply an inherent balance.  How can you have inflow without outflow, and vice versa?  The difference between polarities is more extreme though, and I’ll attempt to do a better job distinguishing between them here.  Instead of inflow and outflow, I’ll use different terms to describe them:  fear (instead of inflow) and love (instead of outflow).  These terms are probably more accurate labels, since they imply fundamentally different ways of relating to life.  They are polar opposites, but they aren’t the kind you’d want to balance or blend together. Let me describe these two energetic polarities in a slightly different way now, this time using the labels of fear and love. Fear Fear (inflow) is the energy of survival, power, and control.  It is associated with intense emotions such as greed, victory, or lust.  Fear energy seeks expression through the acquisition of power.  It wants to overwhelm, to dominate, to conquer, to possess.  When you fantasize about dominating or controlling others or your environment, you’re summoning fear energy. If you want a great role model for mastering fear energy, picture the Emperor character from Star Wars. Fear is a specific way of relating to life that says, “I am inherently vulnerable, and the more power I have, the less vulnerable I become.”  Life is a competitive venture, and ultimately you can’t trust anyone but yourself.  The point of life is to increase your power.  The part of you that believes you need to acquire more power, more money, more status, or a better position is the part that resonates with fear energy.  If a fear-polarized person could pick a magical power, s/he would choose something to increase his/her dominance over others or the environment, probably something like mind control. The peak emotion of polarized fear energy is that of feeling unstoppably powerful.  When you build a certain intensity of fear energy, you will feel incredibly powerful and dominant.  This is how those who polarize with fear energy connect with God or Source.  They strive to become gods unto themselves. Love Love is the energy of connectedness, creation, and service.  It is associated with intense emotions such as joy, peace, and oneness.  Love seeks expression through giving and creativity.  It wants to connect, to heal, to unite, to inspire.  When you intensely desire to serve the highest good of all, you’re summoning love energy. If you want a great role model for mastering love energy, the best example I can think of is Jesus Christ. Love is a specific way of relating to life that says, “No matter what happens, I am perfectly safe.”  You relate to life from a state of fearlessness because you know that on a fundamental level, nothing can truly harm you.  The point of life is joyful self-expression.  The part of you that believes that everything is already perfect and that you are here to embrace and enjoy the experience is the part that resonates with love energy.  If a love-polarized person could pick a magical power, s/he would choose something to increase his/her ability to serve the greater good, probably something like the ability to heal people. The peak emotion of polarized love energy is that of experiencing complete perfection and undeniable beauty in all things.  When you build a certain intensity of love energy, you will radiate gratitude, joy, and unconditional love.  This is how those who polarize with love energy connect with God or Source.  They dissolve all barriers between God and themselves, so that Self and God become one. Polarization The reason you find yourself living as a human being in this physical universe is so you can experiment freely with both polarities at relatively low intensities.  Eventually you must choose between them, meaning that you yourself must polarize. It makes no sense to attempt to balance fear and love energies because they cancel each other.  They are two fundamentally different ways of relating to existence.  Either you believe you’re fundamentally safe here (love polarization), or you don’t (fear polarization).  Those of us who find ourselves living as human beings are still working to address this fundamental question.  Once we make that choice and come to terms with it, we begin the next stage of our existence. Mixing love and fear energies is the result of not having made this choice yet.  We aren’t certain what to believe.  We don’t even know how to make the choice.  But ultimately that’s exactly what it is — a choice to be made of our own free will.  Although you likely have a pre-existing moral bias about this decision, in the grand scheme of things there is no right or wrong answer.  You can choose to polarize with fear, or you can choose to polarize with love.  The whole point of your human existence is to help you come to terms with that decision and then to actually make it. Polarization and levels of consciousness What’s the relationship between polarization and your level of consciousness?  While people often bias their descriptions of those levels to favor love orientation, it’s entirely possible to have a fear orientation at any level as well. Those who choose to polarize with love become lightworkers.  Those who choose to polarize with fear become darkworkers.  The more conscious and aware you become, the more easily you’ll observe the role of polarized energy, and the more pressure you’ll feel to polarize one way or the other.  Your level of consciousness doesn’t dictate your polarity, but it does help you come to terms the importance of this decision. At each level of consciousness, there are fear-based and love-based manifestations.  For example, there is a form of courage that’s rooted in fear, and there’s another form of courage that’s rooted in love.  The fear-based courage will entice you to conquer your fears, while the love-based courage will motivate you to transcend your fears.  As another example, at the level of peace, there’s a certain peace that comes from a sense of oneness, and there’s another kind of peace that comes from wielding a sufficient amount of power. Consider the Emperor character from Star Wars.  He was highly conscious and aware (not suffering from depression, apathy, grief, or shame), but he chose to polarize with the dark side of the force (fear orientation).  His consciousness combined with his polarization made him extremely powerful — this made it easy for him to turn Anakin to the dark side, since Anakin was less conscious and more conflicted.  Although Star Wars is fiction, the concepts of the light side and dark side are very similar to the polarities of love and fear, respectively.  If you want to master the force (i.e. energy flow), you must eventually polarize.  Those who never polarize are largely powerless and will simply serve as pawns of those who do. Making the polarity choice Erin has done a few intuitive readings for highly conscious people who are facing the polarization decision.  These people struggle with what is the biggest decision of their lives, and they’re often on the fence about it.  They’re usually leaning one way or the other, but they can still see both alternatives as possible.  They have the feeling that once they decide, there’s no going back. Having made this choice myself, I can say that it is not remotely easy.  When you first begin to understand the fundamental nature of this choice, it can take many years to come to terms with it. Ultimately the way I made the decision was to ask this question:  Which reality do I wish to experience?  I knew that once I made the choice, I’d begin attracting a reality that would reflect my choice.  I’d eventually be surrounded by the corresponding reflections that matched my energetic output.  When I looked at the choice through that lens, it was easier for me to decide (but still not easy).  I consciously decided to polarize with love, since that is the reality I wish to experience. Now you might be thinking, “Who on earth would want to polarize with fear energy?  