Author Archives: Michael

Life, Gratitude, & Clarity

It hasn’t even been a week, but I’ve noticed massive changes in my brain & life since consciously reducing my “distraction addiction.”

Instead of watching endless YouTube videos, I watch none- maybe one, then done.

Instead of putting on my headphones, constantly listening to music or podcasts, I have embraced the awkward elevator talks and boredom.

When I decided for my brain that it could no longer get dopamine from those methods, it has begun auto-optimizing for my other areas of life.

The answers to questions such as, “where do I want to live, what do I want to do for work, what am I passionate about,” etc. keep getting answered. I just feel… clear.

Every morning I used to go down a rabbit hole of bullshit on my phone, wasting several hours.

Now I get up and workout in the morning instead of the evening, and that “morning workout high” is carrying me through the day (this is likely a huge cause of the many benefits I’m experiencing too, re-adjusting my workout schedule).

The coolest benefit is feeling re-inspired to do business & work again.

I bought this expensive business course that is one of the best. When I first went through it, I went through the areas I felt most excited by, not in any order (despite the creator telling you that you MUST go through everything in order for it to make sense).

I went to wek 5’s content, then week 4, then 3, then 2, and then finally 1- but I rushed through week 1, thinking arrogantly that I didn’t need it.

Guess what? I got my ass kicked!

When I was in Bulgaria earlier this year I hustled my face off for a month straight, denying my mental health, social life, and dating life. And I walked away with nothing to show.

How is it that I could experience success sometimes with minimal work (10 hours per week) but then other times when I was pulling in a 10 hour day I had nothing to show for it?

It’s because I didn’t do the boring foundational work that’s necessary in business.

It goes back to “Distraction Addiction.” My brain was so used to constantly being stimulated by bullshit that it couldn’t bare to handle the boring, lame work of business that legitimately creates success.

I had to get knocked down a few times to return to a humble state, realizing just how little I know.

In short, my problem was I was selling things the market didn’t truly need. Yet I was spinning my wheels as if I need better ads, better Emails, better this and better that.

Nope, the fancy marketing tactics don’t work if the market doesn’t want the product.

With my brain fixing itself, I find myself capable of sitting through a boring 1 hour lecture about how to conduct market research. It actually is becoming interesting, perhaps also because I have tried the “succeed fast” way, so now I am humbled to do the real work required to succeed.

Since cutting out my distraction addiction, I’ve picked up a few healthy habits. Here are some of them:

  • Reflection- my brain is naturally reflecting on life, problems, pains, and joys. I am realizing that I don’t need to Google for advice, ask a million people, etc. I can just reflect on my pain and find a solution (that’s not to say it’ll always be that way, but for now it is).
  • Clear thought– my brain is thinking clearer. I can think about complex things and stay focused on a topic for longer
  • Affirmations- I’ve picked up affirmations again
  • Morning Workouts– they suck and are definitely easier in the evening after you’ve loosened up but it’s a great way to wake up and feel awesome
  • Self-Control– in general I feel I have a lot more self-control.
  • Social Acuity– I’m already pretty good at this but it’s getting better. I can handle the discomfort of new social interactions easier
  • Introversion- strangely I’m feeling more like an introvert and capable of being one since this. I don’t need people/girls to stimulate me.

These are no doubt just the surface-level benefits, and more are to come.

Another huge one is that my perception of time is changing. I used to feel like days went by so fast and there was “no time,” but now I feel like there is A TON of time.

For example, a few days ago I went on a date with a girl and we had “only 3 hours” together. But it felt like a long 3 hours (and it was a great date FYI).

I just feel more productive in general, perhaps because you can easily blow away 3 hours on social media/videos just like that, whereas 3 hours spent in the “real world” go by pretty slowly.

Gratitude

My memories feel clearer, too. Suddenly I am able to remember yesterday, the day before, the day before that day, etc. much easier.

With my brain not being constantly stimulated, it’s like it’s naturally sorting out everything in my life. I know I keep writing this and it might sound strange, but you should really give it a try.

I don’t feel like I’m in conscious control of my brain, and that’s OK & GOOD. It’s just a machine processing my life, I’m letting go, not stimulating it with bullshit, and because I’m doing both of those things it’s naturally doing its thing.

I am having moments of immense gratitude + love. Perhaps it’s because I’m 100% here to “experience the moment.”

A few days ago I drove up to the mountain just to enjoy the view, alone. My phone was off the entire way, and I hadn’t been stimulating before.

I felt like crying from joy at the wonderful view. It was magical. I thought to myself, “this is the purpose of life, to experience, to explore, to live in each moment as it is.”

Why hadn’t I felt that way before? Because before I was trying to SNATCH PHOTOS OF EVERY SINGLE FUCKING VIEW & ANGLE.

Isn’t that what we are all doing? We go to some temples or mountains or cool shit and PHOTO PHOTO PHOTO then leave!

Without the excess stimulation, the constant “BOOM BOOM BOOM” of social media bullshit or music or notifications or WHATEVER, I am in the NOW, and in being there feel immensely grateful to experience this life.

I am becoming more aware of… Everything. I’m driving the same roads I do every day, but this time I see new cafes, new restaurants, new secret alleys to explore…

I am remembering my past clearer. Where I came from. Who I am now. Who I am becoming.

I feel immensely grateful for all of the friends I’ve made & the experiences I’ve had all around the world.

Why had I forgotten just how amazing life is? The constant noise from the phone alone caused me to forget, caught up in all the distractions of the little roller coasters.

Yesterday evening I briefly saw a few pics on my IG feed as I was responding to some messages- I saw every smile fake, everything bullshit.

I’m not saying it’s all bad. It definitely has its utilities. But c’mon, I know some of y’all aren’t smiling like you do on your IG feed.

We are masters of the internet world, yet incapable of connecting in person.

