In Pursuit of Awesome

In search of a not-so-normal life.

A letter to Me, from Me, about Me.

This year marks 5 years since I turned 16. Admittedly it has taken my until 6 months after my 21st birthday to figure that out, but you know, better late than never right?

A lot has changed since then. I’m definitely not where I thought I was going to be, doing anything remotely close to what I’d consider my initial career path. I’ve also noticed that at 16, I was an absolute idiot. And I’m probably going to turn around at 26 and be saying the same exact thing.

Below is a letter to my 16 year old self. A little window in to my past. I’m going to let the letter explain itself. But hindsight is a powerful thing and I wish I’d have been armed with what I know now, back then. But then again, where is the fun in that?

Enjoy.

JJ

Dear James,

Firstly let me point something out to you. That bright orange vest, starred shorts and dirty yellow pumps combination you’re wearing? Yeah, that’s not fashionable. No matter how you spin it. Take it off.

I’m writing to you now from 2013, so that makes me the 21 year old you. I just thought I’d clarify because our grasp of maths runs out when we can’t count on fingers or toes any longer. The world is a little bit different now, and you’re definitely not where you imagined yourself in 5 years.

Right this minute you’re sat at a kitchen table at a house in Burbank, California. You’re teaching a sport you currently ‘hate’, doing something you didn’t ever want to do (travel), pursuing a career in something you never even thought of (writing) and you’ve finally learned how to dress yourself.

Now, I’m not sending you this letter to give away the story and tell you all that happens next – that’s for you to find out. I just want to help you avoid some mistakes along the way.

Never lose your ability to be nice. It may not pay off well for you when it comes to dating or meeting women, but in a world where people only want to work with people they trust – it will pay off ten folds. You might be the only person in the world who punched someone who was bullying them, and asked if they were okay afterwards.

There is a world outside of your Xbox. Call of Duty 4 was a fantastic creation, but it isn’t worth 6 hours of your life each and every day. It certainly isn’t worth missing Rugby Training or homework for. The time you spent on there, with people who you now haven’t spoken to since you turned the thing off, could have been better applied. Yes even if you’re on a 42 kill streak with a pistol.

Think before you speak. In the words of your maths teacher, ‘You’ve got it all going on in your mouth, but your brains only just waking up’. Most of the jokes you make aren’t funny (even to this day), the class will not laugh and your geography teacher will hate you. The latter is probably the only real plus side.

Don’t lend so much of your time to making people like you. Being a pleaser will take up a lot of your time and energy, when no matter what you do – they probably wont like you anyway. People are going to think what they want, and most have made up their mind on you within 2 minutes of your first meeting. That doesn’t mean you should stop being nice to people, just if someone doesn’t care for you, move on. You don’t need them in your life.

Be more open to the thought of travel. If you take one thing from this letter, let it be this. There are opportunities that will arise for you that you need to jump at. I don’t believe in regrets, but there are certain places I wish I’d taken the opportunity to go. Don’t worry about your Royal Air Force interviews; go jump on the plane instead. And definitely don’t fly home that day early from Amsterdam. You missed out on an awesome floating Chinese restaurant for nothing.

Finally, you do not know more than your parents and grandparents. You’ll be in a constant battle of who is right about what. 9 times out of 10, it’ll be them. Be gracious, listen to what they have to say and use every anecdote from your Granddad as a window in to the past. He’s done national service in Kenya, and you’ve sat behind a desk in Salford. I know the two are almost as dangerous as each other – but he’s got the upper hand.

You’re a good kid, and you’re destined for something bigger than you realise. Even I don’t know the answer to that one yet. I hope the 26 year old me sends a letter my way soon so I can have an idea.

For now, be strong, play nice and go buy your mum some flowers.

All the best,

James

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Wrong Directioners.

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Driving is a part of my life that has become, lets say, a little bit tedious. Coming to America made me realise that was is considered a ‘long journey’ back home is also known as a ‘commute’ over here.

