Kick Start 2013


poster 2013Happy New Year!

So how’s it going so far? Is it all lovely and exciting? Or is it pretty much like last year? Perhaps even a little bit dull? Would you say that, aside from joining hands with friends and family on the stroke of midnight and mumbling the words to a song you only sing once a year, it’s actually quite difficult to know where 2012 came to an end, and 2013 began?

I know how you feel.

Which is why, in a few days time, I will be hosting the first of this years Happiness Clubs, here in Southend-on-Sea.

Happy Club – starts Thursday 24th January 2013

If you’re a long time visitor to this blog you’ll know that this year I’ve run numerous How To Do Everything And Be Happy workshops in various parts of Essex.

I think it’s safe to say that the workshops went down a storm, and I’m delighted to announce that using the invaluable feedback I received, Southend’s Therapy Life Centre and I will be running a series of monthly Happiness workshops – starting Thursday the 24th January – to coincide with the re-launch of the paperback.

What’s covered?

Each month we’ll spend the first hour looking at a different idea from the book How To Do Everything and Be Happy and how to implement it into your life, whether that be Boxing Day, Wish List, Now Lists, Focus, Trophy Boards, or Diaries. Then after a short tea-break (biscuits provided – probably, if I remember) we’re back, looking at your Goals, how far you’ve got with them and how you can take the next step towards achieving them.

Next Thursday we’ll be concentrating on how to eliminate unhappiness, and working out exactly what we want for the coming months. It’ll be fun! I can definitely promise you that. But I have a feeling it’s also going to be the start of something special.

Is it a workshop? Or a course? It’s a “club”.

Technically it’s a series of six stand-alone, related, repeating, workshops (when we get to workshop number six we’ll start afresh the following month). You can come along to just one, a series of six, or every month, it’s totally your choice.

The evening will have more of a club-feel to it making the whole experience less “rushed”, more intensive, and introducing a strong focus on helping you achieve your goals as the months roll by.

It’s a fun way to get motivated and fired up about making changes in your life, whilst being practical, realistic and keeping your feet firmly on the floor.

How much does it cost?

The cost is just £60 for six sessions (if you pay in advance – see below), or £12 per session if you pay on the night.

Where and when?

The club starts on Thursday January 24th 2013
Subsequent clubs are on the last Thursday of each month and last two hours (including a ten minute break around half time).
We start promptly at 8pm (so maybe get there about 7:45? Put that in your diary).

We meet at The Therapy Life Centre, in Southend On Sea, Essex. (the old driving test centre) – there is reasonable parking.
The address is 11 Prittlewell Chase, Southend-on-Sea, SS0 0RX
The nearest station is Prittlewell (just fifteen minutes walk away) which is on the Liverpool Street – Southend Victoria line.

Sign Up and Pay!

The cost is just £60 for six sessions (if you pay in advance), or £12 per session if you pay on the night.

There are three ways to pay in advance

  1. In person at the Therapy Life Centre. Click here for opening hours. 
  2. Over the phone with a credit or debit card. Call 01702 433959. Click here for opening hours. 
  3. Pay here via credit / debit card and/or paypal!

Refunds & General Terms

  • Workshop credits can be carried forward – you do not have to attend six concurrent workshops
  • If you wish to transfer your credits to another person please let us know first
  • Payments via the internet will appear as “soundhaven” on your statement
  • Refunds will not be issued at a workshop and must be requested in the manner the original payment was made (ie. in person, over the phone, or via this website)
  • We reserve the right to charge a £2 admin fee to cover the cost of processing refunds
  • In the event that you cannot make six workshops we reserve the right to retain £12 per workshop you’ve attended, and refund the balance
  • We require five working days notice (via the contact form on this website) process a paypal refund

Any questions?

Drop me a line via the contact page if you have any questions. Operators are standing by.


Visit the Therapy Life Centre’s website
More about the Therapy Life Centre

My Now List

Last week I brought you up to date with what I’ve been spending my time and energy on. You’ll remember that I came clean and told you that my Now List has been pretty much untouched for many months. In fact, it wasn’t until reader Maria emailed me earlier in the week (asking me where she could find my now list) that I realised the last time I updated it was a almost a year ago. Shame on me. So, with apologies for the lack of punctuation and spelling here’s how my Now List – as of August 2012 – looks…

The Top Five!

  • Cornwall (booked for this September)
    • Visit the Minack Theatre (August – September)
    • St michael’s mount
    • Fowey
  • See ‘The Woman in Black’ – sit near the stage
  • Charmouth beach in Dorset (done some research, just need to find time)
  • Drive a tractor
  • Bridgenorth – looks like a nice place

Time Sensitive

  • Estuary Boat trip – see my house from the Thames (found a company that does it, but trips don’t run all year)
  • Proper narrow boat holiday through the countryside of Birmingham

Food

  • Master the following recipes
    • Dad’s Broccoli and Ham bake
    • Angela’s Ginger Cake
    • Chocolate Brownies
  • Go to a place that serves a different wine per course
  • Eat deep fried crickets or some other food from the night time food market in Beijing (best do this quick, before I turn veggie!!)