I think that disconnecting from my phone is attracting people to me as well. Yesterday after my workout in the park, instead of leaving my headphones on or derping on the phone, I decided to walk around in reality, and smile at people.

A girl said “hello” to me, and we started chatting. I met her friend, and the three of us started walking together around the park.

We spontaneously decided to drive to a temple together, then go to a cafe after. I met more friends of their friends at the cafe.

Also at the temple I made another acquaintance. Because I wasn’t peering through the world via my phone, I made eye contact with someone and we started talking. We exchanged contacts and will get lunch sometime.

The simple decision to exist in reality is connecting me with several other humans, it’s crazy.

Yesterday I met at least 6 new people all because I decided not to peer into my phone. Instead, I woke up to reality, and peered into the eyes of others.

It wasn’t even me that said hello. I did nothing. I just looked and smiled and people came to me.

Yesterday was supposed to be a routine day, but ended up being an exciting adventure of making new friends, exploring temples, and enjoying laughs.

How many opportunities are you missing because you look into your phone instead of the eyes of other humans?

I’m noticing my decision affecting others as well. I mentioned a girl that was so addicted to her phone she couldn’t hardly communicate with me on our first date in my last post.

When she told me when she was free, I asked if she’d be going out with me, or her phone. I put my ultimatum down and she put her phone down, and she went from a “boring phone girl” to a sweet, cute girl I enjoyed being with because I would not accept her phone addiction.

Reflection

Ray Dalio created an epic 30 minute YouTube channel called “Principles for Success” (click the link to view).

My biggest take-away from it, and partly what inspired my anti-distraction-addiction goal now, is his emphasis on reflection in the process of success.

Being clear-minded and free of distractions, I feel my brain processing events, feelings, and thoughts naturally.

The boring 3 minutes I spent waiting for the elevator in my apartment building are no longer stimulated by roaring music + IG notifications. Without that stimulation my brain can, without conscious effort from me, process it.

That right there is why I write so passionately about this! I feel human again! And I am amazed at the fact that I have to try SO LITTLE to become clear about my thoughts & feelings.

There’s very little required of you, too. Just turn your phone off for a day and watch what happens.

Anyways, back to Ray Dalio: I realized that I was charging through life without reflection. I repeated over the past couple years many of my mistakes, and I also lost perspective.

I stopped feeling inspired & grateful to live my life because on IG I constantly saw hot girls + smiles + ultra-fit guys “better than me” (but not actually), and my brain couldn’t think clearly with background music roaring all the time via my headphones.

Now that I’ve given myself boredom time just to reflect, I’m becoming clearer and clearer day by day on my financial goals, travel goals, etc.

And like I keep writing over and over, it requires no conscious effort on my part.

Whereas before I was constantly trying to figure things out, now they are figuring themselves out because my subconscious mind is free to wander!

In Bulgaria earlier this year I remember talking with a friend so anxiously, trying to figure out “where should I live?”

Should it be in America? Bulgaria? Asia? Oh gosh, the anxiety, the complexity!

Now I’m chilled out, I know what I want & need, I don’t need any feedback. I’m not 100% certain yet, but I know the steps I need to take to become certain.

When you wake up to reality, you figure out how you want to live- really.

There have been some uncomfortable emotions. I have some writing this, now. A little emotional pain that I’ll have to go into.

That’s why distracting is so much easier. I could forget these emotions for a minute by opening YouTube. I’m not gonna lie, I have that impulse slightly.

But I choose not to. No more. STOP!

The discomfort needs to be embraced. Life feels long now. One day is… A REALLY long time.

Instead of the days flying by, I’m going “holy shit man 16 waking hours how am I gonna spend all this time???”

I’ll keep you all updated, but I highly encourage you to join me. Turn off your phone. Disable notifications. Be clear. No more music. No more TV, movies, videos, anything. Stare at the wall and discover your true life.

-Michael

Fresh Winds Among Chaos: Upgrading for 2020

Do you want to make 2020 the best year ever? It starts now, by preparing before we all get wasted for New Year’s and spend the first week of 2020 in a hungover daze.

A Fresh Wind Among Chaos

Yesterday I did something out of the ordinary and really incredible:

With my phone off, I went to a low-key cafe, drank coffee, and just sat there. It was quiet. It was boring. I felt restless.

I had my journal in front of me.

Suddenly, I started writing. A lot.

I went from “a bit confused about life” to “extremely clear on what exactly needs to be done, how I feel about things, and where I’m headed.”

It was awesome. You should try it.

I came to quite a few realizations…

But First… A Story

I’m beginning to feel more and more a distaste to our modern technologies.

Today I went on a date with a beautiful girl. She couldn’t keep off her phone for more than 10 minutes at a time.

Minus ten points!

Ugh, it’s really starting to become a problem. And when my hot date hops on her phone, it tempts me to do the same also.

Also, I don’t think I’m boring. I could be wrong. Not all people are meant to mix.

It just seems that you have to dance like a wild monkey more and more to keep people’s attention these days.

I’ll be the first to admit I have a phone problem, but at least I can refrain from whipping out my phone when the conversation hits a 1.7618 second silence!

Dating aside, phones specifically are starting to becoming an annoyance for me.

Turn off notifications, and opening apps becomes addictive because you never know if you’ll have a message or not.

Turn on notifications, and you will get distracted every time you get a new buzz.

There’s no winning this fucking game.

I don’t know about you, but my phone and technology in general has become a problem in my life.

Both in how it’s affected others, but also, how it has affected me…

Embracing the Eye of the Storm

Back to my realizations from earlier. I was in a cafe, phone off, just me, a quiet vibe, and a pen n’ paper.

Just an hour before my moment of clarity, I felt tired, sluggish, confused, anxious, and generally out of it.