If I were to drive 30 minutes in any direction from Manchester for anything, I’d be a good few towns and cities across. Whereas 30 minutes here is basically just me picking up my one colleague and heading to the field, within the same city.

I’ve spent days on freeways, just looking and driving in a straight line. Finally seeing the countdown on my GPS go to ‘In 0.1 miles, turn left’ – only to see it turnover to the next instruction, which is ‘turn right in 361 miles’.

So after 4 hours worth of driving one Sunday evening and missing my final exit on the freeway to get me home, I wasn’t best pleased. The feeling wasn’t made any better by my somewhat passive aggressive navigation system shouting at me for doing so either.

Nothing made me want to be in that car a second longer. The dashboard lights hurt me every time they flickered, the sight of the beige looking felt seats in the corner of my eyes was slowly becoming an all encompassing hate and the flicker of cars in my rear view mirror was enough to drive me insane.

But one short turn off and 10 minutes back in the other direction I was home. Nobody died, my dinner was still warm when I got back and I still managed to play with the host-kids a little before bed. It was just one of those things that happen.

This got me thinking though. Sometimes in life we take wrong turnings and go down a route we don’t particularly feel like we should be on. For a few of us, it’s just a feeling that the surroundings don’t feel quite right. Others, it’s a path we’ve taken out of choice and it’s turned out to be the wrong one. There are also the cases where you get ushered down a path through no fault of your own, and usually have no idea how you got there.

It could be starting a job that never sits right. Getting in to (or out of) a relationship that isn’t delivering on what you thought it would before you decided to do it. Starting a business that suddenly takes away everything you enjoyed about doing it in the first place. Or just you know, heading down the wrong freeway at 2am at night.

For all of us it can be frustrating. To feel lost, heading in the wrong direction knowing you’ve got to cover ground just to get back to where you started. Even worse, not even knowing which way is the right way back.

All these wrong turns, missed exits, shut doors and open windows are all part of our bigger journey. You’re on the right path, regardless of where you think you should be right now. Even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Your life is the freeway and all these little things that happen are the turn-offs, junctions and rest stops between where you started and where you’re going.

No matter which way you end up going, you always end up back on the path that is right for you. The beauty of taking a detour is that you might just catch some beautiful scenery on the way.

JJ

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Creative Sleeping.

Falling asleep for some of us can be an absolute nightmare. If you’re anything like me it goes a little something like this:

Turn off the bedroom light, get in to bed, snuggle up and close your eyes. Then become part of the UN debate on Syria and figuring out where exactly Atlantis is on the map, all whilst listing the top 10 lyrics from movie soundtracks of the 1980’s.

No matter what, within two minutes of laying down my mind is in full throttle – solving problems, drawing pictures and coming up with ideas. Before eventually falling asleep, dreaming about a kitten chasing Bernard Manning around a shopping centre.

Instead of letting this annoyance get in my way, I decided to embrace it. I set myself a target; write down all the ideas you have whilst you’re falling asleep.

 Why? Partially because I’d forget at least 50% of the idea’s that came in to my head by the time I’d woken up. But mostly because when I’m falling asleep, I have some absolutely brilliant ideas.

 You see when you’re falling asleep – or in the car, the shower, bathtub or having a massage – you remove the divide between you, and your subconscious mind.  Our conscious minds are too busy dealing with the stresses of every day life to focus wholly on the bigger picture, so the work gets delegated. It goes straight to the back of your mind; where all day long problems are being solved, information is being stored and the things you should do are being itemised for you to use a later date. Once we remove the stresses, our subconscious clicks in to gear and the flow of brilliance can begin.

Since I started writing down my ideas my productivity has increased dramatically. I’ve taken on projects (such as this blog), learned new things and set entirely new goals based purely off my ideas from being relaxed.

