Life

Stop Convincing Yourself You Can’t Do Something. Now.

Photo by  Jason Rosewell  on  Unsplash

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” — Henry Ford

How many times have you not done something because you thought it would be too hard to do?

If you’re like most of us, frequently right?

For the longest time I thought there was no way I could draw. I’m a programmer by trade, and perform well with things that relate to logic.

I had tried a few times but always ended stopping before even really giving it a chance.

It was too hard for me to do. I had given up.

Similarly, I’ve always had tiny legs. It had been pointed out to me on many occasions while in high-school. Some might call it bullying, but maybe I was too dumb to realize I was actually getting bullied.

I’m an ectomorph. For me, gaining weight is terribly hard. I know a lot of people would love to have this problem, but they’re wrong. It’s just as bad as being overweight. Especially for men.

I was never able to put weight on. I tried eating ridiculous amounts of calories. Simple workouts. Nothing worked.

It was too hard for me to do. I had given up.

 

The Turning Point

I can now draw, and my legs have started growing in ways I never thought would be possible.

But what changed you ask?

I think it comes down to two things:

1. A Mindset Shift

When you reject the idea that something is not feasible, it becomes feasible.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” — Henry Ford

I know this sounds cliché or too obvious, but it’s not.

Next time you think you can’t do something, stop yourself.

Take time to think.

Can you really not do it?

With careful planning, consistent execution and constant monitoring of results, you can achieve almost anything.

Kyle Maynard is a quadruple amputee. That guy climbed Kilimanjaro! If that doesn’t inspire you to do things you think you can’t, I don’t know what will.

When I started writing a few months ago, I shared a short story about a guy named Phil.

I won’t go into details, but the guy didn’t have a truck or a car to pick up a bookshelf I was selling, so he brought it on two public buses home. Who does that? Anyone would have given up on the bookshelf, but man did he want it!

2. A Simple Habit

Around the same time that mindset shift happened to me, I developed a framework I never knew would set me up for success.

I frequently write about it, so I won’t go into the details here, but basically, every month, I learn 3 new skills. I plan for it every end of month. I execute consistently every day for the whole month. I quantify and qualify the results.

At the end of the month, I’m usually quite good doing the skill.

This is how I learned to draw.

I rejected the idea that a programmer cannot draw.

I planned my learning process. I set deadlines. I set milestones. I drew every day by following tutorials online. By the end of the month, I could sketch, do line art, and colouring.

I won’t make a career out of it, but now I can sketch for my artists as needed and understand when they tell me things related to art.

When I rejected the fact that my legs could never grow bigger, I figured out a path to success. I did the right exercises and the right amount of repetitions. I was consistent in doing them everyday.

When I rejected the idea that an introvert can’t tell a good story, I studied methods that work. I practiced public speaking and writing consistently. I researched what makes a good story good. I learned to be authentic. That’s how I became a top writer on Medium.

 

It’s Actually Easy

It turns out, it wasn’t even hard to learn to draw. It wasn’t even hard to grow the legs. It wasn’t even hard to tell stories.

“Showing up is half the battle.” — Woody Allen

I believe that. I’ve been there.

In the course of 6 months, I learned to draw, I learned some machine learning techniques, I learned a lot of Spanish, I learned to give public speeches, I learned to tell stories, I learned to write, I learned some basic Norwegian, I learned to Meditate, I learned to Journal. And more.

I’ve since become a top writer on Medium, started two new businesses, got my third professional photography gig, built my own personal brand, hired 5 people, wrote two books, released a video game, and more.

And I’m not saying that to brag.

I just want you to realize that things are not always as hard as they seem.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, clapping, and sharing ! :)

First published here: https://theascent.pub/stop-convincing-yourself-you-cant-do-something-now-5704d48fd149

How Many Meaningful Relationships Do You Have, And Why Does It Matter?

Photo by  @mahkeo  on  Unsplash

Photo by @mahkeo on Unsplash

Let’s first start by defining what a meaningful relationship is:

“A meaningful relationship is one that’s open and honest in a way that lets people be straight with each other” — Ray Dalio

  • Who can you tell it to when they’re on the wrong path, in health, wealth, love and happiness?

  • Who tells you when that happens do you?

  • How many people are open and honest with you?

  • How many people do you dare be open and honest with?

I’m willing to bet it’s hard to come up with a large list of people for these questions.

Ideally, you would have the same names in all lists. It’s a relationship after all! If you are open and honest with someone and vice versa, then it’s a truly meaningful relationship.

