Stay focused report: January 2017

Every month I report on the status of my goal towards 50K by 31 December 2017, what actions I took and what I was thinking while doing. I invite you into a real-life journey of struggle, hustle, surprises and pains.

Stay focused report: January 2017

January was the most intense month since August 2016. Back then I started to treat focus as a priority in my life. Why? Because I was in debt and wanted to get out. If you have no idea what I mean, read the beginning of the journey, then come back to continue here. I will wait for you.

Tick, tack, tick, tack.
Oh, you are back.

Although I am usually writing a lot (every Monday-Saturday morning except when in sabbatical like last week), I will keep this report and the following ones relatively short. Every report is divivided into action steps (usually about money) and mindset (my thoughts while executing). There is also an optional meta section with more revelation but that will depend on how the month went.

And watch out for the 3 type of gold nuggets with imporant lessons to learn:

  • think nuggets
  • meta nuggest
  • do nuggets

Mindset (theory)

I start with the mindset because that is the basis for all your endeavors anyway. In fact, there will be a lot about my thought process because execution is mostly a matter of discipline, attention and awareness. If your mind is not set properly, your execution will suffer. So, mindset first, please.

THINK NUGGET #1: Starting with an illusion

Generally speaking, the year started with delusional plans what to commit to, for example:

  1. Write a short story of 2.5K words every week writing every morning (Monday-Friday) on it
  2. Establish a Friday as the day for democratic action (whether it means to inform myself through non-mainstream media or produce something myself that adds value to a vivid democracy)
  3. Make Monday and Friday pure education days, so I only work Tuesday to Thursday on my day job

Commitment 1: One short story a week

Behind commitment 1 was the idea that I wanted to write more because I am a writer and I felt I was not writing enough. Also, I wanted to have a challenge in terms of word count and time.

The theory sounded good but after having executed one story-writing morning I was happy I did not continue on the second day. I did not like the process of doing it — but enjoying it is crucial so you do not create an energy-draining „day job“ graveyard for yourself. As part of the relief I felt on this second day I wrote:

This morning I am grateful I wrote more than 2.000 words. This is clearly a sign that I am in a better mental constitution again and that the pressure of writing a story with characters and such was stressing me. It was very stressful for me to have had this pressure of having to write a story in the morning. Instead, I need braindumping in the morning not a place for big creativity. It is about letting things out of my head so I can pursue what I have in mind for the day, and there is anyway so much in my head that a daily morning braindump is essential to my well-being. According to my sacred circle of essentials I need to do 3 things in order to stay sane: walk-talk-write. You can call it my personal Ying-Yang.

Commitment 2: Democracy day

If you think democracy has not much to do with focus, think again. If you do not stay focused, you are dispersed and you are anywhere with your thoughts but not in the here and now. That is exactly what people in power (elites) need, a mass who has no sharp and clear agenda on what to do because the elites have a very clear plan (and schedule).

Quick digression: The elites are afraid of you

Also, companies flood you with commercials, brands and „captivating“ stories so you do as they want. If you happen to speak German, I encourage to read this publication by Prof. Rainer Mausfeld about the power elite’s fear of the people (Originaltitel: „Die Angst der Machteliten vor dem Volk“).

While scanning the paper I found this quote (sorry German again, but you can let Google translate it for you):

Die Bedeutung einer Überflutung mit Nichtigkeiten für die Frage, wie man Menschen dazu bringen kann, ihre Knechtschaft hinzunehmen, wurde auch von Aldous Huxley erkannt. Huxley schreibt 1958, dass man früher der Auffassung gewesen sei, bei der Identifikation von Propaganda ginge es bloß um die Frage, ob eine Nachricht wahr oder falsch sei. Eine solche Auffassung ginge jedoch völlig an dem vorbei, was tatsächlich „in unseren kapitalistischen Demokratien“ passiert ist, nämlich „die Entwicklung einer Medienindustrie, der es nicht um richtig oder falsch geht, sondern die sich mit mehr oder weniger völlig irrelevanten Dingen beschäftigt. In anderen Worten: Die frühen Vorstellungen über Propaganda haben versäumt, den fast unersättlichen Drang des Menschen nach Ablenkung durch Nichtigkeiten zu berücksichtigen.“ Hier bleibt die tiefergehende Frage, welche gesellschaftlichen und psychologisch Faktoren erst psychische Entwicklungen wie einen „Drang zu Nichtigkeiten“ (und zu trash und junk) entstehen lassen. Aldous Huxley (1958). Brave New World Revisited. New York: Harper.

