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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.

Blog Personal Development

How To Become A More Creative Person

how to become more creative

Today I wanted to talk about something that I get asked quite often. Now, I’ve been producing content in the form of videos or audio podcasts or blogs for a very long time. I think the first like blog that I actually wrote was over 18 years ago and even before that I was making small websites to publish my content online. I’ve been blogging and making videos and doing all sorts of stuff for a long time. So how does one continue to create? I mean, you would think that at some point you would kind of reach the end of your creativity or you would struggle so much at coming up with something new that you would just run out of options. But I end up having a problem with being able to narrow it down and actually focus on having a clear direction because I am constantly going in different directions. I am always reading, thinking, researching, and expanding my mind to continue to broaden my creative mind.



So creating has never really been a problem for me. It’s more finding that clear direction that is a challenge for me, because when you put things out there, people want some sort of consistency. They want to know what to expect, and a lot of times I’m just all over the place. So, because I get the question often, I wanted to share some of the things that I’ve identified as the things that I have done in my life that has allowed me to continue to create. But these also are things that I can also allow to get in the way. Or I can forget, and I do this quite often.

So by no means have I mastered it or anything like that. These are things that I just identified as areas that so long as I returned to these or that I focus on these, I never have a problem coming up with ideas. I never have a problem being inspired. I never have a problem figuring out what I should create next or what I should work on next. So long as I return to these things.

1. Be True to Yourself and Others

I’m going to use the word passion, even though I don’t necessarily like the word, I think it’s overused but always speak from your passion. And the reason that I’m saying I don’t necessarily like that phrase I’m saying it because it’s the one that everybody uses. But I think what really matters is that you just always remain true to yourself, true to your message, true to your beliefs.

So long as that you’re not trying to be something that you’re not, I think you will always have no problem with creating. The moment that you try to become something that you’re not. You are at odds with yourself first. And so because you’re at odds with yourself because you’re trying to be someone else, you’re trying to produce what somebody else produces. It just doesn’t feel right. You’re at odds with your being, and because of that, it just makes it harder for you to continue to create because it’s not coming from somewhere from within here. It’s coming from ego or it’s coming from, something in your mind that says, I’m not good enough, so I need to copy or I need to be that person. There is so much of that on the internet, and it’s also something that you can get caught up in because if you start producing something and you feel like maybe your message is too closely aligned with somebody else’s, you feel like, “Oh, well I don’t want to come across is that I’m copying that person or I don’t want to come across as trying to be what that person is already doing.

And maybe they have more success so far, than you do or they seem to have more success. There’s a lot that can be like a constant battle there. And as you could probably tell, like I even conflicted often by this. I try to be true and be transparent and of course lead with honesty in my videos because if I ever start to deter from that to where I’m like I believe in what I’m saying, but I’m also not totally on board with the methods or something like that or I didn’t put in the work. I didn’t do everything that I felt to actually be able to talk about that in an honest way.

I feel like I’m BS’ing myself and BS’ing everybody else. So for me, I really just need to be true. I think that so long as you can be true to whatever it is that you care about, whatever it is that gets you up in the morning that makes you excited, then you will have no problem continuing to create because you have something to draw from. Where a lot of people out there are just drawing from what they see other people doing and that’s empty. There’s no depth to that because there’s only so much on the surface level that you can see that other people are doing. You have to be able to dig deeper than that.

2. Be a Practitioner

So number two is to be a practitioner. You have to be a practitioner in whatever it is that you’re wanting to put out there.

You can’t speak from no experience. You have to have experience. And then if you don’t have much experience in whatever it is that you’re trying to whether it’s making videos about, talk about on a podcast, blog about, create in any form. If you don’t have a whole lot of experience, you won’t have a whole lot of depth. And so you need to be a practitioner and it’s okay to start from a place where you don’t have a whole lot of depth. That’s how we all start. I mean a small infant gets up and starts to walk and is wobbly and falls many times and gets back up and doesn’t question or make the choice of like, well, walking isn’t for me. I’m never going to do it again. They get back up and they continue to try until they’re walking and doing it on their own.

