How To Do Everything And Be Happy

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Faith, Hope & Clarity (The Truth About Peter Jones) – WTFHIBD episode 7

piggy

Yes folks, it’s time, once again, for your favourite self-help ‘guru’ to fess up and tell you how I’ve been applying my ‘happy’ principals to my life, in a feature that I like to call What The Flippin’eck Have I Been Doing…

I’m going to break this into three parts, so come back tomorrow and Wednesday to find out about my NOW list, and BOXING days, but for now let’s start with GOALS.

My GOALS

Since I last penned the last WTFHIBD post, I’ve spent most of my goal-related energy concentrating on just one of the three goals I set myself (so much so, that I can’t actually remember what the other two goals were). That goal was this:

My total writing income exceeds my outgoings
Deadline: June 2015

So how’s that going, I hear you ask.

Let’s put it this way… not as good as I’d like.

Now that’s not entirely surprising. My potential for disappointment really knows no bounds. I’m the kinda guy who having found a £10 note on the floor, would be wishing it could’ve been a £20 instead… I’m definitely a glass half empty kinda guy. The first time I got a major book deal, my agent – having told me it was a generous offer for a first time author – was (rightly) appalled when I threw all my toys out the pram and declared the offer an insult! So, even if my latest novel was sitting somewhere near the top of the charts (any charts!) chances are I’d still not be satisfied. But it’s not at the top of the charts. Nowhere like it. And my income consistently falls short of my monthly outgoings – worse still ‘writing’ makes up only a fraction of that insubstantial income.

I’ve been in this situation for a while. Six years in fact. That’s the last time I raised an invoice in my previous guise as banking consultant. I walked out of a corporate office with a years money in my savings account, and hoped that would be the very last time I donned a suit and tie. But now that pot of money has all but gone. And a few weeks back, faced with this grim reality, I stopped writing my third novel… and started looking for full time work.

Here’s what I quickly discovered about job-hunting; it’s horrible. 

In many ways Job Hunting in the 21st Century is very similar to Online Dating. My life became one long dull routine of signing up to websites, completing profiles, uploading my CV, searching for jobs, and sending out messages. And just like my dating experience, I soon discovered that today’s online job market has it’s equivalent of Cam Girls (agencies), Scammers (agencies) and Spammers (agencies). There’s even a job hunting app where you swipe right for interested, and left for not-interested! And just like my dating experience (and the dating experience of most men) it seems to make absolutely no difference whether you actually have what the job poster is looking for because (just like the dating experience of most women) their mail server has probably collapsed under the deluge of applications thereby making it extremely doubtful that an actual human being will ever see your message… let alone reply!

I’d like to say that just like my dating experience I figured out what actually works, and became a master at online job hunting – there’s probably another self-help book in there somewhere. But the reality is I became very depressed, and pretty difficult to be around. Every day was a constant reminder that in the only way that really counts (ie. being able to pay the bills), I’d failed my goal. Which means I’d failed as an author. I was being forced to give up on that career. Worse still, I was already failing at being able to be anything else.

Well-meaning friends tried to cheer me up. They pointed out that it was pretty impressive that I’d “lasted this long”. They said phrases that included the words “a good innings“. You can probably imagine how much better that made me feel.

And then – just when I was at my most desperate, when I had begun to pick and choose between which bills I absolutely had to pay, and which I would have to let slide into arrears – a miracle happened. Or, to be more accurate, a cluster of mini-miracles; minicles you might call then, or miraclets – whatever they’re called, they saved the day.

Firstly, after making a silly sixty second video-promo for my latest novel – The Truth About This Charming Man – Amazon decided to put the book in their June Summer Promo. Financially it probably won’t make a huge difference, but it was nice to know that someone, other than me, thought my book was worth plugging (and if it’s June 2016 as you read this then it’s still only 99p if you fancy taking a punt. You can watch the sixty second video below (or here)).


Secondly, thanks in no small part to other friends and fellow writers, odd bits of freelance work started to land in my inbox. Not huge amounts, but enough to give me a paid-break from the hell of job hunting. My sanity started to return.