My task for you guys is simple; write down all the ideas you have whilst you’re relaxed. All those odd, misshapen ideas that pop in to your mind when you least expect them – stick them in a notepad, or on your iPhone Apps, but write them down and remember them.

I only have one rule for this though; don’t judge your ideas. Embrace them, no matter how crazy. They have come to you for a reason, and they will help you at come point. You don’t have to act on them instantly – although sometimes you’ll just want to pounce – but remember them when the time comes.

I’d love to hear what ideas you guys come up with in the comments,

JJ

P.S  – I have a friend who has started out on his own awesome pursuit by starting his own clothing brand; check him out here http://atobe.bigcartel.com

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Miscellaneous Monday.

Today marks the end of a hectic, but very enjoyable weekend for me. First off I managed to tick a goal off my list – visit San Diego. It’s been number one on my list since I got to America and 6 months later I finally made it down. And I loved it. Loved it. It definitely lived up to the hype I’d given it, and it firmly sits above Melbourne as my new favorite city to visit.

 

Stay classy, San Diego...

Stay classy, San Diego…

Most importantly, I got to see my cousin get married. I know she’s very happy (as I’m sure the husband is too, but you know, the wedding is her day and all that) and she’s currently sitting somewhere over the ocean on her way to her honeymoon.

The San Diego Chargers also won which sweetens absolutely everything for me too.

It’s safe to say I’ve pretty much had to allocate my time to other people all weekend, and it’s slowly sapped me of all my energy. So, today’s post is being handed over to someone else.

The video  you’re about to see is made by a person who is living their own awesome life. His name is Zach Anner, he has Cerebral Palsy and he is doing some great things. All his video’s are pure comedy, and he sends a very powerful message with every single one. For me, it shows that no matter what our barriers are in life we can still do amazing things if we figure out how to use them to our advantage, or just down-right break down those walls.

Now I should point out that he hasn’t made this video’s for this blog, I was made aware of his video’s by a friend recently. I have a lot of time for what he’s doing, so I want to share it with all of you.
Enjoy the video, and I’ll see you guys on Thursday,

JJ

 

P.S – Did I mention San Diego is amazing?

The big why.

Recently I changed the title of this blog from ‘A day in the life of a hyperactive giant’ (The giant being myself, of course) to ‘In Pursuit of Awesome’. I’ve had a few questions about it and what I mean when I say that. The topic has definitely featured in a few of my more recent posts, so I’ve decided to share with you guys a summary of what I’m all about.

The Pursuit of Awesomeness

The pursuit of awesome for me is about looking for a life outside of the norm. A life that I want to live – not that I’m expected to live. No two things plague me more each and every day more than my perpetual fears of mortality and normality.

Mortality is simple; we all have an expiration date. None of us know when that is, where it will occur or how it will happen. It just will. No way around it (Unless you’re Highlander, Karate Kid or Bruce Forsyth apparently). It’s inescapable.

Normality is more complex. It’s subjective and relative to each and every person. To me normality is the day-to-day mundane tasks that are in 95% of people’s lives. I’m not talking ironing, washing the dishes or changing the oil in your car. I’m more scared by the big picture stuff. Working in an office, for a boss I don’t like. Sat in cubicles surrounded by people whom I don’t really care about. Setting my alarm to sit in the 07:00am traffic, counting down the days to my two-week holiday in Mallorca, with only a cold beer on a Friday night to look forward to in the meantime.

Normality is however, completely escapable.

I want a life on my terms where I’m my own boss and I make the rules. Travelling the world is my day-to-day task and my actual time working is far outweighed by the time spent doing other things.

My goals are founded in places and not money; Machu Picchu, Chichen Itza, Kilimanjaro and Tibetan Monasteries. Doing things I want to do, in places I want to be, with people I want to be around.

People will have already written me off. The ramblings of a 21-year-old Englishman with delusions of how the world actually is. And that is perfectly fine; my wish is not to step on the toes of those who see the world in their own way. We are each all entitled to our opinion.

