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Cornwall Trip

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Tired. I woke up at half 6. What’s that all about? I awoke from a dream about working at the post office. I suppose that’s a thing that’s going to happen now, just like my recurring dreams of being in Russia or Ukraine or Kazakhstan, the milestones of personal growth and challenge, you know? It was pretty awful though, dreaming about the post office. I was serving a ‘customer’ who wanted me to go through all the bullshit of opening a bank account for him, but have the transaction coded to his branch in Knaresborough. Fucking Knaresborough? I don’t think so. So I was back in that ‘rude skin’ I inhabited whilst working there. That’s the part that will haunt me I think, how that job turned me into someone I really didn’t like at all.

Holiday

I’m just back from a week’s holiday in Cornwall and it was amazing. There were many highlights, including walking on the beach at Harlyn Bay and taking some great photos of my daughter and her boyfriend. It got me thinking that shooting engagements and weddings would actually be something that I would enjoy and I wouldn’t be terrible at.

Harlyn Bay, Cornwall

Tintagel was fantastic – what a place. The cream tea at Merrymoor in Mawgan Porth was superb, and I’m so grateful that my wife moved us on from The Catch, a seafood joint that we’d managed to get a table at.

Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall

The views at Bedruthan Steps are spectacular. That was my number 1 spot to visit on my itinerary, because I have some really nice memories of visiting there with my wife before we were married on my first trip to Cornwall. We bought a painting of that location in Wadebridge and it hangs above my desk now.

The sunset at Daymer Bay while our kids hung out with some family friends kids, making an awesome sand fort – that was a moment.

Future

I was asked a few times – so, what are you doing with yourself these days? It’s got me thinking – why am I reading all these ‘improve your mind’ books, or business books? Why was I thinking about spending $2k on Uncage Your Business? I must admit I got pretty close to ‘converting’ on that one, mainly due to the great marketing job that Rachel and her team did, including TWO personal voice mails after having done a quick review of my ‘business’. I felt almost obliged after that.

But seriously, what AM I trying to do? The honest answer is that I don’t know. I’m soooo lucky that I’m in a position of not having to worry toooo much about it, what with my wife’s job and all, but I do need to start bringing some money in soon. Is my investing into CashFX and Finiko and MTI and Finalmente really going to be all I need to do? Well, if it all works out as I hope it will, then yes, why not? I have a website idea that might work well for me to attract others to come and join and find some freedom. In fact I had a good convo with a family friend while we were away and she seemed interested, so I could really do with having a site that I could point people to with simple explanations of what I’m doing and what they could do too.

That should be my focus this week then.

Social Media Management

What about social media management? I’m not sure. I do enjoy doing that, but I never really got off the ground, or at least never higher off the ground than the Toll Flats in Prestwick. I do still like the idea of doing it for guitar makers and players, but then why have I not edited and published all the videos I made at Ullapool in 2019? I don’t know. I enjoyed recording them a lot – it took real courage and stepping out of my comfort zone even to ask people to do that, so why would I not then edit and publish in a timely fashion?

I don’t know.

I watched a really good 10-minute video tour of Tom Sands’ workshop yesterday on IGTV and thought – ‘hmmmm, I’d love to have done that’. And I probably could have if I’d asked. But of course Tom’s seen how slow I am at getting the final product out there, as it took me over a year to publish the interview I recorded with him and Daisy.

Maybe I need an editor. That’s what the YouTubers are doing these days. I’m so fucking slow at it and I think that’s what’s at the root of my procrastination. But then I’m not earning anything on my videos, so how do I justify paying an editor?

Yes, that old chestnut. Would it not be better to put out consistent content that cost me money in the hope that it would start to draw in viewers through the algorithm’s rewarding my consistency?

Perhaps. Probably.

Or, I just do the work. I mean it’s not like I’m super busy with anything else, even though I always feel like I am.

So I’m kinda glad I didn’t sign up for Yet Another Course. I also didn’t sign up for the Systems Thinking course of August Bradley’s that I wrote about last week. It starts today and I still can’t help but feel that that course might just have been the one that showed me how to build a system that would get me round my procrastination foibles. Oh well, it’s too late now.

15 Years Sober – Recovery from Alcoholism

It’s a cold morning, and raining. I woke up after 8 again. That’s two mornings in a row. Nice.