That is just innately something that happens in just about every single one of us. So you need to be a practitioner and that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be a professional before you even get started. It just means that you constantly need to be practicing, that you need to be doing what it is that you’re talking about. You need to be speaking from and producing based off of real life experience. And it doesn’t matter if you’re at the very beginning or if you’ve been doing it for 20 plus years and you have all the experience in the world. You just need to be a practitioner and continue at that. At any point that you stop doing that, it’s going to be at odds with your creative mind and your ability to continue to produce, because you’re going to run out of things that you have tried.

You’re going to run out of brick walls that you’ve ran up against and that you’ve had to try and figure out a way through. I mean, as a practitioner of something, you’re constantly trying, you’re constantly revising, you’re figuring out better methods. You are trying to get to that next level and improve. And if you stop being a practitioner of whatever it is that you’re doing, then you run out of creativity. I mean, how can you be creative if you’re not constantly practicing, constantly trying.

3. Always be Researching

Always be researching, and that goes into part of being a practitioner. For me, I’m always researching. I’m always digging. Even in those times of research, it even leads to creative breakthroughs because sometimes I even run into situations where there’s something that I am trying to figure out. There’s something that I’m trying to do and I can’t find an answer out there on the internet.

I’m very much, I can’t say self taught because I’ve been taught by hundreds and thousands of times by people who have put content out there. I’ll want to figure out how to do something. So I’ll research it, I’ll find an answer, I will learn and then I will put it into practice. And if there are any instances where I’m trying to figure something out and I can’t find the answer, then I have to take from my experience and I need to try and figure it out on my own without having anybody else’s knowledge that had the exact answer already figured it out. And so in those situations I have to continue to research.

I have to figure out what is that missing link, what am I not seeing? And usually that leads to a breakthrough eventually and then not even becomes a piece of content or something that I can create and put out there because I as a consumer of the information that’s out there want to be also a producer of information so that if there’s something that I figure out on my own, I put it out there in hopes that somebody else may have that same problem and my solution that I have put out there publicly can be consumed by them, and then their life is bettered as well.

So you’ll always want to be researching, because part of being a practitioner is researching and figuring it out. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to get better at a sport, if you’re trying to be a better student, if you’re trying to be better at anything, researching helps and practicing helps. Those two things lead to breakthroughs. They lead to getting you to the next level and you can’t get to the next level if you’re not doing those things. And you can’t continue to be creative unless you are stretching yourself and you have to do that both informs of practice and stretching your mind.

4. Ask Questions

Always be asking questions. A lot of times, we are afraid to ask questions for many reasons. We’re afraid because we don’t want to come across as… or we don’t want people to think that we know less than we should know.

We don’t want to be wrong. We don’t want to ask a stupid question. There’s lots of reasons why we don’t ask questions, but it’s very important to ask questions because, we have our own perspective and our own, not limitations on just what something can be and somebody else may see it from a different angle and their response to your question or their question to your question, whatever that might end up being, can open your mind and open your eyes to a wider range of possibilities. That often leads to creative opportunities. In my, walk as a photographer over many years now, um, every opportunity that I’ve taken my camera into that’s different is an opportunity where I’m like, okay, I have not done this before. I haven’t photographed this type of event before, this thing before.

I need to ask questions, I need to understand it because I need to take what that situation is all about and I need to match that up with my experience. And then even go back to number three, which is researching. I need to research if I don’t have an answer, if I can’t put it together with the experience that I already have. So asking questions always leads to a new possibilities. People are so afraid to ask questions these days and I know why. It’s because we’ve asked a question before and somebody told us that we were stupid or something like that, or made us feel bad for asking that question. If you look at the successful people in this world, the richest people or whatever, they’re not afraid to ask questions. They’re not afraid to challenge something and to ask a question about it.

If they don’t understand, they want to know more about it. If they even believe the person that they’re talking to doesn’t quite grasp exactly what it is that they’re heading into words in that direction. A question can help direct. There is a reason why we are such inquisitive people and we want to know information. We want to understand things. And it all comes from asking questions. And these days we have so much information available to us. We don’t have to do the physical asking of the question. I don’t have to ask the question because I can ask Google, an inanimate object, that’s not going to tell me that I’m dumb. I don’t have to ask a person. But a lot of times I think when we’re actually really able to find new creativity, we have to be asking questions to people.

We have to see their face, we have to understand them. When we asked that question, we need to see that answer. We need to see if there is pain or struggle and that answer if there’s frustration. All of those things are opportunities for us to understand more and deepen our understanding in just that whole process. I mean asking questions is, super important. And to always be testing, which is number five.

