Four Dot Three Sixty Five
A Zen lifestyle embodies a simpler life by developing a set of habits and rituals that minimize, simplify, and reduce the chaos of your everyday life.
Actually, Zen is a form of Buddhism that emphasizes meditation and using your intuition. Zen means “meditation”. The term has been expanded to be an adjective for about any activity, such as the “The Zen of Gardening” or “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” (a truly great book, if you can still find it).
Zen seeks to understand the deep meaning of life without the hindrance of logic or rational thought. If followed properly, Zen requires intense focus and discipline.
Incorporating Zen into your daily habits will require a dual path. You learn to focus on what’s meaningful in your life while at the same time removing all of the accumulated physical and mental junk.
You are seeking an uncluttered life with purpose.
For our entire lives, we are taught to look outside of ourselves for peace and happiness. To look inward is to be branded as selfish and narcissistic. Now, as we get older, we find out we have been duped.
We learned this during the Coronavirus lockdown. Stuck at home, we had time to reconnect with ourselves. With restaurants and bars closed, we suddenly were forced to cook our own meals and take care of our own health. No running to the doctor.
Either the practice of Zen rises, or the homicide rate will.
WS – Habits and Rituals
As I set up my next 99 days of building an IBM* worthy of living, I don’t know which habits will stick and turn into rituals.
Rituals are great because they take habits you have developed to a new level and allow you to focus on things that make your life better.
As much as I want to work on my ebooks – and I will – I must focus on everything affiliate marketing for 99 days to create the income that will change my life.
In no particular order:
- Kick the TV habit. Except for live sports and breaking news, all television programs you may want to watch can be recorded on your DVR or viewed on demand. Binge watch when you are brain dead.
- Daily visit to the gym. Shower there as often as possible to get used to living iPT. Stay up to 2 hours. Include 48 minutes of walking meditation on the treadmill. Develop a list of dumbbell exercises.
- I’ve run my sugar up on cereal, pasta, and potatoes. Time to sugar detox and fast for 3 ~ 10 days.
- Create unique about and home pages for all 10 blogs.
- Focus on building the affiliate business as I collect content for the ebooks.
For the most part, work at home means dozens of interruptions from people and critters (pets) who somehow believe that your time is theirs. Distractions from TV to the refrigerator conspire to disrupt your daily schedule.
The most important item on your agenda is 2,000+ words to be uploaded to one of your domains as a pdf. Without a base, you will never have enough unique content to create a presence online. Remember, you are competing against companies and chatter to attract visitors. You need to establish your individual authority, grab some ranking in the SERPs, and build your list.
Depending on how fast you create content, you should be able to hammer out 2,000 words in 2~4 hours. Don’t edit or research or fact check as you go along. Just write..
In fact, researching before you write is a waste of time. You end up reading tons of material that is not of value. Once you have your draft, you can go back anytime, expand your pdf with new info, check facts and statistics, and tighten your text.
I also go back after the writing is done to insert links, images, and videos where helpful.
Remember – this is a digital document. You can change it at any time. Just re-upload the new pdf to replace the old one.
Your 2,000 words will break down into 3~5 articles and posts. Even though some free sites have been degraded, you can post to article directories, community websites (hubpages, etc.), guest blog, or free websites and blogs that you control (tumblr, etc.).
Each article should have its own short spin using Content Professor with a few sentences to use in social bookmarking, and a resource box that links to 1) a squeeze page for the full pdf to capture an email address; and 2) another article or your TLD.
Social bookmarking is not to link to your primary site but is 3rd level bookmarking to link to your individual articles in the article directory or elsewhere.
At the end of 90 days of concentrated effort, you will have at least 180,000 words posted, and probably over 200,000. When you break your pdfs into articles and posts, you actually get double duty from your efforts.
If you do nothing else each day for your online business but the daily pdf, short spins, and posts, you will be ahead of 99.9% of the marketers on the Internet. Most websites get less than 12 hours of attention PER YEAR.
After your base is behind you, you can spend you day working wherever progress is needed. Think in terms of Japanese kaizen, or constant small improvements.
Does your blog need a new plugin? Or maybe a new affiliate product to promote? Should you write some new emails for your list or promote your existing articles?
While I hope to work about 10 hours a day during the blitz, I only lock myself into the 2,000 words. To keep life from getting in the way, I wake up by 5:00 a.m. and walk the 30 minutes to the local Starbucks (America’s de facto office space).
That morning walk is enlightening. Joggers abound. The air is clean. I personally like to practice some ho’oponopono and deep breathing. If I don’t have a pdf topic for the day, now is the time to decide on one.
The more my activities contribute to my theme, the happier and more successful I will be.