Why It Matters

Identifying your meaningful relationships is important to understand who to 1) go to in times of need, and 2) get valuable feedback on important decisions.

It is the people you surround yourself with in business and in life. It’s your business partners, your spouse, your parents, your children, etc.

A meaningful relationship is strong. You know the other person’s got your back. If something is wrong, they’ll tell you straight, and you’ll grow from it.

You don’t grow from people hiding the truth from you. It might feel good initially to not face the brutal truth, but it will eventually hurt when you fall.

I learned to embrace the brutal truth a few years ago. I can’t remember the exact point in time, but I know since then I’ve had more “success” in whatever I’m doing since then.

I’m happily married and our relationship is based on trust. We can tell each other the brutal truth. We’re stronger for it. We’ve been together 14 years. I’m only 31.

In business, I try to surround myself with people who won’t shy away from telling me when I do something wrong. I always ask for feedback from people I trust. In return, they trust that I’ll do the same.

Obviously, there are ways to give brutally honest feedback, and not everyone can word it properly, but sometimes you have to read between the lines.

I personally like when someone tells me something I did is s***, provided they have points to back their opinion up.

You don’t have to agree with everything, but that’s what being “open” means. Understand and value the person’s opinion, and make up your own opinion based on that.

Conclusion

Take time to reflect on the meaningful relationships you have. Make a list. Make those connections even stronger.

Strive to build more relationships based on openness and honesty. You’ll grow as a person and you’ll become a better business partner, spouse, parent, etc.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading and sharing! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/how-many-meaningful-relationships-do-you-have-and-why-does-it-matter-1abd53568e4e

Negativity Is Poison For Your Brain, Clear It ASAP

I used to not really get it when people were so negative about things.

Being the positive person than I am, it was always hard for me to relate, always trying to see the positive in everything.

Yet I found myself having really negative thoughts for the past two days. I started dumbing everything I am doing.

Going Down

It started with doubting myself about my photography assignment. I have been shooting for two full days straight with minimal direction. I’m shooting for a half day today.

The reason for doubting myself is that I haven’t really taken any “real” photos for almost two years. I’m very rusty. My equipment is also all new. But most of all, I haven’t taken the time to prepare properly and understand the requirements of the assignment.

That doubt manifested itself in my first shooting session. Almost all of the 500 photos I took had to be scrapped.

My positivity took a hit.

The second session went better, but not enough to really cheer me up.

The third session, yesterday morning, went very poorly. I went in with the mindset that I wasn’t up for it. That I didn’t have what it takes to do it.

I couldn’t have been more out of my comfort zone.

I was shooting at a children school, trying to get candid shots of the children with bars of Sundara soap. I’m very bad with children. I freeze every time. I have no idea how to be silly and build their trust.

I seriously did my best, but overall, I don’t even know if I managed to get a single usable shot.

And that’s when I lost all my positivity. I was down.

Going Down Deeper

Every thought I had yesterday morning until the evening was negative.

I couldn’t help it.

My brain was just bouncing from one subject to the next, thinking of other areas it perceived as a failure.

I was sitting outside after that third session looking at the incredible scenery of the rural India village I was staying at. I was gazing upon the landscape and just wanted to cry.

But I didn’t, out of pride.

We left shortly after to go to another town two hours away. I really wanted to recharge my batteries and clear my mind. I normally fall asleep right away in transportation.

But not this time.

I couldn’t stop thinking about how I wasn’t fit to do my assignment. I wasn’t fit to write. I wasn’t fit to lead a team to build a game. I wasn’t fit for anything.

I f***ing hated having these thoughts. But turning them around seemed impossible.

I really needed a win.

Getting A Win

That my friends, was key for me.

I’m not sure I actually even got myself the true win I’m aiming for, but just realizing that I needed to focus my attention on that win cleared my mind from the negative.

Or channeled it differently at least.

I started turning to the “why” and the “how”. Why were the photos not up to the standards I needed them to be, and how can I fix that.

My brain switched to revisiting these poisonous thoughts I had, but with an analytical point of view.

I analyzed what went wrong. I brainstormed solutions. I visualized the process.

It is then that I decided to take it as a challenge. No matter how bad my next session would be, it “didn’t matter as much”. It is a learning process. I’m no expert and never pretended to be. But I had forgotten that and was way over my head.

But now I was prepared. Mentally at least. The doubt was gone. I knew I could do better.

And I think I did in my fourth session. I haven’t had time to go through all the photos, but I have a better feeling. I certainly applied the things I had learned in the last two days.

