Author Archives: Charley

Morning habits and observations

Continuing my publication of previous journal entries, here’s another one from last May again.

For at least two weeks now, I noticed the following:

  1. I wake up feeling okay, but productivity and motivation dips when I start watching tv. Duh! I know it’s so obvious, but sometimes it’s ingrained so bad my hand automatically reaches for the remote as I drink my morning coffee. It distracts me even if there’s nothing good to watch.
  2. I get a headache and feel tired after spending a few minutes under the sun, even if I’m swimming. I discovered that drinking cold water and 1 piece of chocolate relieves it a bit. Is this because I’m dehydrated or just that I don’t do well under the sun?
  3. I feel tired and literally gasping for air after lunch, usually about 8PM. If I nap, I feel better afterwards. But if I force myself to work, my output is terrible and my breathing doesn’t improve even after a few hours pass.

Fridays

I originally planned to fill this blog with my journal entries and the lessons I learn from books and courses I’ve taken. But somehow, I didn’t write on this blog as often as I planned. Even though I had several entries in Evernote, I never took the time to convert them to text and publish them here.

I’m hoping to change that starting now.

Here’s an entry from my personal journal written back in May this year.

It’s Friday, the last work day of the week and I don’t feel like doing anything productive at all.

Here are three possible reasons:

  1. I’ve written two articles, the Rejection letters post for Keepinspiring.me, and a guest post for another client. Maybe, unconsciously, my brain thinks the $140 I earned from those two articles is ‘high enough.’

Yes, $140 for three days (Monday to Wednesday) is great, but $140 for 5 days isn’t enough. It’s just average. It’s as if I’m back in a newbie call center job.

  1. I woke up late today. Prior experience suggests I have a tendency not to work, or start working late, if I wake up past 5 PM.
  1. For some reason, phrases like “I’m feeling lazy” and “I don’t feel like working” keep popping up in my head. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy that I need to reverse.

Lessons I learned based on these observations:

  1. Don’t calculate my income and performance based on a per article or per day basis. Instead I should think about my income per week. Right now, my minimum target is at least $250/week.
  2. Stop negative scripts like “I’m lazy.” Examine why I think that way instead, and do either:
    1. Continue with my planned to-do list as usual. Don’t depend on my mood for productivity.
    2. Try to ‘reset’ the day by meditating, napping, or journaling.
  1. Try to wake up by 3 PM, and no later than 4PM even if I sleep late or if I haven’t slept enough hours. If I lack sleep, I’ll nap later in the day instead of waking up late.

 

Ber Months Rolling In

WTF!
It’s September already?

That means I only have four months to accomplish the big wins I set out for myself this year.

A measly four months until the year is over, and barely three and a half months to save up for my solo trip to Hong Kong this December.

Wow!

(Cue panic attacks)

Deep Breaths…

1, 2, 3, 4…. Really?? This is all happening too fast.

Four months before another year is over, and soon I’ll be counting down months til I’m 27?

Either time moves too fast, or I’m spending too much time doing god knows what!

Changes are in Order

Whatever the case, some changes are in order. If I want to start vagabonding next year and not waste the three sets of tickets I ALREADY paid for, I need to get my act together.

First, let me recount what I wanted to accomplish, vs what I actually did:

Plans Status
Write for international magazines Still ongoing
Go out more with other friends and freelancers Failure so far
Get a new credit card Not yet done
Eat more and exercise more Eat more — success.

Exercise more — failure because of leg pains

Go back to ice skating Not possible due to injury. I already tried again, but I can’t sustain it enough to train
Write for my personal blog Failure so far
Get an HMO Success
Stabilize my income Success

Out of list above, these are the items I can still work on given my time constraints and heavy workload:

  • Write for an international magazine
  • Get a new credit card for travel and online expenses
  • Go out more
  • Write for my personal blog — 100 days of rejection challenge as the topic
guest post

Day 1 of 100 Days of Rejection: My Guest Post was Declined

After 2 hours combing past blog entries to get a clue for popular topics, and then spending an hour more writing a customized pitch, my query was declined.

DECLINED by a popular blog.

 

I didn’t even get a curt “No.”

No explanation, no “Thanks, but no thanks.”

I got no reply after spending 4 hours writing what I think is a great query.

How do I know it’s rejected?

Because I use Sidekick, so I know they received AND opened my email. Twice.

And after two weeks of waiting, I still haven’t heard back.

control-147678_1280

From Pixabay

Rejection is a Norm in Guest Posting and Magazine Writing

I know getting rejected is normal when you’re pitching big blogs for guest posts. It’s the same when you’re pitching magazines.

