Where to begin?
2018 was the best year I have had for ages, but it was a year of reset, learning and working it out which was a new kind of pain for me.
This blog is my way of kicking off my commitment to writing and sharing what I am working on and what I am learning in 2019.
I was completely dithering around getting started so decided to eat my own dog food and ‘just do it’.
I know, shame on me. But no more procrastinating, licking my wounds and waiting for the planets to align to get going again!
Laying the Foundation for an epic 2019
In August 2017 I took my last antidepressant tablet and waited to see what would happen, by the time I took the last one the dose was so low my body probably did not even notice, but some part of my head did.
I’d been in a spin since 2010, and the crashed and burned in December 2012 and then spent five years struggling with depression, anxiety and self-loathing.
I never stopped reading and learning, I always knew I’d make it out even though some days I hated myself and everyone around me.
One evening I was so full of self-loathing I went into the kitchen and started to work out how to stick a knife in my wrist as my wife and son were in the room next door.
That was a real fucking low point, the best thing about that moment was realising I wanted to live and did not want my depression to hurt them even more than already was.
I’d have anxiety attacks and more than once my wife had to call an ambulance because I’d just passed out with something or other.
I’d go whole weekends watching Person of Interest non-stop on Netflix and not wash up for days.
My wife had to go to a friends house to give me space and because being around me was like going on holiday with a Dementors from the Harry Potter books.
When I made it out of August 2017 alive, I started to kick back into gear, and function on my own energy, Coworking Europe in Dublin and WCC in Edinburgh gave me the motivation to step up where I was, they probably gave me permission I thought I needed.
As I stopped taking medication in 2017 I joined Chris Marr’s Content Marketing Academy to see what it was like, I’d met him at the UK Podcasters event a few years before, and he seemed like an interesting town character, was hanging out with all my favourite authors and
I liked his no bullshit approach to business.
At Coworking Europe I got to have more in-depth conversations with people I’d met before and known online, we ended up gathering a fantastic crew that would become the new European Coworking Assembly, it was also the first time I’d been to Coworking Europe without my mate Matija.
I got to 2018 I was ready to make some serious changes, I did not know what would happen or really have any idea where I was going but I was surrounded by good people on and offline, and I could feel the energy happening.
I’ll spare you the blow by blow account of everything that happened in 2018, but the highlights were these:
I dove headfirst into the 12 Week Yearbook
I’ve read it 15 times now and got other people to do it with me, at the end of the year I stopped our meet up and instead started having a Monday morning “Weekly Accountability Meeting” (WAM) with my friend Karen by phone. This 30-minute phone call is how I start my week, and the gaps in my execution showed up big time.
Instead of crying I was able to get real and went back to the book to see what I was missing, then in November the Field Guide came out, and this helped me build out how I was going to do everything.
Life is ‘reps’ and repeating and repeating this 12 Week Year process has enabled me to wake up and smell the coffee, instead of ‘predicting the future and hoping it works’ I’m now able to get my shit done and adjust as I go along.
I’m still coming up short in some areas and always will.
But I know where I am now, also it has made me admit that I am spread too thin.
I have got real about hoping some things will work when they never will and most of all I am giving energy to people who are not even interested in getting it the first place.
I’d been helping my mate Phil run his coworking space, and like the Sex Pistols greatest hits album we were flogging a dead horse, and it took us too long to realise.
But this was a good thing. We both wanted it to work, but that was not enough, we kept pulling it back into the Coworking ER room to resuscitate it, but each time it died a little bit more.
I had this fantasy coworking space in my head, and on some days it really was there, the Write Club meetups were great, but the building was tired and needed love it was starting to suck the life out of us.
After several ‘let’s give it one more shot’ conversations Phil came in one day and said that’s it, I’m closing and this is done.
I lost control of my bodily functions right then and there in the meeting room, where would I go? What would I do?
It was one of the best things that happened in 2018, I had to put my money where my mouth was and headed out into the big dangerous world without my safety blanket.
If Phil and I looked at our hourly rate for working on that space, we would never have been able to look our families in the eye and have a conversation about income, so when it shut, we both went on to have more time and more money. And it was great hanging out with Phil and not talking about how we were going to save the coworking space.
But being inside that painful environment was a great lesson in what signs to look for, it was not the most horrid situation I’d ever been in, but I learnt a lot about myself and my ability to lie about the reality and how I use my time.
The ‘Fuck it’ moment
Somewhere in all of this, I had what my podcasting partner in crime Trevor calls the “freelancer fuck it moment” – he runs a workshop called Freelance foundations and sees this a lot.
