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How To Make Passive Income – 7 Proven Ways, No Upfront Cost

How To Make Passive Income - 7 Proven Ways No Upfront Cost

For years now, I have been putting spare time and effort into a variety of passive income revenue streams that have grown to be a substantial part of my income.

In my 5 Step Guide To Building Passive Income Revenue Streams article, I talked about why I decided to stop trading my time for money. If you are reading this article, you have probably already made this decision.

It’s easy to get caught up in active income methods because they typically pay out faster. The problem is that active income only pays you as long as you are working. Passive income work continues to pay you even long after you have completed the work. If you continue to feed your passive income revenue streams, the growth continues. It compounds like the interest you earn on income you invest.

There are a lot of Passive Income Revenue models that require an upfront investment of money. I don’t believe in selling opportunity that isn’t proven. I would rather you start something with no investment at all other than your time. As you grow, you can find a way to invest in it in other ways.

I have a lot of resources I link to throughout this post so make sure to read it and click on the links that will provide value to you.

I am also going to skip the Passive Income methods that assume you already have a huge following. I will discuss each method and how to grow it into a revenue stream from Day One! Let’s jump into it!

#1 Blogging

It has never been easier to start a professional looking blog. Back in 2005 when I went full time into designing websites for clients, I felt that within 10 years, website design would be fully automated. That means I believed I would be replaced by software. While that is not completely the case, it is very easy to create a website and start blogging without spending any money at all.

Go to WordPress.Com and set up a free blog. There are free themes to choose from so you can give it a professional style that is appealing to you and premium themes that are pretty cheap as well. You can buy a domain name website address for your blog but I don’t believe you need to start with a domain. You can always purchase that later.

Start blogging on a specific topic. Starting a niche blog is the best way to get going because the search engines have a hard time determining what to rank a lower traffic website for. Until your website is receiving a lot of organic traffic from the search engines, it will be hard for you to be more generalized in your content approach.

You can start blogging about a hobby or an area of expertise you have. Your experience and unique approach will help others learn about the topics you are sharing. I shared a great example of this in my previous article and plan to share more, so make sure you subscribe to my blog for updates.

Don’t get caught up on making your blog fancy. Focus on the content. If you need content ideas, use sites such as Quora to look for questions being asked that are related to your blog’s topics.

My wife wrote a blog in 2012 titled “How To Make A Wood Sign With Stickers” which has received over 1 Million views since she wrote it. It ended up getting Pinned multiple times on Pinterest early on when Pinterest was first gaining popularity. She wasn’t even trying to write a viral piece of content, but it happened. Just focus on creating something useful and the views will come.

#2 Online Courses

We carry a high quality digital video recorder in our pocket. You can use it to film an online course to sell to the world. If you have an area of expertise, you can teach others about it. That doesn’t mean you have to be the world’s leading professional on the topic. You just have to know enough about the subject to teach others.

I am a professional photographer, but I am not the leading professional photographer out there. I created a course because I was continually getting asked how I get such amazing photos out of a camera anyone could buy off of the shelf. What is that one thing people keep asking you about? Have you considered turning that into a course?

You can upload and sell your course on sites like Udemy.Com for free. It’s a great place to start because they already have a large user base that is looking for online courses. Use their platform until you have grown your audience to the point where you can host your course on your own website using a platform like Teachable.

#3 EBooks & Information Products

You can easily create an ebook using something as small as your smartphone. There are so many powerful tools available to us these days. You can design and create a nice looking downloadable book using an app like Pages that comes with your iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer.

Ebooks and downloadable information products such as PDFs can be simple or very graphical. I recommend that you focus more on your informational product containing great information and only add flare where it makes sense. Don’t take away from the content, you simply don’t need to.

There are many tutorials on YouTube that can teach you how to make an Ebook in Pages. If you are not on a Mac or an iOS device, there are alternatives for Windows and Android, just do a Google search for Pages Alternatives for Android or Pages for Mac Alternatives for Windows.

#4 YouTube

Some of the most subscribed to YouTube channels started out filming videos on a smartphone or a cheap video camera. The popular YouTuber Casey Neistat often refers back to the cameras he was using when he first got started. You don’t need high-end video equipment to make YouTube videos. The quality of your content is more important.

There are YouTube channels focused on just about everything. I really get into watching “build” videos where someone creates something out of wood or metal. I really enjoy wood and metal working but don’t have the time or the space to do it myself, so I enjoy watching others create which keeps me inspired to create something on my own one day.

You can make videos showcasing a hobby such as many people in the craft space do. Rather than focusing on creating craft products to sell you can teach others how to create items of their own. If you are still learning make that part of the process as well. I shared about the YouTube channel “Seth’s Bike Hacks” in my previous article and how he has grown as a mountainbiker since he first launched his channel

#5 Affiliate Marketing

Companies need exposure for their products. One of the methods used to get exposure are affiliate programs. A company starts an affiliate program to incentivize others to promote their products in exchange for a flat fee or a commission on the sale.

Depending on the month, around 40% of my passive income revenue comes from affiliate marketing I have done for various brands. Currently, the most comes from Amazon.Com. In videos I publish to YouTube, I discuss the use of specific products as part of my videos. I link to those products in the description of the video and people click on those links to view the products. When they purchase a product, I get a small commission. One sale won’t result in much, but 100’s of sales do. Look to see what products you use and how you can incorporate them into your content.

Making passive income from affiliate marketing requires building up a lot of content over time. It will start out small but overtime it will grow into something you can count on each month as part of your overall income.

You can look for affiliate marketing opportunities on popular Affiliate Marketing Networks such as ShareaSale, Clickbank, and Rakuten Marketing. Sometimes companies have their own affiliate program and usually provide a link to it in the footer of their website.

#6 Automated Services

Just about everything can be automated in one way or another. I used to manually manage the business listing information of my clients online. That was a tedious process until I found a company that helps automate that process. Now I simply make sure the information is correct and let the tool I pay for continually check to make sure the information stays current. I log in once or twice a month to check on my clients business information and submit an update if needed.

You can easily find a service that most people do manually and automate it. We live in a world where automation has never been easier. Whether it be finding a tool that automates a process like I did or hiring people on a website like Fiverr to do the work for you, the time invested on your behalf will be significantly less which means you can more easily scale it into a passive income revenue stream.

It is often that automation services start out as something you offer manually. In order to invest in a tool that automates the process, you must first have customers willing to pay you for that service.

You can even use Fiverr to get examples of services you want to offer automation for. Chances are if it is being offered there, people are willing to pay to keep from having to do it themselves.

#7 Stock Photography

There are a lot of websites selling stock photography, so how can you create stock photography that will sell? Simple, create a specific type of stock photography and offer it to people in that industry. Let me give you an example:

An auto repair facility might want to use social media to reach new customers. They probably are not social media savvy so they need photography they can use in their posts and will pay for a collection of images they can use. You can package your photos together with a calendar of social media posts they can publish throughout the month. Heck, you could even automate the process for them using a social media scheduling tool and be their social media manager.

Find a niche that seems to be underserved with interesting photos on stock photography websites and create photos for that niche. The photos don’t have to be professional quality, they just have to be interesting and easy to look at. Keep your images simple and clear of distraction.

To get opportunities to shoot photos of these underserved niche markets, go into a local business that specializes in that niche and trade photos for them allowing you to photograph their facility. They need good photos as well. Just make sure you get permission from them to sell the photos online and have anybody that is in the photos to sign a photo release.

Start Making Passive Income

As you can see, it is pretty easy to start making passive income online. It doesn’t mean you get to avoid work as building passive income revenue streams means doing the upfront work. You are simply choosing to do work that continues to pay you rather than trading dollars for time.

If you want more articles from me on passive income and lifestyle design, subscribe to my blog here. Let me know down in the comments section below if you have any questions or if there is any way I can help encourage you to get started today!

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5 Step Guide for Creating Passive Income – Money Making Guide for 2020

5 Steps to Passive Income 2020

If you are trading time for money like most do to earn a living, take a moment and read this. It could change your life, just as it has mine.

I used to trade time for money as my primary source of income. I would do work and I would get paid for the work I did. That was it. Nothing more, usually nothing less. Why is this a bad deal for you? Well, it’s because your time is not scaleable.

You are given a certain amount of hours in the day that you can be productive before you need rest. If you trade time for money, that limits your earning ability. It is limiting for anyone whether they are a doctor or a school teacher. If you really push it, you can work and get paid for about 12 hours a day, but most of us don’t want to work like that. Even if we need to for a period of time, we never see ourselves working that hard our entire lives.

If you want your income to scale beyond the hours you have in the day, you will have to rethink the way you make money. If you want to have more freedom and flexibility in your day, you will have to make changes. That is what this post is all about.

Before you start looking at different options for making passive income you have to be in the right mindset. Passive income doesn’t mean you won’t have to work. You will have to work. At the beginning, you may even have to work harder than you do currently. This is typically the case with anything you start. It takes work until you build up momentum.

I started looking into passive income options about five years ago when I decided I was tired of chasing clients. I love working with clients but I don’t enjoy the chase. If a client wants to work with me, great. If they don’t, bye Felicia! There is plenty of work out there for everybody and plenty of clients in most cases. The perfect fit will find itself organically. What I just said there is going to frustrate a lot of salespeople. I used to enjoy the sales process, but my focus changed. The face to face sales process is not scaleable.

If I was ever going to have the freedom and flexibility I wanted in my life I would need to make changes to the way I earned money. I would have to be able to put that on autopilot to some extent. My first step was attempting to grow my online marketing agency Hill Media Group. I started by hiring a few employees and getting an office. That grew to multiple employees but I quickly realized that my growing agency was consuming more time than it was giving me back. You can’t just hire people and get time back. It takes a lot of time to grow a business like that to the point where your team can handle most of the daily activities around the business. This option was not for me and it was not the first time I had realized that building a business with employees was not the right direction for me. Sometimes I’m a slow learner.

So how do you go from trading hours for money like I was? It’s a lot easier than you think. You already have the expertise, you’re currently getting paid for doing something right? Let’s start by utilizing that. These are the 5 Steps I have identified you can take to start building a passive income revenue stream today. Let’s jump into it!

#1 Identify Your Area of Expertise

This has been a tough one for me. Not because I can’t identify what I am good at, it’s that I want to be good at everything. It is hard for me to focus on one area of expertise. This is my struggle. For you, it may be figuring out what that area of expertise is. We all have some sort of professional skill and usually a hobby or two we have invested time in to. However, don’t limit yourself only to what you currently know. Nobody says you have to start with a skill you already have.

In his book “Choose: The Single Most Important Decision Before Starting Your Business,” Ryan Levesque said: “consider that you can always learn how to do something that others would like to know.” You don’t have to be a professional, you just have to know enough to teach somebody.

I am currently pouring into a couple of different areas of expertise. Early on, I chose Photography, and have since added in mobile technology and teaching others how to create their own lifestyle rather than accept the one that was handed to them. That sounds like a lot, and I should probably pair down a bit, but for now, that is my focus.

Whether you are a lawyer or a manager at a Starbucks, you can turn your area of expertise into passive income by teaching others what you already know and do. You just have to present it in a way that helps others.

For the Starbucks manager it might be helping local coffee shops hire and train baristas. A coffee lover usually opens a small coffee shop out of a love for coffee, not because they have management and employee training experience.

A lawyer could create an online course to help new lawyers start their own private practice right out of law school rather than working for a larger firm which will push them to generate countless billable hours.

You already have an area of expertise. You can utilize that to help others or you can learn something new. You only need to know enough to teach others about it. We’re not talking Ph.D level stuff here.

I created my first online course for photography on the subject of teaching people how to take better photos using manual mode on their camera. I felt the best way to learn was to understand how the settings worked and how they effected each other. I didn’t bother with big terms and rules that would make it hard to understand manual mode. I just taught it as I know it. Over 250,000 students have taken my course and are taking better photos because of it. Some have even gone on to start their own photography business.

Do you have a hobby like Mountain Biking? The YouTuber Seth’s Bike Hacks is making passive income by turning his love of Mountain Biking into informational videos that help anyone improve their off-road biking experience. Beyond making money from ads that run on his YouTube videos he also tests products you can find for sale online and has built up a large enough following to make passive income-producing exclusive content to those who pay a small monthly fee on Patreon for access to his content. I am not sure what he used to do before making Mountain Bike videos, but he can now support himself and his family through his love of Mountainbiking. He has even turned the process of getting better at Mountainbiking into passive income by talking about that in videos. He didn’t start out as a professional Mountainbiker, he simply took something he loved and started making videos about it. How cool is that? I can give you tons of examples of people who have done this with YouTube or a blog.

#2 Decide On your Platform

There are many different methods for earning passive income. I have already talked about blogging and YouTube as two different options. Here is a list of passive income methods I have determined as being something you can do on the side and build up over time.

  • Blog about a topic
  • Create YouTube videos on a topic
  • Create an online course
  • Create a podcast
  • Write an ebook
  • Sell stock photography
  • Promote affiliate products
  • Online Workshops or Seminars
  • License something you created such as art or music

Everything I have listed above is something I have tried. Some require more work and/or expertise than others. In order to sell stock photography, you need to be able to take great photos. To license your music, you have to be a musician. However, where people often get held up is thinking that they are not good enough to do these things. The simple act of doing will make you into what you need to be. I’m going to borrow another quote from Ryan’s book: “If you don’t think you’re ready to teach someone, think again. The simple act of teaching will raise your expertise exponentially, in a way you didn’t even think was possible.”

You should probably just go buy his book. I listened to it on Audible while driving to and from the airport and while on a flight. Get your first month of Audible Premium and this book for free. Click Here!

It was actually that easy for me to monetize this article and make it create passive income for me while at the same time providing value to you. Prefer reading books over listening to them? Buy the book instead, by Clicking Here.

I have found that I learn more about something preparing to teach it to someone else than I would have learned had I just wanted to educate myself about it. It’s pretty amazing actually. This is why I end up producing so much content online. I learn by teaching others, and so can you.

Choose one or two options from the list and get started today. You can make the learning process part of the education you are sharing with others just as Seth does on his Mountain Bike YouTube channel. Not good in front of cameras? Create a blog and a podcast instead. The tools have never been more available than they are now.

My blog is a WordPress website. You can sign up here for WordPress and start a blog for free. I recommend you do this regardless as you can start your process of building passive income revenue streams by writing about it just as I am here. Even if you are not ready to start your blog, I suggest you buy your website address domain name. Do a quick search to see what domain names are available here.

