FAQ: Potential Goals Day Problem #1 – “I don’t have time”

Time Every now and again I get an email, or come across a review, where someone says that whilst they might have enjoyed the book, there’s just no way that they could find the time to have a Boxing Days, a Now List Day and a Goals Days, once a month! These people are convinced that to make How To Do Everything and Be happy work, you’ve to somehow conjure up 36 days out of thin air, each year.

It probably doesn’t help that from the outset I admit that I’m a man, without kids, who pretty much works from home. From that stand point a lot of readers probably assume that before I wrote the book I must have been sitting around all day, twiddling my thumbs, wondering what to do with my life.

They’re wrong.

But let me be clear on this point: You do not need to find 36 days (a year) to make this book work!

What is needed is a little ‘time accountancy’. Take all the important things you’re currently doing and shuffle them around to fit one of the three days mentioned in this book.

So let’s recap what each of the days are and how they fit into your oh-so-busy life.

Boxing Days

Boxing Day can usually be ‘reclaimed’ from activities, particularly weekend activities. Some people get up on Saturday and go shopping, or wash the car, or watch football on the TV, and for no other reason than it’s Saturday! If that’s you, one Saturday a month can now become Boxing Day. And if you wake up on that Boxing Day and you want to go shopping, wash the car, or watch the match, then go right ahead.

Now List Days

These don’t have to be whole days. Not if you’re planning. You can break them down and have Now List evenings, lunchtimes, even breakfasts. And if you’re not planning – if you’re actually ready to do an item on your list – that might be a perfect vacation activity rather than spending another day sitting around the pool.

Goal Days

Goal Days are twelve measly days out of 365 to be spent on the three things that you want most of all in life.

Let me say that again:

The three things you want
MOST OF ALL!

Before you heard about this book one of two things was happening. Either you were completely ignoring all the things that are now on your Wish List, in which case you were probably deeply unhappy or, more likely, you were struggling to address those three things, albeit in your own way.

Long before I discovered the power of goals I spent many an evening and weekend struggling to turn my writing, and other interests, into something that might bring in a few quid. If you’ve been doing the same then all that time you currently spend working on your dreams and ambitions can now be reallocated as Goal Days (or evenings, weekends etc). Maybe it’s not 12 days a year – maybe it isn’t that structured – but it’s time that you don’t have to ‘find’. All you need to do is start using it properly.

I understand that you’re busy. I do. And I appreciate that if you work for someone else, and/or you’re a parent, you probably can’t juggle your diary quite as effectively as I can. I get that. But whilst I’ve never been a parent, I wasn’t always self employed. And whilst life is hardly fair at the best of times, one thing that does seem to be consistent is that anything worth having in this world usually comes at a price. And it’s usually a lot more expensive than you initially thought. Happiness is one of those things. To get it you have to work. Hard!

What was that link again?

Keith
Reader Keith recently dropped me a line and said

Just listened to the audio version.  I enjoyed it.  Throughout the book and in the acknowledgements you mention several web links, but I was driving as I listened so could not jot them down.  Perhaps you can add a list of links to the website to help listeners like me?

What a superb idea. And pretty obvious too when I think about it. So, for Keith and all my other listeners out there here’s a list of every link mentioned in the book.

The facebook page

This book has a page on facebook where I post a daily musing and fans of the book comment on it. All good fun. You’ll find it at www.facebook.com/howtodoeverythingandbehappy (you probably could have guessed that).

If you’re more of a twitterer I tweet under the handle @doitallbehappy. The odd re-tweet would be most appreciated. You can follow me here: twitter.com/doitallbehappy.

The selective attention video

The ‘selective attention test’ mentioned in the section on focus is below. Press the play icon in the middle of the image, and concentrate carefully on the number of times the players in white pass the ball to each other.

You can find out more about this video, and the science behind it at here.

Webshots.com

Webshots is a great piece of software that changes your PC’s wallpaper automatically. You can download it for free from http://www.webshots.com/page/apps?app=footer

Photobox.co.uk

Photobox is a great website that allows you to create all manner of items from your digital photos. Snapfish.co.uk is pretty good too. Other sites exist – post your favourites in the comments below.

How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim

My next book co-written with the fabulously slender Della Galton. Find out more here 

Folks mentioned in the acknowledgements

Jules my assistant and the balloon baboon, Author Wendy Steele, Alison the Proof FairyEllen for her fabulous cover design & artwork. Author Keris Stainton. Katja and all from Audible (.co.uk | .com), and Adam and team from Rushforth media.