Conclusion

My confidence is not yet fully recovered, but I’m on the right track I think.

This may sound over-dramatic to some of you since this happened very recently and for a short period of time, but negativity is all new to me.

And in some ways, I’m happy I had this experience. I can finally relate and understand when people around me feel that way.

Feeling down sucks.

The more negative thoughts you have, the more you seem to have. It’s a rabbit hole that needs to be dug back up as fast as you can once you realize you’re in it.

It’s easy to say, but very hard to do. I channeled all my energy on getting myself a significant win. This changed my mindset.

Wins are very important for building up your positivity. Every small win contributes to it. It’s an effective way of digging yourself out.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading and sharing ! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/negativity-is-poison-for-your-brain-chase-it-asap-4b6705cc12ca

Top Tips On How To Be Pumped About Going Back To Work After A Vacation

When’s the last time you were pumped to get back to work after a vacation?

Most of the times, you’re either too comfortable to want to go back, or you exhausted yourself by cramming too much into a small vacation.

I’m just back from a small 4 days vacation in Mumbai, and let me tell you: I was pumped to get back to my productive activities!

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my vacation, because I really did. But like everyone, I know how much it sucks to get back to work after being unproductive for a few days, weeks or months.

But I turned that over. I set myself up for wanting to come back without sacrificing quality time in a city I didn’t know.

Here are a few tips that worked for me to be pumped about going back to work after a vacation:

Tip #1: Disconnect From Work And Technology

This was, in part, my topic for yesterday’s story.

This is obviously not that easy, but if you can pull it off, it will help you want to get back to work. Truly disconnecting means not doing anything work-related.

No email checking, no calls, no social media. Nothing.

Don’t bring your work laptop. If it’s the same as your personal one, don’t turn it on unless it’s for researching things to do or book flights and accommodation.

Shut that phone off. Use it for the essentials only, like Google Maps and Translate.

Relax, get back to your hobbies. It’s your time, do things you want to do that doesn’t work towards your productive activities.

Tip #2: Plan Your Return On Your Last Day Off

This is critical.

Don’t go back to work not knowing what to expect. It’s the same principle as planning your day the night before. You’ll have clarity on what you need to do and you’ll be pumped to clear off that checklist the day of.

Be precise in your planning, and break your tasks in the smallest possible chunks.

I had 18 items to do just yesterday, most of which took between 10 and 30 minutes to do.

Everything was realistic.

Try not to schedule your hardest tasks on the day of your return. Or maybe not even in the first week. Give yourself a chance to be back.

I was pumped to accomplish the tasks on my list.

Now, I realize not everyone is in the same situation as me and have limited control over their work task, but if that’s your case, make sure to ask your superior what tasks they’re thinking of assigning you and try to negotiate with them.

Most bosses would be happy to help you get back to it.

Tip #3: Be Positive About It

“I hate Mondays” — Garfield

That’s the attitude you don’t want to have.

Do not tell yourself that coming back will suck. Even if you know it might. Think about the positive aspects of your work. Think about the things you like about your work.

  • Is it your colleagues?

  • Is it the work itself?

  • Is it the learning?

  • Is it the free snacks or lunches?

  • Is it the salary, or the benefits?

Whatever it is, capitalize on it.

If you struggle to find anything positive, well, maybe it’s worth considering other options? There are almost always other options.

Tip #4: Be Grateful

Some people don’t have the luxury of taking a vacation.

Too often, we take it for granted.

Be thankful for being granted vacation. Be thankful that your work made your vacation possible.

Some people can’t afford it. Both in terms of money and time.

When you stop taking your vacation time for granted, you start appreciating what made this vacation possible in the end: your work.

I traveled around the world for a year without working. I was in vacation mode for a year. It’s not as nice as it sounds.

Work gives you purpose. Be thankful for the opportunity to do something productive.

Tip #5: Exhaust Yourself, Just Enough

We’re creatures of comfort. It’s against our nature to do things out of our comfort zone.

When you take a vacation that’s too relaxing, you become too comfortable. It’s hard to break out of it and want to go back to doing productive things.

You definitely should relax on vacation, but make sure to spend some energy too. Spend energy on things you like to do. On things out of your comfort zone. Learn new things. Meet new people. Eat new foods. Let your imagination run wild.

But don’t overdo it!

Have you ever gotten back from vacation more exhausted than you were before?

Yeah, I’m sure you have. And you know it sucks.

Plan your most relaxing activities for the end of your vacation. That way you’ll have spent energy in the beginning, and won’t have time to get too comfortable before going back.