As Carol and Linda repeatedly told the students of J-school and Pitch Clinic course, “Don’t take rejections personally.”

According to them, the rejection has nothing to do with you. In most cases, it’s just a matter of finding the right market for your publication. And timing — when you send that query counts, too.

Hope is Not Lost

I got a couple of acceptances anyway, so all hope is not lost. Yes, they’re not for publications as big as my target, but a yes is a yes.

I’ll just revise this query and send it to another website.

La speranza è l’ultima a morire

I’m keeping my chin up.

100 days of rejection

Reviving the Hyperactive and Fearless Go-getter in Me through 100 Days of Rejection

Working at home as a freelance writer, I feel like I’ve unknowingly sheltered myself from rejection.

When I was taking calls as a customer service representative for Prudential of America, getting rejected, yelled at, and scolded for things beyond my control were a normal part of my life. I’d experience all these things 50 to 70 times a day! Yes, I kept a tally.
100 days of rejection

When Freedom Backfires On You

Now, I have an unhealthy control over my work environment.

I have clients, but no traditional boss to speak off that can reject my ideas and leave requests. And because I worked for myself, I can send as much (or as little) job applications and pitches as I want.

I can pitch higher paying markets, or save my ego by keeping my story ideas to myself.workstation

I can write a book, or start an online business — I have the resources (240+ books and 30+ online courses) and know-how, after all. But the possibility of failure induces an analysis paralysis in me so strong; I surrender before I even begin.

I didn’t know it then, but the comfort and job security I felt was slowly turning me into someone I am not.

Losing my Inner Bitch

You know what I mean.

I used to be a savvy negotiator. I even perfected a deadpan face I don in the face of harsh criticisms. I used to be fearless in chasing new opportunities that come my way.

I miss my old self.

But I am determined to bring that part of myself back — even if it means getting rejected for 100 days.

Jia Jiang’s TEDx talk on tackling the fear of rejection inspired me to try this experiment myself.


After all, what is 100 rejections spread over 100 days, compared to 50-70 rejections a day?

Surely I can handle that, right?

Join Me for 100 Days of Rejection

Care to join me in this crazy experiment?

The mechanics are simple enough: you have to be rejected by someone who doesn’t know about your experiment at least once a day for 100 days. Check out this post to find out more about the rejection therapy experiment.

We can keep each other accountable using the hashtag #Iamfearless100 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

ramit in manila

2014 Annual Review: An Honest Look at My Personal and Professional Performance Last Year

This is an excerpt of my 2014 annual review, which I wrote on the last week of December. I’m publishing it here to set a public benchmark for myself—a stick to measure myself against on December 2015. My main goal is to avoid repeating my mistakes last year, and to improve on all facets of my life this year.

I’m very nervous about publishing this review, especially my income and failures but I’ve decided to suck it up and just go with it. I’m doing this to hold myself publicly accountable of everything that happened to me. I want to own up to my shortcomings instead of blaming it on my unpredictable health and other external factors.

I’m not just doing this for myself either. I’m publishing this to make others realize that the life of a freelancer isn’t all vacations and working in pajamas.

Here we go… Charley’s 2014 Annual Review

Personal Goals

  1. Invest 20,000 Pesos in a Time Deposit or Mutual Fund to Build my Emergency Funds
    1. Status: Failed
    2. Reason: I’ve saved up 10,000 and 15,000, and about 13,000 on different months, but I wasn’t able to invest any of it because I used it to eat out when I had major fights with my partner. I also used it to pay for my living expenses on months where I barely worked. It seems that building an emergency fund will be harder than I expected.
  2. Be Good Enough to Bike Outside
    • Status: Success
    • Reason: Okay, this might seem a petty goal for you but I just learned to bike last year—on my 25th birthday to be exact! Took me about 30 minutes to learn even when I was using a heavy mountain bike. A few months after that, I went to test my skills at the UP bike lane. I was so scared, but I survived without a scratch. And I can do U-turns well! Success!
  3. Go on my First International Trip
    • Status: Failed
    • Reason: Wasn’t able to save enough money because I didn’t work for 4 months. I also used some of the money I earmarked for this on local travels instead, like my 2 impromptu trips to Baguio, Rizal and Batangas. While this goal is a failure, it’s not a total loss because I managed to get my passport this year.
  4. Learn how to Ice Skate
    skating
    • Status: Success
    • Reason: Went on my very first ice skating lesson late in November. 🙂 I learned how to do forward and backward swizzles, two-foot glide and the one-foot glide. Yes, I still fall but not as much. I don’t feel embarrassed about it as well because I’ve seen tons of skaters more advanced than I am and they still fall, hilariously if I might add.

