helpgrowchange

Why your blog is a big deal (and how you can start one)

One of the easiest ways for you to make a difference in this world is through your own written word – particularly through blogging. Even though we’re in an age of short attention spans and reality T.V., writing is still just as important today as it was centuries ago, and you have the gift to impact someone else’s life through the way you see the world.

When starting your own blog, the information available around the Internet can be extremely daunting and overwhelming. I certainly found this to be the case whenever I tried something new (like email lists, calls to action, and SEO content writing). Sometimes, all we need is something simple, containing only the important bits. Here is my attempt, hopefully it will be helpful to you.

Write about anything you want

No matter what you choose to write about, I can guarantee you someone else is doing it too. Someone else is an expert at it. And someone else is making money off it.

But that someone else is not you.

You are just as important as that other person. You have your own perception on your topic – your own experiences to add to the equation. Nobody else has experienced it the way you have. Writing your story gives a point of view no-one else has seen before.

“You are you, that is truer than true” – Dr. Seuss

When you experience an event, or use a product, or pretty much experience anything at all, you perceive it differently to anyone else on this planet.

Yes, there may be similarities, but you have your own story to tell. And your story might be the missing piece your future reader needs.

Take this site as an example. Everyone and their uncle is talking about self-motivation and taking action, yet here we are. You are reading my version of the story (hopefully it’s helping you!).

So how do I start a blog

A simple search on Google will bring up a gazillion articles on the intricacies of blogs – ranging from the technicalities of hosting, to the philosophical views on the importance of blogging. Let’s keep it simple and answer 2 simple questions;

  1. What will I name my blog?
  2. Where will I post my content?

1. What will I name my blog?

The name of your blog is pretty important if you want to attract major visitors quickly. However, that is not the purpose of this article (and you are definitely reading the wrong blog if you want traffic to your site).

Once you have your name, you need to make the choice between a free blogging service or paying for your own custom domain name. This is totally up to you, and going free is a great way to begin (it’s what I did when I started out).

If you’re serious about what you want, then buying a domain name is the way to go. You will need a domain registrar – 1and1 is the company I use.

2. Where will I post my content?

Knowing where you will be posting your content – otherwise known as hosting – is kinda critical if you want to blog. There are many free services available for you to start out on.

Medium is my personal recommendation if you simply want a place to post without the worry about any other customisation other than a picture and text (very beautifully done, I might add).

For some site customisation, such as themes and widgets, the two largest free blogging services are Blogger and WordPress. There isn’t much between the two, other than a handful of features and the website address.

As before, if you’re serious about your blogging, you will need to pay some money for a full hosting service. The benefit of this is you have full control of your content and customisation.

GreenGeeks have been awesome since I joined up with them last year. Their prices aren’t the cheapest, but their services are excellent – and they are completely powered by green energy (good for the planet and all that).

Where to next? Start writing!

I’ve provided a few pointers on where you can publish your content, now the time has come for you to show us! Start writing today, and publish it before you are ready. One of the best content writing tips I gained was the following; if your content is 80% perfect, publish it! It’s better to have your message out for people to read (possibly with an error or two), rather than have it languishing in your mind.

It can very daunting publishing your first post (trust me, I know, here’s mine), and I would love to see what you come up with. Post your website and article in the comments below.

Stand up for what you believe in

Being kind and caring is perceived as being weak by naysayers in our lives. Often, they laugh at our caring and demean our kindness – either to smash us down or make themselves feel better. Many caring folk fold under this mockery, become submissive and let the bullies in to their lives, ultimately allowing them to destroy it.

When I first started this blog, I was embarrassed to share that I wrote a blog. When I did mention that I blogged, some people would then mock me about it. Every time a situation would come up, they would disrespectfully say “Maybe you should write a blog post about this”. Even after finding out that I was trying to make a positive impact on this world, some other people would further attempt to put me down, going as far as saying that I will never make a difference as there is simply too many voices in this world.