Obviously love is the only proper choice.”  If that’s your thinking, then I would say you haven’t yet come to terms with your own shadow, and you aren’t ready to polarize.  Before you can make this decision consciously, you must understand the appeal of both polarities because that’s the whole point of human existence. Post-polarization After you decide to polarize you still have access to both energetic polarities, but one of them will become dominant over the other.  This change doesn’t happen instantly.  Most likely it’s a very gradual progression as you rely on the non-dominant polarity less and less and on the dominant one more and more. As you learn to use your dominant energy more frequently, your ability to manifest what you want increases.  It’s like you finally have your batteries plugged in the right way, so a strong current is able to flow.  The energetic waves that come back to you are magnified because your energetic output begins to form a resonance pattern.  It’s like pushing a child on a swing.  If you push at random intervals, the child won’t swing very high because some of your pushes will cancel each other.  But if you push with the right rhythm, the child will swing higher and higher.  In each case your total energy output is the same, but the results are very different.  When you stick with energy of a single polarity, you’re finally pushing with the right rhythm, manifesting greater results without working any harder.  If you used mixed energy and try to improve your results by working harder, you’ll only manifest more frustration. Over time it becomes harder to rely on your non-dominant polarity when you know it’s going to reduce your effectiveness in the long run.  An intensely selfish person who one day shows heart-felt mercy just ends up weakening himself, and an intensely giving person who acts from obsessive lust does the same.  If you use your non-dominant energy after you’ve polarized, it will absolutely, positively weaken you in some way. Consider Darth Vader’s story.  He’s tooling along, successfully building his empire with highly polarized energy.  Then at the end of Return of the Jedi, he suddenly switches polarities to save his son.  Boom!  He and his mentor both wind up dead, and his glorious empire goes down the tubes.  All of his power gone in an instant.  Now if he hadn’t made that stupid mistake — stupid from a fear-polarized perspective, that is – he’d have killed Luke and the Emperor too, making himself the most powerful person in the galaxy. Polarization comes with the responsibility to be consistent in your energy usage.  You can’t keep switching sides every day like people do before they polarize.  You can’t be forgiving one day and then plot revenge the next.  Sticking to a single polarity for a sufficient length of time will increase your capacity to create flow.  Once that flow reaches a certain level, you can’t reverse it mid-stream without serious energetic consequences.  You’re too likely to manifest an energetic explosion. The consequences of polarization At their fullest intensities, both polarities are extremely powerful.  But until you polarize, you don’t have access to the full range on either side.  On a scale of -10 to 10, you maybe get to operate in the -3 to +3 range before you polarize, and that’s a logarithmic scale.  After you polarize you gradually get access to the rest of the range… but only on one side or the other. Again Star Wars has a great analogy here.  The force is polarized energy.  It has a light side (love) and a dark side (fear).  If you want to master the force, you must pick a side.  The purer your polarity, the greater your ability to use the force.  The more polarized the character, the greater his/her ability to use the force.  Those individuals who hadn’t yet polarized, such as Han Solo, couldn’t use the force to do anything special, even after watching others use it.  Whether in Star Wars or the real world, undecided skeptics remain largely powerless, serving as pawns of the polarized. After you polarize and learn to use your dominant energy with greater intensity, there will be major consequences.  These include clearer thinking, stronger and more accurate intuition, increased psychic development, and a greater ability to manifest your desires.  Overall life will become much easier for you because you’ll have a greater capacity to use intentional energy.  It’s like being 10x stronger — everything you pick up feels lighter. That increased capacity comes with a price, however.  You’ll feel a greater responsibility to use it.  For a darkworker the responsibility is to increase your positional power, to become more dominant in your primary undertakings through competitive superiority.  For a lightworker the responsibility is to expand your capacity for unconditional love and creative expression.  As polarized energy courses through you, it seeks to increase its flow and to increase your capacity as an energetic medium. Polarized momentum Once you begin favoring a single energetic polarity, the feedback you receive will encourage you to keep heading in the same direction.  This is because the energetic feedback will eventually align itself with your dominant polarity.  In essence when you use fear energy, you’ll attract more reasons to use it.  The same goes for love energy. For example, if you devote your life to serving the highest good of all, you will receive an enormous return flow from the universe.  The more you give, the more you will receive.  This return flow, especially when received gratefully, will only encourage you to continue giving.  The joyful emotions you experience will do likewise. On the other hand, if you center your life around conquest, acquisition, and victory, the energetic feedback will tend to reinforce your competitive posture, since the universe will always be pulling the energy back out again.  You’ll manifest enemies and competitors that you must constantly defend against, and as you gain more positional power, they’ll become stronger and more resolute in their attempts to drain your energy.  The more powerful you become, the more powerful your opposition becomes, and the less you can afford to let your guard down.  The emotions you experience as a result of this energy flow will further reinforce your focus on strengthening your position and striving for greater dominance. A person who hasn’t yet polarized will manifest mixed and chaotic feedback.  Since their energy output is scrambled, it can’t build any momentum and will tend to remain scrambled.  Such people have very little power to manifest their desires, so they usually end up as pawns (servants, employees, followers, etc.) of those who are more polarized.  This isn’t a bad thing per se, since it provides important experience, but eventually it’s necessary to make the polarization choice consciously and deliberately. Final words of advice Don’t worry about polarizing your entire being right away.  Start with small decisions, and observe the consequences.  When you tackle a particular problem or goal or put out an intention, consciously decide which polarity you’re going to use, and stick with it.  For example, suppose you want to resolve a problem with a certain co-worker.  Will you attempt to dominate and gain power over the other person to get what you want, or will you unconditionally forgive and accept that person and attempt to do what’s best for him/her?  Either approach can work, but they have very different consequences, and those consequences will tend to reinforce the original polarity choice. Notice how these different energies feel when you apply them consciously.  And notice how much more effective it is to use a single polarity instead of haphazardly mixing them together.  This will help you gain experience with both polarities, making it easier for you to eventually decide which polarity to align yourself with.
