It’s been my experience that creatives often feel a sense of pressure when confronted with the idea of “networking” or “building connections.”
Lest you consider me unsympathetic, I was very much confronted by the idea of holding a conversation with a stranger, let alone ordering food at the mall food court, in my early 20s. It took me a long time just to feel safe and comfortable with a seemingly simple exchange like that.
If we were to think of our comfort zone as a series of concentric circles, it follows that there would be a new level of comfort to develop at each step – saying “hi,” holding a meaningful conversation, making a request, asking someone out on a date, and so on.
The whole idea of comfort zones and degrees of comfort, and even the idea that you can’t network because you’re an introvert, is all made up. They are conventions to help us better understand ourselves and our surroundings, but rarely do they hold up as concrete rules without exception. Also see: Make believe.
Which is to say, it’s fine to approach the idea of a comfort zone as if you were leveling up a character in a role-playing video game, so long as you understand that you’re basically making up the rules as you go. I’m a big fan of gamifying life.
But innumerable anomalies exist in thinking there is only linear progression and no exponential progression available.
For instance, someone could go from saying “hi” to asking their crush out in a hot minute, if the desire and motivation was strong enough.
I have also found that seemingly small things like the day you’ve just had, the consumption of caffeine or alcohol, or reading 10 pages from a book can alter what you perceive as being possible for yourself. Basically, your willingness to act is a moving target, regardless of personal temperament.
All that to say, one connection can change everything. Sometimes, just one conversation can change everything. I know because I just had one of those conversations today. I can see it being a game changer in how I approach content creation, which is something I enjoy, but at times, has been a burden.
Sourcing everything from your own mind sets certain limitations in place, since you can only act on what you know, and what you know that you don’t know. If you know how to write, you can use that. If you know that you can’t speak German, you can at least take the first step today in learning a new language.
But there exists another category of knowledge – what you don’t know that you don’t know. You can’t penetrate that barrier without reading a book, listening to a podcast, watching a video, taking a course, getting into conversations, and the like.
If you source everything from what you know, you’re leaning solely on your past. That’s the biggest limitation of all. The past doesn’t equal the present let alone the future. The past can’t necessarily tell you the best course of action now. It can help, but its accuracy and efficacy are in question.
When it comes to connecting, you don’t need to force anything. You can simply allow. You can allow others to contribute. You can allow yourself to ask “stupid” questions. You can allow yourself to feel whatever you feel in terms of physical symptoms when you introduce yourself to someone for the first time. Emotions and physical symptoms don’t make an interaction “bad.”
Your next breakthrough may be waiting on the other side of a conversation. Maybe not. But how will you know unless you try?
I’ve shared about creating completion before, but the concept may seem mercurial if you don’t know what it’s supposed to look like.
Today, I wanted to share about a few things I’ve completed… today. Why should you care about what I’m up to? You shouldn’t.
Rather, you should look at this post as though you were looking into a mirror to uncover incompletion in your life, and to identify what actions you can take to restore wholeness and integrity in your life.
Here are five things I completed today.
I Contributed to Sahakarini
Which isn’t to say this will be the last time I will be contributing to underprivileged children in South America and related projects.
To be transparent with you, I was experiencing some financial difficulty throughout year one of the two-year leadership program I’m still amid. As result, I wasn’t immediately able to contribute the full amount to Sahakarini I had originally collected.
But I kept track of every cent, making small donations to the cause as I was able, fulfilling on promises I’d originally made in 2021. Finally, today, I’m fully caught up.
This is not to draw attention to my humanitarian efforts. I don’t own a non-profit, and the main way I give back is by raising funds and making donations out of my own pocket (so, buy my products – it’s good for humanity 😉).
But I do value transparency, which is why you can see the full amount my team and I have raised and donated to the cause here.
I Paid a Friend Back
The leadership program I referenced earlier is split up into quarters, and each quarter is full of upheaval, change, and discovery.
Most quarters, I join friends at an Airbnb, preferably at a nearby but desirable destination for a weekend (because the leadership program dedicates one weekend per quarter completing the last and starting the new).
I ended up owing a bit of money to a friend for an extra night’s stay on one such weekend, which I finally paid off today.
Not owing any money sure feels good (all that’s left now is my consolidated debt).
I Created 2 ARTiculate Posts
As I’ve shared before, I am the host of an initiative called ARTiculate with The Indie YYC. Generally, I produce two posts per month around which (provocative) community discussions can take place.
These are often created in the moment, but today, I managed to batch two posts, which I have already scheduled in our content queue.
If you’d like to follow along, then be sure to follow The Indie YYC on Facebook or Instagram.