American Nietzsche“ Mencken about power and democracy

Also in January I found about H.L. Mencken, according to Wikipedia „often regarded as one of the most influential American writers of the early 20th century“. He said:

  1. I don’t have prejudice, I hate everyone equally.
    2 Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. (In other words: Freedom of press is limited to those who own one.)
  2. I believe in the reality of progress. […] I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.
  3. The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos.

I watched the THRIVE — you should, too!

Clearly an eye-opener was THRIVE, watch the film on YouTube. The self-description says:

THRIVE is an unconventional documentary that lifts the veil on what’s REALLY going on in our world by following the money upstream – uncovering the global consolidation of power in nearly every aspect of our lives. Weaving together breakthroughs in science, consciousness and activism, THRIVE offers real solutions, empowering us with unprecedented and bold strategies for reclaiming our lives and our future.

Understand the function of money to understand power and democracy

Also in the context of money and thriving: If you are still convinced that money is the root of all evil, educate your mind and consume those 10 financial tips by Anton Kreil, a former Goldman Sachs trader. His secrets blow your mind, you will watch it several times — I guarantee you.

Concluding commitment 2

I know this was a big digression but it was important that you understand how important democracy is in your all-day life. As you see I was not yet able to make democracy a part of habitual life but I tried and I will try again, probably fail and try again until I will stop failing. Democracy is simply too important in this world since nowadays’s democracy are fake-democracies and far from direct democracy, except for what Switzerland does.

Commitment 3: Pure educaction days

When areas overlap and merge they can become hard to distinguish. That is what I tried to tackle defining Monday and Friday my education days so that I can work Tuesday to Thursday and not spend the Tue-Thu evenings learning new things.

Again, the theory sounded good but practicing it failed. Go on and read why the 3 commitments failed.

I failed — here is why

Short answer: I did not eat my own dog food (advice) when I recommended to change only one thing at a time and do it suave.

The long answer is well, long(er). I failed because of 3 reasons:

  1. Too big commitment
  2. Too sudden/abrupt commitment (no soft beginning)
  3. No mental preparation

The problem was that I tried to change too abrupt the way I did the morning writing sessions — it was too big. Without a proper mental preparation I abandoned the first story of the morning.

Entering January 2017, I was still in a worker’s mindset (of December 2016) but I needed a writer’s mindset. I wrote:

It’s hard to make the switch from being a busy man working every Monday to Friday to being a writer on Monday and Friday. My writer’s mindset I need to establish. When I say writer’s mindset I mean the writer who writes narratives not only does braindumps in the morning. I’m not only using writing as a braindump, am I? There’s more, is there?

Why doesn’t it flow so much with my writing when I’m writing a story compared to when I’m just writing for myself without storytelling? Is it because it’s easy (easier) to write down whatever comes to my mind instead of writing with a clear direction. Yes, it is.

In those dialogues with myself I often find a hint to an answer or a direction to an answer. So, maybe I want the early write to be a rather easy thing to do — more playful than strict and purposeful? Maybe.

The lesson: When the purpose is not aligned with the action, things feel „off“ — my purpose was to braindump through writing and the action was writing a proper draft of a short story. Misfit!

My early write will continue to be a place for free writing. If a useful piece of content is the result it is fine. If not, it is fine, too. Early write is a pressure-free zone. Playing is the most important element here.

For 2 January 2017 (the day after my failed short story writing attempt) I came up with the conclusion:

Economically, it was a day to forget. I tried to establish a new routine making Monday and Friday my education (writing) days, but it didn’t work out since I felt I was missing something. So, I reversed back to my working solution of having Monday to Friday my hustle days. I learned and reminded myself to do what works. There’s no quick way to win.

THINK NUGGET #2: Decrease debt, no increase what you have

Fictive debt strategy

This debt strategy I have been applying since August 2016 but you do not need to be in literal debt. However, I applied it in real debt (Aug-Nov 2016) and in fictive debt (Nov-today).

Why debt? I dislike the idea of growing money, the concept does not work for me. But the idea of of decreasing money works. That is why paying back debts has worked for me. In my mind, I prefer to decrease an existing pile rather than increase something from scratch — the kick-off thought pattern might play a role here.

