motivation

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A simple motivation mind trick

There is not a really big difference between people who are awesome and people who are just normal. Actually awesome people are really normal. If you don’t know them you just think “great guy, he’s nice”… that’s it. And after you realize is the CEO of some great startup or a guy who traveled the world while you were playing Candy Crush.

This is the big difference between normal and awesome. If you want to be awesome, do awesome. And this doesn’t necessarily means you must travel around the world. Actually there is so many travel bloggers right now that it seems kind of crowded. You know what? Every week I find a new blog of French expats in Montreal talking about how they opened a bank account and asked for a new driver’s licence. Montreal probably became one of the most French populated city outside of France. So, no… The world doesn’t really need more travel bloggers (and it doesn’t need more mommy bloggers either by the way). Or if you really need to travel, stop going to Canada or Thailand like everybody. Go in the middle of Zimbabwe or cross Antarctica. Wow, I’m rambling…

But anyway, you don’t need to travel the world, you just need to make something great. And it can be working on your health, creating a company, be an inventor, I don’t know… Anything! Just do it and let people know about it.

Now, I’m sure you are pretty awesome at something. Everybody is. Perhaps you cook better, or take pictures better than the average. But the difference between you and the person who will succeed is that you have to cut down the distractions.

And this is what ruins the world right now. Distractions. You know what I mean: TV, internet, facebook…. It’s poisoning us. It’s an addiction. Really, it’s like crack. It makes us feel good in the moment but it really doesn’t help on the long term

I was watching this video yesterday.

Yes, you can watch it again. This is not new but we need this to be repeated over and over again because nobody seems to understand.

Everything is made so we can run the easiest life possible. And we think this is cool. But easy is just making you lazy (and fat). And that is actually why somebody get in front of you. Because some don’t care if they have to make the extra effort. Some understand that life can’t always be glamorous. and that it has to suck to get things done.

I know, it’s hard. You know what? Even writing this is hard, I’d like to just lay down and daydream right now, but instead I keep working on my laptop. It would be so easy to just take breaks all the time and let life roll. It’s hard to keep the motivation when you know that watching a movie or talking about your holidays with your colleagues again won’t make a big difference.

Ok this is great, but if you’re so smart Manuel, why don’t you tell us how to keep motivated? Ok… I’ll share it with you. I found some mind trick that keeps me working. When I want to stop, it makes me work extra hours. And I don’t need someone to push me, I can do this by myself. I call it…THE 10 YEAR RULE

Ok, this is simple… Your distractions are ruining your life. Procrastination ruins your life. You know it, I know it (trust me). But you can’t find something that makes you act better.

The 10 year rule is: Will what you are doing right matter in 10 years? That’s it… This is the most powerful question I ask myself every day. If you have a phone or a laptop, put this in your reminders so it fires 2-3 times a day. Put it in capital letters and make it bad-ass: >>>>>WHAT AM I DOING RIGHT NOW? WILL IT FUCKING MATTER IN 10 YEARS?<<<<<. Stop reading and put this in your reminders now… Actually I should make an app to have this reminder pop-up randomly and blink in red several time during the day.

So why 10 years and not 2 or 40? It’s really personal. I used to think that what I will benefit from what I worked on when I’m old. This is what the system wants us to believe. You are working so you can have money to retire, meanwhile you pay for your parents retirement (this is over simplified but this is how it works). And you know what? It doesn’t work for me. I don’t think I will ever really retire and also thinking about life in 35-40 years seems really far. It was even farther when I was 20. But 10 years work good. It’s something you can relate to. Perhaps 5 years work better for you. I don’t know, take what makes heart pound.

Now, I don’t mean you have to constantly remind yourself where you want to be in 10 years but rather if what you are doing today will matter in 10 years.

This, my friends, is the only motivation I need. This is what makes me work when I could watch TV. This is what makes me practice yoga when I could drink a beer. This is what makes me code when I could scroll Facebook. And this is what makes me write this when I could do nothing.

