Archive for the Category Life


Spontaneously manifesting whiteboards

Yesterday I imagined having an enormous whiteboard in my room. I could write up clouds of notes for different blog post ideas, leave the ideas up there for a few days and jot down more thoughts as I came up with them. I’d have space to have a few ideas going at once because the whiteboard would be huge. So I wrote on Twitter:

Dear universe: I would like an entire wall of my room to be a whiteboard. Thank-you!

Within a few minutes, the universe (twitterverse?) answered. First @maadonna suggested whiteboard paint, and also a great place to buy huge whiteboards. Then @brendam told me of a scheme to create huge whiteboards with cheap shower wall panels from Bunnings. At first I was sceptical of actually fitting a whiteboard in my room (it’s tiny) and finding a way to mount it on my wall (I’m renting), but the idea of blutacking a lightweight piece of plastic to my wall sounds like it just might work.

I’m amazed at how quickly a solution came. When I wrote the original tweet, I was only half serious, and I didn’t think I could really do it. Once the suggestions came, I soon has a feasible way to make it happen. Without even trying!

I do believe a trip to Bunnings is in order.

Sources of motivation

Have you ever noticed how some people have a huge impact on the world? People like Mahatma Gandhi and Richard Brandson, who each in their own way have created massive changes in the world. How do they do that, when the vast majority of people leave little legacy beyond their family and a small contribution at work? Let’s take a look at the sort of motivation they need to do what they do, and then we can dive into where it comes from and how it works.

Let’s start by having a look at the conditions for creating an impact. To be able to make a huge impact, these people need to have a) a very strong source of motivation that b) points in a consistent direction. If one of these conditions is missing, you’re not going to have a great impact. I’ve often had ideas for software projects (usually web apps) that seemed great when I was planning them, but just didn’t seem worth developing after a few weeks had passed. I’d get upset that my motivation was fading, then a new idea would grab me and the whole process would start over again. Continually changing direction doesn’t work, at least not if you want finished projects. Likewise, if you have no motivation, nothing’s going to happen. This is what happens when you don’t really know what you want to do so you just go to work, come home and watch anime all evening. At this stage a consistent direction isn’t even an issue because you don’t have the energy to pursue anything. So to have an impact of any scale, you need to have a strong source of motivation, and it needs to point in a consistent direction.

It’s nice to know what we’re after, but at this stage it’s still a bit academic. Knowing that you need a strong source of motivation pointed in a consistent direction doesn’t give you one. To get a better idea of how to have a consistent sense of direction, let’s have a look at why we don’t have one right now. Imagine that you’ve got a problem that you’re trying to solve, so you go to your friends for advice. You talk to one of them and they give you a great-sounding piece of advice. You’re pretty confident that you know what to do now, but you’re not completely sure so you ask another friend for a second opinion. Their advice is great too, but there’s a problem – it’s different! Now you’ve got two great ideas but you’re stuck because you don’t know which to go with. How does this relate to motivation? We need to pick a single, reliable source of direction to motivate us. In the case of motivation, there happen to be two sources to choose between. Let’s take a look at each of them.

Your own highest enjoyment of life

The first source of motivation is your own highest enjoyment of life. Chances are you’re aware of what many people in your life want from you. Your boss wants you to work overtime, your partner wants you to spend more time with them, and your friends are wondering why they don’t see you any more. Each of these pressures is like advice from one of your friends in the previous example. To use this source of motivation,  you tune out everyone else’s clamouring that pushes you in different directions and tune in to your own true desires. You’re tapping into this source of motivation when you say “Enough is enough! I’m sick of being pushed around! I know what I want, and it’s my way or the highway!”. By following this source of motivation, you become an empowered agent working on behalf of your desires; you have a mission and you’re not going to let anything get in your way. You figure out what you want and make a plan. Then you identify all the challenges, the parts of your plan that you think you’ll have trouble with, and you seek to dominate and conquer them with a complete overkill. Say, for example, you want to save up money for a deposit on a house. The thought of owning your own house makes you drool, you want it that much. However, it’s going to take 3 years to save up the money, and you’re worried that you’ll be tempted to spend the money on other things. You decide that enough’s enough, and you’re not going to let anything stop you. So you head over to your bank and set up a 3 year fixed-term savings account that you are unable to withdraw from and set up an automatic transfer to take money out of your salary on pay day and deposit it in this savings account. For good measure, you bet a friend that you can make it without touching your savings and arrange to show them your bank statements every month, with the promise of paying them a hefty sum if you slip up (which is close to impossible anyway, thanks to the arrangement with the bank). After doing all this, do you think you’ll have much trouble sticking to your plan? Nothing is going to stop you now.