I had multiple things I “needed to do,” but for weeks they just couldn’t seem to get done… Which is ridiculous, because even the most time-consuming (extending my visa) would take just 1-2 hours on a bad day (this is Thailand, the most efficient visa extension in the world).

Maybe it was partly due to the coffee… But I can attest now as I write at 23:24 / 11:24 PM having gone over 9 hours without coffee, it’s the non-phone thing.

You see, in that cafe free of my phone, my brain did something a bit strange.

The Self-Solving Puzzle

Hours before that moment in the cafe, I had multiple situations that needed solving.

For example one of the many puzzles I had to solve was whether I should travel to the islands down South, extend my stay in Chiang Mai, visit Bangkok again, or have a really awesome Bangkok girl come up to visit me.

Clouded by endless notifications, YouTube videos, and IG bullshit, my mind couldn’t think.

When I cut off the madness, powered myself with coffee, and just sat there, SOMETHING solved everything for me.

My unconscious brain (or something) beautifully solved every problem without a single conscious thought from me!

I still marvel at that moment- I just fucking SAT THERE with a PEN AND PAPER, primed my unconscious mind with “I need this solved,” and then magically the ideal solution came to mind!

With the solution clear, my next steps became obvious. I created a simple action plan for the rest of 2020 as to my travel situation.

I also became clear as to my emotions regarding Bulgaria, Thailand, USA, where to live, all that good stuff (more on that later, plus more goodies for you).

Peace as the Default?

I’ll list some of the other realizations I had in a moment. Something else magical happened.

This newfound clarity brought with it a sense of wonder & joy. Then looking at the cafe, I noticed the paintings, subtle design elements, and other nuances that went unnoticed due to the phone capturing my attention!

In Thailand there is a BTS station called “ASOK,” which translates to “without sadness,” roughly speaking.

By just sitting there, I felt “without sadness.” I wasn’t particularly happy, but at peace, I was.

Why do I so desperately feel the need to be entertained by YouTube?

For the first 5 minutes it is more painful to just sit there, but the next hour is filled with wonderful peace, a sense of wonder, and extreme mental clarity!

Removing the Gas Pedal

I am reminded of a lesson I learned on a spiritual blog I used to read when I was 14 or 15 or 16 or something.

The author at www.calmdownmind.com wrote on one article something along the lines of:

“The mind is like a moving car, and when you meditate, you are taking your foot off the gas pedal. The car does not instantly stop moving, for it has inertia. With time, this car will begin to slow, and then stop. You will have the inner peace you’ve always had.”

This really is what I can see happening within myself!

Sometimes I feel compelled to watch YouTube because the content is truly fascinating. For example, I LOVE “Ownage Pranks.” Every week he releases a hilarious new video!

But other times I watch out of boredom, or a craving, or I even start from a good place but then find my way down the rabbit hole. You know, when you start at 9PM, and next thing you know it’s 2AM.

I’m finding more and more that for my own mental health it is often better just to sit and do nothing.

At first I may have some uncomfortable/derpy thoughts that I don’t like being with.

More often I may have some uncomfortable emotions. For example, I may have just been around someone I do not like.

What I’ve learned is when you just sit there in awareness, and feel, let go, relax, you often end up letting go of whatever it is that bothers you.

The first few minutes (or dozen minutes) suck… Don’t get me wrong. It feels much better short-term to pop over to YouTube.

Long term? Sitting there, literally doing nothing feels so much better!

The Solutions Come From Within

It seems that most of the answers I need come from within. There is no research that needs to be done, second opinions required, or data needed.

I just need to reflect- and perhaps so do you- and let the unconscious mind sort itself out.

This spiritual talk is rather practical. It’s simple: when you stop feeding your brain with new bullshit, it can sort out everything it has already taken in!

Some Of My Realizations

As promised, I’d like to share a few of the realizations that I had, as an example of what’s possible.

First, I figured out what my travel plans should be for the rest of 2020. I will remain in Chiang Mai until Dec 15, spend a couple days in Bangkok, then return to Phoenix.

In Phoenix I will decide what to do next, after first spending a little time with family + friends.

Currently it looks like I will either acquire a visa for Bulgaria, or live half my time in Thailand and half my time in Bulgaria for 2020.

Second, I realized how I truly feel about various things/places/etc.

For Bulgaria, I love the city of Sofia and how it’s laid out. I hate the customer service and general selection of products (not so good for business, shopping, cafes, etc.).

But what’s best about Bulgaria are my friends there. It’s easy to stay connected with them also because of the way Sofia is designed. The parks are incredible too.

Third, I’ve become a lot more aware of my financial situation and just how far behind I would’ve liked to be by now.

There were other, secret realizations. The most important thing you should take-away is that the experience made me feel CLEAR!

MANY answers came to me! I did not need to search online for the answers, ask friends or random people, or DO anything but SIT in a QUIET PLACE with NO DISTRACTIONS.

By feeling more clear now on what I want, I feel that I need to better optimize my time. I want to make sure I live every minute authentically chasing my goals or living fully, not derping around on YouTube…

And the Biggest… My Addiction: YouTube

The biggest realization is that I have a severe functional addiction: the phone/technology/YouTube.

I listed a few different things because it has shape-shifted over the years.

Sometimes I was indulging in video games. For example, in mid-2018 I once played Fortnite for like… 12 hours straight. Ugh, imagine if I had WORKED 12 hours straight- that’d probably be one new client!

Other times it was Reddit. Reddit is particularly toxic, with a high potential for drama. There are a few golden nuggets, but you need thick skin… And it’s a rabbit hole even if you never post.

Sometimes it’s even just going down an internet rabbit hole. 5 hours went by, I’ve researched a lot, but I have nothing to show for it…

MOST of the time, it was YouTube. It’s always been YouTube to an extent.

For nearly a decade since YouTube’s birth I can recite my fascination and enjoyment of YouTube.

When I was in Middle School (age 11-14), I recall watching YouTube on my iPod 4 (remember that?).