You need to pay back because debts are bad. Debt is when you disable yourself, when you hold your breath. How long can you last without a supply of oxygen? You better be fast and make a bold effort to get your oxygen. In this case, money is your oxygen. Also, money is the oxygen for your business but that is another tale to tell.

Although I am out of debt I picture my situation as if I was not. I want to think like that so my actions will be killing it (pun intended).

So, when I say I want to earn 50K in 2017 I actually say:

I have 50K debt and I will reduce it month by month so that by 31 December 2017 I will be out of debt.

I will share numbers later in this text. For now, I can tell you my January 2017 debt amount is at 45.5K.

Fictive debt is not enough, here comes another twist

When you are in debt you normally owe money to someone or the bank. With fictive money it is the same. I need someone I can give back the money to because it does not belong to me. This makes sense. In my case, my favorite family member is the recipient.

Plus, since the money will be on my family member’s bank account by then I want to have a bad feeling asking for the money. I would only get it if it was for an investment that is good for my health, laughs, growth, wealth, business, community or personal development. In fact, I want to feel that I am taking „debt money“, meaning if I took it, my debt increased. It can sound weird and bizarre but I want to think like that because any investment I make should be good and intentional.

This is only a little mental helper but it has a huge impact on your overall dealing with money.

THINK NUGGET #3: Mismatch! You are counting in months but living in weeks

I had a problem that 4 weeks do not fit into a month but I found a way to use it to my advantage.

One month is more than 4 weeks (up to 3 days more). 3 months are not 12 weeks. That is why 1 year (12 months) does not equal 48 weeks but 52 weeks. That is why thinking in terms of weeks makes more sense for your calculation compared to thinking in terms of months. A month is an akward concept when your life actually happens in weekly cycles, as Sean McCabe emphasizes.

The mismatch of me thinking of 4 weeks being equal to 1 month was creating a friction inside me. There was no match. In order to not go crazy, I came up with the perfect way to use those „criple days“ of a month that do not make a full week.

Here is what I found out:

Your year consists of 48 weeks because you consider a month 4 weeks. It means the 4 extra weeks (per year) which are the sum of all criple days allow you to take time off or do whatever.

In short: Think in 48 weeks, not 12 months

Then the whole year makes more mathematical sense and you can set quarterly goals (if you follow the 12-week-year approach) instead of yearly goals. However you want.

Applying a 48-weeks action plan

In the beginning I had planned to make 4.2K per month (4 weeks) and 1.05K per week. When I am focused, diligent and execute well (meaning: I spend my time well pursuing my weekly goal), I can have 2-3 days off by the end of the month. When I am not doing that well I can use those 2-3 criple day to catch up and make 4.2K happen.

In this context I also wrote to myself (repeating myself to internalize the new approach — repeating is very important):

Counting a month as 4 weeks and having a 4-weekly goal of 4.2K I only need 48 weeks (4 times 12) to reach 50.4K in 2017. Since one year has 52 weeks (plus 1 day) I can have up to 4 weeks (28 days) off doing nothing and still have earned 50K by December 31, 2017.
Also, I have the weekends which are another 2 days per week and approximately 76 days per year. This means, I have 104 days on which I do not (have to) make money. That is plenty of time. Actually that is so much. It also means I have plenty of room to grow my business in 2018 to 100K. Time and the amount of days left during a year are on my side, they are playing into my cards.

So, if necessary I could use at least 28 criple days (4 weeks) and up to 104 days (approx. 15 weeks) in a year to make make more revenue: up to 15K more (and 65K in total) on my current way of doing things which can and will change. This is crazy, and neither a realistic nor a healthy calculation. You will not be able to work the whole year unless you already turned into a machine.

Critizing my own revelation of having 104 days off

I wrote:

I feel I am wasting my time when I do not use some those 104 days. So, I will see how the first quarter goes (until 31 March 2017) and then adjust if I need to.

THINK NUGGET #4: Hello slack days and straight days

I came up with the concept of slack days and straight days. This is an mind-extension of when you think in a weekly unit rather than monthly or yearly measure. Therefore, you can understand it as a theoretic add-on to the 48-week-year. I will repeat the 48-weeks concept first and then introduce the new concept — skimmer-friendly. Be patient. Keep on reading.

You are thinking in weekly cycles. Your business runs from Monday to Friday and you have the weekend off, or let us say you have at least the Sunday off (if you decide to).

