How To Finish Things You Don't Want To Do

 Photo by  Myles Tan  on  Unsplash

Photo by Myles Tan on Unsplash

Get to the point where you say "I might as well keep going".

Every time I've ever put something off, it's because I made such a big deal about starting it. It's always been the initial start.

The question was always "why start?"

I believe I was telling myself that if I don't start, then I won't have to finish. It was always about avoiding things -- responsibility, success, unpleasant things, etc.

And I always wondered how I eventually got those things done.

I learned that the key to finishing things, is to get past that point of "might as well". It's the initial resistance we have that stops us from doing things. When we invest just the barest minimum time, we often invest a little more time into doing it.

Often when we commit to writing for 5 minutes, that time we spend on it increases exponentially, and we spend a whole hour on it, losing ourselves in an amazing flow. We get past the point of "might as well". And it turns into an awesome experience.

But we have to make that first investment.

We have to invest just enough time to get past the point of "might as well".

Examples:

  1. I didn't want to wash the dishes at 10:47 PM tonight, but I washed one and said "I might as well keep going."

  2. I didn't want to start writing this blog at 10:52, but I put one sentence down, and said "I might as well keep going."

  3. If you're scared of talking to a girl, say one sentence to her, and you might as well keep talking to her.

  4. If you're procrastinating getting fit, at least get to the gym and take one step inside, and then you might as well get a workout in.

  5. If you're putting off studying for a test, review one page, and you might as well keep going.

  6. If you're introverted but want to meet people, Uber/walk to the place you wanted to check out for 5 minutes, and leave if you want, but you might as well stay.

  7. If you hate cleaning your room but you must, pick up one shirt and stuff it into your closet, and you might as well put the other shirts in there too.

  8. If you're avoiding starting your next big idea, take a 5-minute step, and you'll find you might as well do some more work.

All resistance lies before "might as well".

4 Tips to Win As A Freelancer on Upwork

Being a freelancer definitely has its perks: flexible hours, flexible location, and the freedom to choose which clients you work with.

But freelancing is not easy.

You have to handle insurance, taxes, and accounting all by yourself. You have to develop real discipline for getting shit done without someone telling you what to do. And, you have to constantly persuade new bosses why they should pay you.

Thankfully, Upwork helps make this process a little bit easier.

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Upwork is a website that provides freelancers with short-term and long-term projects to work on. While it comes at a cost (20% off your paycheck, ouch) it’s a brilliant place to get started in the world of freelancing if you have no current network of business contacts.

I got started in early 2017 and have since found success getting a constant inflow of new job opportunities almost daily.

If you’re starting out as a freelancer on Upwork, follow these 4 tips and you’ll be getting job offers your way in no time.

1. Write a headline and bio about the benefits the client will receive from working with you.

Always lead with what you will do for the client. People want to know how hiring you will benefit them. So you need to create the picture in their mind for them.

Explain what makes you different — why your life experiences make you such a unique person, the right guy/gal to get the job done. Detail work or related experience you’ve done in the past to show what kind of results you get.

Complete your profile to 100%, meaning 1) list the skills you want to get hired for, 2) adding some samples of your work to your portfolio, and 3) filling out the rest of the background information (certifications, work history, and aptitude tests).

Bonus points if you create a personal video for your profile. I haven’t tested this out myself, but I’m eager to know the success rate of a well-made video.

2. Get a friend to create a client profile and give you a 5-Star ranking.

Yeah, I said it.

It sounds cheap, but if you’re just starting out, you need some type of “recommendation” or rating that gives a signal that you’re a real person and/or dependable. Otherwise people will think you’re spam or too green (which is true but you have to get that first opportunity somehow).

This starts you off on a good foot on Upwork. I don’t know the exact numbers on it, but I believe that after getting that first 5-star rating, the trust factor goes up exponentially higher for freelancers.

3. Make each pitch personal.

We all know we’re not supposed to shotgun a bunch of standardized proposals to everyone (though that’s not stopping some people). It’s so ineffective and no one talks about it, but it’s a HUGE drain on your mental battery. Getting high rejection rates can do that.