And finally, the phone started to ring: Someone had heard me speak at so-and-so event, would I be able to come to their group? XYZ Society had been let down by a fellow speaker – would I be able to fill the slot? {Insert name of WI group here} was celebrating their birthday in July / August / Sept… and they’d like me to come and entertain them…

Word of the 45 minute talk I give telling the story of how I came to write four self-help books, and the follow talk up explaining how I met Kylie Minogue (sort of), had reached some sort of tipping point. At the start of this month I found myself doing not one talk a week, but two, or three, sometimes two in one day.

facebook cover photo 2016

I always knew the talks were popular – after speaking I’d generally sell more physical books for £7 than I’d ever sell in a week on amazon for £1.99, but still the penny didn’t drop. Not until an out-spoken, feisty white-haired lady, walked right up to me a week or so ago and told me straight; “why are you bothering with the writing,” she said, “you should be putting all your energies into doing this.”

I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it earlier.

Going forwards

So does this mean I’m giving up on writing? Not even slightly. My talks are about my writing journey – so starting next week I’m picking up that third novel again and I’m going to have it finished by the end of the year. But, the lion’s share of my energy is going to be spent moving the thing that I’ve always thought of as a ‘side-stall’ (ie. public speaking) front and centre.

You’ll already find a page on facebook dedicated to my speaking-adventures – if it looks like the sort of thing that might amuse you, or others, click the FOLLOW or SHARE buttons… maybe BOTH!

And if you belong to a group or society and you’d like me to come along and amuse you for an hour with tales of my writing adventures then drop me a line – either here or on facebook – but for the first time in a long while I’m going to take my own advice; I’m going to do the thing that actually works, in preference to the thing I’d like to work. Wish me luck.

But enough about me

How about you? What GOALS have you been working on? How’s that going? Feel free to drop me a line, here or on facebook, or post a comment below.

And pop back tomorrow to find out whether I’ve ticked off any items on my NOW List, and whether I still have a Boxing Day once a month.


TTATCM sidebarFor three more days my SECOND novel, The Truth About This Charming Man, is only 99p for your kindle, smart-phone, tablet, or computer. If you like the way I write, chances are you’ll like this. Visit BuyTheBook.TODAY to find out more and buy the book… today.

 


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Turning failure into possibilities – WTFHIBD episode 6

bright-ideas

Blimey! Has it been 9 months since I wrote one of these WTFHIBD things?? Where does the time go? Actually that’s kinda the point of these WTFHIBD posts; to tell you exactly what I’ve been spending my time on.

Let’s start with GOALS.

My GOALS

2014 turned into something of a damp squib for me. Whilst a lot of good things happened, on balance it was pretty much ‘the year of disappointments’. People often tell me I’m too tough on myself, but as summer rolled into autumn all I could see was failure, failure, failure… in every aspect of my life.

But around January, and as I sat down to set my GOALs for the year I somehow managed to summon some of the fight that I’d lost in previous months, and although my 2015 goals didn’t look a whole lot different from previous years, perhaps I altered my approach to them, because even though it felt like I was starting again, at the same time the only way was up; I’d already failed at everything – it would be hard to fail even more. Success was actually the easier option.

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I BECAME ‘SELF-HELP GURU TURNED NOVELIST’

Having watched my debut lad-lit, rom-com novel  – The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl – climb the charts in September… only to come crashing back down to earth again… I took the somewhat odd decision to start sending it out to agents and publishers again. On the one hand this seemed like a bad idea; I would be trying to sell a book that was already published. On the other, I could point at lots of nice reviews, the fact it did rather well during it’s first promotion, and my previous non-fiction successes. Surely that would make me, and the book, an attractive proposition?

Amazon 2015-07-09 at 12.28.14Well, six months later and I had indeed got myself a new agent… and in turn a publicity deal with amazon!

The book underwent another edit, the cover got brighter, and after a little help from Kylie Minogue (sort of), amazon made it part of their July 99p Summer Reads promotion. It’s back up near the top of the charts …and it’s doing ok! Better than ok!

If you fancy a chuckle, as well as keeping me in the book business, now would be a very good time to spend a quid at the world’s biggest bookstore.

I STARTED MY NEXT BOOK

One of last year’s many failures was a five part serial that I wrote for a particularly well known woman’s magazine. After a full sixteen weeks of consideration, the fiction editor of magazine-that-cannot-be-named decided that it wasn’t really ‘real-world’ enough for their readers, and that she was going to pass up the opportunity of publishing it.

In the same week however, my new agent decided that actually it was a cracker of story – and could quite easily be expanded into a full length novel. My next novel. And so, Facebook pals have been subjected to almost daily word count updates, whilst readers of my other blog have been perplexed by various posts about how I use excel spreadsheets to write

selfieI STARTED GIVING MORE TALKS

One of my few successes last year were the number of talks I was asked to give.