But people are doing it each and every day, in their own way. There are those of us waking up to the realization that we don’t have to live in the way we’re expected to. You don’t have to follow the educational system, the work ladder and find a place to sit on the social hierarchy. You can be the you that you always dreamed about.

Reality Check

I have been open to opportunities that those of you out there in reader land may or may not have been exposed to. We have all lead different lives and we are all on our own path, to our own destination. I have always had the tremendous support of my family; they have always been understanding of my need to travel and have helped me in ways they couldn’t even fathom.

I also appreciate those people who enjoy job and life security, whom enjoy the nine to five and it brings them what they need from life. All the power to you. I’m not here to stop you – it’s just not what I want for myself, and what I know a lot of people who continually read this blog don’t want either.

None of what I write about or experience is an overnight fix. I cannot wake up tomorrow and be a jet setter that works 7 hours a week to the tune of x amount of money. It’s a process and life has to be planned in accordance with my plans.

Getting back to it…

My ultimate goal from this blog is to help people be successful in whatever path of life they choose. Whether that is a businessman, world traveller or professional table foosball player. Helping people is one of the most powerful tools in my arsenal, and it’s completely free for me to use. So why not share the love, right?

I want to give advice based on my own experiences taking my own route – and guide those who also want to take life in a similar direction.

Sharing the places I go, people I meet, things I do and how I shape my path from where I am now, to where I want to be is also high on my list of things to write about.

We will not agree on everything, we will not share the same views and sometimes it will just hit the nail on the head for the very thing you were struggling with.

I hope you guys stick along for the ride,

JJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditionally speaking.

I like to try and live in the present and the future simultaneously. I’m a big subscriber to the Buddhist way of thinking about living in the moment; being present and getting fulfilment out of my current situation – or dealing with it if I’m not. I’m not going to be shaving my head and raking my Zen garden any time soon, but it’s an outlook on life I enjoy.

But I also know when to plan for the future. Where I’d like to be, what I’d like to do, where I’d like to go. Things like this keep me ticking over, working towards a bigger picture for my life. (I’ve also noticed the question for me is never ‘How much will I earn? Money hasn’t ever really been something that excites me, or gives me a drive). Currently, my finite plans don’t extend past November 2014 – but I still like to have an idea of where I want to be in 5 years, and it still involves all you lovely readers out there.

I spend most of my time in these two areas of my life, with very little time spent on nostalgia. I like stories, telling them and reading them. I enjoy the occasional flick through my travelling photo albums, and talking about the time I saw The Courteeners in concert 5 times in one year. But it takes up very little of my time, and most of the lessons I learn and share are from the here and now. For me it’s not just about where I’ve been, it’s about where I’m going.

However, I do have a lot of time for tradition. The things I do repeatedly that keep my grounded and connected to the people I want to see and be around:

Granddad Day

Every Monday when I’m back at my home base in Manchester is ‘Granddad Day’. He’s pretty much my best mate, so he gets a whole day dedicated to him.

When I was 16 and started going to college, we used to get one day off a week. A Wednesday. It was supposed to be a ‘study day’, but funnily enough it that was never one of my priorities on that day. Go figure. So I took to going down to see my Granddad on my day off.  He had an abundance of chocolate in his draw, an endless supply of jokes and my Grandma to cook me dinner – it seemed an obvious choice.

Then when I left college and started working my free day became a Monday. So Instead of losing the day, I just moved it. 5 years later, it’s still going.

We sit down, talk about what’s going on in the news, share a few jokes (Him more than me), eat lunch together, and watch the horse racing. It’s one of the few long standing traditions I have, and one of the only reasons I want to go back to Manchester (Yes Grandad, you live in Salford – but I’m trying to hit a wide audience here!).

El New Years Day-o at El Rincon…o.

That’s Spanish for those of you who don’t speak it. Honest.

