Extraordinary Insights Volume 1

Last month I opened up a Q&A where you had the option to anonymously ask me any question about anything you thought would help you and others. I received a lot of responses and this post is well over 6,000 words. Many of the questions were similar so I did my best to edit them into a single question and I also didn’t answer a few of the questions at all because they didn’t fall within the realm/spirit of what this is about.

Before we get to it, I would like to thank Roy Naim for formatting the questions for me into categories. :)

Let’s get to it …

Business / Blogging – 15 Questions

Knowing what you know now, if you had $1,000 to start your life of Ridiculously Extraordinary Freedom over, how would you allocate it?

This question could be taken a myriad of ways, but I’ll do my best.

Considering I started my first 6 figure business for less than $200 and this blog for less than $200 (as far as revenue, also a 6 figure business) I wouldn’t do much differently. We can always think about “I should have done this” or “I could have done that” or “I wish I did X this way” but none of that is particularly useful.

The simple procedure I’ve taken for everything that I’ve done successfully has been along the lines of:

  1. Decide on a niche, even if it’s not particularly well defined.
  2. Give that niche what it wants.

Is that too basic? Too pared down? No, it isn’t.

If you focus on giving people what they want then you will get what you want. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Which might lead to another question: “Well, what do people want?”

Health, wealth, and happiness.

In whatever niche you’re in this is what people are looking for.

Say you write a blog about fitness. What is your audience looking for? They probably want to lose weight and get fit so they feel good about themselves when they’re out and about in their daily lives. What does that mean? They want health and happiness.

It’s not complicated. Most people overcomplicate business and achieving success. That’s not to say that it’s necessarily easy to dominate or establish a foothold in your niche, but it is possible and the general process is not complicated.

How do you decide on particular niche markets? What filters do you use and how systematic can you make it for beginners?

Find the cross section of what you love and what people pay for. Again, it’s not complicated. Most of us have multiple interests. Take stock of those interests.

Which would you be happy to be involved with 5-10 years down the line?

That’s a good start. If you don’t see yourself in any particular market 5-10 years down the line then you’re not business focused, you’re money focused. That’s what day jobs are for.

Once you’ve envisioned one of your interests 5-10 years down the line, it will take a little research to see if it’s a viable market. In other words, can you make money?

To do that look for other blogs, books, eBooks, courses, seminars, webinars, and websites in the market. Is there anybody making money in your prospective market? If yes, good. Are there multiple people making money in your prospective market? If yes, great.

Are there not very many websites on your topic? It’s probably too small and it would behoove you to choose one of your other interests.

Do you use in-the-back stuff like keywords and backlinks to increase traffic? I know you use great content to secure followers and affiliate links to increase income, but how great a role do the less-visible elements play?

Backlinks that come naturally from other websites linking to me? Yes. Everything else? No.

My SEO sucks. How did you get good at it?

I don’t focus on SEO at all. Thesis Theme (the wordpress theme I use) is set up out-of-the-box to have great on-page SEO and 15% of my traffic comes from Google without focusing on Google whatsoever.

I’ve done absolutely nothing else. I don’t research keywords (although maybe I should). I don’t do article marketing (although maybe I should). I don’t spam with crappy article spinning (ugh, please never do this; if you don’t know what I’m referring to then all the better).

I’ve witnessed your site (and business, in general) grow from TALKING about being extraordinary, to truly BECOMING extraordinary. What were the most integral steps to making that happen?

I’m not entirely sure what this means, to be honest.

What I will say is nothing new though: give people what they want, be honest, show your true self (flaws and all), and people will connect with you.

The reason you see this advice repeated is because it works.

Another reason you see this advice repeated is because the general question is fairly common.

Successful people aren’t successful because of luck or necessarily even skill.

They’re successful because when they get advice (like give people what they want, be honest, show your true self) from someone who is successful they take action on it.

There are no secrets. No magic pills.

Napoleon Hill said (paraphrased): “If you can conceive and believe, you can achieve.”

What he left out was “Get off your ass and do something.”

I’m a bit overwhelmed with the mechanical aspects of starting my own website. Can you offer a little insight into what you use to run Ridiculously Extraordinary? Google Analytics? Themes? E-junkie? Feedburner? Widgets?

I have a very uncomplicated setup although if you’re just getting started then it will seem complicated.

Web host: BlueHost

Content Management System (CMS): WordPress (very quick install when you use BlueHost)

WordPress Theme: Thesis (I hung out with the creator Chris Pearson a couple times in Austin. He’s a really smart guy and I’m happy to support entrepreneurs who kick ass.)

Traffic analytics: Google Analytics

Shopping cart: E-junkie

Credit card processor: Paypal (usually) and Google Checkout (sparingly)

RSS subscriptions: Feedburner

E-mail course: Aweber (The #1 factor for your long term business success is having an e-mail list. Ignore this at your own peril.)

