Author Archives: Charley

The Sphere of Choice

I told him to get his heart checked multiple times. He never did. He died a few months later.

He had a high salary but he’s often in debt. I told him to save and to keep a budget. He didn’t. I lent him money, and tried my best to help him financially, but there was nothing I could do except helplessly watch as his cycle of spending and borrowing escalated.

I asked him not to quit his job. With his age, lack of experience, and job-hopping history, I knew finding another job for him would be hard. It’s more than a year now since his last employment.

The doctor told me the surgery wound would be closed in one week. But I could still go surfing that Saturday–3 days before the wound is estimated to close. Friday came and the wound is nowhere near healed and I could still barely walk, let alone surf. I had no choice but to cancel my long-awaited surf trip and find something else to do that week.

Expectations: Surf trip expectations (me last year)

 

Reality: Picture taken with comedian Gabe Mercado (Ok ka ba tyan??) after an improv class the next Wednesday (First time I was able to go out properly after surgery)

Why I know about control — or the lack of it

AT first, this entry reads like a rant. It’s not that simple though.

All these recollections are from different events in my past.

I have no control over my body. I can’t control people around me. I never did and never tried. These failures are my reminder that despite the best intention and logical explanations, people will act as they see fit. As for the body? It heals on its own time.

“We control our reasoned choice and all acts that depend on that moral will.”

-Epectitus

I’ve internalized this stoic lesson long ago because I know that each person has to walk their own path and to make their own mistakes. The only thing I control are my thoughts and actions.

But I won’t pretend that I don’t get affected when things go wrong. Yes, stoicism teaches that the path to happiness lies in giving up all outside your sphere of choice.

Logically speaking, I understand this. Yes, it’s useless to be upset because of things outside my sphere of choice.

It’s easier said than done, however. It’s hard not to get affected when the person suffering is someone precious to you. The cancelled surfing trip, for instance, is easier to accept compared to the knowledge that someone I know still can’t find another job.

So I’m still learning this lesson. The best  I can do for the people that matter to me is to comfort and support them. I can help, but I shouldn’t get attached to the outcome of that assistance. Whether they follow through or not is up to them, not me. I’m not sure how that will affect the part of me that feels concerned when things go wrong, but at least this is a step forward towards detachment.

 

Ask the Wrong Question, Get the Wrong Answer (A Lesson)

From an old journal entry: A lesson I need to remember.

Sometime ago, I was asked if I felt something for someone.

I’ve never felt attracted (physically, mentally, emotionally or any matter of lly’s) to anyone before, at least not in the butterflies in your stomach way. I had no information or protocol for answering this question except for my slightly weird grading system. And since that system may not be as flawless as I once thought, I did’t know what to say.

I was also asked what would happen if things got complicated. At least to this, I had one confident answer: we’d still be friends. I was confident things won’t get complicated–on my side anyway.

A Slippery Slope

It got complicated for him. Something I didn’t expect, because I thought he was “safe” as he also viewed love and attraction as nothing more but science (i.e. chemistry and biology) at work. I thought he just wanted to help or was just as curious as I was on why I’m incapable of attraction.

Now I’m thinking that’s not the whole story.

“Well it got complicated”

“I root for the couple to work it out”

“I will find a girl who will be real and vulnerable with me and I will treat her right”

I didn’t realize the full implications of these words when we were talking. I got so caught up in my desperation to make him understand I meant no harm (and that I wasn’t trying to control him), that I missed the signs. All I wanted was for him to find happiness– not with me of course. But I feel like that part of my message got lost in translation in my effort to explain the virtues of forgiveness and pain (both in friendship and in love).

My brain is still having trouble comprehending this, but I can’t find another explanation for those words, other than what my other guy friend said: secretly or subconsciously, he was checking if I could be the girl he could be vulnerable with.

Vulnerable friends? Sure. Someone to date? Not so much. That thought never crossed my mind, even after his snap judgement hurt me and I got curious about him.

Whatever the case, it was the wrong question. 

The question asked should’ve been: Will I date him? or Will I consider a relationship with him? (instead of the question about attraction).

I wouldn’t have agreed to his invitation if I knew he had these ideas early on. If my friend’s interpretation was correct, that meant he was compromised.

But it’s my fault. I should’ve seen it coming the moment he asked about things getting complicated.

If he asked the — No, scratch that. If I rephrased the question to “Will I date him” or “Will I consider a relationship with him” instead of answering the “tension” or “attraction” question head on, I would have been able to give a straight answer.

I already had data to formulate a logical response, it’s just that I failed to connect the dots because a different trigger/question was used.

Given the right trigger, I would’ve realized that

  • The person is younger than the guys I usually date.
  • I wouldn’t have liked the fact that he had no long-term relationship experience because that meant he’s not yet mature as a partner. I saw evidence of this, too. But my confirmation bias– the desire to believe I found someone with roughly the same mindset as me– was so powerful I missed the glaring signs about his trust issues and easy dismissal of people.

And this is one of my biggest lessons in asking the right questions, outside the sphere of work. Previously, I’ve only seen the applications of using the right questions in talking to new clients or negotiating new projects. Now, I also see its importance in social dealings.