Whereas previously I’d been giving the odd talk to Women’s Institutes and Town’s Women’s Guilds – suddenly the U3A, the Rotary Club, the Trefoil Society, and numerous independent clubs and societies started to invite me along based on recommendations from those who’d heard me speak elsewhere.

As the year ended I realised that public speaking is pretty much one of the things I love most… and so I came up with a second talk (entitled: How I Met Kylie Minogue) and offered it to all those folk who were kind enough to invite me along the first time. The result is I’m now doing a talk at least once a week (this week I’ve done three!) – and whilst it’s hardly a living, it has relieved a little bit of the pressure I’ve been putting myself under to make a living from writing alone.

If you’d like me to come and talk to your group or society – drop me a line

My NOW List

foggsLet’s move on from GOALS. What have I been doing for fun? (Not that writing isn’t fun – but you know what I mean…)

The NOW List is chock-a-block with exciting things that I’d absolutely love to do… sadly, most require time, money, often both, and I have neither.

That said, whilst I still haven’t managed to visit the Cook Islands, or visit Rome again, or anything that requires a plane trip, I have ticked off many items that I could do relatively cheaply, in around my local area. And some of those things included…

  • A visit to Mr Foggs of Mayfair. A strangely wonderful place.
  • My quest to find the strangest, experimental theatrical performances once a month – in the past few weeks I’ve seen improvised puppet shows, naked people rolling around in food, and a disturbing monologue about fantasy movies…
  • A visit to a junk shop that I’ve driven past many times and always wanted to go inside
  • A day at the beach with my very own luxury beach hut at my disposal
  • An evening at one of London’s Roof Top cinemas

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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FAQ: (more) Potential Goals Day Problems

author pic5
Ok, settle down, settle down – last week I suggested setting aside time in your diary (you do have a diary, don’t you?) to work on the Goals you identified a few weeks back. From experience I already know that there are probably 50% of you out there who are sitting, arms folded tightly across your chest, scowling at me. Of all the concepts discussed in How To Do Everything And Be Happy goal setting is the one that people wrestle with most. So, allow me to try and address as many of those common goal-related problems as possible.

Words and terminology

“Goals”, “wishes”, “failure” – some people have a real problem with these words:

“Goals” sounds too corporate, too managerial, too board-room, too annoying, too school teacher-ish…

“Wishes” sounds too flaky, too holy, too hippy, too girly…

And let’s not get started on “failure”! We already know how that brings some people out in hives!

If you’re struggling with these, or any other words, then change them. Pick something else. You have my permission to go through your copy of How To Do Everything And Be Happy changing the word “goal” to “target” – or “wishes” to “wants,” whatever works for you. The important thing is not the word, but the concept behind it. If you can’t hear “failure” without wanting to scratch, then change it – how about “Personal Target Re-assessment Opportunity”?!

If you think of any good word alternatives feel free to send them to me and I’ll list them on the website for other word-challenged readers – but please, don’t let a word stop you from getting the most out of goal setting or this book.

Too American

It’s important to realise that I am British. True – I don’t live in a castle, I don’t have a butler, I don’t particularly like battered fish wrapped in newspaper, I’m not a huge fan of roast beef, I can’t stand ‘soccer’, but other than that, most of the stereotypes are probably accurate.

I have worked for numerous American companies over the past fifteen years and some of their culture may have rubbed off on me – some. But I’ve never skipped my lunch, worked late into the night, high-fived my colleagues, or winked at them whilst saying, “Good job!”

That said, our ‘cousins’ across the pond are, as a nation, just a whole lot better at ‘self-improvement’ than we Brits. And for decades American authors have taken ideas that work, re-branded them, and presented them to the book-buying public as ground-breaking and new. So if you’ve ever read, watched or heard anything on ‘goal setting’ or ‘the Law of Attraction’ it’s possible that the ideas presented in this book are going to feel – well, ‘American’.

So here’s a suggestion: join me. Join my little crusade to reclaim these sensible, practical, powerful ideas and re-present them, without the fluff, without the mystique, and with a distinctly European flavour.

Too rigid!

One of the problems with writing a book like this – one that’s based heavily upon personal experience – is that all the ideas and suggestions will work perfectly, if you happen to be me.

Of course, you’re not me. So when it comes to goal setting (or indeed anything else in this book), for goodness sake use your head. If setting yearly goals doesn’t work for you, set them at other times! One of my friends sets them as and when her life dictates.

If three goals is too many, try two. Or one. If you have enough bandwidth to cope with more than three try four, or five.

