The secret to getting ahead is getting started

Regular readers will have noticed an absence of posts here in the last few weeks. I took a long Christmas break to spend time away from work, my writing and anything else that didn’t include my wife and kids.

Now I’m back and thinking about the year ahead of me.

How do you set up your year ahead? I take time in early January for 2 activities. Both are key in helping me make the right choices and grow in areas I either need to grow or hadn’t considered before.

Number 1. Making choices easier

Claire Diaz Ortiz introduced me to the concept of having a word of the year in a blog post she wrote a few years back, I’ve had one ever since. My word of the year for 2018 was ‘change’. The idea of a word for the year is to have a word that represents the year in front of you. Last year I moved myself and my family to Denmark, went car free (using public transport and bicycle only), and introduced daily fasting into my eating routine. It’s fair to say that when choices arrived, my word of the year guided me significantly.

My word for the year 2019 is ‘Possible’. I want the year ahead to be one where things I think may not be possible are possible. It’s a positive word that sets a frame of mind, one focused on making things happen and getting things done. If you’ve not experimented with a word to represent your year ahead, why not try now? There’s no better time than early January, when our minds are focused on starting afresh. If you’re new to this you could use this site for inspiration:

Number 2. Choose influencers

Another activity I do in early January is choose 5 people to influence and change my thinking. What’s slightly unusual here is I choose 5 people I don’t have in person access too. The famous quote ‘You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with’ attributed to Jim Rohn is the inspiration for this. I started doing it a few years ago after finding I was unconsciously making huge positive changes to my life, based on regularly listening to content from Tim Ferriss.

This year I’ve chosen:

  1. Tim Ferriss – Tim features in my influencer list every year. The Tim Ferriss show, his books, blog posts and tweets are life changing.
  2. Will Smith – Pretty much my reason to have an Instagram account. I’ve followed him on and off over the years, as the way he lives his life is incredibly inclusive and positive, this year I’m following him more closely.
  3. Satya Nadella – Quite possibly the best CEO in history, Satya changed Microsoft’s culture for the better while I worked there, and through his actions and writing, he continues to inspire my thinking around how I work and the impact I can have.
  4. Jason Fried – One of the founders of Basecamp. Ever since hearing his conversation with Tim Ferriss I’ve been studying how Basecamp does business with its customers as well as its employees. He’s written some fantastic books, blog posts and been in some incredible interviews. I’m looking forward to changing how I view business and work through learning from Jason this year.
  5. Adam Buxton – Ever since watching the Adam and Joe show I’ve been enjoying Adam’s particular style of humour and wit. A few years back he started a podcast where he has conversations with people like Louis Theroux, Simon Pegg and Charlie Brooker (creator of Black Mirror). The Adam Buxton podcast is funny, interesting and brings joy to anyone who listens.

If you want to take control and steer your year in the direction you want, try these 2 activities and feel the positive change happen around you. It works for me, I hope it works for you also.

5 Share Friday 14 December 2018

1. Quote I’m pondering “Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it white.” – Bing Crosby

2. I’ve made my yearly Wikipedia donation. I use Wikipedia a lot (including links here on my blog). It’s not perfect, it’s not always 100% accurate, but wow what would we do without it? If Wikipedia has helped you at all this year, consider donating, it’s a non profit and has no other way of existing. You can find donation links here:

3. The Danes love sweet potato’s, and there’s no shortage of them. I love them to (we all do in the Purvis clan). So we’ve been enjoying this sweet potato smoothie for a while. Unlike white potato varieties, sweet potato is supremely alkaline and doesn’t create gas or wind (phew). Try it and see, the below ingredients serve 2:

1 sweet potato, 2 carrots, 2 oranges – Peel the potato, top and tail the carrots, peel the orange and break into segments, add to the juicer – voila!

4. I’m looking at my list of books to read in 2018 and have found this list of non fiction I’m really looking forward to. Take a look at these 8 books and see if they get your reading buds going too:

5. I’ve been reading this article on stress. Thankfully stress for me is not perennial, though it can be chronic for some. Reading this has helped me realise that much of our stress can come from the fight between the logical voice in our head and our heart. The author shares several ways to overcome and reduce this type of stress. I’m pondering on the below a little this week:

When your life and success accelerate, you need to up-level.
You can’t keep operating from the same dialogue that worked before. It’s not going to be enough. It’s not going to fit.

I hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Then one day, when you least expect it, the great adventure finds you..

Life is for adventure, that’s how the saying goes. Though for many, life feels like a whirlwind of work and family commitments.

How much adventure do you have in your life? How much of that adventure is attitude and how much of it is choosing to get out of your comfort zone?“

“Adventure isn’t hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day to day obstacles in life.” – John Amatt

This time last year I was 3 months into a new role. One where’d I’d chosen to leave the comfort of a large corporation and dive headfirst into a smaller, growing company. A company that has arguably changed the way video games are made forever. Like Apple’s app store, which spawned new business groups and new millionaires, Unity has done the same for  video games. Democratising the ability to create, enabling anyone the opportunity to make a great experience for little or no financial cost upfront.