Image hosting: Amazon S3

Note on Amazon S3: I use Amazon S3 to host all the images and file downloads on my blog so that my web host is not overwhelmed when there are traffic spikes. When we did the Cyber Monday Only72.com sale we did almost 500GB of bandwidth in those 3 days. That would kill most web hosts. BlueHost held up just fine because we only used it to host the website, not all the large files. :)

WordPress Plugins:

- Akismet

- Amazon S3 For WordPress

- Contact Form 7

- Google XML Sitemaps

- MaxBlogPress Ping Optimizer

- PC Robots.txt

- Subscribe To Comments (highly recommended you use something like this)

- TweetMeme Retweet Button

- WordPress-Facebook-Like

- WordPress.com Stats (not very good and have considered scrapping this)

- WP Super Cache

I have quit my day job 4 months ago and am trying to make money online since. I have a vision to earn small amount of $500 – $1000 monthly – that is my ‘enough’ line. I intend to then share my knowledge to others because I believe everyone should know an easy way to make a basic living without much work. This is probably very hard question but anyway, what would you do to achieve my goal? Or is it utopia?

Unfortunately you did it backwards. The idea is that you start making money first, then you quit your job. It’s very rare that somebody can quit their job and then figure out how to make money for themselves. There is just too much pressure.

As far as your idea of sharing your knowledge about how to make a living without much work: it doesn’t exist. And it’s actually a trap a lot of people get into.

How many bloggers write about how to blog without having a successful blog of their own? How many bloggers write about how to make money online without making any money online for themselves? How many bloggers write about traveling the world and working from anywhere without actually knowing a thing about travel? Too many. Some, unfortunately, are successful and spread messages and theories that don’t work. Thankfully, most are not successful.

Don’t think about how you can make money showing people how to make money. Add value to other people’s lives and you will make money. That value will not come by showing somebody how to do something that you do not know how to do.

Regarding branding for a blog: Do you think it’s better for the domain name to be the author’s own name, or a word/phrase that relates to the niche the blog is about?

There are just too many great examples for me to say you can’t use your name.

ChrisGuillebeau.com and TylerTervooren.com being two of them.

That said, you’ll see a common thread amongst the bloggers who blog with their names as the domain: they all give their blogs a unique name.

Chris’s is The Art of Non-conformity.

Tyler’s is Advanced Riskology.

As long as you come up with a good hook, the small details don’t matter.

For me, the pivotal moment that brought me wholeheartedly into your camp was the You Are Not A Number post. You have a great capacity for being welcoming and connecting with your readers, and it’s very much appreciated. How do you keep up with all of that and still have time for all of your writing projects and the other things that are important to you? How can new bloggers learn to focus without getting sucked in to the blogosphere to the exclusion of all else?

It’s not an issue of having time or making time. It’s what I do, so the time is there. In other words, there is nothing to keep up with because it’s what I do.

The way you approach blogging and connecting is important. If you take it seriously you’ll make it happen.

As for not getting sucked into the blogosphere: don’t have more than 10 subscriptions in your RSS feed and don’t spend all your time pretending to connect with people on Twitter. These subscriptions and follows can change over time (i.e. remove one, add one, remove two, add one, remove one, add two, whatever). Simple. Do it or don’t.

How do you decide whether or not to write about other people, say friends and family, in your blog? Do you ask permission or change names? I realize that you don’t do it very often and that your blog is about your goal to help your ‘right people’ realize their personal definition of freedom, so other folks don’t show up very often in your posts. Even so, if you have an answer, I’d love to hear it.

I write about whatever I want to write about. I don’t worry about repercussions because any repercussions you might be imagining are in your head. Nothing truly bad will happen by being honest with yourself and those in your life. Will some relationships fizzle or strain? Maybe. But isn’t it better to live with a free conscience and let your friends/family know how you truly feel? If it does bother you just don’t write about people.

Is it realistic to build your own online business in three months with 5-figure income coming in at the end and quit 9-5 job?

No.

I have a product I am trying to sell but I’m having a hard time connecting with people in my industry through email. I try to come off friendly, offering value, in a short, personal email, but largely these emails go ignored. I know these individuals are pitched all the time and my low pressure friendly tactics don’t seem to be working. Do you typically build a friendship first or just try and get to the point? Is it really a friendship if your looking for business?

If you’re just looking for business, then no it’s not friendship. That doesn’t mean it can’t work, or that you won’t become friends, but it’s an uphill battle.

How do you get around it? Connect with people you’re a fan of. It doesn’t matter if they’re in your industry or not. Most of my friends are not in my industry. Most of the people I know online are only in my industry in a roundabout way because we’re bloggers and Internet entrepreneurs.

If you’re trying to sell someone on an initial contact then you’re not coming off as friendly or offering any value. You’re focused on what you can get not what you can give. Give first. Give what you think may be too much. You’ll get more than enough back.

To better set and track my goals of world domination, what is a vague/approximate number for “small army members” per annual dollar in revenue? For example, if you have 10K people who occasionally check out your site, 2K people who buy your cheaper stuff & click on affiliate links and 500 people who buy your flagship project, this produces an annual income of x number of dollars. (I’m shooting for a goal of $2k in income per month from my online business and wanting to know what milestones I need to set to accomplish this goal.)

This is literally impossible to answer in the way you’re thinking about it because every single business, without fail, is different and produces different metrics.