Tip #6: Change Your Mindset About Work

Everyone talks about work-life balance.

I reject that mindset. Work and life go together. There’s no balance.

Work is life. Take this definition of work for example:

“activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result”

We all want to achieve results. The moment you start seeing work as a way to get things done and not about a paycheque, you’ll start to understand that work gives a meaning to life.

When you believe that you’re doing things that work towards your goals, you’ll stop thinking of work as a chore, but as a way to achieve your greatest ambitions in life.

Coming back to “work” then becomes coming back to achieving your goals.

And that is enticing and will get you pumped.

Conclusion

Going on vacation is great, no questions there. But coming back from it is not always easy.

Make sure to truly disconnect, be positive and grateful, exhaust yourself enough, change your mindset about work and plan your return before coming up.

That will pump you to be back to your productive activities.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading and sharing ! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/top-tips-on-how-to-be-pumped-about-going-back-to-work-after-a-vacation-5e8aab3d25d0

We All Need Someone Who Truly Understands Us

I don’t live a conventional life by any means.

I’ve been with my wife for almost 14 years and we’ve been married for 6. It took us 7 years, 7 months and 7 days to get married. We got married after hopping on a helicopter in Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon with two friends.

We had decided on that option two months earlier, but got our rings the week before in San Francisco and we found our tux and gown two days before the wedding.

I don’t know how she agreed to that, but it makes for a good story.

We’ve been together for that long, yet we don’t have children or don’t own property. Or not anymore at least (the property part). We had bought a brand-new condominium in downtown Montreal when we were 21 and 23, which we sold for good profit a year after. We were still students at the time.

I did over 12 different jobs, starting when I was 8 years old. I’m a terrible employee. It’s not that my work ethics are bad, it’s just that I’m more of an entrepreneur. In fact, I’ve launched 5 companies, most of which “failed”.

Three years ago, my wife and I left to travel the world for a year. We both left our really nice job and gave all our belongings away. When we came back to Toronto after, we couldn’t stand having a “regular” life, so we left again a year later.

Audrey went to work for Doctors Without Borders and I switched to having a nomadic lifestyle.

Any of the above sounds normal to you?

And I’m not saying it’s good or bad. It’s just different.

But if you tried to be different yourself, I’m sure you’ve noticed how society has a way to cast away people who are different.

People have a hard time getting it when you’re different.

They judge. The reprimand. They lecture you.

They can’t accept that you’ve chosen a path that’s different than theirs.

And that last part is what gets me the most.

Why can’t people accept that we’re not all the same? And that’s for the better. For everyone.

Being Understood

Two evenings ago, Audrey and I went to dinner with her aunt, Hope.

We always love chatting her. Every time we chat with her, we feel so uplifted. She lives in a very different context than we do. She lives a more traditional way of life, yet she gets us.

She’s always happy for us. She shows interest and gives the right input on everything we say. She’s incredibly wise.

A lot of our family doesn’t get our lifestyle.

“No kids, no home, no stable job at our age? There’s something terribly wrong with you!”

But that’s not how Hope thinks.

She doesn’t have kids herself, but she’s got a home and a stable job. It doesn’t stop her from understanding us. She knows not everyone is the same.

She is one of the rare ones who truly understands us.

Conclusion

You see, it’s okay not to be understood by everyone, but you need at least one person who truly understands you.

The feeling you get when someone listens to you and understands you is so uplifting.

It gives you the courage to keep going. To work towards the change you want to make in life.

It gives you the power to accomplish your wildest dreams and aim higher.

It makes it okay to be different.

  • Are you different?

  • Who truly understands you?

  • Have you told them? Have you thanked them for it?

  • Who do you show your support to?

Being truly understood is important for anyone’s sanity and development. Think about that concept, and show support to the people you care about.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading and sharing ! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/we-all-need-someone-who-truly-understands-us-9f5f3430abcc

You Are, Or Will Become, your Environment

Photo by  @rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by @rawpixel on Unsplash

In a series of stories, I wrote about how you are, or will become, what you readwhat you listen to, and what you do.

In this story, I’m going a little deeper on the same theme.

A lot of the inspiration comes from my own experience living in completely different areas of the world in the last few years.

In the past 7 months alone, I’ve changed more than I’ve ever changed in my entire life. I have many theories on how specifically it happened, but for the most part: it boils down to my changes of environment.

If you are not in the right environment, hopefully, my story will inspire you to change it and make it work for you.

To be honest, It’s not something I had given much thought until I read Benjamin P. Hardy’s book: Willpower Doesn’t Work. So thank you for the inspiration, Benjamin!

