Walking the walk; WTFHIBD Episode 1

click for bigger image Last week I promised you a new monthly-ish feature on this blog entitled What The **** Have I Been Up To, whereby I come clean with what I’ve been spending my time on, and show you how I’ve gone about applying the concepts in the book to my own life.

Now, there will be those amongst you (mentioning no names – Simon, Amaia, Jayne…) who are no doubt expecting to see pictures of me sky diving out of aeroplanes, swimming with sharks, or bungy jumping off rock faces. I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. Not only are those activities reserved for the completely insane (the glider ride was as exhilarating enough, thank you very much) but even if they did appear on my Now List, for the past six months, maybe longer, the list has remained relatively untouched.

Of course, I’m still having regular (ish) Now List Days (afternoons in my case) but for the most part my Now List Day activities have been spent either researching or arranging things that haven’t happened yet. I can’t remember when I actually ticked something off.

What then have I been spending my time on, you may ask?

Goals.

Allow me to give you a potted career history of Peter Jones.

Back in my early twenties, a series of poor choices and lucky accidents resulted in me becoming self-employed and working for most of the UK’s Credit Card banks as a freelance business consultant. I was (and I suppose, still am) an ideas man, and a fix-it man; wealthy men would ask me how to make even more money using the tools they had at their disposal, and I would tell them. Though it pains me to admit it, the credit crunch is partly my fault – not my idea, but I was most definitely pulling the levers and pressing the buttons that made it happen.

It wasn’t a bad way to make a living – the money was nice – but whilst I enjoyed the problem solving, and the company of the people I worked with, as the years rolled by I became less and less comfortable working in that industry. By the time I met Kate I wanted out, and much of our time together was spent trying to find ways to use the few skills we had between us to find an alternative career. We tried everything from website design, to property investment. None of those things really worked. And when she died, it felt like my dreams of escaping credit card consultancy died with her.

Of course, if you’ve read the book, you’ll recognise that as a “running away from” strategy. It’s little wonder that it didn’t work. You’ll also know that when Kate died my focus changed. Instead of trying to dig myself out of the pit I’d spent almost twenty years getting myself into, I concentrated on using my solution-finding skills to seek out the very thing that I seemed to be lacking; Happiness. Some ideas worked. Most didn’t. But I read a lot of books, made a lot of lists, and tried anything and everything I could think of.

One day a good friend of mine (hello Tina) suggested I ought to write down some of the quirkier ideas. Several months later I found that I’d accidentally written a book.

Around that time one of my banking contracts was drawing to a close, so I took the somewhat risky decision to dedicate the next few months to getting my strange work of accidental non-fiction published. If you’re a regular visitor to this blog, or my author blog, you’ll also know that not only did I achieve that but that the book has subsequently been quite successful. When I say ‘quite’, I am of course being extremely British about the whole thing. I’m using ‘quite’ in the same way that some Americans might use the world ‘wildly’. By Christmas of last year my sales were such that I’d started to wonder if I could actually get away with not returning to my previous life – whether I could achieve the impossible, fulfil a child-hood dream, and become a full-time author.

So, in January I set the following as my primary goal:

“I am supporting myself
doing the things I love & enjoy,
and no longer worry about bills.”
December 2012

Pretty soon into the new year I realised that I’d managed to set myself the most challenging goal ever. To achieve it would take some major effort on my part, and that some things might have to take a back seat. One of those things was my Now List. However, I can honestly say I think that was the correct decision. If I had to choose between a life writing books – the thing I love and enjoy – or two weeks swimming with jelly fish in Australia, I’ll pick the former every time. And besides, it’s not actually a choice. I can swim with Jelly fish next year, or the year after – but I might never have another chance, or at least this chance, to change my career.

I wish I could tell you now that I’ve done it, that my writing-related income now exceeds my outgoings. It doesn’t. Not quite. Which is why putting this blog post out there feels ever slightly foolish – almost suicidal – however I can tell you that it’s within my grasp.

In March I was one of the many authors that took part in the prestigious Essex Book Festival. A few weeks later I signed a three book deal with audible  (.co.uk | .com), the world’s largest supplier of audio books. The second edition of How To Do Everything and be Happy came out in June. The next book – How To Eat Loads and Stay Slimis currently with my agent. And I’m half way through writing the third book. I am quite frankly stunned at what I’ve managed to achieve. Not proud – just stunned. Pride will follow shortly I’m sure, but right now I’m still reeling on a daily basis from how much you can achieve if you set your goals correctly, and put some effort in.

