How To Do Everything And Be Happy

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How to talk to Michelle Ward about Boxing Day and Everything

keep-calm-today-is-boxing-day
Almost exactly a year ago I popped into Phoenix 98 FM, to chat to the lovely Michelle Ward.

If you’re a regular visitor to the blog you already know that I’m a regular guest on the show, and together we present a slot called ‘Happy Club‘, whereby I dispense some tips and hints on happiness, and related subjects (for instance; here’s a show that we did on how to survive Christmas).

This particular time we were supposed to be talking about Boxing Day, but instead we ended up talking about, well, me – specifically, how I became an author and my tendency to get totally wrapped up in building a career, unfortunately at the expense on my own happiness.

We do eventually get around to discussing Boxing Day.

Eventually.

Anyway, if you’ve got a few moments, have a listen. Click the PLAY button in the image below, or click here to open YouTube. The last couple of minutes of the interview went a bit screwy, so I’ve just faded it out on this version – you haven’t missed much, honest.

If you’re not able to listen to audio at the moment, you can read a blog post about Boxing Day here.

Do you already have Boxing Days? Why not tell me (and other visitors to this blog) about them in the comments below, or over on facebook.


The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl (mentioned in the show) has been out a year now – get your copy for mere pennies from your local amazon store.

For other happiness tips, like Boxing Day, check out How To Do Everything And Be Happy, available everywhere in all formats… but also on amazon (.co.uk | .com)

And remember, Christmas is just around the corner and books do make incredibly good gifts!


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#Five #Books That Make Excellent #Gifts

presents-port
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find gift shopping can be something of a challenge.

It’s not the ‘buying’ of the gift that I find challenging, or the wrapping, or any of that malarky, it’s coming up with an idea in the first place. Just what do you buy your cousin Edwina, the woman who seems to have absolutely everything?? It’s the stuff of nightmares. Many sleepless nights. Perhaps both.

If you’re anything like me the days roll past and before you know it, you’re roaming the aisles of your local shopping centre, desperately hoping inspiration will jump out, shake you by the shoulders, and end it all.

Well relax. This year inspiration has chosen to send you an email. Or a tweet. Or however the heck you stumbled across this blog post. Consider the following…

Books make excellent gifts

You see! And I know what you’re thinking – it’s so obvious now I’ve come to mention it! And here’s something else, books signed by the author are even more special. Ha! No more crappy I-didn’t-know-what-to-get-you-so-I-got-you-this-voucher from you! You’ve just become a master of ‘thoughtful’ gifts.

Now where on earth can you lay your hands on a signed book or two?

Right here is where!

With just a click of your mouse, or a tap of your finger, any one of the five books I’ve penned could be winging their way to you with a personalised greeting inside, or a simple ‘Best Wishes’ if you want to keep your options open. Simply drop me a line via the Stay In Touch page, then select the book, or books, of your choice from the links BELOW.

The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl

TGGGTGTG - KINDLE artworkMy debut novel… if your gift-recipient likes chick lit Rom Coms in the style of Nick Horny or Mike Gayle, this could well be right up their street.
Buy it, signed, here

SDSW drop shadow colour smallHow to Start Dating and Stop Waiting

If they need a real guide to getting the girl, or guy, this is it. Written for everyone who’s ever found dating a challenge, dating websites to be less than fulfilling, or ‘first dates’ terrifying… How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting will help them dodge the liars, & Lotharios, and have them dating Mr or Ms Right in no time.
Buy it signed here

FITI kindle

From Invisible To Irresistible

The smaller, quirkier, companion guide to the previous title. Let me fix those underlying problems that make your otherwise attractive charming gift-recipient seemingly invisible to those they’d like to date.
Buy it signed here

HowToTakeControl

How to Do Everything and Be Happy

The book that started it all: ‘How To Do Everything and Be Happy’ is a book for ordinary people. With ordinary lives. It’s for people who have been ambling along and wondering why they’re not – well – just that little bit happier.
Buy it, signed, here

image005

How to Eat Loads and Stay Slim

And finally.. How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim. It isn’t a diet book. Not in the traditional sense. It’s a book packed full of thought provoking, scientifically-provable, ideas and changes you can make to your life to increase your chances of being slim. Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving!
Buy it signed, here


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50 per cent of all romances start on the internet

kissblow

Twenty years ago I worked in an office where people dictated letters and memos, and handed them to a secretary to type up. Our department was considered high tech; as well as a secretary, the five of us shared a PC. It wasn’t networked. The internet didn’t exist. I honestly have no idea how we got anything done.

