The Career Masterplan for Mad Geniuses is here!

Yes it’s here at long last! Well actually I only released the trailer yesterday, but I’m sure you’ve been slavering with excitement about it ever since, I know I have, and I’ve already read the bloody thing.

Here’s what’s included in the micro-manifesto:

  • The Six Key Steps to Unleashing Your Inner Mad Genius

  • & a Quick-Start Guide with some basic actions you can take right away to get started with each step.

That’s it! It’s only 21 pages long, and most of that is pictures, so you’ve got no excuse not to have a look!

Download the Manifesto for free:


(right click and ‘save as’ to download)

Compressed version

(zip file containing PDF)

And if you enjoy it, please spread the word to the multitude of closet mad geniuses out there! I’ve made it ultra-easy for you to do this below:

Share on Twitter

Share on Facebook

 Or to share on Pinterest just repin the trailer below!

Source: via Milo on Pinterest


P.S. if there’s anything specific you’d like to see covered in the 6 micro-guides or if you have any questions or feedback let me know in the comments!

My Bid for World Domination in 2012

In two week’s time the second World Domination Summit is taking place in Portland, Oregon. The event is organised by Chris Guillebeau and the speakers at the event include some of my favourite bloggers/authors, including Jonathan Fields, Pam Slim, Scott Belksy and Danielle La Porte.

Here’s a video from the last event:

When tickets went on sale at the beginning of the year I took a chance and bought myself one, as I knew they would sell out fast. I was still not even sure if I was going to leave my job at that point, though deep down I must have known I would.

I still can’t quite believe I’m going! According to the WDS site’s calculations, I’m making an 8400 kilometre journey, and I’m not the only one coming from far and wide, with people coming from all over the globe.

I’ve been preparing by watching the daft comedy series Portlandia on Netflix, which has made me wonder what I’m letting myself in for. The series stars Kyle MacLachlan, aka Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks as the Mayor of Portland, as well as various other guest stars.

According to the above video, “Portland is the city where young people go to retire!” so it’s no surprise that a lot of bloggers with unconventional businesses and lifestyles would end up living there, as well as Chris himself – for example Charlie Gilkey of Productive Flourishing, Jonathan Mead of Illuminated Mind and his wife Ev`Yan of Sex Love Liberation, Emilie Wapnick of Puttylike, Tyler Tervooren of Advanced Riskology, and Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens (thanks to another Portland resident, Janet of Purple Pandy for compiling this handy list!).

This trip is going to take me way out of my comfort zone. I’ve never taken such a long flight anywhere on my own before, in fact I haven’t really travelled anywhere on my own properly before at all (apart from going from Scotland to Ireland which hardly counts). Add to that the fact I know hardly anyone (though I’ve had brief contact online with a few other people attending, including CMC type Melissa Dinwiddie who’s featured in the above video from last year with her ukulele!).

So I am very nervous about the experience but it seems appropriate to do it in the year that I’m testing the waters of being freelance/building a creative business, and while I’ve still got a few months of funds left. I’m expecting to meet quite a few inspiring people and possibly learn a few things about myself in the process. So.. here goes!

If you’ve taken a step outside your comfort zone recently or in the past, tell me about it in the comments. And if you’re also going to WDS I’d love it if you introduced yourself!

p.s. I’ll be sending out the latest update to the Ditch the Day Job Diaries on either Sunday or Monday * which will include a sneak preview of my new micro-manifesto which will be released at the beginning of July.  *Correction – the video and email now won’t be sent until next week at the same time as the manifesto will be released.

You can subscribe here to catch up with all 14 episodes, including the most recent, which ended on something of a cliffhanger as I considered the possibility of going back to full-time work…

Staring Failure in the Face

I don't need a telescope to see where I went wrong

Sunday, 7:30am.

I wake up in unfamiliar surroundings. I realise I can stretch out on the bed, even though she’s here too. It’s a bigger bed than I’m used to. I look up and see sunlight streaming in through the curtains. It feels warm.