Just make sure that you don’t start too many things at once. I recommend two at most and I will do my best to create resources to help you along the way, so make sure to subscribe to my blog by clicking here or using the form in the sidebar.

#3 Be a Giver!

You are going to have to have the mindset of giving in order to build passive income. If I had decided to write this blog and sell it to people, it probably wouldn’t sell. I have not established myself enough in the area of passive income. Those close to me know that I make a large portion of my income from stuff I do online, but I have not been specific enough about it yet. While I work on changing that, I will continue to give.

In the book, “The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea,” Bob Burg makes this statement: “Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.” I read this book back in 2008 when it was originally published and when I was already on my “lead with value” path. It helped enforce and solidify what I was already doing and gave me even more of a desire to give away as much as I can. Click Here to buy it.

What I have come to learn is that you have to earn the ability to ask people for money. People have so many options these days, you have to give them a good reason to trust you over someone else. If I added up everything I have published online I would guess that at least 95% of what I have put out there was put out for free. That means that I charge actual money for less than 5% of the work I put out. Sounds crazy right? It’s not though, because people are watching.

I put out a ton of photography content before I charged for any of it. That content, however, was monetized in a passive way to the viewer. There was a short ad that played before the YouTube video would start. There were links to the products I used in the description that are Amazon Affiliate links. I avoided the traps other creators get into such as partnering with brands where I would end up trading money for time again. I created what I wanted to create as if I was teaching younger me what he needed to know.

The most important takeaway here is that I gave first. Another great book that validates what I have said here is Rich Dad Poor Dad. Robert Kiyosaki shares this thought in his book about those trading time for money: “They get up every day and go work for money, not taking the time to ask the question, ‘Is there another way?”

#4 Make Yourself Unique

It is said that there is nothing new under the sun. However, it is also said that you are unique and there is no one else on earth like you. God and science back up those two statements. Understanding that makes me very optimistic. It means that even though there are likely others out there that have been doing the same thing you are considering for much longer, your approach can be unique because you are unique.

There is no other photographer talking about cameras and camera settings the same way as I am because I am unique. While there may be some similarities with other YouTubers out there, my tone, personality, and every other unique aspect of my person makes my presentation different than every other photography educator out there. There are people who would prefer your presentation over that of someone else’s.

With that said, the internet does not reward people often for copying others. You need to have your own unique take on what you are going to share with others. This will take time and that is ok. It takes time to develop your voice on a topic, this is part of the process. Just go look at any popular YouTuber’s first video uploaded. Finding your voice is part of the process and it’s a process of growth.

With every new blog post, video, podcast episode, or whatever you end up creating think to yourself, “how can I make that better next time.” Don’t feel bad about what you have already created, just look at how you can improve. How can you tighten it up or make your points more clearly? This is something I am constantly doing, especially in videos where I tend to talk more than the average YouTube viewer prefers.

You can not do what I am suggesting without creating and publishing. You have to put something out there and measure it. You can’t do this privately. You will have some flops and that is ok. You will need to learn that every form of feedback or lack thereof is a form of measurement that you can use to make it better next time. In the marketing world, we call these KPIs or “Key Performance Indicators.” When I put something out there, what are measurements of acceptable outcome? Perhaps its email newsletter signups or new YouTube subscribers.

I prefer thinking of feedback as data that I can use to improve my KPIs. That helps me from getting emotional over a negative comment. You are going to get them simply because you are putting yourself out there. Don’t let someone else’s negativity distract you from your goals. Be unique and you will be rewarded for it. Being unique takes work, but just like being a giver first, it pays off tenfold.

#5 Develop Your Passive Income Revenue Streams

Hopefully, by now you have an idea or three of how you plan to generate some passive income. We talked about topics and I gave you some examples. We also talked about platforms, and I gave you some options there as well. Now it is time to start creating and earning your passive income.

As I discussed earlier, you can’t just create something and try to sell it. You need to build an audience in that space first. You do this by creating content such as blogs, podcasts or videos. The only shortcut to success in this area is to pay for ads on platforms such as search engines and social media to reach the right customers. This can be costly and I am going to assume you are not going into this with a large ad budget. This is why Step #3 Be A Giver is very important. You have to build trust with people and you will do that by giving them information, just as I am doing so in this article.

Using your chosen platform, make it a point to create something once each week. When you have more time, create more often. Write a weekly blog and share it on social media. Invite people to signup for your blog so they get your new writings in their email box. People are busy and likely won’t remember to visit your website often so getting them to subscribe to your email list is a great way to remind them of new content. Continue to feed them information for a while before making the ask to buy something. Your product could be an ebook or an online course. You could even start by giving your first ebook or online course away for free. This will help you build your email list even faster and it’s how I have over 45,000 people on my email list.

It is an individual decision as to when you should try to get your audience to buy something. You can’t give everything away for free forever, but as I have, you can monetize what you are giving away for free. Eventually, you will need to offer something more substantial that people can purchase directly from you. This is where your real earning potential is. I struggled in this area for a long time. This is where I plan to help you thrive.

Helping you get started is the easy part. It only took one blog post that I wrote in one day, all before breaking my intermittent fast for the day. Helping you replace the income your daily job provides is a whole other thing and will take more guidance and accountability. I have created something new just for people like us. It’s a free Chat Community on Discord where we can encourage each other and learn from each other as we build and grow our passive income revenue streams.

Join the Free Chat on Discord.

Key Takeaways

It sounds like a lot, but the key is to just get started. Even if you only have an extra hour each week, you can get started today. Building passive income takes time and as you start to see the fruit of your labor you will desire to allocate more time to working on your passive income projects.

Let’s recap what I shared with you today:

  1. Identify Your Area of Expertise
  2. Decide on Your Platform
  3. Be a Giver!
  4. Make Yourself Unique
  5. Develop Your Passive Income Revenue Streams

All of what I mention above will take work and dedication, which is why I created the chat group on Discord. Most of the people around you will not understand why you are starting this project so you will want some people you can do Passive Income with which is why I created the Discord group.

Building Passive Income Revenue Streams means you are starting a business and you need to treat it as such. There are no special credentials or licensing you need to get to start (unless you plan to give medical or legal advice, or something like that). You don’t need a business license until you decide to sell something. You can earn passive income from affiliate programs such as Amazon Affiliates without ever having a business license. It’s not required. A business license is required when you charge for a product or service directly to another person or entity, such as when you sell an ebook. This requirement could vary depending on where you live so I would check with your local business governing authority to make sure.

Ditch That 9 to 5

This is the first step towards ditching that 9 to 5 job where you can stop trading your time for money and instead invest your time into work that will continue to pay you even if you take your foot off the throttle pedal for a while. It won’t happen overnight. Treat it like an investment in yourself and your future. It will pay off and when it does, it will feel better than any paycheck you ever received from a job.

Next Steps

I have given you a few action steps to take in this post. I recommend you jump on them now. Don’t wait or procrastinate. Procrastination is a form of stress relief through avoidance. You will feel your body resist this change but you can override that tendency by creating your blog now or making that first video for YouTube.

Join the Discord Chat so we can discuss this together. Even if it’s just you and me in there, it will be worth having someone in your corner to encourage you along the way.

Signup for my email newsletter using this link or the box in the sidebar. I will make sure you get useful information when I have it to provide to help you on your journey of creating passive income.

Follow me on social media so you can see that I am living this lifestyle and not just blowing smoke. My passive income growth allowed me to travel full-time for two months this past summer with my family of six in our travel trailer. If it was not for my passive income revenues I wouldn’t have made it a week.

I hope this article gave you the encouragement and tools to get started today. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments section below this post. You can also reach out to me on social media or through the Discord chat group I mention above.

I look forward to hearing the story of how you transformed your income by creating passive income revenue of your own.

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Let’s Talk About Making Change Happen Now

Wow, ok… So much. So much to talk about that it’s actually caused apathy. I have this problem that I think many people have where there is just so much that I can’t decide where to start. I just kind of spin my wheels whenever I try to start. It’s not that I do nothing instead. It’s quite the contrary. My mind is always working, always processing. It’s just that I can often get derailed because I can’t just get started.

What’s happening is called procrastination. It gets a bad rap because it’s usually associated with doing nothing at all. My procrastination is actually quite productive, it’s just not focused on what I should be doing, what I know I need to be doing.

Procrastination is a form of stress relief. It feels good to procrastinate, until it doesn’t. When that deadline approaches or someone calls you because you forgot something, that is when it doesn’t feel good. I consider myself a high-level procrastinator, kind of like those high-functioning alcoholics you hear about. You would never know I was drunk on procrastination because I look busy and productive.

With that out of the way, lets talk about change. Change in the form of making adjustments in your life that you only dream about. There are probably a few things in your life that you would love to change only if… We all have them. I know I have spent my life telling myself, if only this, I could do that. Well it’s time for that to stop. That is what this year has been about for me so far and I hope you can start to make that change too. Let me give you some context.

Last year, I made the decision to close down my office to work on creating a new daily routine for myself and to free up some overhead costs. I wasn’t closing my business, I was just getting rid of some overhead expenses because I can work from anywhere. It was tough, I kind of went kicking and screaming. I held on to some of it and didn’t really let go completely. When it got tough working from home because I didn’t get a good routine at home going I started working from the office again from time to time. I was one foot in on change and one foot still in the past.

I knew that the only way I could make change was to take myself out of the environment altogether. I also wanted to make some change happen in my household. I didn’t want my family to just sit around all summer. Modesto summers are hot. It’s been 100+ degrees outside. Unless you have a watermark in your back yard, you don’t want to go outside unless you have to. That led to the decision to travel all summer in our RV Travel Trailer. We completed that trip and got back home to Modesto a little over a week ago.

I learned a lot two months on the road in an RV Travel Trailer as a family of six, and I plan to share about that soon. What it opened me up to was how easy it really is to make change if you just do it. It is hard though, which is why I wanted to talk about it today.

How To Make Lasting Change

The key to making lasting change is to remove the comfort aspect from whatever is keeping you stuck. Why are you stuck? Because it’s not painful enough to make change. The thing you want to change is actually providing you a level of comfort and control even though you seem to be uncomfortable. It’s really easy to stay stuck when it doesn’t really hurt that bad, or at least we don’t think it hurts that bad. But a dull pain always gets worse, doesn’t it?

We do this in our lives in so many ways. We stay at that job because the pay is decent but it is slowly sucking the soul out of us. I have had clients like that in the past and had to get rid of them somehow. The money isn’t always worth it. Sacrificing a little bit of your soul for financial gain just leads to selling more of your soul later for more financial gain. It never stops unless you stop giving yourself away like that forever.

We do this in our home as well. We don’t like the fact that our kids are stuck in the house and spend too much time on technology. We know it is slowly ruining them and that is not the way we wanted to raise them, yet we don’t make any change because it requires some discomfort on our part as parents. Changing this aspect of our household is not an easy task. It would almost be a full time job until everyone is used to existing with less tv and technology time.

We do this with our bodies knowing full well that we need to eat better and be more active. We get a gym membership only to abandon it. We buy healthy food only to go back to convenient packaged foods because it’s easier. We are busy and life can get frustrating. The last thing I want to do is take the time to make a healthy meal when a cheeseburger is waiting for me at a nearby drive through window.

It’s hard to make lasting change. Anyone who makes change and says it is easy is a complete fool and charlatan. Social media gives us that false presumption that people all around us are making change and living their best lives. That simply is not the fact. There are a few outliers who are doing it, but 99.9% of the rest of what you scroll past is marketing. If it’s not a company marketing their product it’s an old friend from high school marketing their perfect life to you. Spoiler Alert: It’s not a perfect life, it’s a curated highlight reel… Marketing! Whether we mean to or not, we mostly share the highlights of our lives because who wants to follow someone who’s falling apart?

I’m not immune to it. Just look at what I shared from our two month long full time travels all over the Northwestern United States. It kind of looks like a magazine. It doesn’t represent the challenges we had on this trip. The photos I posted don’t represent the day I spent in bed because I was too depressed to move or the times I so frustrated with my kids that I just had to step outside. Happy photos get likes.

Nothing worth doing is easy, or even pretty at first. It is usually hard. But isn’t life going to be hard anyway? We know that life is going to be hard, so why don’t we choose what gets to be hard and avoid the rest? That is a question I have been asking myself often this year. How can I better choose what gets to be hard in my life?

That sounds kind of new age guru annoying, but it’s actually kind of possible. Of course we can’t avoid everything and choose only what we want. The world will throw us some curveballs we didn’t see coming, but for the most part, we can control what gets to be hard in our lives, so let’s talk about that.

Choose What Get’s to be Hard in Your Life

Choosing what gets to be a challenge really comes down to getting as many of the typical life decisions we have to make into our control in a healthy way. There are a few things that will make that near impossible so I wanted to touch on those really quick.

  1. Money: Finances are the main thing that take control of our lives. We have to make money to exist and have a few nice things, which means we have to trade our time for money. For most, this means getting a job. Some of us are lucky enough to get to do something we enjoy for work, most are not. The reason most are stuck trading time for money doing something they don’t enjoy is that the pain has not become strong enough to make change. There is a level of comfort there still. We talked about this earlier in this post. If your expenses are close or equal to what you make, you are kind of stuck. The only option you may see is to find another job that pays the same amount doing something else you would enjoy more, but that may be hard to find. You have to make change in your financial situation which will likely mean sacrificing some things so you can save more or take a job you would enjoy more even it it meant you are paid less.
  2. Relationships: The people you surround yourself with can make it hard for you to make the change you want to in your life. If you want to make change but your partner doesn’t, that creates friction that will keep you stuck. If you surround yourself with agreeable friends who make excuses for you rather than challenge you, it is likely you will remain stuck.
  3. Patterns & Addictions: If you have certain patterns and/or addictions that run contrary to the change you want to make, you will often be stuck in those ruts and find it hard to get out of them until you get help from someone who has been there before. If you think making change is hard simply based on the pain vs comfort aspect we talked about earlier in this post, an unhealthy pattern and/or addiction will multiply the likelihood you remain stuck tenfold.
  4. This list could go on forever, but I think you get the point.

