Revisiting Ground Zero

One of the focuses in my life recently has been growing business-wise & financially, however I have struggled on this front.

That’s strange considering I’ve grown so much in the past 2 years. Why should I struggle to grow my income now, than when I was first starting out?

I think one part of that is that I stagnated in this area of growth. It’s a lot easier to keep growing after achieving a goal than it is to stagnate for a couple years before getting back into gear.

The other part which I’ll be discussing in this post is that I’ve lost touch with some fundamental habits I had which helped me become successful in the first place.

Some of these habits were completely unintentional, a result of my situation. They still played an effect.

I have been asking myself what I was doing then which helped me stay so productive, and what am I doing now that differs from what I did then.

Here’s what I’ve learned. You may find a few good nuggets for becoming more productive in your own ventures.

Combining New & Old

All that being said, I have still grown a ton in the past couple of years in other areas of my life.

The point of this objective isn’t to do only what I was doing then but combine what I’ve learned now about productivity with what I was doing then.

For example, back then I wasn’t eating super healthy (no sugar) and I wasn’t working out almost every single day. These 2 things have vastly helped my productivity & focus. Combining them with what I had in the past should yield the best results.

Now that’s clarified, what was I doing/having then which I don’t do/have now?

Standing Desk

When I first started working on my online business, due to health complications, I could never leave the home. I was always working at home.

In order to keep my posture perfect, I converted my clothes dresser into a standing desk. Shelves were pulled out & books used as a stand to place an external keyboard. Books also elevated my laptop screen to an appropriate level.

Most of the time while I was working I was standing because my back, neck, and arms were already in so much pain. I was also able to walk & move around while working, which keeps the brain focused & active.

It’s hard to stay productive while sitting for long periods of time. Humans aren’t designed that way. Movement signals to the brain something important is happening and to pay attention.

One thing I’d like to get in the future is a standing desk, or even a normal desk. I’ve been working too much in coffee shops without an external keyboard which also has affected my ergonomics.

I’m not worried about health now, but I’m sure there’s some type of a negative focus effect being had by improper ergonomics.

Home Office

Also because I couldn’t leave home my standing desk became my “home office.”

Now I always try avoid doing work at home. “Don’t shit where you eat” is what they say, or rather don’t work where you sleep here. The reason for that is so your brain associates the office area with work, and the bed & bedroom with sleep/relaxation.

Of course I didn’t have that distinction back then, which was a downside to enjoying life, but it made me insanely productive whenever I was in my room. Rather than working in my bedroom, it was more like I was sleeping in my office.

These days I almost always work in coffee shops. I’ve visited a couple of co-working spaces also, but not enough to make it worth mentioning.

For some types of work, coffee shops aren’t that bad. Some coffee shops are also designed for laptop workers (there’s many of them in Thailand).

In those coffee shops you can be productive, but not for long. You lack the freedom of movement that a home office provides, and also the absolute focus that a home office provides.

I’ve still entered “flow states” in coffee shops, but now that I think about it almost every day of working in my “home office” was a flow state.

I hate doing work in my bedroom these days (why?), but I can’t deny that I’m much more focused there. For example, when I read, it’s super easily to “become one with the book” at home than in a coffee shop.

One of the reasons coffee shop work became the norm is because in my first travel destination, Montreal, my AirBNB lacked stable & fast WiFi. I found myself regularly visiting a superb coffee shop to do my video uploading and other work which needed a better internet connection.

While living in Sofia, Bulgaria I did almost all work at home but slowly transitioned into doing it exclusively at coffee shops. Because I wasn’t doing too high-level work then, it actually made me more productive being away from the home and having a “focus zone.”

The solution to this problem in my future is to purchase a 2-bed or 3-bed apartment and turn one of the “bedrooms” into a home office. I’ve also heard of apartments that come with an office area… I would love that.

The idea here is to still separate your lounging in the living room with friends, sleeping/sex in the bedroom, and work in the office, while also having the benefits of being at home (absolute focus, stable WiFi, etc.).

I’d still do occasional work out and about, but it is important for me to have a stable working environment.

Despite my then-vices of not working out, having health problems, and eating shit food, the isolated environment of a “home office” with a standing desk is no doubt a huge factor of my success, and also a reason I stopped growing when I lost the home office.