    2866 Posted by UniqueThis
  • 12 Jul 2011
    In order to develop a career that really suits you, it’s important to have a basic knowledge of your key strengths.  Unlike skills or knowledge you can acquire through education, your strengths are more basic talents.  For the most part you were born with them.  You can certainly continue to develop new talents, but in the area of your strengths you have an almost unfair advantage. Your strengths are things that come naturally and easily to you.  Your brain is just wired to be good at them.  You couldn’t really teach someone to be as good as you are unless they’re predisposed to have a strength in that area. Assess your strengths There are many tests you can take to help assess your personal strengths.  The one I recommend most is the Strengths Finder Test, which can be accessed online with a key from the books Now, Discover Your Strengths or Strengths Finder 2.0.  The test helps you identify your top 5 strengths with an emphasis on career-related abilities. I took this test more than a year ago.  The results for my top 5 strengths were, in order: Strategic – good at strategic thinking and planning. Input – can efficiently process and integrate large amounts of information. Learner – good at acquiring new knowledge and skills. Focus – able to concentrate well and tune out distractions. Significance – drawn to work on important things and avoid succumbing to trivialities. I wasn’t surprised by these results.  My strengths are predominantly mental as opposed to social or emotional. Understand your strengths Once you assess your strengths, it’s important to understand what they mean on a practical level.  What kinds of tasks are well-suited to you?  What kinds of tasks are a struggle for you? Because of my strengths, I’m very good at understanding and working with abstract concepts.  Contradictory or ambiguous information doesn’t faze me.  I see patterns where others see only complexity.  I’m also very good at making intelligent, strategically sound decisions.  This way of thinking comes naturally to me.  I don’t really know how I do it. Apply your strengths You’ll be happiest working in a career that allows you to take advantage of your strengths on a daily basis.  This will enable you to make a significant contribution to your field.  Based on my strengths, an ideal career for me would be one that leverages my strategic thinking ability and has me working on complex and meaningful challenges, especially in a field that people find complicated or confusing.  This suggests I could perform well as an entrepreneur, business consultant, writer, psychologist, theoretical physicist, mathematician, software designer, criminal profiler, and many other possibilities. Similarly, my core strengths also allow me to rule out careers that wouldn’t fit me too well, such as a professional athlete, salesperson, musician, or nightclub manager. I suggest you take at least one assessment test to gain clarity about your in-born strengths.  Working from your strengths will help you (1) be far more productive, (2) get better results, (3) contribute more value, (4) attract higher compensation, (5) enjoy your work, and (6) experience greater fulfillment. If you’d like to share other strength assessment tests you’ve found helpful, please share them in the forums.
    2460 Posted by UniqueThis
  • 12 Jul 2011
    Since I receive many questions about this topic, I thought it would be fun to share a candid insider’s look at the reality of being an A-list blogger.  These are my personal observations, so I’m not saying they’re true of other high-traffic bloggers, but it wouldn’t surprise me if some of these patterns held up.  While I normally prefer not to write about blogging as a topic unto itself — it’s my medium, not my message — I think you’ll find plenty of personal growth lessons here as well.  Many of these “confessions” have to do with finding ways to maintain balance in a lifestyle that can so easily become unbalanced. If you’re new to this site, just be aware that this blog is run by an individual (not a team of bloggers), that I focus on writing original content (not links or commentary about other blogs’ content), and that the topic is “Personal development for smart people.” In writing an article like this, it’s a challenge not to come across as either too arrogant or awkwardly modest.  My goal is simply to share what is true for me in the hopes you’ll derive some value from it, painting a realistic picture as opposed to skewing it for greater social validation. Tons of traffic To my knowledge there’s no cast-in-stone definition of an A-list blogger, but the key defining element would certainly be traffic, i.e. the size of the blog’s readership.  It’s really just a popularity contest.  This blog gets about 2 million monthly visitors and has an Alexa rank of about 4,000, which by any reasonable definition would put it into the A-list category.  As far as I can tell, StevePavlina.com is currently the most popular personal development web site in the world as well.  The main reason for that is its 600+ in-depth articles on a variety of growth-related topics — all of them freely available. Now imagine being an individual who enjoys writing and has some knowledge to share, and within a fairly short period of time — just a couple years — you’ve got your very own global audience of millions of people.  That’s quite a soapbox, almost like having your own TV show. While building traffic can be a challenge, maintaining traffic is much easier.  You basically just have to keep doing what you’ve been doing that got you there in the first place.  Soon it hits you that unless you do something really lame to screw it up (*cough* *Wil Wheaton* *cough*), you’re going to have this audience for a very, very long time, possibly for the rest of your life if you so desire.  If anything your audience will continue to grow, even if it just tracks the growth rate of blogging in general or the Internet itself. While many bloggers are hungry for more traffic, I don’t think most are prepared for what would happen if they actually succeeded.  A-list blogging has some major oddities, the consequences of having direct access to a large readership with no middlemen. Feedback Perhaps the greatest social consequence of A-list blogging is that you get tons of feedback, whether you solicit it or not.  Every day I receive feedback through email, phone calls, and posts on other blogs, even if I haven’t posted anything new for several days.  I also get at least a few cards and letters in the mail every week. In a typical day, about 10-20 other blogs write something about me or one of my articles.  If I have a hit post, that number can surge to more than 50 in a day.  Knowing that somebody somewhere is writing something about you or your ideas every single day takes some getting used to. When I first started blogging, I loved the feedback.  The more, the better.  Then it got to be so much I grew to hate it.  Then I started loving it again.  Then I hated it again.  At various times I even modified my contact form to be more or less inviting, depending on how much feedback I wanted to get.  I learned that tweaking the contact form text in different ways could affect feedback volume by at least a factor of 5. I cycled a few more times through the love-hate extremes before I was able to put high-volume feedback into a more healthy perspective.  One problem is that most feedback, although it may be new to the sender, isn’t new to me — I’ve seen so much of it that it almost always falls into one of a couple dozen patterns.  I eventually noticed that even when people seem to be writing about me, they’re really writing about themselves.  Even when something is addressed to me in the guise of genuine feedback, it’s hardly ever about me, and it’s seldom actionable.  In virtually all cases, feedback is the other person’s unique response to the stimulus I provided, not an evaluation of the stimulus itself.  Consequently, most feedback isn’t really that helpful to me in terms of improving what I do.  I’ll readily acknowledge that some great ideas came from reader feedback, but on balance I’m not sure the effort required to find those gems has been worth it. Whether the feedback I get is positive or negative, I’ve learned to see it not as something addressed to me but rather as part of the other person’s story.  In that light I end up feeling grateful and appreciative for feedback because it shows me what kinds of issues people are struggling with, and that does help me generate ideas for future articles.  On average I spend about 2-5 seconds reading each piece of feedback email, regardless of the length.  I don’t want to disrespect the time the sender spent crafting it, but within a few seconds I can identify the pattern of the email.  In reviewing feedback email, I generally watch for long-term trends and aim to assess the big picture. In late 2005 I wrote a piece about two email templates visitors could use to send me feedback, one positive and one critical.  