There are many things that keep us stuck and not moving towards the change we want. If it was easy, we would all be making awesome change and killing it in life. The hard things to get past are found in the comforts that we have grown accustomed to. I say that they are comforts that we have grown accustomed to because if you actually take a step back, they aren’t really that comfortable. We just deal by adjusting our level of discomfort so we can remain in control. Even by not taking control of a situation we are still exercising a form of control. Everything is a decision, even choosing not to make one.

Now I’m not going to paint you a perfect picture of life and tell you that if you simply run to it you can have it. I am a bit more of a realist than that. I have known plenty of people who left one situation only to take their issues right into the next one. Things are going to be tough no matter where we go and with who we go there with, life promises us that. But we can choose the things that are going to be tough, we’re actually doing it already.

If your finances are tough, that’s because you took on too much debt. If your relationship is tough, that’s because you aligned yourself with someone who doesn’t agree with the same things you do. If your health is suffering, chances are you had a hand in that too, although I do understand that some health situations are out of our control to begin with.

We make choices every day. We make a choice to get up and go to work at a job we don’t like. We make a choice to let our kids run our lives. We make a choice to live where we live. Everything is a choice, whether its good or bad, most of us don’t have a loaded gun pointed at our head even if at times we act like we do.

So why not choose things that we can enjoy even if at times they still get tough? Choose a job that challenges us but is also very fulfilling. Choose to improve our relationships, which will be tough work. Make uncomfortable choices for our kids sometimes because we know it will be better for them in the long run. Choose to turn off a few of the monthly subscription services because we could use the extra money in the bank and the time they took from our lives.

Making change happen now starts with making the right next decision now. You don’t have to have it all planned out in advance, you just have to start taking steps towards it. Big change starts one step at a time.

Make Uncomfortably Tough Decisions

Chances are some of the choices you will have to make will be uncomfortable. Whether the choice have to do with work, relationships, food, kids, where you live, or anything else, it’s probably going to require some sacrifice. You need to become a pro at sacrificing yourself daily to get to where you want to go.

I went to lunch with my dad today and had the most bogus salad. I was at a Mexican Food Restaurant and would have given my left kidney for a grilled steak super burrito, but I got a chicken salad with no dressing at all because none of their dressings were going to work for me.

Multiple times I have taken my family out to dinner at a restaurant where I could have easily ordered a giant burger and fries but instead I ordered a bland salad or on a few occasions, nothing at all for myself. Do I deserve to eat out with my family especially if I am the one paying the bill? Yes! But my family is not on the same path as I am with food so it is not fair for me to try and force them to eat the way I want to eat.

I used to like having an office outside of the home. It was my own space that my wife and kids had no jurisdiction over. I don’t have that space in my home so I deserved to have that office, but I had to make the decision to get rid of it because I wanted to save money and it was the easiest thing for our family to sacrifice.

I took my family on the road in our RV Travel Trailer for two months knowing fully in advance that it was going to be very tough for all of us to be in close quarters like that for so long. I knew that it wouldn’t be convenient for me at all to work from the road and to constantly have to be breaking up little fights between my kids due to the close proximity, but I made the sacrifice so we could travel the Northwestern United States and experience all of it’s beauty.

Being able to make uncomfortable decisions is the only way to move forward in life. Most people are going to make decisions based on what results in maintaining the level of comfort they have or obtaining more of it, and at any cost. That is not how you have a fulfilling life.

Never Stop Dreaming

You kind of have to be a dreamer to want a better life. If you have made it this far through this post, you probably are at some level, a dreamer. Dreamers often spend time thinking about the possibilities of what life would be like if they could make change. I know that I am a dreamer, but in the past I often looked at the things mentioned above as obstacles.

I felt stuck in Modesto because I had built my business here and all of my family lives here. I thought that the only way I would ever be able to move or travel long term would be to places like Modesto or larger. Never until I made some sacrifices did I think I could spend long periods of time in the mountains away from big cities. I stopped believing I couldn’t do it and just did it this summer and it was the best thing our family has done to date.

I felt defeated when it came to the food I consume because my wife and kids would never get on board with a diet that would lead to a more healthy body and mental clarity. My wife and I didn’t really eat that unhealthy to begin with, but I realized that if I was going to make the change I wanted for my own body, I would have to make big changes, and I would have to do it alone. That doesn’t mean I can’t have a burger and fries. It just means I am only going to to that once a month. I never stopped dreaming of being healthier, but I was in my own way. Once I got out of my own way, I started losing weight. I’m down 25lbs at the time of writing this.

I have been very passive in my marriage doing everything I can to not make waves while at the same time inadvertently causing most of the problems in my marriage subsequently. I don’t want to get into my own childhood in this post, but there are traumas from my childhood that resulted in how I handle my relationships today. These issues range from how I was talked to as a child to abandonment issues. I carried all of this trauma into my marriage and they have also influenced how I parent my own children. It has been very uncomfortable to drill down into my life to better understand where everything within me has come from. It will actually require a lifetime of discomfort, but it’s worth it. I am working on improving the way I communicate to and treat my family so that that don’t have to feel nervous around me or always wonder if they are doing something wrong like I did growing up.

You need to be a dreamer so you have ambitions to grow into something better than you were yesterday. You have to put in the hard work in order to make change. It is going to be uncomfortable so you need to learn to enjoy the discomfort that comes with hard work. It doesn’t mean that you have to constantly fall on your own sword to make other people happy. This is not about making them happy, it is about making yourself happy through making healthy choices that are right for you and the people in your life. That will result in a win for everybody involved. My family wins when I am happy and healthy. They lose when I isolate and withdraw from my dreams.

Where to go from here

I just read what I wrote and it’s a lot. It’s a lot to take in and it’s a lot to think about. I am feeling apathetic just having spent a moment thinking about the work I still have ahead. I am nowhere near out of the dust yet. I am constantly blowing things up in order to prevent tripping over them again. I try new things so I can be open to something better than what I am used to, even if it’s challenging.

You need to do this too. You need to delete Netflix off of your phone even if it means you will have to figure out something to do with yourself for multiple hours each evening or do whatever you need to do to get wasted time back. You need to throw away all of the unhealthy food you spent perfectly good money on because if you wait to start eating better until it’s gone, you will just buy more. I know because that is me. Whatever it is for you, you need to do it.

Making change is going to require you look inward. Depending on how much time you avoid looking inward, this could suck, but it’s necessary. You have to choose to see and love the potential you have, not what you are currently see yourself as. You have to flip the script. I like the phrase “flip the script” because a script is a story that contains a beginning, middle, and end. Right now, you are in the middle. You need to understand the beginning so you can rewrite the middle and live your best end.

What do you need to do to make change? What are you doing in your life to maintain a false sense of comfort? I hope my sharing helped you. In turn, your sharing will help me. Feel free to use up that comment section below this post. I read every comment and reply to them when I can.

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5 Work From Home Jobs That Pay $100/Day or More

5 Work At Home Jobs That Pay $100/Day or More

Want to work from home? In this episode, I give you some work from home ideas that could earn you at least $100/day. 

Listen Instead!

Let’s talk about five work-from-home jobs that pay at least $100 or more. Some of these are things that you’re going to be able to get started on right away and start earning immediately, and other ones you’re going to have to maybe apply or look for the work, but nonetheless, once you start getting the work, it’s very easy to earn that amount of money every single day that you’re willing to put in the work.

Before we jump right in, I want to share the sponsor of this episode, which is WP Engine. If you need a website, WordPress is definitely going to be the option to go. WordPress powers over 30% of the internet and WP Engine is one of the leaders in hosting provider for WordPress websites. They specialize in WordPress, which means you set up an account, you instantly have a WordPress website that has the best in class hosting, the best in class support, lots of available themes so that you can easily customize your website and get it set up.

They’ve got tons of training. They’ve got tons of features and stuff, of course, built on top of it that make it one of the best solutions in hosting, so make sure to check out the link in the show notes or the description below, or you can just go to jerad.link/wpengine and check out what they have to offer.

Let’s jump into it. Five work-from-home jobs that pay at least $100 a day.

1. Transcribe Video/Audio on Rev.Com

The first one is going to be transcribing videos on Rev.com. Now, for me, I tend to produce a lot of video content, and it can be very time-consuming for me to do a video, and then do a blog, and use content in different ways. It’s much easier for me to take my video and have it transcribed by somebody, and so I pay Rev.com to transcribe the videos for me.

You can actually take that job on and transcribe the video. Essentially, you’re just watching a video and transcribing what’s said into their system, and then that is provided to the purchaser, and then of course, that purchaser can use that content for a blog or for close captioning for their video. There’s a lot of different things that they can use that content for. In fact, the text you are reading right now was transcribed by some fine person who freelances for Rev.Com.

For me, I use Rev for my blog a lot of times. Sometimes, I go in the reverse order where I actually write a blog and then do a video using the content from that blog, but most of the time, especially in some of my longer form content, those like tutorial videos that I do over on State of Tech and Ditch Auto. Those are longer form like 20, 30-minute long videos with a lot of steps, and it’s so much easier for me to have it transcribed, and then I go in, and add images, and make it look like a blog using the transcription from the video that I had already produced.

You can sign up and be working in the next hour easily. You’re just waiting for jobs to come in. You’re taking that job. Their whole system in the backend makes it very easy for you to see what jobs are available. You can transcribe them. You have a certain amount of time you need to finish it in, and then of course, that’s it, and then they pay you right there on the spot.

The rate of pay is pretty decent. You can easily make $100 a day. I think you could probably make a little bit more than that and not even have to work a full work day because they charge about a dollar a minute is what they charge those of us that are having videos transcribed, and then of course, you get a good chunk of that, so if you think about that… I don’t know what the exact dollar amount is, and I know it varies depending on how frequently you work with them. I mean, there’s tiers and all that stuff, so the more you work with them, the better your rate of pay is going to be, and of course, the better you do, the better quality of your transcriptions, there are perks and all that stuff, so you’ll definitely want to go over their website and check it out.

Visit Rev’s Website

2. Live Chat Representative

All websites these days are integrating live chat. It is a great way for a business to capture a viewer’s attention and be able to answer those questions. A lot of times, people just don’t have the attention span to click around a website, and look, and try to find the correct information. It’s easier just to go to a live chat rep and just start chatting right there.

There’s a couple of different ways that you could find live chat representative jobs. Of course, there are companies out there that just hire people to work from home and handle all the live chat for different customers, and you may be a live chat rep for a variety of different small businesses, or you might end up being a live chat rep just for one larger business, but there’s also the option of finding local businesses in your area.

For example, if maybe there was an insurance agent company in your town and they want to have live chat on their website, you could be their chat representative and work from home essentially. You would probably be… being hired by them, but you would work from home. You can do that from the comfort of your own home using your laptop, or iPad, or whatnot, but I think probably the easiest route would be just to simply go online and find a live chat rep job. I’ve got a couple of links down below to companies that hire live chat reps that can work from home. Very easy.

Live Chat Representative Jobs:

Apple: https://www.apple.com/jobs/us/aha.html
Concentrix: https://careers.concentrix.com/careers
LiveWorld: https://www.liveworld.com/about-us/#careers
ModSquad: https://modsquad.com/join-the-mods/
Arise Work From Home: https://www.ariseworkfromhome.com
Needle: https://www.needle.com/
SiteStaff: https://sitestaff.com/chathost
The Chat Shop: https://www.thechatshop.com/jobs/live-chat-agent
Upwork: https://upwork.com
Indeed: https://indeed.com

3. Do Jobs on Fiverr.Com

On Fiverr.com, people post jobs that they need done for cheap. It used to be everything was $5. That’s where they got their name, Fiverr. For $5, somebody will transcribe a video for you. Somebody will write a blog for you. Somebody will write a review for your product online for you, will comment on your social media accounts or whatever. Like there’s lots of different things that people would do, but it’s expanded not only to be like little $5 jobs. It’s everything from a dollar to jobs that are over $100, and you can use your expertise.

If you have an area of expertise, for example, maybe you studied some graphic design in college or something like that, you can post jobs that you’re comfortable doing, and people can pay you to do those jobs, and so depending on your range of work, for example, maybe you have a good voice and you can do voiceover. You have a computer. You have a microphone. You can do voiceover, and so you offer your voiceover services.

There are so many things that you could do on Fiverr.com to earn money. You can just go to Fiverr.com, and start searching, and see what other people are offering, and of course, you can offer the same or similar services, or even add your own twist to it. There is no limit. There are no limits really on Fiverr.com. There are so many different things that you can go there and check out. Just check out all the categories that they have available, and look and see what some of the featured users on Fiverr are doing, and build your profile, and start doing some jobs, and see what happens.

The best people to reach out, so after you set up a Fiverr account, and you’re ready to go, and you have a couple of jobs, the best thing that you can do is actually reach out to people that you already know and say, “Hey, I’m trying to build a little bit of a following on Fiverr. If anybody needs… like if anybody needs a little bit of graphic design work or if anybody needs some photography done or a voiceover, or whatever it is that you think that you can offer on the website, reach out to your network of people that you already have. You’d be surprised how many people might need that service.

If you do voiceovers, you could do a cool voiceover for somebody for their birthday. I mean, there are so many things that you can do that are just interesting. I mean, I saw a guy who… You pay him on Fiverr, and he’ll go and make a video like a happy birthday video like shooting off guns. I mean, it’s just totally weird. There are so many interesting things that people do on Fiverr, and they make a small living at it, which is pretty awesome.

Depending on what it is that you offer and how much of a need there is for it, Fiverr might be the one that varies a little bit to where it’s going to take a little bit of time for you to build up to that $100, but depending on the job, I mean, if you provide a service that is a little bit more or if you can provide a service that is a little bit more pricier, you’re going to get to that $100 mark much easier than somebody who might be providing a smaller service for around $5.

Of course, the smaller priced services, you’re going to have to do more of those jobs to reach that $100 mark, whereas if you could position yourself on the higher end, producing a higher end service on Fiverr.com, it’s going to be a lot less work for you to find more customers because one customer might actually reach that $100 a day mark for you.

Visit Fiverr.Com

4. Virtual Assistant

A lot of times, there are business owners, entrepreneurs that need an assistant to handle some tasks for them, but they can’t really afford to hire a full-time assistant nor do they really want to. They don’t have enough stuff to keep a full-time assistant busy.

I know for myself, I wouldn’t have enough things for an assistant to do full-time. We don’t have phones ringing all the time. I don’t have tons of emails and stuff coming in with questions to where maybe the assistant can handle them. I don’t have people scheduling with me all the time. It’s like a little bit here and there, and so a virtual assistant can handle that because I could pay a virtual assistant just for the time that I need them, and then of course, they can be a virtual assistant for other people as well.