If you want $2k/month this is how it’s broken down:

If you have a $10 product you need to make 200 sales to make $2,000. If you need to make 200 sales and your conversion rate is 1% then you need 20,000 visitors.

If you have a $100 product you need to make 20 sales to make $2,000. If you need to make 20 sales and your conversion rate is 1% you need 2,000 visitors.

You have to look at the numbers specifically for your business and reverse engineer what you have to do to make the numbers work.

Is it a possibility that privatization of the internet, anti net neutrality legislation (or the government’s refusal to protect net neutrality in the US) will have a negative effect on Freedom Fighters who are trying to pursue an online freedom business lifestyle?

Do what you do, don’t worry about what could happen. Live for today, not for tomorrow. Nobody can take today away from you. If you’re worrying about tomorrow then they’ve already taken everything you will ever have.

I am new to the internet business world. I have decided to set up a team to move forward with some of my ideas. My question is, how do I best identify potential partners whom I can trust will be on topic with my vision? I do not have a lot of local access, my inner circle is not as savvy as I am, which is not saying much.

The first question I have to ask is, why do you need a team? Start small, start with just yourself, when you need to add someone to the team (you might not) then worry about it. At this point you just need to get started and ship something. You’ll know when a potential partner is a good fit based on how you feel and when you know exactly what you need them for.

How do you think the minimalist lifestyle and business model applies to those gifted in and drawn to the artisan crafts or fine arts?

Can you live a minimalist lifestyle and still produce artisan crafts? Yes. I’m assuming you’re asking since you’ll need a lot of gear to make certain crafts. Minimalism is about having exactly what you need and nothing more. It’s not about owning 100 things.

Follow up to the last question: Can you achieve freedom as a leather craftsman?

Yes, but it depends on your definition of freedom. Truthfully, only you can answer this question because you are in the fantastic position of defining your own freedom.

Personal Development – Fear, Habits, Passion – 8 Questions

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There are many great blogs out there talking about how to monetize your passion. My question is what about those of us who don’t really feel passionate about anything? I find that since I decided to stop “striving” for pointless achievements I feel lost in limbo. I “like” many things, but nothing I would call “passion.” On behalf of the passionless what is your opinion/experience with this?

That’s a great question. If you’re passionless it’s a symptom of something greater, like depression. I know what that’s like. I spent years in a seemingly endless pit of despair.

That said, to find your passion, a great place to start is with the things you like, but you don’t believe you’re passionate about. You may surprise yourself once you begin focusing on something.

It’s similar to the way I approach fitness and working out. Lots of people say they hate working out or they start a workout program and quit because they don’t like it. Fair enough, there is a lot not to like.

The key isn’t to force yourself into a workout program you don’t enjoy. The key is to keep searching until you find a workout that you do enjoy.

The same can be said for passion. Which of your “likes” can you see yourself working at 5-10 years from now?

How do I combat my fear of not being perfect or good enough and just get started doing and living extraordinarily?

Nobody is perfect. The fear holding you back is most likely fear of failure. But we already know failure doesn’t exist. Resistance, to use Steven Pressfield’s word, is also holding you back. But it holds all of us back. Know that every successful person in the world deals with the same issues as you. Sure, once somebody has a bit of success it begets more success, but that doesn’t mean that Resistance isn’t trying to keep us back. If there’s something you want to do sit down for 1 minute, just 60 seconds, and start doing it. Once you start you will build momentum. If that doesn’t work then you’re working on something you’re not at all interested in.

(If you’d like to know how to achieve perfection click here.)

I find myself wanting to just stay away, be alone with my own thoughts for fear that I may lose my uniqueness. This may sound weird but this is one of the reasons I don’t read a lot, unless is something specific I want to know about. With so much information out there, how do you keep your thoughts/ideas from being contaminated with those of other people?

Here’s the reality: nobody is truly unique. Every thought you have came from somewhere. Every thought I have has been influenced by someone or some thing. I welcome my thoughts being “contaminated” by other ideas. This is how we grow. I know what I believe, but I’m also open to change. In actuality, reading a lot will expand and reinforce many of your ideas. And it might even change some of them for the better. :)

When an individual finds someone who inspires them, it can be easy to fall into a “what would Karol do?” mindset, at least initially. You are great at shifting the focus from you and your ideas to us and our potential. Human beings are in general self-centered, and shifting the focus from inward reflection to outward desire to help others is so valuable. How did you learn how to do that, and how can we learn it, so as to help others with our particular gifts?

When I’m writing on my blog or other public writing it is usually directed to one person, or maybe a few people. That helps me remove focus from myself and shift it to you. It’s a very conscious process. And in that respect it’s very easy to learn. If you want to share your gifts with someone simply focus on them when you’re writing or speaking. Don’t think about helping the masses, think about helping one individual, or a few individuals with similar traits.

One of your big things is “it’s not a race.” What’s your best advice for new readers of RidEx and Freedom Fighters who desperately want to leave the rat race, and have a hard time pacing themselves and dealing with the concept of delayed gratification? How do they temper their urge to hurry, so as to get the most out of the valuable process of life changes without losing momentum?