I Invoiced 2 Clients
I honestly don’t know why it’s taken me so long to do this. I could have invoiced both at the beginning of the month. But to be fair, 2023 has been quite explosive out of the gate.
I can’t quite say I’m on top of everything now, but it does feel good to get a few things off my plate. Using ClickUp to manage my to-do list helps.
I Completed One Section of the Forthcoming Productivity, Performance & Profits Blackbook
I’m promising something big with the forthcoming Productivity, Performance & Profits Blackbook. If you missed my update about it, you can read about it here.
I don’t have a ton of new content to produce for this endeavor, but there is a great deal to do in terms of collating relevant content, reviewing it, editing it, and formatting it for the new book.
Today, I compiled, added, and edited all relevant sections from The Music Entrepreneur Companion Guide. One down, not too sure how many more to go, but a good start, nevertheless.
I Completed This Blog Post
Obviously, or you wouldn’t be reading it…
But in case you didn’t know, I am blogging daily again. I expect to be able to transition into podcasting more instead of just writing, but writing is enjoyable to me, and it’s fun to be able to write on topics you (yes, you – not me) care about.
If there’s something you’d like me to cover in a future post, just let me know.
I’m aware that there are more loose ends and open loops to complete in my life, and I intend to identify all or as many as possible, bringing completion to each.
I have found organizing my desktop and sending projects to “later” or “never” files very cathartic and much needed besides. I know for certain that email is going to be another great place to look (although I am resisting it) …
What could you complete in 2023 that you’ve been holding onto? What actions do you see to take now? What could be possible for you if you spent time each week completing the past?
Kidding! If you know anything about me, you know that’s a foolish question. I don’t set New Year resolutions. I choose three words for the year, as author Chris Brogan taught me to do.
The best thing about it? It’s fun! Each year, I get to reflect on my three words from the year past and set three entirely new ones. I get to look back on years past and see how they turned out based on the intentions held.
In the sections that follow, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from my reflections for 2022 and new intentions for 2023. But don’t forget – you’re not here to sit on the sidelines and watch. You’re here to get on the court and get in the game. Don’t bounce off this page without setting your three words for the year, promise?
Reflecting on My 3 Words from 2022
Intention – In 2022, I got to discover the importance and power of setting an intention for every conversation or meeting. You could comb through my blog archives from last year, and you’d probably find that this was a recurring theme. Intention serves as the underpinning of every conversation. It steers and guides it. And sometimes it fulfills on itself all on its own, by the mere act of creating it. But if you’re lacking intention, the conversation will tend to idle and derail.
Recognition – I was looking for a breakthrough in recognition, and I think I found it. I can talk about being an award-winning composer or best-selling author, yet all these things are in the past. It’s good to be proud of your accomplishments, and I will hold onto mine, but it’s easy to set up home in your wins instead of staying hungry for more. I discovered that recognition is all about staying hungry for more. You’re as good as the last thing you worked on.
Love – I had to think hard on this one. What breakthrough did I have in love? 2022 was a year of upheaval and adventure, but in a lot of other ways, it was the same as years past. And what I realized was that I had a breakthrough in seeing myself as lovable. I don’t mean that as in “look how amazing I am – I sure am lovable.” I mean that more in the sense of, I now know myself as someone who could be, and can be, loved. My chance meeting with a prospective girlfriend showed me that. It’s crazy how much doubt I’ve had surrounding this simple truth.
My 3 Words for 2022
Ease – I’m starting to feel like my ship has been righted, and I’m pointed towards my North Star. I do have goals, and I am up to something in life, but I’m not looking to force any outcomes this year. I’ve given up on choosing words to force outcomes too. I’m not going to fight an uphill battle with the universe. Last year, I talked about upheaval, and guess what? I ended up going through upheaval! Words really do have power. But I’m not asking for 2023 to be easy, I’m looking to navigate everything that comes my way this year with ease.
Laughter – Life is better with laughter. It’s more fun. It’s more enjoyable. Even heavy burdens can lessen with laughter. I love to laugh, and I have fun making others laugh too. I may not be a comedian, but I have sometimes thought of it as one of my “hidden” callings. Maybe I could incorporate my sense of humor into what I’m already doing more. That would be a novel idea.
Train – I chose this word intuitively, and I don’t know what to expect. It just felt right. Whether it’s moving through challenges as though a freight train, or training others to become the leaders they’re fully capable of becoming, I see a lot of potential with “train.” It’s not a word I would have naturally chosen, but rather something I gravitated towards. Now I get to be in discovery of how the word will set the tone for 2023.