5. Test Continually

If you do not take everything that you have learned and test it and try it and put it to the fire or whatever, you’re never going to know if anything works or not. I am constantly testing, I’m trying new things. I have an idea and I work on that idea a little bit. Well if it’s something that I want to actually pursue, I need to test that idea.

I need to put it out there. If I’m not testing it, I will never know whether or not it’s any good. And a lot of times I do test something and take it down because maybe it just doesn’t end up being what I want it to be a or it didn’t work out. There’s a lot of times I film videos like this and I go and edit them and I spend some time with them and maybe even show it to a few people and I ended up, either re shooting it or getting rid of it altogether or going in a total different direction. Testing is super important. I think the reason that people don’t do a whole lot of testing is because they are afraid to fail.

6. Failure Means You’re Getting Closer

People are really afraid to fail and I get it. Anybody from my generation especially and probably any generation has grown up being shamed for being wrong, feeling bad for being wrong. The way that we’re all brought up, which I’m not going to try and argue whether or not it’s good or bad here. But we are immediately in childhood put into a hierarchy in a sense where we’re graded, where we are lined up in order of something. And so it’s very easy for a lot of us to feel afraid to try because we don’t want to fail. We look back or have these memories of failing as a child, or failing as a teen or even as an adult.

And those things scare us and we don’t want that pain. But if we are afraid to fail, then we are never trying. We are never doing anything that we can be a practitioner out that we can, research, that we can ask questions about and that we can be testing if we’re not failing.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Try

Don’t be afraid to try. I mean, that goes in with don’t be afraid to fail. Trying… it’s very easy for us to say like, “Oh, well I tried that, I tried that and I didn’t like it, or it didn’t work out for me.” Or whatever the situation is. It’s very easy to get caught up in that. But the problem is, is that we need to try, we need to put ourselves out there. We need to understand where our limitations are, what we’re good at, what we’re not good at, so that we can refine so that we can figure out where the areas that we need to grow and work on those.

And maybe there are some things that are just… we’re just not that great at. So we decide okay, well I’m going to focus on these things that do come a little bit more natural to me. I’m not going to totally throw these other things out that don’t come natural to me, but I’m not going to go completely down that road because those things are less likely for me to succeed at. I know for me, like part of what I do is design, as a photographer, as a web designer and I do some graphic design, the design aspect of things is really hard for me. I cannot just sit down and design something and have it be great. It takes a lot and sometimes it takes a lot of time. It takes trying, stopping, walking away, coming back later, multiple revisions.

Whereas some people can just sit down and knock out a great design, really easy, even if it’s a simple design, something really simple. It takes a lot of time. I also need a lot of inspiration for design, whereas some people they can just birth that out of themselves. But when it comes to… my original area of study was development. And with writing code I can sit there and even though I’m not as in practice as I used to be, it was much easier for me to find a little issues in the code that were causing problems that it was for me to come out with a nice design for something. So I tended to focus more on writing code when I was younger because that seemed to be something that was more… just natural came natural to me.

With the camera, I tend to be able to really control the camera well and get the exposure that I’m looking for and get the shot that I’m looking for really fast. I’ve noticed that I do really seem to have that under control. And even in situations where I feel like I don’t and it’s a new situation and I feel like I don’t have it altogether, I still am able to work through that and get past it because I try, I don’t just walk away from that situation. With my YouTube channels, I continue to try, and even though I have some videos that are total failures, maybe even videos that I put up and then realize later, oh, my information wasn’t totally correct in those videos. That you have to try, you have to do your best. And sometimes, when I’ve put up videos where something wasn’t totally correct, it’s a good opportunity for me to take that down to correct, to learn where I made my mistake.

Maybe I was in a hurry, maybe I didn’t totally understand what I thought I understood. But you have to not be afraid to take those risks. And that’s going to happen to everybody. I mean, everybody that does anything and puts it out there is going to be tested and that’s what’s scary to some of us. But as long as you can continue to move past that and continue to test and refine and not be afraid to fail because you’re not afraid to try, I think that you’ll always be able to create. And so that’s what I wanted to leave all of you with today, whether you’re watching this on YouTube or Facebook or Instagram or listening to the podcast or reading it in my blog. I hope that it was somewhat inspiring to you. I know sometimes I talk about topics and I feel like I’m just… I can go in a thousand different directions.