I will share with you the truth: you have no choice. You can pace yourself and succeed or you can rush through things and virtually guarantee failure. Knowing this doesn’t necessarily make delaying gratification any easier, but at least you know the outcome of whatever you choose to do. As for momentum, if you’re working towards something that you feel in every fiber of your being then you won’t need motivation to keep it up.

Somebody once asked me why I’m an entrepreneur. It’s because I have no choice. I can’t work a 9 to 5. It’s not simply due to freedom or because I hate corporate structure or whatever else everybody says. I simply have no other choice because I am not a hire-able human being. Don’t give yourself any other choice. No backup plans. No “ehh, if X doesn’t work I can always do Y.” If you want something get it. It’s there for you to take. Opportunity is everywhere, but most people waste it because they’re too busy road raging, watching Dexter, and sucking down quarter pound grease-ball burgers from McDonald’s (hat tip to Denis Leary for that line).

Sometimes a seemingly random event can be the thing that tips one over the edge toward determination to live a more extraordinary life. It can be as simple as a line in a song or a conversation with a neighbor. What’s one of yours? What are some ways people can think constructively about them, and take the needed steps and do the work to expand on them?

Well, I don’t believe things happen for a reason. We just happen to live with a lot of coincidence. Which is great. We can still hone that and use it for the greater good. I get a lot of inspiration from music. A line I’ve been quoting for years now is from a Down song called “Never Try” and it goes like this: “Never try, either do it or don’t waste your time.” Any time I’m not sure about something or I feel a bit unmotivated that usually perks me up. Or it forces me to make the decision to quit what I’m doing because it’s not something I’m really interested in pursuing.

Actively pursuing these “random events” isn’t worth the time or effort so there’s nothing I can recommend as far as taking certain steps or expanding upon them. You need to put your success on your shoulders instead of randomness or coincidence and make things happen.

I seem to fall off the wagon at the 5 day mark when changing a new habit. Days 1-3 I’m full of enthusiasm, 4 and 5 I use willpower to make sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to, but then I forget that I’m supposed to be changing my behavior. Any advice on that?

There are various studies that say you need 21 or 28 or 30 days to form a new habit. To be honest with you, I don’t bother with looking at numbers like that very often. Every day is Day 1. If there is something you need to do, do it. If you make it to Day 4, stay in the moment and think of it as Day 1. If you miss a day, start at Day 1. No guilt. Changing yourself for the better is an imperfect process, it doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s not a race. Eventually momentum will take over and it will be easier. There’s a reason I write every day. It’s not necessarily for the practice or even because I enjoy it. Both of those things are true, but it’s because I’m constantly fighting momentum, Resistance. If I skip a day it’s pretty easy to start back up. If I skip 2 days it gets more difficult. If I skip 3 I might as well forget it.

As an example: this document was supposed to be completed about a month ago. Do you know what happened? I let Resistance win. I let momentum win. I skipped a day because I didn’t make the time (due to traveling or some other commitment). Then I skipped another day because “hey, what’s one more day?” Today (note: date of writing = January 11, 2011), a full 3 weeks after the last time I even looked at this document, I decided I’d work on it for just a few minutes. It’s now 2 hours later and I’m raging through it. I may not finish it today, but I’ve started the snowball effect. Tomorrow I’ll be much more likely to tackle more questions. In a few days this will be complete.

We all struggle with this. It’s important not to let guilt or shame or any other negative feelings stop you from achieving what you want to achieve.

How does one get over an injustice?

Injustice is a part of life. There is not much you can do to control outside forces. You can, however, control how you react. The best way to react is not to react. Let it be, let it pass. Move on.

Lifehack – 7 questions

How can you get affordable health insurance working for yourself?

I wrote about this here.

Don’t smoke, don’t drink a lot, exercise, be healthy. Then choose a plan with a high deductible and a Health Savings Account (HSA), which allows you to put money aside in a bank tax free to be used only for medical expenses.

When I first began buying my own health insurance it was about $50/month. 6 years later it’s $100/month. For absolutely no reason (besides corporate greed) since I very rarely go to the doctor. The health industry needs a drastic upheaval, but politicians are too weak to make positive change happen. The best thing you can do is not rely on shady politicians (in other words, every single politician; yes, even that one) or the backwards insurance industry. Get healthy. Use high deductible insurance as “catastrophe” insurance in case of an accident or something else major.

How do you move around and find affordable apartments / housing for 2 to 3 months in a foreign location? I mean, in a way that doesn’t just rely on the internet or craigslist.

Why the aversion to relying on the Internet? We live in an amazing time that makes our traveling lives immeasurably easier than just a few years ago.

I’ve found all of my apartments via the Internet, except in India where I found it in a guidebook. CouchSurfing.org, Craigslist.org (not my favorite, but it works), GumTree.com (where available; Europe, Asia, Australia), and Google searches for “short term apartment + [city]” will help you find what you need. In a pinch you can use something like AirBNB.com, but apartments there have been incredibly overpriced every time I’ve searched.