That’s pretty awesome, we’ve gone from being pretty wishy-washy about our goal to being certain that we’ll succeed. But wait, there was another source of motivation, wasn’t there?

The highest good of all

The other source of motivation you can tap into is working for the highest good of all. Again, you tune out the pressures you feel from different people, and you still make contact with your desires, but this time you’re focus is on what you can create and give. You become an empowered agent working for the good of the planet, the good of the universe. You’re here to create, to love, and to set a great example of how to live. If you set a goal and you’re not feeling motivated, it’s because your goal won’t help enough people in a meaningful way. To illustrate how that might work, let’s return to the house buying example. This time, you start by looking at who will benefit from the achievement of the goal apart from yourself. Your partner will be able to enjoy the house too. You’ve also got a few close friends who are also planning on buying a house, so you start meeting up regularly and discussing the sort of houses you’re looking for. Together, you plan to buy houses in the same suburb so you’ll be close to each other. You’re worried about spending your savings on impulse buys, so with your friends you set up a pooled high-interest savings account that you can all deposit your money into, requiring all of your signatures for a withdrawal. With your pooled savings you can access a higher interest account than you could otherwise, so you’ll all end up better off financially than if you had used individual savings accounts. Your plan is working really well, so you start blogging about it to share your plan and your progress with other people from around the world. Now keeping up with your deposits to the savings account is a no-brainer. Your friends and your blog readers are helping you out and looking up to you. With all that support, do you think you’ll have much trouble sticking to your plan?

That should give you a taste of the sort of motivation that can really make an impact. If you’d like to dig deeper, you might enjoy Steve’s series on polarity and Pace and Kyeli’s series of motivation. Good luck!

Being vegan

I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my life, but at the start of this year I finally went vegan. I’m still eating a vegan diet now and I feel great for it. I know there are plenty of people out there interested in making dietary shifts, so In this post I’ll talk a bit about some of the obstacles you might face going from a vegetarian to a vegan diet, or in fact in any dietary shift. I’ll also talk about some solutions (yay!).

One of the first obstacles you might face are family influences, or the influence of the people you live with. At the time when I started this trial, I was living with my family (my parents, brother and sister). My brother is vegetarian, but the rest of my family is omnivorous. Some members of my family had strong objections to me removing dairy products from my diet, believing I’d be socially ostracised. This caused a regular conflict at meal times, especially since I wasn’t cooking my own food for dinner, so whoever was cooking would have to prepare a vegan meal as well as a carnivorous one. Not such a big leap when you’ve already been making a vegetarian side meal, but a cause of tension none the less. This situation was unsustainable, and had I not moved out of home a few weeks into the trial I’m not sure if I could’ve kept it up. I now live in a sharehouse (phew) and although my housemate is omnivorous we cook for ourselves so it’s a non-issue.

The lesson here is that to succeed in a dietary shift, you’ll need acceptance from the people around you, particularly the people you live with. It’s quite possible to live with people who eat a different diet, as long as there’s no tension or conflict between you over what you eat. Here are some steps you can take to overcome this obstacle:

  1. Spend the time to discuss your plans with the people you live with if you think it could become an issue.
  2. If you’re not already preparing your own meals, begin to do so. Gain some independence, which will give you more control over what you eat.
  3. If all else fails, it may well be easier to find somewhere else to live. Eeep! If you’re lucky, you will already be planning to move (as I was).