Here, there’s a couple different ways that this works. There are websites that hire virtual assistants and get the jobs of them, so that’s definitely a way you can go, and I’ve linked to one of those down below for you. You can sign up. Put in all the things that you’re good at. Maybe you’re a good writer. You know Excel. You know how to do a PowerPoint. There’s like different things that you know how to do. You fill all those out so that they know what kind of jobs to send your way, and then you’re getting… You’re being a micro virtual assistant for a lot of different people on a per-need basis.

Moving down a little bit more, you may be an actual virtual assistant for a specific person where you’re handling some of their scheduling. You’re doing maybe a little bit of research for them. I know that I have used virtual assistants to research for a blog for me. I knew what I wanted to write the blog topic on, but I wanted some compelling research to include in the blog, so I had a virtual assistant do that legwork for me, and they got it done in a day’s time, got it over to me, and I finished off my blog with much more information than I would have been able to get if I had to use my own time.

A virtual assistant can really end up earning a pretty decent wage because one person might not be able to hire you full-time as an assistant, but if you could virtual assist for like maybe five to eight people, that could easily become a $100-a-day job right there. As you start to build that up and you get a couple of people that you’re working for, of course, you can keep building on that until you don’t have any time left available, but I think it wouldn’t be too hard to get to that $100 mark.

Virtual Assistant Jobs:

ZipRecruiter: https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Jobs/Virtual-Assistant
Indeed: https://www.indeed.com/q-Virtual-Assistant-jobs.html
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/virtual-assistant-jobs/
Upwork: https://www.upwork.com/o/jobs/browse/c/admin-support/sc/personal-virtual-assistant/?sort=relevance%2Bdesc
Glassdoor: https://www.glassdoor.com/Job/virtual-assistant-jobs-SRCH_KO0,17.htm

5. Social Media Manager

Now, a social media manager can mean a lot of different things. It’s very easy for people to think, “Well, I have an Instagram or a Facebook account so I know how to use social media,” but to use social media on behalf of a business, or an entrepreneur, or something like that, you need to be able to produce content that speaks to their audience, and they may actually even produce that content for you. They’re just looking for you to communicate and maintain those comments, and responding, and stuff like that on their different social media platforms. That can become a very busy job for a person if they have a decent size following.

I know that for me on YouTube, it’s challenging for me to keep up with all of the comments that come in on State of Tech and Ditch Auto because some videos will end up having hundreds of comments coming in, and that becomes a little bit of a challenge to keep up on all those and maintain all of those conversations, which of course I want to do, but it definitely gets a little hard, so you as a social media manager can step in and keep those conversations going.

Of course, that may almost look like a virtual assistant position because you may have to go to the person that you’re working for and ask questions to be able to properly respond to some of the questions that are being asked or some of the comments that are being left on social media, but nonetheless, you become that person that gathers the information needed and produces the response on social media or even helps with producing the content that goes on their social media.

Some of these jobs you probably already have the skills for. For example, if you know how to type, you can do transcription on Rev, and you can also be a live chat representative. Those are pretty simple there. Where on Fiverr, you may have to have a little bit of a certain skill so that you can provide a service. Being a virtual assistant means that you have to utilize some sort of skills.

Of course, maybe as a virtual assistant, you’re only writing or maybe just utilizing simple software that most of us grew up using on our computers. But then, there are more advanced aspects of being a virtual assistant where you may have to use or understand how to use specific tools, but going online and figuring out how to use those are pretty simple. There’s so much information available online right now.

I’ve linked down below to a couple of the courses that I’ve done. A virtual assistant or a social media manager may include setting up a Facebook profile or setting up a Facebook page for a business. I have a course on how to do that, and it’s a free course. You can watch it, and then you’ll instantly know how to set this up and even manage a Facebook page for a business.

Introduction to Facebook Pages for Business

Understanding Hashtags in Social Media

I’m working on more content for you so that you can understand some of these other platforms better like YouTube, like Instagram, and LinkedIn, and all that stuff, so you want to make sure to check out the links down below and put in your email address or at least sign up for one so that you can be notified when I produce new ones because I want to make sure that I am giving as much information as I can to help people on this process.

That’s going to do it. I hope that maybe one of these will change your life. I know for me that an extra $100 a day would be life-changing, and I think that that’s the case for pretty much everybody. If you agree with me, just say yes or no down in the comments section below. Of course, if you have any questions or want a little bit further explanation, or maybe you are confused about anything I said, please ask down in the comments section below. I will do my best to respond and of course, provide as much information as I can based on the knowledge that I have.

Get out there and make some money from home!

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How to Start a Business For Free

Start a Business Online for Free - Here's how!

The number one reason why people never start a business is fear but close behind that is cost. A common misconception is that starting a business is expensive, but that just isn’t true. In this episode, I talk about how easy it is to start a business online and share the tools you can get for free to get started today.

Episode Sponsor: WPEngine – Best In Class WordPress Hosting: https://jerad.link/wpengine

Links mentioned:
My courses: https://gocreatoracademy.com
WPEngine: https://jerad.link/wpengine
WordPress.Com: https://jerad.link/wordpress
NameCheap: https://jerad.link/namecheap

Get my links of business ideas: https://jerad.link/businessideas

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I have a lot of conversations with people who are interested in starting a business. Pretty much everybody in my circle of people that I talk to that are not currently self employed have expressed some sort of an interest in maybe starting up their own thing. I think it’s something that most of us kind of fantasize about, the idea of starting a business or like this idea that’s been kind of bumping around in our head and we’re thinking like, “What if I put that out there and decided to make it available to the world?” But the number one thing that people bring up to me as a barrier to entry in starting a business is the costs of starting up a business.

Everybody has this misconception that starting a business is expensive. And depending on what you’re trying to do, maybe it could be, but for most of the business ideas that I hear from friends of mine and people that I come in contact with, these are all things that you can start relatively for basically free, if not for a small amount. Because really all you’re doing is getting your idea out there and kind of getting it in front of people and seeing if there’s any interest. And that really is something that you should do first before you dive in and start investing a bunch of money. A lot of us think that we have to have everything ready to go, we have to have a perfectly polished product ready, designed, tested and ready to deliver before we can open our doors for business. And that, that usually requires a lot of expensive startup expenses, a lot of capital that you have to have, you know, and it really does vary depending on what you are wanting to do as far as your line of business.

But most businesses can be started for basically nothing. You could at least get your idea out there and start, you could at least get your idea out there and start to kind of put it in front of people and see if there’s an interest for your product or service. So I have some ideas I wanted to talk to you about today on how you can start your business for free using basically just some of your time, of course. A lot of times we will trade our time for something that we could pay somebody else to do instead and that, of course, takes money, having startup capital. But for those of you that have some extra time in your day, maybe you’re willing to spend a little bit of your weekend kind of plugging away and working on this project, I think it’s something that you can get out there and get done for free, and then even make your first few dollars without having spent any money out of pocket, just your time.

So before I get started, I wanted to mention the sponsor of this episode, which is WP Engine. WP Engine is a WordPress hosting platform that provides websites that are basically turnkey. Now WordPress powers over 30% of the Internet and there are lots of different ways that you can access WordPress. One of the things I’m going to talk about later in this video is how to get a free WordPress website. But if you’re wanting something a little bit more robust that comes with more theme options, so that you can really customize and kind of design your website to be unique. And also, an easy process, I say design a website, that sounds like it was going to require a lot of knowledge, but it really isn’t. And then maybe you want support. You want to be able to email or contact support so that you can have some help and assistance throughout the process. You want a robust system and make sure that your website is going to be up all the time. You want to have storage space so that you can upload photos, or small video clips of your products or your services, so that you could show that to other people. WP Engine is proven to be one of the best out there as far as it goes to WordPress hosting. You’re definitely going to have a great experience with them. The link is down in the description below, or the show notes. Check out their plans and pricing today. So the first thing that you really need to figure out before you go down this path of starting your business is whether, or not you are selling a product or a service. A product, of course, is something that you’re going to have, to have ready. It’s maybe something that you have put together and you’re going to be shipping to people, or perhaps it’s a product that you do on site. Maybe if you’re thinking about starting a local business, but most of the time a product is something that is going to be delivered to a person.

A service is something that is performed such as, if you are a local business, maybe a plumber going in unclogging a drain, or a training session, maybe you’re taking an area of expertise that you have and you’re teaching other people about that, consulting, these are all services that people provide. Products are something that is more of a deliverable. So for example, with my line of work, if I am going to produce a video for a customer or a client, I will go and film. It’s actually half and half. I will go and provide a service, I’ll go and film, I’ll help with, you know, the planning and everything of getting this video put together. But then I also have the deliverable, which is the finished video, that is the product that I deliver. And so you kind of have to look at how your product or service is going to be delivered, how you’re going to work that out.

A lot of online only businesses are usually product or service based, because you can maybe put together an ebook or some sort of a course or a product that you can sell, that’s something that you do maybe provide a little bit of service, because you want to keep your students or your users engaged and keep them around and make sure that they aren’t just jumping from one thing to the next. That you’re providing valuable information for them and continuing to give them useful content so that they can continue to be engaged with you. Or services. Maybe you are a graphic designer or you have some sort of a service that you’re going to provide to people. If you’re like me, you have a lot of experience in website design, so I may actually use my knowledge to build a website and deliver that to a person. I can do that all online without actually having to meet with a person. I do of course, like to meet with people, but I can do that all online.

So you really have to have a clearly defined idea of what you are going to be offering. Is it a product, is it a service, is it some sort of a hybrid? And that’s going to drive your decision making and how you market this product. You have to be thinking about how you’re going to communicate what you’re offering to the person on the other end who is looking for that service. So, the first thing that you need to do is determine that and then you can start moving on through the process of starting to put together your business identity. Now, I have a lot to say too much for this video on how to put together a business identity. Do you use yourself, your name, your face, and make the product and service about you? Or do you come up with a business name and put that out there so the business is more standalone?

I am going to put a video together later on this, because I have several businesses including a business that I branded with my own name. And that has caused it to be a little bit more challenging for me to create content and put content out there under my own name, because the search engines tend to associate you with a particular category or industry. So for example, I marketed myself as a photographer for a lot of years. And so the internet knows me as a photographer under my own name. If you search for me by name, Jerad Hill, you’re going to find a lot of photography related stuff because my name is associated with that. And so Google, thinks when somebody’s searching for me by name that they’re looking for a photographer, unless you put some sort of a word after that to help Google further understand what you’re looking for. Google’s going to bring back all of my photography related content and you won’t see my digital marketing agency, Hill Media Group. You won’t see some of my other YouTube channels unless you start scrolling for a little while. You’ll come across that stuff.

So you want to be careful not to kind of box yourself in. But then again at the same time, a personal brand is a very strong thing and if you are okay with that, if you are okay with associating your name with that particular industry, product or service that you’re going to be producing, then I think that there is a good argument for using your name and building a personal brand, because there’s a lot of trust built in that too. It’s easier for people to trust a person than it is for them to trust a business and so if you decided to go down that route because you’re producing content, like I’m doing here, you’re producing some sort of information. Maybe you’re going to be getting into consulting or something like that, using your name might be better because there’s a better chance for you to build trust with a person. It’s a lot easier for you to build trust by putting information out there and sharing it with others if you’re using your own name.

It’s why I’m using my own name and putting out this content, because I feel like I’m pulling from all of my years of experience of being in business and running different businesses and building businesses and deciding to fold certain businesses and all of this stuff that I’ve done over the years, I want to put out there under my own name. I don’t think that it would be valuable to put it out there under some new business name that nobody knows. So I’m using my own name. So think about that when you are deciding on your identity, and then when you have decided on your identity, you’re going to want to create social media accounts for it and a website of course for that. And so I recommend of course, setting up a Facebook page, not a Facebook profile like you probably already have, but setting up a Facebook business page. I have a link down in the description below to a free course where I teach you how to do that.

So you want to check that out, go through the entire process of setting up a Facebook page. It’s not too challenging, but there’s a lot of options and I want to make sure you choose the right one based on the type of business and whether, or not you’re a local business only or you’re servicing anybody with an internet connection who can connect to your content. There are some variations there, so you want to make sure you choose the right account. And then of course, Instagram. Instagram is very visual, it’s photos and video clips. But you are going to want to create an account there, because you will be able to utilize hashtags and communicating with others who are in similar industries or even the type of audience that you’re looking for. You’ll be able to communicate really easily with people there on Instagram. If you are more, if you’re okay with getting behind the camera like I am, or getting in front of the camera, I guess you should say, or I should say, YouTube would be a great platform as well.

I think YouTube is just continuing to grow. It’s exploding. There are people that are looking for good content, they’re looking for information, they’re looking to grow and expand themselves and they’re using YouTube content for that. And so YouTube creating is definitely an avenue that you should go down if you are interested in creating a YouTube account and getting that set up. I am working on a short course for that on how to go through the process of setting that up and making sure that you have, you know, everything that you can for that YouTube channel when you’re ready to launch it. And then of course, depending on the nature of your business there’s other social networks like Linkedin. If you are offering something that would be marketed to professionals or other people in business, like a business to business type of product, I think it’s important to have a Linkedin. You may already have a personal Linkedin, which is great. You’ll want to customize your Linkedin to reflect the nature of your new business. And then of course, you can start a company page for your Linkedin as well and you could produce content underneath that company page.

It’s been shown that longer form content really works well on Linkedin. And video also works well on Linkedin because there are not a lot of people producing video content on Linkedin. So, when you put up a video it tends to stand out from everybody else. Of course given time, this will change because people are becoming more and more comfortable in front of the camera, which I’ve been doing for a lot of years. I’ve been getting more and more comfortable or trying to get more and more comfortable in front of the camera, so other people are going to be doing that as well. And then last of course, set up a email address that is specific for your business. You can do this for free by setting up a Gmail account. If you want something a little bit more professional, you can set up an email account using the domain name that you purchased and we’ll talk about that here in a second.

