The Never-Ending Work of Building Our Dream

4719678156_3b07b42c7f_zThere is an audio version below.

To be honest, I don’t feel like writing this article. For those of you who know me, you’re thinking, “I thought that dude was a writing addict.” I love to write almost more than breathing, yet I’m not feeling it. I wish I could fake it, but this is like pulling teeth.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way. There are times when I dread a podcast interview I have on my schedule. There are events that are paying me to speak, but I don’t want to get on stage in front of a group of strangers.

Most of you know I’m a high-functioning introvert, so maybe that contributes to these feelings, but I think it’s deeper than that. I think some reading this feel the same way.

We Aren’t the Energize Bunny

I’m the first one to tell you that to make your dream your reality, you have to hustle. You have to find time in the margins between your day job to work on your dream. The harder you hustle, the more progress you make.

While hustle is important, none of us is the Energizer Bunny. We NEED a break. We need to step away from our dreams and take a deep breath.

Despite waking up every day and living my dream, I still need a break from it. I have written over half a million words and my fingers and mind are feeling it. If I keep pushing, I know I will start to get bitter towards writing.

Hustle Smarter

Ok, it’s been a week since I started this. I took a week away to refresh and enjoyed the quiet moments (while my kids were in school). I needed that break even though life is good.

You need a break, too. I know how hard you’re hustling, and I know what you want to accomplish, but you have to hustle smarter. Hustling more intelligently means having the right balance and focus.

If you have a family, they have to come first. After that, you need to work hard, but take breaks. I’m not telling you to get out of the car, so to speak. I’m saying to ease off the gas pedal as you come to intersections. If you’re single, you will still need breaks.

One of the main reasons dreamers crash and burn is because of burnout. Yes, life is short, but building a dream isn’t going to happen overnight. It takes time and focused effort.

There will always be something you have to do that’s a part of your dream chasing journey. Even after you’ve accomplished freedom, the tasks keep piling up.

I want you to live out your dream. I want you to do it this year; that would be super cool! But, I want you to build your dream lifestyle without turning it into a nightmare.

Take breaks and refresh your perspective. Maintain the proper balance. Don’t settle. The danger in writing this article is that some will read it and let it feed into previously used excuses. Please, don’t settle. Chase your dreams in a smarter way. Be honest with yourself.

Audio version:

Have you been worn out while chasing a dream?

Photo: Flickr/ bark

6 Steps to Creating Freedom in Your Work

3085999649_3ab3423834_zThere is an audio version below.

Gallup tells us that Americans now work 47 hours a week. That time could be spent doing something you love, and that compliments your life. It can also be spent doing work that you dislike and causes stress in other areas of your life. Each of us have a choice to make.

I do realize that there are some reading this who are stuck in stressful situations. It can be a single parent raising children, a person who was unexpectedly layed off, or someone who got cheated in some way. In those situations, you have to get into survival mode–do what it takes to weather the storm.

Most reading this, however, can and should do something about their work situation. I have talked to many of you and understand that freedom in your work is a goal. Here are six ways to create that freedom.

1. Identify your dream work situation. Identifying is the most important step in creating freedom. We think we know what we want, but spend years trying different things. Before I chose this lifestyle, I tested ten other ways to create income. You have to think about what you want from life and how your work fits into those goals. Talk to friends, interact with a mastermind group, pray/meditate, but take some time to get honest about how you want to spend those 47 hours a week.

What are you passionate about/enjoy doing? It’s cheesy, I know, but if you do something you don’t enjoy, it will feel like a job after a while. Is there something you’re superb at? These can be clues.

2. Research. Google and a wealth of other online resources have created an incredible opportunity to study our dreams. We can map out exactly what it will take to get from point A to Z. You have to research your goals and research each step. This is where too many dreamers get lost. (more…)

The Day After My Father’s Funeral

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There is an audio version below.

My parents went through a divorce when I was 4 years old. The earliest memories I have of my father are not positive. My parents constantly fought — the final nail in the coffin being my father cutting open my little brother’s lip when he hit him.

I grew up hating my father.

He hurt my mother, brother, and several family members. He hurt me by not being a father I could look up to, and learn how to be a man from. As I became an adult, my hatred for him grew.

There was a point where that hatred decreased. I left my parents home at 17 and was homeless. I dropped out of high school and got three jobs to survive. I didn’t have time to think about him.

When I got myself established, he tried to reach out. His voicemail said he just wanted to say HI. I broke the answering machine.

I met the woman who would become my wife, got my G.E.D., and we started our life together. I got steady work, a place, and we started a family. My father continued to reach out.

I ignored him.

We had our first son a year later. My father heard about him from my grandfather — who I had an amazing relationship with. My grandfather was always there for my brother and me.

It had been years and my hatred for my father had faded. I told him he could see his grandson. From then on, I would talk to him every few months. He would come over to see his grandchildren, and he would keep apologizing. We kept this kind of relationship until April of 2012.

I can remember every second of the call. I can feel every emotion that ran through my body during that call. My grandfather called to tell me my father died in his sleep. He was 54 years old.