In Manchester there is a little tucked away tapas Restaurant called El Rincon. It’s down a little back alley, behind some trashcans (bins) and an old physiotherapy studio. You go through a creaky set of doors and down a set of steps in to this cream tiled, soccer shirt filled restaurant with an old wooden bar and two TV’s with Russian subtitles. It doesn’t look up to much, but by far it’s the best Tapas Restaurant I’ve ever been to.

4 years ago, I was tasked to arrange New Years Day for my best friends and me. I booked us Tickets to the Comedy Store in Manchester – the natural choice for someone as hilarious as myself – with a view to us all eating a hangover-fuelled dinner before hand, after a recommendation for this restaurant off one of my closest friends Trevor*.

The day comes around and two people are too hung over to attend, the other was struggling to take his girlfriends thumbprint off his head. So it ended up being me, Trevor and another friend. We sit we eat, we laugh and we drink. Like all friends should.

4 years, and a few friends later, me and Trevor still eat at El Rincon every new years day. Without fail.

Boxing Day at the Honey Bee

The final one of my Traditions is between my mum and I.  For my non-UK readers, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas – with very little boxing involved, except for a few Dads arguing over the last can of Stella Artois. It’s a public holiday full of shopping sales, hangovers and digestive discomfort.

My mum and I, we’re pretty alike – people drain us after a while and we need time away, or at least with less people. If Introversion is Genetic, she is whom I get it from.

So after all the drama of Christmas day, we head off up to a little secluded pub on the top of a hill somewhere in Cheshire. It’s got a big log fire, comfy chairs and the nicest desserts you’ll ever eat. We save a Christmas present back each and swap them at the table. We eat a roast dinner, get a little nostalgic and organise plans for the future. It’s probably even more favourable to me than Christmas Day nowadays.

What are your traditions?

I’m interested to know. What things in your life have been going on so long that you’d count them as a tradition? Who do you spend time with, joke around with, commit to every single year?

Let me know in the comments below!

JJ

*Not his real name, Changed it for protection purposes. Actually is the name of his Alter Ego though.

 

 

 

Lessons from Los Angeles.

‘Let me serenade the streets of L.A, From Oakland to Sacktown, The Bay Area and back down, Cali is where they put they mack down – Give me love’ – Tupac Shakur

Finalllllllly, James has come back to the city of Los Angeles. Damn, it’s good to be back. My American journey started here, and the first leg of it is going to end here.

The city of Angels holds a place dear to my heart. It represents a bigger, better life – something the James of 5 years ago wouldn’t have even anticipated. This was the biggest step on my pursuit of awesome to date.

Back in March, this was my first port of call. I came here as fresh off the boat, big eyed, relatively inexperienced coach. I had only ever been to the east coast of America; I hadn’t been away from home for a period of time this long and I had no idea what lay in front of me.

Three months after I left I return a very tanned, slightly more aware, changed person. I’ve travelled, made contacts, coached hundreds of people and created some memories that will never leave me. I’m no longer the man I was when I first came to LA, and I’m a better person I was than when I left.

Travel has taught me a lot of lessons about life, myself and sometimes it’s just full on kicked my arse about some stuff. It allowed me to step away from a previous life, and look at myself from the outside in. Here are a few things I’ve learned since last time I was here:

#1 – Give yourself credit; you know more than you think

Coaching is something that comes naturally to me. I don’t know why, but put someone in front of me, with a few bullet points and I’ll coach them on it. It’s just something I can do.

Football coaching (Soccer, for my American friends) isn’t something I was particularly well versed in when I first got here. I’d done my qualifications, read books, articles and spoken to numerous coaches about what to do. I had session plans coming out of my ears – but I still found myself sat on a Motel 6 bed in Long Beach doubting myself.

To end the doubt, I put myself together a session plan using material from coaches I didn’t even understand. I panicked, and just though it would work. And when my first session came around, you know what happened? Yeah, it bombed. It sucked. Big surprise.