Although the piece was meant to be humorous, much of the feedback I receive still fits the general pattern of those templates. If I took every piece of feedback personally instead of focusing on overall trends, it would drive me in circles.  For many articles I write, at least one person will tell me it’s the best article I’ve ever written, while someone else will slam it as junk.  They’re both right because they’re writing about their reactions, not the article itself. In truth virtually all the feedback I get falls into a relatively small number of common patterns.  I even have mental labels for them, including the convert (high praise from a new reader), the whiner (my life sucks, woe is me), the disgruntled teen (aka traffic from Digg), the life story (emails that are longer than my articles), the cross-examiner (let me nitpick each of your ideas one sentence at a time), and so on.  To each individual it seems unique, and although the details change, the underlying themes are universal and cross-cultural. Figuring out how to process high-volume feedback isn’t easy.  While it might sound cold to treat feedback as some sort of collective entity rather than as individual pieces of communication, I find the alternatives much worse.  I believe the best role of feedback is to serve as a vehicle for staying connected with my audience and to look for ways to improve while at the same time not getting phased by the emotional drama it may contain. Requests Many people regard my site as a potential media outlet and myself as a good person to network with, so I receive a lot of PR-related requests.  Authors and publishers send me new personal development books, audio programs, and DVDs in the mail every week in the hopes they may get a mention or a review on my site.  Some have even succeeded, although that’s rare because I’m extremely picky about what I’ll recommend.  I also receive unsolicited press releases, invitations to various events, interview requests, and lunch invites.  And then there are the frequent link swap and site review requests.  On the other hand, I also get a lot of non-PR items, such as requests for personal advice. After a few rounds of cycling through the basic love-hate patterns, I found the best approach was to set standards for the kinds of requests I’ll accept and just decline anything that doesn’t meet those standards.  This saves me time and keeps me focused while still allowing me to accept the items that really deserve a yes.  There are far too many requests to say yes to all of them. For example, when I get a same-day request to do a 5-10 minute radio interview, I know it’s likely to be a waste of time.  The producer is just looking to fill a gap with anyone they can find at the last minute, the DJ won’t be well prepared, and the interview will be very shallow.  On the other hand, when an interview is scheduled well in advance with a qualified host and a decent time allotment, that will usually be a more worthwhile endeavor.  Yanik Silver recently did an hour-long interview with me about Internet marketing, and I think it came out very well. Here are a few things I’ve found helpful to consider when evaluating requests: My investment – If I say yes, how much time/money/effort will this require?  Is this a one-shot time investment, or will it create an ongoing commitment?  Is this investment congruent with my goals, or will it take me off course? Impact - What’s the likely impact of this request?  Is this only going to benefit one person in a small way, or could it have a positive impact on thousands?  I favor the more impactful, contributing requests.  A college student who wants to interview me for a school paper gets an automatic no (too little leverage), while a high-traffic blog asking for that same interview will often get a yes.  I want to see my efforts help as many people as possible. Time to evaluate – How long will it take me to intelligently evaluate this request?  Is the request so complicated that it would take me longer to evaluate it than I think it’s worth?  If I have to spend 30 minutes reading a PDF just to figure out what’s being asked of me, it’s going to be an automatic no unless the other factors suggest it could be extremely worthwhile. Clarity – Is the request clear, specific, and actionable?  “We both work in the same field, so we should do something together” gets an automatic decline.  I’ve learned from experience that people who make very general, open-ended requests just aren’t clear enough about their own goals, and they’ll only run me in circles if I get involved with them. Reasonableness - Is the request fair and reasonable?  Requesting a link swap for a site that gets little or no traffic is obviously not a fair exchange, unless you think it’s fair to trade a marshmallow for a Porsche. Person making the request – Does this person seem like someone I’d want to work with?  Is this just a cold call, or has s/he been referred by someone I trust? Personal or generic – Is this a personal request addressed to me specifically, or is it a generic request that’s probably being made of others?  I decline generic requests, such as requests to participate in an upcoming book or product launch.  I don’t want to run a generic blog. Opportunity cost – How does this request stack up against the other items on my plate?  What am I willing to delete or delay to get this done? Interest – Does this request actually interest me?  Is it something I’d enjoy doing?  Will it challenge me in new ways? The sheer volume of requests necessitates adopting such criteria.  For a blogger just starting out, you won’t need to be so picky, but it really helps to have standards when you need to make quick yes/no decisions every day.  I think these rules could be applied by anyone who has to process a high volume of requests. When responding to requests, I basically choose one of four options: 1. Yes – the rarest of replies from me.  But it does happen if a request meets my standards. 2. No – My default response is to reply with a polite but standard decline message.  Here’s the one I currently use: I appreciate the offer, but I must decline.  I’m committed to various projects for the next several months, and I don’t have the capacity to give this idea the consideration it deserves. When I decline I usually don’t tell people why except in a very generic way.  In my experience that too often encourages people to go into pushy salesperson mode and begin trying to address my objections, which just wastes my time and theirs.  I get enough requests that I know the angles they’re going to use anyway. 3. No response – If I suspect a decline message will incite the other person to go all kittywampus on me, I’ll send no response at all.  I prefer to give people a quick no, but if the person seems very pushy and unlikely to take no for an answer, they’ll have to talk to the hand.  Also when I’m really busy, I usually default to no response to speed things along, especially if the requests are very generic. 4. Send more info – If I think a request may have merit, but I don’t have enough info to say yes, I’ll request further details.  For example, if it’s a request for a speaking engagement, at the very least I need to know the date and location. When making requests of busy people, it’s important to be respectful of their time.  This means making clear, concise, reasonable requests that represent genuine opportunities.  Busy people make rapid triage decisions every day, and requests that disrespect their time are likely to be rejected within seconds. Pressure to post One artifact of having lots of readers is that there’s this ongoing pressure to post.  Your guaranteed audience is always there, ready to digest the next article you put online.  That’s both a privilege and a responsibility.  If you aren’t prepared for this situation, it can be stressful, making you feel like you always have to be working on your next blog entry.  Even when you’re offline, you’re blogging in your head.  But if you do prepare for it, this can become a gentle, positive pressure — eustress instead of distress. Fortunately I gave this a lot of thought before I started my blog.  This web site wasn’t my first online business, so I knew from experience that success could be just as challenging as failure.  I outgrew my computer games business, and I wanted to avoid falling into that same trap again.  Perhaps the most important decision I made was to pick a topic I really, really love:  personal development.  But that wasn’t enough by itself.  I loved computer games and got bored with that after a decade.  Personal development is specific enough so as to give my work a solid focus, but it’s also broad enough that I needn’t succumb to boredom.  In truth I can write about anything that interests me as long as I explore it from the perspective of personal growth.  