Over that Christmas period of 2017, I was going through stages of regret. What had I done? I’d tripled my commute time, I’d left a company with quite possibly the best CEO in history – Satya Nadella –  (He’s the Abe Lincoln of CEO’s and I still look to him for ways I can better myself). I’d taken a pay cut, I’d left my friends and I’d also given up working on Minecraft, one of the biggest gaming franchises in history (my son still hasn’t quite forgiven me). Yet I was on an adventure, one where I was out of my comfort zone both physically and mentally (attitude).

”Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure” – Bob Bitchin

Now we’re coming up to Christmas 2018 I’m pondering my decisions from the last 12 months. I’ve moved with my family to Denmark, taken on more responsibility at Unity, I’m surrounded by a language no one else in the world speaks. I’m not able to put aside as much money to my f#ck you fund due to the high cost of living here, and I miss popping out for the weekend to see family and close friends. Yet I’m on an adventure, not just an attitude adventure, a lifestyle one too. It’s one that reminds me of when I was in my twenties, flying off to America for train hopping and then Nigeria to volunteer in a remote village.

Back then I had little knowledge on how to deal with the stress of being out of my comfort zone, other than constantly pushing myself to not be in it. Years later, I can see I have a mature mental toolbox for dealing with the daily challenges of a zero comfort zone life. I’ve learned there is good stress (eustress) which we need for our overall wellness and I’ve learned that attitude is quite possibly the single most important piece to frame each and every day.

So as this year is rapidly coming to an end, I’m reflecting on the madness I’m putting myself and my family through. My reflection is helping me see that it’s not actually madness. What’s madness is not living a life with adventure, a life where you haven’t examined your attitude.

A life lived where you’ve not taken yourself out of your comfort zone, and grown into the type of person others benefit from is a life with gaps. I naturally gravitate to those people who strive for zero comfort zone lives (either consciously or unconsciously) and I aspire to be one myself.

I wonder if we all did the same, the world might be better for everyone?

”Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell not stuff to show.”

Lessons from Denmark – the one about worry

My life is more peaceful since moving to Denmark. It’s not as crowded here, and although Copenhagen is like many cities, with its large corporations and highly competitive jobs, it’s relatively quiet, I like quiet. I can get a regular break 5 minutes from the office, where I sit down on a bench and the only conversation available is with the ducks who come and say hi. Perfect during a busy day of meetings.

People seem content here. Western media continually cites Denmark as one of the happiest nations on earth. Yet after being here for 6 months, I can say that in my experience it’s not the happiest, what it probably is, is the most contented.

I live in what is seen as a rich neighbourhood, my neighbours have expensive cars and houses. Yet they’re leaving for work at a reasonable hour in the morning and are already home when I return in the evening. They’re also at home on the weekends. To work in the UK and have the sort of income many of these people have, would mean anything from 60-80 hour weeks in the office. Not so here, they prioritise home time with family and friends, and their work place doesn’t penalise them for it.

Seeing how content people are has helped me see differences in how life is here, compared to the UK or US. Danes have no need to worry about the cost of utility providers, as much of it is controlled by the government (to ensure fairness). They don’t have to worry about losing their job, as they get looked after by the government while they look for a new one. They have no need to concern themselves with hospital bills and healthcare, as it’s all provided free to everyone (and contrary to some of the US propaganda, it actually works). It’s very expensive here and saving for retirement is still not a worry, as the government ensures you are looked after when elderly and no longer working.

So, the nation of Denmark is no more happy than other western nations I’ve visited. But they do appear more worry free, at peace with life and very content.

Having an ecosystem to take many of the worries away and protect people seems to work. In fact, isn’t this what government was created for originally? So without getting political, I wanted to share a life lesson from my short time here in Denmark.

Create your own kind of safety net, one that eliminates worry in the present and worry for the future.

We don’t all benefit from a proactive government like Denmark. So here are 3 ways I’m achieving a worry free life.

1. Consume less news media – Since I stopped watching the news many years ago, I’ve not only felt a reduction in anxiety and darkness, I’ve made more time for happier moments. It turns out news doesn’t just exist to inform you, it is also there to conform you. The Guardian (somewhat ironic) has an excellent piece on why giving up the news makes you happier.

2. Focus on generating wealth over a job to pay the bills – Invest every spare bit of money you have at the end of each month. Make it grow. Whether it’s $5 or $500. Read The Simple Path to Wealth by J L Collins  and look at the data as well as the methods he describes. I have high risk savings in cryptocurrency and lower risk in Vanguard index funds. This is my f#ck you money. That is money I can live on if I want to quit my job. A lot of worry goes away when you don’t have to work.

You don’t have to be wealthy to be worry free, yet having any kind of buffer that grows, no matter how small, has a surprising impact.

You can read the book for free on his blog here too:

3. Embrace Hygge in your life – This 3rd part is the one I’ve added since being  here in Denmark. In essence, it means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. There are many websites and books available covering Hygge, my favourite website on Hygge is this one and book is this one.

So for those who don’t  have the Danish government to take those practical worries away, why not take control and design safety your own way?

From small moments, small investments and extra time for happiness, it’s easy to see you don’t have to have a high income, nor do you have to live in Denmark to have contentment in your life.