My other website

You can find out more about me, my books, speaking engagements & workshops, at my other website – peterjonesauthor.com

If you think I’ve missed a link then drop me a line or post a comment below and I’ll update this page

The Printer’s Tray

printer's trayBack in the old days (I’m talking really old – older than me – long before computers, one might even say ‘back in ancient times’), newspapers were printed by taking small blocks of metal, each of which had a letter embossed in the bottom, and laying these blocks side by side in a tray to form words and sentences. The blocks were wedged together, inked, and the paper quite literally ‘stamped’.

As you can imagine, setting type must have been a time consuming business. So to speed things up it was essential that these little metal blocks were organised. And so they were. They were kept in specially made drawers – trays – which themselves were divided into sections.

What happened to these trays once the world went computerised? Well, most were cast to one side. Some were probably chopped up to make firewood. Others are probably on a landfill site somewhere. A few, however, ended up being sold at boot fairs, and antique markets, and on eBay. I’ve just done a search and found 193 on sale, for about a tenner each.

And why should you care?

Printer’s trays are absolutely perfect for all those things you’d like to pin to your trophy board, but can’t. Get yourself a tray, clean it up with wire wool, then screw it to the wall, and pretty soon you’ll have something like the one pictured (click the pic for a closer look).

Unlike the photos and the trophy, the items in the printer’s tray tend to stay in the same place year after year with only the occasional purge or addition. But that’s just me. I can’t even remember the significance of some of the items in the tray, but in a way I kinda like that. Like there’s a memory there that’s locked away and could only be retrieved by a particularly gifted hypnotist or psychic.


Click here to read more about Trophy Boards

FAQ: Potential Now List Problem #2 – “My {insert Now List activity} was a complete failure!”

floatation tank

So your recent Now List activity didn’t go as planned eh? I’m sorry to hear that. What happened? Really? How awful. Allow me to share with you a similar story.

Shortly after releasing the book I decided to start blogging about some of the items that I’d added to my Now List and succeeded in ticking off. One such item was this:

Try a Flotation Tank experience

A ‘flotation tank’ (for those of you who are new to the concept) is a large bath filled with warm salt water and a sound proofed lid. Once the lid’s closed the lights go off leaving you floating in the dark, and the silence. The fact that most of your senses are deprived (you can’t see anything, hear anything etc) allegedly allows your mind to enter a deeply relaxed state. One hour in the tank, so they say, is akin to several hours of fabulous relaxing sleep.

Unfortunately, on the day that I tried it I had a small paper cut on my thumb. Man – you do not want to get salt water on a paper cut! Neither do you want to thrash about in an effort to  keep your thumb out of the water. You might end up splashing salt water on your face. Man – you do not want to get salt water into your eyes either!

That thirty minutes in the tank (I got out early) felt like several hours of torture. If I’d have had any secrets to tell I’d have spilled them after the first few minutes.

Not to be deterred, and determined to have something good to write for this blog, I booked a second flotation experience. This time I took up the offer of some optional ‘relaxing’ music. You know the sort of thing – pan pipes played softly against a background of waves bubbling over rock pools.

Unfortunately there was a problem with the CD player. Instead of drifting into the best sleep I’ve ever know, I lay in the dark, floating to a series of irritating clicks and buzzes.

I lasted fifteen minutes.

Finally, determined to make sure I got the best ‘experience’ possible, the flotation centre gave me a third, complimentary session, booked me into the most spacious state-of-the-art pod they had, and double checked everything.

I lay there for fifty minutes.

Nothing hurt.

There was no buzzing.

But my god, I was so bored.

I did have plenty of time to think though, and as I gently tapped the side of the pod and floated from one side to the other I bath2began to realise that actually, flotation might be over rated. My own bath is pretty darn nice. It sits under a huge window. And if you open that window on a summers day there’s really nothing better than lying up to your chin, in soapy bath water – that won’t irritate your paper cuts – whilst looking up at the puffy white clouds, and listening to the sounds of the birds chirping and generally being terrorised by my cat.

I got out of the tank, went home, and did exactly that.

Was my flotation tank experience a wash-out?

Yes. Yes it was.

But does that mean that my next Now List activity will be a disaster?

Of course not.

But then I’m sure you realised that.

FAQ: Potential Now List Problem #1 – Money. Lack of.

The rather wonderful thing about Now Lists is that it seems there’s very little that can go wrong! So far there’s only a

skint?
Skint?

handful of challenges that I’ve identified. Here’s the first of two.