Stoicism and Controlling Myself

Since I’ve been practicing stoicism for almost a year now, I know that the I can only control my thoughts and actions.

I can explain my point of view well enough, but I can’t and will not force it on others. This encounter has made me realize that sometimes, however well-meaning and purely explanatory my ideas are, it may come off as an effort to control someone else. Right now, all I can say is I’m just trying to explain myself– to make my ideas heard and understood– not necessarily followed. But I need to find a way to make that clear.

Perhaps, I can avoid this compulsion to explain my ideas by asking questions, and then letting people come to their own conclusion. If they truly understood my explanation, they will arrive at pretty much the same conclusion (or another variation of it). If they’re seeing things from a different point of view or are not open to my ideas, then they’ll arrive at a different answer. All consequences are okay. What matters is I communicated. The outcome is up to the other person.

Dreams as Old as Me and a 1 Year Hall Pass

Ever since I watched Titanic, I wanted to have a nude painting done of myself. Just like Rose had.

Ever since I found out there were people who traveled the world and worked simultaneously full-time, I wanted to do it myself.

Every since I learned to cook, I wanted to travel and eat around the world. To learn to cook like a real Italian grandmother, shop and eat like a French woman, and cut fish with the precision of a Japanese chef were just some of the dreams I entertained as my love for cooking grew.

I’ve had these dreams for so long, but I couldn’t pursue them because of my health and limited funds. I’ve solved the funds problem about a year ago. Now, I’m solving the health problem.

Unexpected Developments

I was thinking of going last 2016. But then I met M.

I fell in love with the guy who showed so much emotional maturity, understanding, and potential. He made me laugh like no one can. He understood and accepted me– monsters, scars, and all the craziness in between.

I’ve said no to at least 4 marriage proposals. But to him, I said “YES,” even if we’ve only been together for a year and a few months when we talked about it last year.  It surprised the hell out of me, too.

So I postponed my dreams of long term travel. I chose to stay so we can build the foundation of our relationship. It’s almost two years now, and together, we’ve already started building the life we dreamed of. We’ve invested in our future, grown our income, traveled, and seen each other’s uglier sides.

We are ready to marry.

But first, I need to fulfill my lifelong dreams…

The bucket list of places and experiences I’ve been holding on to, and the crazy solo self-exploration I wanted to do long before I dreamed of forever with him.

Exploring the Dark Side

Yes, this trip is to check off several items in my bucket list before I say I do and start my journey of becoming a good mom. But this trip is also about who I am.

I’ve always been a good girl (at least I think so). I paid my bills, did my work, and everything else required to deal with the bad cards handed to me in life. But now that I’m financially, emotionally, and mentally (some people might question this point) stable, I want to explore the dark side.

I’m already well-aware of who I am as a responsible, nice, and loving girl. But I’ve only glimpsed at the dark or grey sides of my personalities a few times. For instance…

  • Why am I too analytical even in matters of the heart? I can love and get hurt, but it doesn’t come as easy for me.
  • Who am I without the constant goal-setting and hard work that defined my life? Who am i now that I’m no longer in survival mode, and can let my mind and spirit wander aimlessly?
  • Who am I without the responsibilities and emotional ties that bound me?
  • Is the filtering or grading system I designed, based on past mistakes and experience, to keep myself from getting hurt or wasting time on the wrong people in need of an upgrade? Or is the situation that caused me to question it a fluke, since the person who caused me to question it turned out to be not who I thought he would be? I was a victim of confirmation bias and black swan effect because of that incident. Is there enough evidence here?

These are just some of the questions I’ve always wanted to explore but couldn’t. Until now.

I Know Who I am

I’ve already answered the big questions about myself early in life. So this trip isn’t just a rambling child’s soul-searching mission.

Like everything in life, one must continue learning. New experiences and new learning should be used to deepen the current understanding we have of ourselves. And that’s what this trip is about.

One might think exploring your dark side is a bad idea. I beg to differ. For me, it’s better to know myself thoroughly, even the unsavory bits of my personality. Every person has a dark and light side, one can’t exist without the other, so I might as well get to know that side fully.

I need to know my dark side, not because it’s out of control but because I’m curious, and I know I can learn a lot from that side of me.

1 Year Hall Pass

Hence, the 1-year solo travel and “hall pass.” Starting today, I have one year to prepare for my Single girl bucket-list checking/dark side exploring escapade. While I can go with only two or three months preparation, I want to prepare well for this trip. I need to get healthier, establish systems for our rental business, streamline my writing business, and build the foundation of our future dropshipping/POD business, too.

After that, I will have 1 year to travel solo as a single girl with no emotional ties and responsibilities other than my own. Free to do what I want and to make mistakes.

M is okay with me going, which is a considerable win considering the guy before him never understood this dream. Understandably, though, he’s scared. He’s scared of what might happen or what I might discover.

Still, this is what I want to do before I tie the knot. I love him, but I’ve had these dreams long before him–long before any relationship I’ve had. I owe it to myself to see it through.

Anyway, I still have a year to plan for this.

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.

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.

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.

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