So rather than your email address being like jeradhill [at] gmail.com, it would be [email protected] instead, which is a little bit more, a little bit more professional looking and it gives you a little bit more control. And I’ll talk briefly about that here in the video as well. So once you have those things set up, and the reason that I’m, I put social media before your website is when you’re thinking about setting up your social media, you want to use your business name or the name that you’re going to go buy if you’re building your personal brand. So for example, I used to have a personal Facebook profile and it was facebook.com/jeradhill. Well, I decided after a while that I wanted to merge that over to a Facebook page and actually convert it over to a Facebook business page, because I was going to be producing more content related to the different businesses that I have, videos and content, like what I’m producing now. And I wanted that to be a page, so that I had all the marketing tools that they give page owners, Facebook page owners.

I didn’t want to have that for my personal Facebook account and I don’t even really have a personal Facebook account. I have one that I use just so that I can, you know, keep in touch with family and join Facebook groups and stuff like that. But my Facebook page is my primary home on Facebook. And so you want that username, so slash whatever it’s going to be. Or if you’re on Instagram, your Instagram username, you want those to be consistent if possible. It just makes it easier and cleaner if they can be consistent and be the same. So be thinking about that and you may actually have to search a little bit to find a username that’s going to work on all of these platforms. I didn’t mention Twitter, I don’t think so. Twitter’s another one that you should join. I feel like you should join all the social networks, whether, or not you’re going to use all of them is another thing.

But it is important to kind of lock down your business name on all of them, because if later on down the road you decide you want to start using one of those social networks and now your username is taken, you’re going to have to go with a different username, which is kind of a bummer. So I just recommend locking all of those down, it definitely is an easy process and it’s free to register all of those. So why not?

So next we’re going to be setting up a website and you can do this for free. You can go to wordpress.com and when you go to set up a page they have on their pricing page, of course, they have some plans that start at $3 a month. And for blogs and personal sites, you really can just start with a blog or a personal site. They have a tab for business and online stores that gets a little bit more expensive, but you can start with a blog or personal site, which starts at $3 a month.

Of course, if you scroll down below that, there is a free plan. You can start with a free plan, you’re just going to be getting a sub-domain website. And what that means is that it would be like jeradhill.wordpress.com instead of jeradhill.com, and then of course you have to pay a few more dollars in order to get your own domain name. With their $3 plan, you actually get a free .blog domain. I did that early on when .blog was a new domain. So jerad.blog is my actual blog website address and it is a WordPress address. For the $5 a month plan, they give you a free domain for one year and so you get your domain name, you can register it right from within here and you can get your own .com, .net and there’s a whole slew of dot extensions, whatever you wanted. You can also opt to just buy it out, so you don’t have to buy it through WordPress, you could just flat out buy it. I’ve been using Namecheap lately.

I always used to shy away from those cheap kind of low price domain name registers, but Namecheap actually has been like really awesome and I’ve been kind of slowly moving away from GoDaddy whenever I need to renew a domain name, I’d been moving it over to Namecheap. Namecheap has just been super easy to use and their customer support is actually really good as well. So, but WordPress as far as your website goes, you can get one for free. You can use one of their WordPress plans or of course you can use the sponsor of this video, which is WP Engine. If you wanted something that’s a little bit more like professional and turnkey and ready to go, but is still WordPress. I think WP Engine is definitely the best option, but you have to be ready to commit to like $35 a month or something right around there. Of course, the title of this video was how to start a business for free.

So wordpress.com definitely is one that you are going to want to go with, especially if you’re trying to get it done for free or as close to free as possible. Know also that you’re not stuck with one of these, if you want to move your website from wordpress.com to WP Engine or to any other hosting platform that’s out there, it’s really easy to do that. And it’s probably a video that I should put out, maybe not on this YouTube channel, but it’s definitely a video that I should put out on how to move a WordPress website from one site to another, because it is an easy process so long as you just have it set up correctly. So you’re never locked in forever on any of these. You know, I recommend maybe taking advantage, if you’re going to pay for a plan, some of them offer a better price if you pay for six months or a year at a time. So if you know that you’re really going to go after this, you might want to look at getting the better pricing.

But that’s really the only way that you would ever get locked into anything is if you paid for pricing out into the future. And then you kind of have to use the services, because you paid for them already. So, there’s a list of business ideas that I wanted to put together because a lot of times, you know, we’re thinking, “Well, I want to start something, I just don’t really know what it is.” And a lot of times a list of ideas is a thing that can help get you started. You may read an idea, read a suggestion from a list and say like, “Oh, okay, like I didn’t even think about that. I’m not going to do exactly that, but I have this, that just triggered this other idea in my head and I want to do that.” And I am always starting little things and so I want you to know that you do not have to have this all perfected and planned out.

I am always starting little ideas and kind of putting it out there and seeing what happens, and just kind of watching. One of the new things about WP Engine is that they give you fantastic analytics on the traffic that comes to your website. So as you start to share the link and put it out there, as you start to put maybe a blog or two up on your website and a little bit of content, and Google starts to send traffic to your website, you’re going to be able to kind of see what people gravitate towards on your website and whether, or not they’re finding it informational or not. Analytics is a really tricky subject when it comes to websites. All of the numbers and data can help you understand things, but you have to understand what those numbers and all of that data means, so there’s a bit there. But having those analytics helps you also understand whether, or not your idea maybe is going to be able to take off.

A lot of times, and I’m sure you’ve been on a website where you come into the front end of the website, you kind of go through this process of like clicking and looking at things, and then if you leave the website without taking some form of an action, that helps the person who runs the website know where the drop off point was. Maybe you, if you didn’t complete the purchase and go all the way through, then they know what page was the breakdown point. And that’s really cool information for those of us that are, you know, running online businesses because that helps us better craft our message through the process. If there’s a spot in your website that is constantly, like people are jumping off and leaving from that point, there’s probably an issue with the content there. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad content, it might mean that you just solved their problem and then they left. I have a tendency to do that. I give away a lot of the information, it solves the person’s problem and then they leave. And I didn’t do a good job at giving them a next step.

And so that’s the process of making your website kind of flow and giving them the right information, so that it takes them through the process of signing up for your product or service or making a purchase or putting in their email address to learn more or whatever that process is. So I mentioned that list of business ideas, and this is where I will ask for your email address. I have a list of businesses that I think are things that you can start for free. These are businesses that all you have to do is, it may be educate yourself a little bit on before you start them. Maybe take advantage of the education that you got, you know, going to college or something that you’ve studied over the last several years as a hobby, or something that’s been fun or informational to you. These business ideas are things that are not going to require putting out any money to get started. It’s just going to be your time, investing your time to better understand, maybe what some of these are.

And I hope that if, maybe they’re not ideas that you can jump on right away, but maybe it triggers something in you and you say, “Oh yeah, you know what? That’s not it, but this is,” and that’s really what I’m after, is helping you just jog your memory or your mind a little bit to help you come up with something. Because when you can come up with something and get excited about it, that’s going to show through the way that you project yourself and your content and everything online and it’s going to draw other people in. And that’s obviously the kind of person that we all want to do business with. So I hope that that helps, that this helps you on the process of getting started. I think that the biggest barrier to entry is fear, really, fear of just starting. And then of course, money. Sometimes there are other things that block us from getting started on, you know, maybe being an entrepreneur or being self employed. So I hope that this kind of knocks a few of those things down and helps you on the process of getting started on starting your own business.

Signup for access to my list of business ideas: https://jerad.blog/subscribe

Maybe even one day you will replace your income and not have to go to a day job anymore, but being able to invest in your own business, which obviously I think is just better.

What are you waiting for? Get started on that idea of yours!

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How to Get Out of a Rut in 5 Steps!

Ruts suck man, I mean they really do, especially if you’re a two wheel drive truck. We can find ourselves in a rut when we get a little to comfortable or we let our circumstances get the best of us. Stuff settles in ruts. If you see a rut on the side of the road, what likely will you find in it? Trash usually. Ruts collect stuff and eventually become full to the point where they spill over. A rut either needs to be cleaned out, or it gets out of control really fast.

I have been a professional at unintentially getting into a rut. I didn’t plan on it but somehow I would allow aspects of my life to get me stuck in one. Whether you are stuck in a rut or just seem to be going in circles, the same applies. We are enduring people who can really take on a lot. It’s pretty amazing how robust we are. The human body and mind is a pretty amazing thing, but it is not infalable. We are a persistent people who can endure a lot to achieve what we want, but we often find a level of comfort or compromise that gets us stuck. Some will say that they seem to be stuck in a “negative cycle” where they try different things but seem to have the same unintended result. In my life, I have identified a few different ways I end up in a rut. Let’s take a look at those before I get in to the 5 Steps I Take To Get Out of a Rut.

Wishful and Unrealistic Thinking

Are you a list person? I am. I got that from my Grandmother who had a list for everything. When I have a task that needs to be done, it goes on a list. When I have an idea, it goes on a list. The problem with these lists is that they become a unrealistically long and I am not the best at pruning these lists so they get a bit unwieldy. When I look at my lists it is easier for me to see all of the things I have not done over the things that I have done which makes me feel uneffective.

Disqualifying Myself

I do this all of the time. I disqualify myself before even giving myself a chance. Since all you see online is people winning it makes it easy to disqualify yourself as not having what it takes. People don’t share the dark moments where they felt like giving up. I have been telling myself for a long time that I have no business talking about personal growth and finally decided that there is no better time to talk about personal growth than when I am in the middle of it. This is raw folks!

Inability to Cut My Losses

“The four most dangerous words in investing are: ‘this time it’s different.'” — Sir John Templeton

Some of us get a little too attached to things in our lives because we have invested so much time or money into something. We get discouraged because we are over invested in an idea or in someone we have invested a lot into that isn’t investing back into us. Because of this, we get stuck in a rut and find a medium where things are not great, but they are not painful enough to cut our losses and move on either. On top of that, cutting our losses is scary because you don’t often know what will come next.

How to assure you are always growing:

“Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up.” — Charlie Munger

Ok, so here they are: How to Get Our of a Rut in 5 Steps!

How to tell if I’m in a rut: If you think you are in a rut, you probably are. We might be unrational at times but we are pretty self-aware people. What we don’t want to do is stay in that rut. Whether you are in a rut or not, the following five steps will help you be a more effective person.

1. Avoid Isolation

If you are in a true rut, you have probably isolated yourself from others in one way or another. You might not be isolated in the sense that you have nobody around you, but you have isolated. These days it is pretty easy to be invisible just about anywhere. People are so busy with their own stuff that the people around them go unnoticed. We all do this to the people around us at times, especially when we are feeling bummed out over something or depressed.

The problem with isolation is that it allows us remain trapped in our own little reality that can get warped at times. In isolation our vision narrows and all we can see are walls. Only when we break out of our isolation are we able to reconnect with others who can help us stay engaged. Remaining isolated keeps us disengaged from the world around us which only pushes us further into our rut.

2. Change Your Routine

We are creatures of habit and knowing what to expect brings us comfort. This is why we create routines. Men especially thrive in a routine. There is nothing wrong with having some predictability in your day but when you find yourself in a rut it can mean that your routine has become toxic.

I realized that my routine had become toxic when I noticed each morning I had anxiety about the work that needed to be done that day. It wasn’t the amount of work that I needed to accomplish it was a fear that I would procrasinate or get stuck in a loop on a task. I was more worried about being productive than I was about just letting my day flow. Then by the end of the day I felt anxiety again because I still had work to do but wanted to make sure I was home no later than 5:30 in the evening.

When I totally changed my routine by working at home I knew that I didn’t have to hurry up and get out the door. I could enjoy my family before they left for school, grab lunch with my wife, and when my kids got home from school I could either stop working or at least hear their voices while I finished up. No more anxiety at the beginning and end of my day.

Figure out how you can change up your routine. It could be as simple as waking up a bit earlier to work out or read. Maybe you need to switch to a different department at work, or get another job where you have more flexability in your day. Do as much as you can to change up your routine to prevent getting too comfortable.

3. Keep a Daily Log

Awareness is key because we tend to only remember what we want to remember. I have been told many times to start journaling, but that was hard for me because my handwriting is horrible and my hand cramps up from not being used to it. I have used Evernote for years but this year started using it to keep track of my tasks. I started adding in some notes about my day and then added in checkins which I do at least three times each day. I also set my intentions for the next day and read that first thing when I get out of bed in the morning.

I also add tags to each Daily Log which makes it easier for me to find Daily Logs that had things in common. Tags are like keywords that can be used to group Daily Logs together. Some of my tags include specific emotions, names of people, places, fears, and stuff like that. I plan to post more about my Daily Log process soon. Make sure to sign up for my email newsletter to be notified as I plan to publish a template of my Daily Log and go deep into how I use it.

4. Find Community

Those more suseptable to ruts often isolate more. Those who isolate more, don’t have a strong community around them. This is classic Jerad. I have always had a hard time connecting with others. Since I don’t have many who are close to me, I don’t have many people who can look me in the eyes and know that something is up. I don’t have many people to be sad with and I don’t have many people to rejoice with. It’s my own doing. I have had a lot of friends but I have been an isolater for so long and everybody’s life moves on.

There are many ways to find community. You can get into a hobby or start serving at church. Fitness bootcamps are a great way to find a community or you can start training in a martial art. There are more opportunities for community out there than ever, just make sure you choose some “in person” communities as there are also more online communities than ever and it’s too easy to remain isolated while being very involved in online communities.

5. Momentum Not Prefection

“There is no perfection, only momentum” — Jerad Hill (That’s right, I have a quote! There are many variations of this statement but this one is mine! Trust me, I Googled it!)

People like me, who get stuck in ruts often, have a hard time maintaining momentum because we are always seeking perfection. If we are not awesome at something immediately we stop doing it because it gets too hard. We don’t like hard, we like comfortable. The problem with comfortable is that you don’t need much momentum. You don’t need much momentum to put in minimal effort in work and life. It takes real momentum and in order to keep momentum going you have to continue to move. Seeking perfection will keep you frozen because deep inside you don’t want to give up the comfort to make it happen. Momentum is something we can manage one day at a time and sometimes one moment at a time.

Where to go from here?

Getting started is the first step. Momentum in these five areas will get you there so much faster than wasting time looking for the easy way out. There is no easy way out of a rut when you have been in there for so long. Because you have been in there so long, nobody is around to help you out so you have to do the work to get started. You have to decide that you have had enough and you have to line that rut with explosives and blow it up. Just make sure you put on a helmet first (I know I shouldn’t have to mention this, but please don’t blow yourself or anything else up for real). For me, I had to have help from God. I continually asked Him for help with everything. I would say to myself, “Good morning Lord, help me out of bed.” And then I would get out of bed. I would open up the refrigerator to grab some food for breakfast and say, “Lord, help me to make good food choices right now so I feel good and have energy this morning.” Now I could ask God for things like this until I was blue in the face but ultimately it was me that had to make the decision to get out of bed or to choose good food to eat. I had faith that after I asked I would make the right choice, and I did, every time.