Instead, take the time to craft proposals that reference the original job posting, and give them confidence that you’re the right person to handle it, however you see it best to do so. When clients start responding to you, reply within 24 hours, to give them a taste of what it will be like to communicate with you.

The goal of a proposal is not to win it outright. It's to give you a chance to start a dialogue. The goal is to want them to be so impressed with your proposal that they have to respond immediately after seeing it.

One extra thing that worked for me was including a video pitch in the proposal. It was not something that took more than a minute, it was simply a video message that stated “Hi, I’m Evan” (a real person who can speak English), and what I wanted to help them get done. Not necessary, but I attribute the human touch to winning me a couple more replies than I would have.

 

4. Earn a Rising Talent badge.

This badge program is the accelerant to your success on Upwork. Literally, you will get so many more job offers THROWN TO YOU instead of you having to pursue them yourself. Upwork does the job searching for you and sends you things that you may be interested in (depending on your profile skills).

This is by far the best way to earn more jobs rapidly.

You’ll show up in search near the top way more often for clients who are looking for talent, and you’ll have a shiny badge next to your name that just makes you look so much more credible. Clients will reach out to YOU so that you can interview for their job.

You can get the badge by following Upwork’s guide to becoming a Rising Talent.

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I hope that was helpful to all of the new freelancers. It's a fun life and the flexibility is awesome if you're the type of person who wants it!

Who else has had success on Upwork?

Comment below if you have any unique tips of your own!

We're The Worst When We're Alone

Sometimes you need to be alone. In fact, it's necessary for getting into "Deep Work" for some jobs, a concept made popular by Cal Newport. If you're a programmer, writer, or painter, you definitely know what I'm talking about when it comes to flow.

But how about the moments when we're out of internal flow?
 

 https://unsplash.com/photos/1qkyck-UL3g

https://unsplash.com/photos/1qkyck-UL3g

While it would be awesome to be in a consistently positive/confident/purposeful state, sometimes the human brain just says no. The brain doesn't care about your feelings, it cares about surviving, and if that means using doubt to scare you from taking some kind of risk, it will do that.

And while some introverted people would say that they need to be alone most of the time, I would guess that close to none of them would say that they prefer absolutely 0% contact with other humans.

That's because other people make us better than if we just go through life alone.

  • A romantic partner who makes us feel loved provides heaps of purpose.
  • Impressive coworkers inspire us to work harder and become more creative.
  • Accountability partners make sure we stay in line with our values, so that we are growing into the people we want to be.

Without supportive people in our life, our mind is vulnerable to the monkey inside our brain that prevents us from becoming the people we want to be. We want to accomplish our goals, but it happens slowly without the right people to guide us. We want to be great, but we fall prey to our down-talk and indulge in the plethora of distractions available to us.

Don't get me wrong: I think developing as an individual by yourself is important. We must be complete and not expect others to do that job for us.

But after reaching a certain level of completeness on our own, we need people to push us past the threshold. The only way to push past the limits is to let others in, and let them guide us where we hold blind spots.

I'm not naive enough to believe that I don't have blind spots. That's why my goal is to meet people who cover up my blind spots. I already have several friends and family members who help me accomplish just that.

Even random people can help you out here. For example, I'm pretty bad at focusing on the task at hand, so I use the peer pressure of a Starbucks to get me to get work done.

What are your blind spots, and who covers them for you?

What Use Is Unstable Crypto?

 Bitcoin cracks 12k as of Dec. 5, 2017, 6:39 PM PST.

Bitcoin cracks 12k as of Dec. 5, 2017, 6:39 PM PST.

I'm still trying to figure this out.

Why is the value of crypto so volatile? Is it because the technology is so early?

Is the goal of Bitcoin, Litecoin, or Ethereum to ever be usable as an everyday currency? Then that would require a massive economic shift to strictly crypto. Because that instability compared to other currencies, while exciting to some, will likely be a huge turnoff for the majority of people (who are generally risk-averse).