Only when I took a step back, calmed down and used the things I knew did my sessions start to flow. The stuff I’d learned, understood and put away on a shelf finally came to the fore. By the end of the spring, all the kids loved me and the parents wanted me back. The ability was within me all the time; I just had to believe in it.

Trust yourself wholeheartedly and go with your gut. It’s more informed than you think, and you’ll very rarely be wrong. On the off chance you are, at least you had the conviction to make a decision off your own judgement.

#2 – Keep it simple, stupid

Life is a very simple concept, made complicated by the people who live it. We live for roughly less than a century, and then we die. It’s that simple. No ifs, no buts. The things we do in between times is what defines us.

The simplest path is the best option. Things in life do get complicated, but the more you can break it down to it’s basics and bare essentials the better. Find the simplest route from Point A to Point B, no matter what the outcome is. I look as it like this – if you put 100 poisons in to a plant, how do you know which one killed it?

This can apply to love, relationships, work, sex, and even writing a blog post. We like to create and conjure things to justify the way we actually feel, and give us a smokescreen to hide behind.  To stop us from what we want to do and give us a reason to stop.

It should be simple, not easy.

#3 – If you can’t explain it to a 6 year old, you don’t understand it yourself.

This Einstein quote is something I’ve always liked, but I’ve never really got it until recently.

I spend a lot of time around children. It’s part of my job. I coach them for hours on end, then I come home to them at my family housing. They’re an inescapable presence in my life. 

Standing in front of upwards of forty 6 year olds means you have to learn how to simplify things, fast. I’ve had my whole life analysed, broken down and questioned all by 6 year olds. Decisions, methods and relationships all interrogated and broken down to a 5 year olds level.

Sometimes stripping everything back and looking at it through a child’s eye can have a massive effect on how you view something.

#4 – If something scares you, it’s worth doing

‘Anything I’ve ever done that ultimately was worthwhile… initially scared me to death’ – Betty Bender

Okay, this doesn’t come from my America trip. This comes from my first proper travelling trip abroad. The first time I was really ‘away’.

Last march, two weeks before my friend was due to fly to Australia I had a eureka moment. My life wasn’t going in the direction I wanted. I was stagnating, and I fell in to the trap of homeostasis. Drifting along, day-by-day, getting ready for what felt to me an unfulfilling existence in the midst of everything. I decided, ‘You know what, sod it’ made a few phone calls, had a few talks with my family and two weeks later – I was sat a few rows in front of my friend on a plane to Perth.

You could call this moment the catalyst for my ‘Pursuit of an Awesome life’ – in slightly more detail, this is where it all began.

I jumped off cliffs in to jellyfish filled water, climbed rocks, snorkelled, swam in open seas, surfed, left the country without taking a trip to see a nomadic parent and spent 3 months away from home. All things I was scared to do before I did them. All things that have positively affected my life since I did them and helped mould me in to the man I am today.

JJ

(P.S – You guys can also follow my ramblings on Twitter, @JJPT_59)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow never comes.

I’m what you could call a little bit of a planner. I like to be organized and have an idea of where I’m going, what I’m going and what my end product is. I set a goal, decide how I want to achieve it, and then go from there. Sometimes I’ll make a plan and never even follow up on it – like the time I planned to take over the Ice Cream Man industry for example. I must have made a million careers, travel, shopping and general life plans that I’ve never even got around to starting them.

That’s not because I don’t have the want to do them. I just instantly make another plan that tends to be better to achieve my goal. Or even worse, life happens, and I have to change my course. To me having a plan there is extremely comforting and somehow feel it gives even more creative freedom.

There are some plans I do follow up on though; starting this blog, going travelling, seeing the grand canyon, getting tickets to see my beloved San Diego Chargers and eating that Panda Express for lunch. (Note: if you’re the owner of Panda Express and you’re reading this, open one in England – now. Thanks.) When the goal is big enough, I start my plan and head on my route – knowing that without any world disaster happening, I’m going to get to where I need to be. Even if I need to adjust my course 3, 4 or 10 times to make it happen.