I don’t give a damn what those people said, or would possibly say. I am helping people in need because it is the right thing to do. It is a risk, yes, but it is worth it. I help people find some purpose, help them see a brighter future, help them in any way I can.

Through me taking action and doing things for others, the bullies in my own life have backed off. They no longer pester me with small-minded comments. Or, I just simply ignore them and filter them out completely.

I believe you should ignore the bullies too. Do not allow yourself to stoop to their level. Do not allow them to play their mind games and wedge themselves in your head – initiating self-doubt and fear.

I believe you should make a stand of who you are and what you stand for. Helping out your brother, your friend, or a stranger is a sign of strength. It’s a sign that you are focusing on something greater than yourself. You are using your precious time and energy to make somebody else’s life better. That is awesome. You should do it more.

“If people are criticising you, you’re doing something right.” – Unknown

The bullies and the naysayers will always be there, trying to get in your face and putting you down. But you know what? That’s a good thing. It means you are making a difference in your world, changing our world for good, and doing what is right (almost like a superhero of sorts).

That’s what I try to remember when I’m being put down. I know what I’m doing is for the greater good. Not everything in this world is as bad as people say. And sometimes, actually most-times, a little kindness goes a very long way.

New limits are set when you disregard your current ones

How often do you find yourself saying “Oh, I can’t do that”, or “That is so out of my league”? I’m guessing pretty often. Don’t worry, we all do it. We downgrade our abilities before we’ve even started – before we’ve even thought about starting.

We look at others, and see them running for miles, selling up a storm, or climbing mountains. We are happy for those people, and we congratulate them on their achievements. But we never actually think about doing it ourselves because we’re not as fit/charismatic/courageous/(enter appropriate word here) as them. I may not have achieved much in my life (yet), but there is one thing I can tell you – and that is you can achieve as much or as little as you want.

Most of the barriers we face in our lives are self-imposed limits.

We limit ourselves in our quiet comfort zones. Those places where we know what we are doing, what will happen, and we feel ‘safe’. We become used to this lifestyle and soon forget we can achieve more. We forget there is so much more to enjoy, if we only just test our current boundaries.

Testing your limits isn’t easy. You have to figure where your limits are, how you will test them, and then the hard part comes into play – actually taking action to push past the barriers. For me, the toughest battle I fight, is internally with my own mind. My mind tells me I can’t do something (like having the audacity to ask or running 5km in under 25 minutes). I believe my mind’s words to be true, but persist in trying anyway.

New limits are set when you disregard your current ones.

When reading motivational messages, the consistent message seems to be ‘YOU CAN DO IT!’, ‘DREAM BIG, REACH HIGH!’, ‘JUST GO GO GO!’. This creates a perception in our minds that we need to go big or go home. Take this advice with a pinch of salt. There is some truth in these messages, but they are creating a false future.

You’re not going to be blazing a 10km run tomorrow, or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro next week, or even making dozens of sales by the end of today. If you believe this, you are setting yourself up for failure.

You need to courageously test your limits through tiny little incremements. We are all operating at different levels, with different mindsets and skills. Set yourself challenges to improve – small enough to be achievable, and large enough to be just outside your comfort zone.

Every time I run, I increase my distance a little, or run a little quicker. Even if it is a few hundred metres more, or only a few seconds less – it is better than before. Similarly, you can do this by testing yourself ‘just a little more’.

There is more in you

This simple saying really helps me test my limits just that little bit more. It implies that we have the energy to take one more step, we have the mental power to practice one more time.

As you test the limits of your comfort zone, you will find the boundaries begin to shift outward. Those limits you thought you had, have long since disappeared. You now know what you are capable of, and soon you will be testing your new limits again.

You may not move mountains today or tomorrow, but you are one step closer and that’s what counts.

How you can find your own work-life balance

Working a full time job, budding an online audience, and still being a dad and husband is taxing. I’m not going to lie about it. I want to be home to be the best father and husband, but need to be the best at work so that I can provide for home. How can I achieve that all at once? Can we achieve it at all? I don’t believe so, and here’s why.