Once you get started you will notice a new energy you have and that some of the things that would get you stuck in the rut no longer have the power to do that. Try things and see what works for you. I am trying to do my best to share what worked for me but that might not work for you or it might not be practical for your life. What is the same for you, me, and the next guy is that were stuck in a rut long enough to make it to the end of this post which means we have that in common. Now it’s up to you to put in the work. Record your behavior in a Daily Log and analyze that behavior. Look for trends such as how your day at work went and how that affected your attitude toward your family at home. When you start to notice behavior patterns, search yourself for their cause. It is likely that the behavior is a side effect of something deeper you need to zero in on. This is where the path of self discovery gets interesting.

For me, I have to continue to work on myself. I can’t get stuck in the ruts of my past again. I just can’t. I have had enough of the darkness that those ruts bring and that is why I am here sharing my experiences with all of you. I can still see my ruts in my rear-view-mirror so pain they caused is still fresh. Don’t allow yourself to stay stuck any longer, you were put here for more. I know it!

Let’s Connect

If you are open to it, share something about how you get stuck in the comments section below or shoot me a DM on social media.

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Disrupting My Own Life

Disrupting My Own Life

Most of us strive for comfort. I know I have. Our society is full of comforts and panderings to the smallest of inconveniences. As human beings, we don’t like pain, so we do whatever we can to get away from it. Some pain physically hurts. If something is wrong with our body, it often notifies us through the sensation of pain. If something traumatic happens to us, we experience emotional pain, and this is where pain gets really interesting.

I have had a lot of trauma in my life, most of it is self-inflicted trauma, but it was trauma none-the-less. When you experience trauma there are a couple of different reactions that are common. The first is to fall into the victim role and sometimes we are the victim. If the actions of someone else hurt you, you have a right to be a victim. The problem with being the victim is that it is easy to get stuck there. We live in a society that makes it very comfortable to be the victim, so comfortable that it is likely you will become the very trauma that you were once the victim of. We all want to belong to something and to be understood so when someone understands our trauma and sympathizes with us it is easy to become addicted to that.

The different traumas I have experienced in life have never been more talked about before and that is the case for most traumas out there. If you were molested as a child, people talk about that now whereas not too long ago it was something people hid from others. Considering all of the hurt in the world, it is a great time to be alive because of the breaking down of these kinds of walls in society. It is now normal to admit that you struggled with something and that is a great thing. Being able to find and converse with others who have gone through what you went through is a good thing. The problem is that many people have allowed their identity to become the trauma they experienced and outside of that, they have no identity. People end up reliving their trauma day to day because it’s the only thing connecting them to people “who understand them.” People, we were not put here on earth to get hurt and then shut ourselves in around others who were hurt in the same way. How will you ever grow and become stronger if the only thing holding you together is other hurting people?

The other reaction is to grow from the trauma you experienced. Now obviously the best way to grow as a person is to just live a life in search of enlightenment and self-awareness, but we were not raised that way. I was raised by the generation who believed all advertising was truthful and that the Government is only trying to help us lead healthier better lives. It is only now that some of the Babyboomer generation is becoming more self-aware and understanding that there is a better way, but they already finished raising us so now we have to figure out how to undo the tendencies we have to microwave our boxed dinners and wash them down with “Sugar Free” beverages laced with chemicals we don’t understand. We were raised by the first generation to experience true convenience living and the last to experience the real “American Dream” as it was. We have our own version of the American Dream but it looks different and does not revolve around a single career and home ownership. Or at least it shouldn’t.

So trauma has definitely put me on a different path than I would have been on without it. Some people don’t need to experience much trauma because they were either raised in a way where they were taught to seek enlightenment on their own or they were an observant enough person to see what was going on around them in the world and were able to learn from what was happening to others. While I believe I am very observant and can easily learn from the mistakes of others, that has not stopped me from making my own mistakes and allowing myself to fall victim to trauma.

So now that I have explained a bit about where I am at on my path to becoming a more enlightened and self-aware person, let’s talk about this whole concept of Disrupting One’s Own Life. What does it mean to purposely disrupt your life in a world where most people are looking for the least about of disruption? First, let’s take a look at where I’ve been the past few years.

About two years ago I made some decisions to start dealing with some of my own junk which meant talking about it. That started first with my wife, some family, friends, and getting a counselor. I was in a rut and I also felt that I was dragging those around me into that rut as well. There were some things I needed to talk about that I had never talked about and unbeknownst to me at the time, I would end up going super deep into those things with my counselor over the coming years. The decision to talk to a counselor, and the right counselor, not just any counselor, was the best decision I have ever made. I plan to talk more about the importance of having people in your life that are deep thinkers and how this has helped me. The problem is that at first, it was kind of depressing. A lot was coming to the surface and it was really bumming me out. All of this stuff I was dealing with was already there as it was stuff I buried down inside me so I was not dealing with anything new other than the realization that this damage had been done.

I apologize if some of what I am saying sounds a bit cryptic. I very much plan on getting into the deeper details of my past on this blog and in other ways in the future but I am also wanting to make sure that I do that in a way that is beneficial. There is no purpose in me simply dumping my mess all over the internet with no real context. I was not given the experiences I have had in this life to present them that way. I need to not only honor my past appropriately but also make sure I share it in a context that will be able to help people. Otherwise, what was it all for?

So for about a year, I was super depressed. I was so depressed I wanted to isolate myself from everybody. There were moments I believed in my mind (thankfully only moments) that my family would be better off without me. I would keep them supported financially of course, but they would be better off without me around. Thankfully those dark moments were nothing more than moments, but thoughts like that haunted me for quite some time. I was not a very effective human during those months. If I didn’t have a business to run and others whose livelihood was my responsibility, I probably would have gone deeper into that darkness, but thankfully I had responsibilities and enough resilience left to keep moving forward.

After Thanksgiving of 2017, I had had enough. I had spent enough time sad and needed out of the rut I had gotten myself into. I was not doing anybody any favors by living in the mindset I had been in so I decided to change it. I literally changed my mind and decided I was no longer going to be depressed about where I was in life at that moment. You see, I think that we have done ourselves a disservice by giving everything a name and a personality. Depression is a big thing and affects a lot of people but giving it a name and a personality has only grown the depression epidemic. More people suffer from anxiety and depression than ever before, even during the depression era where people had good reason to be extremely bummed out about life and the outlook of the future. A few months prior to pulling myself out of the depression I had gone to see a therapist through my medical provider. My counselor even suggested it. The Psychologist was quick to diagnose me as clinically depressed and recommended I start medication, which I did. The problem is that I took medication for about three months and felt no different. I was told and believed that the medication would make my life better, but that was not my experience at all. For all I knew I was taking sugar pills. After about three months of being on medication, I slowly backed off my dose over the course of three weeks to nothing at all. I don’t want to get into an argument with anyone here about whether the medication works or not, whether or not I was truly depressed or argue any other unknown factors influence on how it all went down, but I pulled myself out of depression, not medication. It is possible people (but please only do this after consulting with your doctor). You just have to have had enough. And yes I know that not every person out there is capable of this due to the varying degrees of mental illness. What I am saying though is that there are many people out there who were told they are clinically depressed when really they are just going through a patch of depression. I now know that there is a difference and I am sad that clinicians treat all depression and anxiety the same way.

Deciding to be done with sadness was not enough though. After deciding to pick myself up off the floor my life did not change. I still had the same struggles and battles to fight each day and I continued to fight them for almost an entire year. About five months ago, my last employee quit to move on to different work. That left me alone at my office. Each day I would go to work, and work alone. It was just me, the tasks I needed to complete, and my thoughts. At first, I had a lot of work to catch up on as I had enough work for two people, actually enough for four people, but two of us were supposed to be there for it. It took me until the end of September to get caught up, so three months after my last employee quit. After I was caught up I had some time to think and think I did. I found myself looking around my office at all of the equipment I had acquired over the years feeling anxious about it. I didn’t have to be at the office by any certain time anymore because nobody else was going to be there so I started looking into my daily routine, which seemed to have been causing me anxiety as well. I started making notes about my day and logging my activities which quickly led me to the realization that I was not being very effective with my time. I knew something with my work life needed to change.

I had also been chasing the goal of building passive income revenue streams that would offset and eventually replace my need for a traditional source of income. I have been chasing freedom from the traditional occupation for my entire life. Now not having employee overhead I realized that if I didn’t have the overhead of my office, I would already be there. Between the income I was receiving from my YouTube channels and online content combined with the recurring revenue from managed services I provide through my online marketing agency, I had enough income to live that freedom now. Recognizing that and the fact that I needed to change my current daily routine led me to the disruption of my own life, where I am at today, and my new plans for the future.

I started off this blog talking about comfort. It is comfort that is unnatural. We were not designed to be comfortable and comfort is why so many of us are unhappy and end up depressed. Comfort keeps us from living out our true potential and from becoming what we were told we could be when we were young which was “anything you put your mind to.” I knew that I needed to be more productive with my time and that was not going to happen in my current routine so I needed to disrupt it. The disruption started by deciding to close my office and work from home. I had worked from home before, so I knew I was capable of it, I just didn’t have three children before. Working from home meant that I would have to be as productive as I could during the hours they were at school. After they were home from school the house was theirs so my entire routine would need to change in order to make sure I got stuff done within this new window of time. To be honest, when they are home from school, I want to be able to hang out with them, not be stuck at an office until dinner time. I am running out of days where my kids will prioritize hanging out with me over friends. I need to prioritize them now when they are young. It would be much harder for me to make this change later in life when they are older and all they know is that there Dad works all day and gives them his leftover attention. They deserve the best of me and I want them to have that.

Because we live in a world of comfort I think it is important to disrupt ourselves from time to time. In the past, trauma has disrupted my life and I noticed that I have always come out stronger because of it. This time I wanted to be the one leading the disruption, not circumstances. This disruption is just the first of many to come as I never want to become complacent about where I am at or what I have achieved. Everything is an opportunity to learn and grow. I want to raise my children to be adults that see every opportunity as a chance to be enlightened. I want them to be self-aware and able to quickly recover from life’s hurts. On this Earth, we will never be free of trauma or pain, but we can choose to learn from it, better ourselves, and empower others through it.

Discussing what I have been doing with others seems to be unsettling with them, which is why I know I am heading in the right direction. Disruption is a good thing. It keeps us moving and learning. Industries are being disrupted because their providers got too comfortable. General Motors announced today that they are laying off 10,000 employees and closing down five factories when Tesla is hiring like mad and building factories. GM is refocusing on electric vehicle production and will scramble to catch up to companies that have been moving in that direction for years now. I want to be the one proactively disrupting my life rather than being reactionary to what is going on around me.

If this post stirred you in any way or if you are at all interested in what I am doing, I would love to hear your thoughts. Let’s talk about it in the comments section below this post. You can also be notified when I post new content by signing up for my email newsletter.

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Dude, Wash Your Face!

Bro Wash Your Face - Dude Wash Your Face

I read a lot of non-fiction and often suggest books to my wife, who is not so keen on non-fiction books. The motivational and self-help shelves have blown up over the past years with books specific to women, which is fantastic. There are many powerful books out there but they lack the specifics of the individual struggles men and women face which are often very different from each other. It takes books like “Girl Wash Your Face” to speak directly to the specific struggles that men and women do not share.

The title of the book intrigued me, but that was about it at first. It would have been easy to write it off completely because it’s obviously a book written for women. My first thought was that hopefully, this is a book that will finally combat the “Hot Mess” movement as I assumed Girl, Wash Your Face meant, Girl, get out of those yoga pants and do something with your life. Not a fair statement for sure, but I am getting really tired of the “Hot Mess” mentality. Guys, we have our own version of this, so ladies, please know that I am not picking on you specifically. Life is tough, but we have to show up every day or what’s the point?

My wife completed the book and I didn’t really think much about it after that. Then, the author, Rachel Hollis, was interviewed on a podcast that I listen to, “The School of Greatness.” The interview was fantastic. She had some really interesting things to say and some amazing insights that really got me thinking. Though the book obviously was not written for men, I felt that I would get a lot out of reading it not only for myself but to better help me understand my wife.

You see guys, I didn’t grow up with much of an understanding of females. I only had brothers, I spent most of my time working on things or racing them, and the women that were in my life didn’t really teach me much more than to make sure I had good manners and to open the door for them. I didn’t know much about women at all until I got married and started living with one.

The last 10 years of marriage has been a big learning curve for me. Though I am a pretty insightful person and I feel like I pay attention pretty well, I believe that I could’ve done a lot more to prepare to be a husband to my wife than I did. This was not a new realization of mine. I noticed quite some time ago that men and women process and deal with things much differently. I have read some books on the topic of our differences but books like that don’t often give you much practical information to walk away with. I also recognize that women are not so simple that they can be boiled down and explained thoroughly in a single book, nor are us men.

After having listened to that interview I decided that I needed to read this book for myself. What was so powerful about this book that sent it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list? What kind of knowledge and insight does this woman have that seemed to shoot her directly to guru status in what seemed like no time at all? So I purchased the audiobook in an attempt to better understand my wife and the struggles of her womanhood.

Now this book was definitely written to and for women. There were some chapters that I could easily have written off as non-relatable, but I am a husband to a woman who is the mother of my children and listening to Rachel share about her struggles and challenges in this world as a woman and a mother definitely helped me better understand my wife. I also recognize that as a man, it is really easy for me to discount the struggles women have in this world. They have real struggles that men don’t have to deal with and could never relate to regardless of how hard we try to understand.

Rachel started by telling her story, which was I glued to. Her husband and I share a few traits, to say the least. I know that I have treated a few women in my life the way Rachel’s now-husband did her when they were dating. I broke up with my now wife just like Rachel’s husband did with the plan to move away from our hometown. Glad that didn’t end up happening.

I carried a lot of brokenness into my marriage. I hope to get more into that in future posts, but for now, let’s just say that I share Rachel’s appreciation for therapy.

There are a lot of lies we believe. It’s not just women, men believe plenty of lies as well. Rachel’s book was a breaking down of many lies a lot of women believe. I really connected with that. I am closing in on 40 and I am realizing more and more the lies I have believed. I also recognize many lies that the world tells us that I have believed. This is why I decided to write this post. I am going to borrow some of Rachel’s lies and explain how I, as a man, have believed a few of them, so let’s get started.