So what are you doing today? Will it matter in 10 years?

Answer and act accordingly.

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Who do you want to be?

When I was 14 at the end of junior high school, I was asked to decide what job I wanted to do after school. Like that: enter a class room, sit down, take a pen and a piece of paper and write down who you want to become.

I remember I asked the teacher if I would be able to change my mind after. She said “maybe”.

I was so fucking stressed. I haven’t thought about that this seriously. So since I liked watching stars I wrote astrophysicist. The teacher took my paper, filed it and the next year I studied more science. That’s it.

A couple of years after before getting to university, same question: Who do you want to be? What? again? Can’t I just figure this one out later? I had several friends who wanted to study electronics so I said electronics. And I went studying for two years in the electronic department of the university.

At the end of that again, same question: what do you want to do? work or study more? I got an appointment with one teacher there. He told me: ” you’re not ready to work but you don’t have the mentality for engineering school”. It was a nice way to say “you’re fucked buddy“. Anyway I applied for an engineering school in my hometown. They told me I had no chance to be selected because I sent my file too late. It was basically that or nothing. I was a little desperate… But in the end they took me. Seriously engineering school was hard but not that hard. Basically sometimes, I couldn’t party for 3-4 days because I had to study. This kind of hard. I got my engineering degree, I honestly think I did a good job and also I  went to all the college parties and concerts I could during these three years.

And after that, nothing. I went out of school and nobody asked what I wanted to do. Hey guys, where are you? Are you kidding me?

I looked for jobs in high-tech companies, the kind of companies who judge you on the way you tied your tie, not your qualifications, I did some interviews… I couldn’t stand it. I had no desire to work for people who wanted to make me a robot. I wanted to create stuff, not being told what to do.

So I worked in a hardware store. I was being told what to do from 5 am to 1pm and after that I was free. I’ve always been a morning kind of guy anyway.

One day I met a friend in this hardware store. When I was in engineering school I did an internship in the company he worked for. He told me the company decided to hire an engineer. The next week I was working for them.

And the same thing happened every year: What do you want to do? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I want a raise. I want more responsibilities. I want to go to Canada.

So they sent me to Canada (in case you don’t know, I’m French). I worked for them for three years in Montreal. But, hey… I was still not free. I was still doing what I was being told to do. I was not creating stuff at all. It was not the company’s fault, it was mine. I was not doing what I wanted. I was a robot. And in some ways it was comfortable because I just had to follow, tell some people what to do, tell other people what I had done. And it was ok but not really.

The worst was that I could see myself doing the same job in 20 years. And I got scared. So I quit.

And now I’m on my own.

It’s hard to know what you want to do. When you have no clue, people decide for you. You think you had a choice because people asked you but in fact no, choices are really limited… What if you want to be a fisherman in Alaska or a shaman? There is no school for that.

Now I know who I want to become. I know that I want to be on the edge. I don’t want to be comfortable.

And I’m the only one who can make it happen. It’s liberating.

I’m working on this right now.

Do you?

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You need to make a decision

Right now, there is something that is waiting for you. Perhaps it’s an email that you are not sending or just some work that you are not doing.

Of course you could check Facebook real quick and then take another sip of coffee, look around, change your desktop background but you are just not making a decision. Actually that’s not true, you are making a decision: you are deciding to wait (perhaps not consciously but still this what you decide). And your email or your phone call or that important work that you have to do, well… it’s still not done.

It took me at least 15 minutes to start writing this. I’m sitting in a café and I spent 15 minutes doing absolutely meaningless things. I also have an email that I have to answer to and I’m thinking of it and not doing it. I’m sure it would have been faster to just write it, it’s a 4-5 line email anyway. But instead I wait. I don’t even know why…

You know what? I’m sure that like almost everybody you think you don’t have enough time. I know the feeling… The question is not about time, it’s about the decisions you make. Time goes as fast for everybody and some people just make awesomeness with it. It doesn’t even seem possible that they put so much focus to make these things happen.

