48 Hours in Bulgaris

Tuesday 15 November 2016

  • Flight -£4.00
  • Train to airport (return) -£11.80
  • Dinner at airport -£23.00
  • Taxi from airport – 15BGN

Wednesday 16 November 2016

  • 2 nights in hostel -30 BGN
  • Breakfast – 6 BGN
  • lunch (2 banitsa) -3.20 BGN
  • snack (1banitsa) – 1 BGN
  • drink – 2.20 BGN
  • snack – 2.70 BGN
  • TOTAL 60.10 BGN
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Location Rebel – how did I do in August?

In July I registered for the Location Rebel course (read about my buying decision).

First, I should say that when you purchase the Location Rebel course, Sean Ogle advises that you allocate ten hours per week to spend on it. This is a feasible amount of time to fit in around full-time working and other unavoidable commitments, and allows you to see real results. I was aware when I bought the course in July that I don’t have ten hours per week to devote to it this year, as I have other priorities until Christmas. However, I thought it was worth buying while there was a sale and bonus offer, and I thought I could spend a lesser amount of time on it each week, which would allow me to be in good shape to start devoting more time in January 2017.

In August, I read through the initial Location Rebel course and completed all the question-answering activities. I also chose two blueprints which were of interest to me, and read through them in more detail. These were project management (which I do in my daily work) and technical writing (which seemed one of the less popular options, so I thought there might be more opportunity there). I also introduced myself in the forums and have expressed interest in an accountability group. Towards the end of August, I signed up for the CopyHour course which was included as one of my bonuses. I therefore plan to go back and read the copywriting blueprint, to see if that also seems to be of interest. If not, at least I’ll have learned more about how copywriting works and be in a position to apply it to my own website.

One of the key concepts introduced in Location Rebel is Relative Expertise. In many areas of your life, although you may not know enough to consider yourself an expert, you may know enough more than other people to consider yourself a relative expert. For example, at my work, my colleagues don’t know much about social media and WordPress. When we have a new project, I set up a WordPress site for it, along with Facebook and Twitter accounts. Although this is pretty basic stuff which only took me a few hours to pick up, and although there is still a HUGE amount I don’t know about these topics, within my team I’m the expert. Location Rebel suggests that you identify this kind of area in your own life, and work to establish yourself more efficiently as a relative expert, so that you can leverage this expertise when looking for location-independent work. For example, if you want to get into SEO or copywriting, and you’ve established yourself as a relative expert in cookery, then you have a good reason to approach companies working around cookery and offer them your services, since you’re providing what they require, and have a background that means you’re likely to be better at it than someone who doesn’t know anything about the field.

I speak a number of languages, so am now thinking of establishing myself as a relative expert in the language field. To this end, I’ve set up a new WordPress blog.

Aims for September

  • Work through CopyHour assignments as received.
  • Update the pictures and contact information on my language blog.
  • Read through the Location Rebel copywriting blueprint.
  • Write one post per week on my language blog.

Frugal – Year 3 of free fun – Month 2

13707672_10154171692106251_3342858838656031921_nThis month’s fun activities were:

  • Travelled to Spain for work
  • Went for dinner with colleagues (paid for by work)
  • Went to the theatre in Spain (paid for by work)
  • Went to a museum in Spain (paid for by work)
  • Visited a Roman amphitheatre in Spain (paid for by work)
  • Met a colleague for lunch twice (free, brought own lunch)
  • Went to the theatre with my husband (£40 – from Christmas money)
  • Watched TV via Amazon Prime (unREAL, Flesh and Bone, Arrow)
  • Played an online game (Elvenar)
  • Read 5 library books
  • Exchanged library books in Birmingham (£5.00)
  • Wrote two letters (£2.38 postage)
  • Went to a christening (card and present paid for by my husband as the parents are from “his” side)
  • Volunteered
  • Went to knit group (£3.50)
  • Knitted a Kindle cover (free, the wool was a present)
  • Attended a free cycling course (£3.60 bus)
  • Went running in the local park
  • Went cycling
  • Studied languages with Duolingo
  • Went to dinner at friends’ house (£7.50 bottle of wine for the hosts)
  • Bought a Kindle (£41.65 Amazon vouchers, £37.34 cash)

Total – £59.32 + £40 Christmas money + £41.65 Amazon vouchers

Mental clutter – expectations

A while ago, I made a note for myself that I wanted to write a blog post about expectations, and over the last few days I’ve been reminded of that by a couple of things.

  1. I was in touch with someone who said they were feeling the pressure of their parents’ expectations, but at the same time did not seem to be meeting their own expectations. For example, they described their job as “mundane”.
  2. My mum showed me a TV programme called “Child Geniuses”, where a number of children had been entered into a national competition, in most cases by their parents.