In our own way, we’re all planners. We all have that goal we’d like to achieve. Some of you will plan it out with military precision, a minute-by-minute process of how it’ll happen. Others will just let the cards be dealt and take it from there. We all have our own way of getting from point A to point B.

The problem with plans though, is starting them. We wait for what we think could be the best possible situation. ‘When I’ve got the money’, ‘When my work isn’t so busy’, ‘When I’ve got time’, ‘When the wind is blowing in a south easterly direction and I can hear 3 hummingbirds in the distance’. We have a tendency to start our plans later, in the future – tomorrow.

Tomorrow never comes.

There is no best possible time to achieve your goal. Life will very rarely go out of its way to give you the perfect opportunity. The clouds might not part and the sun most probably won’t shine at the right time. You might not have the perfect amount of money, the absolute perfect schedule.

If the goal is big enough and it’s something you want, wholeheartedly – start today. Right now. Put away your laptop or phone, stop reading this post and go outside and do it. Now. This second. Go!

Making the initial step out on any journey is the hardest to take, the scariest and the one with the least certainty. Every step after that is easier. Once you’re on the road, you’ll find all the things you thought you needed. The alignment of the stars, that $2000 savings backing, a 3 week sabbatical – whatever it was – you don’t need quite as much as you thought you did.

Save your tomorrows for doing the things you want to do once you’ve achieved your goal. Showing off your shiny, new, ripped body. Driving your new convertible. Indulging in the profit from your new business venture, or promotion. Spending more time with your kids – or seeing the world!

JJ

 

Gotta Get Away.

These past two weeks for me have been very crowded. By that I mean there have people absolutely everywhere. Ev-er-y-where. On walks, in cars, hotel rooms, living rooms, lunches and dinner – sometimes even in my own bed. I’ve been completely surrounded. No matter where I go, someone, somewhere needs me to do something, or just feels the need to talk at me. Even as I write this, I have a dog gnawing at my foot for attention and the gardeners have just starting mowing the lawn. On both sides of the house. (Note: No animals, feet or gardeners were harmed in the making of this blog post)

And it’s completely burned me out.

My appetite has been less, my overall mood has been lowered and my ability to put up with small talk has been almost non-existent. It’s safe to say my irritability setting has been set at ‘high’. There is nothing I want more in the world than to be alone right now.

As I pointed out in my power of personalities post, I’m a bit of an introvert. I like my own space, time to think and I thoroughly enjoy my own company at times. Sometimes, it’s really hard to find.

Thankfully, I’ve found a method of finding my own solace in a world that just wont stop. And it only takes me a few minutes, sat upright in a quiet room on my own. (No, not doing that, c’mon, my mum might read this.)

Meditation: My Ultimate 5 minute get away

Okay, don’t run away just yet.

In my time I’ve read a fair bit about spirituality, self-help and goal setting. Working with clients on a long term basis, I found it helped significantly to get the most out of people. One thing that a lot of things touched on is Meditation.

Initially this is always something I glanced over and never gave a second thought to. I used to think, ‘You’ve got two hopes of me sitting on a rock in someone’s garden wearing hammer pants and chanting ‘Ohm’ for an hour’. It was just a load of old tripe, right? Well I guess the fact it’s still around after a few thousand years should have given it some merit.

Meditation for those who aren’t too familiar is the art of sitting still, breathing and being alone with oneself. People use it for different aspects – aiding mental clarity, problem solving and just downright escaping the real world.

Now this isn’t a cure-all. It’s not been a magic fix, but it’s made my days far, far easier. It’s helped me escape some of the noise and be alone for a small period of time. There is no replacement for me to being alone, with a notebook and a little music. But I’ve found it useful, and I think it’s a worthwhile tool in everyone’s arsenal:

 

If you’ve had any experiences with meditation or have your own way of escaping, share it in the comments section below. I’d love to know how you manage with it.