I don't trust economists anymore to predict any sort of bubble (they usually get it wrong), so I have no idea when this Bitcoin bubble will pop. I mean going from 3k to 12k in a matter of months is INSANE.

But can it keep going? And why will it?

On a side note, I was talking to one of my engineering professors, John Carlsson the other day, and he mentioned a very interesting brain problem that may help us understand the power of anonymous payment that cryptocurrency is capable of. It's called the "dining cryptographer's problem".

So imagine there are 3 people at a dinner table. One person wants to pay for the whole meal, but doesn't want the other two to know that he paid it. So how does he pay for the meal, while also retaining his anonymity?

Think about it for a second.

The secret is by using a coin.

No, not a Bitcoin in this case, but just a normal coin that presents a binary option. So what the cryptographers do at the table is that they start off with the coin facing one way (let's say it's heads). Then they pass it around the table, and if the person who receives the coin paid for dinner, she would flip it over (moving it to tails).

So by the time the coin returns to the starting point, the group would know if someone had paid for the whole meal if it's different than when it started. If the coin returned as a heads (the original side), then it may be assumed that it was the NSA that paid for the meal, and not one of them.

Therein lies some nugget of wisdom for being able to transmit information (whether that's money, data, or message) while retaining near complete anonymity.

People could send money anonymously to organizations. How would anonymous payments affect our world?

I'll keep thinking about it.

Why people are raised to fear failure

Synopsis: I have a theory that young people are raised to fear failure. Nearly all entrepreneurs claim that they couldn't have succeeded without being allowed the freedom to fail. So what are the factors that push young people to avoid failure?

  1. Parents trying to live their lives through their children
  2. Low exposure to role models who show whats possible
  3. 12+ years of permanent grades on a permanent transcript

Body: I'm curious about what makes people who they are. Currently most of the people I interact with daily are college-aged people and I'm starting to notice trends.

A lot of them are super scared of trying new things. They don't want to fail their parents. Often, their idea of being "adventurous" and taking a risk is doing a double major. When my friends tell me about their dreams, they tell me a lot of excuses why they don't pursue them.

When I get into a funk, I ask myself: why am I not pursuing my dreams? I've hypothesized that for me, it's these 3 things:

1. Parents trying to live their lives through their children

Although most clearly prevalent in Asian "tiger" parents, any young person can have over-controlling parents. These are the ones who have such high expectations for their kids -- enrolling their kids to be football players, learn piano, or performing well academically -- and end up suffocating kids for their early years.

Because parents often pay for their children's college tuition, the children take on a mixture of gratitude and guilt. They feel bad that their parents are paying so much for something towards their "future", and so they fear making any moves in a different direction because they feel they should be grateful.

2. Low exposure to role models who show whats possible

When you grow up in a small town, you don't get to meet that many diverse people. It's a feeling of being chained to your location that makes you yearn for adventure and exploration. Your role models are often people in the media or internet, and so they seem really far from the life you currently live.

And because we spend 50% of our lives in schools, the people we hang out with for 8 hours a day are other people who are too young to have done anything with their lives. We don't have that perspective to know what is possible.

Young people need to meet people of all ages who have reached various levels of success. That's the only way to know that people have failed and have become successful regardless. When we're kept away from these people, it looks like everyone around us should be striving to minimize failures.

Sidenote: most people aren't aware that their role models are a DM or email away.

3. 12+ years of permanent grades on a permanent transcript

One of my college professors recently said, "I want you guys to have fun with this project, and be curious about your learning."

Well that's mighty hard to do when every mistake you make results in subtractions from your final grade on a permanent transcript (her grading policy). Why would you risk that? It's so much better to do the bare minimum than fly up to the sun and fail.

Teachers can't honestly encourage their students to not be afraid to fail without first releasing the premise of permanent grades. Because as long as that expectation is there, there is always going to be supplicating to what the teacher wants, and less on what the student wants.