But this really comes from my heart because I do believe that as long as I can remember these things, as long as I can step back and say, “Okay, like where’s the breakdown? Am I not being true? Am I not a speaking from my heart or something that I’m passionate about? That’s, that’s maybe a breakdown in my creativity. Am I not being a practitioner at the time.” I mean, there are times when I want to make a video, but yeah. Have I been a practitioner lately? Am I in what I’m wanting to talk about? Am I all in on it? Do I have recent experience there? If I’m not being a practitioner in the moment, sometimes that breaks down my creativity and I have a hard time being creative. I’m I researching? I’m I asking questions? Even if it’s just asking questions to myself, am I challenging myself? I’m I digging deeper?

If I’m not, that’s a breakdown, potential breakdown in my creative process. Am I testing? Am I trying new things? Am I going back to old things and refining them, trying to see what works, what didn’t work so that I can make the next thing more refined? Am I doing that? If I’m not, then maybe that’s a breakdown in my creative process. Am I being afraid to try something new? Am I being afraid to fail? Because if I am, maybe that’s a breakdown in my creative process.

So I hope that these things helped you out. Leave a comment below this video or podcast or the blog and let me know what you think. I would love to hear where your breakdowns are, what hurts you in your creative process, and what tends to help you in your creative process. I’d love to hear it because I can grow from that as well as I hope that you grow from the things that I’ve shared today. So that’s going to do it for this video, this episode. I hope to see you back in the next one. Take care.

Blog Passive Income Personal Development

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

Listen instead!

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!

Blog Personal Development

Cleaning & Clearing Continues

Hello Wanderers! Ok, that’s something new. Playing around with a way to address those of us who desire to wander and create more freedom in our lives. It is a fight at times so I’m going to refer to us as Wanderers for a while and see where it goes.

This week the cleaning and clearing have continued. In my first post, I spent some time explaining what This Week In Freedom was all about by giving you some of my backstory. I also shared that I was going through a process of getting back to the essentials by getting rid of stuff and being ok with getting rid of it.

I want to share with you these pictures of the shop at my office. The office that I am working on getting out of was where I conducted business for the last few years. I have had three different offices over the past eight years. Though I downsized a lot to fit into the office I am now moving out of, I will need to downsize much more to be completely out of there and not need a large storage unit, which I am trying to avoid. The shop was quite a mess because I had started to go through everything and had moved a couple of storage racks home. Before taking away the racks the entire floor was for the most part clear. Check it out.

So I spent just about all of Saturday going through everything. I wanted to make sure that boxes with personal documents such as prior tax returns or anything like that were removed. Some of these boxes have traveled with me from house to house and office to office. It was time to break that cycle.

I went through all of the emotions while going through this mess. Part of me wanted to throw it all in the dumpster or donate it all on the spot, but I knew that was not the responsible thing to do. There is a lot of equipment here that still has value. I would be shortchanging myself if I did that. I ended up listing about 15 things on Facebook Marketplace and most of it sold that same day within a few hours.

By the end of the day I had completely gone through everything and am ready to sell it all off or donate it. I fired off an email to my CPA last night asking whether it would be more beneficial to sell everything off or to donate it to an organization that would inventory everything and provide me with a detailed list. Once I have that answer I will decide which direction to go. Regardless of what I do, the shop must be empty by a week from now. Though I am in a lease until the end of March I want to know this place is empty. I will regain just a little bit more freedom in my mind knowing that this place is cleared out.

At home, we have also continued to go through our stuff and clear out more. I mentioned having several bags of clothes to get rid of, we have added more clothes, old toys and stuff we don’t really use anymore to the mix. Check out this pile, which doesn’t include a few bags that are in the garage. Now I didn’t know who Marie Kondo was prior to last week, but I think she would be proud. I think we have only begun to see just how much we can get rid of.

So much was done this week in the journey to freedom. Each week brings us one step closer to our summer road trip. To recap, our plan is to travel for the entire summer in our travel trailer. Pending something unforeseen, the only issue that could arise is the finalization of our adoption of Mikayla. We have been told that we could have a court date sometime in June or July but that is something we can schedule and as we get closer, we will have more details.

