Anywhere You Go, You Are Still Here

Now first off, I am not a seasoned traveler by any means, but I do have some experience to base this off. I’ve been to 3 continents and spend almost 2 years abroad since I went on a solo journey almost 4 years ago.

Anyway, on my first trip to Asia, I had this weird experience that stuck with me the entire time. First noticed at Moscow airport where I had my connecting flight, but not to the same extent. Here I was, thousands of miles away from good ol’ home, couldn’t read nor pronounce any of the words, and neither did I understand any parts of this funny sounding language. (I really can’t imagine any other Asian language sounding more gay than Thai.)

Yet, nothing seemed different from home. It’s hard to capture what I was feeling and describe it with words, but at times, I needed to remind myself that I was actually on the other side of the planet. It felt like the homeless person on the street in Bangkok was the same person from my home city, only looking Asian. The shop assistant, the workers on the street – they all were the Asian counterparts of people I’ve already met.

It almost felt like none of which was happening around me actually reached the threshold where I would pay close attention. I expected this to be totally exciting and overwhelming.

It wasn’t. Sure, new experiences and opportunities all-around, but “it” never hit me. The culture shock – it never kicked in.

At some point throughout the trip, I realized that perhaps I’m getting used to all of this. Not in a negative way, but I’ve simply done enough traveling by myself, that no trip is a big deal anymore. This perhaps is also an indicator that I need to challenge myself in other ways in order to grow and feel alive. Regular traveling doesn’t seem to cut it anymore.

Another thing, which surprisingly took me a couple of years to realize, was that personal issues are always part of the carry-on luggage. It doesn’t matter where I go, the issues, anxiety and insecurities always join me. They might come in a different forms, or not at all during the initial honeymoon phase in every location, but eventually it all goes back to the status quo.

This has been one of the illusion I’ve been operating under, thinking that somehow, somewhere else things would be fundamentally different. At least when it comes to short-term stays, it’s no different than home. Nowadays, I have the awareness, knowing what really to consider when going abroad, such as costs of living, food quality, culture and people – and still know that I will have to deal with any of my personal B.S.

Traveling and actually immersing myself in a new culture are one of the most rewarding experiences I can think of. Having cut through the self-fabricated illusions, I can now more than ever appreciate what some of these wonderful places have to offer.

Radical Honesty – Rescue Or Pathway To Hell?

I am a big fan of simplicity and nothing seems more basic than this.

Speak your mind. Say what you think and feel.

Don’t worry about saying the right thing, just let it out.

Try being honest for more than a day, and you’ll see that it’s hard.

Freakin’ hard.

Telling white lies is the easy way out, the hassle-free approach most people take. If there were better alternatives, we wouldn’t bullshit so much. Lying has become second nature, we don’t notice it anymore. Over the years, however, this leads to unhappiness and mental disorders.

Dr. Blanton is a rather unpleasant bloke and his book’s title “Radical Honesty” suggest that you’re in for a harsh wake-up call.

The ideas are radical and so are the results. Sleeping with 700 women isn’t a small feat for any psychotherapist.

Granted, I was eager to learn about his methods.

Summer 2011, Barcelona – I was heavily into reading pickup and seduction material, at a time where most methods either included deception, lying or manipulation. I felt like an idiot trying to trick women into bed, yet worse, it seemed like a lot of work.

Blanton’s approach was different and of the simplest nature.

Be honest, be direct. Whether it’s women, or life – there’s no difference.

Clearly, this is something for personal relationships, not a way of talking to your boss or colleagues.

Honesty doesn’t come easy, it’s a skill that requires strength and the willingness to be vulnerable, to let your guard down. It’s always weird, painful and sometimes even awkward.

The idea of hurting a loved one makes you cringe, so you fabricate a story.

At the same time, you take the worst action possible and continue the cycle of bullshit. Instead, tell the truth and risk hurting the other. While this sounds insane, it helps create deeper and stronger relationships over the long term. Over time, any hurt will subside. This is a natural process that won’t let you down.

Radical Honest doesn’t come in a gift back and lacks short-term benefits. In fact, at the beginning, you can expect a truckload of negative emotions coming right at you. Don’t lose faith, push through it and experience a new level of freedom in your life. Speaking your mind will transform everything, especially how you interact with friends and family.

This method – being direct – isn’t about getting others to like you, or even achieving a certain outcome. It’s a purely egoistic approach, a painful, yet straight-forward way to come clean with yourself. Building a healthy connection with yourself and others is the priceless reward.

Radical Honesty by Dr. Brad Blanton presents simple ideas to transform your life. Unfortunately, explaining these ideas doesn’t take long, and the remainder of this book consists of boring stories, irrelevant content and a series of promotions for expensive seminars.

You know, the ones where you get filmed naked.

I am not kidding you, go read the book.

Beyond Limits – 5 Factors That Determine Results

Getting things done is easy, straight-forward – at least the recipe for it. You simply just do it.

The referred to solution you’ll find in just about every resource related to productivity. What they’re mostly missing is a detailed look at the contributing factors of time-wasting, the not so obvious obstacles hindering productivity – most of which are self inflicted.

Working 9-5, ideas like these never crossed my mind, and it wasn’t something I had expose myself to. Things changed right after starting my own business, where sometimes I had to be employee, project manager and boss at the same time, all whilst facing a variety of challenges.

The new experiences internalized, it’s now time to convert freshly-made distinctions to change.

There’s not many things effecting productivity – here’s what’s relevant to know, in order of decreasing importance.

1. Mental & Physical Power

Body and mind are intertwined and while the mind can always override physical urges, it’s best to keep both at peak conditions. Health is at the basis of long-term productivity and can easily be maintained by sticking to a regular sleep pattern, organic and mostly Vegan diet, enough protein and supplementing with additional products such as Vitamin D3, Vitamin K, Fish Oil and Creatine.