Toronto — Earlier than 7 Months Ago

Back then, I was living a more normal life. I had a nice 9–5 software engineering job in a rapidly growing tech startup in Toronto. I had worked there for at least one full year.

I was living in a modest apartment with my wife in the downtown area.

I was doing good, but I wasn’t standing out from the crowd. I felt I had stronger ambitions, but my environment was not prone to making me what I wanted to be.

Cambodia — 7 Months Ago

My wife and I went separate ways due to her job with Doctors Without Borders.

We would not see each other for 6 months, with the exception of a week-long break in between.

I had to choose where I’d go.

I ended up going to Siem Reap, in Cambodia, helping a friend who owns a co-living/co-working space.

That was quite the change of environment!

There, I finally started working full-time on my own startup, a video game studio called Power Level Studios.

The most important part of the environment there was the people. Everyone was working hard on their own projects, which they cared deeply about. 9–5 was not a concept anymore.

I was so motivated that I was working 15 hours per day, 6–7 days per week. And it wasn’t even that hard.

I become such a high achiever and came up with my 3 new skills a month framework.

But outside of work hours, I would go out for dinner with friends every night. There’s no way I would do that in Toronto, that would be way too expensive! In Cambodia, I could eat a meal for $3. That was with a beer.

That environment was perfect for working hard, but also playing hard.

In the two months I was there, I had finally started working on my own dreams. I also made many new friends and became way more sociable.

I also somehow started looking like Conor McGregor haha.

Thailand — 5 Months Ago

After Cambodia, I went to travel with a friend to Thailand for about 3 weeks.

We met new people almost every day and I did things way outside my comfort zone, like rock climbing outdoors and surfing. I’m afraid of heights and of drowning. We also crashed Turkish tour groups and went to ping pong shows with them.

I was a way more fun person than I was when I was in Toronto. I had ditched the excessive video game playing or toying around with my phone. In fact, my phone is pretty much a brick now. I use it for Google Maps while traveling and that’s about it. Oh wait, it’s also my alarm clock and music player.

Spain — 4 Months Ago

After my vacation in Thailand, I went to Málaga, Spain, for 3 months.

When I arrived, the co-working space I wanted to join didn’t have any desk left for me, so I was working from my Airbnb.

Honestly, I was pretty depressed. My productivity went down to about 10–20% of what it was back in Cambodia. The weather was nice. I had access to mountains and beaches. It was really hard to stay home. Plus the Spaniards live quite a relaxed way of life when you compare to North America. And I’m not saying it’s positive or negative, just different.

Anyway, the co-working space finally had a desk ready for me after 10 days. BOOM! Productivity went back up to what it was back in Cambodia.

There, I managed to continue with my 3 new skills per month. I gained 5kg of mass in one month (while losing 2% body fat), hiked almost once a week, gave public speeches, learned good conversational Spanish, started a fitness group, earned a grant for Power Level Studios, grew the company to 8 people, started writing and became top writer in less than one month, and made a business partner out of another co-worker there.

Gone was my introversion too. I would approach everyone and have wide-ranging conversions about everything.

I had become someone so entirely different from what I was only 6 months before. I had become much closer to what I’ve always wanted to be.

Toronto — 1 Month Ago

My wife and I were reunited on Valentine’s day.

She had a hard time adjusting to what I had become. I was so different mentality, but physically too. I had gained a lot of muscles and started looking like a Viking because I was about to launch a Viking store (it’s still coming soon).

But it’s been only one month, and somehow I’m starting to get back to my other habits from before.

I’m less motivated. I play more video games. I work less. The only thing I do without fail is working out. I started writing once every 2–3 days instead of every day. My environment inspires me less here for some reason.

India — The Next 3 Months

In four days, my wife and I are flying to India. We’re going to be spending about 3 months in Bangalore. We found our apartment and our co-working space.

I’m excited to be in a similar routine as in Spain, but in a completely different environment. I have much to learn from India. Apart from Canada, Spain and Cambodia, it’s the country I had spent the most time in before, and I absolutely loved it.

I’m excited to see how my environment there will shape me. I have a feeling India will have a very positive impact on my life.

What About You?

Take a moment to think about your current and past environments. Ask yourself the questions below:

  • What environment are you in?

  • Are you satisfied with it?

  • Why is that?

  • What could be improved?

  • What could not be improved?

  • What is positive about it?

  • What is negative about it?

  • What would be your ideal environment?

  • How do you get there?