Paris! The first morning here. A trip to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. I’m tired. I forget how tiring travelling is.

My third trip abroad in four weeks – an extravangance only possible because I’m not working full-time. I’m not used to the excitement. It has a cumulative effect, making me more tired each day. I feel groggy, but excited to get outside and explore the city.

But.. so tired. She is also stirring beside me, but doesn’t seem very awake. I reset my alarm on my iPhone to 8:30.

(First decision of the day: to fail.)

8:30. Time to wake up properly. She makes us a cup of tea. I get my iPad and wireless keyboard. Time to write. I may not have achieved the 7:30 wake up time, but I can write 1000 words each day that I’m here.

I start typing. This is what I write:

“So here we are en Francais, and I can’t really be bothered with my writing but here we go. I have to do it, right? At least this is highly portable.

But what to write about?”

I put down the keyboard and pick up my cup of tea. That is all I write, the entire trip. All I want to do is enjoy my holiday with my wife. Discover a city I’ve spent less than 24 hours in so far. Relax, and forget. Stop striving for a while.  Fuck it.

(My second decision of the day is to fail.)


We get home to Edinburgh. The rain pours down outside and it’s as dark as dusk, all day.

I look at my to-do list. I sent it to him before we left, with a list of ‘deliverables’. It now seems wildly ambitious. Whilst in Paris I was going to come up with a plan. Instead I shut out the future and the past, apart from the unavoidable one evident from the extravagant architecture around us.


I stare at the blank page. I have failed. No way round it. Because I announced the challenge publicly, now I have to admit my failure, publicly. But what to say?


I wake up, watch a couple of episodes of TV spy drama Nikita. Nonsense, but entertaining. Afterwards, in my mind, I carry out a debriefing, an interrogation, of myself, like it happens in the show.

Why did I fail? Because I chose to, twice.

What can I do? Admit, accept, try again.

I sit down and write – this.


What will my decision be at 7:30am?


It’s not surprising I’ve been used as a prime example of the “lazy controller” syndrome by creative consultant Jeffrey Davis (his solution: eat chocolate for breakfast- might have to try that).

Gwyn Michael also talks about “staring down failure” today on the Scoutie Girl blog.

My May Morning Routine Challenge

It’s 3 months since I went freelance, and I’ve been recording a video diary almost every week to document how things are going, which I’ve been sending out to subscribers of the CMC newsletter.

However a few weeks ago the videos stopped (as any subscribers will have noticed). I had a lot of great feedback such as this from Margaret Pinard of Taste Life Twice on Facebook:

“Just got the latest installment of Ditch the Day Job Diaries, and particularly enjoyed the gardening clips (frog! goat!) and the community feel behind Freelance Fridays. And I love that quote about over and underestimating what you can do- will have to mull that one over… thanks for the great content, Milo!”

But I also got some feedback saying that there wasn’t enough info about how I was structuring my day, finding work etc. This gave me pause for thought, as if I’m bothering people once a week with a new video, I want it to be as useful as possible for them. And as fun as it was to film myself cycling to the local beach as I did in episode 8 below, perhaps it was a tad self-indulgent!

Structure? What Structure?

Now I can’t really talk about the work I’m doing for clients in detail, but I can talk about how I’m structuring my day, right?

The problem though was that I wasn’t structuring my day, at all. I’ve already written about how being productive in the morning isn’t my strong point, even when I was working full-time. Well let’s just say that leaving your job doesn’t miraculously make your bad habits disappear – in fact, for more it made them worse!

I’d quite been enjoying lying in and waking up in a a leisurely fashion, and staying up late watching daft films starring Nicholas Cage and Jason Statham on Netflix. Yes I was getting work done for clients whenever necessary, but I wasn’t taking my own creative goals forward. By the time my wife Mel got home from a full day’s work, I’d achieved very little.