In the near future, I plan to bring my wife into the fold of This Week In Freedom as she was the one that made that pile as big as it is. My wife really enjoys organization and has had some really good ideas for our travel trailer that will assure we all have some space for the things we do decide to keep and take with us on our trip.

I have also created a YouTube channel for This Week in Freedom, but have not created any video content for the channel yet. I do plan to soon. Ideally, I would like to do these weekly updates in video form and include video from throughout the week.

Dreams don’t come to fruition overnight, nor does freedom. It’s a constant battle of will and the desire for something better. Even last night, my kids were bored. They couldn’t come up with something to do yet they have so many options. It would be much easier for them if they had fewer choices. I really do wish that our trip could start tomorrow, but until then we will keep working toward essentializing and ridding ourselves of the unnecessary.

Keep fighting the good fight Wanderers! What can you cut back on this week to create more space in your life? I look forward to updating all of you next week with photos of an empty shop with nothing in it.

Blog Personal Development

To Freedom and Back Again

Welcome to Wandering Hills, I’m Jerad Hill, a husband, father, and entrepreneur. I have a bit to break down as to what this is and what I plan to do here so in the first post I will try my best to present a 30,000-foot view of it all and as time goes on I will explain more. The goal is to create more freedom in our family life. Not to be so tied down to the things we get ourselves stuck in. For those interested, I will share how I got here.

My first business was in retail. It started as a brick and mortar store and quickly went online. As I added product lines and services both instore and online, I found myself working insane hours. I would get to the shop around six in the morning to get working on online orders that came in overnight and work on customer repairs that still needed to be completed. I had food delivered or picked up for me every day and often didn’t leave the shop until around eleven at night. Sometimes I had so much work that I just slept at the shop. The shop was open six days a week and closed on Mondays so I could catch up on orders and service work. I did this for several years. Retail was also very stressful because I constantly had to worry about my shop getting broken into by kids who wanted free skateboards and scooters.

Fast forward to the summer of my 2005, I was 25 years old and I knew I could not continue working like that. I had closed my shop down at the turn of the year and was considering the closure of the online store as well. I decided to sell off my remaining inventory and start developing websites as I had been doing some web design and development on the side. I had taught myself how to code out of the need to grow and add features to my online stores over the past five years. I had some money saved up so I thought I would give freelancing a try.

I knew that if I wanted to have a family, I needed to change my lifestyle.

When I decided to sell off the remaining inventory I knew that I could not go on like I was. I had ruined a relationship I was in which was largely due to the amount of time I spent working. I knew that if I wanted to have a family, I needed to change my lifestyle. There was no way I could be a good husband and have any relationship at all with my children if I worked twelve hours each day.

Shortly after starting my freelance website design business I got into photography and quickly turned that into a business as well. By mid-2016 I was shooting weddings and in 2017 I photographed 32 weddings on top of my already growing workload with website design. I still had a lot more freedom than I did when I had the shop, but I was getting busy again.

The housing market crash caused me to rely more on both of my businesses because people were not spending as much money as they were. I booked fewer weddings and businesses were holding on to their money to see how things played out. Thankfully I was diversified enough with my businesses and clients that I was able to stay self-employed. In 2008 I married the most amazing women I had ever met and I continued on my path to create more freedom from being locked down to my businesses.

In early 2008 I had started blogging on the topic of iPhone Apps. The iPhone had just received an update allowing support for third-party apps and my immediate thought was that it would soon be just as hard to find good apps in the Appstore as it is to find good music in iTunes. I turned out to be correct. Within a few months, I had a new business reviewing apps. I called it the DailyAppShow because I produced a video app review daily which was published to our podcasts, YouTube channel and a variety of other places. Back then there were a lot of sites trying to become what YouTube is today. Now I had three businesses I was running at one time.

In 2010, we had our first child and I decided it was time to get an office so I could keep work at work and be fully present when I was at home. My wife quit her job a few months before delivering our first child. For the next eight years, I would go from a small office to a large office and back down to a small office again. During that time I had ten different employees, five of which were employed at the same time. By this time I had transitioned from a freelance style business to an actual agency which I named Hill Media Group. I also had two more children. Things were getting complicated.