  • What are the major roadblocks?

  • How do you overcome them?

  • How long will it take you?

Conclusion

I never asked myself these questions before. As a result, I “wasted” years of my life where I wasn’t where I really wanted to be.

I changed my environment many times now. I can only agree with Benjamin’s theory on how environments have the biggest impact on how you can change/grow.

I know it’s not always easy to change your environment, but you don’t have to go to extreme lengths like I did.

Baby steps.

With each small change, you’ll be more motivated to change more things, until without even realizing it, you will be in the environment you always wished you were in.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading and sharing ! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/you-are-or-will-become-your-environment-95d28aa4c583

If Only I Had Known It Would Be That Easy…

Photo by  @jakobowens1  on  Unsplash

How many times have you not done something because you thought it would be too hard to do?

If you’re like most of us, frequently right?

For the longest time I thought there was no way I could draw. I’m a programmer by trade, and perform well with things that relate to logic.

I had tried a few times but always ended stopping before even really giving it a chance.

It was too hard for me to do. I had given up.

Similarly, I’ve always had tiny legs. It had been pointed out to me on many occasions while in high-school. Some might call it bullying, but maybe I was too dumb to realize I was actually getting bullied.

I’m an ectomorph. For me, gaining weight is terribly hard. I know a lot of people would love to have this problem, but they’re wrong. It’s just as bad as being overweight. Especially for men.

I was never able to put weight on. I tried eating ridiculous amounts of calories. Simple workouts. Nothing worked.

It was too hard for me to do. I had given up.

The Turning Point

I can now draw, and my legs have started growing in ways I never thought would be possible.

But what changed you ask?

I think it comes down to two things:

1. A Mindset Shift

When you reject the idea that something is not feasible, it becomes feasible.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.”—Henry Ford

I know this sounds cliché or too obvious, but it’s not.

Next time you think you can’t do something, stop yourself.

Take time to think.

Can you really not do it?

With careful planning, consistent execution and constant monitoring of results, you can achieve almost anything.

Kyle Maynard is a quadruple amputee. That guy climbed Kilimanjaro! If that doesn’t inspire you to do things you think you can’t, I don’t know what will.

When I started writing a few months ago, I shared a short story about a guy named Phil.

I won’t go into details, but the guy didn’t have a truck or a car to pick up a bookshelf I was selling, so he brought it on two public buses home. Who does that? Anyone would have given up on the bookshelf, but man did he want it!

2. A Simple Habit

Around the same time that mindset shift happened to me, I developed a framework I never knew would set me up for success.

I frequently write about it, so I won’t go into the details here, but basically, every month, I learn 3 new skills. I plan for it every end of month. I execute consistently every day for the whole month. I quantify and qualify the results.

At the end of the month, I’m usually quite good doing the skill.

This is how I learned to draw.

I rejected the idea that a programmer cannot draw.

I planned my learning process. I set deadlines. I set milestones. I drew every day by following tutorials online. By the end of the month, I could sketch, do line art, and colouring.

I won’t make a career out of it, but now I can sketch for my artists as needed and understand when they tell me things related to art.

When I rejected the fact that my legs could never grow bigger, I figured out a path to success. I did the right exercises and the right amount of repetitions. I was consistent in doing them everyday.

When I rejected the idea that an introvert can’t tell a good story, I studied methods that work. I practiced public speaking and writing consistently. I researched what makes a good story good. I learned to be authentic. That’s how I became a top writer on Medium.

It’s Actually Easy

It turns out, it wasn’t even hard to learn to draw. It wasn’t even hard to grow the legs. It wasn’t even hard to tell stories.

“Showing up is half the battle.” — Woody Allen

I believe that. I’ve been there.

In the course of 6 months, I learned to draw, I learned some machine learning techniques, I learned a lot of Spanish, I learned to give public speeches, I learned to tell stories, I learned to write, I learned some basic Norwegian, I learned to Meditate, I learned to Journal. And more.

I’ve since become a top writer on Medium, started two new businesses, got my first professional photography gig, built my own personal brand, hired 5 people, wrote a book, started working on a podcast, and I’ll be releasing my game at the end of the month.

And I’m not saying that to brag.

I just want you to realize that things are not always as hard as they seem.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading and sharing ! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/@danny_forest/if-only-i-had-known-it-would-be-that-easy-415b8b9b90ba

To All The Badass Women In Our Lives

Photo by  Oleg Magni  on  Pexels

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels

Here’s to the mothers, the wives, the girlfriends, the sisters and the friends.