Phase 1: Adjustment Bureau

After 3 months I’m the first to admit that although I’ve had enough to keep me going, the work isn’t exactly flooding in. Luckily I have a bit of a safety net for the first year but if 3 months can fly by that quickly, then it won’t be long before I’m looking back thinking ‘what happened to the last 12 months?’ and wishing I’d used the time more wisely (as I scour the bins in the alleyway behind the local Chinese takeaway for scraps of food and a slight glimmer of hope from a discarded fortune cookie).

I’m now seeing that first three months as a natural period of adjustment. After 10 years of working in the civil service I was somewhat institutionalised to the daily grind of sitting in an office all day, and I had also been diagnosed with chronic stress during the last year because of trying to juggle so many different things in my life and general unhappiness with my work. I needed some recovery time.

But I also came to realise that if I kept up my slovenly lifestyle, things weren’t going to get any better any time soon, which is why I’ve designated the next 3 months (including May) “Phase 2″.

Phase 2: This Time It’s Serious

In this phase I’m determined to finally establish some better habits, and this time failure is not an option. Now I’ve often read about how to do this, and people I respect like Leo Babauta and Michael Nobbs, amongst many others, advise starting small. Most people fail, they say, because they try to take on too many new habits and behaviours at once.

It’s true – I know this because I’ve done it time and time again – set out with good intentions to get up early, go to the gym, write every day etc etc but after a week or sometimes only a few days, it all comes crashing down again because it’s not realistic.

The sad truth is by the time you hit my age (34), or even a lot younger than that, your bad habits are deeply ingrained. It takes a lot to change them. This infographic shows just what’s involved in the process, and it looks so complicated that it puts you off even trying:

Source: via Milo on Pinterest


So in the interest of keeping things as simple as possible, I’ve decided to commit to two specific things for the month of May:

1. Get up at 7:30am at the latest (Mon-Fri)

2. Write 1000 words in 25 minutes (preferably first thing in the morning)

And that’s it! If I can stick to these two positive habits in May then I hope to add more over the next few months. I’m using a great website called to help myself stick to this plan. For this week only, you can watch a brand new episode of The Ditch the Day Job Diaries below which goes into more detail about this (episodes are usually only for subscribers).

Creative Accountability & The Clear-Minded Copywriter 

I’m also having fortnightly accountability calls on Skype with Fabian of The Friendly Anarchist. Again, it took us a few weeks to get into our stride, but now we seem to have hit on an excellent system where we commit to specific weekly tasks and send each other the proof that they’ve been done. If we fail, we have to give money to the hateful right-wing organisation the BNP, which is one of the best motivations not to fail I’ve ever discovered. So that is definitely helping in terms of taking things forward with my own creative stuff.

And I’m making much more of an effort to find and apply for new work, including setting up a portfolio site called The Clear-Minded Copywriter, which I hope to add to and improve over the next few weeks.  I’m hoping that if by the end of the 3 months this effort will have paid off – either way that will be the time for a review to see how things are going and what I need to do differently.

If you’d like to see how my morning routine challenge for May is going, I’ll provide updates in the next episode of the Ditch the Day Job Diaries. Sign up to receive new episodes each week plus access to all of the videos so far in the series!


I’ve Just Run Out of Excuses

Yesterday I left the civil service after almost exactly 10 years to the day I started. You can read some background to this in one of the previous newsletters. Somewhat spookily, given this was my last day of repeating the same routine over and over again, this happened on Groundhog Day.

Another coincidence – on the way to work, I was listening to a playlist of 120 cheesy songs and ‘The Final Countdown’ by Europe came on just as I was approaching the building – at which point I started singing along at the top of my voice, obviously!

Man with a Plan or Unemployed Bum?

Because I voluntarily accepted redundancy, I will receive a decent lump sum. If I’m careful, I can survive on this for a year, even if I didn’t have any other money coming in.

My plan though, is to continue to work as a freelance copywriter, which is something I’ve been doing since I cut down my working week to four days at the beginning of 2011 – but now it will need to be on a much bigger scale because this time next year it will probably be my main source of income.

I also want to ramp up my blogging efforts again. The point of this blog was always to help other creative people find focus and achieve their potential – and I’ve only just scratched the surface so far.