Further reading on setting yourself up for success in 2023 and helpful prompts are available in my Start Your Year the Right Way, with convenient notetaking space built right into the resource. Setting yourself up for a powerful year is but a click away. Let the discoveries begin. Start implementing profitable practices into your own life now.
Do you want 2023 to be a breakthrough year? Of course, you do! Are you ready to embrace change in your life? Having come this far into this post, I have no doubt you’re sharp and ambitious. Do you need help navigating the path ahead? I don’t know a single successful person who would have said “no” to such a question on their way to finding their path in the world. Which is exactly why you should get in touch for personal coaching. Now. Let’s see if we’re a good fit to work together.
What is one thing most people rarely if ever do? Cause completion in their lives.
Unless you’re familiar with the work of author and lecturer Werner Erhard, the concept itself may seem elusive. But the idea is this – we go through our whole lives with baggage thinking we’re obligated to carry with us every tragedy, trauma, and tribulation we’ve experienced.
This guide is about closing the chapter on 2022, but the reality is, most of us have baggage from the distant past we’ve never completed. Why? Because we don’t get into conversation about our incompletes, and because we don’t declare incompletes complete.
But closing the chapter on 2022 is as good a place to start as any. Don’t drag last year into this year. Let this year be a fresh year, especially if you didn’t get along with 2022.
Here is a regimen I’ve adopted for myself and have kept to since 2014 – answering seven simple questions for the sake of completion.
7 Questions to Close the Chapter on Another Year
The following questions were masterfully crafted by leadership trainer Michael Hyatt. My intention wasn’t ever to co-opt them, but I feel like I may have. I think they are great questions, which is why I’ve stuck with them.
Don’t just watch from the sidelines, though. Get on the court of life. Read my answers, and after you’ve had some time to reflect, answer them for yourself too. You’ll be better off for it.
If the last year were a movie in your life, what would the genre be?
Action crime comedy in the vein of 21 Jump Street, or really any movie of its kind where a lot of things go wrong and obstacle after obstacle shows up to frustrate the protagonist.
In June, I embraced the nomadic life once again, not expecting it to last until present day. Things were going relatively smoothly until about mid-September when I began promoting Elite Players: Newsletter. Here’s the obstacle course I found myself navigating:
A prospective girlfriend called me up to let me know she was dating someone else
I met a lovely woman and started looking for a home in South Surrey
A prospective landlord on Facebook was jealous of my self-employed status and wouldn’t go through the application process with me
I nearly got scammed by a prospective landlord – if I hadn’t backed out of the agreement at the last minute, I would have lost a lot of money and probably most of my belongings
I ended up having to get my bank card replaced thrice because of the fraudulent rental incident (suddenly, I couldn’t make online payments anymore)
I nearly ended up with nowhere to stay one night
While staying with a friend in Vancouver, I got sued by a credit card company
I filed for consumer proposal
My car battery died while I was staying in Murrayville, and I later ended up having to get it replaced before my journey to Calgary
I hurt my lower back during the first days of rehearsal for The 3 Project
When all is said and done, though, it’s been smoother sailing since the completion of The 3 Project. I don’t know why that is.
Presently, I feel like I’m getting a fresh start, especially in business and finances, and I don’t intend to waste the opportunity.
What were the two or three major themes that kept recurring?
Honestly, life felt a little out of control this past year. I made progress in key areas, but I was doing it all while navigating the obstacle course just referenced. The podcast suffered as result.
Also, I’ve been balancing my life as a freelancer and entrepreneur for years, and most of 2022 was not a great year for progressing in the direction of my dreams. Every time I took a step forward, I felt like I was taking at least three steps back.
What did you accomplish this year that you are most proud of?
My ongoing publishing efforts. I stopped blogging daily in May, only to return to the habit in September.
Finishing the manuscript for The Renegade Musician.
Being the associate producer, web developer, marketing strategist, and lighting and PowerPoint tech for The 3 Project.
What do you feel you should have been acknowledged for but weren’t?
I haven’t received any acknowledgement for The Music Entrepreneur Companion Guide let alone any feedback.
Streaming on BIGO LIVE.
My stunning good looks. 🤣 Scratch that, I was totally acknowledged for it.
What disappointments did you experience this past year?
My financial life. It started spiraling out of control with the scammers I referenced earlier, and it led me to the point of filing for consumer proposal. Honestly, I’m still dizzied just thinking about it. Fortunately, it’s giving me a fresh start.
My business life. I invested heavily in myself, in my education, and in my growth. And while self-improvement helped me overcome many challenges, it didn’t necessarily help with having a breakthrough in my business life. I think it may have planted some seeds, though.