On this International Women’s Day, I want to thank you for everything you have done for us.

I’m not one to wait for an occasion to show gratitude towards anyone, but today is a special day and we should celebrate it.

For those who don’t know, International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

It makes me sad that even to this day, gender parity remains a topic we need to talk about.

At Work

My company, Power Level Studios (PLS), is split evenly in terms of gender. That wasn’t necessarily on purpose. It’s not something I think about. When an applicant sends their resume over, I certainly don’t discern the gender.

PLS Team and Contributors

PLS Team and Contributors

Is the person fit for the job or not?

End of discussion.

But you know what? I’m happy that the team is split evenly. The women in my team are badass. Two of them have children and work from home to take care of them while working.

How many men do that?

I’m happy with the distribution at PLS because, in the video games industry, there are a lot more men. It’s an intimidating environment. My team is better for it.

So, to all the women at PLS, I tell you all the time but it bears repeating: “Thank you for your hard work!”

At Home

I know my wife, Audrey, doesn’t want me to write about her, but I can’t help it. She’s a real badass, that one!

Everyone is inspired by her. Myself certainly included.

I’ll keep this brief:

  • She started the nursing profession at 20 years old and went directly to arguably the hardest department at the hospital: emergency;

  • She helped Sundara grow their network of partners, leading to distributing soap to hundreds of thousands of people with no access to clean soap and providing jobs to women who had a hard time finding one;

  • She helped bring awareness about menstrual health hygiene for girls in India;

  • She helped a community of 4,000 people in Uganda who didn’t have access to clean water. Thanks to her efforts, enough money was raised to build a borehole well, with the help of Drink Local Drink Tap;

  • She went across Central African Republic with Doctors Without Borders, and with her team, they vaccinated over 40,000 children;

  • And as of today, she is a mentor for a program called Girlz, FTW. Her mentee is lucky to have her;

  • and many more things.

How badass is all that?

Heck, when she was just a kid, she would decide to donate her Christmas gift to other children in need. Which kid does that?

She empowers women and writes badass things like this:

She never stops. She never gives up.

I swear I would never have accomplished much in life if it wasn’t for her.

We met when I was 17 years old. That’s almost half my life ago now.

I was just a regular kid playing video games on my couch and not having incredible ambition.

She was a high achieving student with high ambitions of becoming a nurse. She was always caring. For everyone.

Her determination and quest for personal achievement rubbed off on me.

And for that, I thank her.

“Thank you for being my wife and being the most badass girl I know. Keep inspiring other people, and especially women whose environment doesn’t allow them to thrive.”

Growing Up

It’s not the first time I write about my mom. Along with Audrey, she’s the hardest working person I know.

She has raised me and my three brothers on her own, and even though we were very poor, we always had food on our table.

Frankly, to this day I still don’t comprehend how she did it. I mean, coping with the situation must have been incredibly hard.

Some parents give up. She never did. She always believed in us and was always encouraging us to do what we wanted to do in life.

Thanks to her, I’m the hard-working person that I am today. I’m persistent and never give up on my dreams.

And for that, “I thank you, mom!”

To All The Badass Women In Our Lives

So join me in thanking the badass women in your life.

Do it, not because today is a special day, but because you recognize the things they do for you. Do it every month, every week, every day.

Thank them. They deserve it.

So together, let’s make gender parity a reality.

Let’s #PressforProgress!

We can do this!

Thanks for reading and sharing ! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/to-all-the-badass-women-in-our-lives-80b6f0f59d31

Traveling Long-Term Changes Your Life Forever — For Better Or Worse

Photo by myself on  dannyforest.com

Photo by myself on dannyforest.com

Traveling Long-Term Changes Your Life Forever — For Better Or Worse

Three years ago, my wife and I “left” our jobs to travel the world for a year.

It was an amazing journey.

We saw the most impressive sights, ate the best food, had empowering volunteering experiences, but most of all, we met the most incredible people.

Lately, many people have come to us to ask for advice on long-term travel. So I decided I’ll share part of our story here.

When I said “left” our job, I meant we didn’t work for the year. We actually both negotiated a leave of absence.

So when we were “done” with our travels, we came back to Toronto. Back to our well-paid full-time jobs.

The Not-So-Glorious Return Home

It was painful.

We both liked our jobs. We both really enjoy Toronto. But it just wasn’t the same.

Most people didn’t give a damn about our journey. A lot of our friends were at a different point in their life. A lot of them just had kids. They had settled, we didn’t.

