This is definitely something I know about. I’m really good at not being a good property investor.
Actually, saying that, I do have a property rented out so I guess I’m not entirely qualified at not being a property investor. However, getting it to the stage of renting it out was – in the nicest possible way – a diabolical nightmare. I did SO much wrong. Continue reading How NOT to be a property investor
OK, number 4 of 10 blog posts, and what do I know about (so I can therefore write about)? Hmmm….this week….life in the UK (and why it rocks)!
People seem to bang on about how bad a job “the government” is doing (whichever government is in) and how difficult life is here, but let me tell you: We. Have. Got. It. SWEET. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not “loyal” to the UK, any more than I’m loyal to Pizza Express, and I’m certainly not nuts enough to be loyal to any political party, but I do appreciate having been born here (much like I appreciate a Sloppy Guiseppe with a side of dough balls), and this is why:
We have a welfare system that takes care of our most hard-up members of society (and many that aren’t even truly poor). I know because I’ve had to use it in the past and I know many people from all walks of life who still do.
We have hospitals in which we can be cared for when ill. True enough, two people very close to me have died (partially from misdiagnosis), but compared to all the people who are saved I figure it’s better than not having healthcare by a country mile!
We have schools in which to be educated.
We have laws that prevent a lot of misery, and a judicial system. And Jude Law, whom girls seem to like.
Whilst corruption exists in any large organisation (to a greater or lesser degree), in comparison to most countries we’re not doing too badly!
We have beautiful countryside and vibrant cities. And Slough.
We have very low rates of gun crime.
We have no war.
We can freely choose the industries in which we would like to work, and make efforts to create the lives we want. The welfare system ensures we won’t starve if we mess up (despite what people may say, how many people die of starvation in the UK compared to others? Not many, I’d wager).
We must be one of, if not THE most free kingdom in the world to practise whichever belief system we choose.
Oh, also: Roast dinner, fish & chips and the free choice not to partake in Morris dancing.
Yes, of course, people struggle – we all do – times are tough, and I appreciate that I was born with advantages that other people weren’t (e.g. a home and family), but it’s worth acknowledging from time to time how bloody we lucky we all are to live here (sniffs and wipes away patriotic tear).
Anyway, just my two cents/pence worth. Now, where’s that pizza….?
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I’m sat here at 0455 in the morning with a good, strong coffee, after waking before 4am, lying in bed (agitated about life and whether or not I’m making the most of it) and deciding I may as well get up. This happens from time-to-time. A lot. I then proceed to get up (trying not to wake the other half which I invariably do), feel über-productive (because I’m getting up early; therefore I must be), then fidget around, attempting to decide how best to spend my time. Welcome to self-employment.
I did succeed in deciding what to do this morning, however: I decided to write my blog post as I’ve committed to writing one a week for ten weeks. But what to write about? Well, apparently we’re told “write what you know about”, and as I’ve only got ten to write, that shouldn’t be too hard. Last week was “Travel“, so this week can be “Self-Employment”.
“Being self-employed”. “Wow! That sounds amazing! I want that! Living the dream!”. Well, the first paragraph is a pretty good indicator of “living the dream”. If your dream involves a lot of uncertainty, self-doubt, fluctuating earnings and a big, fat, slice of solitude, then climb aboard, old chum (I am painting rather an unfair picture, though…it’s also a lot of fun and extremely rewarding).
But, since the jobs I had as a teenager a) crushed my soul and b) crushed my soul, I knew stacking shelves or sitting at the same desk for 45 years weren’t viable options, so self-employment was the path for me. I’ve been a few things thus far in my self-employed career, namely:
✏️ Graphic Designer. This is currently my main source of income and I can’t complain. Drawing pictures, colouring in and helping companies sell stuff. Awesome.
🏠 Property Investor. It’s a nice idea, but very stressful when stuff “goes rubbish”. I’m tempted to write a book called “How not to be a property investor”.
🎼 Music Producer and DJ. A BIG love of mine. However, doing this for 45+ hours a week (as opposed to part-time which it had been since early teens) with next to no compensation for three years has a shelf-life. Turns out it’s three years. Still, I’ve DJed around the world, played at the Ministry of Sound, been in a couple of bands so I can tick those off the list. This is now a past-time again (albeit slightly paid), and I’ve decided it’s fine for it not be my primary source of income.
💡 Entrepreneur. Work in Progress. It’s the potential, freedom, excitement and variety of the daily schedule that appeals.
So, why the agitation, when there’s so much choice? I guess the point is exactly that: The Paradox of Choice – how having so much choice ends up being a source of stress. It’s especially prevalent, it seems, among the self-employed, as we have to manage our time (rather than our boss). 1st world problems, right?
But, here are a few mental “tools” I’ve collected to cope with this agitation:
Goals – Make sure you’re moving towards goals you really want, and review them often (daily). Realise that having several, non-compatible goals won’t work, but there’s time to tackle them in sequence. This often seems obvious to everyone but me.
Acquaintances – Spend time working with disciplined, committed partners / friends / clients. This is super important, and shouldn’t be under-estimated.
Routines – Have daily routines, like going to the gym.
Focus – Stick to one task before moving on to the next.
Commitment – Make small commitments (like this blog), then stick to them.
I fail at all the above – often – but life improves when I follow my own advice on them.
Still, despite the challenges and uncertainty of self-employment, for me, the joys far out-weigh the stresses. Kind of like getting up at 0455, but then having a nice coffee and biscuit.
I have several good friends who are self-employed (across a broad variety of work around the world), and we all operate differently. How do you guys and gals cope in the face of seemingly endless possibilities, choose a focus then stick to it? Seriously….let me know!