Something Else Will Make Me Happy

Men have been chasing after things in search of happiness for ages. We get the job, but we want more. We get the family, but we don’t seem fulfilled. We buy the things, but that doesn’t help either. It’s easy to look at what’s in front of us and allow ourselves to believe that they are the things that are keeping us from being happy.

I have watched people uproot their entire lives in search of finding happiness. This might mean leaving a spouse or moving their family across the country in search of something. I have watched friends go into debt over the things they thought would bring them happiness. If we believe the marketing, we can easily be swayed.

The problem is that happiness is not found in things, or someone else. It all starts within. If you can’t be happy without, you won’t be happy with. You once were happy. You were happy when you got the job. You were happy on your wedding day. You were happy the day your children were born. What happened?

You believed the lie that other things would bring you happiness. When they didn’t, you felt cheated. The world told you to get something else, so you did over and over again and now you’re overwhelmed.

“Life is not supposed to overwhelm you at all times. Life isn’t meant to be merely survived—it’s meant to be lived.” That’s a direct quote from the book and to me, it means that the things that overwhelm me need to go. I have been working on doing just this for the past few months. Guys, if we are in a constant state of overwhelm, how can we focus on living our lives? If we can’t focus on living, how can we enjoy it? We first have to admit that we are overwhelmed. I want to give you permission to admit that. The world says that it’s not ok as a man to admit something like that, but that is a lie, my friends. Men get overwhelmed too and it’s time the world learns to stop making us feel bad for it. We are all set off by different things, we all have different levels of tolerance.

What overwhelms me might be a walk in the park for you. That is what makes us different. I used to photograph a lot of weddings. People used to ask me if that stressed me out or if I ever got overwhelmed. Photographing a wedding knowing that I am responsible for capturing this couples once in a lifetime and non-repeatable moments is not overwhelming to me at all. But I can easily get overwhelmed with my kids. Handling a high-strung MOB (Mother of the Bride) is easy, handling three kids when they are tired and hungry can be overwhelming at times.

It’s ok to feel overwhelmed at times. As Rachel states, “moments when you feel like you’re drowning are supposed to be brief. They should not be the whole of your existence!” We have to take control of our own lives and for lack of a better phrase “man up” to our responsibilities. There are too many voices in the world today telling us that it’s someone else’s responsibility and that we should look out for ourselves. Bro, I am here to tell you that as men we are here to take care of ourselves and we are here to take care of those who God entrusted us with. Don’t get mad at me for saying that in 2018. Rachel is right in that women need to be their own heroes. If they rely on us to be that for them, they will be disappointed. We will fail them and they will fail us. We have to champion ourselves so that we can champion those around us.

We have to choose to be happy. Our circumstances and our things will not do that for us. We have to make that choice every day and when that doesn’t seem like enough, we have to make that choice every moment. I highlighted this statement from the book and have read it at least a dozen times over the last month: “When you’re engaged and involved and choosing to enjoy your own life, it doesn’t matter where you are, or frankly, what negative things get hurled at you. You’ll still find happiness because it’s not about where you are but who you are.” It’s about who I am? Do I even know who I am? Bro, that got deep.

We can more easily choose happiness each day when we stop comparing ourselves to other men. We do that just as much as women do even though we make it sound like women do it more. We look at the guy with the better job, the one who is more in shape, the guy whose wife looks better in a bikini postpartum than she did before getting pregnant. It’s damaging, not only to us but to our spouse as well. They are unrealistic expectations. No job, car, house, or spouse will bring you happiness if you can’t be happy with yourself.

I Am Not Good Enough

I am going to go out on a limb and say that every man ever has told himself this. I do this thing where I try something new and if I am not immediately awesome at it or can’t see myself becoming awesome at it pretty easily I stop doing it. For years I told myself that I just don’t have time to practice and since I don’t like to suck at things I will simply limit myself to doing things that I can be good at with little effort. I know how that sounds, but so many of us are that way.

I was the oldest of three boys, which meant that at some point I was expected to just figure it out, and I didn’t always make the right choices. I always wanted more than I had and even though I didn’t have a problem working for it, sometimes I decided to take it instead. I got into trouble often as a youth and was often told that I was “not good.” School also did not seem to be my thing. There were years that I did well, but for the most part, I would have rather been working than sitting on my butt at school. Good grades and/or excelling at sports seemed to be the only thing that parents were interested in and I was not very good at either.

I have always been a risk taker, which was obviously bad when not exercised correctly. Running your own business is risky and scary. I have not had a regular paycheck since I was 21. If I want to get paid, I have to find the work, do the work, and make sure I get paid for the work. There have been times where work was harder to find. It is easy for me to feel like I am not good enough when a client decides to go in a different direction. I often get told that it must be nice to work for myself because I can set my own hours. I laugh on the inside. If it was only that simple.

We all feel like we have something to live up to that is beyond our capabilities. We either chase it or we sit on the sidelines and watch everybody else. Regardless, both believe they are not good enough and allow that mindset to limit them.

In the book, Rachel explained how she knew she was under too much stress from trying to live up to a standard that was not realistic. She could see it on her face, literally. For me, it started with an ulcer in my early 20’s. That ulcer would come back in my early 30’s and I am still dealing with digestive issues today. Damage has been done and I have to pay attention to what I consume, or I will feel like garbage. I wish I could say that the acid reflux is all it took to get my attention, but it wasn’t. Perhaps I will share more about that one day. What damage are you doing to yourself by trying to live up to something you don’t even believe in?

We have to find enjoyment in what we are doing. It is easy to end up chasing the wrong carrot in life because we were told that was the goal. I had a family that constantly beat into me that I would not make it in life if I did not go to college. I couldn’t afford college and was not about to go into debt over it so I spent many years believing that I was not good enough because I didn’t have a piece of paper on the wall.

Stop believing the lie that you don’t have what it takes to get that promotion, start your own business, lose the weight, or whatever it might be. Whether you decide to sit on the bench or you chase after something until your stomach bleeds, you have to decide if it is worth it and you have to decide that you are worth more than “it.” Your health is one of the only things you have complete control over. You might have to start over to find out what brings you happiness and contentment because you were chasing after what someone else wanted for you for so long. You might have to prioritize some things over others because you have to start living for yourself so that you have the strength and health to lead those around you.

I’m Not A Good Enough Dad

Being a Dad is hard. It’s not as hard as being a husband, but it’s right up there. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t receive a handbook with each of my children. I was not prepared for everything that would come after we came home with our first child.

I was ready to hold and comfort my first baby boy, but he didn’t want me, he wanted his Mommy. I would try to play with him, but he would get upset until he saw his Mommy. This seemed to go on for almost two years until finally he and I started connecting. I was jealous of the closeness my wife got to have with our babies. At times I would keep myself busy with other things since it didn’t seem like my kids needed me. It’s easy to get emotional over things like that, but they are babies. Babies are not doing anything on purpose, they are just being babies. It may seem like you don’t have a connection to your newborn, but you do. It just takes more time to surface than it does with their Mother.

As my kids have started to grow up, I have felt like I wasn’t succeeding as a Dad. I am not good at disciplining my children. I don’t know how to do it well or in an effective way. I don’t always respond to their outbursts well. At times I have a short temper with them. I often feel like I am hurting them more than I am helping them, but that is mostly my internal self-talk. It would be much easier to just be their friend and let them raise themselves.

Then there are those Dads that seem to have it all together. Their kids are amazing in public, play all the sports, seem to do things without arguing, get along with their siblings, and even seem to respect their parents. Is that all smoke and mirrors, or am I failing somewhere?

Men don’t stand around talking about parenting, they talk about common interests. It’s easy to assume that other Dads have it all together but we would never know that because we don’t talk about it. I have allowed myself to believe that I am not good enough. It is easier for guys to disconnect from their families than it is for women because of the motherly connection they feel responsible for. Rachel mentioned in her book that she considered flying the coop in a moment of struggle. I think us guys have our moments as well. It’s also much easier and more acceptable for a guy to separate himself from his family in today’s culture. Some even do it without ever leaving the house.

For me, I have found a few guys who have gone before me to ask questions and vent to. It’s equal parts relieving and frustrating when they smile and explain that what I am experiencing is not unique. What I need more of is guys with kids of similar ages, yes this might mean that I have to talk to some of my wife’s girlfriends husbands. Trust me guys, we need to do life together on a deeper level than whatever sports ball is on tv. I have kept myself at a distance from a lot of other Dads for a variety of reasons, but the main one is that I have a hard time connecting with other guys. This has been a problem for as long as I can remember. If we continue to try to be Dads on our own, we will always feel like we are not good enough. If we listen to that voice enough, we will put distance between us and our kids when what they really need is for us to draw near to them.

I Can’t Tell The Truth, I Need a Drink, I’m Not A Hero

This post is getting super long, I get it. If you are still reading, you deserve an award.

In all honesty, I want to rewrite Rachel’s book for us men. We need it. We live in a world where it seems like we are getting attacked and blamed for everything. Some of us deserve it. We have not been the best leaders or the most truthful. We have taken advantage and not been responsible. Guys, we have been lazy and now that women are standing up for themselves it is easy to feel like we are the ones being attacked. It’s easy to feel like a victim and that is one of the reasons why I wanted to read Rachel’s book.

I was not a truth teller. I mean, I was pretty honest most of the time. Some of my friends might tell you that I actually don’t know how to keep my opinion to myself. That might be true, but I had a lot of secrets that required lies to keep in place. Things I did when I was young and decisions I made brought me shame and I allowed that shame to drive my decisions. I did not deal with my emotions in a very healthy way. I have allowed my struggles to tear me apart and others have been hurt because of them.

I have also gotten in the habit of needing a drink to unwind. I have never been addicted to a substance, but it became a habit and if we were out of wine or I didn’t have any tonic water for my gin, I would feel a little uneasy. I never needed a drink, but I found myself desiring one especially after a stressful evening with the kids.

The truth is that I have never been very honest about what I am going through. I always felt like I was the only one going through it. My struggles were unique and since everybody else’s lives looked perfect, I could not afford to let my truth out. I still struggle with it, but I am working on it. My counselor has helped a lot with that. As I mentioned before, I am an all or nothing kind of guy, so at times I feel like putting it all out there but I am trying to be patient and prepare myself for opportunities that my experience could be helpful in. I am also being careful to make sure that I have healed enough to help others. There are too many people in this world who woke up one day from a major struggle and felt they were ready to teach the world how to heal. I don’t want to be one of those people.

Being a man in this world is not as easy as it used to be. I’m not talking about jobs and equal pay. I believe that anyone who works hard for something deserves to be compensated equally for it. That means that the person needs to work hard. I don’t care what your race or gender is, you don’t deserve something just because you are something other than a white male. You deserve it because you made the choice to work hard for it. Equal opportunity should not have to be a policy, it should be assumed because it’s the right thing to do. The fact that society seemed to hand those things out to white males much easier than anyone else is wrong. I have never assumed I deserve anything for being a man. I grew up with my Grandmother who was a successful businesswoman, as my example. She built a successful Real Estate business during a time where that was dominated by men. To top that off, she was barely five feet tall. After my parents divorced my Mother went back to school and achieved her goal of becoming a teacher. I never knew that women couldn’t achieve something because my environment told me different.

If you watch any tv at all, you know that the Dad is usually the joke, and guys, we have allowed ourselves to become a joke. We are irrational, simple-minded, and easy to entertain. We get angry at things we don’t understand and as long as we can enjoy a football game from our living room in peace, we are happy. We are allowing ourselves to be minimized and emasculated. We are being taught that masculinity is barbaric. We are being misled. We need to regain our masculinity, not to rise as the dominant gender, but to utilize and appreciate our strengths to use them for good and to build others up.

There is beauty in femininity and masculinity but we need to learn to respect each for their uniquenesses. We also need to take the time to understand our differences. Society today is so quick to say that the other side is wrong. We read an article and immediately alienate a whole group of people instead of taking the time to understand why they might think that way. Instead of technology bringing us together, it is further separating us. Have a difference of opinion with someone? Prepare for unrealistic conflict over something that doesn’t really matter that much.

Our society is in a transitional place. We have come into so much information over the past thirty years and we don’t know what to do with it all. Rather than appreciating the little things that make us different we are using them to separate us further. Instead of learning to live together in one society we find people who have our exact beliefs and silo ourselves from everyone else around us.

Guys, we have always been called to be leaders and I don’t see many men leading these days. Women are stepping up and doing everything us men have become too lazy to do. To put it simply, they are more driven than us. Women are fully capable as leaders and should have every right to lead in any capacity as a man is able, but that doesn’t mean we should also give them the job of leading us. We all need to be a leader in our own lives. I see too many men whose wives have to step up and lead in ways they shouldn’t have to. Many men traded their birth mother for a wife who they expect to treat them as their Mom did. That is not fair to women in a relationship.

I am not the best leader and I am definitely not my wife’s hero. I have slacked off at times because I know that she won’t let the house go sideways. I have not always shown up for her as a husband should. I have allowed myself to feel minimized because of the way society portrays men and fathers these days, but lately, I have felt a tugging at my heart and I am starting to finally realize what it is. It’s starting with honesty and openness about the real struggles of being a guy in today’s society. Not out of a response to some sort of movement or to defend myself, but to be vulnerable and open in an attempt to break down the silos that I have put around everything in my life in an attempt to be comfortable. The comfort I built around me doesn’t feel good anymore.

What’s Next?

This post took on a life of its own. I hope that it came across as a call to action for men to step up and take control of their lives again. I hope that it encouraged you as much as it empowered me writing it. Writing helps my thoughts make sense to me. I highly recommend you try writing about the things you feel strongly about. It really helps you understand what you really believe when you have to write it out.

If you have a wife and struggle to understand her, I highly suggest reading “Girl, Wash Your Face.” Keep in mind that your spouse is unique and different than Rachel. What was real about the book was all of the insecurities she shared. We all have insecurities but ours as men are different than what women deal with. It is important that we understand them so we can be better husbands to our wives.

I don’t want to become complacent. I want to continue to grow and better understand myself and those around me. I want to show up as best I can for my wife and kids because they deserve that, not because they need a man to rule over them, but because they were given a man to support and encourage them.