My topic gives my writing a solid focus, but I don’t consider myself a niche blogger. This flexibility has been crucial to my success as a blogger.  If I start feeling burned out with a certain subtopic like health or spirituality, I can shift to writing about other interests like productivity or time management.  While some readers who become attached to my writing about certain subtopics may complain when I switch gears, at the same time other readers are delighted with the new direction.  The rule that you can’t please everyone certainly applies. One of the key benefits of writing about diverse topics is that my readers are exposed to ideas and concepts they wouldn’t normally seek out on their own.  They find the site looking for a specific topic and get drawn into reading about many other topics, which expands their awareness and broadens their horizons. In an average week, I probably spend about 10-15 hours writing articles.  Maintaining this blog doesn’t take a lot of work.  If I wanted to, I could probably get it down to about 5 hours a week or less.  I happen to enjoy writing, but knowing that I don’t have to write and that I can take time off whenever I want is important to me.  I sometimes write a batch of blog entries in advance and then future-post them throughout the week, so I can spend the rest of the week doing other things.  I rarely do any blog-related work on weekends. For me the pressure to post is no big deal.  I never have to force myself to sit down and write.  I’m fortunate to find myself in a situation where my desire to write is greater than what is required to keep my blog thriving. I gave serious thought to my exit strategy before I started blogging, and I realized I didn’t really need one in the traditional entrepreneurial sense because I designed this business to be able to grow with me.  For bloggers who pick very specific niche topics though, I think it’s important to have an exit strategy if you someday see yourself getting burned out on the topic you’ve chosen.  Burning out is very common within the first two years. The business of blogging As someone who hasn’t had a job since 1992, I’ve never been interested in a traditional career path.  I love the business model of blogging because it’s so flexible.  I can work as little or as much as I want, when I want, and where I want.  There are zillions of ways to monetize a high-traffic web site, and technology handles all the tedious parts. Business success with blogging is mainly a function of traffic.  No traffic, no income.  Lots of traffic, plenty of income.  Sure there are other variables, but traffic is the most important single factor.  If you can build a successful blog, it’s not that difficult to turn it into a successful business. Consider my current business model.  I have no products, no inventory, no customers, no sales, no employees, and no office outside my home.  I haven’t spent a dime on marketing since I launched this site in October 2004.  But I earn about $40K per month, mostly from joint-venture promotions, advertising, affiliate programs, and donations.  Two years ago this site was bringing in about $150/month, and one year ago it was earning around $6K/month, so that’s a pretty nice rate of growth.  The income does fluctuate from month to month, but the positive cashflow is high enough that the fluctuations don’t matter.  I maintain a substantial cash reserve too, so I could survive a very long time even if all my income suddenly shut off.  This is much less risky than having a job. The expense of running this blog is negligible.  I pay around $220/month for a dedicated server with 1.5 TB (1500 GB) of available bandwidth, and that’s my main expense.  Sure I bought other things like podcasting equipment, but that certainly isn’t essential. A high-traffic blog is a wonderful vehicle for wealth building.  First, it’s an asset you own.  I’ve seen various evaluations that StevePavlina.com is worth anywhere from $1.6 million to over $5 million.  That nice to see, but it’s odd to have so much wealth tied up in an asset I don’t plan to sell, so to me the cashflow is what matters from a financial standpoint.  I doubt too many banks would feel comfortable lending money against my web site as collateral. A year ago I wrote an extensive article called How to Make Money From Your Blog, which has since become one of the most widely referenced articles of its kind.  The content is slightly dated, since most of my income now comes from commissions on joint-venture deals, not advertising, but overall the advice in that article is still valid.  Dozens of bloggers credit that article for getting them started blogging for income, and some are generating results much faster than I did.  While some people tell me it’s foolish to give away such information, especially for free, I’m more interested in helping others succeed than in worrying about competition.  To me the notion of turf protection is rooted in scarcity thinking.  More competition is only going to push me to keep growing, which is what I want anyway. If there’s one insider’s secret I can offer to how to become an A-list blogger, this is it:  Treat your blog as your primary outlet for contribution to the world.  Make it your legacy.  Write to pass on knowledge and ideas that you think will really benefit people.  Focus first and foremost on providing value.  If you can do that, the rest is relatively easy.  Value builds referrals.  Referrals build traffic.  Traffic generates income.  Income increases your ability to contribute, which in turn helps you provide even more value.  The keys to unlocking this positive spiral are contribution, contribution, contribution. Responsibility I’m not sure if other bloggers feel the same as I do about this, but I feel a strong sense of responsibility to my readers.  When writing a new article, I sometimes imagine standing on a stage in front of an audience of millions of people from all over the world.  What shall I say to them?  That simple visualization helps me focus on providing value instead of just writing for the sake of writing.  I’ve summarily deleted a number of articles in progress when I realized they weren’t worthy of my readers. At the same time, I think it’s important not to let that responsibility go to my head.  I prefer to communicate on a personal level instead of going into soapbox mode.  Even though I’m writing for a large group of people, to each individual reader it’s still a form of one-on-one communication.  It’s ironic that I endeavor to write on an individual level, while I process feedback on a more collective level. Lifestyle In the recent book The 4-Hour Workweek (Yes, I received a free promo copy in the mail), author Tim Ferriss writes about the importance of having a decent income as well as the time to enjoy it.  What good will it do you to earn lots of money if you have to perpetually put in 40+ hours a week to get it?  Would you rather earn $5,000/month working 5 hours/week or $10,000/month working 50 hours/week?  The second option may give you more cash, but the first option gives you a lot more time to enjoy it.  Tim debunks the idea of working long hours to save up for a retirement that may never come.  He proposes taking mini-retirements throughout life in order to strike a balance between work and play. I agree that people spend way too much time spinning their wheels at work.  It doesn’t matter how much time you spend at the office — the results are what matters.  With a shift in thinking, it’s entirely possible to generate greater results in much less time.  You just have to be really clear about what you’re trying to accomplish.  I like that blogging allows me to create value once (by writing an article), and computers deliver that value again and again for virtually no cost.  Whenever I feel the urge, I can write something that will be read by thousands of people within 24 hours.  That’s massive leverage. The key to leverage is to generate income as a function of the value you provide, not the number of hours you work. I learned of another interesting work model from a Jay Abraham seminar recording I heard many years ago.  Jay reported that some of the most financially successful people used a pattern of alternating weeks between their work and personal life.  So they’ll work hard one week, and the next week they won’t even go into the office at all.  During their off weeks, they’ll travel or play golf or spend time with their families.  Some do one week on, two weeks off.  And others can manage one week on, three weeks off.  I can see this working well for certain business models.  For example, if I wrote like mad for a week, I could create a month’s worth of articles and then future-post them.  I could spend the next few weeks traveling or doing other things, and the blog would automatically post new content during my absence according to the schedule I provided.  