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100 Incredible Things Learned Watching 70 Hours of TED Talks (by Chris Bailey, Lifehack)

Check out this great post over at Lifehack:

My favourite lesson:

12. Success isn’t a destination, it’s a continuous journey that’s made up of eight parts: passion, hard work, focus, pushing yourself and others, having great ideas, making constant improvements, serving others, and persistence.

and also:

14. We don’t feel fear because of a potential loss of income or status, we feel fear because we’re afraid of being judged and ridiculed. Any vision of success has to admitThese great Digital Analogue Converters Best Condenser Mic under $50  really do help you get the best from your music collection and investment in premium headphones what the definition doesn’t include, and what you may be missing out on.

The second comes from one of my favourite TED talks: A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy of Success by philospher Alain de Botton. It offers an interesting perspective on how we view success and failure:

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How to let go of the limiting beliefs that are preventing you from quiting your day job

Quitting your job is SCARY! And there are so many limiting beliefs that keep you chained to your desk (trust me I’ve experienced them all!) but it doesn’t have to be this way! Here are my 5 steps to letting go of the limiting beliefs that are preventing you from quitting your day job:

1. Accept that a 9-5 does NOT give you financial security

You could be fired from your job tomorrow. You employer could go into liquidation. Your entire life could fall apart. I’m not trying to scare you, but the reality is that most people hold onto their 9-5 jobs because they believe that it gives them financial security. But in reality, self employment is going to give you the same amount of financial security (or lack thereof depending on how you want to look at it).

Once you stop believe that you have financial security, you’ll likely start to realise that finances are NOT holding you back, because the fact is that the thing that normally holds people back is fear, which leads us to our next step:

2. Make peace with fear

Fear of the unknown, fear of judgement, fear of failure, fear of complete financial dissolution. I get it, quitting your job is terrifying. So how do you make peace with fear? Well…

3. Accept that you CAN earn an income by yourself (and have fun while you’re doing it!)

From an early age most of us are trained to believe that the only way to earn a living or be a respectable member of society is to be an employee. We’re told that we have to work long hours for minimal reward because that’s just how life works. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Think about it this way. If a company is paying you money, that means that you are making them a lot more money. They aren’t paying you out of the goodness of their hearts. They invest money in you, and you give them a return on their investment. So if a company is prepared to invest in you, why aren’t you prepared to invest in yourself?

4. Realise that you have marketable skills that you can use to generate an income

If you have a day job, you have skills. You probably underestimate how valuable and knowledgeable your skills really are. Or if you don’t have a day job, maybe you’re an amazing stay-at-home mum with parenting skills that you can use to help others, or maybe you’re a great cook. Stop devaluing yourself and start to realise that you an amazing person with a unique set of skills that only you can offer the world.

Once you let go of your limiting beliefs, you can starting working towards quitting your day job.

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How I escaped the 9-5 and created a life and job I love!

Untitled-43Growing up, my parents were always business owners, and I thought it was awful. They worked 7 days a week so they were hardly ever home and holidays were out of the question. I saw them working so hard and decided I never wanted to be self employed.

Meanwhile, my friend’s parents had conventional 9-5 jobs. They had weekends free and took regular holidays, so as I child, a 9-5 job seemed like a dream come true. Of course, I wasn’t aware of all the negative things that they had to deal with such as lack of freedom, and little hope of financial advancement. In reality, my friend’s parents had to commute 2hrs to and from work every day, they also had to work long hours during the week, and they’re probably still working even though they’d be in their 60s by now (meanwhile, my parents retired in their early 50s).

But it took me a long to time and realise this, and an even longer time to realise that this wasn’t the way it had to be!

After I finished studying, I was determined to get a 9-5 job. But that wasn’t so easy. I ended up landing a job as a makeup artist, which I know sounds pretty glamorous, but it was a lot of long hours, traveling and hard work. Because it was a commission based job, it taught me something very important:

How much work you put in can and should be reflected in how much you earn!

I didn’t mind working long hours, and I loved the fact that I was being rewarded with lots of money! From that point forward, I routinely worked 2-3 jobs at a time. I worked in offices, retail stores, restaurants, and nightclubs. I loved working hard and I loved earning money. I was also very quick to quit jobs and/or be fired, so I ended up working at a lot of different jobs, but each job taught me something valuable. I also spent time being unemployed and collecting the dole, which I found incredibly soul destroying.

At 21 I landed an entry level job in the Accounts Receivable department at a food wholesaler. I was promoted within the company and ended up with a promising career in accounts ahead of me. I moved onto another company (and other 9-5 job) where I continued my career in accounts. But I hated accounting so ended up going back to school and studying design. There were a few hiccups along the way, but eventually I became a graphic designer.