Both these reminders summarised the two issues of expectations for me:

  • Other people’s expectations
  • Your own expectations

When thinking about other people’s expectations, there are number of questions to ask yourself:

  1. Are you accepting someone’s expectations because you value their opinion and believe that they are motivated by the best for you? e.g. a coach or trainer who pushes you to do as much as you can because they believe you are capable of more?
  2. Are you accepting someone’s expectations because they are in a position of authority over you? e.g. a parent or teacher who wants you to go to Oxbridge
  3. Do those expectations match up in any way with what you want for yourself? e.g. a parent who wants you to become a doctor because it’s prestigious and well paid, although you faint at the sight of blood.
  4. Do you know and accept the reasons behind their expectations? e.g. do your parents want you to become a doctor because that’s what they wanted for themselves but weren’t able to achieve, or because they struggled with money and don’t want you to be the same, or because they worked in a low-status job and felt disrespected by others, or because their friends’ children are doctors, or because they are doctors? Most of these reasons could be valid, but only if they fit in with your own priorities.

When thinking about your own expectations, some of the questions can be similar.

  1. Do your expectations match up with what you want for yourself? e.g. do you push yourself to go running, although you actually don’t enjoy it at all?
  2. Do you know and accept the reasons behind your own expectations? e.g. do you want to become a doctor for the salary, or to help people, or to make your parents proud, or because you think it will make it easier for you to get married? What’s interesting here is that a lot of the reasons behind your own expectations can be very difficult to tease out, and when you do discover them you may not agree with them, but you’ll still find them hard to let go. For example, I was very slim as a child, and I received a lot of praise for this within my family, because of my parents’ personal issues with weight. Nowadays, I feel disappointed with myself for being overweight. I’ve internalised the message that thin = love and that makes it hard for me to let go of the expectation that I be below a certain measurement or clothes size. On the surface, I recognise that it makes no difference to my daily life whether I weigh more or less, and that it makes no difference to my husband, who has seen me at heavier weights than now. I abhor body shaming at any weight, avoid it in my speech and try to cut it out of my thoughts. In the depths, however, I can’t quite shake the belief that fat people aren’t worth quite as much as thin people, since that was the implicit assumption in the way that I was raised, and in the way that society around me functions even today. If your expectations are based around something similar, you may not be able to get rid of them completely, but you may be able to cut yourself a bit of slack if you recognise where they came from.
  3. Are your expectations unreasonable? The key to this is asking whether you’d talk to a friend or colleague in the way you’d talk to yourself. Do you punish or criticise yourself more severely than you would criticise someone else doing what you did? In a lot of cases, the answer is yes. If you get into the habit of asking yourself, “Would I say this to someone else?”, it can help you to recognise if you’re setting a double standard for yourself.

Doing things for future me

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For some time now, I’ve had “Do something for future me” as one of my healthy habits, but I’m thinking of removing it as I end up completing it every day, which suggests that it’s become well enough embedded that I don’t need a reminder. I’ll try removing it for a while and see if I notice any ill effects.

Thinking about, and being kind to, my future self, has become a powerful motivational tool for me in some situations, but less so in others.

I have found it particularly useful for doing things like household chores. For example, one evening last week, I went out straight after work and came home pretty close to when I’d normally go to bed. I hadn’t prepared anything for breakfast the next day. I usually cook some eggs, meat and vegetables, and take them to work with me, so I have something filling and protein-packed to start me off on the right track. When I first got home, I thought “I can just leave it and cook something tomorrow morning”. But I knew that future me would get up in the morning and have no interest in cooking. So then I thought “I can leave it and buy something at the work canteen”. But then I thought about future me having to take 10 minutes to go to the canteen, in a different building, and then spend 15% of the weekly budget on something smaller and not as tasty and healthy aswhat I could make myself. So I ended up preparing breakfast before I went to bed. The next day, I got up a bit later than usual, and was so grateful to past me for sorting it out the night before.

I find this quite easy to put into practice for anything like that, where something will have to be done eventually, and I’ll never enjoy it. I mean, if I don’t do the laundry, I’ll get to a point where I have no clothes to wear, so it’s not a job that can be put off for longer than a couple of weeks. But I’m never going to feel like “Yay! I get to do laundry now!”. So it’s easy to rationalise that the job has to be done, and future me is not going to feel any more like it than I feel right now, and may in fact feel less like it

On the other hand, I find it pretty ineffective so far for things like exercising and eating healthily. Logically, I know that if I run today, I’ll have stronger muscles and bones, and better lung capacity in the future. If I avoid sugar today, I’ll have a lower body-fat percentage in the future. If I do yoga today, I’ll keep my joints flexible for longer. Writing about it now, I think there are two problems here:

  1. I don’t see any immediate benefit – things relating to health tend to have a long-term effect, so in the here and now if I go running today, I feel tired and sweaty in the here and now, future me has sore muscles tomorrow, and future-future me gets the benefits a year from now. I find it a lot harder to empathise with future-future me.
  2. There’s no clear, measurable cause and effect – if I do the laundry, there’s a tangible output. Do laundry today, have clean clothes to wear tomorow (or whenever they dry). Health benefits are not only intangible, they’re variable and fluctuating. It’s not uncommon to hear a dieting woman say that she and her husband have started a diet together, and are eating the same foods, but he’s lost 10lb and she’s lost 2lb. Or that’s she’s eaten less all week but has somehow put on weight. People doing Whole30 often say that their weight has stayed the same but their clothes fit much better. So there are lots of different ways to measure health changes, you can’t predict accurately which health changes will follow from what you’re doing, and you don’t know what or how much you’ll need to do to get the changes you want.

These factors combine to make it very difficult for me to connect health activities with my future self. I even find it difficult in the present moment to stop and think about the future when making a health choice. On the other hand, I experience a lot of regret around health. It’s very common for me to overeat and then think “I wish I hadn’t eaten that”, or to skip running and then think “I wish I’d run today”. Maybe rather than connecting activities with health benefits, I can connect them with emotions. For example, it’s Sunday morning, I want to go running at some point today. Perhaps it’s more effective to think about future me going to bed tonight and feeling proud about running, versus feeling disappointed and lazy. That means I can logically accept that benefits will come, but strip them from the choices around activities because it’s too hard to take them into account. On the other hand, my emotions are much more immediate, measurable and connected to what I do.

I’ll try it next month and see how it goes.

Gamifying my healthy habits

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Earlier this week I read an article by Arman Assadi on his REEP Challenge, or how he maintains his health and productivity while travelling. His rationale is that while you are travelling and out of a routine, it’s easy to drop the healthier elements of your normal daily activities. I’ve certainly found that to be true when travelling myself, but also I’ve found it quite difficult to establish a healthy daily routine in general. In fact, I started my healthy habits list as part of my weekly goal posts as a way of both reminding myself of what I wanted to do, and motivating myself to do it more.

Personally, I already find that I get a lot more healthy habits done if I set myself a target as part of my weekly goals, and read my draft post each morning. This week, for example, I’ve set a weekly goal to complete five healthy habits per day, following a period where I’ve let them slide quite considerably. This morning, I’m writing this blog post as part of my 750 Words habit, and because I opened up my draft post first thing, I’ve already got a few easy wins out of the way; I listened to affirmations and wore Better Back for the first fifteen minutes when I logged into my computer, after seeing that reminder. Opening the draft post also reminded me to think of three things I’m grateful for, which I find so simple to do, but also so simple to forget.

As I’m quite a tick-box and points oriented kind of person, the REEP Challenge resonated with me, and I wanted to find a way I could incorporate it into my healthy habits, to give me even more motivation. I also wanted a way to encourage myself not to focus purely on the easy wins, while ignoring the longer or less palatable items (which are generally where more benefit lies).

I have 25 healthy habits, so I was hoping I’d be able to split them into five tidy categories of five habits each. That wasn’t quite the case, but it wasn’t far off. I’ve been able to create the following:

  • Strength – 5 habits
  • Flexibility – 5 habits
  • Mindfulness – 5 habits
  • Eating – 3 habits
  • Brain – 4 habits
  • Positivity – 3 habits

My idea now is establish a points scheme in the way that the REEP Challenge does. It would be based not only on the number of habits completed, as has previously been the case, but also on the completion of different categories, and also on the number of easy wins in each category.

Category completion

5 points for completing the target number of habits in each category
3 points for completing at least one habit in each category
1 point for completing at least one habit in 4 or more categories

Individual category scores

Strength

5 points for 4 habits (I’d never do all five, as I wouldn’t do a sprint and a long run on the same day)
3 points for completing at least two habits
1 point for completing at least one habit

Flexibility

5 points for completing five habits
3 points for completing at least three habits (there are two easy wins in this category)
1 point for completing at least one habit

Mindfulness

5 points for completing five habits
3 points for completing at least two habits
1 point for completing at least one habit

Eating

5 points for completing three habits
3 points for completing at least two habits
1 point for completing at least one habit

Brain

5 points for completing four habits
3 points for completing at least three habits (there are two easy wins in this category)
1 point for completing at least one habit

Positivity

5 points for completing three habits
3 points for completing at least two habits (there are two easy wins, but since there are only three habits in total, I can’t do much to mitigate that)
1 point for completing at least one habit

I hope this system will encourage me to complete some of the habits which take a bit longer, and which I therefore haven’t done for a while, such as writing meditation. I suppose it will also help me to weed out any habits which are on the list, but which I don’t value anymore. For example, Alexander Technique is on the list but I haven’t done it for months, if at all this year. In theory, I can see the value, but does it fit into my life in practice? And if not, why keep looking at it every day and feeling bad that I haven’t done it?