How can we as Freedom Fighters bridge the gaping holes in the education system so that future leaders and creators don’t fall through the cracks? I realize there are as many answers to this as there are people in the world, so this question is for everyone reading this. What do you think about it?

The educational system is horribly flawed. It is not there to create thought leaders, but to churn out numbers; cogs in the machine. What you can do is influence the younger generation through writing, speaking, and mentoring. You won’t reach everybody, but even if you only reach one youngster you will have changed someone’s world. The more often this happens the more amazing our future will become.

Please comment on travel and living from anywhere for a person who is sight impaired. Are accommodations for the disabled better or worse outside the USA?

Honestly I have no idea how well the world is accommodated to the sight impaired. That said, I’m sure there is lots of information out there if you ask around, specifically at organizations that you probably already have contacts with. Even though this is a horrible answer I’m hoping maybe somebody has more insight and will answer in the comments. :)

I’m not a travel virgin, but I’m getting ready to plan a couple of much bigger trips (1 solo across the country, and 1 overseas to Europe) and I was wondering how do you plan your trips?

Congrats on your upcoming voyages! I don’t plan much except where I’m flying into and possibly when I’m leaving. But even this depends on a lot of factors. For example, when I went to India last year it was to learn how to build a guitar. I knew I’d be there for at least those 3 weeks, but I planned on staying for approximately 3 months. I didn’t enjoy it very much so I left after 2 months and headed to Thailand. In Thailand I could only get a 30 day visitor on arrival visa and I didn’t want to keep doing border runs (I did one and it was a waste of a day), so I stayed for 40 days and went to Poland for 4 ½ months. If your trip is open-ended you should leave room for a lot of flexibility because you never know how you’ll feel about certain places.

Any advice for tackling sleep onset insomnia? The kind where your body is tired enough to fall asleep but your brain won’t shut off?

Interestingly, Tim Ferriss’s new book 4-Hour Body has a whole section on sleep onset insomnia. I used to have it as well. There are 2 things that helped me: I stopped being depressed and I started writing every day. I have one of those “won’t shut off” brains, but by consistently getting words out of my head and onto paper (or a computer) it has helped a lot.

What are your techniques for getting the basics of a new language down quickly? How do you adjust when you are in a new language situation? What successes have you had in language learning that can inspire others?

I don’t shoot for anything but the basics so there is no real strategy I use. There are a few things you should always learn: hello, thank you, please, goodbye, how much, where is the toilet. Once you’ve got that all down (it should take an hour or two) it’s all a matter of just getting out there and expanding as you see fit.

When I’m in a new language situation I use a lot of Traveler’s Sign Language along with the above words/phrases. TSL is universal and there’s no correct way to use it. Point and smile, point and smile. :)

I don’t think my language learning will ever inspire anybody. I took 2 years of Spanish in High School from a teacher who probably never left the United States and probably couldn’t hold a conversation in the language. I know approximately 27 Spanish words. As for Polish: I can speak fluently but that’s because I grew up with it and went back to Poland recently with the specific task of not sucking at speaking Polish anymore. I’ve always considered myself fluent, but it was always really slow and broken and awkward. It’s a lot better now, and I’m going to make regular trips back to Poland to keep me on my toes.

Personal - 11 Questions

How are you managing family relationships with the people that do not follow you around the world?

I have a small family and I haven’t lived near them in 7 years so I do what I’ve always done: phone or skype. I also visit at least once per year.

That said, as I recently wrote, relationships are the most difficult part of traveling.

How did you really feel after the Everything Matters post? And a couple of days after the whole TV discussion?

You’re assuming I felt differently than what I’ve previously expressed.

Those who got it, got it. Those who didn’t, didn’t. It’s really nothing more than that. I find it sad that people will defend their TV watching (TV is set up to keep you from reaching your dreams), but it doesn’t bother me because those are most likely not my right people. That said, my right people choose me, I don’t choose them. I might draw the line in the sand, but you choose which side you’d like to stand on. Or maybe you just say “fuck the line” altogether. :)

What do you regret? Or what are your thoughts on regret?

I don’t think about regrets. I do, however, think about “if I don’t do X then I’ll regret it.” In that way, I don’t create future regrets.

Do I have regrets? Sure, but it’s of no use thinking about them except to acknowledge that they were there. There is absolutely nothing you or I can do to change the past, so no sense in having any negative feelings (such as regret) about the past.

How do you take criticism or deal with criticism? How do you take it constructively and not let it get personal?

Great question with a fairly simple answer: I don’t read hater e-mails, comments or reviews. As soon as I get a comment or an e-mail that is hateful (it’s easy to spot) I delete it. I know the writer is sad or lonely or depressed and probably just needed to get something off their chest. They probably don’t feel any better after doing it and I’m sure not going to add fuel to the fire by responding or even reading. In other words, “fuck ‘em.” ;)

I wasn’t always like this. I used to get really depressed with criticism until I realized it wasn’t a problem with me, it was a problem with them.

As an example, I was recently having a pleasant conversation with a cute girl at a bar. She said something insulting so I told her “you can go back to your friends now.” If you just read that it might make me sound like an asshole, but I just don’t have time to waste on personal attacks of any kind. You shouldn’t have time for them either. You can let certain people walk all over you or you can show them the door. The power is in your hands, not theirs. It’s your choice.