White Board & Sticky Board

I haven’t had a white board or sticky board since leaving Phoenix that first time, and I think it was a huge factor of my success actually.

My goals were written clearly on the white board, along with the daily goals. I could easily glance over to the white board from the “desk” to review my long-term goals and daily goals.

The sticky board had important notes & information pinned on it. For example maybe I had just completed a Facebook Ads course and wanted to run some Facebook Ads. The sticky board would have hand-written notes pinned for me to easily take & review.

Again this helped me stay focused. It’s all about environment. My environment was setup for my success.

Another thing I’ll add under this section is that I had folders & hand-written notes in the “home office.” These were easily accessible which made learning & implementation of what I learned easier.

Goal-Setting, Affirmations

On the white board I had clear goals written along with a clear path to achieve the goals. Without goals you can’t have a direction in life, instead you’re aimlessly wandering the world.

I also had my goals hand-written & easily accessible. Every night & morning I would read my goals and visualize them happening. I’d also do it while working.

Both of these things I haven’t been doing so well, and it no doubt kept me focused on the end result of what I was working towards.

Slow & Steady Growth

While living in Cyprus I went from working 5-10 hours per week to working over 40 hours per week, sometimes as high as 60 hours per week.

Not only was this not effective in growing the business, but it also burnt me out and set me back.

Back then I had ridiculously easy goals. I was more focused on habit-building than I was achieving externally. I was still measuring to make sure my habits were bringing me closer to my goals.

This will be a huge focus moving forward. You can’t change too much in too many areas otherwise you revert back to old ways. Cold turkey is hard. Slow & steady changes last longer.

My sales work started out with 30 minutes per day, then 1 hour, etc. slowly growing until I had several leads. I wish I would’ve kept up with it, but some traumatic events led me to stop working.

Moving forward I shall focus on building the habit of growing the business, rather than trying to achieve it. For example I’ll work my normal hours “in the business” and then add on 30 minutes per day “growing the business,” then 1 hour, etc.

The habit & focus is more important than the result. If you have the proper habits & focus, you will get what you want.

Constant Learning

Now that I “know more” and have “achieved more” it’s easier to fall into the trap of not thinking I need to keep learning. That mentality has set me up for failure in the past.

Even though I already “know a lot,” I found that if I keep expanding what I’m learning I feel more inspired to do the growth work in the business as well.

I’m currently reading “Laws of Human Nature” by Robert Greene which isn’t directly related to business, but the fact that I’m committed to learning & growing makes me more inspired to grow the business.

When you’re not growing… you’re dying.

Waking Up at 0530.. and Naps

I was also waking up at 0530 every single morning! My energy levels were stable and predictable because I was waking up / sleeping at the same time every day.

You don’t necessarily have to get up at 0530, but I enjoyed it then. Going forward I might wake up at 0700 or 0800, but keep it steady. The reason I’d do 0800 is so that I can stay out until 2300 or even a little later. Waking up at 0530, you can only stay out until 2100.

There’s just something about waking up early that makes you a bit more productive. It could be the silence, the mentality, or that you’re getting more sunlight throughout the day (the sun was rising very early in Phoenix also).

Whatever it is, I was a productive machine. Waking up at 0530 allowed me to easily schedule things throughout the day because I knew exactly when I was getting up and what I was doing.

Another thing which helped was afternoon naps. Every single afternoon I would take a nap for 20-30 minutes.

During these naps I would attempt “Astral Projections.” They seemed to really energize me and help me feel peaceful. For some reason after Phoenix I stopped this entirely, likely because of a traumatic event which destroyed all of my routines.

Ground Zero – One Hundred

Even though back then I didn’t have other necessary habits like working out & eating right, I had a lot damn right.

Now my job is to combine the old with the new. The first priority in my life is to find somewhere to be my “home base.”

I’m actually considering Sofia, Bulgaria, despite having been previously excited to return to the USA.

I already have so many friends in Bulgaria, and I know the lifestyle would be great, so this would allow me to focus on business & health while my lifestyle & social life continue as is.

If my immigration application to Bulgaria is rejected, then I’m not sure where I’ll go, but the first objective is to find a home base where I can be actually productive.

I’ll keep you updated on how this goes. It seems that there’s more to success than success. You don’t just work towards a goal. It’s more about building the habits that allow the goal to manifest naturally.

And my goals require new & old habits. Let’s see how it goes…

-Michael