Check out Rachel’s book on Amazon: https://jer.fyi/rachelsbook

Listen to it as an Audiobook like I did, Rachel narrated it herself. Get your first audiobook free from Audible: https://jer.fyi/freeaudiobook

What are your thoughts? Are there some lies you tell yourself? I would love to continue the conversation in the comments below this blog or on my Facebook page. Please share this post with a friend if you found it helpful!

Update: I just heard from a friend that Rachel’s husband Dave is writing the “guys” version of her book next year so I will be looking forward to reading that when it comes out.

 

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Raising Tech-Wise Kids

Raising Tech-Wise Kids

I have been wanting to write on the topic of raising tech-wise kids in this technology age we live in for a while but have struggled to gather my thoughts so I can bring it all together into something that would even make sense. I have said it before, but for me, writing helps me make sense of my thoughts and also helps me convert those thoughts into ideas.

Those of you who know me know that I am fully emersed in technology. I have two smartphones, a smartwatch, a tablet, a laptop, computer, Kindle reader, cameras, gaming consoles, and more within reach every single day of my life. I have made a side business out of getting to spend time with technology with my YouTube channels State of Tech and Ditch Auto. I also have three young children ages 8, 6, and 4 who take notice of the endless tech options I have around me. So what am I doing to raise my kids to be wise consumers of technology? This is a question I have to continuously ask myself almost every day.

You are not going to like this, but raising tech-wise kids starts with your own behavior in regards to technology. I am approaching the ripe age of 40 and am realizing more and more each day the habits I gleaned from my parents when I was a child. Our kids will learn many of their behaviors from us and carry them into adulthood. I am in no way qualified to speak as though I have achieved some perfect balance of technology in my home but I am hyper-aware of what is going on and am doing my best to stay on top of it.

Before we can parent a child we have to be able to parent ourselves. We no longer have parents telling us to turn off the game and go to bed or to stop scrolling Instagram. It is our turn to be that person for our children but if we can not be that person for ourselves, we will simply become the thing we hated most about our own parents which was when they told us to do as they say, not as they are doing.

Children Learn Patterns

Around the age of 3-4 years old, our children start to notice patterns and are able to guess what the next item will be. Remember those pattern worksheets from your childhood? Square, circle, square, what comes next? Our children will mirror our behaviors. If we can’t spend an idle minute without checking our phones, our kids are not going to be able to sit still either. We have to give our children healthy behaviors as patterns for them to follow. The little brains of our children are being wired using the patterns and behaviors we model for them.

Remember when you used to be creative? Some of my best memories as a child was building with Legos. I never bought the Lego sets that came with instructions. I wanted to build something from nothing and even though my Lego creations were not perfect replications of things in the real world they took creativity to make. These days we reach to our phone for inspiration rather than trying to make something on our own. No need to come up with an idea for our child’s birthday lets just scroll Pinterest for “5-Year-Old Boy Birthday Party Ideas.” We’re teaching our kids that kind of behavior people!

We also need to keep control over the compulsions we find ourselves often giving into. What I mean is that there are things we compulsively do. Some of these things are healthy, some are addiction-driven. We have lost the ability to be idle because we grab our device in hopes for a small kick of dopamine. We have become so conditioned to receive that little jolt in the pleasure center of our brains that we can’t handle being disconnected. Our brains learn that Disconnection = Being Alone and that Being Alone = Sadness.

Lately, I am trying to be mindful of how everything affects my heart and how things affect the hearts of my children. I recently removed a lot of influences from my social media accounts. Some of it was affecting my heart in a negative way. Removing it felt like a weight lifted off of my shoulders. If I can’t see how the things of the world affect my heart, how can I guide my child’s heart?

Technology Is Not A Replacement For Creativity

Yes, you can be very creative using technology. I have built a business on it, so I know this very well. I also recognize that technology has limited my creativity. When I use technology to find inspiration for creativity I often end up taking shortcuts that take away from what could have been a good idea. There is nothing wrong with using technology to vet your ideas, but often the best way to be creative is to disconnect and sit down with a notepad. A pen and paper, not the notepad app on your PC! This means that you might fail, and boy do we hate that. Finding the ideas and the ten steps to make it happen on Pinterest sure make it easier, but what do we learn when we do that to ourselves.

When I was in high school, I was in charge of our senior class float. We had a general idea of what we wanted to do but none of us really knew how to pull it off. We did it ourselves, no help from parents and it sure looked like it. Guys, our class float was horrible. The freshman beat us. It was sad, but it taught me some lessons I wouldn’t have learned if we had let our parents do the work for us.

Technology Is A Stimulant

I spoke to this above, technology is a stimulant because of how we use it. We use it to connect to information and information feels good. Information is not inherently bad, but we can become addicted to it. Over stimulation + Isolation leads to addiction. When we constantly allow ourselves to be stimulated by the pretty pictures and information of the internet we start to feel isolated. We are constantly reminded about what we don’t have or what we haven’t achieved. As an entrepreneur, I see others in my industry achieving more than me and it can make me feel like I am a failure somehow.

People turn to their technology to connect to whatever makes them feel something. It used to be tabloids and magazines, now it’s Instagram and Pinterest. We are surrounded by it. Though it often makes us feel insufficient, we are drawn to it like a moth is to light. We scroll Facebook or Instagram for hours hoping for a connection to something. Those apps are designed to make sure we receive some sort of reward from time to time for using them.

Technology Can Isolate Us

If we allow our technology to over stimulate us we crave more and will find ways to consume more of it. This leads to us deciding to spend time on our devices rather than with others who edify and build us up. When we are over stimulated and isolated, addiction takes hold. We need to make sure we recognize this before it becomes a problem because we are not only isolating ourselves from our peers but also from our spouse and children.

How To Raise Tech-Wise Kids

I often get asked by other parents about healthy limitations. How should I limit the time my children spend with technology they ask. To be honest, I am no sure I like the idea of limitations. Setting limitations mean focusing on lack rather than abundance. I believe that what we need to do is make sure that there are enough healthy and edifying things in the lives of our children that technology is just one of the many things that makes up their lives.

I find that when I get lazy and don’t make my children my main focus in our home, they want technology. When I am constantly checking my phone and busy on my laptop, my kids want to be busy playing games on theirs. It is not fair to them to see me constantly on my phone and not allow them to do the same. I knew I had a problem when my oldest told me that he can’t wait until he turns 18 and moves out so he can surround himself with all of the technology that I have. That hit me like a brick to the face. How can I teach my kids about being “tech-wise” when I don’t appear to be tech-wise myself?

This has led to me making some other changes in my life. I am currently working to free up the clutter in my life so I have more mental bandwidth to assure I don’t get blindsided again.

Healthy Boundaries vs Limitations

We don’t let our kids take technology into their rooms. Their rooms are for sleep and play. This is an area I need to work on myself. I go to bed with devices next to me and I need to create some separation. This is going to become more important as I transition back to working from home. Our kids need these same healthy boundaries in place. There is a time for technology and there is a time for it to be put away.

Most devices these days have the option to set limitations which shut them down after a certain amount of time. While this is a nice safety feature, I want my kids to be able to moderate their own use of technology without having to rely on the device to disable itself. What happens when they are old enough for their own device? They will just turn that limitation off and let freedom ring!

We should be starting the day and ending the day technology free. When we are with other people, we should be interacting with them rather than burying our faces in a game or an app. I think virtual reality is neat, but I fear what it will do to the family if that is the future of consuming content in the home. We all slip on our headsets and forget about each other. That freaks me out!

But They’re Bored!

When attempting to moderate my kids use of technology I will offer up suggestions on how they can spend their time. Are you really a parent if your child hasn’t told you, “That’s Boring!?” I get it. Playing Legos just can’t hang with the latest updates to Fortnite. What my kids will choose every time is uninterrupted time with me. When I chose to play with them, they don’t care about the games and the apps. They want to spend time with me.

“But your kids are still young,” you say. Yes, they are, which means I still have time. This is why I am making major changes in my work life right now to allow for more time with my kids. When they get older, they will choose technology over me if I spent their childhood doing the same to them. Your kids will never get bored of you engaging with them in fun activities they can take part it. It’s when you trade out that time for other distractions that it becomes hard to win them back later on. They will fight you when you try to separate them from their devices because those devices have been their comfort. I never said this would be easy.

Becoming Tech-Wise

Intention is going to be the biggest tool you have in your arsenal. If you make a device the top priority in your own life, your kids will as well. It is also important that your kids’ friends parents know your stance on technology use as well. One of my favorite things about my kids still being young is their accidental spilling of information. They know they are not allowed to play games endlessly at home and that goes for when they are at their friends’ houses as well.

We need to set healthy boundaries between us and our technology. I recently moved my phone across the bedroom. I have kept my phone on my nightstand for as long as I can remember. My first business used to get broken into occasionally so I had this fear that I would get a call in the middle of the night from the alarm company and police and that is when the habit of having my phone next to me while I sleep started. Now, I simply wear my smartwatch to bed and put it on “Do Not Disturb” mode. If someone from my contacts calls me, my watch will notify me of a call, otherwise, it will not disturb me. I have slept like a baby and grabbing my phone when I wake up before even putting my feet on the floor has changed my attitude in the morning. These are healthy boundaries I want to pass on to my kids and that can’t happen if I am not practicing them myself.

Avoiding Technology Addiction

As I eluded to before, technology provides us with a stimulant we use to feel something. When we start to isolate so we can spend more time in an app or game, that leads to addiction. We need to recognize what that looks like in our own lives. Are we addicted already, or on our way?

What does video game addiction and recovery from that look like?

ESports and The Professional Gamer Movement

There is a new category of sports if you haven’t already heard and that is the sport of Electronic Gaming. There are gaming competitions and events where professional gamers go head to head just like in the world of physical sports. It’s fun to watch, especially if you enjoy the game they are playing. Gamers stream live each day so others can watch them play and be entertained by their commentary. This is a huge emerging market where gamers are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and getting major sponsorships just for playing games on their computer.

Kids watch these streamers and are envious of their skill and the lifestyle they get to lead because of their skill at the game. It would be easy for our kids to become addicted to video games because there is an online community that enjoys the same thing they do. However, online gaming communities are nothing more than a community around that game. Outside of that, it is rare that any real connection or personal growth will come out of those communities.

We not only have to guide our children toward healthy technology use but we have to guard them against the false realities that exist out there. Just like we enjoy following people on Instagram and Pinterest who are amazing at certain things, kids want to follow those who are pros at their favorite games. We have to make sure our children understand what being a professional gamer means and how that differs from spending too much time playing games as a child.

As adults, we can fall into the same traps by getting too caught up in the lives of celebrities. Our kids are getting caught up in the lives of gaming celebrities and it is much easier for them to fall into the addiction of gaming than it is for an adult to carry out a shopping addiction. We have to look at our own lives and make sure that we are not projecting addictive behavior onto our children. If we are addicted people, our kids are going to become addicted.

Check out this short review of a book called “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.”

External vs Internal Triggers

As you now know, we live in a world of external triggers. These are the things that are marketed to us that look great and promise to make us feel better. Technology companies have perfected the trigger. Look at how Apple has triggered millions of people into purchasing new phones each year that only contain small updates.

If our children are not strong enough, they are going to give in to those external triggers when they have their own internal negative triggers. We all have negative triggers such as feeling down or lonely. If we do not model for our children how to create healthy boundaries between us and our technology, our kids are going to have the behavior patterns that lead to turning to those external triggers that are the first step to creating a technology addiction.

Technology Fasting

It’s impossible to avoid technology altogether and if we do not allow our kids to explore technology, they will likely be left behind. We now live in a connected world, but our minds have not adapted to that kind of existence. We are community driven and need to connect with others.

This summer I took my family camping and decided to go completely off the grid. That is a hard thing to do as a business owner but I told my clients that I would be unreachable for 8 days. During those 8 days, I did not touch my phone at all. The first four days were torture. When I didn’t have something to do I felt the desire to go grab my phone. Even without a connection to the internet, I was sure something needed my attention. Thankfully I resisted and spent that time reading instead. It was a nice break and part of me wished I didn’t have to reconnect.

To drive home the point about setting healthy boundaries we need to make sure we are building planned separation from technology. This means taking a technology fast. In the book, “The Tech-Wise Family, author Andy Crouch shares that in his family they take an hour a day, one day a week, and one week each year completely free from technology. Here is what that might look like:

One Hour Dialy- Dinner time no technology. Dinner lasts an hour. Instead, we take our time to enjoy our food and each other through conversation.

One Day/Week – Sunday, no technology. We go to church, maybe go to the park to play, and then do some yard work. It’s not that hard to fill a day with activity.

One Week/Year – Camping or disconnected vacation. We like to go camping so we go camping up in the mountains away from Wifi and cellular connection. For me, I need to be completely disconnected. That means no signal at all!

Be a Leader to Your Children and to Others

I could go on forever on this topic. Each paragraph I write I think of something to add to a previous paragraph. Writing helps me think and I learn through the process of converting my thoughts into written word. I want to encourage you to look inward and consider the behaviors you are displaying to your children. They are going to grow up with those patterns gleaned from you ready to be put into practice when they encounter situations. This goes for so much more than just technology.

We need to be the leaders our children need. Only by understanding ourselves will we be able to equip our children with the patterns and behaviors they will need to navigate the world they are growing up in.

Here is a list of books that have added insight into my own life and thus resulted in me being able to recognize my own behaviors so that I can build upon or correct to better equip myself to raise tech-wise children.

Books:

Podcasts:

There is no one book or podcast that will give you all of the answers to life. I have read hundreds of books and recognize that each book introduces me to a key nugget of information or a concept that I had not considered. All of these books are available in an audio form which is how I consumed them.

You’ve Got This!

You’ve got this Mom or Dad. I know you came here hoping for a 5-step plan to raising tech-wise kids, but that just isn’t a thing and if it was, it would be rendered useless almost immediately when the next pleasure centered device hits the market. The key is to be the example you want for your children. They are going to grow up to be just like you whether they want to or not. You have the power to set a baseline for healthy behaviors in their lives and it goes so much deeper than just technology use.

Obviously, I am pretty passionate about this topic and plan to write more on it. If you have any thoughts, please share them in the comment section below. I would love to hear your opinion. We all learn from each other. If you want updates from me, please consider sharing your email address in the “Get Updates” box on the right column or bottom of this website.

Thanks for taking the time to read my long post. I appreciate your time and your desire to invest in the lives of your children.