This also holds true if the criticism is coming from people close to you. You must stop associating with them. Avoid the unhappy and unlucky. Think you can’t do it? Read what Jennifer Gresham wrote in “Why I Fired My Father (And Maybe You Should Too)” about why she quit her relationship with her father.

You deserve positive, encouraging, inspiring, helpful people in your life. Don’t accept anything less.

In the Luxury of Less you mentioned that you had some depressive moments in your life back in the days. What has contributed to turning around this dark period of your life? When was the “click” moment that you felt that it was time to do something? Have some helped through this process or did you do all by yourself? What would you say to the ones that are living those hard moments right now?

My answer to this question changes every time I am asked. Mostly because it wasn’t any one thing. I knew I wasn’t going to kill myself because that was stupid to me, so I could either choose to be happy or choose to be depressed. Being depressed is no fun, being happy is fun. It was a simple choice when I boiled it down to its essence. If I had to pinpoint it then the “click” began when I started going out and meeting people through CouchSurfing. It was like “oh, wow, there are cool people out there who like me for me!” and we got along very well. In that way it was a group effort, but internally it was a solo effort.

If you’re living those hard moments right now I would say this:

1) Find something you love so much that you wouldn’t leave it by killing yourself. For me that was my cat Jessie, but it can be anything, even an inanimate object. Hell, even a TV show. :)

2) Get professional help. This was my mistake. If you’re on the brink right now, in the US you can call (800) 273-8255. We want you here.

3) Start slowly, but get out of your comfort zone. In Luxury of Less I talk about Solo Social Activities. Don’t be afraid to go out and do things that most people do in groups even if you don’t have a group to do them with. Learn to love spending time with yourself. An interesting thing happens when you do this: you’ll actually find people who love spending time with you as well.

Do you finish what you start?

Yes and no. Yes, if I want to. No, if I don’t. For example, if I’m reading a book and it hasn’t captivated me in the first 50 pages there is no way I will continue reading it. My time is too important to waste. If I’m working on a project that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and I can see pushing through that dip isn’t worth it (sometimes it is worth pushing through the dip) then I quit.

So the question remains: how do you know if something is worth pushing through the dip? Well, Seth Godin wrote a whole book about this (The Dip), which I recommend you read. You intuitively know when you’re working on something that will change your world. And you also know when you’re working half-assed towards something. Either put your all into it or don’t bother. Otherwise you’re wasting your time and everybody else’s time as well.

One of the things that inspires me most about your lifestyle is the small number of possessions and clothing that you own/carry around with you. Which for me begs the question: what do you wear while you’re doing laundry?

Ha! Right now I have 4 shirts, 4 pairs of socks, and 4 underwear. So on Day 4 I do my laundry and I have clean stuff to wear on Day 5. When I wash my pants (not very often) I wear my shorts. It’s all very simple really. :)

I want to hear more about when you became vegan. What prompted the decision? Did you go vegetarian first? How old were you? What did/do your family and friends think?

What prompted the decision is knowing that I was ruining the world and myself by directly contributing to and supporting the torture and rape of animals simply so I could get fat and lazy at McDonald’s and Taco Bell and “that awesome local restaurant OMG!” I was first exposed to vegetarianism when I was 19 and dated a vegetarian. Since that time I began incorporating more vegetarian meals into my diet. I never liked cooking with meat so at home it wasn’t an issue. If I was out and about the raw meat was sight unseen so it was easier to deal with. Eventually, consciously thinking about what I was eating sickened me so much I couldn’t even do it when I was out at a restaurant. Yes, I went vegetarian first, for about 2 months. I was 27. My family/friends thought I was insane. Insanity is believing it’s OK to brutally kill (it’s never quick and painless, it is brutal, don’t fool yourself into believing otherwise) billions of living things when there are alternatives. I don’t expect most people to understand this because most people don’t live life on purpose. I’m actually working on something to inspire people to at least make the step to not eat animals 1 day every week. That’s so easy to do. While it may not have a massive impact, a small positive impact is better than no impact.

And because I get a followup question a lot: what about hunting? If you’re going to go out and kill your food in the wild (not canned hunts) like a conscious, sane, member of the ecosystem I don’t have an issue with that. If you’re human enough to kill/prepare/dress the meat (no cop outs, anybody can murder) like our ancestors then you deserve to eat it. Most people will never do this because it sickens them, and yet … ?

Do you meditate with a phrase? I like “May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be well. May you be peaceful and at ease. May you be happy.” I like this one a lot and it helps to center me. Do you have a phrase or mantra that helps you and could maybe help others?

I don’t meditate, but I hope for anybody who does they get something out of your mantra. :)

Did you find a way to deal with the scarcity mindset you described in this post and was it actively working towards the solution or just letting it go away?

Writing that post actually did the trick. :) In that way it was an active solution, but it was also realizing that every successful person deals with scarcity and resistance and tons of other mental blocks. It’s OK that you feel them. Let them be, let them pass, continue on your path.