Developing a new business as well as blogging is going to take a lot of focus and discipline, even though I’ll no longer be working a day job at the same time. Key to this is establishing productive habits and spending my days wisely.

I also want to ensure I have time for exercise and my own creative projects/experiments, whilst I have the luxury of being able to structure my own time.

Every Moment Counts

Every moment counts for me this year. It’s hugely important. But what’s new? I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t have done some legwork. I couldn’t have done this if I was heavily overdrawn or in credit card debt for example (I do have student loans but it was under the old system which means I can continue to defer them for the time being).

If I hadn’t already been paid for my writing and other work I might not have had the confidence to take the leap (even then it was a tough decision). My previous job, whilst it had it’s frustrations, did mean I got a lot of experience with digital media and marketing, and the fact I’ve been writing, blogging, using social media and producing audio and video content for many years is also a bonus.

Also worth pointing out is that over a year ago, on the advice of  Jonathan Mead, I set a very specific goal: to ditch my day job by 31st March 2012. This was before I knew the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy would arise. In fact, I forgot that I had done this until I looked at my calendar for 2012 a few weeks ago, but the intention was always at the back of my mind – never underestimate the power of committing to clear and highly specific goals.

One of my leaving gifts

Everything you do is a step in either the right, or wrong direction to achieving what you really want out of life. That’s what this blog is really about. Whatever situation you’re in right now, it’s a good thing to remember. Of course we can also put too much pressure on ourselves – rest and relaxation, enjoying life and HAVING FUN has to be part of the plan too.

This is an important post for me, and I’d  be really grateful if you would share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus or wherever you see fit using the handy buttons below.

Oh, and why not join over 100 people who already subscribe to the newsletter and like CMC on Facebook, and over 1000 people who follow me on Twitter: @milomclaughlin

p.s. I know I dropped the ball with this blog last year but I’m back now, and I’ve got no more excuses – so expect big things :)

How to Make 2012 a HAPPIER New Year (video)

Fireworks Obscured By Bus

Every New Year’s Eve at midnight we wish each other Happy New Year, but how much do we really do to help make it a happier year than the one before?

In the run up to January I’ve already discussed simple goal setting as a way to ensure you don’t drop your New Year’s resolutions like hot potatoes the minute all of life’s myriad distractions get in the way by around say.. 6th January.

The Difference Between Resolutions & Goals

But according to Gretchen Rubin, whose bestselling book of the same name describes her year long Happiness Project, which she continues to write about on her hugely popular blog, there might well be some wisdom in making resolutions rather than goals:

I’d noticed idly that a lot of people use the term “goal” instead of “resolution,” and one day in December, it struck me that this difference was in fact significant. You hit a goal, you keep a resolution. “Run a marathon” makes a good goal. It’s specific, it’s easy to measure success, and once you’ve done it, you’ve done it. “Sing in the morning” and “Exercise better” are better cast as resolutions. You won’t wake up one day and find that you’ve achieved it. It’s something that you have to resolve to do every day, forever.

Striving toward a goal provides the atmosphere of growth so important to happiness, but it can be easy to get discouraged if reaching the goal is more difficult than you expected. Also, what happens once you’ve reached your goal? Say you’ve run the marathon. What now—do you stop exercising? Do you set a new goal?

With resolutions, the expectations are different. Each day I try to live up to my resolutions. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but every day is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity. I never expect to be done with my resolutions, so I don’t get discouraged when they stay challenging. Which they do.

Keeping track of how well you’re sticking to your resolutions though is another matter. Rubin was inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s ‘virtues chart’ to keep her own Resolutions chart where she could tick off each day that she achieved it. You can use the toolbox she provides on her site to do the same, or for a simpler solution, Joe’s Goals does a similar thing (or you could even use a good old fashioned pen and paper).

There Are No Good Answers Without Good Questions

Rubin also has some good suggestions for questions you can ask yourself if you want to be happier in the year ahead. I talk through a few of these in the video below – hope it’s useful (our cat certainly didn’t seem to find it very interesting, and even yawns at one point!).