- Too Many Goals
People who set goals have a way of trying to map out every detail of their job or existence. New Year’s Resolutions come to mind.
“I’m going to lose 25 pounds, go to the gym 3 days a week, give up all junk food, and get a promotion at work.”
Yeah, right. The first time you have to work late, the gym goes out the window, you pick up a pizza on the way home, and you decide you don’t much like the company you work for and would rather quit than work harder for a meaningless promotion.
- Reduced Agility in the Marketplace
Innovative companies like Google do not set corporate goals. Doing so was found to decrease their agility and ability to respond to changes in the marketplace.
Single mindedness and total focus on goals can make on oblivious to the reality of the marketplace. Changes are constant, and the individual marketer must be able to innovate faster than the big boys to compete with them.
- Writing Down Goals Ensures Success
Almost everyone has heard of the 1953 Yale study that shows that only 3% of graduating seniors wrote down their goals. At the end of 20 years, the 3% had a greater net worth than the 97% who did not write their goals.
Problem is: THIS STUDY DOES NOT EXIST.
Pure urban myth/shaggy dog story. Total fiction.
Thousands of self-help gurus have spread the tale, including Anthony Robbins. Yet studies of business tycoons, prominent athletes, and media personalities found a common trait regarding goal setting.
Goals are basically end points that limit your thinking. I know sales people love to exceed their sales goals, but most underestimate their target to look good at the end of the month.
Defining goals defines your limitations. Goals are a subtle way of selling yourself short. And heaven forbid if you fall short of the goal. Even if you have improved, and even if you achieved your personal best under the circumstances, failure to reach the goal can cause you to label yourself as a “failure”.
By improving 1% daily, you cannot limit your life.
- Goals Don’t Solve Problems
One of the main tenants of business and life is not to become efficient at accomplishing tasks that should not be done in the first place.
If you lock into goals that don’t advance your health, wealth, or relationships, you are wasting your life.
Instead of goals, ask yourself what is the next step or action you need to take to advance your theme 1%. You don’t need a long “to do” list. You only need to know, “What do I do next?”
Goals vs. Wishes
If you wish in one hand, and shit in the other, which hand will fill up faster?
Goals without a theme are wishes and dreams. A theme is a long term road to happiness. To achieve happiness, what next step has to occur? Remember your 1%.
- Measuring and Deadlines
Efficiency experts love to tell you to make a goal that can be measured with a specific deadline for its accomplishment.
Technically, goals cannot be measured – only the results of your actions.
For example, if I am shooting an arrow at a target, the bullseye is the goal. But how I hit the target depends on many factors. Is there a cross wind? How high do I have to aim above the target to make sure it comes down where I want?
And deadlines are unimportant unless I do the next step. The next step is all that counts. If it takes more time than I expect, or less, so be it. What is the purpose of having your own theme in life if you treat yourself like an employee instead of the owner.
We’re Americans, dammit. We don’t like to wait long for change. Overnight sensation. Instant grits. Microwave popcorn.
In Internet marketing circles, instant riches are the basis of virtually every promise for the next shiny object. Use my magic formula. You don’t need any experience, a website, a list, a product, or even any hard work to get rich beyond your wildest dreams.
And we wonder why the Nigerian email scams continue to bilk millions from gullible Americans every year.
I’m not dumb enough to believe that any marketing guru is going to reveal the secrets of wealth and the universe for 10 bucks. If I had a surefire undiscovered marketing method that guaranteed overnight wealth (other than hard work and persistence), I damn sure would not tell you. I would automate it, then meet Bill Gates and Warren Buffett for afternoon bridge.
Certain Internet marketing activities have stood the test of time – affiliate marketing, list building, developing your own products. How you go about selling changes as people get tired of some methods (remember banners) or technology presents new methods like video marketing for the great ADD marketplace.
While it’s easy when setting up a blitz attack to move your theme in a positive direction, I am concentrating on health, wealth, and relationships for the next 90 days with 30 days after that reserved for travel, review of the last 90 days of intense effort, and what the next 90/30 time frame should entail.
Like a lot of people, I love self-help books which I have always called pump-up books. Like weight-loss books, most self-help books are useless. Why? Because most people are bad at diagnosing their shortcomings and even worse at developing a path to overcome them.
Even specific goals like losing X amount of pounds are useless unless tied to a bigger theme. Losing X pounds may not have a large effect on my overall health. Losing X pounds may take me below my ideal weight. I may just need to lose a certain amount of body fat or even increase my percentage of lean muscle mass.
If instead my “goal” is to get 1% better each day in one of the 3 areas, I am on a path to enlightenment. Can you imagine how good marriages could be if you sought to be 1% better each day as a husband or wife? What if you set out to make your website or blog 1% better each day? At the end of 90 days of focused effort, you would no doubt be an authority site in your chosen niche.