###

Whew! There we have it. Extraordinary Insights Volume 1. I enjoyed doing this and I hope you got a lot out of it. I’m thinking I will probably do something like this once or twice every year.

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{ 48 comments }

Lach

What do people what? “Health, wealth, and happiness”. Darn straight. This was so illuminating for me. The happiness sector: that’s my sector :)

Karol

Yessir! Happiness is definitely your sector. :)

Ryan

Just found your blog through this post Lach. Pretty sure you’re my favorite person of the day!

Laurie

Thanks Karol, I’ve been looking forward to this. :) As usual, sometimes your answers aren’t what I thought they’d be, but that’s great, it always stretches my thinking. Once again, your honesty shines thru, and that’s always inspiring and helpful.

Glad to know you might want to do this once or twice a year!

Karol

Thanks Laurie. The curveballs aren’t on purpose, I do what the coach (my brain) tells me. :)

Wilson

wow brother, this must have taken you hours maybe even days, but I appreciate it. You answered some questions I’d been asking myself. Can’t wait for volume two!

Karol

Including editing it took about 10 hours, maybe more.

Michael Carwile

Wow, what an awesome write-up and great insight into your experience and knowledge. This is probably one of the most helpful posts about the “lifestyle” I’ve read.

With so many questions and answers, its hard to isolate any one particular point that sticks out. I found myself reading every question/answer and taking a moment to ponder the impact of the answer on my own circumstance. I wanted to say thanks for sharing such a useful post. I will be referencing some of the information in it for quite some time.

Karol

Thanks Michael. No worries about attempting to isolate points. :) Glad you enjoyed it!

Sarah St John

“Fuck the line” – Love it. I think I’ll make that one of my mottos. :)

Karol

Good motto. :)

Erika

Wow. This is so helpful! *bookmarking now* Thank you!

Karol

You’re welcome Erika. Glad you like it. :)

Caleb

“As an example, I was recently having a pleasant conversation with a cute girl at a bar. She said something insulting so I told her “you can go back to your friends now.” If you just read that it might make me sound like an asshole, but I just don’t have time to waste on personal attacks of any kind. You shouldn’t have time for them either. You can let certain people walk all over you or you can show them the door. The power is in your hands, not theirs. It’s your choice.”

This really rung true for me. Recently I was in a situation with a girl; after a couple dates she insulted me(seriously), and I knew if I let it go she would probably continue to see me, but I also knew that I don’t have to let anybody walk over me like that. So I told her to have a nice life.

It’s good to know that my common sense has more willpower than my dick. :)

Thanks for the great post.

Karol

Haha! –> “It’s good to know that my common sense has more willpower than my dick.”

Sarah St John

Darn, I want this for a motto too, but I think it probably won’t work for me.

Karol

It works for you metaphorically speaking. :)

Rosa

haha! I am with you.

Justin Hamlin

Karol –

First time reader, though I only for a lack of time in the day to get around to the blog I want to read!

Great post, very detailed and I very much appreciate the effort put in to answering all of those questions thoughtfully and thoroughly.

Finding your niche is probably the most important thing to new bloggers, one that a lot overlook, myself included.

Thank you again for all of the effort.

Karol

Thanks for reading Justin. Glad you got something useful out of this.

Susan

Wow Karol! This post was really informational and inspiring. I’ve just recently discovered that I’m not the only human with passions that just have to be pursued and doubts about how to do it! Looking forward to part 2 of your insights.
FYI: I’ve had good luck with the individuals who post on vrbo.com when it comes to finding short term rentals. Remember, (almost) everything’s negotiable!

Karol

Ahh, yes, thanks Susan, I always forget about vrbo.com. It is usually similarly expensive to AirBNB, but I’m sure it can work in certain situations.

paurullan

From time to time I write in my journal a couple of sentences that had inspired me over the week. I love this text so much I could fully copy it.

Karol

:) That’s amazing. Thank you Pau.

Rosa

Wow! will have to come back later and read it again.
As always, love the honesty in your writing.
Thank you!

Karol

You’re welcome Rosa. Glad you like it. :)

Jen Gresham

This is an awesome post, Karol, and I’m deeply grateful for being included (though note it’s Gresham, not Grisham–I wish!).

I love your honesty and whole-heartedly agree with learning to enjoy spending time alone. I remember when I first started forcing myself to go out to eat at nice restaurants by myself while traveling. I worried everyone was looking at me and thinking, “How sad.” But over time I realized, it wasn’t sad at all. I LOVE food and being alone allowed me to concentrate on it, to listen to myself, and to take time to really observe the world around me. Now I find alone time is one of the most precious things I have. :)

So glad I got to meet you at BlogWorld. Hopefully our paths will cross again in 2011. :)

Jen

Karol

Thanks Jen. Sorry for misspelling your name. Mine is misspelled a good 50% of the time when somebody links to me so I know what that’s like. :)

If you’ll be at SXSW or World Domination Summit our paths will cross again!

Jason Dudley

This is absolute gold, thank you so much Karol for taking the time to do this. The thing that has surprised me, and encouraged me, the most is how simple your set up is. It really is just about the content. Thanks again.