I distinctly remember my first favorite YouTube channel “MinnesotaBurns.” He would play Call of Duty and “troll” people. It inspired me to do the same, and cause a lot of havoc on Xbox + PC games.

Over the years I watched all types of content: informational, pranks, funny, sad, motivating, SO many different things.

At certain periods of my life, it was net-positive. In fact, I believe that of all the social media networks, YouTube has HIGH potential for positivity due to its educational + uplifting nature.

At age 14 I became inspired to become more socially confident + get girls, setting me on a path that would inevitably lead me towards self-development, and then business, creating my current “digital nomad” life!

Sometimes I watched YouTube to cope, like when I was sad, needed a friend, or even just needed some inspiration.

Anyways, let’s cut the story. You probably have a similar one.

Somehow over the years I began to watch more and more, sometimes addictively, sometimes not so additively.

It wasn’t a problem when I was 16 to indulge until midnight in hilarious videos. Or to watch YouTube while eating a meal.

Now, it is. Something has changed either in the platform, or how I use the platform.

The Dangers of the Internet (Particularly YouTube)

Please note that I’m not personally attacking YouTube. I love it. It’s still incredibly useful!

What I’m writing applies to the internet in general- Twitter, IG, Facebook, Blogs (like mine, too), YouTube, etc.!

Somehow over the years it became harmful. I watched a little too much. I began to crave it, like an addict.

And I have time. We all have time. So I gave in. I still worked, achieved my goals, whatever.

But instead of watching it because it was truly the best thing to do at the time, I began to watch it to “pass the time” out of boredom. I wanted to “get to the future.” Or the pull was just too intense!

Now it’s not all bad. For example, it sure is nice when waiting in airport queues to watch a nice, funny video to lighten things up.

However it’s also just as easy to open up YouTube when you’re eating a nice, delicious meal.

Just last week I was eating some incredible Italian food (the diversity here in Thailand is amazing!) yet I felt myself compelled to watch YouTube while eating.

I believe that is a key marker of an addict… Right?

At the very least, WHY?!? The flavors of the meal were wonderful!

Why did I need to also watch a YouTube video? You can only focus on one thing, the video or the food. So as I watched another video, my meal disappeared and all that remained was the good after-taste of it all.

In watching YouTube during my meal, I robbed myself of the great experience of enjoying that meal!

And fucking everyone is doing this now! For you it’s Facebook, for her it’s Instagram, for him it’s Twitter- but it’s fucking SOMETHING.

Walk into a restaurant and tell me what you see these days. It’s awful. It’s becoming a massive problem. We’re forgetting how to… Human.

Date Resistance

And I can see in myself too these negative effects spreading EVERYWHERE.

I am dating a great girl here in Chiang Mai. But when I first met her, I prematurely judged her.

The first 30 minutes of our first date were not particularly exciting. Like all first dates, it was slightly awkward, we struggled to find a good conversation topic + flow, etc.

A part of me was thinking “maybe I should just leave after drinking my coffee.”

Thank goodness I didn’t! After an hour we found our connection, went to the waterfall, ate delicious Thai food, and then enjoyed some exciting times together.

This is a dangerous time, instant gratification from YouTube for me and perhaps something else for you makes it tempting to “dip out” of awkward encounters with new people because it’s more pleasing short-term to derp-out to that little screen of yours!

The girl I went on a date with today lost a bit of my respect with her obsessive phone usage.

Emotional Turmoil

One time I went to eat at a restaurant- a delicious fruit bowl. I felt so compelled to whip out my phone while waiting for my meal, but I decided against it.

I realized I felt emotionally bad. Why?

I was previously hanging out with someone I did not like! It was draining.

So I sat there with my feelings, and soon they dissolved. Then I felt better, and could eat my fruit bowl with full attention.

My mind now is so tempted to whip out YouTube every time I feel bad, or am bored, or whatever… But this just builds up the pain as it never gets processed.

An Unclear Mind + The Last Unknown

And as I have written so much about already, my mind doesn’t feel clear.

That simple exercise of just fucking SITTING and DOING NOTHING allowed my uncoscious mind to lay out a VERY clear path up to 2020, as well as an “if-then” system for deciding my 2020 plans!

There is one last unknown- what I’d like to do for my work. Should I keep doing what I’m doing, develop an online course, switch niches, etc.?

I don’t know yet. But I know how to find the answer now.

The Ticking Clock

Worst of all, the clock is ticking. Tick tock, the clock.

How much time have I wasted in 2019 alone to bullshit internet stuff? Is it really okay to indulge “even just a little?”

Sure, maybe a little is okay. I dated this girl earlier this year and we played Minecraft together one time for a while.

That was a ton of fun. It was an exciting experience to combine a pretty girl with one of my favorite childhood games.

I guess what’s most important is defining what kind of life I really want to have- and I ask you too, what kind of life do you want to live?

I do concede that playing video games with some real life friends (ie. laptop meeting at a friend’s place) can be a lot of fun. It’s a shared experience with friends.

But doing it alone? Not fun. It’s just a distraction from doing the necessary yet hard or boring tasks needed to live a great life.

Meeting new friends is awkward and annoying. It’s a lot easier to whip out that phone or play that online game short-term.

But the growing pains of such a task is necessary, otherwise you will be faced with greater long-term pain.

Ultimately what scares me is just how much time, and thus progress, I have lost in 2019 already.

Already the idea of quitting YouTube even for a month (and limiting other network usage) is terrifying. That feeling is the end of the delusion of it not being that much of a problem.

The fact is I have NOT made the business progress I intended to make earlier this year.

The biggest business thing I learned this year was that, as quoted by Sam Ovens:

“People don’t have business problems. People have personal problems that show up in their business.”

I’m filling my mind with derpy YouTube bullshit. Even the self-help stuff I listen to nowadays is highly unnecessary! I don’t need anymore “information.” I need to chill and take some proper action.