Experiences

  • Get to visit The Wilton (old war boat near to where I live. Not open to the public)
  • Get close to dolphins
  • And seals
  • And otters
  • bootle feed baby tigers
  • Go inside a lighthouse (I think I’ve found a lighthouse)
  • Enjoy the experience of living in warmer climate
  • Thai chi
  • Get friends round and play cranium
  • See the four-act version of The Importance Of Being Earnest
  • Visit the Houses of Parliment
  • Learn to Scuba
  • Go to the theatre and sit in a ‘box’ with a select group of friends
  • Learn to speak French
  • Learn to fence
  • Do a live cover of the Flight of The Conchordes song, Business Time (video below – visit the blog if you can’t see this in your email)

Someday, maybe

  • get myself on Saturday Kitchen as a featured guest (guess I need to sell a few more copies of the book first)
  • Dinner with Imogen Heap.
  • Work with Steven Moffet.
  • And Richard Curtis

Holidays / Places to visit

  • Enjoy the romance of Rome (previous trips lacked this essential ingredient)
  • Go back to Sorrento
  • Visit Portmeirion, north Wales
  • Visit Hong Kong
  • Go round the world (in a westerly direction)
  • Visit oregan
  • Visit the cook islands (and stay for a long, long time)
  • Visit the remote parts of france.
  • Skiathos – stay in a cottage somewhere inland? Away from the beaches. Hire a moped to get around.
  • Visit Jersey
  • Visit “Taiyou no tou” (it means “Tower(Statue) of Sun”). Banpaku Park, in Osaka.
  • Go to Madagascar
  • the cave temples of Ellora
  • Zion National Park
  • Saint-Paul de Vence – lovely place in france.
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest reserve, Costa Rica
  • Taktsang monestery, Paro Valley, Bhutan
  • Antuigua, lesser Antilles
  • Portofino, Liguria, Italy
  • Visit Tikal, Guatemala
  • Vieux Lyons
  • Machu Picchu
  • Dunnottar Castle – www.dunnottarcastle.co.uk/
  • Swimming with jellyfish in Micronesia  (video below – visit the blog if you can’t see this in your email)

Feel free to share your Now List in the comments section below

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.

What the **** have I been doing?

Last week I received an email from my brother. Here’s an excerpt:

Will and I were talking about your book and we both agree that while the book is good, the blog is rather boring!

I don’t mean that to be cruel, but I would expect a guru like yourself to be posting some ‘bonus’ material or better yet a continuation of YOUR story! If you’re truly a guru then don’t you want your followers to be lead by your shining example?

A monthly feature I would like to see is ‘what the **** have I been doing?’. A more subtle title might work – but seriously, the only thing I remember seeing is the zoo keeper thing. I think that’s great, but if I don’t see some sunset in Skiathos picture, or a picture of you swimming with jellyfish sometime on the blog soon I’m going to start losing my faith in my guru.

Come on Peter Jones, author extraordinaire, and happiness guru, inspire me!!

It’s a funny thing. I’ve noticed that people tend to gravitate to different elements of the book. You can see this as you flick through the reviews on amazon. Lots of people like Boxing Day – that’s why it’s at the start of the book – whereas some think I’ve re-invented Saturday. Occasionally someone will comment on how they like my approach to Wishes, and Goal Setting – where others think they’ve ‘heard it all before’. And some folks, like my brother Simon, get all excited about Now Lists.

Indeed, Simon was the original inspiration for the Now List. It was Simon who told me to rent the movie the Bucket List. And it was Simon who – a year later – asked me if I ever got around to creating a Bucket List of my own. All this whilst he travelled around the world, adding items to his list, and ticking others off, on a daily basis. Simon doesn’t just tick items off either, he takes photographic evidence – and uploads that evidence to his website 366pictures.com

In Simon’s mind this blog should be something similar – entry after entry of me time ticking another item off my Now List. And maybe he has a point.

So, as requested, this time next week sees the start of a feature cheerfully entitled ‘What the **** have I been doing?’ or WTFHIBD for short. You’ll be able to see all the WTFHIBD posts by clicking the WTFHIBD category over on the right, or typing peterjones.wtf into a browser. But I’m afraid my brother – and all you Now List fans – might be in for a disappointment, because I can tell you right now that’s not what I’ve been concentrating on these past six months. But to find out more you’ll have to come back next week.

If you’d like this blog delivered free to your email inbox, simply put your email address in the subscribe box in the top right hand corner and press the button. Easy peasy.

 

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!

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.