I am constantly volunteering to be better. Forever improving myself to be better than yesterday. Always looking forward and up. Moving up the corporate ladder. Forward planning for my team. Yet still having the focus outside of the office to make a wider impact with HelpGrowChange. While this whirlwind is happening, I am applying the same passion and motivation to my loving family. Trying my best to give them the same attention and energy that I am exerting in other areas.

And it’s damn hard. I am wondering how it can all be done. Surely there must be a way to fit it all in?

You might be in a similar situation. Your focus at work is to take the next step up the corporate ladder, or expanding your skillset to gain more responsibility. Outside of the office, you may have a hobby you’re working on, or a book you’re writing, or a business you’re wanting to grow.

Where does your family fit in? You’re probably a lot like me, where you’re trying your best to give them the same focus. At the end of the day, everything you’re doing is for them, right? As I’m writing this, I am realising that the priority of my focus is all wrong. It now makes sense.

Family comes first.

I’m doing everything for them. Working for them. Making money for them. But by doing all that, I’m taking time away from them. This just feels all wrong to me.

This is where the dilemma lies. In order to keep us under a roof, to keep eating, and to be comfortable. We still need to work.

From my research, experts and people tend to say “just forget about work” or “money doesn’t make you happy”. The unfortunate truth for us working-class folk, is that ‘money makes the world go round‘. Money, unfortunately, is a necessity. The age for bartering and living on your own claimed land is centuries gone, and we simply cannot live like that anymore.

Unless we want to be homeless, and live on the street.

No. We have to work. We have to work smart. Smart enough to earn a lifestyle of comfort without the endless hours of business. Freeing up enough time to focus on where our real values lie.

But how? How can we do this without sacrificing work or family. Again, the unfortunate truth is “life is full of sacrifice”. Something will have to give in order for you to achieve your goals. In order to be the best father and husband you will have to compromise your financial success. In order to gain financial success, you will have to give up your family gains. These are really (really) tough decisions to make. You can’t achieve everything at the same time.

However, there may be some possible ways around this.

Break our day into segments. For example – the standard ‘work’ time is 9am-5pm; (allow time for commuting); 6pm-9pm is family time; and the remaining 1-2hrs is ‘alternative work’ time. This splits any given day into workable chunks where dedicated time and focus can be given to the respective areas of our lives.

A schedule can be marked on the calendar where certain days of the week can be the focus of certain areas in our lives.

An agreement can be reached within the family about how a combination of the above can be used.

At the end of the day, I don’t believe there is a solution for this problem that has plagued our working society for generations. It may just be the fact of us having to stop trying to achieve everything and only focus on one or two values that we find critical to our own happiness.

I’m still in limbo with finding my focus, but I’m trying my best. Are you struggling with your time at home? What do you find that works for you?

3 Principles to cherish other than money

“Money makes the world go round”

My mother taught me this saying, and in today’s society it still rings true. We rely on it for almost everything. We use it to buy our food, pay for our power and Internet services, and even need money to clothe ourselves. We work our asses off for decades in the hope that we will still have enough money to live once we are not able to work any more. As a society we focus too much on money itself and it’s necessity in our lives.

Although money can make the world go round, it is not the only one that does.

We have come to believe that money is the only thing that will make us happy, and that we need it to ensure our future happiness and success. This cannot be further from the truth. Don’t get me wrong, there is a certain amount of funding we need in order to survive, but that is all money is for. It is the end result of the focus you have put in elsewhere, and not the focus itself.

I strongly believe there are 3 other principles in life where we should (and must) focus on. Kindness, Respect, and Giving. All three are intertwined and essential to building a fulfilled life.

Kindness starts with a smile

Being kind is real easy, almost too easy. When we think of kindess, we envisage soft-hearted people with puppy dog eyes, not saying a bad word to anyone. It doesn’t have to be like that, and all you have to do to start off being kind is a simple smile to another person. Not one of those creepy, stalker smiles, but a genuine one. Something that will make them feel better in their day because of it. You can smile anywhere and at anyone, such as at the cashier in the store, or the person walking past you in the street.