Watch Video on iPhone, iPad, mobile devices

You can buy The Happiness Project from and if you want to find out more (Amazon affiliate links). Personally I found I didn’t relate to her life very much so found the details a bit mundane, but I still think a lot of her research was very interesting and the book will definitely make you think about how to improve your day to day life in small but effective ways.

What Are Your Goals for 2012?

A CD cover from my pal Dougie

This goal setting lark looks deceptively easy but is in fact pretty tough. It actually involves sitting down (that’s the easy part) and thinking (that’s the difficult part).


I found the first part of Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Review process easy enough – what went well and not so well in 2011. Chris was even kind enough to link to my post on his blog!

But as you can see, when it comes to the second part of the process, Chris focuses on a number of categories in his life, e.g. business, health, writing, travel – and then selects 3-5 measurable goals for each. He then maps out the key actions needed to achieve those goals.

Depending on how many categories you have that are important to you, that all adds up to a lot of goals, and can quickly become overwhelming.

One Big Goal

I also wrote about Leo Babauta’s book ‘The Power of Less’ this week because it suggests a slightly simpler, more manageable process, which is – just choose one goal each 6-12 months.

However whilst I admire his minimalist approach, and find it useful to an extent, most people are a bit more complex than that. We want to achieve our creative goals, but also have goals relating to health or family and can rarely just drop those whilst we completely focus on one thing.

Where I Am So Far

So I’m aiming to find a middle ground. I do have one main goal for the year – to establish a successful freelance writing business. By successful I mean that I want to be earning as much freelance by the end of 2012 as I do at my full-time job now – but I will also need to keep a strict limit on the amount of client work I do so that I have time for the creative, promotional and admin sides of the business too.

So that’s a pretty huge goal that is going to take precedence this year. I also want to develop some of my other skills to a more professional level such as video and audio production and InDesign etc so that I can offer additional services to writing in future.

Establishing Habits

I know that establishing regular habits are a key to the success of what I do, but I know from 2011’s morning routine fail that this is not something that comes easy to me. Therefore I’m going to stick to Leo’s suggestion to focus on one new, positive habit per month, and in January I’m going to follow the advice of Sarah J. Bray’s 90 Minute Workday post. If I have that habit in place for when I go full-time freelance on Feb 3rd I think it’ll be a great start.

I am still working on some goals for the other categories in my life as Chris suggests, but I’m still in the early stages of deciding what these are and I expect they will evolve over the next couple of months.  I particularly want to work on improving my fitness this year, so in January I’m also going to avoid drinking for the most part which should free up time, energy and cash and enable me to really focus on what’s important.

What About You?

I think that’s enough goal-setting for now. I wanted to share how I’m getting on with this as I know a lot of people will be thinking about this kind of thing right now  so I hope it was useful – and I’d love to hear what your main goals are for 2012 in the comments!


Clear-Minded Creative Annual Review 2011

Season's Greetings from CMC!

I like Chris Guillebeau’s approach to the ‘annual review’, where he takes stock of the year that’s about to come to a close and begins planning for the new one.

So as many other bloggers are doing, I’m following Chris’ lead with a quick attempt to sum up what went well and not so well this year for me. If you’d like to share your own answer to these two questions please do so in the comments, or post a link to your blog if you’ve already written a similar post.

What Went Well (in vaguely chronological order)

Blog launch

The launch of this blog in January was a huge success for me in terms of positive feedback and engagement, with lots of people obviously relating to the name and subject matter. I was delighted with the response to the Four for Feb Challenge and Share Your Wares Sunday in the first few months of the year.

I’ve also been in contact with and got to know some amazing new people through it, mostly online but in some cases I’ve been able to meet them offline too. The blog was even named one of Scotland’s best websites by The List Magazine and featured on the Guardian’s website and Creative Boom.