Unfortunately I’m not into golf, although I do enjoy disc golf. Blogging affords very flexible work patterns, and I really like that it can grow along with me.  When I want to write a lot, it’s nice to have a guaranteed audience that’s bigger than most best-selling authors will ever see.  When I want to spend more time on personal pursuits, I can do so guilt-free, knowing that there are 600+ articles in the archives for people to explore — enough to fill several books.  And the discussion forums are available 24/7 for anyone in need of extra advice or encouragement.  So even when I’m not working, that value is still being provided. There’s still a potential dark side to this lifestyle, however.  I’ve seen many bloggers fall into the trap of turning their blogs into their lives.  They sit at their computers all day, answering email, reading RSS feeds, and cranking out posts.  That’s not a lifestyle I’d choose to emulate.  I had my RSS subscriptions down to just 5 feeds total, and I recently eliminated those as well, so I don’t subscribe to any other feeds at all, nor do I read or watch the news or visit any daily web sites.  I prefer to use real life, not cyberspace, as my primary source of inspiration.  I also try to limit my email to about 15 minutes a day, 30 minutes max.  On weekends I like to get away from the computer and go out with my family.  When I want more input, I read books or talk to people face to face.  Blogging can too easily devolve into a pattern of Internet addiction, and I want to steer clear of that. Because of my blog’s topic, my work and personal life have fuzzy divisions.  Almost any of my personal pursuits, such as Toastmasters or martial arts, can become topics for future articles.  So I don’t feel the need to separate work life and personal life as much as other bloggers might.  Most of my work involves simply doing what I naturally enjoy. Cyberfame Popular bloggers achieve a strange kind of fame.  On the one hand, I have this massive worldwide readership, my work has been translated into a dozen different languages, and people I’ve never met are writing and talking about me every day.  On the other hand, if I’m just walking down the street, nobody will even recognize me. There’s a strange dichotomy between my online blogging persona and my personal life.  When I first started out, they remained fairly separate.  Even as I was building a large online readership, to my local friends I was just plain Steve.  If people asked me what I did for a living, I’d just tell them I ran an Internet business.  I didn’t want to have to define blogging to everyone I met. Over time, however, my work and personal life have been intersecting with increasing frequency, and the clear dividing line between them is no longer present. Here are some examples of a few things that have been happening: Hey, I know that guy!  Old friends contact me out of the blue because copies of my productivity articles were floating around their workplace.  They find my contact info and look me up. Friends and business.  Discussing business with friends who also do business online can be awkward because we both know I can potentially help them simply by linking to them.  I have to balance my desire to help a friend vs. the needs of my readers and the purpose of the site. Local events.  When it comes to promoting local events, I have an obvious advantage if I utiltize my blog, which can feel a bit like using a bazooka to kill a cockroach.  In November 2006, I gave an all-day workshop on blogging for the Las Vegas National Speakers Association, and I mentioned it on my blog with only a very short advance notice.  These local NSA workshops drew about 20 attendees at the time, whereas mine had 50 people show up, including several from out of state.  My NSA friends were very pleased, and the successful workshop raised a lot of money for the club.  This led to my being invited to speak at an upcoming NSA symposium in Palm Springs.  I’m not even qualified to join the national NSA yet, and I’m being invited to speak at one of their main events.  On the one hand, I’m grateful for these types of opportunities, but it feels a bit awkward using my blog to get there, as if I’m unfairly bypassing those who’d be even more honored to receive those same invitations. Struggling friends.  It can be tough seeing friends who are struggling financially while I’m enjoying so much abundance.  After working hard on my own thinking about money, it’s become very obvious how other people’s own financial beliefs hold them back, especially their fears.  I can spot the seeds of abundance within everyone, but not many are watering those seeds correctly.  On the one hand I really want to show people how to water those seeds, but I don’t want to push so hard that it damages our relationship.  So I generally keep my mouth shut unless someone specifically requests my help.  I’m not out to judge people or to push my ideas on them. Networking.  My blog is helping me build high-leverage relationships with people that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to get access to.  For example, I’ve been spending more time on the phone with multi-millionaire entrepreneurs who’ve built very successful businesses.  I probably connect with at least one such person every week now, usually by phone but occasionally in person.  For the most part, they approach me, usually because they heard about me from word of mouth.  I enjoy these interactions very much because we can both help each other, if only in the sharing of advice and ideas.  I’m particularly good at giving people ideas on how they can better leverage the Internet.  Invariably these have been some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, but they tend to be very busy and are extremely selective in how they use their time… something I can certainly understand. Facing the future.  When Erin and the kids and I are out and about in Vegas, it can feel strange if we’ve previously been spending a lot of time in cyberspace.  It takes us a while to transition out of our blogging duo mindset and back into family mode.  We can see where our momentum is headed and that our situation is constantly changing.  We sense that it’s only a matter of time before our online reputation overflows so much into the offline world that we start getting recognized in public.  Erin already had this happen once or twice due to her TV appearance on the Criss Angel show.  It feels like we’re sitting in the eye of a storm, knowing that the winds are only going to pick up. All these factors add up to an unusual situation, one that is difficult to fully fathom and predict.  Overall these are very positive developments, and I enjoy their many challenges.  One of those challenges is maintaining perspective, staying grounded and balanced even while confronting a rather unbalanced situation.  On the one hand, it’s important not to let cyberfame go to one’s head and become an ego-feeding monster.  But on the other hand, it’s equally foolish to deny the existence of one’s fame and the ability to leverage it intelligently, both for personal growth and for contributing to others. Staying focused Overall my greatest challenge as a blogger is staying focused.  So much input comes my way each day that it’s easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of activity.  There’s always something new that can be added to my plate, and in the moment of decision, everything may seem like a good idea.  But seemingly good ideas are seldom the best choices. I find it most helpful to stay focused by returning to the fundamentals of personal development.  Sometimes when I notice I’m getting off track, I’ll go back and re-read some of my old articles on topics like setting goals, making plans, taking action, tracking progress, and adjusting course as needed.  This helps me regain my perspective and get back on track.  I also do a lot of journaling to work through specific issues as they arise. Whenever I need to make tough decisions, I keep coming back to the purpose of my work, which is to help people grow.  That simple purpose helps me stay committed to my long-term strategy instead of drowning in short-term tactical thinking.  When I feel my life is becoming too complicated and confusion sets in, I review my to-do list, asking for each item, “Is this going to help people grow?”  Then I start deleting items that don’t respond with a resounding yes. Final thoughts Being an A-list blogger is a privilege, one I believe must be earned with every post.  Ultimately it’s a position of responsibility, not of status.  I encourage those of you who achieve such a position to take that responsibility seriously.  Use your influence to make a positive difference in people’s lives, but find a balanced and sustainable way to do it, so you enjoy the process without burning out or blowing up.  Enjoy the rewards that come your way, but don’t lose sight of the fact that those rewards are a product of your service.