One of my brothers was completely avoiding me. To this day, I don’t even know why. Maybe he was jealous? Maybe he couldn’t handle our non-traditional way of life?

We were even kicked out from one of our family’s house because they could not handle the fact that we were helping people outside of our own country when, like any country, we also needed help.

Gone were the new amazing sights.

Gone was the deliciously cheap food.

Gone were the volunteering experiences (for me).

Gone were the incredible new acquaintances.

Coming back from traveling long-term is hard. I’m far from the first to write about that. Thankfully I was traveling with my wife, so we were in this together.

Whenever we could talk to other people who also traveled extensively, we did. It felt great to share experiences, but it was mostly great just to be understood by someone else.

Poverty And NGO Work

We were somewhat miserable coming back.

The biggest thing for us was that we saw so much poverty everywhere that every time we heard someone complaining about their first-world problems, it was hard for us to relate.

Audrey (my wife) started volunteering remotely for an NGO called Sundaraalmost as soon as we came back to Canada. That was her way of remaining connected to the world.

But it wasn’t enough.

That October, we went to Uganda to help with Sundara’s operations there. We had partnered with other NGOs there to provide them with water. Long story short, they had no access to clean water. People were dying from diseases and dehydration.

I helped bring awareness to the cause by taking photos (like the one above) and Audrey handled the operations and the outreach.

It was a life-changing experience.

The Turning Point

Then on November 11th 2016, we were sitting at the Foggy Dew Irish pub. We were talking about how we were not satisfied with our current situation in Toronto. At one point I told Audrey:

“Why don’t we just leave and travel again?”

That was our turning point.

We were so in agreement with this idea. Truthfully, I never thought she’d be up for it, but it turns out she needed that even more than I.

A few months later she applied for Doctors Without Borders. She got the job really fast.

In my case, I had applied for a competitive grant for Soul Reaper and got it. I could work from anywhere. My team was already remote, so it wasn’t even that big a change.

So with that, we left our jobs for real this time. We took a vacation in June and July 2017, and then we parted ways for her to do her first mission in Central African Republic, and for me to work as a digital nomad in Cambodia.

The Better

You will be more interesting

With all the places you’ll have seen, all the food you’ll have eaten, all the activities you’ll have done and all the different friends you’ll have made, you will have a repertoire of interesting stories to tell for years to come.

You will make new friends

The connections you make while traveling tend to be really strong. You share wonderful experiences that most people don’t get to live. When back home, you’ll occasionally meet like-minded people and the bonding will be that much easier.

You will have a deeper appreciation

A deeper appreciation for everything. When you see that people in other countries don’t have the things you take for granted, well, you don’t take them for granted anymore.

You will be more positive

When you are in new environments frequently, it’s stressful. You panic. You yell. You cry. Then you’re back and things feel so “easy”. You start thinking positive about every situation.

You will be more open-minded

You’ll have met people with all sorts of backgrounds. You’ll have eaten food you never even thought existed. Your prejudices will go away and you will start to appreciate everyone and everything for what they are.

The Worse

You will be less tolerant of meaningless problems

The so-called first-world problems become so hilarious at times. You’ll hear people complain about the most meaningless of things when you’re back home. Sometimes you’ll find it funny, but sometimes it will irritate you.

You will become really cheap

A lot of countries can be cheaper than home, depending on which country you’re from. When you’re used to paying little for meals, it’s hard to come back and pay 5–10x the price for less authentic meals. It’s the same for accommodation and other things.

You will lose connections

I mentioned that above. Your friends will have a different lifestyle. You won’t connect on the same level anymore. Striking a meaningful conversation becomes harder when you don’t have anything in common anymore.

You will annoy people

You will be interesting to some, but you’ll be annoying to others. You will be perceived as pretentious. You will be so excited about your wonderful journey that when you talk about it, people will think you speak in a superior tone.

If you watched The Big Bang Theory, it’s similar to when Howard came back from space.

You will not be understood

People will not have lived the things you have. A lot of your close family will not agree with your new lifestyle or ideas. This can be difficult.

Conclusion

Traveling long-term is an amazing way of life, but is not without its downsides.

Your journey will have its ups and downs.

It will shape the person you are and will be for the years to come.

It will change your life, sometimes for the better or sometimes for the worse.

Ultimately, once you go past the bad, nothing beats the good you get out of it in my opinion.

Are you considering a similar path?

Are you ready for the most amazing ride of your life?

You can do this!

Thanks for reading and sharing ! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/@danny_forest/traveling-long-term-changes-your-life-forever-for-better-or-worse-afadb4f5abd6