I got off the phone and didn’t know how to react; there were so many conflicting emotions. I simply hung up and went to bed. The next few days were a blur. I did all the normal life stuff, but in the back of my mind was a pinging. His funeral was a week later.

The funeral was torture. People came to express their condolences, but I was clueless as to what to do or how to react — this was my first death experience, and we weren’t close. (more…)

Stop Chasing Influencers

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There is an audio version below.

When I started the journey to build my dream, I was told to connect with an influencer. I was told to add value to them somehow to get their attention. Once I did; they would share who I was and what I was doing with their audience. It would be like the “Oprah effect.”

There were several events I was scheduled to go to where influencers would be; I was excited to meet them in person. There were times when I would mention them in articles in hopes of getting their attention.

I would guess you may have been told and done something similar. The results weren’t what I was expecting. While I did get a polite response, it never went past the formalities. I learned pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to form a relationship or experience the Oprah effect.

Now to be fair, I could have approached building the relationship smarter–that I admit. But, to build my dream, I didn’t need the help of an influencer.

In January, Jared Easley, from Starve the Doubts, and I signed a book deal with Sound Wisdom Books. The deal is for a book we co-wrote called, Stop Chasing Influencers: The True Path to Building Your Business and Living the Dream.

We just got the book back from the publisher as we go through the first round of edits. As I’m reading through the book, so much is jumping out at me. The first half of the book is all about overcoming your mindset obstacles and breaking through any barriers in your way. The second half is pure strategy. We get very specific as to how to build freedom in your work and life without the help of an influencer.

The book isn’t a shot at influencers. I have many heroes I look up to and learn from every day–I’m almost a Dan Miller stalker! The book just says stop spending valuable time chasing when you could be building–and here’s how to build. Throughout the book are stories of ordinary people who built their dream on their own. I’m excited to share this book because chasing influencers has crushed too many dreamers. (more…)

Three Types of Dream Chasers

12620854435_61381d80e7_zThere is an audio version below.

Chasing dreams is hard work. They take a long time, and there are times along the way when you feel like quitting. To chase a dream, you have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and do what most people think is impossible.

When I started chasing my dreams in 2011, I went through a wide range of emotions. I wanted to change three major areas of my life, and it seemed impossible. When I thought about the magnitude of it, I was paralyzed by fear.

It took a long time to get honest about the different stages of dream chasing I was in and the type of dream chasers I was. When I got honest, the clarity followed. These different stages mirrored what I was feeling inside and what I believed about myself.

If you are going to make your dreams a reality, you have to get clarity and focus. There are three types of dream chasers. Identifying which one you are could be the key to making your dreams a reality.

1. The Skeptic

This dream-chaser sees success from others and is automatically skeptical. They look for what lucky break others had or believe they won the lottery or got an inheritance. It may be the news or bad experiences in their past, but they are blindly by skepticism.

If you are skeptical of success, you can never get to a place in your mind that will allow you to see what’s possible. Mindset is vital in dream chasing and skepticism kills the right mindset. (more…)

I’m Terrible With Money: How I Got Financial Freedom

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There is an audio version below.

I remember my first exposure to “real” money. I was 16 years old and working at Burger King. I got a paycheck for $264.32. I couldn’t believe it and thought about all the ways I was going to spend the money.

My grandfather told me to save the money since I had no bills; I laughed. I went out and bought new shoes, new clothes, and treated my friends to dinner—I felt like a big shot. I wish I learned about money early on, but I didn’t.

When I was 18, I started working for Pepsi Cola. That year I made $55,000. My jobs and income would rise, but my spending rose higher. I started a service business in the bread industry at 19 that made $60,000 the first year. A few years in, I was bringing home over $100,000.

I was barely out of my teenage years and living like a millionaire. I owned two houses (no joke), two VERY expensive cars—the payments were $1,800 a month between both cars—and more tech toys than any one person needed. The money would come in and go right back out.

You may know my story. In 2011, we were $180,000 in debt. We couldn’t open a bank account in our names because the I.R.S. would take the money before we could even think about it. We owed money to everyone and life sucked.

In 2012, I learned a little bit online business, and self-published two books. Both of those books went on to sell over 86,000 copies in three years at a profit of $3.68 a book. You can do the math.

We were able to pay off our debt and put a little bit of money in an emergency fund. We learned our lesson and vowed never to be in that position again. The business started to grow, and so did our “moving-to-Hawaii” fund. We made the move to Hawaii with a large emergency fund. And the rest is history. Right? (more…)

Finding Time For Work and Sex

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There is an audio version below

Life is busy. Most of the time, it feels like we could use an extra two hours each day to get everything done. During the chaos of life, different areas of our life suffer. One of the major ones ends up being our sex life.

I know this all too well. For 12 years, I worked a horrible job 60 hours a week. Every day on this job it felt like I was dying inside. The job was also very physical. At the end of the day, I wasn’t thinking about sex. I would have gladly traded that pleasure for a hot stone massage.

My wife and I had a ton of sex when we married. We couldn’t keep our hands off each other, and always found a creative place to display our love. There wasn’t a day that went by without us making love at least twice a day.