For those of you who believe in goals (or New Year’s Resolutions), here are some observations why they fail.
- No connection to a theme.
Again let’s look at the ever popular weight loss.
My 600 lb. Life is a reality show featuring a crotchety old surgeon tells the morbidly obese to lose weight or die.
“We’ll follow the lives of morbidly obese individuals, each weighing over 600 pounds and attempting to regain control of their lives. They will collectively need to lose thousands of pounds in order to survive.”
The 600+ pounders are looking for an easy fix like weight loss surgery, which the doctor will not perform unless the patient shows they can lose 30 ~ 50 pounds on their own. Unless they can change their eating habits, the surgery will not help them.
Even when faced with death, many fail. It was hard to realize how bad habits can stick with you until I developed type II diabetes. I gave up drinking without an effort, and yet I fight everyday to give into ice cream, donuts, cake, pie, and anything with sugar and wheat.
Losing weight because the doctor told you to, or doing any other improvement for external reasons will likely lead to failure. Once you understand that weight or exercise or sleep is
all part of health, wealth, and relationships, and is an integral part of the only real goal of life – happiness.
If you watch the show, like most self-improvement is simple:
Stop Doing X
Stop eating so much. Patients come in after a month or two saying they are following the doctor’s recommendations for calories and type of food to eat, and yet they have not lost weight. They lie to him. They lie to themselves.
I think it’s easier when you go negative instead of setting a goal. “Don’t eat junk food.” “Don’t eat so damn much.” Making it too complicated is a recipe for failure.
- Goals Are Not Strategy
Having goals is not a strategy anymore than hope is. So many organizations, especially sales departments, hammer their employees to set goals. How many are ever realized.
If you want to look back at the end of 90 days to see how much your health, wealth, and relationships have improved, concentrate on improving 1% on a daily basis. You will be amazed.
- Goals Kill Innovation
When one sets goals, it can only be to do a certain amount of tangible actions that give you immediate feedback.
I don’t think of my daily 2,000+ word pdf as a goal but as a base. It’s something you just have to do to succeed in your business or life.
If you are locked into set goals, you may miss where your idea storms are leading you, or any disruptive innovation that is coming your way. Be open to life.
As I move forward into the 90 day blitz, I want to go back to the beginning and the philosophers, or just plain sovereign individuals, the Stoics, who more or less inventing reinventing the self.
What I have set up is an almost impossible task of maximizing my health, wealth, and relationships during the next 90 days, and then restart my travels abroad. I don’t know if it’s adult ADD, American impatience with anything, or that light at the end of the tunnel shining brighter every day.
I don’t have time to waste.
Mentors can come in many forms. Of course, you have teachers and others who have helped you grow over your life. At 61, too many of the traditional mentors have passed on. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that mentors can come at any age as long as they have mastered the skill or knowledge you seek to learn.
Ego gets in the way. It’s hard to take a genius seriously who hasn’t started to shave yet. So I prefer to start with the basics.
You can find your mentors in books. You can find mentors online. The Internet makes all human knowledge available. And the Internet is where I found my three primary mentors:
- Harry Browne
- James Altucher
There’s more, but if I can channel these mentors, I am 99% of the way to personal happiness. All but Altucher have passed.
I still miss Harry Browne. His widow made all of his books available online for free, including the classic “How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World” which I discovered 30 years ago at a critical time in my life.
Too bad I could not follow his advice more carefully. But past is past and has no meaning except to not repeat mistakes.
I include James Altucher as the descendent of the others with a post 2000 edge. While the basics of health and relationships have not changed significantly in millenia, wealth has. The traditional model of going to school, getting good grades, finding a job after graduation from college, buying a house, and retiring at 65 is a pipe dream for 90% of us.
JA shatters the old myths. You need to think in terms of theme and not career. Build your life theme, and don’t tie yourself down with houses and degrees and jobs that don’t bring happiness.
We’ll go into detail about Harry Browne and James Altucher later, but I really wanted to talk about the Stoics to show that we should have been exposed to their ideas at an early age, and maybe why we weren’t.
Modern use of the term stoic is a synonym for a poker face, or expressionless.
But it’s much more.
A Stoic’s primary purpose is to live a virtuous life. Virtue arises from controlling emotions and eliminating bad behavior. A basic component of virtue is focusing only on the internal aspects of life like emotion which an individual can control.
Virtue is internal happiness which can be controlled.
Stoic philosophy started with Zeno, a Cypriot teaching in Athens. Zeno used a porch (“stoa”) as a podium, and hence the name. As it was not a religion, it posed no threat to the religions of the time, and later influenced Christianity and Buddhism.