 JJ

The Importance of the Wolf Pack

“Wait a second, could it be?” And now I know for sure, I just added two more guys to my wolf pack. Four of us wolves, running around the desert together, in Las Vegas – Alan Garner, The Hangover

The wolf pack. For those of you who don’t know, it’s the ingenious creation of a scriptwriter, for an amazing film that started one of the poorest trilogies ever. It describes the group of people that Alan Garner surrounds himself with. He starts off as a loner, and is very choosey about whom he adds in to his pack – despite the fact he is socially inept and can’t add many people anyway. The wolf pack becomes your closest friends, the people you surround yourself with the most. The ones who influence your life.

My first real exposure to a ‘wolf pack’ comes from my cousin. Growing up, he’s been like a big brother to me. As long as I can remember, he’s always had the same key group of close friends. They’re probably just about heading in to their second decade of friendship. The group has always grown, shrunk and been apart for long periods of time. But they’ve come back together, and the pillars of the group have always remained.

All these guys are successful in their own right – professional athletes, engineers, business owners, managers, teachers and actors. Their networks are extensive, and they’re always willing to help you if you need it. When I spoke to my cousin about this in a bar in Hamburg he said, ‘We’re all pretty successful, and we just seem to attract successful people’ – That may be slightly misquoted because we were a good few beers in by that time. But the point still stands.

But, do they attract successful people because they are successful – or are they successful because of the people they surround themselves with?

Who are you spending your time with?

A good way that a psychology lecturer once put it to me is, ‘You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with’. Your attitude, desires, fashion sense, word’s you say, mannerisms and work ethic – all these things can be influenced by the people around you. Don’t believe me? Look at your current group of friends, and the way they say things. If you find that one person starts saying ‘Awesome’ to describe something, within a good week you’ll be using it for everything. There will be something in there that you’ve either picked up, or influenced yourself.

Successful businessmen tend to surround themselves with others that are like them. Athletes spend most of their time around other athletes. People on Jeremy Kyle spend a lot of their time around other people with no teeth and welfare cheques. If you surround yourself with a certain type of people, then you get a certain outcome.

Let me hold it there though. I’m not saying if you surround yourself with Fortune 500 company owners, you’ll become one. These guys work hard, day and night to achieve these things. You are not entitled to anything because of your group of friends. What I am trying to get at is the people your mind-set would start to change and you’ll want those things. Your network would also be better suited to your goals.

Traveling in the way I am right now, I find myself forced in to other peoples company. Living, working and spending long car journeys with people you sort-of know. These guys all come from different backgrounds, with different views of the world. Some can be cynical and negative; others can be positive and life affirming.  I find a lot of people with Limiting Beliefs (that’s a whole topic for another day) that resign them to certain paths. These are people I try to avoid or cut from my social circle. Not because they are bad people or I don’t like them – but because I don’t need that influence in to my life.

There is nothing wrong with your friends

Your friends are probably pretty good people. You’ll have people you want to go down to the pub with, and people you would want to be the best man (or bridesmaids) at your wedding. I don’t know any of them, so I can’t judge. And his or her influence will be perfect on someone’s life.

The ultimate question though is – Is this persons influence good on my life?

If you’re overall goal is make a big life change and say, lose 50lbs. But you have a friend who keeps twisting your arm and you end up going out for pizza and beers 3 nights a week because of their influence. Do you need that person in your life?

Of course there is always the question about willpower, but without that influence there life gets easier. It’s like trying to quit drinking in a brewery – the odds are stacked against you.

The people you surround yourself with is paramount to your overall success, in anything. Old friends will always be there, but you have to make sure that these people have a positive effect on your life. People who hold you back just stand in your way, even if you have been friends since you were 3 years old.

Cutting people out of your life if hard, but in the pursuit of an awesome life we only want to be surrounded by awesome people. Vampires, Critics and people who hold us back have no place in our lives.

JJ