Money. Or the lack thereof.

If your Now List is anything like mine there probably isn’t an item on the list that doesn’t involve parting with money. Which is annoying if you’re strapped for cash, or on a particularly tight budget.

Now you might be tempted to avoid adding items to your list if they seem financially out of reach, but that would be a mistake – any kind of censorship will only stifle your creativity. Instead, create a Now List category called ‘when I have enough money’ and add them anyway.

You might also want to consider starting a ‘Now List Fund’.

How you do that is entirely up to you. If you’re like me setting up a ‘fund’ might only involve adding a line to spreadsheet somewhere, but if you’re a normal person, or someone who struggles to manage their finances, it might be better to open a savings account, and maybe even one that doesn’t give you a cash card or internet banking or any other easy way to access your money. You’ll want to put your Now List Fund out of easy reach.

You might also need to find creative ways of topping it up.

Jules (my long suffering assistant) has a standing order set up to automatically put a small amount into her dedicated savings account each month. Even if you can only afford one pound/dollar/euro/drakma per month it’s one pound/dollar/euro/drakma in the right direction.

Personally I top up my Now List Fund whenever I’m given “unexpected” money (eg. if I win a tenner on the lottery or a premium bond pays out). But I also make my Now List available on the blog and on BucketList.org and as a consequence family and friends often consult the list when looking for Birthday or Christmas gift ideas.

The wisdom of Jamie Anderson

jamie anderson

One of the best things about being an author – if not the best thing – is the opportunity I’ve had to meet my readers, many of whom have interesting ideas, fabulous suggestions, or extraordinary tales of their own to share.

Take for example, this week (or last week when you get to read this). Reader Jamie Anderson popped by my facebook page to “LIKE it“, having just finished listening to the audio book. I got an email telling me he’d done so and moments later I found myself admiring his “cover photo” (all of which will mean something if you happen to use facebook). Anyway, we struck up a conversation, and a while later Jamie dropped me an email to tell me why the image meant so much to him.

Here’s part the email I received:

About 4 years ago I was running a company I had set up 3 years previously doing something I was good at but didn’t really love. Suddenly one night I was struck ill, and ended up in hospital. The doctors told me I most likely had an autoimmune condition and that my life was about to change forever. I lay in my hospital bed reading pamphlets they had given me about how my life was about to change. I downloaded Audible on my phone and purchase Michael Heppell’s “Flip It” book, which helped me look at this potential nightmare in a different way.

Anyway, I was discharged and went home with my huge basket of new drugs to deal with this condition.

I sat down, and started to list all the things that I wanted to do. All the things I wanted to change. All the things I wanted to try before this condition got the better of me. “Fly a helicopter”, “buy a stupid red American 80s sports car”, “Try rock climbing”, “travel to…”, “Get out of this company I hate”. You get the idea.

6 hours later, I got a frantic answerphone message from the doctor whose care I had been in. “Please call us back urgently Mr Anderson, we need you to come back in”. I feared the worst. Had the biopsies shown cancerous growths? Could this get any worse?!

I headed back to the hospital, and met with the anxious Doctor. “Mr Anderson, I’m sorry, we have made a big mistake”. “Oh God… it’s cancer isn’t it” I thought.

“You don’t have this autoimmune condition at all!” She said. “It’s a simple bacterial infection that has caused all of this, and we can clear it up in 7-10 days with these pills”. She thrust some new pills into my right hand, and took the bag of pills from my left hand.

It had all been a terrible mistake, and after about 1 month I was fully recovered. But it made me think how fragile life is and how quickly it can change. If that’s the case then what the hell was I doing living a life I didn’t love, doing things I hated every day, and not doing the things I really wanted to do!?

Well, it took me another 18 months to close that business, and it was horrible. But the result is that I’m now happier! I’ve flown a plane (not a helicopter yet), done several sessions of rock climbing, and bought (and sadly sold) a burgundy 1987 Pontiac Fiero. My God, I loved that car. I want to get another one. I will get another one. I own a 1988 Pontiac Fiero – 20th December, 2012. See, I’ve read the book! I’m now a self-help junkie, and your book is one of my top 10 (out of the 150 or so I have read so far).

Anyway, my cover image on my Facebook page came about as follows: I thought long and hard about who best to ask about how to live life well and make the most out of every day. I realized that the dying (those who knew they had 1-4 weeks to live) would be the best people to ask. It’s amazing how that sort of news can suddenly make you very wise and bring incredible clarity to what you think about life. The same week, I found an article about a nurse who had asked the dying their main regrets.