In terms of freelancing things got off to an excellent start in February (following my decision to cut my hours to 4 days a week) with a regular gig at LEWIS, whose gorgeous new website is now live and features quite a bit of my writing (in particular the ‘About us’ and ‘Work sections’). I also had a few other jobs on throughout the year which has given me a confidence boost in terms of being able to make a go of freelancing full-time.


Photo by Marc Millar

Our wedding in May was also a huge success – we had such a fun day and everyone else seemed to as well. It was great having our friends and family together, and taking them out on a boat to an island for the ceremony, then coming back for decent food and a dance to what I still think is one of the best playlists I’ve heard at any wedding – but then again I chose most of the tracks :). This year was a good year socially in general, I felt like as a couple we have been more outgoing than normal which is good because we have had a tendency to be quite introverted in the past.


In this slightly disturbing picture, my face looms large in the classroom, which must have been disturbing for the students!

I had the unusual experience of speaking to a small class of extremely smart students from Washington College in Chesterfield, Maryland, for a course that provided an introduction to online entrepreneurship and blogging. It was all made possible by Google + Hangouts, I guess it could just as easily been over Skype as well. The fact I could have this experience due to the wonders of modern technology was amazing. I found it really enjoyable and again it was a big boost to my confidence (thanks to Mike!).

And of course I finally took the decision to leave the civil service after 10 years and go full-time freelance. I was lucky enough to be accepted for a ‘voluntary exit’ scheme meaning if all goes to plan I should get a lump sum which will give me a temporary financial cushion whilst I build up my copywriting business to the level that it can support me.

Radio show

The year was topped off nicely when I was invited to join a couple of friends to co-present a radio show on the local student radio station. It is pretty self-indulgent but has been lot of fun and just what I needed after a difficult few months (see ‘what didn’t go so well, below!).

List Awards

I was also invited to be on the judging panel for The List Awards, which is a new award recognising creativity in Scotland. Other members of the panel included a Turner Prize judge and a BBC producer! I also got to attend a fancy do at the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland (more on the awards in a later post).

We Adopted


Oh yeah, and we adopted a cat! She is still a nervous wee thing and definitely prefers Mel more than me (well she does feed her most of the time), but she is gradually settling in and it will be nice to have her with us over the festive period :)

What Didn’t Go So Well


In retrospect, trying to both set up a successful blog and a side business in the year I got married was pretty foolhardy. Obviously the business took off a little quicker than I’d expected, and I had to prioritise that if I was going to achieve my goal of leaving my full time job.

So I was unable to stick to my initial aim to post here twice a week and send a weekly email (didn’t even come close!). I got pretty overwhelmed in fact with everything that was going on and after the wedding there was a definite sense of anti-climax as we found ourselves back to ‘reality’ after all the build up and then the excitement of the day itself. I found things tough at work and struggled to cope at times.


I’ve neglected my health, not managing either the 10k or 5k runs I planned to do or going to the gym – plus drinking too much (and therefore being hungover and not feeling like going to the gym!). I really want to get rid of this damn beer belly in 2012.

Reading when I should be writing

One of my other main failings this year has also been reading too much and not writing enough. I had hoped to publish my first manifesto before the end of the year but haven’t managed this as it was a tougher job than I expected to decide what to include and how to structure it. But it is coming soon, honest!

It’s not like I couldn’t have done it if I’d been a bit more organised and spent less time reading online. I have far too many feeds in my Google Reader not to mention Twitter and Facebook etc. So I need to make this more manageable.

Whilst services like Summify can help, I still can’t escape the feeling I’m missing something unless I at least have a scan through all my incoming sources. In the end though, it’s stopping me writing and being more productive as well as exercising to some extent and something has to change.


So.. in balance this has been a transitional year for me, and therefore though difficult, I’m in a great position going forward.  I’ve got married, got regular freelance work and quit my job, all of which are pretty amazing achievements for me as I feel I’ve gone a long way to overcoming my lack of confidence in my own abilities that has held me back so many times in the past.

And I’m still very proud of this blog and the fact that I’ve had quite a few people tell me the content has helped them over the course of the year. I’m just disappointed that I haven’t been able to devote as much time to it as I’d hoped, and I’m wondering how I can simplify my life to allow me to achieve what I want and keep putting good content out without becoming overwhelmed again in future.

