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The Investment of Starting

If you want to be surrounded by broken dreams head on down to your local pawn shop. The guitars on the wall represent all of those people who once had dreams of being Slash from Gun’s N’ Roses. You then turn around and are faced with lonely pieces of exercise equipment that look like they are fresh out of the box and never been used. If you had the ability to jump in a time machine and go back to the moment before the owner bought these items I’m sure you would see a person with great intentions, never would they think they would end up in a pawn shop hardly used. 

Imagine this, you wake up one morning and feel like you are missing something in your life, that you need a hobby. One of your good friends is a really good guitar player and when you watch them play you admire what they can create and see how people respond to their music. In this moment you determine that you are going to learn guitar. 

After the decision has been made you devise a plan to get things rolling, you can’t help but think that maybe one day you will create a number one song that will be loved worldwide, the dreaming has begun. Over the next month you spend nearly an hour a day researching, if you are going to do this you want to do it right. You research the best methods for learning the guitar, what gear you need, you even join an online forum where you feel connected to a community of players. Up to this point you only have a very old acoustic guitar which you haven’t actually started playing because you haven’t had the time or motivation. You think to yourself that if you invested in a good guitar you would want to practice everyday, this is the key to the start of your journey. After visiting the music store for 10th time you invest in a $3000, top of the line, Epiphone, you figure if you are going to do this you may as well do it right.

Unfortunately the only thing that touches this guitar after a couple of half hearted practices is dust. The poor guitar just becomes a reminder of a dream that you never took any action towards and eventually you head down to the pawn shop and lose a lot of money when you sell it. 

There’s a concept that I want to introduce here, it’s called The Investment of Starting. The Investment of Starting looks at the time and money you commit to an area of your life where you want to create a new behaviour. In the example above, the person spent numerous hours and thousands of dollars to get started in playing the guitar. For many people they hope that the investment they make in getting started will give them the motivation they need to become what they dream of.

All new hobbies will have some level of Investment of Starting but when we invest too much time and money hoping to find the motivation we can stop the most important part of creating new behaviours - starting. If you want to start playing the guitar you will need a basic guitar and some form of lessons but that’s all you need, the only way you will ever write a number one song is if you start practicing. 

Starting can be hard, especially if it’s something you have never done before or that you have been away from for a very long time. The most important question to explore when you are going down this path is ‘how can I make sure I spend some time doing this today’. Researching the best gym to join has value to it but going for a walk today is actually building the framework for the new way. When you ask yourself this question it allows you to foresee and confront potential barriers that will prevent you from acting today. The better you become at this the easier it will be to keep building the habit. 

So next time you think about starting a new hobby or behaviour make sure you keep your Investment of Starting as low as possible and just get to the real work of starting asap. This way you’ll be working towards your dreams, not creating broken ones.

This piece orginally appeared in The Press


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A different kind of diet

When the history books look back on this particular moment in time one of the only names that will be remembered hundreds of years from now will be Barack Obama.  Being the first black American president cemented his place in the history books and was indicative of the progressive thinking of  our time.  His ascent to the most powerful role on the planet was an attractive thing to watch and like most of the world I was drawn into the American presidential race in 2008 when his message of hope caught the imagination of so many. 

At this time I became fascinated with American politics, I started keeping up to date with the ins and outs of their political game which became an habitual part of my life. By the time the 2012 elections started to get rolling I was well versed on the smaller details of the upcoming political event. In the Republican Primaries I had my own opinion on Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Perry,  I saw the moment where Rick Perry made a massive gaff at the Republican debates which lead to Mitt Romney becoming the candidate for the presidential race. From there I followed the battle between Obama and Romney with vigour. One day I was having a conversation about the events of the American elections with someone in Christchurch and they asked me a question; Can you name any Christchurch City Councillors? I couldn’t name a single one.  

This question made me think about the information that I feed my mind. Each day I was probably spending 15-20mins keeping up to date with American politics, an area that has no real immediate influence on my own life and I realised that I was spending a lot of my day consuming content that was interesting but didn't necessarily enhance my life in any way, it was at this time when I decided to put myself on an information diet.

In setting up my information diet I kept a record of how I was spending my time consuming information but before I did this I thought about what would be the ideal outcome. Ideally, I would be spending around 30% on entertainment, 40% on education/development, 20% on social, and 10% on wasted/mindless content. 

I started keeping a rough record, I tried stick to my normal habits and at the end of one week I had a clearer picture of how my time was being spent. My real numbers looked something like this: 30% wasted/mindless content, 30% social, 30% entertainment, and 10% on educational/development. This was a bit of an eye opener for me, I felt dissatisfied that I wasn’t developing myself in certain areas where I wanted growth and this exercise highlighted to me that I needed to make changes to how I spent my time consuming certain content so that I was hitting the numbers I wanted.

We live in a time where there is information overload and accessibility is so easy, we can easily access and create habits that fill our minds with junk. We all know that’s it’s not healthy to eat junk food 100% of the time, the same goes for the information that we feed our mind. If you put yourself on an information diet what do you think you would discover? Does the information you consume lead you towards or away from where you want do develop yourself in your life? 

When we think about the information we consume it’s good to have a mix of entertainment, social, and mindless but we also want to make sure that there’s enough development/education in the mix. This type of information will develop your thinking skills, give you a better understanding of your world and challenge you to grow and I believe it’s also a more rewarding way to consume content as you often gain a sense of esteem when you are growing yourself. 

In a world where we can check the same websites repeatedly in a single day it’s good to stop and think about what we really get from these habits. Maybe you can challenge yourself and go on an information diet, learn where you are consuming too much junk or where you are consuming content that has a positive influence on your life.  You may figure out where you can include more content that moves you towards further growth, I know my information diet helped me make massive shifts which lead me to a place where I felt more satisfied in life, this has to be a good thing. 


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Episode 46 Fitness Behavior - A seed was planted

Gordo Byrn had a good question on his brilliant blog,, which got me thinking about this months topic. It's a way of looking at your world that helps you figure out where to put your energy. I also share an experience that I had recently around my image. 


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