    2155 Posted by UniqueThis
  • 27 Jul 2011
    Apparently there’s a lot of interest in this 30-day inspiration trial. My various e-inboxes have been surging with messages expressing support and curiosity. Many of them have to do with the subjective reality aspect of this trial, so that’s what I’ll address in this Day 6 update. Inception Let me get this out of the way first. I finally saw the movie Inception last night. Honestly I thought it was good but not up to all the hype surrounding it. I thought it would have been cooler if the dreams were like real lucid dreams, such that the conscious characters could wield more control over their environments, as inThe Matrix but even more so. I thought there were some interesting elements to it, like the totems, but I was a bit restless during some of the action sequences. Overall I’d give it a B+. Death and Subjective Reality After seeing Inception, several people asked me about the risk of committing suicide in connection with a subjective belief system. If you believe that reality is a dream world, will you want to kill yourself at some point in order to awaken from the dream? Death may be the ultimate revealer of truth. But it may also be the ultimate false barrier. There’s no guarantee that after death, truth is revealed. The dream may simply continue on in a different form. I’ve had nighttime dreams where I died and woke up, but it was a false awakening. The dream continued on, with me dreaming that I woke up in my bed, realized I’d been dreaming, and went on about my day. But then I woke up again for real… Or did I?  Objectively speaking, death is inevitable, and it’s apparently a serious transition. Subjectively speaking, death is simply another belief border. It’s an unknown where one’s own beliefs must create the experience. In the subjective sense, dying is like visiting a city you’ve never been to. Before this summer, I’d never visited Montreal. As I got closer to taking that trip, my beliefs filled in more and more of the details, so when I arrived there, the city manifested itself as a projection consistent with my beliefs. I never saw the whole city of course, only a small window into it, one which could simply have been a thought projection. I rather liked the simulation of Montreal. It was a cool place to dream up. I might dream it up again someday and flesh out more of the details. Death is like visiting a new city. Your beliefs will fill in the details, and you’ll see something largely consistent with your expectations. My reality includes many people who approach death slowly and cautiously. Instead of crossing over suddenly, they take years to cross that border. This part of my reality is a projection of my belief that death isn’t something I understand well enough to jump into haphazardly, so I must creep up on it very slowly. Hence lots of people in my reality take many years to transition, and they usually don’t want to go because they don’t feel ready to die yet. I don’t feel ready to die yet either. If I were to shift my beliefs about death, such that dying quickly at my own hands appeared to be a wise choice, then my dream world would most likely manifest a major increase in suicides (or some other form of swift transitions), and people in general would take less time to cross over. But as long as my reality is largely doing the opposite, with so many people slowly creeping up on that border crossing, it’s because I’m still projecting my own cautious attitude towards death, and it would be very unlikely for me to dive into it impulsively. So keep an eye out for an increase in mass suicides in this dream world. Until that happens there’s no cause for concern.  eBay Auction After sharing yesterday that eBay delisted my consultation auction before it had a chance to finish, a number of people offered me alternative suggestions, most of which were ways I could work around eBay’s rules and essentially try again. Objectively speaking, all of those are good suggestions, and I appreciate that people took the time to share them. But I have to decline those ideas because I’m on the subjective side now, and on that side, my interpretation of these events leads me down a different path. Why did eBay delist my auction for a 60-minute consultation? Well, basically someone must have reported it as inappropriate, even though there are many similar auctions listed on the site. eBay then took it down because they’re playing it safe. Apparently they consider it too risky to list intangible items, but they only seem to take action when someone actively reports it. As I interpret this reality as a dream world, a projection of my own thoughts, I have to ask what thoughts gave rise to these dream events. To me that’s rather obvious. This event tells me that some part of me is concerned about the path I’m going down. It feels I should play it safe. And if I don’t do so, it’s going to turn me in, so to speak, meaning that it may sabotage my progress and keep me from moving forward. In other words, it’s going to cut my 30-day trial short if it feels I’m going too far into the realm of the intangible and not staying grounded enough. This is the part of me that trusts the physical but not the intangible. Now look at the proposed solutions that people suggested. Many of those solutions are ways of doing essentially the same thing and attempting to bypass the problem by working around eBay’s rules, sometimes in a sneaky way. I have to reject such solutions because objectively speaking, eBay has the right to set its own policy, and I’m not going to try to play games with them or jump through hoops to work with them. If they don’t want me to do business with them in the manner I’d prefer, that’s their choice, and I’ll honor that. No tricks or games. Subjectively speaking, I’m saying that it doesn’t make sense for me to try to sneak past my own subconscious doubts. My subconscious has every right to object. So I listen to this objection and say, “Yes, I hear you. There may be unforeseen risks ahead. Please continue to remain alert and watch out for them.” On the objective side, I accept eBay’s warning, thank them for it, and let it go. This incident was simply the manifestation of a part of me that’s telling me to be cautious. It is a message to hear, not a problem to be solved. This was a warning sign but not a roadblock, a yellow light but not a red one. The eBay listing didn’t cost me any money, and I actually saw a boost in web traffic due to the extra publicity over this event. Yesterday was my highest-traffic day in nearly 2 months. So despite the apparent setback, I actually came out ahead. I also like that this experiment has stimulated some cool discussion and many interesting suggestions, and I’ll bet that down the road we’ll see a number of people doing further experiments along these lines. The objective world “problem” here is a solvable one. There are many workable solutions, such as using a different auction platform or finding another way to list the auction that would satisfy eBay’s requirements. So the message here is that there is a way to move forward without triggering any alarms; I just need to be careful about it. Another aspect here is that I was perhaps a bit ignorant in listing my consultation on eBay. I hadn’t used eBay in almost a decade. If I’d been more savvy, I might have done the listing differently and made it work the first time. This part of the message tells me that there may be a learning curve here. The reason for caution is that I’m not that subjectively savvy yet, so I’m bound to make some mistakes. Our dream eBay is right too. I’m entering new territory, leaving behind the solidity of what I know and entering into a world of intangible possibilities. There may be unforeseen challenges ahead, so it’s best to take it slow at first. On the objective side, it would make sense to find a way to restart the auction. But this was a subjective experiment, not an objective one. In this case it’s all about the meaning of the events, not the events themselves. I see no strong subjective reason to restart the auction, so I’m not planning to do so. I believe I’ve received the message, and now the dream can proceed in some other direction. Emotional Healing The past few days have been very healing for me. I’ve been doing a lot of emotional processing on my own, and today I shared these experiences with Rachelle. I’m so very grateful for her love and support. I’m lucky to have such an angel in my life. I expect to share much of this publicly soon. I feel emotionally ready to do that now, but