The hours—and years—on this job wore on me. What once was a thriving sex life, turned into sporadic and painful memories of what we used to experience. My life was out of balance and my relationship suffered.

Finding time

Each of us has 168 hours each week. Studies tell us that the average workweek is now 47 hours. When you spend that much of your week doing anything, it will have an effect on the other areas of your life. The problem becomes compounded when you’re doing work you dislike.

The stats tell us that 13 percent of us like our work. When you spend day in and day out surviving work, you get depressed and suffer from a lack of motivation. These emotions end up trickling into your relationship and sex life. (more…)

5 Things No One Tells You About Being a Parent

IMG_0263There is an audio version below.

I can clearly remember how excited I was when I found out I was going to be a daddy. I was 18 years old and a newly wed to the love of my life. I was on cloud nine and we both thought we would have this parenting thing in check.

I was 19 when our son (our first child) was born. It took all of 30 minutes after getting home from the hospital for us to realize we had no freaking clue what we were doing. We hit the panic button on our phones and were crying to our parents.

We did get our bearings and figured out a few things about parenting as we had two more children. Our oldest is now 15 and in high school.

Parenting can be incredibly rewarding or a pain in the you-know-what. There are some things that life experience will teach you. Here are five things no one tells you about being a parent.

1. There will be times when you can’t stand your kids.

We all know those parents who say parenting is always wonderful, but I think we’ll agree they’re a little off. Parenting is a joy, but sometimes our kids make us want to scream. They hide things, they lie and they fight. They do one or the other everyday. There is no off switch and you have to be on guard.

There will be more times than you can count when you’ll need a vacation from your kids. There will be times when they do things that will have you scratching your head. The only thing you can do is try to remember how we were when we were kids, and try to guide them to the right decision. Our responsibility as a parent is to teach and guide our children to embrace what makes them special. (more…)

What’s Your Escape?

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There is an audio version below.

In the years leading up to 2011, I was a TV addict! I had a DVR that was loaded with every variety of show imaginable, and I watched every episode. TV was my escape to a different life—a life much better than the one I was living. I worked 60 hours at a job I hated, and TV was a way to forget about the life I was living.

In 2011, I realized what was going on. I realized that if I was going to work on my dream, something had to give. I had a lot to accomplish. I had HUGE dreams, but the same amount of time to get it all done. When something had to go, TV became the obvious choice.

Giving up my favorite shows was hard. I had fallen in love with the story lines and characters. It didn’t go easy, but over time, I cut my TV viewing down to a few hours a month, that year.

I used that time to write, and build my business. I used that time to lose 170 pounds, eventually quit a job I hated, and move our family to Maui, Hawaii.

When I thought about giving up TV, I realized something: TV was my escape. It’s where I could go to forget about the sucky life I was living. It was what I used to continue to live a complacent and “good enough” life. I became consumed with it because it distracted me from the reality of my situation.

What are you using as a distraction?

Distractions come in many forms. For some, it can be sports. It might be a team you’re on, a team you coach, or a professional sports team you follow. There’s nothing wrong with liking sports, but there’s a line that’s crossed when it’s your way to distract you from what’s going on in your life.

If I ask you about your favorite team, and you can tell me all the stats and so on, great. But if I ask you about the changes you want to make in your life—and you make excuses—then sports has become your distraction and escape. (more…)

The Day After My Wife and I Separated

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This article has been shared over 70 thousand times in two languages.

It was love at first sight–well, almost. The first time I saw my wife, I felt something I couldn’t describe. I was 17 years old and working at Burger King. She was a 19-year-old manager.

She tried to show the employees who the boss was, so many of our co-workers couldn’t stand her; I saw past her bark. We started off as co-workers, but quickly became friends; that friendship turned into something more. We were married six months after we met.

The success rate of marriages today isn’t very high, and the numbers are more depressing when you get married young. We got married the day after I turned 18 not realizing how hard life would be for us.

Family and friends told us getting married that young was a bad idea, but we didn’t care. We were head-over-heels in love and ready to take on the world together.

The first few years were OK. We fought every now and then, but nothing major. I started a service business at 19 that quickly grew into six-figure career in a year.

I didn’t know anything about business, however. So I completely mismanaged it. In April of 2011, we were $180,000 in debt and fighting constantly over money problems.

After fighting for most of the beginning part of that year, we decided it was time to split up, and possibly end our marriage. I replay that conversation often, and it still brings tears to my eyes.

The day after we separated was one of the worst days of my life. Waking up at a friend’s house, and not seeing my love sleeping next to me was unbearable.

I cried. I yelled. I thought about committing suicide. I thought my life was over and that our children would end up seeing me as I saw my father after my parents divorced. Thoughts of someone new entering her life sent me to the bathroom throwing up.

There is hope.

That year, in general, was rough. There were the money problems, there were our problems and I was 170 pounds overweight. The day after we separated was my wake up call.

After crying my eyes out that day, I woke up the second day determined to radically change my life. No matter what it took, I was going to do everything it took to live a life of no regrets. (more…)