At 25 I was working full time at a graphic design agency – and I loved it! But I was still trapped in the 9-5. As a junior, the pay was terrible, and I never made more than my base salary, regardless of how much overtime I did or how hard I worked. I was also working Saturday nights and at night club and doing freelance graphic design in my spare time, so that I could earn enough money to pay my mortgage.

After a couple of years, I was offered another job with better pay and shorter hours so I decided to take it. But that job was TERRIBLE and I walked out after three weeks. I started job hunting again but my prospects weren’t too good. Unemployment rates were pretty high at the time, and there were a lot of unemployed graphic designers out there. I couldn’t believe that I’d quit two design jobs and now I was unemployed. I was so mad at myself!

I heard that my design skills might enable me to get a job in marketing, so I started to apply for every marketing job that I could find, and was lucky enough to get a job. But it was only two days a week, so my wage, along with the freelance work that I was doing, was only just enough to cover my bills. I was still focusing most of my energy on getting a full time design job. Not only because I wanted to earn more money, but also because I was still stuck in the limiting mindset that I “needed” a 9-5 job.

Miss Flik in NepalMeanwhile, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of months doing volunteer work in Nepal, and then visit Europe with my family. And thanks to a surprisingly large tax refund, I was actually able to afford to go, and I was able to take the time off from my marketing job. If I’d been working for a design agency at the time, it’s unlikely I would have been able to take time off, so even thought I feel like my professional life was in shambles, it actually allowed me to take advantage of a great opportunity.

The time away allowed me to relax and made me realise that I loved working 2 days a week and doing freelance work. I just spent so much time worrying and job hunting, I never had any time to enjoy it! But when I returned to Australia, I was determined that things would be different! I was going to keep working at my marketing and build up my freelance business so I could freelance full time!

And then I lost my job.

But almost immediately I was offered two freelance contracts with two different agencies. I couldn’t believe it! Just like that I was freelancing full time (and this was after I’d been looking for work for 12 months!). For a while everything was great. Financially things were fine, and I was continuing to build up my freelance business. But then I lost one of my contracts and work with with the other contractor was beginning to dry up. I panicked and started to apply for full time design jobs again.

Surprising, I landed a job almost immediately. It was a great paying design job at an agency only a 10 minute drive from my house. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was! I loved the financial security, but going back to a 9-5 job (which in reality was 8.30-5pm plus lots of overtime) after I’d experienced the freedom of freelancing was not fun. I’d look out the window on a beautiful sunny day and wonder why on earth I was a sacrificing my freedom just for a bit of financial security.

Most days, I had to stay in the office at all times, so I couldn’t even go out for lunch or go to a doctor’s appointment and taking a day off work was almost completely out of the question. I questioned why I was holding onto this job when I was in the very fortunate position to be able to freelance instead. I told myself I’d go back to freelancing once I’d built up my freelance business some more. At this point, I was working 42hrs+ at my job, plus doing 10-20hrs of freelance work during evenings and weekends, and my volunteer work and my social was starting to suffer. I desperately wanted to quit so that I could freelance full time, but I didn’t have enough freelance work. I knew I had the capacity to get more work if I was able to answer my phone during business hours and spend more time going to networking events and promoting myself. But a little part of me still believed that I “needed” a 9-5 job, and quitting my job was just SO SCARY.

For me, the turning point came when work at the agency started to dry up and I started to get sent home early without pay. It made me learn firsthand a very important lesson:

A 9-5 job does not automatically mean financial security or job security.

But even once I stopped holding onto the false illusion of financial security, I still didn’t quit my job. I just needed another little push, which the universe sent to me in the form of a job offer. I was offered a trial at a prestigious advertising agency, that would lead to a permanent job if I made a good impression. This was a dream come true. For a long time I’d wanted to break into advertising. But making the leap from graphic design agency to advertising agency was extremely difficult. I was so overjoyed just to have the opportunity to spend even at day a the advertising agency! I wasn’t allowed to take the day off work, and I figured my days at my current job were numbered anyway, so I quit my job so that I could attend the trial.

But the advertising agency was AWFUL. The other designers were miserable and spent the entire day loudly complaining about how much they hated their jobs. Meanwhile, the job itself turned out to be an entry level job (with an entry level salary), when at that point of I’d been in industry for 5 years. I ended up getting offered the job, but even thought it was supposed to be my dream job, I decided not to take it.

Since that day I’ve been a freelance graphic designer and I can honestly say it is THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD!