my tanks are a bit empty, so I need to recharge first. It’s been taking me a while to make sense of all of this, what it all means, and in what form it would make sense to share it. Subjectively speaking, there’s no need to share anything for the benefit of others. The reason to share is because it’s part of the healing process for the one doing the sharing. For me, writing can be an intensely cathartic experience. And the feedback on that writing can be very revealing as well. Subjective Communication One side effect I’m noticing with this experiment is that my communication is becoming much clearer. I’ve felt that lately, I’ve been doing a much better job of expressing the real me, and I’m doing a better job of listening to others. In the objective world, we’re all separate and distinct individuals, but in the subjective world, we’re all a part of the same whole. When I communicate from the subjective frame, I know that I’m really talking to myself. There are no separate and distinct individuals in the dream world. The notion of privacy in your own dream world is pure self-delusion. So I’m less inclined to hold back because I figure that the projections in my dream world with whom I communicate already know everything there is to know about me. Consequently, the only person I can possibly delude is myself. Hence when I communicate, I monitor what’s coming out of me, and I ask myself, “Am I really speaking my truth?” Sometimes I catch myself succumbing to self-delusion. You may have noticed a shift in my writing within the past week. That’s due to this experiment. I’m writing as if I’m talking to myself, and you already know everything there is to know about me because you’re a character within my dream world. I can’t hide anything from you, so what’s the point in trying? Even on the objective side, I considered myself to be very open and honest. I don’t intentionally lie or mislead people. But the subjective side is peeling away layers where I may have been misleading myself without realizing it. It is causing me to be more truthful with myself first and foremost. It is the difference between writing an article for publication and writing in my own journal. I am no longer writing for the public; now I am simply journaling. And interestingly, my dream characters really seem to like that since the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive lately. Hmmm… Also, I’m paying a lot more attention to the reactions my communications receive. On the objective side, it’s easy to give myself permission to dismiss certain reactions. If I don’t like a piece of feedback, I can say something like, “Well, that’s your opinion, but I don’t agree.” I don’t even have to respond at all; I can simply ignore it if I wish. However, on the subjective side, I can’t get away with that. Every piece of feedback is a part of me expressing itself, so all of it matters, and none of it can be insignificant. If I dismiss something, it could mean that I’m suppressing a part of myself, which isn’t a healthy thing to do. I have to listen, listen, listen. This has led me to feel much more responsible for the entire process of communication. I’ve especially seen this when I communicate with Rachelle. In the past few days, she and I have reached a deeper level of intimacy than ever before. There have been tears on both sides, but it has been amazing and beautiful. I am so in love with her that I don’t think I could go back to the objective way of communicating. I no longer doubt that she’s a part of me. This is beginning to spread to other connections as well. Everything is going deeper, and it’s happened very quickly, so quickly that I’m stunned by it all. I expect that by the end of the 30 days, all of my relationships will be radically transformed — for the better I believe. This might seem counter-intuitive at first glance. You might think that if you saw everyone as a dream character, you’d be less inclined to communicate at all. But I’m experiencing the opposite. Since everyone I see is a part of me, I’m becoming intensely curious about everyone. As I walk around in public, I can really feel that I’m walking around in my own subconscious dream world. I keep staring at people and thinking, I wonder what part of me you represent. It’s an awesome experience to be at that level of awareness where there are no strangers. Everyone in my world is so beautiful and radiant. When I converse with someone, even someone who appears to be a stranger at first glance, it’s possible to go very deep very quickly. I’m realizing that all the NPCs in this reality have some amazing depth to them, if only I care to look. Getting to Know Your NPCs When I was on the plane flying back from Santa Fe on Monday, I ended up sitting next to a 67-year old man. My initial thought was to greet him in a friendly manner as I always do with my seat mates; then maybe I’d do some reading or work on an article. That’s probably what I would have done if I’d been seeing reality through the objective lens. But since I was on the subjective side, my reaction was one of curiosity. Who is this dream character? What part of me does he represent? Why is he seated next to me on this dream flight? What can I learn from him? As I sat down, he asked me, “So where’s home for you?” I told him that I was returning to Las Vegas. I asked him, “How about you?” He said he was traveling to Portland. I could have easily allowed the polite chit chat die there and pulled out a book to read, but instead I let my curiosity lead me. After settling into my seat, I decided I wanted to learn more about this dream man and what he could teach me about myself. So I initiated a conversation with him. I started by asking what he did for a living. He was a retired teacher but currently doing TV programming in Hong Kong. He also shared that he was a Seventh Day Adventist. For the entire flight we remained immersed in one-on-one conversation, interrupted only by the drink service. It definitely wasn’t a shallow conversation. I asked him all about his religious beliefs and practices, his values, and more. We talked about his relationship with his son, his recent financial challenges, and all sorts of topics. I listened to him intently because in truth I was listening to a part of myself. I could not judge him in any way. When he talked of certain struggles, my objective reaction would have been to offer solutions or assistance. But this time I listened compassionately and tried to understand how and why I manifested this particular character, and in my mind I was saying to myself, “I’m sorry. I love you.” I never asked him his name, nor did I give him mine. Do such labels even matter in a dream world? Not to me. After the plane landed and we went our separate ways, I thought about how all of his thoughts and values and beliefs are all within me, and I learned some new truths about myself in the process. For example, I asked him about the connection between vegetarianism and Seventh Day Adventism, and I realized that the values he was expressing were my own. Yes, I value my health because I’m expressing a desire to become a clearer channel for the divine; I can see that. He was vegan too. Was that just a coincidence? What I found most fascinating is that during our conversation, he’d occasionally begin some of his sentences with assumptions about my own beliefs and values, as if I were a Christian like him. And yet I never told him that I had any religion at all, nor did I express any particular beliefs. At one point he asked if I was married, and at first I cringed, assuming that within his belief system, my current situation would have to be met with harsh judgment of some sort, especially after he told me that he and his wife get up at 4am and read the Bible for an hour every single day. Or maybe it would stop our pleasant conversation cold, and he’d freeze up. But I told him the truth about my situation, and I was amazed that it didn’t phase him at all. I know that I haven’t fully crossed over to the subjective side. My thoughts and my language keep shifting back and forth between the subjective and objective lenses. It reminds me of when I spoke Franglais in Montreal. I’m still such a newbie at this. It may take a while for me to become competent on the subjective side. In the meantime I shall continue doing the best I can. Immersion is an excellent teacher. This is an utterly fascinating experience. Thank you for sharing this dream world with me. I’m grateful for your presence here. I have so much to learn from you. 
    2100 Posted by UniqueThis