I’ve got a lot to do today, so I should plan. My number 1 goal is to be nice to my wife, to be helpful and available all day and not get snippy. That means I’ll have to get my computer work done and then get off the computer and be available. My Aspergers makes it really challenging to stop what I’m doing to deal with interruptions. It’s really tricky. My son is even worse, although I would say that he’s further along the spectrum than I and actually has a diagnosis. I, on the other hand, got a free diagnosis from the pediatric consultant when our son was in for his. Not that I need it. I know.

I did get Malagueña done yesterday, and I’m sure that that is partly because I wrote my goals down in a public post. I’m quite surprised at that, although I suppose I shouldn’t be. It’s a really nice piece actually and I’m really starting to enjoy going through the Solo Guitar Playing book.

Double Anniversary

Today is an auspicious day on my calendar. Firstly, it’s 18 years since our wedding day. And secondly, it’s 15 years since my last drink. So yes, my wife put up with three years of being married to a practising alcoholic, and for the four years before that too. I don’t know that I would have stayed with me during those years.

A kitchen table with a dictionary and some notebooks and pens and a bottle of vodka`
I spent my Christmas eve feeling blue and doing Russian revision with vodka.

Normally I would attend an AA meeting to share my birthday share, but none of that is happening right now for obvious reasons.

Recovery from alcoholism is an ongoing thing and never really stops.

Yesterday’s Productivity

Instead of reading Carol Dweck’s Mindset book yesterday, I binged Utopia on Amazon Prime. I saw the original series back in 2013 and loved it, but never followed up with Season 2. I saw that Amazon had remade it so jumped into that. I’m not actually that into Americans’ copying other countries’ content in theory, but in practice, well, I like good shows! So The Office, Utopia, Les Revenants, Old Boy — those are just a few that spring to mind.

The new Utopia was good, but I immediately followed up by watching the original series again and it was very good. This time I jumped into the first episode of season 2 and boy oh boy, was it good! So I’ve got a few more of those to watch.

I don’t really subscribe to the idea that watching TV or movies is a bad idea, you know, the old GaryVee hustle porn shit that says you shouldn’t be wasting time binging TV shows. It’s not a waste of time unless I’m using it as a means of procrastination or hiding from the world, which is a thing that I do, but this wasn’t that. I’m not trying to justify my binging, I’m just saying that I had given myself permission to have a night off, and d’you know what? It was great!

I did read some 4-Day Work Week though. Well, I say ‘read’. I have the audiobook as well, so I fired that on while folding laundry and I’m really enjoying it. One quote really stood out:

I endure a lot through clever rationalisation for sure. I think that’s why my mum’s dying in 2016 was such a cleansing experience. It showed me that there are bigger things that matter and that I should make some changes in my life. I didn’t make any changes, but it was nice to feel that I could for awhile.

So, time to get on with my day. This keyboard though. It makes me want to continue writing because it’s just so darned nice to type on. D’you ever get that?

Rhymes with Peachy

Oh, I just remembered my dream! I was cycling through Ayr and it had been all changed. I was at the traffic lights at the bottom of the high street and they weren’t changing, so we got off our bikes and went into fort to graffiti the walls. In there I met a guy who was a YouTuber but I can’t remember what his name was. He had a new Mac Pro and was setting it up with an external drive and I told him that I had the LG 49 inch monitor. ‘The Sara Dietschy one?’ ‘Yes, that one’. And then Sara was in my dream and I asked her if I could get a tour of her studio.

And I’ve not even been watching any Sara Deitschy videos recently. Weird.

Do I Need 5k Followers?

Just saw this Tweet from Tiago Forte.

So what’s a Bear to do? Ideally build a list. Mmmm, okay. How does one do that? Should I shift this blog to Ghost? But I’m really enjoying WordPress right now! Build a list with my ActiveCampaign CRM? I could to that. Okay, let’s add a field below and then it really is time for me to get on with my day. If you want to help a Bear out, drop your deets in the box below and I’ll figure this thing out!

Writing is a Skill that Requires Practice.

Slept until 08:46. Result! Still feeling tired though. I made Illy coffee again because Len was still sleeping. She got up just as the last drips dropped into the mug. Ugh.

I read a nice quote from Scott Adams’ blog yesterday that kind of sums up what I’m trying to do here:

Writing is a skill that requires practice. So the first part of my system involves practicing on a regular basis. I didn’t know what I was practicing for, exactly, and that’s what makes it a system and not a goal. I was moving from a place with low odds (being an out-of-practice writer) to a place of good odds (a well-practiced writer with higher visibility).