In July of 2018, my last employee quit to pursue different work and I found myself working all alone again. By this point, I had cut back quite a bit on the wedding photography and videography because I wanted to limit the amount of time I had to work on weekends. My kids were in school most of the week so the weekends needed to be for them. I was so busy during the week with other work that I had to start turning wedding clients away. In 2017 I photographed and filmed a small handful of weddings and in 2018 I took on none. Though I haven’t really kept this website up to date I am still receiving multiple inquiries for wedding photography each week. I still do a lot of photography work but it’s mostly commercial work that I do during the week which keeps my weekends free.

After emerging from the cloud of work that I found myself in after my last employee quit I sat in my office realizing that I had created exactly what I was trying to avoid which was a business that I felt tied down to. I also realized that my daily routine has become toxic. I felt the need to get out of the house immediately in the morning so that I could accomplish everything that I wanted to get done and be home by 5 PM. Though I was spending a full eight hours a day at the office I didn’t feel very productive. Once again I knew something needed to change.

I don’t need a physical office to conduct business so I made the decision to get rid of the office and set up a small home office. The problem with having a home office in our current home is that there is no room for that. My new office in our home is in our bedroom, which is a room only slightly larger than our bed. We had to get rid of our dresser to make room for my desk.

Now having far less overhead and the freedom of working from home, I have started looking into other ways I can cut back. I had a lot to get rid of by closing down my office. My 1400sqft office was pretty full. By moving into a small home office in our bedroom, I could only keep the essentials. Though I have downsized to my small office space I am still noticing items I rarely use that I could get rid of.

It is so easy to end up with more than we really need to operate on both in business and in our home. I often feel anxiety over all of the things we have and we don’t have as much as most in our community. It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time to accumulate. Eventually, you need more storage and that leads to a larger house. It’s the American way and nobody will question your logic over it. We are great at justifying our actions.

On December 7th, we brought home an eleven-day-old baby girl we named Mikayla making us a family of six.

Early last month, we purchased a travel trailer and I started outfitting the trailer with new items. Amazon boxes were showing up daily. I wanted the trailer to be ready to go at any time. My logic seemed sound to me, but we already had enough stuff in the house to take from to outfit the trailer. I was once again accumulating more stuff.

Over the holidays, I started looking at what else I could get rid of. My wife went through her clothes so I did as well. I ended up getting rid of about 70% of my clothes which filled three garbage bags. I could get rid of about half of the remaining 30% and still have plenty of clothes. I have also started looking at other things I have that I have way too much of and plan to downsize even more. I am not downsizing to make room for more, I want small to be my new normal.

This summer we plan to travel in our trailer. The goal is to travel for two months while the kids are on summer break from school. Our trailer is a 28-foot town behind trailer which doesn’t have a ton of storage space. If we are going to spend as much as two months in this trailer, we are going to have to be very intentional about what we take with us. I am going to have to run my entire business from a backpack. My kids are only going to be able to take a few toys. We only have enough closer space for a few outfits. It’s going to stretch us quite a bit.

Two months of traveling in our trailer with limited stuff will be a reset for all of us. We will quickly learn what we can and can’t live without. By the time we return home, we will be used to less and my hope is that we can continue living a more minimalist lifestyle. I just want true intention for everything in our home. More does not bring happiness, it actually produces unrest.

My kids have a lot of toys. I have contributed to that as well as the rest of our family. When we travel, the kids are allowed to take a few toys with them and the rest stay at home. With less, they constantly play with their few toys. When at home, with all of their toys, they complain of being bored or not knowing what to do. I realized that in myself when I would get to my office and have a hard time figuring out where to start with my work. I had so much going on and so much stuff, it was overwhelming. It’s hard to decide what to do when you have so many options. You end up doing nothing.

We are getting excited about our road trip this summer. We will explore more than we ever have before and do more with less. As we move closer to our I will share more about how we are able to pull this off. Sharing our plans with others has generated a lot of questions such as:

  • How we are going to live as a family of six in a mid-sized travel trailer?
  • Where will we stay?
  • How will we wash our clothing?
  • How are you able to travel for two months of the year and run a business?