Chris explains his full annual review process here in case you want to join in – and please do share what you got up to this year in the comments, especially if there’s a creative achievement that you’re particularly proud of!


I Quit.

I don’t normally share the Clear-Minded Creative newsletter publicly I got some great emails from readers in response to the most recent one and a few suggested I post it on the blog as well. You can read it here. It’s about a major decision I made recently which means 2012 is going to be quite interesting..

I also got a couple of emails wondering why I haven’t been blogging, and whilst what I say in the newsletter explains it to some extent, as I’ve had a lot on my mind.

I also have to admit that I’ve been listening to my own excuses far too much and the resistance has had me beat recently. So thanks to everyone who emailed me with your support and encouragement and also to the ones who weren’t afraid to give me a kick up the arse (figuratively speaking).

I’ve definitely over-promised and under-delivered this year when it comes to my posting schedule and newsletters. So I’m not going to promise anything here today. Just know that I’m not going anywhere and there is plenty more to come (er.. that is kind of a promise.. oh well!).

Related stuff:

Why Your Work Never Feels Good Enough – Jeff Goins

which features the below video

I absolutely loved this as it just shows how much the way we think about things affects our success in life.

Source: via Milo on Pinterest


This post pretty much sums up where I am at the moment

And this tweet from Charlie Grosso made me feel better about my lack of blogging recently.

It’s been a great 6 months. So why do I feel like giving up?

Escape Hatch on the HMS Portland

Hi and welcome back to The Clear-Minded Creative. As I’m writing this, it’s the beginning of July 2011, which means the year has reached the half-way point. And this blog has now been going for 6 months too. So it seems a good time for a little reflection.

I feel like I’ve achieved quite a bit since the beginning of the year. Three things that have happened since January 1st are amongst the biggest achievements of my life:

  • Starting this blog and getting a positive reaction to it
  • Getting consistent paid freelance copywriting work which I enjoy
  • Getting married (ok this one should have been no.1!)

All three of course are not just down to me – they’re all down to the help and support of other people.

So I feel especially grateful to have those people in my life as well as these amazing opportunities to reach new people through the blog and gain new experiences through my freelance work.

So why do I feel like giving up?

It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve given up on a good thing. In fact, I’ve done it consistently. For example I used to write a regular column/produce a podcast for a local magazine, but I gave it up as I felt the work involved far outweighed the rewards.

In retrospect it wasn’t always for completely the wrong reasons. Making some space in my schedule allowed me to get paid freelance work, after all. But now I feel like giving up again, even though I know I’m headed in a positive direction.


The trouble is, I got impatient. I thought that now I had a bit of freelance work, maybe I could leave my day job. Maybe if I just got a bit more work, I could give up the security of the job which pays my mortgage and bills.

So I took on a few other pieces of work, and subsequently struggled to get them done. Not only that, but my work at my day job has also suffered – the worst of both worlds. Now I realise it was far too soon to expect to make a comfortable living freelance.

What’s even worse though is I’ve failed to keep to the schedule I promised to on this blog, even though I reduced the posting frequency recently from twice to once a week. I haven’t even managed that. And it stings.

Because I know I can do better.

And because I’ve become the polar opposite of clear-minded again. I’m overwhelmed, confused and frozen by indecision. And I’m trying to escape through reading all the blogs I follow in Google Reader and surfing my social media feeds – which only makes my mind more cluttered.

Hit Refresh

But hey, we all have relapses right? We all need to take a step back, reflect on what went right and do more of that and less of the other.

So I’m not going to give up. I’m just going to ask you to be kind and be a little patient with me, as I try and get back to full speed again. And I’m going to be a little more patient with myself and my situation and not try to force things to happen that aren’t meant to happen yet.

If you’ve not achieved your goals so far this year, could you turn things around? Or could you at least be a little kinder to yourself and celebrate the things you have achieved?

I hope so.