Scott Adams

It was that that inspired me to make this a thing that I do and not just a thing that I think about. And besides, I LOVE this Ducky One 2 keyboard with cherry red switches!

Yesterday’s Goals

What were yesterday’s goals? Let me check…

  1. I didn’t decide on the Notion course yet. I’m letting it percolate. I did reread August Bradley’s sales page and it *almost* converted and still very well might.
  2. Profits reinvested into Finiko and Finalmente as well. I had four plans cash out in Finalmente yesterday!
  3. Adding more Last.fm posts seems like a thing to do maybe one at a time as it’s not moving the needle on anything.
  4. I did get all the guitar exercises done, and done well too, including recording one and playing the teacher part to the recording AND tabbing one out in Guitar Pro.

Small Wins

Installing Guitar Pro and tabbing out a tune. That was a bit of a hurdle that I’d been putting off for a long time. There’s a real learning curve to that software, but I managed to figure out enough to notate a whole exercise!

Content Consumed

I did the dog walk loop in the middle of the day and listened to an enjoyable episode of Roderick on the Line. John Roderick talked at length about a relationship and went into the emotion behind it. It really get a lot from John’s candour, but this one in particular was quite moving and inspirational.

I started reading Mindset, by Carol Dweck. This came up on Jim Kwik’s talk for Teachable’s Share What You Know Summit, but the reviews put me off buying it at that time. It came up again on August Bradley’s course page as a prerequisite for the course, so I thought I’d give it a go. So far I haven’t learned anything from it that I didn’t already know. One reviewer suggested not bothering with it but reading Scott Adams’ book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, instead. That seems more in my wheelhouse.

Can I do the thing that Ali Abdaal recommended in a YouTube video and stop reading a book? Can I really do that?

But wait, let me give Carol Dweck’s book a proper chance. I’ll read more today.

Today’s Goals

  1. Post the Blue Compass mic clamp back for a refund
  2. Post a book away from someone who asked for it on Bookmooch
  3. Learn Malagueña from the Solo Guitar Playing book.
  4. Read Carol Dweck’s book.
  5. Walk the dogs around the circuit.
  6. Write to Teachable with my questions. They didn’t respond to my Tweets.

Doesn’t sound like a really full day, does it? I could do more guitar but I want to NOT over extend with my goals and end up not fulfilling them. And I can spend as much time as is left reading and making notes.

Thoughts like Flies – Systems Thinking

Morning Pages - Thoughts Like Flies

Tired. It’s 07:46 and I’ve been awake for an hour. This happened yesterday, except that I woke up at 05:45 and did manage to get back to sleep. This morning though? Nope. As soon as I awake, the thoughts that are buzzing round my head like flies see that sliver of consciousness and pounce.

Let me just say that Illy coffee though? Yuck. When I wake up early, I use my tin of Illy instead of grinding beans because the family is still asleep, so it’s really an emergency supply. It reminds me of my Luxembourg days, when Maria Cristina and Leo would argue out over Illy vs Lavazza like it was the Mac vs PC wars all over again. It’s a happy memory though. I loved working with them.

Once you start getting freshly roasted beans though, the prepackaged preground stuff becomes emergency only. Even Costa is nicer than that!

August Bradley’s New Course

So, what’s on my mind? It’s actually August Bradley’s new course. You’ll remember yesterday that I talked about Nat Eliason and Roam Research? You obviously do, oh avid reader of mine.

Well, I asked on Twitter if there was a similar Notion course, and I got a helpful reply pointing me to August Bradley’s Notion Playlist on his YouTube channel.

I watched the first few videos and honestly felt like what I was watching was potentially life-changing. And this wasn’t marketing copy, although obviously this is part of August’s master plan of giving away incredibly valuable content as a way of marketing for his paid course—I get that now and can also learn from how he did that.

August talked at length about systems before he even opened up Notion to show us his workflow. And that is where I’m failing. I’ve tried various different tactics over the last year and longer to come up with habits and productivity and none of them have worked. I understand that there is more of a psychological reason here that should be explored, but I feel like August’s holistic approach will help me to understand where my points of failure are and plan for that in my system. In fact it’s not just a feeling—he actually said as much in his early Notion videos.

Sounds like I’m talking myself into buying, doesn’t it?

I scrolled through his page to get to the price, expecting it to be $1197 at least, and yes, it will be that ($1250 actually), but today it’s mine for the low low price of $750!

Sorry, I didn’t mean to be facetious there; I’m sure that it’s actually really good value at that price point, but the fact is that I’m earning fuck all right now and have been earning that much since lockdown started, more or less. Affordability is the kicker.