Now the entire world is ‘online’. My ten-year-old niece and nephew send me poems they’ve written, pictures they’ve taken or songs they’ve created, electronically, from a variety of devices scattered around their house. They visit ‘virtual worlds’ where they create and take on the persona of ‘monsters’ and meet other children of the new millennium. And only occasionally does this hi-tech world fall short of their expectations. Like when my nephew recently expressed some frustration when he couldn’t connect to Nana’s WiFi.

“Nana doesn’t have WiFi,” said his dad.

“No WiFi!” replied my wide eyed nephew.

When it comes to finding love in the 21st Century, I’m a big believer in the Internet. In How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting I actually claim that 50% of all modern day romances probably started online. Now how on earth did I come up with that figure? Buckle up people. Prepare to be nerdified.

Let’s start by looking at Online Dating Websites, specifically how popular they are. Below is a list of the fifteen most popular websites, according to eBizMBA.com. This information is ‘correct’ (or so say eBizMBA) as of October 2014. And in case their website ever disappears off the face the www you can download a PDF of the page I’m looking at here.

  1. match – 35,000,000 unique visitors per month (31.9% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  2. pof – 23,000,000 unique visitors per month (21.0% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  3. zoosk – 11,500,000 unique visitors per month (10.5% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  4. okc 10,150,000 unique visitors per month (9.2% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  5. eharmony – 7,100,000 unique visitors per month (6.5%of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  6. badoo – 6,000,000 unique visitors per month (5.5%of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  7. christianmingle – 5,500,000 unique visitors per month (5.0%of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  8. ourtime – 3,500,000 unique visitors per month (3.2%of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  9. datehookup – 3,000,000 unique visitors per month (2.7% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  10. blackpeoplemeet – 1,200,000 unique visitors per month (1.1%of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  11. howaboutwe – 1,000,000 unique visitors per month (0.9%of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  12. seniorpeoplemeet – 900,000 unique visitors per month (0.8% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  13. speeddate – 850,000 unique visitors per month (0.8% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  14. chemistry – 550,000 unique visitors per month (0.5% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)
  15. jdate – 500,000 unique visitors per month (0.5% of visitors to the top fifteen sites)

Wowsers. That’s a lot of people.

eharmony claimPay close attention to number 5: eHarmony. As of today they claim they are responsible for almost 4% of all US marriages (This is based on a survey they commissioned in 2012).

Now, if we assume that eHarmony’s stats were correct in 2012, and are still correct today, and that all dating websites are equally effective (!!!), then mathematically the top fifteen websites are responsible for a whopping 61.8% of all US marriages!!

That seems… unlikely. Fortunately I can list the reasons why:

  1. eHarmony’s survey was possibly a little optimistic back in 2012 (given that they commissioned it)
  2. And it’s almost certainly out of date today (given that there are many new players in the online dating website community)
  3. Some dating websites are definitely better than others, whilst others are worse.

But if we adjust our numbers assuming that eharmony’s newley wed statistic is actually only a quarter as impressive, ie. that they’re only responsible for 1% of US marriages – and that whilst some websites are less effective than eharmony, some are also better – this still means the top fifteen websites could be responsible for, approximately, 15.5% of all US marriages.

So what if we take marriage out of the equation? Here’s an interesting statistic taken from the 2002 paper snappily entitled Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United States published by the CDC: The percentage of US women, in co-habiting relationships, that turn to marriage within 5 years are 75% for white women, 61% for hispanic women, and 48% for black women.

Let’s pretend all American women are black for a moment, and that cohabiting couples that don’t tie the knot in five years go their separate ways, This means you can assume there’s one unmarried couple cohabiting for every two married couples, and that the top fifteen dating sites are therefore responsible for 23.1% of US people cohabiting and/or married. But this figure rises when you remember that there are white and hispanic women, and that some couples co-habit for longer than five years.

Add to that number those people who aren’t shacked up together, who are *just* dating (whatever that might mean), and that number might easily double again: 46.1%

And what about all the dating websites that didn’t make the top fifteen? Actually, forget dating sites, what about the likes of twitter, facebook and all the other social media sites that actually do a far better job of introducing people than the sites that are supposed to be about introducing people!? Suddenly that initial guesstimate that the internet is responsible for 50% of all relationships seems somewhat low!