Conclusion: For other young people, it's not always our fault that we don't want to fail. Part of it is the environment that we were raised in. What we can do now is realize that the system has raised us to fear failure. When you can embrace failure as a learning experience that ultimately helps you, that is when you can say the shackles have been released.

What is Blockchain?

Today, I read the most direct definition of blockchain technology I’ve ever heard of: connected computers reach agreement over shared data.

… and I still don’t get it.

There’s got to be a way to simplify people’s understanding of this technology and in reaching that simplified definition, it should prove whether it’s worth all of the hype. It’s hard to imagine tech being this unexplored/not easily explained as a millennial, but ambiguity has happened before. I mean, how did people describe programming languages and coding when that first came out?

“Uh so you can type things and the computer thing can do it really fast.”

It’s kind of hard to imagine it. But we’re living through a period right now where people talk about “blockchain technology” and NO ONE knows what the fuck they are talking about.

And that makes me interested.

That’s why I’m spending December doing a little research project on blockchain.

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I’m going to research what it is, what it can be used for, if it's important, and if it is, for who. I’m considering reaching out to industry experts and asking them the nuanced things that only people in the industry could understand, in order to break it down into normal people language.

I’m going to share my journey of figuring out what the hell blockchain is on this blog, or maybe a separate one. I’m just really curious to know if it’s really going to revolutionize a whole bunch of industries as some people claim it will.

Time to come up with a list of questions and topics to write about for the next 30 days.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget: connected computers reaching agreement over shared data.

Cheers,

Evan

10 Things I've Recently Failed At (Nov 2017 version)

Maybe it'll make people feel better at themselves to see all my failures. They'll see everything I've failed at and be like "oh my god, what a loser, this dude fails at everything he tries". That's fine with me. Let them talk.

My hope is that eventually, I'll have enough failures to make everyone jealous.

Things I've failed at recently:

  1. Not getting a TEDxUSC talk
  2. Auditioning for FEAR Factor and not getting it
  3. Asking a classmate out near the end of semester and getting curbed
  4. Not getting a job at a local standing desk company
  5. Not spending time on my business and instead procrastinating
  6. Not getting to the gym 6x a week when I plan to, instead going 3-4x
  7. Failed an exam or two
  8. Ate healthy maybe 60% of the time, aiming for 80%
  9. Sleeping about 6-7 hrs a night, aiming for 8 hrs
  10. Staying at home and feeling mopy and depressed, when I should go out and explore

Fail on.

Book Review: The Mask of Masculinity by Lewis Howes

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I felt compelled to buy this book because growing up, I didn’t have many real-life male role models. Yes, I had a dad, but I never really appreciated him as the model I wanted to be growing up.

Instead, I defined my masculinity from my experiences growing in the school system.

That obviously went to shit.

Defining my masculinity by looking towards a groups of insecure boys for inspiration was a recipe for disaster. It’s hard for boys to talk about ways to be a better man, when everyone is just as clueless as you are.

So we developed the traditional desires of young boys: we all wanted money, babes, and ultimately, to be cool. An important point to make is that we didn’t want to be labeled as a non-man. We wanted to fit in with “the boys”. There was no room for being a “pussy” in boy groups.

Even now at 22 years old, I find myself falling into the same mental traps that bothered me since middle school. I still feel the need to toughen up for other people, to hide back feelings. I still feel a pang of inadequacy when guys talk about how much money, girls, or success they have.

And that’s why Lewis’s book intrigued me: I needed to confront my own psychology. In this book, he promises to deliver solutions on “how men can embrace vulnerability, create strong relationships, and live our fullest lives.” I had to see if that was true.

He starts off by stating that the 8 Masks of Masculinity are:

  1. Stoic Mask
  2. Athlete Mask
  3. Material Mask
  4. Aggressive Mask
  5. Joker Mask
  6. Invincible Mask
  7. The Know-It-All Mask
  8. The Alpha Mask

As I was reading, it all made sense to me. I could feel bits of each mask in my life, some more than others. The ones that related to me most were the Stoic, Know-It-All, and Alpha masks.