This is nothing new, something I’ve covered more detailed here.

Physical fitness is nice, but worth nothing without it’s psychological counterpart. Keeping mental power at desirable levels is done through daily meditation, monitoring negative thought patterns, beliefs and more importantly challenging ourselves in a variety of ways – brain exercises, pushing through discomfort.

2. Clarify, Clarify More

Mental and physical engines up and running, it’s time to channel energy the right way, for else it will just diffuse and not do much good. Setting goals is my favorite activity, followed by journaling both of which are prime way to getting clear on what you want and structuring thoughts.

Tons of willpower is be lost whenever we struggle and don’t understand something. Having a step-by-step plan in place has been an essential ingredient in achieving my outcomes. That leads to yet another important step – defining outcomes, not just yearly goals.

Ideally, I set up a list of weekly outcomes (based on monthly goals) and then write down possible action steps next to it. The action doesn’t matter, it’s the outcome that needs to be achieved. The method of getting there can change along the way.

3. Utilizing Routines & Rituals

Chasing goals without proper routines in place is very much like baking a cake with no cake-pan. It’s a lot more effort and never ends up looking nice.

This is also where many people screw up.

Following other people’s plans is NOT how you master yourself, it’s by noticing what works for you and making appropriate adjustments. I for one have a hard time getting creative work done at any time other than in the morning, especially after having watched YouTube videos.

I’ve created my own routines for writing blog post, unleashing creativity and staying productive.

It’s only by noticing how and when you’re at your best that you can now bypass circumstances that limit your potential. This applies to the external world as well as dealing with your emotions and feelings.

From going to the gym early morning to the bed time – it all has an impact on productivity, at worst a negative one.

4. Eliminating Distraction

Before looking at ways to cutting out distractions, it’s important to understand the underlying reasons for the behavior in the first place. Trying to stop one thing will lead to wasting time somewhere else because what has really been addressed was only the outlet for distraction, not its cause.

Nobody watches TV, porn or uses other ways of escaping the present moment without being driven by an underlying issue to do so. There is always a cause of procrastination, which often equals distraction.

Maybe it’s that tasks seem too big and overwhelming and that leads to never getting started. In such a case, avoiding surfing the web will result in going to the water cooler 20x per day. Nothing changes except the form of distraction.

You get the idea.

Once that is taken care of, it’s time to fight the war on distraction. That’s what’s happening today, a fight for people’s attention, especially on the Internet.

Smartphone, OFF. Facebook, EXIT. It’s not rocket science.

5. Expanding Limits

Talking about safe ways to do that though, which only include proven and sustainable options. Supplements – so-called “Nootropics” – such as caffeine pills and l-theanine have been tested extensively – both of which should help maximize what I’m capable of when that extra boost is needed.

Obviously, there’s more options such as modafinil, but really, currently I’m not willing to take the risk.

 6. Seeking Balance

Knowing when I’m close to my limits is important so that required off-time, recharging the batteries can be scheduled. Whether that’s small scale, such as taking a nap or break, or long-term in the form of a vacation, renewal is the key to making all of this sustainable. Continuously going full-bore will otherwise result in a burnout eventually.

Renewal comes in different forms, depending on personality type and preferences: from reading a book, to meeting friends, socializing, or taking a walk in nature.

How To Be Creative – Open The Floodgate

In previous articles, I’ve covered specific processes I use for being productive and fully fleshing out creative content. Today, the last piece of writing an article is uncovered – coming up with ideas.

Ideas were at the basis of anything ever created, and despite struggling at times, I’ve been able to consistently create new articles in a relatively short period of time. Pressure is at the root of writer’s block and force alone rarely leads to desired results.

Without practice, writing isn’t so easy. It only becomes effortless through repetition and by discovering your own, personal workflow. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s not a challenge at times. It certainly is – more often that I’d like.

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Questions are the cornerstone of creativity and by asking specific questions, a particular kind of thinking can be stimulated. This is crucially important because if I focus on what I HAVE to write, I never get anywhere and every single sentence becomes a never-ending task.

Words don’t flow and in case efforts result in an article, I usually can’t relate to it.

Asking the right questions, on the other hand, it’s easier to have ideas, or a starting point. That, and ideas I enjoy writing about.

  • Where is my focus at today, this week, or month?
  • What am I currently pondering about,  what’s bothering or annoying me?
  • What is going through my mind that I could capture in a blog post in order to help structure my thoughts?
  • If I could write about anything – what would I enjoy writing about today?
  • What am I happy or grateful about? Could this potentially be converted in an article?

These are all very general questions, but usually good enough to come across valuable ideas. My brain is super-active, there’s always something I’m processing, or want to resolve. Really, if that’s not the case with you, it probably means you’re dead already.

Going a step further, here’s how I dig deeper. That’s also where many of the in-depth articles originated from.

  • Which problems/issues have I overcome (recently)?
  • What do I want to do in the future and why?
  • What are my friends currently dealing with? What are their problems?
  • Where have I succeeded, what were the specific mechanics?
  • How have I changed over the years? What has changed in life that I haven’t noticed up until now?

No idea is too small, it could be something like having achieved consistency in dieting for a couple of weeks and then looking at HOW that came about, the behavioral changes implemented and lessons learned. The same could be done with a failure – it offers the chance to further analyze the experience.

As soon as I lay hands on an idea, I am ready to rock. Again, the tiniest, most insignificant thing can offer a starting point, something to expand on and explore further.

Additional ideas for writing could include reviews of books read, food consumed, places visited, or services used. Looking at the vast range of options, it seems more difficult NOT to come up with new ideas.