It is the point when something like “fuck it, I can’t carry on living as this” happens.
I’d been dying for this moment for five years as I waded through Person Of Interest on Netflix, but I’d only had a regular fuck everything moments.
Until now, of course, I knew that life did not have to be like this and that if I got up of the sofa, I’d be inches away from changing everything for the better.
But I was so far gone I had imposter syndrome about making a cup of tea, let alone being a freelancer.
When the ‘fuck it moment arrived, I was doing ok, but that was it I was doing ok.
I was not depressed but my comfort zone, identity and habit were ‘I’m depressed’.
The only time harder to get stuff done than when you are depressed is when you are not depressed and are acting as if you are, because that is lazy, whining, excuse making sad-sack-of-shit land.
So anyway I cried down the phone to Trevor that I’d had a revelation and this was my fuck it moment and charged off into the sunset.
Falling Flat on my face again
Now Trevor has twenty years of freelance experience under his belt, I mean he was a freelancer before it was cool to be a freelancer. He was one of the ‘emerging group of people’ Dan Pink talked about in FreeAgent Nation back at the turn of the century.
So he knew my ‘fuck it’ moment would hit a few walls before it came into being, I am sure he mentioned something, but I was too fired up to listen.
I steamed off and dove into everything I could lay my hands on, I made more of Fizzle.com, more of CMA and took Jessica Abels course.
At the end of 2018, my head was like Neo in the Matrix after he knows Kungfu and before he can stop bullets.
I had steady money coming in and was sure I’d make more money in November than Tony Montana at the end of Scarface.
None of that happened, I’d done all the work and all the planning but had not ‘done the work’.
I had not connected with what I was trying to sell people, I was smelling a little-entitled thought if I repackage everything I knew people would buy it.
I was trying to be someone and something else and had more than one robust conversation with people close to me about what the fuck was I thinking?
It’s not that tough
I need to put this in context when I have tough conversations these days, they are about getting to the best stuff I can do, about getting shit out of the way and being focused like a Navy SEAL skydiving and opening their parachute at the last possible moment.
I’m at the point of fine tuning and listening hard for what needs to be done, not what I or they ‘think needs to be done’.
And this is hard work, delightfully hard work as if I am not awake I slip into autopilot and let myself and other people get away with things.
A good punch in the face from my coworking crew, CMA squad and on Monday mornings in the12 Week Year WAM with Karen stops me thinking the sun shines out of my arse and flags up where I’m coming up short.
No One Wants To Blog
At the end of 2018, I knew I did not want to go back to working on UpWork, and my ‘Blogging for coworking spaces’ concept was dead in the water.
While at a workshop with Marcus Sheridan and Chris Marr in Edinburgh I was doing my speaking bit and being coached on stage by Marcus,
I was blocked and fudging my words, but I was ok with that.
It was life, and I’d signed up to get my head out of my arse in a trusted environment.
When I mumbled something about blogging Marcus said no one ever asks to hire him to teach them blogging, they hire him for storytelling.
No one wants to learn how to write blogs for their website, even though it is one of the best things you can do.
Which explained why everyone I talked to about blogging, even smart people glazed over.
The Emotional Cycle Of Change
I went into a little tailspin, wondered what I would put on my website now?
I seized up, I’d got to the end of 2018, and it was all meant to be working now.
It was working it was working better than ever, I remembered that all that was happening was that I was going through the emotional cycle of change.
This is a crucial concept into the 12 Week Year Book.
Devised by Kelly and Conners in 1979 it outlines the dip you get after the excitement of starting and how we get stopped.
I was stopped, but I knew how to handle it, I kept writing, reading and meditating,
Then without me really doing anything new projects started to roll in for January 2019, I chilled out a little bit more.
Slowing down to speed up.
I looked back over my shoulder and the pitiful amount of articles I’d posted on my website, my amazingly well-built site (thanks Hector) and all the work I’d done on myself.
I’d also joined the ‘Make Your Mark Online’ group to learn how to use my WordPress website once and for all.
I started to understand that I was playing well within my comfort zone, and while my head hurt from everything I’d done in 2018 it was a brilliant and thriving hurt.
At no point had I learnt something I did not think I could do, it all built on stuff I’d read about or worked in before.
It occurred to me what I could do if I really put my mind to it and did something.
So I went to Argentina for three weeks knowing I had work when I got back and did absolutely nothing for three weeks.
It was the first time I had stopped, unplugged and woken up with nothing to do for years.
I was going to let everything settle and be ready to rumble in 2019.