The Path With A Heart

Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path, and there is not affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition.

I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question. This question is one that only a very old person asks. My benefactor told me about it once when I was young, and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I do understand it.

I will tell you what it is: Does this path have a heart?

All paths are the same, they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere. My benefactor’s question has meaning now. “Does this path have a heart?” One makes you strong; the other weakens you.

The trouble is nobody asks the question: and when a person finally realizes that they have taken a path without heart, the path is ready to kill them. At that point very few people stop to deliberate and leave the path.

A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.

For my part there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length.

And there I travel looking, looking, breathlessly.

- Don Juan
Apprentice to a Yaqui Sorcerer
Sourced from http://www.whale.to/a/path_with_a_heart.html

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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.

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My favourite lunch

The following is an adaptation of the recipe for Sue’s Super Soup found in Karen Knowler‘s 50 Quick, Easy, Healthy & Delicious Raw Food Recipes ebook.

Ingredients:

  • One avocado
  • Two tomatoes
  • Juice of one orange
  • Two tablespoons flaxseed oil (or olive oil. Flaxseed oil contains omega 3 for those of us who don’t eat fish.)
  • Four tablespoons sultanas (try more or less if it’s too sweet or not sweet enough)
  • A dash of tamari OR soy sauce OR a pinch of salt (just a little bit!)
  • Some red or green capsicum, finely sliced

Directions:

  1. Place everything except the capsicum in a blender.
  2. Blend to a smooth consistency.
  3. Pour into a soup bowl, garnish with capsicum. This adds a bit of texture to the soup.
  4. Serve with crunchy toast for dipping, or flax crackers if you’d like to keep the meal entirely raw.

Serves one. Enjoy! :)

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Weekly check-in #8

Just a short check-in this week. It’s even a short intro. Let’s get to it!

The hard stuff

Random stress

Couldn’t I just accept that things are not too bad right now and enjoy the stuff that’s working out well? Seems not, at least not all the time. Note to self: Life Is Pretty Okay. Don’t stress!

The good stuff

Development!

Last week, I wrote about setting goals centered around character development instead of around producing an external result. I picked out persistence as the attribute I wanted to develop, so I decided to spend an hour per day for a week working on a project. The project I picked was to develop a little web app to help me review my new followers on Twitter.

I finished the week successfully (yay!) and the application’s taking shape. The whole thing’s been quite fun, and the hardest part has been coming up with a name for it. My eternal gratitude to anyone who has a suggestion!

As I get further into it, I see that I could take the idea further than I originally anticipated, and I’m coming up with lots of ways to make the project more interesting and to make some money on the side as I go. I have to credit my initial intention for this. My definition of success on this project is to persist – to keep putting in the time even when obstacles come up. If I were purely aiming to make money, I would have been put off as soon as I realised I had competitors.

And all this aside, dev work is fun. I like coding, figuring out how to do new and interesting things. So horray for interesting projects!

That’s it!

Catch you next week! And feel free to join me in the comments. What was the hard and the good in your week?

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Setting meaningful goals

The day before yesterday I found a new way of looking at goal achievement. It’s a perspective shift that makes prioritising the journey to the goal over the achievement of the goal a lot easier. This is kinda cool (horray for new ways of looking at things!), so let’s do a compare-and-contrast of the normal mindset (desire achievement) and the new mindset (strength building).

Method 1: Desire achievement

This is the stock-standard way of thinking about setting and achieving goals. How does it go? You tune in to a desire, define the outcome you want, then try to achieve it. Maybe you succeed and you get what you want (yay!) or maybe you fail and fall on your face (doh).

If you’re doing it this way, your happiness depends on your success or failure. Enjoying the journey doesn’t really come into it. You might try to make your goals fun to work on, but mostly you’re trying to get the enjoyment that comes from achieving the goal.

Method 2: Strength building

A new perspective! With this one, you can discard the contents of the goal as unimportant. Doesn’t matter. Instead, shift your focus from producing external changes (“This is this thing I want to make happen”) to producing internal development (“I want to become stronger”).

This time we don’t even start with an external goal. Instead, we start with an internal characteristic that we’d like to develop and then pick a fun goal that will help us to do so. The contents of the goal is almost meaningless. It doesn’t matter. Just pick something fun (it’s more fun that way ;) ).