They were:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

These were so striking, I kept reading them every day, but they weren’t very powerful written in that way. I then read a related article where someone had turned them into commandments, and another had created the image you’ve shared.

It’s not perfect (the don’ts are a problem), so it’s on my list to remake the image with more powerful affirmations. But my feeling is that if you follow these affirmations in life you can’t go too far wrong.

What an amazing story, eh? And I have to say I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for sharing your story Jamie – here’s hoping you get to fly that helicopter soon.

If you have a tale to tell, drop me a line via this blog or on facebook. I’d love to hear from you.


The above image is a lot bigger than seen here and would make a fabulous computer wallpaper. Right click to save to your computer.

FAQ: Potential Wish List Problem #2 – The ‘Universe’ and its wicked sense of humour

welcome-marhabaIt’s a funny thing about the focus mechanism in your head, as well as bringing to your attention all those things you’ve deemed important, you may find you start to notice all the things that are, on the face of it, the complete opposite.

Say for instance, that your three wishes basically amount to the same thing: “spend more time with the family.” You’ve created yourself a nice screensaver featuring pictures of you and the kids, and the walls of your office are now plastered with family photos. No sooner have you done this than your boss walks in and offers you a raise. And a promotion. And a new car. And an expense account. And a bigger office. InDubai. For six months.

Now clearly this job in Dubai runs counter to your wish. It is, none the less, a very exciting opportunity. You might even do a little detective work to see whether or not you can take your family with you – only to discover that you can’t. Should you take the job?

This scenario may seem unlikely but it’s happened to me enough times to realise that there’s a mechanism at work here. It’s almost as if the Universe, God, or a deity of your preference, picks up your Wish List and says, “So this is what you really want, is it? So you wouldn’t be the slightest bit interested in…” and ka-zaam! The total opposite of what you want is laid out before you, for the taking.

In moments like this I treat it for what it is.

A choice.

This is an opportunity to examine your heart. To think carefully about whether or not the items on your Wish List are things that you really want, or things that you should want. In short, it’s time to be honest with yourself.

Whether you take the job inDubai(or whatever your equivalent would be) is, of course, entirely up to you. And in my experience, decisions like this usually require a great deal of soul searching, usually when there’s very little time to do anything of the sort. Worse still, even once you’ve made the choice there’s nothing to stop the Universe (God, etc) coming back and asking you again, and again, and again, each time raising the stakes. That just seems to be how it works. So it’s important to keep in mind the original question:

What is it that you actually want?

The Second Edition is here!

IMPORTANT! You’re currently in the archives! All sorts of exciting things have happened since this post was originally released, click here to read the latest posts.

TEN THOUSAND sales after its initial release,  the long awaited Second edition of How To Do Everything and Be Happy is now available in ebook and audio format

New Stuff

The new edition has a numerous updates throughout, including some great reader feedback, and the following new sections:

  • Potential Boxing Day Problems‘ (revised and updated)
  • Advanced Boxing Day
  • Potential Now List Day Problems
  • Determining Your Next Action
  • Advanced Diary Tips

Buy the eBook Now!

The ebook (second edition) is available from amazon for a mere £1.99 or local equivalent.

Download the FREE kindle app for your iphone, ipad, blackberry, android phone, pc and mac from amazon (.co.uk | .com)

The ebook is also available from other e-book stores.

But, for me, the most exciting part of this re-launch is the fact that it’ll be available in an entirely new format!

Also Available in Audio!

From TODAY you can also download the second edition of the book from audible (.co.uk | .com), an amazon company and the internet’s largest supplier of spoken word audio entertainment, and listen to the book “read by the author” (in other words, me)!

Happy reading 🙂

Peter

Where the blinkin’ heck is the 2nd Edition!??!

IMPORTANT! You’re currently in the archives! All sorts of exciting things have happened since this post was originally released, click here to read the latest posts.

Blimey O’Reily its been a long long LONG time coming, but I’m pleased (and somewhat relieved) to announce that fifteen months and 10,000 sales after its initial release,  the long awaited Second edition of How To Do Everything and Be Happy will be officially available (in two formats)…

This Friday 
(8th of June, 2012 )

Put that date in your diary!
(You do have a diary, don’t you?)

New Stuff

So, you might be asking, what’s in the Second Edition, that wasn’t in the first?

Well for starters I’ve used the opportunity to sprinkle some reader feedback throughout the book. If you’ve emailed at some point in the past few months, or left a comment on this blog, you might have a mention in the new edition!

