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.

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?

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?

How to rekindle your passion on a lazy Sunday afternoon (Part 1)

We are all passionate about something in our lives. Some of us love to write, others love to sew, while others love to sell. Whatever it may be, passion is a rollercoaster ride of emotions, where one day ideas are flying and excitement overflowing, then boredom and frustration the next. You have the power to get out of this rut by simply day dreaming.

It was Sunday, the weather was fantastic outside with the sun shining and just a hint of a breeze to cool the heat. I was feeling frustrated with a lack of progress in multiple aspects of my life. Career progression, house maintenance, and financial inflexibility to name a few.

I had thoughts and plans running around my head about what I should be doing, what I wanted to happen, and how great it would be to have a life of freedom. The passion I had before was being replaced with scattered thoughts and random tasks. I could feel I was moving in a general direction, I knew what I wanted to do this year, but what about the next? Or the year after that?

It was time to clear the picture.

So I sat down at my dining room table for a couple of hours and really worked out where I wanted to be in 3-5 years. I really locked the picture in my mind, mapped it all out, and came out at the end with a real sense of long term purpose. I knew what life I wanted, why I wanted it, and how I could get there.

Many of us go through similar situations where we’ve lost the dream of the project we started. We are beavering away at short term goals, gaining traction on some of our ideas, but we just feel something is missing. Something isn’t quite working out, or the picture of the future is just not clear enough.

Clarity is critical

I am completely guilty of being busy without purpose. When an idea sparks in my mind, I tend to jump all in. It’s what happened last year, and I don’t want to get there again.

Having a dream is fantastic. It’s what gets us up in the morning, ready to take on the big project we started. But those dreams tend to be hazy. We have this lovely feeling of excitement and start doing something, but then lose focus again.

There is a step that needs to happen between thinking about your dream and taking action – and it mostly consists of writing it out. Take a couple of hours out of your day to plan for your future (it can be a lazy Sunday afternoon).

Think hard about that dream. Truly immerse yourself in it. Ask yourself as many questions as possible; Can you see yourself sitting in the picture? What are you feeling? If there are windows, what is the weather like outside? What colours are the walls?

Really focus on the details of your dream. The more crystal clear the dream, the more purpose you can gain out of it.

What are you busy with? Are you working to a schedule? How far in the future is the dream? Are you with anybody?

As I did this process with myself, I found a growing sense of excitement about my future. A sense of purpose and a rekindling of passion began to emerge – especially after I followed the next few questions, which you will see over the next few weeks.

In the next part of this series I will explain how you can draw out the details of your dream and align it with your purpose.

I have a challenge for you before the next article. Have a think about your life in the next 5 years. You know which one I am talking about. It’s the one you think of daily – the book you want to publish, the house you want to build, or even the way of life you want to live.

Think deeply about it, gain as much detail as you can, and we’ll put it all together in the next post.

Improve your decisions with one simple mind trick

We make decisions in everything we do. In the way we brush our teeth in the morning, when we decide to buy coffee, or where to sit on the train. Every single one of these decisions impacts our lives in ways we cannot imagine. Each decision moves us towards a destination we may, or may not, have set for ourselves. We need to make our decisions count.

So often, I see myself and others faltering on their decision making. Some folk make rash decisions (I’m guilty of this), while others find it difficult to make a decision on much of anything. We go about our lives rueing the decisions we’ve made – or not made.

So how do we change this? How do we become better decision makers? Well, there isn’t much we can do, really. Yes, there are a plethora of options available, ranging from gut feeling to the Kepner Tregoe Decision Making process, but the trouble is we can’t go about performing a problem analysis for every decision we make – especially if it a subconscious, sub-second one made in the spur of the moment. Neither can we simply go on gut feeling when the decision requires more thought. The trick is to find balance between the two.

One method that has worked for me is to focus only on the object of the decision. For example, I’m trying to make better decisions when I’m thirsty, specifically drinking water instead of Coca-Cola. I focus only on the area I want to change – drink water. I consciously bring that decision to the front of my mind when I’m thirsty, or every time it crosses my mind. I replace the thought with the object, like ‘Water, water, water‘, ‘drink 2 litres of water a day‘, or ‘drink water now before you want something else, you lazy bastard!‘. I find the next time I am thirsty, I choose water instead of Coca-Cola.

This method has worked for me in other things too, such as;
– exercising each morning (saying ‘Drop and give me 20!‘, instead of ‘I’m tired‘),
– focussing on tasks (saying ‘Another one knocked off‘, instead of ‘I have so much to do!‘),
– and even showing my family appreciation (saying ‘These people are my foundation‘, instead of ‘Where is my time going?‘).

Many decisions we make are due to habits we instil in ourselves. We’ve made these habits consistent enough to move to our sub-conscious. Once there, most of the decisions we make are automatic. Because we’ve made similar decisions before, our brains move the mental processing out of the way so that we can make these decisions quicker.

Changing these auto-decisions requires you to fuse new thought patterns and habits into your sub-conscious. No easy feat, but certainly possible. And it is easier than you think. It all starts with a little focus, and some habit forming.

What will you change about your decision making process today?

[Featured image Ashley Batz via unsplash.com]

How will you make 2015 better?

The trouble with life is that it just gets in the way of your dreams. It sits there and sniggers when you haven’t achieved a goal you’ve set for yourself. It constantly intervenes to hamper your progress towards bigger and better things. Life laughs in your face, especially when you’re down.

The truth is, it’s not life that gets in the way, it’s us. We are the ones that allow distractions in. We are the ones that lose the momentum when the going gets tough (or too easy for that matter). We are the ones that allow our end goals to slip away.

Last year, I experienced just this. The year started off with a bang. I had started my newsletter, my work was being posted on other blogs. I was gaining exposure in the right places. But then I got lazy. I lost focus, and the year just fizzled out into mediocrity. I was extremely disappointed with myself.

I learnt something important during that time. I learnt my limitations and what I need to do to exceed them. I learnt more about myself and what I want to do with my life. I learnt I am not as awesome I as I think I might be. Finally, I learnt humility.

It seemed to be a recurring theme. I needed to find a way out of this habit. Thanks to my beautiful wife, that path may have been found. During Christmas my wife bought Leonie Dawson’s 2015 workbook, and I found Michael Hyatt’s free introductory videos for his best year ever course. Both are about setting goals and achieving them. They offer a system you can use to effectively and confidently achieve your goals. I am intrigued at how similar these methods are, and I believe there is some common sense in them.

My wife and I worked our way through Leonie Dawson’s workbook. It had us thinking long and hard about what we want to achieve in our lives this year. I’m excited about what opportunities will present themselves – if I can stick to my guns. I’m confident that by using the methods learnt through Leonie Dawson and Michael Hyatt, my work life, home life, and life in general will be changed for the better.

What about you? Have you thought about what you want to achieve this year? How are you going to do it? I highly recommend implementing a system for you to achieve all you can.

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