As above, so below. With a derpy mind comes derpy work. It needs to end.

Even if this is not true, the fact is that dedicating 50% of my YouTube/video game time this year alone would drastically change my business & financial life.

The clock is ticking. I do not want to live my life on YouTube, and the negative effects are extending farther out than just the time I waste on YouTube.

A New Path Forward

The phone has got to go. Yet I can’t. It’s too valuable to throw away, it’s necessary in our modern times.

The mind needs to be upgraded. I need to upgrade for 2020, as I would encourage you to do as well.

I could write for so much more about the dangers of the internet, distraction-addiction, YouTube, video games, whatever.

At this point, the message should be more than clear: it’s a huge waste of time, and boredom has its merits.

I want 2020 to be the best year ever, and I know that starts with taking back control over my mind.

As demonstrated to me in my no-phone chilling at a cafe with a pen n’ paper, a whole lot is possible of the mind I never knew to be possible.

The conscious ego need not do anything. Just relax, chill out, and wait for the solutions to be solved from your unconscious mind. Then act.

I am resolving now to vastly reduce my internet derp time, and instead replace it with productive action, meditation, or just chilling out.

Many of my goals are not where they need to be, and I can see now it’s not that I didn’t work hard enough- it’s that my energy, time, and attention were being crippled by the wrong things.

“Sam Ovens” also has another amazing business quote:

“It’s not about playing to your strengths, but about fixing your weaknesses.”

I can clearly see this to be true. My great mind (as is yours) is useless if polluted by internet nonsense.

Most of all, your time here is limited. Even as I secretly hope for “Immortality” I know that it is unlikely, and thus every moment must be optimized for success or fulfillment.

This means actively making new friends, nurturing current friends, meeting dating partners or actively dating, working out, eating right, working on the business / income, OR if not moving towards a goal, actively enjoying life by exploring, hanging out, napping, ANYTHING that is TRULY fulfilling.

This is the beginning of my new path: a life free of the hooks of the internet.

I’d like to free up my time from the internet (excluding work-stuff or legitimate research), and live REAL LIFE!

No more derping for endless hours on YouTube, mindlessly scrolling on IG, or ending up on some silly internet rabbit hole.

Time is too precious to waste. There’s a whole lot to create.

What do you think about all this?

Let me know. (:

Thanks,

-Michael Keller

Should You Follow Your Passion?

Should you follow your passion, or turn the other way?

I’ve been thinking about different business things that I could do, and this topic has been bothering me for a while now.

Right now “follow your passion” is all the hype, but I don’t know if that’s right. It could be… I’m just thinking aloud here.

For example Steve Jobs gave that famous speech of “keep searching for your passion” BUT…

He was never passionate about tech stuff. He flaked on his first few projects. If he were to “follow his passion,” he would be probably a zen teacher or something like that.

He took an opportunity to get rich and then later became passionate when it succeeded.

To be honest, the same might’ve happened to me…

I realized if I found internet work, I could live anywhere in the world (writing this from my favorite cafe in the world in Chiang Mai, Thailand).

At first it drove me mad. I wasted SO much $, got SO angry.

But now I enjoy it… But no one would’ve thought that marketing would be “my thing.”

Was the passion behind my work always there, or was the passion cultivated through hard work, persistence, and eventual success?

Another thought I’ve been having is that your passion is MUCH different than WORKING in your passion.

Example: I love to run + workout intensely. I recently 5k in 19 minutes & 38 seconds.

BUT being a personal trainer is MUCH different than doing the running. It requires an entirely different skill-set!

Furthermore, I think that maybe these gurus are confusing “passion” with “purpose.”

When you give up making money and put the client first, their results become your PURPOSE.

Wouldn’t that make you passionate?

I’m not decided on this topic yet, and it’s certainly nuanced. It could indeed be good advice, and we are going through a worldwide cultural shift.

Maybe it’s true. Maybe I need to find a deeper passion, or pick a business niche I’m even more passionate about helping (but the help word implies purpose, thus creating passion).

I’m also wondering what might happen if I completely turn my head the other way and seek out the most boring, mundane business niche ever.

Example: all digital marketers are like “omg I want to help gyms and realtors.”

What if I seek out something really lame? Like plumbers, electricians, toilet cleaners?

There is no hype there, and very little competition. There are much larger market opportunities (in theory) here.

Like I said I’m not entirely decided on the topic, I’m taking some time to reflect where I’d like to take my career moving forward…

The whole “follow your passion” advice does have some merit though.

Example: when times get tough, if you’re following your passion, you’ll have the persistence to break through and get results!

Another thing for following your passion is that it’s better to live a happy, full life than a rich one. Better to make $1.5k per month and be happy doing what you love than $5k but be miserable.

However even for that there’s a cutoff- what about medical bills, taking care of your family, etc.? At what point does financial loss for a passion lose merit?

It’s just a nuanced subject, and I’m trying to find my way through the noise.

What do you think?

Life Rambles + Travel Plans (Nov 2019)

What’s up? Nov 2019 has been a packed month for me, primarily because of my visa for Bulgaria expiring, and me choosing to go to Thailand.

Here’s what’s been good, as well as some stuff I’ve learned along the way:

Note: I am shifting around the order in which this article was written, moving sections around so the flow might not be as natural! Reason being I feel certain things are more important, others a bit rambly.

Travel Plans

On Dec 18th I will arrive in Phoenix, Arizona to celebrate Christmas + New Years with family + PHX friends. If you’re in the area, let’s meet up!

Not sure what to do from there… With me learning Thai, I’m enjoying Thailand 50x more than last year when I first came here.

Also, I’m dating a really cool girl.. So I feel compelled to return to Thailand quickly after the holidays are over, in early January.