Much of the feedback I’ve received enabled me to completely revise and update the ‘Potential Boxing Day Problems‘ section – there are now zero excuses for not having a successful Boxing Day!

I’ve also added four completely new sections, they are…

  • Advanced Boxing Day
  • Potential Now List Day Problems
  • Determining Your Next Action
  • Advanced Diary Tips

But, for me, the most exciting part of this re-launch is the fact that it’ll be available in an entirely new format!

Available in Audio!

Click here to search audible and see if the book's available!

From this Friday you’ll be able to download the second edition of the book from audible (.co.uk | .com), the internet’s largest supplier of spoken word audio entertainment, and hear the book “read by the author” (in other words, me)!

Please excuse me whilst I bounce off the walls in excitement.

The release of the audio version was actually part of a three-book deal that I signed with them earlier in the year – if you’re interested you can read more about that over on peterjonesauthor.com (my author blog).

But before you do allow me to shake you firmly by the hand…

Any Questions?

If you have any comments, questions, glowing endorsements, please feel free to drop me a line via the contact page or the comments box below.

Happy reading 🙂

Peter

FAQ: Potential Boxing Day Problem #4 – Too busy to have a Boxing Day

too busyIn stark contrast to those under the age of twenty five there are those people who are utterly convinced that they couldn’t possibly take one day out a month for themselves. They’re just too darn busy.

In my experience there are two types of ‘I don’t have the time {for Boxing Day}’ people – those that don’t have the time, and those that think they don’t have the time. Let’s find out which type you are.

Answer this simple two-part question:

do you have an appointment diary and do you use it?

If you haven’t answered yes to both parts, chances are you’re one of the people who only think that they’re busy. What you’re calling ‘busy’ is in fact ‘chaos’.

I’m not kidding about this: diaries really are that important.

Go get a diary, start using it, then come back.

So you’re back. Good. Now hand me that diary and let’s have a look.

Hmmm. I see. Well, you’re right. You do appear to have a very busy schedule. Every single moment is indeed booked out for something. That’ll be why you have that smug ‘told you so’ look on your face that’s just crying out for a smack.

But wait – what’s this appointment here? Every Sunday?

“That’s when I go to see my mother,” you say.

“Every Sunday?”

“Well, yes.”

“Could you not skip it one week?”

“Not really.”

“Why?”

“Because she expects me!”

“So tell her you can’t make it one week!”

“I couldn’t do that,” you say.

“Why not?”

“Because she’s my mother.”

“Ok, but what about this Sunday? This Sunday you’re not seeing your mother. This says ‘work’.”

“Well yes,” you reply “there’s this big project we’re finishing up, and my boss really needs me – and besides, it’s overtime…”

“So it’s ok to cancel your mother if there’s overtime up for grabs?”

“Well, we’re really busy right now -”

“And your mother’s ok with that?”

“Well, it’s work – it’s important.”

“And you’re not important?”

“Sorry?”

“I said: ‘You’re not important?’”

“Well, of course I am, I suppose -”

“You suppose?”

“Look, I can’t cancel my mother, not to spend a day by myself-”

“Because you’re not important?”

“Well, err-”

“Well?”

It’s not that you’re too busy, it’s that you’re putting everyone and everything before you and your happiness! You have, in effect, trained yourself – yes, trained yourself – to believe that when it comes to your time, and your life, everyone else gets to say how you spend it.

You need to stop that.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. From birth we’re encouraged by others to take on that ‘training’. Eventually we might even convince ourselves that these habits of selflessness/martyrdom/workaholism are a good thing. We say to ourselves, “I must be a good person, I put everyone else first – yay me.” Those that don’t adopt a similar saintly attitude – and you can probably think of someone off the top of your head – can, on occasion, come across as a little self-centred or selfish. Maybe more than a little. And maybe not as occasionally as you’d like. Thank God you’re not like that.

I bet they’re happier though.

Now I’m not suggesting for one minute that you become like them, but accepting that you’ve created a habit of surrendering your time without question, and becoming aware of that habit, will give you the opportunity to say “no” and gradually regain control of your life. It’ll feel uncomfortable at first. It may even feel wrong. At some point you’ll upset someone. Maybe several someones. And that’ll make you feel guilty. But these things will pass. With practice it’ll become easier – it’ll start to make sense – and the people around, those that care about you, will, eventually, adjust to the ‘new you’.

So – let’s start now – go tell your mother that you won’t make it next week, or your boss that you can’t come in on Sunday.