Righty-ho…That’s three of ten blog posts done in my personal experiment. Kindly leave feedback / questions / answers / suggestions in the comments section, and sign-up below for the next seven. Thanks! 🙂 – Will
Given that my first post was written on a juddery train in Ukraine (reached mainly by a plane), we may as well continue on that theme, namely: Travel.
I like to travel, and I’ve done a fair amount. Not because I’m rich (I’m not), nor because I’m lazy (I am), but because it’s important to me so I carve out the time in my life to make it happen. It broadens the horizons, teaches me how little I know, introduces me to new people and reminds me how lucky we are to have been born in this country, etc. etc.
It is also, however, a massive pain in the arse.
Dodgy transport in 3rd, 2nd and 1st world countries / running out of money / being scammed in the first day for half your year’s budget (it happened to me) is all in the small print and part of the “fun”. It doesn’t matter whether you’re backpacking or fancy hotel-ing, the pain the arse generally arises from packing incorrectly. There’s little more infuriating than trying to keep a three-piece suit well-pressed whilst scaling the Himalayas, or lying with food-poisoning in a four star Cuban hotel with no Imodium (thanks, Hotel Colonial…you’re the best).
So, for anyone planning to go on ANY type of trip (abroad or not), consider the below. Everyone has slightly different needs, but this is a kit list I’ve honed over the past ten years that works for me:
Passport – Obviously…just make sure it’s valid for the entire length of your trip.
Half as many clothes as you think you’ll need. Then bring half of those.
Travel insurance – Sounds obvious but make sure it covers you for acts of derring-do. This has saved my bacon a couple of times.
Visa (s) – You don’t want to be stuck in a Cambodian minefield with an expired visa and gun-toting teenagers. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Travel credit card (one that won’t charge you for non-sterling transactions or getting out cash). This can save you hundreds of pounds.
A FEW TEA BAGS in a zip-lock bag. Everywhere serves Lipton. It’s crap. You’re welcome. ☕️
Lonely Planet printed guide book. Better than an e-version for quick reference. Read the “Dangers and Annoyances” section before entering a country. I didn’t and it cost me thousands of pounds.
Sticky page markers (for marking pertinent pages in your Lonely Planet guide book).
A Pencil and pen (for doodling).
A notebook (like a Moleskine) for writing down ideas. You will have ideas. It’s travel and that’s why it’s great.
Phone Charger with requisite power adapter. A universal adapter is your best bet (like this: http://goo.gl/RwhAZ4).
Dive Book (if you’re a scuba diver) or any other certification you have that will allow you to take part in the activities you want to (skydiving, etc.).
NOT A SMART JACKET! Every time I think “Oh, I’ll take one, even though I didn’t use it last time…We’ll go out for a couple of fancy evenings and I’ll feel like a boss”. I never use it, and it’s a real hassle to try and keep it from damage. One smart shirt will suffice.
Lightweight waterproof jacket – preferably that can be packed very small.
Box of matches (remember to keep in hold luggage to avoid a prolonged vacation in Hotel Guantanamo)
Handkerchief. Handy, chief.
PEN KNIFE (with bottle opener, corkscrew, screwdriver, etc. I’ve got this one and it’s great. SO useful: https://goo.gl/VqmqWh). Remember to put it in your hold luggage or security will take it.
Travel sized toiletries: deodorant, toothpaste, sunblock, after sun, etc.
Travel First Aid kit: Aspirin
Deet (insect repellent)
BONUS TIP: You can also spend less money than living in England if you use Air B’n’B to rent out your UK home whilst galavanting in a comparatively cheap country, but that’s another story…
The above list isn’t definitive. I haven’t included stuff like what clothes to bring as it depends on a) Where you are going and b) How cool you are, but the list should be pretty universal.
Well, that’s week two of ten done for my personal blogging experiment! If I’ve missed anything from the above list, or you have a travel top-tip that I can use next time, please leave a comment. Also, share if you like and sign up for the next instalment below! Cheers 🙂 ~ Will
I’ve been putting off starting a personal blog for years.
Every time I think I’m going to start one, I instead start overthinking it, then overthink everything, then realise I’m going to die one day and think “what’s the point”, and promptly don’t. I’ve done in that so many times over so many things in life and I’m sick of it. Why?
Maybe it’s because I’ve had four hours sleep and I’m facing backwards on a juddery Ukrainian train to Kiev. But maybe it’s because most of the exciting things I’ve enjoyed in life (including facing backwards on a juddery train to Kiev) have come from having those thoughts – and just starting anyway – and I’m innately and unavoidably aware of that.
So, for my first blog post, my question is, “Why Am I Starting a Blog?”, and here are my answers:
I enjoy writing.
To document lessons I’ve learned so that:
a) I can reflect on them and improve.
b) Others might get value from them too.
To learn new things.
To clarify my thoughts, opinions and concepts. Writing will help do that.
To develop a stronger discipline to take regular action (in this case, writing blog posts, despite how I might be feeling at the time).
To build relationships with people with whom I can share my other art (music, design, writing).
To earn money from it somehow (even if from clarifying ideas and getting feedback rather than from the blog itself).
To share useful information, recommendations, tips and tricks. I’ve learned a lot in my respective industry and hobbies, gleaned from experience, success, failure, trial and error.
To increase the size of my digital cojones, i.e. to get criticised more / to get praised more, and take both with grace and balance.
To determine whether lists have to have 10 points to feel complete.
Apart from that, I don’t really know what twists and turns is will take. I commit to writing a new blog post every week for 10 weeks to test the water (see point 10 of above list) and will try and make them useful / funny / informative.