My heart still misses Bulgaria, well mainly my deep friends. Let’s be real, a lot of the aspects of Bulgaria are… Less than appealing to say the least.

However I have deep friends there, and our mentality is kind of “fuck the fucked up stuff, we’re awesome let’s have fun.” And those deep connections are SO fulfilling!

Sofia (the city) is extremely walkable, tons of nature, etc. so it’s great for living when combined with my awesome friends there.

It’s looking more and more like I WON’T be even TRYING to live in the USA, as I had written previously about.

I’m really just happy to be going to see my family + a couple close friends I have in Phoenix.

Plus USA is great for things like buying tech (Bulgaria + Thailand more expensive due to import tax or something), books, etc.

I know in my heart that I’ll know what to do next after I arrive in Phoenix. Will I stay and create a life there? Or swing over to L.A. and get a visa for Bulgaria? Or return to Thailand and live there? Or half Thailand, half Bulgaria for 2020?

I don’t know now, and that’s okay- my heart will know what to do when I get back in PHX, so I’m looking forward to it, but also sad that my time here in Thailand is again short-lived it feels.

Revisiting Original Intentions…

Why did I set out to live abroad, travel, and do the whole “digital nomad” thing?

As ridiculous as it may sound, even “world travelers” can get caught in a routine. Especially because being a “world traveler” makes me attract other such people, thus losing perspective of how wonderful this life can be.

Since returning to Thailand, and even a bit before, I’ve been feeling a bit burnt out on work.

Instead of just taking some time off to reflect and figure out what to do, I kept working, except in a non-focused way.

Something I’ve remembered recently is you must be “all in or all out.” Focus or not. Work and be productive, or don’t work at all- then celebrate and enjoy life!

So today, instead of derping on my typical routine, I broke it by driving to a temple far out in an area I’ve never been before.

It was beautiful. Being as it was farther out, there were almost no tourists. I got to kneel in front of the Buddhist Shrines without anyone else there but me. I felt a deep, powerful energy in bowing before it.

Walking around, I actually felt nervous. It was a nervous excitement. True travel is uncomfortable.

I decided to go to a new, random cafe after, even further out from my typical areas.

The coffee was incredible- a unique taste I never would have imagined. The beans were sourced from West Thailand. Thai coffee is amazing (probably the best), but no one realizes how amazing it is because many (if not all?) of the producers only sell locally.

I then decided to take the day off of work. I ate, met a very cute/awesome girl I’ve been seeing, and we spent the majority of the rest of the day being lazy.

Now I am doing some derp-work at a cafe at 22H / 10PM, but will get a massage very soon.

It’s been a really, really good day, and quite necessary.

Also, last weekend I visited Bangkok on a somewhat spontaneous adventure trip.

Forgetting… Then Remembering

I guess the monotony of the 9-5 can be had in this life too. In fact, it is equally as likely, because with no boss I can choose to work myself to death (which is all too easy an option).

When I’m stressed, I tend to become a workaholic (see: returning to Bulgaria 4 months ago).

But, I don’t need to work that hard. I need to be productive, not work hard. The two things are different. And too often, I’m working hard, not being productive.

I’ve been really derpy recently. Not really making progress or being productive. I’ve probably been derpy for months, if not years.

At least in the beginning I was hardly working but being productive, but now I’ve worked a lot more without the productivity. I have produced some things (ie. my website www.marketingtheuniverse.com), but it has been of little utility to me in the grand scheme of things.

I’m asking myself now “am I being productive, or busy?”

I’m also unplugging from my phone, avoiding social media, and preferring deeper social contact.

Everything is so fucking distracting. Everyone’s got something to sell but few can back up their claims!

I want to be a producer, but also live a great life.

The key thing is: a great life. And the ridiculous routines I’ve trapped myself in is NOT great.

I still haven’t visited the elephants after 4 months in Thailand for example. I have the time, I’m just not prioritizing everything perfectly.

Quality, Quality!!!

I’m making sure that things are more quality in every manner.

For example, some of the former acquaintances I had here were dramatic or not near as deep as I would’ve liked.

I made a new friend recently, and we enjoyed a deep conversation and late night walk last night.

Oh, that late night walk was amazing. We walked down roads and discovered things we never knew existed in Chiang Mai.

I think part of the reason my work got so derpy was that I stopped living life to the fullest.

Remnants of a Lost Love

Actually, I think a part of my stagnation is still break up residue. I did a meditation provided by a friend which helped me heal a ton, and I moved on a lot, but I still am regaining my assertiveness.

That break up was awful, spanning across several months. I was too dependent on her, and probably vice versa. It wasn’t a healthy relationship, but like a heroin addict, the heart can’t help but crave.

I’m a much better person than before the break up, but there are parts of myself I’d still like to update.

For example, I feel that a lot of my time is not being properly optimized. I feel that part of my work boredom is that I’m not living a great life, thus I have nothing to work for.

From the outside I’m living a great life, but there are many vices I have, the biggest being phone-related (YouTube, social media).

Instead of doing what I did today- going out to see Buddhist Shrines & temples far away from the tourist zones and making myself feel truly excited, I’ve spent months and months on repeat, doing for the most part the same thing.

I can feel again in my heart a bit of pain about my ex. Just a little craving my heart has.

I intend to meditate on it, see what it has to tell me. Because I’m glad I’m moving on, and I have- just a few last parts of me need reconnecting with.

Gratitude

I feel grateful for life, and am actively practicing more gratitude.

I’m remembering that life is a choice to be happy. Now. You can’t always control circumstances, but you can control your attitude to an extent!

So enjoy the dance, because it’s all you’ve got until it’s over.