Karol

You’re welcome Jason. It is uncomplicated. No need to overcomplicate if you don’t need to and you probably never need to. :)

Kenny Eller

Awesome post! This is one I will come back to over and over again as I grow my own brand. Thanks for sharing Karol! You da man!

Karol

Thanks Kenny! :)

Ainslie

I feel like I got what I came here for out of your answer to the first question, so I had to stop immediately to comment! I’m in the process of starting up a vegan, holistic nutrition coaching business and hearing “give people what they want” and that what they want is “health, wealth, and happiness” is so encouraging and totally makes me feel like I’m on the right track! I just want to give everyone health! And happiness through health! /totally ridiculous hippy. Thanks for this, Karol. Also, hi. Been reading your blog for a while but never commented before. Ok, now I’ll go read the rest of the post… :)

Karol

Hey Ainslie, thanks for reading and stopping to comment. Awesome that you got what you needed from the first question. :) Hopefully the rest isn’t a waste. ;)

Ainslie

Ha! Just finished up the rest, totally not a waste! Hilariously, though, your comments about making money at a freedom business BEFORE quitting a 9-5/crappy job are actually making me consider going back to a part-time job that I’m not crazy about while I start up my coaching business, just to help get the no money fear out of my head while I work on my own stuff. Seriously debating whether this would be a sensible or fear-based decision. Aaaaaand now I’m thinking out loud in your comments. This was definitely a thought-provoking post for me, so thanks for sharing!

Karol

If you have a plan and clients in place as well as savings then I would say go gung ho into the business. No turning back. If you’re going to be treading water and struggling while you’re figuring things out that might be another story.

Ainslie

Hmmm. I feel like I’m somewhere between those two – I have a small amount of savings, I don’t have paying clients yet, but I have some interest and a plan that I just need to work out some kinks in and implement…I’m leaning towards going gung ho into my own business, I’ve spent enough time doing crap for other people! Thanks so much for the advice.

Jack

“Connect with people you’re a fan of. It doesn’t matter if they’re in your industry or not. Most of my friends are not in my industry. Most of the people I know online are only in my industry in a roundabout way because we’re bloggers and Internet entrepreneurs.”

THIS is absolutely super advice. Since the day I started down this path to my own extraordinary freedom (and thank you again Karol!), it has been something that has served me extremely well but mostly by accident instead of design. I have a lot of interests.

And Karol, in case you’re wondering, this whole lifestyle design (threw that in mostly to irritate you :P) I’ve done for myself has gone over splendidly. I actually am making money from my own online endeavors and living a life that is far more interesting than before. In fact, I’m in Phuket as I write this – pretty far from Houston.

Karol

Jack, you are a god damn inspiration to me and to others. Thanks for taking life by the balls and making shit happen.

Jeanie

Thank you for this great collection of resources!

Somewhere you said…would never go back to Goa? I’m moderately curious as to why not THERE in particular, as I’m preparing for (surprise surprise) a similar trip to the one you described.

A very important part of your journey not mentioned here explicitly:
define what you want/how you’ll respond if your wildest dreams DO come true. I’ve seen golden riches ruin many a promising human.

Thank you again, and I look forward to additional volumes of Thoughts from Karol’s RidEx brain. :)

Karol

I didn’t like Goa, but don’t take my word for it. Experience it yourself if it interests you. Lots of people love it. It is a fascinating place, but not one I ever want to visit on purpose again.

David

Hello Karol,

Long time lurker, first time commenter. I must say this IMHO has to be one of the best posts I’ve read so far. I’m particularly interested in your experience in IM
And how you’re able to find affordable appartement rentals especially in Europe. I’ve recently started my I’M adventure, I’ve consumed so much info in 1 year and 1/2, but for reasons to long to explain have only in the last few months been implementing and setting up niche sites (a beginning), I’m actually in no hurry as I enjoy the process of how the Internet works, SEO and trying different link building strategies. I also have time as I enjoy what I do and have built an offline niche for which I’ve been fortunate enough to be well paid for.

The fact that your Polish American and your familiarity with Slav culture is also interesting as I have spent some time in Krakow and the last 12 years living and working in Ukraine.

Keep up the good posts and I look forward to more.
David

Karol

Thanks David! Answered the apartment question in this post. Congrats on finally beginning to take action and setting up sites. :)

Alison Moore Smith

Love the detailed analysis and responses. I particularly enjoy seeing how others have approached their online businesses. Keep up the good work!

Gabi

Hi Karol,

All I can say is this is an amazing post with so much insight that I had to read it twice and will probably be revisiting it again in the future. Thanks for taking the time to give such illuminating answers!

Karol

Awesome, thank you Gabi. :)

Stella

That’s quite a lot of ground you covered here, Karol. Well put – insightful and authentic. I like how organic the whole process was for you. It’s not about short cuts but about delivering advice/products that help other people, as you put it, increase their health, wealth, and happiness.

Karol

Thank you Stella. Although there may be some shortcuts it’s better to focus on getting stuff done. If you come across a shortcut that’s not detrimental then take it. :)

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