My romantic life. Ultimately, not much came of the few chance meetings I had.
What was missing from last year as you look back?
Unlike last year, I got to travel, eat great food, go on an adventure, and perform a few times. There was even some movement in my romantic life. Not bad!
I have this strange feeling that whatever happened last year was supposed to happen, and I probably couldn’t have prevented any of it to begin with.
But it’s safe to say I’ve been missing a permanent residence since June, and I’ve had to improvise, problem solve, and make do with Airbnbs, hotels, and couch surfing.
What were the major life-lessons you learned this past year?
Sadly, you can’t trust everyone. We’re in difficult times, and there are entitled scammers at every turn. If you’re not careful, you can be taken advantage of.
Reading gets you into flow. It helps you generate relevant ideas, even when the subject matter isn’t connected in any way to the ideas you’re coming up with.
I am sublime at what I do. I just need more visibility! 😉
Giving is powerful. Some of the most successful people give. A lot. It creates flow in life.
Do you want to get complete with 2022? Leave behind some baggage so you can have a fresh start in 2023?
You’ll enjoy Start Your Year the Right Way, an inspirational book with plenty of prompts to help you process everything that has and hasn’t happened in your life.
You can also hire me as your personal coach at a premium. If you’d like to see whether there’s a good fit, get in touch. I don’t respond immediately to most emails but do prioritize potential clients.
I have been consistent in sharing my reflections since 2014. Self-indulgent, perhaps, but if you found this reading valuable, you will find these articles beneficial also:
2022 is probably the first year in a while that I’ve taken to reading in a more intentional way. Besides articles and books, I also dove into print newsletters, which I found quite addicting.
Having completed the first year of my leadership program in June, I also wanted to continue learning and growing, and the most accessible way to do this – especially as I was traveling about – was with Kindle eBooks.
So, here are the top books that made a difference for me in 2022 and what I got out of them.
Profit First by Mike Michalowicz
Mike Michalowicz’ Profit First presents a new way of thinking about profit. Most of us have been taught this formula:
Revenue – Expenses = Profit
But Mike urges us to look through the lens of this formula instead:
Revenue – Profit = Expenses
Throughout the book, Mike makes some excellent points about how the traditional formula is flawed, how 80% of businesses fail (despite them being run by smart, driven people), and how adopting a new approach to managing our finances allows our businesses to generate profit from day one.
As Mike himself points out, the method is very straightforward. He even touched on it briefly in a former book.
Something often gets lost in translation when a small idea is expanded upon to the extent it is in Profit First, though. It’s nice that there are plenty of valuable insights, examples, and case studies to draw from, but I find something always gets muddled when there is so much preamble and port-mortem wrapped around it. The Power of Habit was a lot like that, and I still don’t know why people like it so much.
To make the most of this reading, you’d need to distill the core concepts down into a simple, digestible process, checklist, or flowchart.
But one of the things I immediately applied was taking 1% of my revenue (profit) and shoveling it into a separate account. Every month, that account has been slowly but surely growing. And that’s the tangible way in which this book made a difference for me.
Official Get Rich Guide to Information Marketing by Robert Skrob
All the gurus talk about testing and validating an offer (e.g., by taking pre-orders before even making the product), but rarely explain the process.
Robert Skrob’s Official Get Rich Guide to Information Marketing lays out the formula in crystallized detail. This book will take you through the paces of launching an offer that converts (with several methods documented) and leveraging it into growing a profitable business in short order, all while laying out a process that feels simple and manageable.
The resources mentioned in the book are largely outdated or deprecated, but the general principles laid out still hold true. A business can be built on the back of a single teleseminar.
I had, of course, listened to The Strangest Secret multiple times before ever reading it.
This summer, though, as I was scrolling through my Kindle library, I identified The Strangest Secret as a “quick read” I wanted to brush up on. After all, depending on where you’re at in life, books can hit you a little differently.
The main thing I took away, that I soon found reflected in plenty of present-day personal development and business books is this:
Only one in 100 people will ever be wealthy, and only four in 100 people will ever be financially independent.
Basically, 95% of people don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to their finances.
I’ve recalled this stat in some of my recent writing efforts (including a forthcoming book) as well.
With a bold promise like One Million Followers, I found this book hard to resist.
The book opens by telling the story of other people’s successes instead of delivering on its promise (of helping you grow a following of a million followers), which I found off-putting. Brendan also starts selling his coaching services before giving the reader a good reason to, which I found tacky.
I’m all for books being long-form sales letters, so long as they contain useful information, but the way it’s done here is more akin to asking for one’s hand in marriage before dating.