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My productivity secret weapon – mega productivity and the GTD system

How do I manage to run a graphic design business and an online store, and still have time to do volunteer work, run two blogs and have time for a social life? Introducing my secret weapon

Getting Things Done by David Allen

The GTD (Getting Things Done) System, is covered in a book by veteran coach and management consultant David Allens. His premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential.

getting-things-done-bookIn Getting Things Done, Allen shows how to:

  • Apply the “do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it” rule
  • Reassess goals and stay focused in changing situations
  • Plan projects as well as get them unstuck
  • Overcome feelings of confusion, anxiety, and being overwhelmed
  • Feel fine about what you’re not doing

I’ve read this book twice and it has helped me immensely. It’s an integral part of how I stay productive while I’m self employed. For me, the best tip I got out of this book is to keep a to list and make sure everything is on it. I used to always seem to have ten different things on the go at once because I’d think of something while I was in the middle of something else, and then start doing it straight away because I was worried I’d forget to do it. Now, I keep a notebook next to me at all times, and as soon as I think of something I write it down.

Don’t like to read?

There is also a fantastic videos training program over at Skillshare that covers that principles in book in 15 easy video lessons (and you can watch them all in 90 minutes!) You can watch an introductory video about the program here:

An Online Skillshare Class by Tiago Forte

Personally I’ve read the book twice and I’ve watched the video series, and it’s been incredible how much it has improved my productivity. How you tried the program? Did it help you? Let me know in the comments!

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How to stay productive when you’re self employed

If you’re self employed or have your own business like I do, staying on track can be tough! Especially if you’re used to having a conventional job with a boss, or the fear of being fired motivating you to keep on track. But really, being self employed isn’t that much different. In a sense you still have a “boss” in the form of your clients, your family, and yourself. Not to mention an obligation to stay on track so you can keep earning money and maintaining the freedom and flexibility that comes with self employment!

I’ve been self employed for a couple of years now, and self discipline is still something that I struggle with, but here are my top tips for staying productive when you’re self employed:

1. Have a designated work area ONLY for work

20140801_162257It’s important to have a designed area just for doing work (and only work!) as it trains your brain to go into “work mode” when you enter the room, and it helps to avoid distractions . If you work from home, it also helps to keep some separation between your work and leisure time. If space is a problem, you might like to consider renting or bartering an office or desk.

2. Have a set morning ritual

This helps to keep you on track and trains your brain to go into “work mode” as well. It could be as simple as shower, breakfast, and at your desk by 9am. Other people who work from home physically leave their house in the morning so that they can simulate going to work. For me, getting showered and dressed in “work clothes” really helps to boost my productivity. I’d love to be able to work in my fluffy pink dressing gown, but I just can’t take myself seriously when I try!

3. Make a timetable and stick to it

Sticking to a timetable is challenging, but it’s a great way to keep yourself on track. Tailor-make a timetable that suits your lifestyle and your job so that you’re more likely to stick to it. For me, my work changes everyday, so on my timetable I allocate time for high priority, medium priority and low priority tasks, and I then grade everything on my to do list accordingly. I also have an hour break in the middle of the day so I can have lunch and take my dogs for a walk.

4. Development great time management skills

Developing great time management skills is a key factoring in maximising your productivity. I constantly have a notebook next to me with a running to do list on it, and I have both work and personal tasks on there because I find that keeping everything in the one place works best for me. I use a highlighter to colour code items by order of priority, and I cross things off as I finish them (which feels really, really good!). You can read more about my secret time management weapon here.

5. Embrace your freedom (sometimes)

I know that this contradicts my other points, but being self-employed gives you the freedom and flexibility to manage your own time, and there is nothing wrong with embracing that (s0metimes). So if you’re just not feeling productive, why not take the morning off and work in the evening to make up for it? If you want to spending the day working from the couch while you watch TV – go for it! Just don’t do this everyday because I can assure you, if you’re anything like me, your productivity will take a hit.

Personally I find that as long as I spend the majority of my time sticking to the above points, having the occasional “cheat” day is actually really beneficial because it reminds me of how lucky I am to have so much freedom, and makes me realise that it is worth all the self discipline that is required.

4. Develop a routine that suits your unique self

Don’t feel you have to be at your desk by 9am and schedule your timetable 9-5. If you’re more productive at night and you prefer to sleep in, there is nothing wrong with creating a routine that reflects this. Of course, if you have clients who work 9-5, you’re going to have to at least be available on phone and email during this time. The key is to create a routine that works for you, and allows for maximum productivity, and then stick to it!

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How I completly changed my career path and became a graphic designer

I used to wake up each weekday morning with a sense of dread. Another 1 hour commute. Another 8 hours of mind-numbingly boring work. Another 1 hour commute again. Another evening that I couldn’t enjoy because I was already dreading the next day.

For all intensive purposes, I was “living the dream”. I had a family, a mortgage, an expensive car, a career, a secure 9-5 job that paid well. I had everything that I thought I’d ever wanted. But I was MISERABLE.