This is like weightlifting. You don’t care about the result (the weight is lifted), you care about the muscle growth. But in the same way that you can get just as fit going for a run outside as you can running on a treadmill, some times there is a more fun way to go about it. ;)

What I’m doing

I’m going to experiment with using the strength building method of setting and pursuing goals. The main thing that’s been messing up my business attempts over the past few years is a lack of persistence, so that’s where I’ll start. I’m aiming to build my persistence by tackling progressively longer goals, starting with just an hour’s work per day on a project for a period of 7 days. My focus (doing many hours of uninterrupted work in a day) also sucks, as does my decisiveness (making and sticking to decisions), so I’ll be working on those at some point too. In, of course, the most enjoyable way I can come up with. :)

What about contribution?

With this mindset, contribution (helping others through the achievement of your goals) is one way to make the process of achieving the goal more fun and meaningful. Contribution isn’t the primary aim of the goal setting and achievement exercise.

I’ve previously held this attitude and I found it disempowering. I got caught up in feeling obligated to contribute and had difficulty setting goals that I enjoyed. As a consequence, I didn’t follow through with them. No contribution, and I wouldn’t even achieve the goal for myself.

Contribution does fit into this model. I suspect that if you keep setting and pursuing goals this way contribution will become a major part of every goal you set, simply because it’s fun to do it that way, not because you feel you have to.

Where does this way of thinking come from?

The mindset of strength building through goal achievement comes from thinking of reality as a training ground. A safe playground in which we can practice developing these things (non-physical attributes) without fear of permanently messing anything up. Physical reality is impermanent, so although we’ll get negative feedback if we stuff up, it won’t last, things will change, and we’ll get another chance (unless you die, but some would argue that you’ll still get a second chance ;) ).

The stuff we do in physical reality (manifesting our desires) is play. The important part is happening behind the scenes, as we become stronger in the process.

High-five to Steve Pavlina, who I’m sure somewhere along the way planted the seeds that lead to this post.

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Farewell, Belconnen Bus Interchange

The Belconnen bus interchange is being demolished in the not-too-distant future. There’s a community artwork project running, there’s cool stuff everywhere and the space is finally becoming human in its last days. Artists, or anyone with an idea, jump in now before it’s too late (I believe the last day of the formal exhibition is the 26th of April).

There’s a press release about the project over here.

Just One Day After Another

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Weekly check-in #7

This week’s check-in isn’t sliced and diced into good and bad, since there’s a bit of a story to it and everything seems to be a bit of a mix. Enjoy the non-duality. :)

Crazy moments of insight

Ever has one of those wonderful moments of clarity where the Next Step reveals itself? I’ve had two. The first was back in October 2006 during the time I was doing polyphasic sleep. Backstory: For most of my life, I’ve been an acutely fussy eater. Big trouble going out to restaurants, lots of uncomfortableness, anxiety and all-round unhappiness. At this time I was on uni holidays and trying out polyphasic sleep, which means sleeping (well, napping) for 20 minutes every 4 hours. I had heaps of time, but I was barely functional during the nights. Being uni holidays, functionality wasn’t strictly required.

I went for a long walk. I do mean long. I got blisters! When you’re only sleeping 2 hrs total a day, you need something to fill your nights! Ahem. So I went for this walk, at night, and I’d been thinking about personal development (I’d just started to get interested in it), and I realised that if I wanted something to change, this was it. Expanding my diet. It was a moment of clarity where it was really certain for me what I needed to do next, even though I was hella scared of doing it. Three months later it had happened. That was the first moment of insight.

I had another one on Monday. Oddly enough, also walking at night, in roughly the same area. So now I know what to do next, in a pretty broad sense. In some ways I’d love to talk about it more, but it involves sharing a part of my life that I’ve kept pretty private. Needless to say that it’s pretty scary. But after spending so much time not knowing what direction to head in, I’m grateful for any sense of direction, even if it’s a scary one.

Getting a clue about what my Thing is

The Thing. The creative mission, having a purpose, some grand, awesome goal. I’ve been struggling with how to figure it out, and a couple of things have come along recently that have really bumped me in the right direction.

First off, Steve posted about The Joy of Solving Problems. Head over and have a read, I’ll wait. ;) Avoiding problems by withdrawing into simplicity/minimalism? Totally me. This was one of those posts where it seemed like he’d written it just for my situation.

After reading it, the mindset of problem solving as a strength-building exercise (like weight lifting) really clicked for me. It also gelled with the whole journey-not-the-destination mindset. So I wrote out a list of some problems in my life, and over the next few days solved a bunch of them.