Work Goals

  1. Put up a basic writer’s website
    • Status: Success
    • Reason: My freelance writer site, however simple and lacking in design, is up and giving me quality client leads.
  2. Publish at least 6 guest posts in different popular blogs on my target niches
    • Status: Published 4 out of 6. Failed
    • Reason/Notes: Published 2 guest posts on Brazen, 2 on PicktheBrain and 1 on YourOnline.Biz. Even though I didn’t hit the target number of posts, I consider this a success because these guest posts brought me 3 new clients. The posts are also doing well because they were syndicated in different websites and shared hundreds of times.
  3. Publish 3 articles for a magazine in my target industry
    • Status: Failed
    • Reason: I took a 3-week vacation sometime in March so I could focus on learning how to write pitches or queries for magazines. But for some weird reason, I got overwhelmed and depressed during this time. I didn’t know what to do, I was so confused with everything that I had to learn and I gave up. Until now, pitching magazines still seem like a daunting task to me.
  4. Get 2 clients willing to pay my set rates for ghosted and authored work by pitching and marketing my services.
    • Status: Success
    • Reason/Notes: Sent an email pitch to 5 people. One of them replied but the deal didn’t push through. That’s okay, because in terms of prospecting, 1 reply out of 5 emails is still a good result.
    • Applied to a few jobs—got 1 for guest posting but it’s not a regular source of income. Pays $50-75. Got 1 referral from a friend, but the client pays late and wants too many phone calls. While he’s not an ideal client, I managed to convince him to pay 3x more than what he usually pays, so I got $60 per 600-800 words.
    • I got two one-off clients: one in the coaching industry and another in the recruitment industry. Both of them said they’d hire me for other work in the future.

Other Things I Did or Accomplished

excited

  • Got myself closer to two of my favorite authors and mentors, Ramit Sethi and Tim Ferriss by connecting with Charlie Hoehn. Last November, he announced that he’ll be giving one of his courses for free in exchange for detailed notes. I submitted an entry and was chosen, probably from over hundreds of applicants. Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re best buds now but it’s a start
  • Met Ramit Sethi when he visited Manila. ramit

He’s one of the people on my must-meet list. Despite his strict and scary demeanor on his emails, he’s incredibly friendly and approachable.

  • Met new friends through the IWT Manila meet-up.new friends and acquaintances at iwtramit in manila
  • Went on all Pinoy500 meetings and met almost all of them. Got great support from the groupGot my first client who agreed to pay a down payment before I start working. Invisible script shattered!
  • Got syndicated by Chicago Tribune and Business Insider three times!!!
  • I got so much work I declined some job offers that were below my target pay or not in my target niche. Hoorah!
  • I was offered a regular contributor role at Careerattraction.com after 1 guest post
  • Conquered my fear of heights by joining a trapeze flying classtrapeze2 trapeze
  • Conquered my lactose intolerance.. first by drinking different types of milk, then by eating different types of cheese (cooked), then graduating to cheese plates. I love cheese!

 

An Overview of My Income for 2014

Income USD PHP conversion Notes
Lowest monthly income $100        4,200.00 Php This was in October when I only worked about 3-4 hours. I was burned out after two months of working full time hours in August and September
Highest monthly income $1119.64      47,024.88 Php This was in August when I accepted 2 copywriting projects
Average monthly income $512.0117      21,504.49 Php Monthly income for an average of a 4-6 hour workday, divided by 12.
Total annual income $6,144.14    258,053.88 Php  

Other notes

  • Highest Paid Project: $750 (Presentation)
  • Highest Paid Article: $400 (Rush article)
  • Lowest Paid Article: $8 (Blog post). I’m happy to report that I no longer accept work at this rate.

My findings and observations:

  • The months I barely worked severely affected my total earnings for the year.
  • If not for my savings due to good months were I earned more than enough, I would have been in debt.
  • Total months I didn’t work at all for whatever reason (sad, sick, etc) = 3. It’s 4 if you count October where I ‘barely’ worked.
  • High-earning (productive) months, are often followed by at least 1 low-earning (non-productive) month. Ex: Jan-Mar I earned $600+/month, but I got burned out and had to rest

That ends my 2014 annual review. Next up, I’ll post more in-depth findings based on my observations, like what I did to achieve my best results and the different areas of my life that need improvement.

personal development, blogger, no bs,

The 1 Week No BS Experiment (#1wknobs)

Last week, I was telling my accountability partner about my problem in staying focused and productive throughout the day. It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s just that too often, after finishing one or two tasks, I feel like taking a break. Sometimes, I can’t even convince myself to finish one task because my brain keeps distracting me with different things, like play Sims, read, hop on Pinterest, or check Facebook. My brain keeps coming up with BS excuses like, “I’m hungry” even though I just ate, or “I’m sleepy” or “I’m tired” even if I had sufficient sleep the previous night.