There was nothing particularly wrong with my life. My job was boring but it wasn’t awful. I just couldn’t shake this overwhelming feeling that surely there had to be more to life than repeating that same unfulfilling week over and over again for 40+ years. My workmates were just as unhappy as I was. The older ones absolutely hated their lives, and I was following the exact same path that they had. I felt like I was seeing my future and it terrified me.

The turning point came when I was 24 years old. It was the week before I was supposed to start a 5 year accounting course. I hated accounting, but completing the course meant that I’d be paid twice as much for the job that I was already doing, and I’d have regular paid time off work to study and do assignments. Three nights a week I’d have to race home from work, pick up my car and drive another hour to get to uni, but I kept telling myself it wouldn’t be so bad. On paper, it was the best decision I’d ever made. But my heart was begging me not to do it. 

For many years I’d wanted to be a freelance graphic designer. As soon I finished high school I started to study a Bachelor of Arts majoring in graphic design & marketing, but I hated the design subjects (mostly just art history and basic Photoshop skills that I’d already taught myself!) so I decided to change my majors to journalism and creativity writing. After I finished my course I discovered that it was going to be near impossible for me to get a journalism job at the time, so I started to work lots of crazy jobs and eventually found myself working in Accounts Receivable.

I found working in accounts to be incredibly boring, and I still really wanted to be a graphic designer. I had an entire draw full of brochures for graphic design courses, but it just wasn’t practical. I couldn’t juggle full time work and study and all my other commitments without the support of my workplace, and an entry level design job wasn’t going to pay my mortgage. But day one of my accounting course started to get close and closer, and the overwhelming sense of dread that I carried with me almost constantly became so overwhelming I felt like I was going to suffocate. I voice in my head told me that I had to go online and have another look at design courses. I discovered that a 2 year part time design course was just about to start in the evenings, at a TAFE a mere 5 minute walk from my workplace.

My partner didn’t support me, my friends didn’t support me, my workplace didn’t support me – even I didn’t support me. People told me I was I was completely nuts for throwing away a promising accounting career. They told me I was too old to change careers (I was only 24!), they told me that the design industry was too competitive and I’d never make it. But I listened to my heart and I enrolled in the Diploma of Graphic Design anyway.

This time around I absolutely loved studying graphic design. I’d always struggled academically, but I breezed through the course, getting top marks easily. Halfway through the course I discovered that the evening classes were going to be cancelled due to a lack of enrollment, so in order to complete my Diploma I’d have to study during the day. This meant that I’d have to quit my job, which just wasn’t an option. After the GFC hit, I was one of the very few people that had managed to hold onto their jobs, while 60% of people at my workplace had been fired. I was covering three people’s jobs, so working part time was not an option. I couldn’t possibly quit a well paying, secure job to chase a dream that in all likelihood I wasn’t going to achieve!

But once again, even thought it was an extremely difficult thing for me to do, I listened to my heart. I quit my job and started to study full time while living off my annual leave payout and savings. Thanks to my previous hospitality experience, I was able to find a job working nights at a pizza shop. I hated the job, and it paid half of what I’d been previously earning, but it meant that my days were free to study and attend classes, so I had no regrets. I was also doing volunteer design & admin work, which enabled me to start getting freelance design work through word of mouth. I was so happy.

And then my partner was fired.

And then I was fired.

We started powering through our savings and I was terrified. I needed to find another job and I needed to find one FAST. It’s generally impossible to get a graphic design job without at least a Diploma level qualification and a really good portfolio, and I didn’t have either, but I started to apply for every entry-level graphic design I could find anyway.

And then I got my first graphic design job interview! I was thrilled!

I went to the interview and it was a disaster. I was so nervous I couldn’t stop shaking, and I fumbled over the interview questions. My portfolio was awful (looking back at it now I cringe!). The interviewers told me that it needed work, but they could see that I had potential. I thought that there was no way that I’d actually get the job.

But I did!

My First Graphic Design JobMy bosses were keen for me to keep studying, so they were happy to work around my school timetable. Being a part-time entry-level design job, the pay was terrible, but I didn’t care. I was lucky enough to land another part time job working as a lighting technician at a night club, which paid even better than my so called “great paying” accounts job. My partner got a new job too, and we were able to pay our mortgage again.

Time passed and I finished my Diploma and began working as a full time Graphic & Web Designer at the same agency. The years passed and I continued to work for design agencies while also freelancing. I now freelance full time under my graphic design business Flik Graphic Design. Becoming a graphic designer was the best decision I’ve ever made. That feeling of dread and long gone, and I have a job and life that I love!

How you ever listened to your heart and made a DRASTIC life change? Let me know in the comments!

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