I’m rambling a bit on these first few sections, but the short version is this:

  • I don’t feel I’m living life fully enough
  • I’m feeling stagnate in work, and finally decided to cut back on my work instead of derp-working
  • By doing exciting things + making deeper social connections (which I miss from Bulgaria) I’m feeling better
  • I have some ideas to regain passion in work, or at least get things improving again, but for now I’m accepting the much-needed break and not forcing myself to do anything.
  • By not forcing myself to work, I feel more productive. When I do work, I fucking work, and then DONE. Also, my mind is coming up with important ideas related to my work that I need to do.

Anyways, that’s all. I wrote these last few sections first but moved it to the last as I felt it was rambly. Most people don’t read all of this, so I wanted to make sure my upcoming travel plans were seen first, then other more relevant stuff!

What’s up with you? What do you think of all this?

Thanks,

-Michael

Passion & Appreciation: Life in Chiang Mai, 3.0

Now it’s been almost 2 weeks since arriving back in Thailand, and my mind is finally starting to catch up!

The jet lag has passed, I’m flowing in a productive routine, enjoying parties, reconnecting with good friends, and making new friends.

Contrary to my last post “Trouble in Paradise: Chiang Mai Feels,” this one is more positive.

Even as I wrote the last one I knew that there was only that sadness & pain because I was adjusting. Jet lag, missing friends, etc. will do that to you.

Unlike a vacation where you know you’ll be back soon, I know I’ll be gone from Bulgaria for at least 3 months- such a long time! Yet, at the same time, not quite long.

The 3 months in Bulgaria passed by like a strange trip, still my mind is comprehending it. I made super truly wonderful friends and miss you all!

Back in Chiang Mai, I’m adjusted to the new vibe. I’m getting better at this- adjusting to new places. Well, it could also be that I lived here for 4 months before, so now I’m capable of adjusting faster…

One way or another, I feel like I’ve grown a ton. Here’s what’s up in Chiang Mai with me (stay tuned for some epic content at the end).

Achieving Dreams

Just yesterday, with a new group of Thai friends I worked out with, I ran a 5k and achieved my all-time goal of many years!

I ran 5 kilometers at my target goal of <20 minutes, clocking in officially at 19m 38s- significantly faster than anticipated.

I made sure to reward myself with an epic steak + meat/cheese platter. I hesitated at the price, but after so many years of hard work and dedicated to being an athlete, I think it was well deserved!

Achieving this is inspiring me to realize that anything is possible. I could create wealth, get great at whatever I want, etc.

Dreams do come true- if you hustle hard at ‘em.

Today I am physically exhausted and so sore. In addition to that 5k, I ran somewhere between 6k-8k additionally with the group at a difficult pace. It was an intense day!

In addition to that, I also did something like 7k-ish the day before. So much running!

Connection & Belonging

The biggest pain that coming back to Chiang Mai had for me was the feeling of not being so socially connected as I was in Bulgaria, where the vast majority of my friends (and deep friends) are.

Many connections I had here were connections I had just because I didn’t have anyone else- I decided instead this time to focus on meeting new people I connect better with, which quickly happened.

Just today, after an exhausting 3 hour work session, I drove to go find some food. My friend pulled her car over and waved me down, and we drove together to get some food.

Chiang Mai in many ways feels like the “Sofia of Asia.” It’s small, you bump into others often too!

Yesterday I had another situation like that. 2 days ago I made a new friend. Then yesterday I went to the gas station to fill up my motorbike. The guy in front of me was that new friend, so we spontaneously got breakfast together.

The seeds I planted 3-4 months ago are growing, as those friends have introduced me to new friends. My social life is now taking off exponentially, and I’m connecting people I really enjoy, including locals that I can practice my favorite sport with!

More on this later…

Loosening Up

Is it the Chiang Mai vibe or my own development? I think a little bit of both. I’m feeling an increased maturity in me, especially ever since I went back to Bulgaria and finally healed from the remaining pain regarding my ex.

I feel much more in tune with my emotions, thoughts, feelings, desires, etc. Achieving such difficult goals like running 5k in <20 minutes also has created a sense of being indestructible.

I feel like is simple. If you want something, just go for it… Who gives a fuck?

Just go travel. Just go start a business. Just go workout. Just ask her out. Whatever you want, just do it!

People will judge, whatever. Let them do that. Life is too short to pander to the weak assholes.

Vacations & Fun

In loosening up, achieving clarity, and simplifying life, I have realized that I haven’t had a vacation in… Years. Like, 4 years or something like that. Maybe 5. I don’t know.

I’m thinking of taking off roughly a week in early December to fly down South to Thailand’s islands for some fun exploration.

There’s a really cool girl I’ve seen the last 3 (or 4?) times I’ve been in Bangkok, and I’d enjoy to go with her. We may go together, which would be epic.

Flights are super cheap so this weekend I might fly down to Bangkok to be with her and another friend that is flying back to Bangkok.

I felt SUPER amazing my first few days in Thailand, and that’s because I was in Bangkok with both of them. I connect well with my guy friend and her, so minus well enjoy that.

Tomorrow I might also take a little time off of work (and make it up the next day) to go to a waterpark with some friends. Thailand is quite affordable, so minus well enjoy life!

It took me nearly 2 weeks, but I finally got myself a massage a couple days ago also- which was so amazing and much needed.

Why Do I Push Myself Too Hard?

For years I often got down on myself for not waking up early enough- like, I think this has been my life habit since I was 14 or even younger!

I’ve wanted to “do it all.” Wake up early. But also party late. All that stuff.

Early mornings are great, but can leave me feeling lonely as many of the fun, exciting parties are happening at night- preventing you from getting up early (without depriving yourself of sleep).

Recently I’ve started asking myself- “why?”

I did this in Sofia and wrote about it. I had decided to leave a party and go home. But I had nothing planned the next day… AT ALL (Saturday night -> Sunday).

Why was I going home? It’s because of some old pattern that doesn’t serve me anymore!

So that night I partied, had a blast, and slept in late. Then got back to productivity mode the next week and all was okay.