Online Dating can seem daunting – but it needn’t be a nightmare. Get How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting today, follow the Action Points and you too can find someone special.


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#Shopping Made Easy for The #Fashion Phobic

wardrobeFor many years I’ve had a keen interest in photography, and theatre. When I wasn’t helping banks bring about the financial downfall of the western world, I was an actor for a small theatre company here in the southeast of England, and a freelance portrait photographer for models, actors and actresses. In my head the two activities are closely related. Taking pictures is nothing more than static theatre. My job is to tell a story with my subject using anything that I have to hand. This makes me the ‘director’, ‘prop master’, and occasionally ‘wardrobe mistress’. Quite often I take a look at the nondescript clothes that the client has brought with them and decide we can do something better. I dig through the items in the ‘dressing up box’ and construct an outfit that’s a little more interesting.

At times like that, my crippling lack of fashion-sense never gets a look in. Instead I’m brimming with confidence, and waft away any objections from my client with a wave of my hand.

“Wait until you see the pictures,” I say. Usually I’m right.

Ray Ronson - HypnotistSo why is that? Why is dressing myself so hard when I can apparently do it for other people? Is it because I lack that crucial objectivity when it comes to selecting my own wardrobe? I used to think so – but then one day, as I picked out an outfit for a professional hypnotist who needed some new publicity shots – it occurred to me that maybe it was the ‘clothes’, or more specifically, the way I looked at them.

fashionWhen I’m in a departmental store, assessing myself in the changing room mirror, clothes are, well, fashion. And I don’t really know how to relate to fashion. Fashion makes me think of expensive glossy magazines. The type I can’t afford, and wouldn’t buy even if I could. To me, those magazine fashion models look ever so slightly dead, and yet somehow they still make me feel gawky and inadequate.

On the other hand, when I’m doing a shoot, or standing in front of an audience, clothes aren’t clothes at all – they’re a costume.

Now a costume –that’s something I understand. For an actor a costume is a mask to hide behind. It’s also a prop to help them get into character. From a director’s perspective – the storyteller – it’s an extension of a character’s personality. It’s a method of communication, where each item of a given outfit are words, assembled together into a phrase or sentence.

If I think of my everyday clothes in terms of a ‘costume’ then I’m no longer worrying about whether I ‘look all right’, whether my shoes match my shirt, or whether I’ve made some other hideous fashion faux pas. Instead, I’m concerned only with the character I’m trying to portray, and the story I want to tell. Right now – right this second – that character is one of full-time author, living a few miles outside London. Slightly geeky. Young at heart. Laid back. Enjoying life. But ever the professional and serious about what he’s doing. Now what sort of costume does a character like that wear? How about a pair of well-worn dark blue jeans, with a matching cardigan, over a casual, black & white shirt, under which is just a peek of a t-shirt with some quirky design on the front? A pair of thin rimmed glasses sets the whole thing off.

If I’m giving a talk then I’ll ditch the cardigan in favour of a casual dark grey jacket, put my glasses into the breast pocket, and wear a smiley badge on the lapel.

One day I’ll move to warmer climes, and maybe then I’ll give my costume a slightly more contemporary, ‘New York’ feel, with black t-shirts, cargo pants, and thicker rimmed specs.

This new approach to clothes works well for me. For years I protected myself against the UK winter with whatever came to hand. Most of the time I looked like a cross between a bag lady and a road sweeper, without the charm or elegance of either. Now that I’m adopting the character of ‘author’ I wear a dark grey, almost military in style, overcoat, black leather gloves, and a large rimmed, black felt fedora hat.

But let’s talk about you. What character would you like to portray? The thirty-something, Bridget-Jones-esque, girl-next-door? The hard-working, hard-partying city dweller? The sassy, somehow-single, yummy mummy? The chic geek? If I’m doing my job properly then an image of each of those characters should have popped into your head as I mentioned them. That’s an image you can take with you when you go shopping.

Remember; this character isn’t you. It’s the someone you’d like to be. If, for instance, you’d like a little more confidence, then adopt the character of a confident person. Think carefully about what your character of choice looks like, then go shopping for those items. Because as most actors know, a curious thing happens when you spend a significant amount of time ‘in character’. After a while the personality of your character seeps through the costume into your soul. It becomes part of you. Takes over. After a while you’re not acting any more. You are that person. And that’s a powerful thing. Because it effectively means you can reinvent yourself from the outside in – just by changing your wardrobe.