But if I don’t solve this systems problem that I have, I’ll never make a successful living as a content creator, because I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and that is not working.

Gratitude

I should keep a gratitude list though, right? Of course I should.

  1. Lying in bed this morning before getting up. Instead of feeling frustrated at not being able to get back to sleep, I chose to be mindful of the feeling of warmth as I listened to the wind outside and felt a really nice peaceful feeling of having everything that I need.
  2. I felt gratitude that my wife was lying beside me, not only because she’s amazing in so many ways, but because she was actually in bed. She’s dealing with incredible workloads right now and doesn’t always make it to bed.
  3. A sense of achievement at having started this writing project on this website and at having tidied up some old posts, particularly my book reviews—adding Amazon affiliate links to the beginning of the posts—and my weekly Last.fm chart posts.
  4. Not having to get up to run the post office. That’s something I should be mindful of every day. That was a period of my life that I suppose I had to go through, but fuck me was it brutal! The leg injury period was easier. Twelve years I did that.

What did I Read Yesterday

  1. I finished The Elves of Cintra, by Terry Brooks.
  2. Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, by Svetlana Alexievich. It’s really good.
  3. Four exercises from Solo Guitar Playing, by Frederick Noad, the book I’m planning to launch a course on.

Disclaimer: Some links are Amazon affiliate links.

Today’s Goals

  1. Decide on the Notion course purchase and own the decision.
  2. Buy the next Finiko product with profits earned over the last two weeks.
  3. Decide whether to add more Last.fm posts from my Hive blog.
  4. Complete Lesson 8 of Solo Guitar Playing by the end of the week, so six exercises and three compositions. Let’s make today’s goal the six exercises. Anything else is a bonus.

Morning Pages?

Could I use this blog as a place to write my morning pages? Publish my unedited thoughts to the world?

Yes, I could.

My head is buzzing with creative ideas right now. The problem comes when that feeling goes away, which of course it does. Then I’m left with a feeling of hopelessness, of helplessness.

Share What You Know Summit

I’ve been going through Teachable’s Share What You Know summit. It cost me $40 and came at a time when I wasn’t able to tune in live on days 1 and 2 (of 3). The result of that was that I got behind and started to feel overwhelmed. I did get through some of it, and found it to be quite useful. I took notes in Roam Research, practising the skills I’d learned from Nat Eliason’s Effortless Output in Roam course. I probably watched less than a third of all the content, but I’d already decided that that was enough. Don’t get me wrong—it wasn’t bad, but it was really just a huge advert for the Teachable platform and to the personal brands of the speakers. And that also isn’t a bad thing. One of the talks came up with an analogy of watching someone bleed but not offering your sticking plaster because you don’t want to seem markety. In other words, marketing is just a way of getting your thing in front of people that could really use it.

Could I really use the personal brands of the speakers? Yes, undoubtedly. But what I seem to be lacking is focus.

How to Get Clients to Come to You

The speaker that has stayed with me is Rebecca Tracey. She did one of the night class sessions and talked about her Uncaged Life philosophy. She’s a life coach and made a lot of sense. The core of her philosophy is to come up with a strong message and figure out just what it is that you do.

THAT’S my problem. What do I do? What am I offering potential clients? What do I want to do?

Lack of Focus

I spend my days being busy, following first one thing then another.

‘How much is this course? $250 dollars to learn how to take notes? I’m in!’

‘But wait! What’s this course here? Learn how to teach a course? But I don’t have any course ideas … doesn’t matter – it will change your life! It has the answers! I’m in!’

So, at the end of that week, I’ve not finished the note-taking course, nor having I finished the Teachable course. And I’ve done absolutely nothing to earn my place in this crowded world.

Come up with a Plan

I need a plan, a core product, an offering. Then I need to make sure that the things I’m doing contribute to that, to ‘moving the needle’ in the parlance of our times.

Do I have a plan? Well, I do as it happens. As I walked the dogs last night, it came to me — even though I was listening to a fantasy book. I love guitar, right? My idea of live streaming my practice sessions fell flat, which in turn meant that I’m not getting through my Fred Noad Solo Guitar Playing book.

Why don’t I go through my Noad book to the end, make notes on each exercise on challenges, then go back to the beginning and make a course?

Why not indeed. So that’s my idea. I should set myself a deadline to complete the book – how does the end of the year sound? That could work. I’ll go through the book and come up with a weekly quota.