I’m keeping life simple now… Maybe it’s just that my past year of consistent meditation is paying off?

I’ve meditated almost every day for over a year now.

I see that there are so many patterns within me anymore. Like an unconscious animal following its impulses, I feel driven to do things that no longer serve me.

I see this in everyone, not just myself. Through meditating, and thanks to a meditation a great friend in Bulgaria taught me, I’ve been able to rapidly release many of these patterns!

In releasing them I feel… Clear. I feel simple. Just do this, just do that. Whatever.

Last night was Monday, but I went out and partied anyways. I met some cute girls and they wanted me to dance with them, so we went to a Thai club for some dancing.

Had I given into my old patterns, I would’ve gone home… Instead I went into yet another “secret” Thai club that foreigners don’t know.

The Thais danced like crazy. The party picked up to something crazy that Bulgaria might struggle to compete with…

Looking around, I became nervous realizing I was the only white guy… The only foreigner.

The thai band sang at the girls (we were in the front of the venue), I wish I could understand and sing along to everyone singing.

However the Thais are kind and welcoming, especially to foreigners that are not “basic,” going to the same clubs everyone else goes to.

As I walked around the club the locals welcomed me, we danced together, did many cheers, and had a blast.

Foreigner Bubble

Overall I’m enjoying Thailand so much more than the previous times because I’m getting more and more outside of the foreigner bubble.

I’ve written about this before… Many of the foreigners here never really truly experience Chiang Mai! It’s almost annoying. It is actually a little bit.

People travel all the way around the world just to go to the same Western clubs they’d have back at home, in areas that are more white than Asian. It’s weird.

In the Thai clubs I go to you’ll find much cheaper alcohol, locals dancing like you’ve never seen before, some of the most beautiful girls, and some of the friendliest guys.

The only “downside” to these places is that, as a foreigner, you feel it. It’s terrifying, yet exhilarating at the same time.

Unlike in Bulgaria where I blend in with my skin, I stand out a ton. Does everyone give me a second glance because I’m attractive? Because I’m the only white guy? Or am I in my head?

Visiting these clubs gives me an idea of what it must be like to be a minority in America or Europe- you never realize how those people feel until you are the minority!

It’s a wonderful experience though. Unlike some places in the world, the Thais are welcoming to foreigners, so no one is giving me a cold shoulder.

Still, it’s a slightly nerve-racking experience. Walking around a club where it seems everyone belongs but you… Where you truly are experiencing something new and fascinating few will ever see in this world.. It’s exactly the kind of experience that I wanted when I left the USA…

Learning Thai

And in making Thai friends, connecting to the locals, and visiting local places I feel much more motivated to learn Thai, and I’ve learned a ton in this past week!

There’s a huge motivation to learn Thai, maybe even more-so than Bulgarian because in these places the locals often do not have good (if at all) English.

I’m asking often to be taught new words, new phrases, and each day learning a bit more! They are happy to teach it, and I’ve observed that now that I speak significantly more Thai, the locals are even more open & welcoming because they see I am not one of many transient foreigners.

2020 Plans?

This experience is making me even more excited to stay in Thailand. I will almost certainly be in the USA in late December for Christmas/New Years with family, but after… Then what?

I don’t know.

Less and less of me wants to live in the USA. Yet, at the same time, I feel interested to try it out.

I wrote so much about living there, and now it seems that in 2020 I might just spend most of my time in Thailand and in Bulgaria.

When I go back to America I’ll have to take an objective view of what I’d like to do.

Right now the main idea is to live half Bulgaria half Thailand. I will get a local place in Bulgaria, stay for 3 months, leave for 3 months to Thailand, then return for 3 months.

If I want I can extend my Bulgarian visa, or continue half/half, OR try something new. But for now, I like this life.

My Heart’s Desire?

I’ve been working a lot on my business, however a business coach suggested I try something else…

She suggested that I should consider being a “dating coach,” or do something in the dating/social life niche.

I came a long way from the 14 year old nobody that I was terrified to meet people, to know someone living abroad, traveling the world, dating, able to approach girls, etc.

She said that it was obvious in the way our conversations flowed that I was into that much more than what I was currently doing.

Earlier this year I was working on developing an ad system that guaranteed a client results, and then the goal would be to get several clients within that niche (by running my own ads) and build a ton of wealth for myself.

I felt passionate about it, but in our conversation alone, I have to confess that I would be much more passionate about something in dating…

For example, one product idea I had was “how to get a girlfriend in 90 days or less.” This is something I have proven capable of doing consistently in my travels.

As I’m also still interested in growing in this area, it would also allow me to improve more in the subject and develop better relationships + social life myself in the pursuit of helping others.

Many dating programs I had purchased were incomplete. They would just teach only mindset, or only action, and often it was random information, a lot of it common sense.

If I were to make a program, it would be comprehensive, and guarantee a girlfriend/boyfriend within 90 days or less.

If I didn’t do the dating niche, I’d do something with social life as I’ve multiple social circles around the globe that I love.

My mind isn’t entirely sure about this yet. Thoughts I’m having include:

  • What if I’m just distracting myself yet again, not committing to what I know I need to do to be successful? For example, maybe I just have to follow through a bit more what I’m currently doing
  • Am I truly qualified to this? On one hand I know I could get most guys a result, but still I know I’m not the best at this, I’ve a lot of growing to do myself.
  • Fears about judgement from friends/family

I’ll have to do some reflection, also a motivation for the vacation – to disconnect from all work, all routines, all social media/internet stuff and connect inward.

With whatever I do, I want to provide massive value to people. This might be my way to do it.

People DO tell me I’m good at building social groups… And I must confess I do enjoy doing it, and also meeting girls.

On the other hand I AM also passionate about fitness, so the idea to focus on the fitness niche and provide marketing solutions to fitness businesses is still there too.

I guess time will show my path…

Thanks,

-Michael