Fed up with being invisible?Excerpt taken from From Invisble To Irresistible – available right now from amazon and other places.


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Boats, Bubbles, and Becoming Me; WTFHIBD episode 5

scubaYou know it’s about time I wrote another WTFHIBD blog post. After all I made a deal with my brother; regular WTFHIBD updates! So here we go again. Let’s start with my NOW List

My Now List

I’ve managed to tick off two NOW List items since I my last update; and I can’t really take credit for organising either of them.

For Christmas Jules – my long suffering assistant – bought me a Scuba lesson! Scuba is something that I always wanted to try as a kid. I remember begging Mum to let me join a club or something… and the barely concealed relief on her face when she told me I had to be at least eighteen years old. Then I turned eighteen. But now that I was big enough and ugly enough to send myself to scuba club… it just never happened.

I even had friends who learnt to dive and still I never got around to looking into it.

But… put it on a NOW List, make that NOW List public, and you’ll be surprised what can happen.

wiltonLike ‘HMS Wilton‘ for instance.

Not far from where I live there’s an old battle ship (a coastal mine sweeper to be precise). It serves as HQ of the Essex Yacht Club and for the longest time I’ve wanted to get aboard and look about. Not much of a problem you’d think – except that it’s not open to the public, and until recently there was no way of sending the Yacht Club any kind of message from their website!

Then one morning, a few weeks back, Della went for a run down there with Maggie her white German Shepherd and happened to bump into someone just locking the Yacht Club gates. Ten minutes of “oh what a lovely dog!” and “do you ever open this boat to the public?” later and she had arranged a personal tour from the chairman.

Goals

Last time I wrote a WTFHIBD post I mused about the importance of being true to yourself, and how it’s all too easy to get swept up in other people’s expectations of who and what you should be.

I’m ashamed to say that I’m still having thoughts along those lines all these months later. But after some significant soul searching it does feel like I might finally be getting to the bottom of them – like I might be recapturing some of the energy and drive that set me off on this journey in the first place.

TGGGTGTG drop shadowPart of the reason for this might be because I’ve made significant headway with one of the goals that came out of the Vision Exercise I put myself through a while back; ten years after Kate made me sit down and start writing it I’ve finally published a work of fiction – my debut novel (The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl) came out in paperback and as an ebook a few days ago. I am officially a novelist!

I was a little nervous about putting it out there, but so far I’m delighted with the response.

But enough about me

How about you? What have you been up to? What NOW List items have you managed to tick off? What goals have you set yourself or achieved? Feel free to drop me a line, here or on facebook, or post a comment below.


 


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Phoenix FM Happy Club: What’s holding YOU back from being fabulous? #fear

Over the last few weeks I’ve been playing catch up with some of the radio interviews I’ve given including my ‘Happy Club’ slot of Michelle Ward‘s show on Phoenix98 FM.

Last month, I came clean and told Michelle that this happiness journey hasn’t been all roses, as well as the real reason why my novel – The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl – is being released this week (…rather than back in April when it was supposed to).

Basically it all comes down to fear.

To listen to the interview click the big play button in the image below, or here if you’re reading this in an email.

We go onto chat about what advice a successful, future version of myself would give me were he to jump back in time to the present, and discover that it’s pretty much the same advice that a less-than-successful future version of myself might say. We also answer listener questions and finish up by discussing the very book that’s had me so chewed up these past few months.

Want More Tips?

All four of my How To books are available in paperback, audio and for your kindle enabled device. In most cases the kindle versions are less than the price of a cup of coffee! Jeepers! Click here to find out more.

You don’t need a Kindle device to read a Kindle book. Download the FREE kindle app for your computer, smart phone or tablet from amazon (.co.uk | .com)


TGGGTGTG drop shadowMy debut novel, The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girlis finally available!

The ebook is currently less than a quid for a very limited period. To download it to your tablet or smartphone via the Free Kindle App click here now.


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Beating fear – advice from ‘future’ me

fearBack in January  I wrote about how I’d come up with a new way to figure out what Goals I should be setting myself for the coming year. I called it my ‘vision exercise‘ and I like to think of it as a sneaky way of by passing all that usual wish-list malarkey whilst at the same time delving around in the sub-conscious to find out what’s really important to us.