I guess their secret is that they don’t even take time to think they do not have enough time. They just take a decision to do something. And then they take another one and they keep that pace.

I’m sure by now you have a little something in mind that you have to do. You wanted to spend some time reading this? Instead I’m offering you some time to get stuff done… Now you can go and come back when you’re done, it’s your decision. I’ll wait here… (and send my email).

So, back already? What decision did you make? Did you decide to do what you had todo or did you continue to read this post? How did it feel?

Now don’t lose your focus. Take another decision, a conscious one.

You don’t need more time, you just need to make decisions.

 

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The worst case scenario

What is the cost of failing? I don’t know… It seems big, right? When I think of failing, I think of this homeless guy I see near the metro station. It scares me. There’s a good part of decisions I didn’t take in my life because of that feeling. I think it’s mostly because of education. I’ve been raised to live in a world with some kind of boundaries that we are taught not to cross. If we cross them, we get the image of the homeless guy. Although these boundaries are not here to keep you safe, they are here to keep the system you live in safe from evolving. It’s just some kind of self-preservation mechanism. I don’t really understand why it is like this, some people must have a lot to lose. But that’s not your problem…

It would take a lot of failures to become homeless. Even if I had no job, no one and no money I know I could still find some kind of shitty job and it would actually be ok. I did it before. I worked for a little more than a year moving boxes in a hardware store. Honestly I kicked some ass at this job and it was not that bad. Actually if I didn’t have this job I would have missed a lot of opportunities. Perhaps it would have been better, perhaps worse, I don’t know. But I’m happy where I am.

The only thing that prevents me from taking a risk is the fear of losing my current status and for some reason find myself in an uncomfortable situation (and uncomfortable is the word… in most case the worst situation would just be “uncomfortable”). Here’s how I think about risks before I take one :

  1. What is the worst case scenario?
  2. What would I lose?
  3. How could I come back to where I was before?
  4. What would I learn in the process?

(full disclosure: as far as I can remember in my adult life, I had this idea of what would be the worst case scenario when I made an important decision. It’s not new. But I watched an interview with TIm Ferriss recently and he had formalized these questions – I think he only had three though…)

This is what went through my head when I decided to move from France to Canada, when I quit my job or when I chose to invest a whole year in my yoga teacher training while starting to work for myself. Every time I was scared, but when I thought about it, the worst case scenario was still ok.

Right now I’m trying to reduce my client work to focus on apps I design myself. I still do some client work though and it’s easy to keep doing it and forget about my personal projects. Because my personal projects are risky, they might not work. What would be the worst case scenario actually? I would lose a couple of months of income. This is a pain but it’s not that bad. If it really doesn’t work I can stil work on an other product or do more client work. And actually I’m always more efficient when I do something for a second time, knowing what are the traps I must not fell into.

I don’t know about you but I have no interest in living a normal balanced life. I don’t want to have a boring job and go to the mall on Saturday to buy stuff I don’t need. I don’t want to watch CSI Las Vegas because my brain is too tired to enjoy a better activity. I don’t want to go on vacation in these big concrete resorts somewhere in the Bahamas and get smashed to forget about how stressful my life will be when I’ll go back to work.

What is the worst case scenario of running a normal life? Well, you might just have nothing interesting to tell your grand-kids. It sucks.

On the other hand, the other worst case scenarios (or scenarii) might just make you a little more exceptional and bring you opportunities you would never had otherwise.

When I think about it even seems safer and more clever than the normal life, doesn’t it?

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Small victories

I don’t really like weekends. I mean, yes I do like weekends and I like to just relax and enjoy life but I generally don’t feel good about myself at the end of Sunday if I just kicked back and did nothing for two days – whereas I feel really great after a Tuesday of good work. That’s my thing, I need to get stuff done.

I started my company more than a year ago and working for myself is probably one of the hardest thing I did in my life (but it’s also one of the most enjoyable!). I can’t count the number of times I failed. Actually I noticed that it’s quite easy to think of all these failures and just spiral down an endless state of pessimistic laziness. My brain is wired like that: if I don’t make an effort it focusses on all the crap that I get into instead of moving forward. I hate being in that state… It’s worst than just failing, it feels like another layer of failure bullshit on top of what I’m already dealing with… You know what I mean?