I’ll start the system on Monday, which will be a challenge as I’m travelling for the whole week, meaning it would normally be a habit drought! Maximum points per day would be 35, average would be 21 and minimum would be 7. I’ll aim for 10 or more per day while I’m away.

Financial independence – Location Rebel

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This week I “splurged” on an online course called Location Rebel, and since it was quite a big expense for me, I thought I’d track my progress going along, and let you know whether I find it to be value for money.

Background

I first became familiar with Sean Ogle’s Location 180 programme when one of his courses was advertised as part of a “Paradise Pack” through a language blog I read. Although I didn’t buy the Paradise Pack at that time, I signed up to the Location 180 mailing list and found the content quite interesting. For example, in some of the first emails you were asked to write down the answers to various questions. I liked that it took a more active approach, which is why I didn’t unsubscribe from the mailing list, and then read the sales email which came through.

Buying thought process

I first received an email saying that a 48-hour annual sale was coming up. It didn’t show a price, or list all of the bonuses which would be included, which I thought was a good strategy as it made me want to know more. In fact, I went to the website to try to read up on the sale, and as there was no information there, it made me more determined to look out for the email at the beginning of the sale. One of the pre-sale emails included a link to an interview with someone who had used the programme in the past, with good results. Although I’m not a fan of audio rather than written content, on that particular occasion I had time to play it in the background while I was doing other stuff on the computer. The successful person sounded like he had not had any special skills or business ideas when he started the programme, and had still been able to do well, so that was reassuring.

When the sale finally started, I clicked on a link which again, was well strategised. At the top of the page was a button you could click if you wanted to buy straight away, and below was a long list of what you’d get with your purchase. I clicked on the button just to check that the price wasn’t completely out of budget for me. At $497, it was on the high side, but not inconceivable. Since I wasn’t ruling it out completely, I went back and read through the list of purchases.

The main item was, of course, the Location Rebel course. The idea behind this is that you can learn how to set up a business which you can run from anywhere, enabling you to travel. That’s the main selling point for me. I’d like to earn more money to save towards early retirement, but I would definitely want to travel more if I’m not working full-time, so a traditional business which ties me to one location wouldn’t be of much use to me. The second selling point for me was the entrepreneur blueprints. These were advertised as step-by-step guides to start a business in a range of areas, such as SEO, web design or copywriting. They were framed as something which any sensible person could make a start in, without needing any special talents. I liked the sound of that, as a stumbling block for me when looking at other online courses and offers is the feeling that I don’t have anything to sell. In addition, since I currently have to do a little bit of website set-up and dissemination in my existing work, even if I never went ahead and started a business, these skills would make me better at what I already do.

I didn’t save the original link, so I don’t remember everything that was included, but the first 75 subscribers would also get:

  • Three additional online courses (nice to have, but not major selling points for me at this stage)
    • The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Lifestyle Entrepreneurship
    • The Rebel’s Guide to Mastering Email
    • Rebel Launches
  • A site audit, redeemable at a date of your choosing (I don’t have a website yet, but it’s a bonus if I do set one up)
  • Access to monthly phonecalls between Sean and two other mentors (as mentioned above, I prefer written to audio information, so I don’t know if I’ll use this. You can email questions in, so that might be useful)
  • The possibility of winning an additional account for a friend or family member (I’m not sure who I would have given this to, so not a big selling point for me)

On top of that, the first 50 subscribers would get access to Copyhour, an online copy writing course. Although it wasn’t guaranteed, it was another point of favour for me, since I like writing and language, and so would like to learn what makes your writing more persuasive.

I think there were additional bonuses for the top 25 and higher, perhaps something like a call or meet-up with Sean Ogle? I can’t remember though, since I wasn’t that high in the list.

Another good sales strategy was that Sean boke down the course value. I must admit, when I see adverts for online courses and books with a retail price of $97 and offered today for the amazing low price of $19, I do tend to take the retail price with a pinch of salt, and assume it’s grossly inflated compared to how much a PDF or e-book cost to produce. What Sean did was highlight the expenses and experience he had which were leading him to charge this price, e.g. the cost of his degree, his business experience. This led to a complete reframing of the cost for me, which made me see $497 as much more reasonable than I had when I initially viewed it.

Ultimately, I bought the course because it looked interesting, it would teach me skills that I could use in my existing job, and it would give me a chance to earn money while travelling. So there would be immediate benefits, even if I never got as far as setting up a business. As I work through the course, I’ll write more updates so you can see how it’s working out for me.