The concept of breaking free from the normal has never left my mind but I have taken some detours along the way. I could be a lot further along in my quest to be as free as possible, but we are here now and are working toward getting back to the freedom lifestyle I imagined having for myself and providing for my family. It will not be met without some resistance, but it is work we need to do. There is so much more out there and I need to experience it with my family. We have created a comfortable home and surrounded ourselves with things that make life more convenient, but that has not brought happiness.

If you are interested in following along as we make these changes in our life and travel as much as possible I would love to notify you of new updates when we post them. You can easily subscribe to our blog for free here.

What are your thoughts on living with less and creating more freedom in your life? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Here’s to Freedom and the Wandering Hills!

Blog Personal Development

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.

Blog Personal Development

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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Blog Personal Development

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.

 

Blog Personal Development

How to Clear Your Mind of Negative Thoughts – 7 Tips!

How to Clear Your Mind of Negative Thoughts - 7 Tips!

Without constant monitoring, I end up with negative thoughts that slow me down. These negative thoughts can be tied to a variety of things, but if unchecked, they lead to procrastination, depression, anxiety, and generally ineffective behavior.

To keep motivated, I have had to come up with a variety of methods to keep moving. I recognize that I must deal with the negative thoughts, but when I need to be effective, I put some of these things into practice.

I originally recorded this as a video but transcribed and edited it into an article.

Hey what’s up, it’s Jerad. Today I wanted to start out the week by talking to you about negative thoughts and how to get rid of them. I’ve got seven tips on how to get rid of negative thoughts. Now, I suffer from probably various forms of depression and anxiety, I think I’ve battled with that for a long time and I’ve found ways naturally to cope with it and deal with it. Then, I’ve also found myself deep in the trenches and not necessarily understanding or knowing why I’m there.

For a lot of years, I think I’ve dealt with fears. One of my biggest fears going in through my twenties and leading into my thirties was the fact that I didn’t get a college education. Now I’d been working for myself for a long time, I’d been doing things for a long time on my own and had various forms of success but I still felt like that college education was that fall back that I knew that companies hired people just because they had a Bachelor’s. It didn’t even matter if I had half a cell working in their brain, they would hire them because they’d managed to get through college, so I had feared there and I dealt with those for a long time.

Anxieties and different things had just come up over the years. I think these days we have a lot to measure up to. We’ve got more than just magazines on the rack like it was when I was a kid. We have social media and more television shows, more things than ever that are basically telling us this is what life looks like, this is what being happy looks like, and if we can’t measure up to those then it’s just a bummer and it’s kind of depressing.

Negative thoughts can definitely creep in and they can mess with you and so I found that I could really get into a funk easily and that can last an entire day. Then, it ruins my day and that just leads into another day and before you know it I’ve had a week that isn’t as productive as it could have been and I’m not as effective as a husband to my wife, I’m not as effective as a dad to my kids, a friend, and anything else so getting rid of thoughts is the key to it.

Here are seven things that I’ve figured out and as long as I can remember these things and implement them on a day-to-day I tend to have a great day.

1. Change Your Posture

Recognize and change my posture. I notice that a lot of times I’m sitting, I’m working, I’m on the computer or whatnot and my posture just starts to get really horrible. That’s kind of a telltale sign that I just have negativity going on.

Now, I can definitely relax and you can slouch and just kind of chill, there’s nothing wrong with that but what often happens is that I will be just slouching. Maybe I have to write an email I didn’t want to write or respond to something that put out a fire or something like that and I just find myself just getting into this funky position in my chair and before you know it it’s affected me in more than one way.

I have to remind myself just to sit up straight and fix my posture, keep my back straight, not get too comfortable in the chair to the point where I’m slouching or whatnot. I want to be comfortable but I don’t want to get myself into a position where my body just feels achy because it’s been sitting and contorted in some way for so long in the chair so changing my posture is definitely huge.

2. Be More Mindful

Starting my day being mindful from the beginning. I think that if we start our days attached to whatever tasks and things, we have to achieve an email, we focus more on other things rather than ourselves, we’re starting the day off the wrong way. We need to start our day off mindful and that means making a list. I use Evernote and I make a list every single day of these different things including tasks and things that I have on my schedule for the day.

These things include gratitude, affirmation, what would make today great, and I set goals. I write all these things down every single day and on the days that I don’t do that or if I let too many days go by that I don’t do that then it starts to affect me. Some might say, “Oh, it’s kind of weird to write down affirmations about me every single day, it seems kind of weird,” maybe a little … It’s just odd to write down, “I am blah-blah-blah,” every day but those are things that I need to do because I need to remind myself.