My ‘vision exercise’ resulted in three rather ambitious goals one of which was this:

 I am writing FICTION
(rather than NON-FICTION)

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed writing every one of my self-help books BUT they rather came about by accident – my first love has always been fiction.

Now obviously, if you’ve read ‘Happy‘, you’ll know that for that to be a proper goal it should have a deadline attached to it, and perhaps even a penalty, but as I started the year I realised that a really good first step on the path to achieving this goal would be to actually finish the novel that I’d been fiddling with for the previous ten years.

Followers of my author blog already know that I’ve claimed my novel was ‘finished’, or ‘almost finished’, several times. Here in 2011 for instance. And here. And, oh dear, here too. But the truth is I knew I could never claim it was actually finished until it was out there and in print. So I set myself the following goal:

My novel
(The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl)
is AVAILABLE in two formats.
Easter 2014

Well I’m sure you know what happened next.

Easter came and went and the novel was nowhere to be seen.

People asked me where was it, and I told them that

  • it was with my agent, or
  • another publisher was taking a look at it

And whilst all those things were true, it wasn’t quite the whole truth, because I actually could have made the Easter deadline. If I’d put my mind to it. If I’d really wanted to. But I didn’t.

Why?

Because I was scared.

This novel has been a long time in the making. It was a journey that Kate set me off on just after we’d met. She believed in me. She believed in the story. She thought the book would do really really well. Basically there’s an entire decade of hopes and dreams wrapped up in those words.

But if I publish it…

  • maybe no one will buy it?
  • maybe people will buy it but maybe they won’t like it!
  • maybe they will like it, but not that much.
  • maybe this will be the first and last novel I ever write!!
  • maybe this will be the last book I ever write.
  • maybe this will herald the end of my writing career.

People often think that I left credit card banking because my first book, How To Do Everything And Be Happy, took off. That wasn’t the reason at all.  I left a well paid career behind because I realised, yet again, that life’s too short to be doing things that don’t make you happy!

I had a half finished novel on my desk, a half finished self help book, some money in the bank, and dreams of what life could be like – if I put some effort in – I took it all and made the most crazy decision of my life. In short I took a leap of faith.

I only realised recently that I’m still mid-leap. I’m still terrified to see it through.

I’ve spent my life being terrified.

When I was younger

  • I was terrified of asking girls out
  • I was terrified of failing my exams
  • I was terrified of youth club
  • I was terrified of travelling, of going places where I didn’t know anyone, of being vulnerable.

Sometimes I wish I could travel back in time and tell that kid a few things! I’d say…

  • Ask that girl out!
  • Forget about studying!!
  • Go to flippin youth club!!!
  • Travel the world!!!!

I was telling Della this just the other day and she suggested that whilst it is too late to go back and change the past (and more to the point, impossible) it’s not too late for the future to come back and change the present.

3back-to-the-future-original

I got to wondering what future me might say were he to appear right now. And I came to the conclusion that he would tell me the following:

Publish the damn book!

“But what if no one buys it?” I’d squeak.

“They will,” he’d reply.

“But what if only a few people buy it?” I’d counter

“Then tell more people,” he’d say.

“But what if no one likes it!!” I’d roar.

“Well, some will, some won’t – publish it anyway…”

And I think he’d go on to tell me to write more books, take more risks, throw myself out there even more, try even harder, to reach for the blinkin’ stars.

Then I got to wondering, is this ‘future me’ …successful?

Maybe this is advice from a successful ‘future me’. Maybe a less than successful future me would tell me something different? But when I thought about it some more I suddenly realised, no, unsuccessful me would probably say exactly the same thing!!! Unsuccessful me would be thinking “if only I’d taken more risks, tried harder, pushed myself….”

TGGGTGTG drop shadowSo finally…

The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl is here. In two formats. And if you happen to be reading this before the 19th of September 2014 then it’s currently less than a quid for your kindle enabled tablet or smart phone! That’s got to be worth a punt, surely. Click here to visit your favourite online bookseller.

I’m still terrified of course. I have no idea what people are going to make of it. I have no idea whether I’ve lived up to the high expectations Kate had of me. And I have absolutely no idea whether this will herald the start of my career as a novelist, or the end of my career as an author. But at least now I’ll get to find out.

What about you…

Are you being held back by fear? Why not share your thoughts with the class in the comments box below, or on facebook. Be great to hear from you.