What’s surprising is he (my accountability partner), too, is facing something similar. Apparently, I’m not the only one prone to succumbing to unscheduled breaks and mind wandering.  For some reason, this realization comforted me. Now I know I’m not So we agreed that we both need to work on this challenge– to train ourselves to cut the BS excuses and get shit done.
So I came up with the idea for the 1 Week No BS Experiment, so both of us can nudge each other back into work mode. Here’s how the experiment works:
Every time one of us would feel lazy, we’d post it on Facebook with the hashtag, “#1wknobs”. We can post why we don’t feel like working, or just use the designated hashtag. For example, I overslept last week so I posted this: “Ugh. I just woke up! Overslept by 3 hours! #1wknobs.”
personal development, blogger, no bs,
That’s a signal to my accountability partner that, “hey, I’m not working even when I’m supposed to.” Granted, it’s not the usual checking-Facebook-instead-of-working kinda break, for me it still applies because I ignored my alarm clock and slept in, even if my scheduled wake up time already gave me 7.5 hours of sleep.
Essentially, the #1wknobs experiment is designed to help us do the following:
  • Be aware of when the urge to oversleep, take a break or just do nothing strikes
  • Encourage us to admit it to another person, thereby inducing guilt, or at least the feeling that somebody’s watching and that I should work– a feeling lost in many freelancers and work at home folks.
  • Nudge each other back on the right track

 

The Loopholes of the 1 Week No BS Experiment
Of course, our experiment has some loopholes. The first and biggest challenge is, the fact that we can’t constantly keep checking our Facebook account just to see if the other posted something.
To counter that, we set pre-determined check-up times at 1PM and 8PM. The problem is if I post something at 2PM, my accountability partner won’t see it for another 6 hours, thereby leaving me 6 hours break time with no one to stop me or tell me otherwise.
Yes, I know that I could just be my own guard and force myself back to work during those 6 hours, instead of waiting for someone to tell me. I wish it were that easy. I wouldn’t need to go through this experiment if that were always the case.
Sometimes, I’d get back to work after spending 30 minutes on Facebook, but other times, half a day could pass by with me watching TV and surfing the web. It’s surprising, really, how I get my work done despite these unscheduled breaks.
The second loophole is we don’t want other people to see what we’re posting, because that could potentially pose a threat to our jobs. What would my clients think if they find out that I’m playing Sims instead of writing their newsletter?
We solved that issue by using Facebook’s custom settings, so only he can see my post and vice versa. But it’s too tedious to change the privacy settings of our post every time!
Another problem is sometimes, we forget to post updates on Facebook. For example, last week I was out furniture shopping with my partner, instead of researching for an article. While I did manage to complete my research work late that night, I forgot to update my Facebook account of my unscheduled shopping trip.
The Experiment’s Results and Improvements Moving Forward
This week, the hashtag was used less than 10 times. Based on that number, it means both of us took less than 10 unscheduled breaks during the week. I know that’s highly improbable. But that’s okay. I know this experiment is a work in progress and that in time, we can both improve our posting and check-in frequency as we both become more aware of our work habits.
As for the results, I did manage to complete all my work related tasks this week. Unfortunately, because of my other unscheduled breaks, I didn’t have time to do my own marketing and blogging tasks. I really hope this will improve in the near future.
I’m also planning to propose several tweaks to the experiment in our next accountability call on Monday. That is, if my accountability partner is willing to continue this experiment with me.

Automating my life is harder than I thought

This year I promised myself that I’d only concentrate on a few goals. To make things easier, my plan is to build systems to turn these goals into bite-sized steps I could plug into my calendar and treat just like any other paid work.

Turns out, automating my life–or at least certain parts of it–is harder than I imagined. There are so many moving parts that even days of brainstorming and planning wasn’t enough.

So far, I have successfully automated the reminders and stakes for almost all my big wins.

  1. Eating a Slow-Carb Breakfast 6 times a week, 30 minutes to an hour of waking up
  2. Light leg exercises after lunch Pitching international magazines (my big career goal for 2015!)
  3. Going out and meeting more friends (to push me out of my comfort zone)
  4. Build my very own, personal development blog– no woowoo inspirational stuff. Truth, data, goals and good ol’ actionable stuff.

So far, I’m not doing very well. Life keeps getting in the way. Planning habits and the corresponding punishments isn’t the end game, after all. I still need to execute the plan.

2015 is the Year of Systems and Grit: The Year I Say No to My BS Excuses and Achieve MORE in Life