Even if it’s something as simple as reminding myself that I’m a good dad or reminding myself that I’m good at a specific task or something that I’m good at, that’s just starting off with one additional positive thing for the day so write those things down.

3. Be More Creative

We don’t get creative enough and we don’t create in different ways. For example, I’m not much of an artist with a pen. I see people drawing and creating art and I’m just in awe. One of my cousins, his kid, his daughter is amazing, I didn’t even know this about her because I hadn’t seen her in forever. She’s just sitting there drawing and just is amazing at it and I thought, “Wow, it’s creative outlet is something that I don’t have.

Getting creating, having that outlet, and not necessarily having to be amazing at it but just having some sort of an outlet that creativity just flows out of us when we let it and it definitely takes negativity with it. Whether you can write, draw, reorganize things, whatever it is you can get creative in so many different ways. I’m not the best writer but I do like to write sometimes. I definitely am not any good at drawing and that’s something that I probably need to try and get better at because even if I’m not drawing anything too good it’s still just a good creative outlet.

4. Be More Active

This one used to be huge for me and I’ve been horrible at it since having kids. That’s going and working out, going and running, riding my bike, just being more active. I’ve found that my body just, and maybe it’s because I’m just a bigger guy, I don’t know, but my body just closes in on itself and if I don’t work out and stay active … I don’t know, I just feel like my body just wants to pull itself together into a little knot and then that’s it. Being active is a must for me, I have to be active. When I’m not I could feel it physically, and when I could feel it physically I could feel it mentally and emotionally as well.

5. Create a workflow.

Now, this one’s been huge for me and this is probably a whole video in and of itself but I’m going to briefly explain what a workflow is. Now in my line of work, a workflow is a process that I take from start to finish completing a task. I’ve found that when I’m further into a negative thought or I’ve found that maybe an hour has gone by and I’ve just been in this negative thought I need to initiate a workflow.

Here’s an example of one. It’s getting up, stretching, walking around, taking a drink of water, closing my eyes for around 60 seconds, and then sitting back down. Initiating that workflow interrupts whatever was going on and allows me to change things for a few minutes. Then I can go and sit back down and get back to work or relax or be there for my wife or my kids or whatever the situation is around me. Usually, it has something to do with being at work so workflows are great because I can just initiate them, do whatever it is for a minute or two, sit back down, and then be good.

6. Take a Timeout

Sometimes as adults we need a timeout. I was talking with one of my other cousins about this, this weekend, about parenting. Sometimes we have to give ourselves a timeout. Sometimes our kids need a timeout to correct behavior or to calm down or something like that. A timeout definitely is something that as adults we don’t give ourselves that often. We might feel like we give ourselves timeouts because maybe we binge watch Netflix for a few hours or something like that or have a glass of wine and just sit and read but we really, truly need timeouts. Timeout just to chill and initiate one of those workflows or be creative.

7. Leave

Sometimes you just flat out need to leave. If you can’t shake the issue, whatever it is, sometimes for me it’s shame, things that you’ve done in the past, things that have happened in the past that were out of your control, that you didn’t get to correct or fix. Sometimes you just need to get up and leave and change the atmosphere altogether. Now at work that might be a little tougher so that’s why I wanted to give you six things that you could actually do before seven, which is to get up and leave, but sometimes you just have to get up and leave and change things.

Conclusion

In closing, not all negative thoughts are bad. We have to be introspective from time to time just to remain normal and healthy so when you have those feelings of guilt, anxiety, shame, jealousy, temptation, fear, those are things that you do need to deal with eventually. You can’t just push them away forever or something is going to happen. I do recommend that you find somebody to help you with your thoughts, especially if it’s an ongoing issue for you if it’s something that you think is chronic you definitely want to get that dealt with.

That’s going to do it, thanks so much for reading. I know it was kind of fast, I went through a lot of things quickly. I may break these things down a little bit more but I’d love for you to chime in in the comment section below. Let me know your thoughts, let me know what works for you and let’s just do life together and help each other get through some of those times that definitely keep us away from achieving the things that we want to achieve. That’s going to do it for today, we’ll see you next time.

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