One simple smile can really change a person’s day.

Respect builds trust

I cannot stress the importance of respect. Respecting others’ beliefs, their privacy, and their time are only a few examples of what to do. Because you believe in something, or are comfortable with stating your opinion, does not give you the right to disrespect those around you. One thing I try to do here, is put myself in their shoes. This normally helps me catch myself before I show too much disrespect and break down the relationship I’ve worked hard to build.

Giving helps you feel better

More studies show that when we help others with their successes, we feel many times greater satisfaction than if we simply helped ourselves. Giving is about selflessly helping someone else with something instead of for yourself. Give your partner the last chocolate in the box because you know it’s their favourite. Help a friend with some groceries that they can’t afford, or donate a large sum of money to a charity you believe in.

BONUS principle – Gratitude

How can we be happy and content about anything if we don’t appreciate what we have? I look at my sons every day, and am so grateful they are healthy and beautiful. I thank my lucky stars for having such a supportive wife. My appreciation is through the roof when I am able to afford the pleasures in life (like electricity, Internet, and a choice of food) when there are children working in glass factories or roaming the streets for rubbish, hoping to sell them to recycling centres (if you know how I can help them, I would love to know!).

Take a minute out of your day to realise the world you’re in. Is your 9-5, well-paying, job really that bad? Do you really need to get irritated at the red traffic light when you’re sitting in your 5 year old car?

No-one is perfect, and that’s ok

I’m still learning how to fully integrate these core principles into my life. Sometimes, I’m still a bit selfish, don’t show enough respect, and am sometimes unkind. Don’t take it too personally when you don’t get it right, as long as you know you did wrong. Just remember to be better next time.

All three of these principles are so critical, so integral that without them we will live hollow, shallow, mediocre lives. Yes, money is important, it can buy us many things, but it doesn’t make this world a better place on it’s own. Through kindness, giving, and respect, money can be used to make the difference we want and need it to make.

How to rekindle your passion on a lazy Sunday afternoon (Final Part)

This is the third and final instalment of my series about how you can rekindle your passion on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

In the first part I challenged you to dream about a day in your future life. A day about 3-5 years in the future which is the culmination of your life dreams today. In Part 2 I encouraged you to draw out the details of your dream, as well as to discover why you want to achieve this dream.

As a recap here are the 5 questions listed before;

  • What is my dream?
  • Why do I want this?
  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What can I offer?
  • What can I do?

Of the five questions I pointed out previously, you answered two of them – What is the dream? and Why do I want this?. Out of these two, you gained purpose.

With purpose we can go anywhere and do anything. But how? Well, that’s where the trick comes in. We have to move out of our dream world and actually perform some work. This is tough, but once you get going it’s not too hard.

Let’s find out how…

What do I want to achieve?

Although this may sound similar to ‘what is the dream?‘, in truth it is far from it. Our dream state elicits feelings and inspiration, while achievements are the tangible outcomes based on the dream. For example, in my own dream, I am walking to my son’s school to pick him up. The achievement is that I am working from home to allow myself the flexibility to take a walk when I want.

What can I offer and What can I do?

The remaining two questions go hand-in-hand where the focus is around performing an honest appraisal of yourself to see what you can offer yourself to reach your dream. Maybe include someone you trust to offer you honest feedback.

Compile a list of strengths, weaknesses, skill sets, and experience. Think of these answers as the tools you have available to work towards your dream. By laying them all out on the table, you can see what you have and more importantly, what you are missing.

Now is the time for action

You have your dream, you have your purpose, and you have a view of where you stand right now. Now go for it! When I reached this point, I was raring to go. Excited that I had finally realised what I wanted, why I wanted it, and what I could do to get there.

The next part of your journey is the hardest – taking the first step towards the dream. What will your first step be?

All articles