So there’s a few steps to help with family conflicts. The second obstacle I’d like to discuss is eating out. This can be a challenge since most restaurants have vegetarian options but not vegan options, and you won’t always be lucky enough to find yourself at your friendly neighbourhood vegan restaurant. I thought this was going to be a problem until I watched Karen Knowler’s video, where she discussed eating out on the raw food diet, which is off the planet when compared with the Standard Australian Diet. Her approach when eating out is simply to ask for a salad, request that any meat or dairy products be removed, then double or triple the size. If you’re eating a vegan diet, the solution is even simpler: just ask if X contains dairy or ask for X without cheese/milk/eggs.

Doing this comes down to a matter of your own confidence in your diet. Do you feel uncomfortable about what you’re eating, particularly when it’s different from what all of your friends are eating? Do you feel guilty at the thought of asking your waiter for a modified meal? Or are you proud of your food choices and comfortable with the extra attention from your friends that eating a different diet will bring?

I’m still getting the hang of eating out as a vegan, but so far it’s been far less trouble than I expected. That’s largely because I feel really happy, comfortable and self-confident with this diet, something I never expected when I started. That’s great to hear if you’re already comfortable being different from your friends, but what if you’re not? That’s too much to cover in one post, but you might find this article by Steve Pavlina valuable. Have a look at the “Social Shift” section.

So there’s a few solutions to the largest problems I faced in making the leap from vegetarian to vegan: family influences and eating out. I feel a whole lot better about what I eat now after wanting to make this shift for a long time. Good luck with your own changes and let us know how it goes!

2009 plans and goals

It’s the start of the year, which naturally brings me to contemplate the year ahead. Back in November, I set eleven goals for a three-month period, but I’ve since realised that that wasn’t such a smart idea. To quote the December email newsletter from Steve Pavlina:

“A goal is a decision. If you set lots of goals at the same time, you haven’t made any real decisions. You’re just playing the field, hoping you’ll find the time to squeeze everything in. But there’s no commitment. What you have is a quagmire of potential distractions. One goal is clarity. Ten goals is confusion.”

Following the advice in the newsletter, I’ve set one professional goal and one personal goal for the whole year. In addition to that, I’m running a 30 day trial in January. My professional goal is to achieve financial freedom. My personal goal is to improve my social life. And my 30 day trial is to go vegan for the month of January. In this post I’ll talk a little about each of them.

A few weeks ago I experienced a moment of clarity. In that moment, life seemed akin to a lucid dream, one in which I had awoken within the dream and realised that that feeling of “urgently having to do something” was a bit ridiculous, and since it was a dream, I could actually do whatever I felt like. I saw my compulsion to work to make money to meet my needs as badly out of alignment with this new feeling of freedom, so I resolved to make it so that money was no longer a concern.

My goal is to achieve financial freedom, by which I mean earning plenty of money either through passive income (income that is not dependent on my time input) or by being paid for my time doing what I would be doing if money were not an issue. My aim is to approach this goal starting with the attitude of freedom instead of chasing after it. This means asking questions like “What do I think would be interesting to make happen?” and “What would I enjoy adding to the world?” instead of “What could I do to support myself?”.

My personal goal, to improve my social life, comes perhaps a year later than it could have. Last year I made the transition from uni life to full time work (via a six-month period working on NiftyKit), and I’m still learning how to have a healthy social life when I’m not by default surrounded by people of similar age and interests. This year I’d like to meet lots of new people, make some new friends and spend plenty of time hanging out with them on a regular basis.

For the 30 day trial, I’m going vegan for the month of January. I’ve been vegetarian for most of my life, and I’ve wanted to go vegan for some time, which means eliminating milk and egg products from my diet. I actually have a mild aversion to most of these foods (except for pizza and ice cream, which I eat only infrequently), so I don’t think it will be too difficult. I expect to experience the greatest challenge eating out. But if Karen Knowler can do it with the raw food diet, it should be quite do-able with the vegan diet. During this month I’d like to learn to prepare lots of new meals and snacks, particularly focusing on whole (unprocessed or less processed) foods. That way I’ll end up with greater variety to my diet after this trial rather than just being left with a subset of my previous diet.