There is only one way to go around that: focus on your successes. “Oh really, that’s it? Well, since you’re so smart Manuel, why don’t you tell us how to do this? Because it’s easy to say to focus on your successes but you don’t know my life and everything went wrong today…“. Ok… First, let’s redefine the term “success”. Success is not a goal, it’s not a state you will attain at some point, it’s a process. Let’s say you want to become one of the best iphone app programmers around (which is one thing I’m working on), well, it won’t happen in one day. But perhaps you can read 30 minutes about app development and practice for an hour today. If you consistently do that, you’ll make progress. But you can’t expect to become one of the best and just kick back. The more you progress, the more you have to work on how to continuously evolve. See what I mean? There is no big success but just an accumulation of little successes. So when I say “success” I mean the process or the little steps of this process.

Even if you work on your big life project every day, some days will just be plain shitty. It’s normal to fail and deal with crap, that’s how we learn, right? The simplest way to increase your chances of keeping a successful state of mind is to multiply your activities (the multipotentialites can help you with that). This is why I’m working on becoming one of the greatest app developer but also on growing my company, working on my client projects, writing on this blog, studying to become a yoga teacher and generally hacking/improving my everyday life. With more activities, I just can’t expect to fail at everything everyday (or that would be a very shitty day, but even in that case I’m pretty sure there would be something positive aspects in all that mess). So every night, when I go to bed, I have at least one (if not many) small victory(ies) to focus on.

I use these pieces of software (Things, Re.Minder and Lift) to remind me to do things… Because I can’t rely on my brain to remind me what I have to do and also I don’t want to clog my thoughts with stuff that can be automated. For example: if I don’t practice my handstand every day I tend to forget how to do it well and I go backward. That’s why I have a reminder to practice handstands at least once a day… It doesn’t have to be long, it just takes me 30 seconds in the morning, then I check it on Lift and I already told my brain “See, one victory!”. Here are examples of other activities I told myself to do every day… (some are work related, some concern more my personal development, other are just habits I’m trying to build…)

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(alternatively, you can also play this song every time you succeed at one of your everyday task)

It’s really that simple: make a list of small steps you have to work on every day and get as much small victories you can. Pretend it’s a game, just focus on that. If you just get one done, that’s already great… It will keep your success momentum going.

Do you already have a list of small steps you work on? Are you planning to make one? Share some of these steps in the comment section… It might inspire others.

Inside fear

This one of the posts you read 14825 times about facing your fears, except this one is different. Because fear is a big deal for me so I tried to understand more about it and I found that

actually there is something quite comfortable in fear.

Fear is like a headstand

First, let me talk about headstands. This is something I’m continually working on because I’m not naturally good with inversions. (By the way, I always feel like shit when I see new yoga students who are able to perform a headstand two weeks after discovering yoga, when I spent 2 years and my headstand is not quite perfect yet). So yeah, this thing about being upside down, it scares the hell out of me. I don’t like it. Sometime, I think about it and I’m like “why the fuck I am doing this?”. But I see the psychological and physiological effects it has on me so that’s why I want to continue.

When you are on your head, it’s hard to find a balance. But somewhere there is tiny area where everything falls into place. When you begin, you don’t even really feel this area, you just navigate around it. Sometime you feel it for just an instant but you have already passed it and you fall. But when you are able to stay in this zone something mag

ic happens and the headstand becomes not more difficult than staying on your feet (well… still a little more challenging though). And the more you go to this area, the easier it is to find and the bigger it gets (that’s what she said).

So, you see, fear is like the frigging headstand. When you enter fear everything seems difficult, you think you will fall every moment. But after a while you find this little zone where you can play inside your fear. And the more you get there, the more this zone grows with you.