Eventually, though, Brendan does reveal his process for growing large followings. It’s not long before you realize that it’s going to take some money, probably some hired help, a lot of hard work, and perseverance.
One Million Followers will work for you if you put in the work. But from my perspective, you would basically need to make social media your full-time job.
Where this book made a difference for me was in showing me how a large social media following could be leveraged to create revenue. This was a code many seemed unable to crack, but Brendan demonstrates real strategy in an ocean of fleeting and ineffectual tactics.
The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Getting Your Shit Together by John Carlton
Having read John Carlton’s Simple Success Secrets No One Told You About, I didn’t exactly have high expectations for The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Getting Your Shit Together. Which could be one of the reasons I was ultimately blown away by it.
The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Getting Your Shit Together won’t necessarily teach you practical know-how and step by step processes you can apply to your business and life. It goes deeper than that, impacting you at a foundational mindset level. It’s like street smarts for the lonely and isolated entrepreneur (which is most of us).
The book is a joy to read, and you feel smarter just holding it in your hands.
No B.S. Wealth Attraction in the New Economy by Dan Kennedy
I have read 11 Dan Kennedy books so far, and most if not all have proven brilliant. But only now do I feel as though I’ve finally hit gold.
And, no surprise, No B.S. Wealth Attraction in the New Economy is sublime. This book sets out to dismantle our mistaken understanding of money, as well as why and how money moves to the people it ultimately does. Then, it shows you how to apply the many “Wealth Magnets” described within.
If you feel like you’re working long and hard and getting nowhere in your entrepreneurial or even artistic career, you need this book.
Ernest S. Holmes is another proponent of New Thought, and one that shouldn’t be ignored if the Law of Attraction and subconscious reprogramming are of interest to you.
Creative Mind and Success features both spiritual insights and practical wisdom that, if melded together, can produce real results in the real world.
I especially liked what he said about always demonstrating activity. If you’re in business, says Earnest, you should be constantly rearranging shelves, creating new promotions, starting new projects, and so on. He says perception of activity alone will draw in new customers.
While he is talking primarily about offline business, the principles work in online business too. If you’re regularly adding new content to your site, redesigning it at frequent intervals, adding products every quarter, and so on, it will appear to customers there is always something going on, which will stimulate sales.
I am applying this principle to my new podcast as well.
We spend our whole lives looking for something, anything to take our business to the next level, help us kick an addiction, have a breakthrough in our relationships, and more.
I have a friend who’s continually searching for the marketing tactic that’s going to take her business over the top. Every time she’s discovered something new, it’s as if she’s found another hidden gift under the Christmas tree.
Ongoing self-education is important, and I think it’s amazing that she’s always on the hunt for the breakthrough that’s going to help her grow her business.
But personally, I have long since given up on the idea of a magic bullet. I look at everything with a level head. It hasn’t stopped me from searching far and wide, but I’ve found every “magical” formula is plagued with one of three problems:
It’s too difficult and time consuming to implement (even though the creators always say it’s “easy,” when realistically you don’t have five hours per day to implement – so you stagnate)
It doesn’t help you out of the hole you’ve already dug (and many entrepreneurs have made mistakes too numerous to mention, whether it’s alienating their audience or breaking key promises), leaving you with little choice but to start over
It doesn’t work – it could be because the strategy is out of date, it could be because the strategy never worked (scam), or it could be because there’s an ingredient intentionally or unintentionally missing in the strategy
Don’t mistake what I’m saying. I haven’t lost hope. Not even in the slightest.
What I’m saying is, first, you’ve got to pick something and go with it. Second, you’ve got to keep the faith and stay consistent with it. And third, you’ve got to be willing to blaze a trail and forge your own path to success. Because you can’t go the same way everyone else has gone and expect to get to where they’ve gotten.
Fundamentally, though, it doesn’t matter what the issue, or problem, or challenge is. You’re the miracle. You’re the magic bullet you’ve been waiting for.
If you want to grow your business, you could launch 52 videos in 2023.
If you want to get in a relationship, you could start asking your friends for referrals (“hey, do you have any hot, single friends?”).
If you want to shake an addiction, you could replace it with meditation.
I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not even saying it’s comfortable. But that’s what makes you the miracle. Because at any given moment, you can get up off the couch and declare, “That’s it! That’s enough! It’s time for me to make a change!” And then go and do what you need to do.
You don’t need more strategy, or thinking, or reflection, or prayer to figure out what you need to do. You know what you need to do. What you need to do is go and do the scary thing.
Don’t wait for the miracle. You are the miracle, So, go and be the miracle for yourself, and for others. When others see that you can be the miracle, they’ll know that they can be the miracle too.