I don’t think Lewis is the most eloquent writer, but he gets to the point. And it gets a little cheesy sometimes (especially in the What’s Available When You Drop This Mask sections) but maybe that’s my Stoic Mask telling me so :)

The stories from interview guests of Lewis are the main attraction to this book, as he backs his main points with stories often. This is the part of the book where I felt like he extrapolated too much from the stories of his guests. Sometimes he would use a quote and pull something way out of it that seemed like a bit of a stretch. However, it was refreshing when he talked about his guests and how he openly disagreed with them, as I don’t see many authors doing this.

Overall, the Mask of Masculinity has helped me experience breakthroughs in what it means to be a man. I’ve always been curious about why I feel almost impulsive needs to act a certain way, even if I knew it was wrong. Lewis captures these masks in a framework that is easy to understand.

To all the men out there, if you want to understand why you act the way you do, this is the book to read. It’s easy to digest and helps you get to the root cause of many of our greatest insecurities.

Great job, Lewis.

Definitely check out this book if you're interested by clicking here (not an affiliate link).

The Athlete Mask Recap (Mask of Masculinity)

If I asked you to imagine the manliest man, how would he look?

...

Was it some form of athletic-looking guy?

Growing up, men see athletics and sports as ways to express themselves. Sports are awesome in that, it's one of the activities you can participate in, and everything else just sort of melts away. There's no problems when you're playing.

Whatever anger or problems we were holding inside -- none of it mattered when we put on that helmet, laced up those shoes, and stepped onto the court.

But the problem was that we could hide behind our sports.

What happens after we no longer have high school sports to foster what it means to be a team? What happens when we end up alone without ever learning how to properly talk about our thoughts?

We have no where to go.

When men solely base their identity on the sport they play, they lose touch with the other parts of life. They don't really have to face the problems of their lives when they can occupy it with as much "game time" as possible.

There's nothing wrong with enjoying sports and making it an integral part of your life. The danger lies when that's the only side of you, and you use sports as a way to procrastinate facing your problems.

What Growing Up As A Boy Is Like (1: The Stoic Mask)

I’m trying a new experiment: in order to extract the most value I can from reading, I’m writing a blog on each chapter I read to summarize the main points and see how I can relate them to my life. This week’s book is: The Mask of Masculinity by Lewis Howes.

“Man up”.
“Stop being such a pussy.”

I’d be lying if I said I never said any of these things before.

Men are told to be strong at all times. To bottle up their emotions. To “suck it up” and power through life’s hardest trials without complaining, because that’s what a “real man” would do.

And I wanted to be that guy.

I didn’t know there were other options growing up in high school and college. For me, it was either be a “pussy” or be a “man”.

We live in a world where men are told to be more open and more vulnerable to show who they are — but also to NOT OVERSHARE. Because that’s just too much feelings for a dude.

We get negative feedback when we share, and so it scares us from ever doing it again. Think of the girlfriend who says “I just wish he’d open up more to me”, and as soon as he gets a little too emotional, the girl essentially says “nevermind, you need to be strong for me”. Think of the guy who wants to talk about his struggles, but is afraid of being too emotional around his guy friends for fear of being made fun of.

Is it a surprise that so many men put on this stoic mask and bottle up their emotions inside until they have to release it in sometimes violent ways?

Now, there is something to be admired of the strength it takes to subside your fears and be strong in the face of adversity. But that has to be coupled with a balance of knowing when to take that mask off.

Women often have groups to share their pains, emotions, and struggles.

But what do guys have? Not much.

So what can we do to help men stop bottling up their feelings?

  1. Men: make a list of your 5 most painful experiences and write about it. Share them with someone who you are or want to feel more connected with.
  2. Women: don’t blame men for having this mask -- support them and accept them when they do feel they trust you enough to be so vulnerable.


#blog