Fear does not exist

What? Yes… This is actually what you realize when you are in the eye of the fear storm. You can start to explore from inside your fear and this is a totally different point of view than watching it form far away. Fear is just a projection of your mind into the real world. This is something you imagine will happen (perhaps) in the future. But you are living now and the future does not exist. And since fear resides in the future it does not exist either.

Going to the comfort zone inside fear is like going to the bathroom at 3am without turning any lights on (bonus points if you’ve watched The Shining the evening before that). You are being careful but lights or no lights, you know the path. Eventually you can do this without opening your eyes either. Because it’s not because it’s 3am and you watch the Shining that things are different. It’s just fear right… and when you walk to your bathroom you realize that Jack Nicholson is not in you hallway.

So just go inside your fear. Say yes to projects that you think are impossible for you. Try to take a little risk and observe what happens. Observation is the key when you are inside your fear. Because this will show you that your safe zone extends farther than you think and there is much more to explore than what you think.

If you liked this post, you will probably be interested in these ones:

Also my friend Chase, released his latest story Holden. I really like his style. And since you are cool people, I’m sure you will enjoy this story. You can get it on his website.

And finally… I have just opened a facebook page for this blog! You can like it to show your support and/or follow what is happening here.

Thank you! Have a great day!!

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You are lucky (and you have no excuse)

Life is hard, isn’t it? I mean, look at all the shit we have to take care about: washing dishes,  shopping for groceries, commuting in overpopulated buses, waking up early to get more stuff done, budgeting, shovelling snow, getting your credit card hacked… And all this is just surrounding the work we are doing. It’s hard, it’s tiring and worst: it never seems to end. So it’s quite easy to feel like life sucks. And actually I think life can really suck… but only if you decide that it can.

Being Grateful

I have been practicing gratitude lately (no it’s not because Thanksgiving is coming, but yes I publish this post during Thanksgiving week and I realize I will fall in this trend of grateful posts). Actually, it is part of my yoga teacher’s training. Everyday I answer a list of questions about what I did during the days and I observe how my life evolves (for those who are interested: it follows Yamas and Niyamas). One of the questions is “What are you grateful for today?” I think this is the question that resonates the most with me. Because I’m not perfect and I have this tendency, like many, to get frustrated by what life throws at me.

An exemple of ranting

“Of course the metro was stopped because some idiot tried to force a door open… And it made me late for a meeting. I ran, I was sweaty, I looked like shit. So it didn’t help looking serious in front of my client,etc…” I can rant like that for hours, but in the end it does not solve any problem. Actually it makes things worse. I’m sure you are also used to experiment frustrating events like this one, right?

What if instead I was just grateful because of the time I had to read more in the metro? What if I was just actually happy to have a meeting in the first place and be able to interact with people I respect. Oh yeah I was a little late, but whatever… Or maybe just laugh at how ridiculous my mind is when ranting. I mean, it was really not that bad, right?

You are lucky

It’s easy to take this world for granted. I’m not sure that we realize how lucky we are to just live on a planet that sustain life. Lately, I have been grateful to just be human. For all I know I could be a fly and eat shit, can you imagine that? How lucky you are that your soul was sent somehow into a human body… I’m even grateful to have this ability to experience pain, frustration and anger and all these complex emotions. And the more I’m grateful, the more good opportunities seem to come to me. Is it a consequence or a cause? I don’t really know… The world is too complex to really understand what is going on.

If you can read this. You are flipping lucky. Perhaps you are on the other side of the world, but we can communicate together, how cool is that? That means that you canconnect with the entire world. You can access knowledge, you can create a business. Go tell about internet to Leonardo Da Vinci, Einstein or Henry Ford. Imagine how they would have been grateful to have a tool like this one… You can actually change the world. It has never been so easy.

Really, there is no excuse for worries. No excuse for thinking of how life can be hard. There is no excuse to not live as a superhero. There is no excuse to complaints. We are lucky, its about time to act like it. And more, it’s actually our duty to make the most of it.

So I’m asking this question: What are you grateful for today?