So there you have it, two goals and a trial. I’m certainly looking forward to this year. What are your plans for 2009?

My goals for November 2008 to February 2009

It’s been a long time since I posted, so today I’ll talk about the goals I’ve set for the next three months, and a recent shift in understanding I’ve had about goal setting.

I used to think that I had a big problem with setting goals, and that problem was that my desires were changing too rapidly, so I’d lose interest and want something different before I managed to achieve the goal. This would keep me flitting from one enticing goal to another without achieving any of them. This problem has been bugging me semi-consciously for a year or so, but I’ve recently had a shift in my thinking. I now think that I’ve been losing interest in the goal when I realise what the price I have to pay to achieve it is. When that happened, I either realised that the goal wasn’t worth the price, or I wasn’t willing to pay the price through lack of character (ie. courage, persistence and self-discipline).

So, in posting these goals, I’m making a commitment to pursue them over the next three months. If I choose to drop one, I’ll do so consciously, and explain why I did so here.

Here they are:

  1. I live independently from my parents.
    I’ve wanted to have some more independence and freedom for awhile, and I figure that now is the time to do it. Also, this is a prerequisite to #4, as my family has a low tolerance for crazy diets ;)
  2. I work part-time, devoting my remaining time to personal development and creativity.
    I haven’t yet worked out what I really, truly want to do for a career, but I’d like to create the space to experiment.
  3. I have a stable system for managing my budget.
    This is to complement #1 and #2. My intent is to create a sustainable living situation.
  4. I complete a 7 day juice feast.
    I’ve become increasingly interested in the raw food diet, which led me to discover juice feasting. I’m really curious about the link between diet and spirituality, and I’d like to explore that first hand. Ideally I’d like to extend this to 30 days, and use it as a launching pad to move from vegetarianism to a whole foods vegan diet.
  5. I run regularly with friends and / or a group.
    I’ve been running three times a week for the last few months, and I’ve been enjoying it greatly. I’d like to add a social aspect to it by running with other people.
  6. I regularly prepare and eat new healthy meals covering breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
    This is related to my comments in #4. I’d like to experiment to find foods that leave me feeling energised, and I suspect that heading in the direction of a whole-foods vegan diet will be a good heuristic. I’d like to come out of these three months with a diet that gives me a lot more awakeness and energy that stays fairly constant throughout the day.
  7. I meditate daily in a way that is highly beneficial and that I thoroughly enjoy, involving several different types of meditation.
    I’ve been feeling a bit of aversion to meditation recently, and I suspect that was caused by rigidly sticking to one meditation technique (qualified breathing, a technique from Tibetan Buddhism). I’d like to enjoy meditation more and explore some new types, such as visualisation of my intentions.
  8. I spend at least half an hour each day on some creative activity.
    In the same vein as #2, I’d like to experiment with my creativity and see what I enjoy creating. In particular, I’d like to move in the direction of creating things that have value to other people, leading into a new career.
  9. I regularly engage in meaningful conversation with both friends and strangers.
    This is all about developing the connectedness mindset and a feeling of oneness, which is described in Personal Development for Smart People, and also in this blog post. I experienced a taste of this mindset after reading and thinking about it for a few days. I began to feel a feeling of closeness and kinship with other people, just because we’re all humans, trying our best to figure out how to live happily. I’d like to make this my default way of feeling, and reinforce it with the habit of meaningful conversation with friends and strangers.
  10. I am crystal clear about my life purpose and top-level context.
    I’ve developed more clarity about my life purpose over the last month, and I’d like to deepen that clarity. My top-level context is my over-arching beliefs about what life is. Is it a random coincidence that we’re here? Maybe I’m here to express something positive, or just to joyfully create?
  11. I am experiencing an abundance of my life purpose values.
    My life purpose values are: responsibility, clarity, oneness, freedom, desire, simplicity, elegance, effectiveness and energy.