And though I’ve said it already I’ll say it again – if I come across like a school teacher, then I sincerely apologise. I’m just passionate about this stuff. And the more I see it working for people, the more passionate I become.

Not Enough 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. If you’re one of them, pop back in time to July 2012 when I dealt with that particular issue.

Any Other Questions?

If you have any Goal Related Questions, pop them in the comments box below or drop me a line

Pop back this time next week for more GOAL related goodness.


Was romance on your 2014 Goals List? How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting’ could be your new best friend and it’s available on amazon. You can also buy ‘From Invisible To Irresistible’the shorter, quirkier companion guide on amazon too

Hey! It’s a lonely ol’ life being an author. Writing these words. Wondering if anyone’s reading them. Why not type a jolly little message in the comments box and put a smile on my face 🙂

If you can’t see a comments box below or you’re reading this in an email try clicking here


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New Year – New Goals!

faq

So, in three days it’ll be 2012. And for the fifth year running I’ll be setting myself personal goals.

A lot of my friends dislike the idea of setting personal goals, like it somehow takes the ‘private’ part of their life – the part that is supposed to be about relaxing and having fun – and turns it into ‘work’. And work, as we all know, is the mortal enemy of fun and relaxation.

Perhaps you feel the same way? I know I did. Having read and listened to more than my fair share of self help books I thought I knew all that I needed to know about Goal Setting – enough to know that it wouldn’t work for me. And as I sat in traffic on the M25, morning after morning, listening to those Tony Robbins CDs, I’d start to wonder whether I’d enjoy them more if I wound down the window and tossed them, Frisbee-like, over the edge of the bridge and into the River Thames far below me.

That was, until I went out for a curry with my old friend Denny.

“I’ve set myself 5 goals for next year,” she told me one winter’s night in January.

“Goals?” I said

“Yeah,” said Denny as she mopped up some sauce with a strip of naan bread. I was stunned.

“Why?”

“Because I’m fed up with my life being like it is.”

“But, setting yourself goals – it’s a little extreme though, isn’t it?” She shrugged.

“Not really,” she said.

“But what if you don’t achieve them?” I asked.

“Then life will stay pretty much as it is, I guess. From that perspective I can’t really lose.” I thought about this for a second or two.

“Maybe I should set some goals,” I said.

“Maybe you should,” said Denny. “What would they be?”

And that was five years ago.

I like to set my goals at the start of each year, and review them at the end. This might make them sound a little like ‘resolutions’ but resolutions are something entirely different. “I will give up smoking” – that’s a resolution. “I have given up smoking (December, 2012)” – now that’s a goal.

Take for instance one of my goals for 2010:

My Happiness Book is published
(Dec 31st 2010)

At the time I set that the Goal I’d hardly started writing How To Do Everything and Be Happy, let alone given much thought to how I would publish it. I didn’t even have the title.

Did I achieve the goal?

No.

That’s the not so funny thing about setting goals – some of the time, perhaps even most of the time, you fail!

But then I’m not particularly motivated by ‘easy goals’ – goals that I know I have a good chance of achieving. They don’t even feel like goals – more like boring items on my to-do list. I had a friend who, on January 1st, set herself the goal of joining a gym. By the end of the first week she’d achieved it. Was that really a goal? Shouldn’t joining the gym have been part of a much larger goal to improve her health and fitness? In my mind a goal should stretch you. A goal should be ever-so-slightly out of reach. With most of my goals I know that my chances of success are extremely slim, though the chance is there.

So my revised Goal for 2011 looked like this:

“How To Do Everything and Be Happy”
is available in three formats,
and selling really well (to be defined),
whilst I bask in the success (to be defined)
of the seminar(s)
Dec 31st 2011

And will I achieve that Goal??

No.

But I’ll come darn close. The book was released as an ebook back in March, and as a paperback a few weeks later. Both are selling better than I could have ever hoped. An audio version is planned for this coming year, and whilst I’m not exactly basking in the success of my one workshop, two more are being planned for the coming weeks.

Most important of all though, by identifying why I achieved or failed my goal I’m equipped to write smarter, more specific, or maybe utterly different goals.

Working with goals – that is, having them in your life – is something that gets easier the longer you do it. You develop a habit, or a mindset – after a while you start to look at everything you’re doing in relation to how it sits with your goals. In a very real way, your goals force you to decide what’s important to you and move you in that direction. They give you purpose and vision.

And it’s true what they say:

“Without vision the people perish.”

So, people of the interweb – what are your Goals for 2012. Drop me a line or use the comments box below – I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you a very happy New Year

Peter Jones