There are so many more things that I’m absolutely bursting to tell you, but… {big sigh} can’t. Yet. But don’t worry – I will. If only so that I’ve got something to write about next month. Ish. In the meantime lets take the focus off me – I’d love to hear about some of the goals you’ve been working on and what you’ve achieved. Use the comments box below.

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15 thoughts on “Walking the walk; WTFHIBD Episode 1

  1. Very honest post – and I think you’ve made completely the right decision. If this all comes off and puts you in a position where you’re making a comfortable living with your writing there’ll be lots of time (and money) for all the other stuff. And if achieving your goal means ditching the Now List for a short while then so be it. Now go and get writing and good luck!

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  2. well I could recommend paragliding off the back of a boat in Cyprus. Thrilling.
    Im following your lead on the main goal. Tomorrow Im off to a Slimmers World meeting about becoming a consultant. Im hoping that will be the start of new things so that I can ditch the day job of 33 years and have more free time for my writing.
    Jx

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  3. Thank you! the last post is VERY inspiring. And very well timed since yesterday I am a step closer to one of my most important goals. I think you may want to know how your book has helped me.

    I also have been working in finance (although not at the same level as you) fo about 6 years. But I wasn’t the best at it and therefore not happy. I am a peoples person and I have a degree in Social Work, but I didn’t have any experience so my previous atempts to get a Social Work-ish career didn’t work. Then I got pregnant and the bank where I worked went bust -thanks! ;o)- and I spent two years looking after my daughter but knowing that that couldn’t be forever and I needed to get going job wise and with my personal life really. That’s when I read your book and I made all the lists and sat down and worked at them. One of the goals is to get a job that I enjoy, rewarding and well paid (aiming high hey?). In one of the Goal Days I came with the idea of becoming a volunteer in a social area that I would enjoy. By chance I got in touch with a family that had a spanish old lady that needed company as she couldn’t speak english. Since then she has been a bit poorly and her family needs respite as well es her needing company, so I have been contracted by the Social Services (through an agency that I also found on one of those Goal Days) to do the same thing I was doing as a volunteer, just a few more hours. I have a meeting with the Head of the Social Services in this area on tuesday, and I will start working on thursday. You can imagine how delighted I am! even if its only a few hours a week, its a start and I have a foot in the door AND I am still helping this family whom I am very fond of now.

    I hope you are proud of how you are helping people to just do something the areas in which they are not happy! I need to get my partner to read the book now.

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    1. Hi Amaia

      Thanks for sharing that – nothing wrong with aiming high! My old headmistress used to tell me that if I aimed for the stars the least I’d be is over the moon. 🙂

      Let me know how things go..

      Peter

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    1. Hi Lorna

      Well get you with the Goals Day! You know, I get lots of emails and comments about Boxing Days and Now Lists, not so many about Goals or Goals Days so I’m especially chuffed that at least one other person thinks they might be a good idea.

      Peter 🙂

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      1. I think they’re a great idea. As you say, it’s everything you want to achieve in life, of course you should make time for it. I’ve adapted ‘boxing day’ to ‘Whimsical Weekend’ – where my husband and I take turns to follow our whims for the day. Great fun – will let you know how we get on. Thanks for the inspiration
        L x

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      2. ‘Whimsical Weekend’! What a great name. I love the way you’ve extended it to an entire weekend, taking turns. What happens if your husband picks something that takes most of the day?

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      3. That would be tricky, so we take a whole day each – so last time the husband got Saturday and I got Sunday (the short straw, as the impending Monday must be taken into consideration!)and next time we’ll switch. It works wonderfully as two people with similar interests. I love having a whole day of not having to make any decisions and doing all the stuff he considers fun, and it’s also great getting to make all the decisions with no concern for someone else’s preferences. On his Saturday, we spent the whole day exploring new pubs, and on mine we ate ice-cream for breakfast while we watched old TV reruns in our pyjamas. Love it!

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      4. That is a really excellent idea (having a day each – not having ice cream for breakfast – that’s just weird!). Tch, it’s at times like these that I wish I was doing a third edition so I could put ideas like this one in the book. But hey ho – that’s the point of a blog I guess – thanks for sharing Lorna 🙂

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  4. You’ve never lived until you’ve had Ben and Jerry’s for breakfast!
    Well it’s lovely to share thoughts and ideas with you anyway – it makes it all the more motivating. L x

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