Then I got up to a few related problems, all to do with my work, income and long-term direction. So I sat down, listed out what I wanted an ideal solution to look like, then pulled out a bunch of tools for doing it.

It was a little before this time that I read Naomi’s post What Do I Do With My Life? The central questions “What would your perfect world look like? What would be better? What would never happen?” really got me thinking big. Change the world stuff. I’d forgotten that these things were the main reason I got into online business in the first place – having an awesome vision to work towards. I’d gotten caught up in the details (I want to run a business. What’s it going to do? How will it make money?) when I needed to start with the vision. And that vision needed to be bigger than the business that would eventually be a part of it.

A rather insightful comment by Jason on that same post also triggered something for me. He suggested three steps to finding an answer to The Question, but I only needed to read the first one: “Where do you want to contribute to the world (the answer to this probably is already known and scares the shit out of you.)”. I really like the idea that we already know what we want to do, but we’re saying no to it and making excuses because we’re afraid of what saying yes will mean.

I wrote down some ideas, considered them, selected one. So I finally have a thing! By no means will it be simple to get started, let alone make a living off it, so I think I’ll need to ease into it gradually. I’ll do my best to give myself time and space for it to start happening in its own time, and to not rush it.

As a side note, it’s really comforting to know that I’m not the only one working on this stuff. James and Chas have recent posts that both seem to echo the same themes. Finding your thing and actually doing it: a very common problem?

Jobs and joblessness, patience

Easing into this project gradually means I won’t be making money off it any time soon. Which is sad in a way, because it most likely means I’ll have to get a job. Sure, there’s a chance that I’ll get some affiliate marketing going and start earning enough money to support myself, but I think that it’s unlikely.

The interesting thing is, this is not the disaster I would have thought it was not so long ago. I have an idea that I can see myself working on for at least a few years, and I didn’t feel that way about my previous ideas. I can see myself working up to this slowly.

Not always posting weekly, and the whole writing thing

I haven’t always managed to write one of these “weekly” check-in posts every week. Sometimes because I don’t really have much to share, sometimes because I’m not comfortable sharing it, sometimes a bit of both. Often I try to write it and I can’t seem to write anything I’m happy with.

To those of you who write, does it get easier? How do you get in the mood for it? Sometimes I seem to be able to write fluidly, other times there’s just nothing coming. But when I do write something that I’m happy with and post it, I find it really satisfying. Even if it’s just a bunch of stuff that happened in my week, it feels good to have it sorted it out in my head and shared with the world.

Friends

A few times a week for the last few weeks I’ve been hanging out with Luke and Jack in the mornings before they head off to work or uni. Apart from nearly dying of sleep deprivation from getting up at 5:30am a few mornings in a row, this has been awesome. Luke’s working on a 2D platform RTS. If he had a blog I’d totally link to it, but for the moment we’ll have to make do with twitter. He’s just started tweeting again, so drop past and say hi. :)

Since BarCamp, I’ve been hanging out at lots of CTUB and SMC Canberra events. Meeting people in person: awesome. Makes reading tweets so much more meaningful. The fact that a community could spring up around the tools that make the community possible seems kind of obvious, but also amazing. Twitter is like that.

Did I mention that I’m getting a @RohanM twittername shirt? Nerdy? Yes. But awesome? Absolutely. :)

Havi linked to me!

Yay! :) Havi is on my rather short list of heroines and heroes who have a major influence in my life these days, alongside Naomi and Steve. If you’ve come from her site, welcome! Make yourself comfortable and feel free to say Hi in the comments if you’d like to. :)

That’s it from me

How has your week been? Feel free to join my check-in in the comments. :)

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What happens when I write by hand

Today I’m trying an experiment. I’m writing this post by hand (with a pen!) and I don’t know what I”m going to say yet. But I’m going to see what I come up with, and if it’s interesting I’ll turn it into a blog post.

This is a little different to my normal way of writing. Usually I write an outline, try to write a section, get annoyed at not being able to write anything, then invoke the “terrible first draft is okay” rule and give myself permission to write whatever I can come up with. Once I’ve got something down, I’m set. I still spend about half my time fiddling with wording, reordering, restructuring, rewriting, but once I have something down the hard part is over. I know that if I just keep fiddling for a bit, I’ll get a post I’m happy with.