So those are my goals for the next three months (until the end of January 2009). It’s going to be an interesting few months :)

My favourite articles by Steve Pavlina


I know I haven’t posted in awhile, but I am still alive! I’m a big fan of Steve Pavlina’s writings, so to get the ball rolling again, I thought I’d collect a list of my favourite posts. I then realised that there were way too many articles for one blog post, so here are the ones that I’m finding useful right now:

Enjoy! I’m going to focus more on writing for this blog over the next few months, so stay tuned :)

Dream coaching

In my last post, I wrote about how I’d like to help people go after their dreams. I’ve done a bit of thinking and come up with some ideas for how to make this a reality.

Essentially, I’d like to work with people to help them figure out their dreams and get moving towards them. In particular, I’d like to help people with their dreams related to personal growth and contribution. There are heaps of things you can do in these areas, such as finding more meaning and enjoyment in your study or work, improving your physical condition and energy levels, developing new skills, becoming more relaxed and peaceful, expressing your creativity, or just finding a way to help out a friend in need.

To start with, I’d like to work online, using email and online chat. The process I’d like to use is to work with you on developing your vision and motivation, create a plan together, then help you follow the plan and overcome any obstacles on the way.

I’ve been studying personal development for a year or two now, but I’m only just moving into this field, so I’d like to ask for some help getting started. I’m looking for some volunteers who would like some help with a dream, and who don’t mind my inexperience. I’m not charging anything for this. Right now I’d just like to grow my experience and my skills. Eventually I’d like to turn this into a career, but I’ll take it one step at a time.

So, please let me know if you, or anyone you know would like to give me a go. You can reach me at: rohan AT rohanmitchell DOT com. Thanks for reading, and hope to hear from you soon!


I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my life purpose recently, and I’ve made a lot of progress over the last few days. Tonight I sat down to do a bit more thinking. I typed “What’s the essence of my purpose?” and hit Ctrl-v to paste it in. I obviously hadn’t copied the text I expected, because I got “Order books from amazon in ‘to buy’ list”. I hope the universe is laughing with me and not at me :p

I’ve been thinking that I deeply enjoy having a vision and going after it in a really courageous and passionate way. A prime example that springs to mind was the time I tried polyphasic sleep for 3 weeks, a few years back. It was a real challenge for my self-discipline, but I had so much enthusiasm for the idea that I enjoyed it on a deeper level, even as I struggled to make it to the next nap in the early mornings.

I also love hearing other people talk about their dreams, especially if they’re a bit off the beaten track. I love seeing them come alive when they talk about them. Too often though, I don’t see much more than that, so I’d like to get more involved and help people go after their dreams and achieve them.

So that’s what’s on my mind at the moment. I’m hoping to do some more thinking and planning first, and eventually move my life in this direction.

Where do you want to go in life? I’m curious, so let me know in the comments :)

Update: I’ve written about the process I used on the Steve Pavlina forums.

Reverse coiling, now with pictures

Here’s the pictures to accompany my previous post on reverse coiling:

The first loop. To make this loop, my right hand is twisting the cable anticlockwise.

Making the second loop. This time my right hand is twisting the cable clockwise, the opposite direction to the first loop.

Another view of how to make the second loop.

And it’s done! If your cable is longer than mine, just keep alternating between clockwise and anticlockwise loops. When the cable is uncoiled, the twists will cancel out and the cable will sit flat.

Full-time work

Last week I started work at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, working in the web applications group (ie. lots of PHP coding). I’m enjoying the work, but didn’t realise how little time I’d have in the evenings (especially with Aikido 3 nights a week). I’d love to be able to be paid based on my output, not on the number of hours I’ve spent at work, since that’d give me a “finish your work and you can go home early” incentive. Has anyone heard of that happening within the Australian Public Service? I doubt it, but it’s worth a shot :)