The weekly structure dominates your thinking. But thinking in weekly terms is incompatible (even clashing) with how you set our goals. I find it common to hear:

In this month I will do XYZ.

But a month is actually a weird structure. A month is 4 weeks and a „cripple week“ (1-3 days). It is 4 weeks and something extra. How do you measure those 2-3 days when you are actually thinking in weeks? When a week starts in a particular month but ends the following month (like this calendar week’s no. 9) it feels off. This mismatch is huge because it can also cripple your thinking and execution — assuming both happen in weekly terms.

Avoid this weird calculation: Think and set goals on a weekly basis.

The benefit is massive! If you think in weekly terms and consider one year to be 48 weeks (12 times 4 weeks) you have an extra 4 weeks you can spend on anything you want. If you did not make your monthly goal (your goal for 4 weeks), use some days of the 4 weeks to catch up or just let it happen (being ok you did not make it and move on). Maybe there will be another day where you feel better and catch up with what you did not accomplish that other (slack-ish) day.

Daily goal achieved, yes or no?

Say hi to straight and slack

Assuming I have a daily goal of making 150 €, and I want to reach that goal every Monday to Friday, I can either make it or not, win or lose.

When I lose, this day is a slack day. Slack refers to being „loose“ or lazy, just like a slack line when it bows down. When I win, this day is a straight day. It means I was focussed and straight forward in my execution allowing me to drive my business and bring me forward.

So, whether you judge the slack and straight days concept to be good or bad, it keeps me moving, maybe you, too. That is the most important thing.

THINK NUGGET #5: Learn to deal with distractions

At the end of December 2016 after I had a quick WhatsApp call with a friend from my favorite business community, I came up with an approach on how to deal with opportunities and distractions:

  1. Opportunities are aligned with your goals. Use them.
  2. Distractions are not aligned with your goals. Avoid them.

This mantra has helped me a lot, for example when I came up with the idea that I would want to be doing research on food (where it comes from, how it is produced). Every weekend I would report on what I found. (A very random idea which I fell in love with.)

Eventually I abandoned the idea, extracted what was useful for me and defined that I would be able to use my longing for learning and doing research in my off-month (4 September – 1 October 2017 in Cuba and at the seanwes conference).

So, I applied the concept of gold-mining meaning: Maybe you do not like a thing or person but you can still extract what is useful for you out of him, her or it.

THINK NUGGET #6: Humanship above and beyond all

I pondered about the meaning of friendship and why you should not differentiate business and non-business relationships because relationships are relationsips.

I heard the term H2H (human to human) in more often than before. It is true, there is no more B2B or B2C. There is only H2H.

So, I was wondering: Why do you differentiate business and relationships with your friends or love partner? The more I think about it and experienced it, the more absurd I find the differentiation of someone I do business with and who is my friend because look:

When someone treats you bad, it does not matter whether it is a business person or a person of your so-called private life. You abandon those who treat you bad or make you feel bad. You say bye-bye to business partners and life partners or friends in the same way: gentle — and by expressing why you find the end of the relationship is the best way to proceed. Yes, you behave more formally in the business context. And yes, it is more demanding and challenging because you got paid for what you do and say when you consult or execute. But that is just the adventure of business you deciced to be in. So do not complain.

You want to have these obstacles. You want to be the Indiana Jones. You want to be the Lara Croft. You are longing for the adventure. You want the thrill and excitement. You do not just only want the outcome of being an explorer and adventurer which is maybe recognition and admiration from other people, do you?

Whether you created these arbitrary and somewhat articial categories of business and private life, it is your life as a whole, so treat a business partner as warm and friendly as a friend, and treat a friend as serious and with all the respect you have for your business partners. That is it. Easy.

Action (practice)

I defined for myself that having 3 big goals in a year is the maximum I can handle. What is your goal(s) this year – write me. Also, the third goal I am not sharing in public. If you are interested about it, join the email list here (hint: the 3rd goal will be s about growing your email list from scratch — so make sure you join soon if you do not want to miss all the good stuff.)

Goal #1 — 50K money goal — Deadline: 31.12.2027

My goal was to make 4K this month. I worked in 3 client jobs (cleaning houses and 2 jobs in front of the computer).