Writing with a pen is different. I usually use this method when I’m journaling, AKA dumping my brain onto paper. There’s no pressure to make grammatical (or logical) sense. I just write my thoughts straight onto paper. Pose questions and explore what comes up. Usually get lost down twisty passages of thought that lead nowhere in particular, but at least I usually see interesting things along the way.

Writing this post is different again. I’m intending it to be read by others, so I’m taking a little more care to make sense and explain things. Compared to how I usually write posts I’m getting a lot written very quickly. Only: I don’t know quite where I’m going.

I like the spontaneous way this post formed itself. It feels funny calling it a post when it’s still pen on paper, but it seems the best way to refer to it. I hope to write again like this in the future and maybe even have something useful come out in the process.

Thanks for reading this little experiment, and enjoy the rest of your long weekend.

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Weekly check-in #6

In which I reflect on some hard stuff and good stuff in my week, with the hope of just maybe figuring out where all that time goes to.

The hard stuff

Feeling aimless

I’m not sure whether I’m still adjusting to not working full-time, but I’ve been having real trouble getting motivated this week. I think I’ve realised that quitting my job was only half the battle, and the other half is filling the gap with work that is everything I want it to be (or at least a few of those things). Fulfilling, creative, enjoyable, meaningful, does-good-things-for-the-world, and maybe even pays money so I don’t go broke and insert-disaster-scenario-here. I have a way to go yet. But I think I’m making progress.

The good stuff

Disentangling the new-business-idea-every-week pattern

This pattern has had a long history. I’ve struggled with persistence and commitment for years. If you’ve been following the weekly check-ins, you’ll know that I tend to hop between business ideas pretty frequently. Which is a problem when I just want to settle down, focus, and actually finish something for once.

I’ve been playing around with the approach that Havi shares on The Fluent Self and in her products for investigating where these patterns come from, getting to know why they’re here and finding a resolution for them. I started investigating this pattern by thinking of the cause of my behaviour as a fear. And importantly, thinking of this fear as a self-constructed means of protecting myself from something.

When I looked into it, I found that my fear was trying to protect myself from failure. I have a pretty long string of failed business projects, but I hadn’t realised it was a big deal for me. But even more important than failure was my fear’s mission to protect me from unenjoyable work. If I’m going to fail, I might as well enjoy doing so, right?

I had a chat with my fear, and we agreed that I can’t guarantee success, but I can do a pretty good job of keeping my work enjoyable. So we focused on that bit as the important bit and let the fear-of-failure slide for the moment.

The way this fear is protecting me is by preventing me from committing to an idea and persisting with it unless I make sure the work starts off enjoyable and stays that way. And I think I can manage that. I’ll watch myself and take some time out when I need it to make the work fun again.

It’s early days yet, but I’m hopeful that this pattern is on the mend. I’ve got a much clearer picture now of how it’s operating. Hopefully we’ll be seeing some finished projects in the not too distant future. :)

Little things

There’s a few things that I enjoy pretty frequently, but I don’t often stop to feel thankful for.

I still have a motorbike! And it still works! (even better than when I got it after I got it serviced last week). Oftentimes I’ll arrive somewhere with a bit of a buzz after the ride. It sure beats buying a car or catching busses everywhere.

Running. I haven’t been running as much as I’d like to recently, but when I do I feel so much better for it. I’m not sure why, but while I’m running I seem to be able to organise my thoughts and think much more clearly. I think it might be time to start experimenting with going running at different times of the day (currently I just run in the evenings) to see if I can find a time that I won’t miss.

Writing. It’s great just going through the process of writing this and working on explaining something to someone else instead of just writing to myself. It takes time (the above item took nearly an hour to write and edit), but it’s worth it to sort things out in my head and to actually share them.

That’s all from me!

How was your week? Let us know how you’re going in the comments!

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Online business resources

Welcome BarCampians! Here’s the list of online business resources:

Blogs

Stuff worth buying

  • Online Business School from IttyBiz – Kinda like my talk but with much more detail. Walks you through the main points to consider when starting one of the business types I mentioned. Great for a high-level view of this stuff. If you’ve had a read of all the free stuff and you’re keen to get started, this is for you.
  • Procrastination Dissolve-o-Matic from The Fluent Self – EBook I mentioned in the talk. Spend a bit of time on Havi’s blog, and if what she talks about resonates with you, I’d highly recommend checking out this book.

People I mentioned

Update: Here are my slides from my presentation at BarCamp.

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