Here’s a wee video I made at the weekend to mark the six months mark of the blog and with a few hints of what’s to come for the rest of the year.

Thanks for sticking around so far. Let me know in the comments where you find yourself at the mid-point of the year and if you have a goal to achieve by the end of it. From now on I really want to bring the focus here back to how I can help others instead of moaning on about my own problems all of the time!

p.s. there’s more info on the record I mention in the video over at Song, By Toad.

p.p.s. In an effort to spend less time messing about with social media, I’m going to put Share Your Wares Sunday on pause for the time being, probably just for the rest of the summer. Thanks very much to everyone who’s taken part over the last few months.


My Morning Routine FAIL

Back in March I suggested you ‘Spring-Clean Your Routine’. It all sounded great in theory right? But perhaps it was too vague for people to really get their teeth into. I know I struggled to keep focused. I wanted to start the following:

My ideal morning routine

  • 6:30 am – get up – do 20 minutes of yoga
  • 7:00am – write 750 Words
  • 7:30am – breakfast, shower
  • 8:30am leave for work

I completely failed to achieve this.

I did realise that although I thought my behaviour was fairly haphazard, I was actually following a routine of sorts, which is really a series of long established bad habits:

My real morning routine

  • 6:30 – hit snooze. repeat until 7:30am
  • 7:30am turn on iPhone. Read email, Twitter, Facebook, RSS feed. Wait until girlfriend leaves flat (flat is very small so we always get in each other’s way if we’re both trying to get up at the same time)
  • 8:30 get up, put on music loud (Kanye West or Britney Spears), sing along whilst getting ready/showered
  • 9:00 breakfast. Read more blogs. Iron shirt.
  • 9:30/10am Leave for work (I’m on flexi so can usually get away with arriving late)

Of course, to have a successful morning routine, one also needs to have a successful evening routine.

My ideal evening routine

  • 8-9pm prepare for next day (iron shirt, plan to-do list etc)
  • 9-10pm read
  • 10pm go to sleep

But what can I say?

The reality: No routine whatsoever

Several times I went out and got drunk instead, or stayed up too late watching TV. Ensuring that the morning routine was NEVER going to happen.

So now I’m aware of the problem. I need to change my bad habits. But I also want some kind of social life.. hmmm a tricky dilemma..

What about you? Do you have a morning/evening routine? Are there any habits you want to change? What do you recommend to help me improve my self-discipline?

Let me know in the comments!

PLEASE NOTE: Next week I’m attending a local music festival,the weekend after I get married, and after that I’ll be on honeymoon in New York. So posting on this blog will continue to be irregular during May – I’ll try and post once a week but it may be less frequent up until the beginning of June.

The Path of Least Resistance

Last week I talked about Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art which is all about beating inner resistance to creativity. Well recently I’ve been doing pretty well in that regard but I think it’s fair to say I had a relapse this weekend.

Usually I have Monday’s post ready to go for 10am, and the newsletter ready soon after if not before. But this week my own resistance was too strong and I crumbled.

I’ve basically spent the whole day procrastinating instead of writing a blog post and in the end I decided to record myself playing a song I wrote a while ago called ‘The Path of Least Resistance’ which is about exactly the problem I’ve had today – wasting time.

Now songwriting and playing the guitar is very much an occasional hobby for me so please forgive the poor quality in that regard, but hopefully the cool iPhone 4 timelapse footage will make up for that somewhat. And normal service will resume next week, I promise.

p.s. If you want to see a real music video with proper music and animation and all, here’s a lovely one for the Scottish band Kid Canaveral by artist David Gelletly:

p.p.s In the first video above you can see me watching the massively epic and equally bizarre 35 minute music video/short film Kanye West made for his new album/the song Runaway (not for those who intensely dislike him or are easily offended, obviously):

Given my (cough) difficulties today, this week’s newsletter will be going out a day or two late but please make sure you’re subscribed if you’re taking part in the Four for Feb challenge because there’ll be an update on how to submit your Four for Feb results for an end of month round up post.