Showing real numbers

In January I worked 216 hours and made 4.5K €. The months before I performed like that:

Absolute numbers

  • Jan: 216 h and made 4.5K €
  • Dec: 177 h and made 3.7K €
  • Nov: 182 h and made 3.3K €
  • Oct: 172 h and made 2.8K €
  • Sep: 158 h and made 2.5K €
  • Aug: 174 h and made 2.1K €

Relative numbers in %

  • Jan: +22 and +21,6
  • Dec: -2,7 and +12,1
  • Nov: +5,8 and +17,9
  • Oct: +8,9 and +12
  • Sep: -9,2 and +19
  • Aug: baseline

Goal #2 — 44K running goal — Deadline: 24.02.2017

My only non-business goal is about running because I have been doing athletic kinds of sports for a good amount of my life. It was time to smell some athletic air again.

My goal: Run 44K (kilometers) in one piece until 24 August 2017. This is how the journey went in January:

  • 01-01-2017: Ran 4.4K
  • 01-08-2017: Failed to run
  • 01-15-2017: Failed to run
  • 01-22-2017: Ran 4.4K
  • 01-29-2017: Ran 4.8K

Without giving too much of a preview I can tell you that in February it/I ran better.

Secret goal #3 — Deadline: 31.12.2027

I am only sharing it via email because I want to have a good reason to talk to you in more private and less noisy place. Also, I will make you bonuses and special offers when you make the commitment of joining my mailing list. I enjoy one-on-one conversations (on the internet and during a good healthy walk).

You can join the email list here.

DO NUGGET #1: Execute with time as your friend

Time is your friend, not your enemy. So, constraining yourself to accomplish something in a respective amount of time is a good thing. If you fail to accomplish it in that amount of time, the task was either too hard for you (you did not have the skills to succeed — yet) or too complex in general so that your estimation of how long it would take you was not practical.

The end result not there is frustrating. I know, I know. I really do. However, you can learn two things (actually three):

  1. Learn the skill(s) so you can finish what you started.
  2. Practice to estimate how much time things costs, how much money things are worth and how much time it takes to start and finish a task. Try it with little tasks, little money and little time. When you become better at estimating for example how much it costs when you do grocery shopping for 2 people so they can eat for 7 days, you can move on and estimate more exciting things like how much it would take to make an app.
  3. Time is on your side. Like money, time is not your enemy. Time does not think anything of you, money does not think anything of you. The relation you have towards to time and money is only on you.

DO NUGGET #2: Routine is helping you

When you do something as part of a routine, you stop caring about the result.

DO NUGGET #3: My 3 life rules

I defined my 3 life rules:

  1. Help people
  2. Continue to exist
  3. Execute 10X more than the average

DO NUGGET #4: Only one folder on your computer’s desktop

Have a folder for every project on your computer and drag only that project folder on the desktop you want to work on now – so you focus! Then set a Pomodoro timer.

More learnings (meta stuff, psychology and philosophy)

META NUGGET #1: Always the same, never better

One fear has been holding me back for decades (I am 33 years) and not move on as much as I wanted. My mind has been so indoctrinated that being and wanting to be better than someone else is bad and that you always have to be on an equal level with one another (a socialistic approach). I wrote:

The fear is real. I fear that when I’m going purely my own way I would abandon people I like and be totally on my own. That’s one (internal) thing holding me back at the moment. I’m currently not fulling diving into me.

META NUGGET #2: The crisis-transition-growth framework

After the motivation of a new thing, comes the plateau and even the down phase. This is when you need to push through. January was such a motivational high but I prepared for the down after.

This is a cycle that always repeats, in my case in a pattern of 3 days:

  1. Day 1: Crisis day with a lot of uncertainty, crisis (big and small) and you do not know where your head is at.
  2. Day 2: Transition day, the day when you cross the threshold. You still feel bumpy in your head but you also saw some light at the end of the road.
  3. Day 3: Growth day; when you use the lessons you learned from the crisis day and apply the energy (of change) from the transition day. The growth is then a pure day of execution and achievement because you are empowered by the failure of your crisis and the re-birth process of your transition. After, there is a series of growth days until the crisis will show up again — and repeat the cycle. This time you are probably better prepared.

Conclusion

As you can see there was a lot of mindset revelations in this report and less about action. This can change in future reports. However, it could stand for the notion that entrepreneurship starts with how you think.

Today’s last thing, a mantra to recite and repeat for yourself:

When I start I finish. When I promise I deliver.

It will help you out in many situations and keep you accountable to yourself.

——
5.200 words | 26 minutes reading time

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