Photo by Trent Szmolnik on Unsplash
At the beginning of this year, I decided to name 2020 my #yearofmassiveaction. I put that term on my yearly planner, used it as a screensaver, and reminded myself of that intention every single day.
I had big goals and a burning desire to make this year a great one. And admittedly, I’m one of the few lucky ones who benefited from the pandemic because it allowed me to spend more time working on my goals.
Due to all the restrictions and travel bans, I was able to build a 6-figure online business in less than a year, got featured in major publications like Business Insider, grew an email list from 0 to 15k+ subscribers, lost 14 pounds, and so much more.
However, I’m not sharing that to brag.
I’m sharing it to show what’s possible in less than a year if you’re dedicated and focused, even you first felt desperate.
The truth is that 12 months ago, I had no direction in life. I knew that I wanted to run my own digital business, but I had no idea how exactly to do it.
In December 2019, I was frustrated, lacked motivation, and didn’t know how to make a real change.
I’ve never been broke because I’ve been working side jobs since I was 15 years old and I’m lucky to be living in a wealthy European country. However, I wanted more than just making it through the month.
I wanted financial freedom and self-determination. The following five decisions helped me make massive progress towards creating that reality:
Keeping my fixed costs low as hell
The most rewarding financial decision I ever made was to keep my fixed costs freaking low.
In total, my partner and I averagely spent 1.500€ per month on private expenses in 2020 — including rent for an apartment in Vienna.
While saving money is cool, what’s much more important is that our low costs allowed us to heavily invest in growing our business.
We paid for numerous courses, coaches, and tools that helped us scale our business from 0 to 6 figures in as little as ten months.
Without the help of those courses and tools, it would’ve taken us much longer to create our desired results.
I wasted more than three years on trial and error because I was too stingy and didn’t want to invest in knowledge. This year, I finally made the mental shift to realize that my time and energy are way more precious than money.
If you have lots of time, you can learn anything for free. But if you want results quickly, you need to learn from people who are ahead of you.
Keeping my private costs low and investing in knowledge and proper tools was the best business decision I made in 2020.
Relentlessly rejecting private messages and requests
The most rewarding skill I acquired in 2020 was the ability to say no.
For the majority of my life, I tried to be everybody’s darling. I wanted to be kind and caring and neglected my mental health for the sake of others.
This year, I did the opposite. I relentlessly rejected, ignored, and deleted messages, requests, and opportunities — no matter how promising they sounded.
By doing so, I was able to:
- take better care of myself,
- spend more mindful time with my loved ones and
- focus on my priorities and serve more people instead of distracting myself.
Due to my presence on Medium, I get hundreds of messages and requests every month. While I’m grateful for every single person who reads my work and makes an effort to contact me, most messages are outrageous and selfish.
At the beginning of the year, I tried to respond to every comment and message. Yet after six months of doing that, I realized that most people are just wasting my time because they’re too lazy to do a simple Google search.
By ignoring and deleting all these rude requests, I have more time and energy to serve people who are genuinely interested in improving their lives or businesses.
Going with the flow instead of fighting my body
I read my first book on productivity years ago and always gave my best to stay highly focused during working hours. Most of the time, I used the Pomodoro Technique to avoid distractions.
Yet, what I always ignored is listening to my body. Admittedly, that’s not easy when you’re a student or working a typical 9-to-5 job. But if you’re self-employed and running your own business, you can indeed create a schedule that’s aligned with your biorhythm.
What most people do when they lack energy during working hours is grabbing caffeinated drinks and trying to fight their bodies. Instead, you should allow yourself to rest and get back to work when you‘re feeling more energized.
You’re much more productive when you allow yourself to do important work during your so-called biological peak time. That allows you to get into a natural flow state, get more done in less time, and also increase the quality of your output.
If you’re not aware of your peak times yet, you can set a timer for every 60-minutes and take notes on your energy levels for a few days. After a minimum of five days, you can have a look at the data you collected, compare your energy level at different times of the day, and draw meaningful conclusions.
For women, it also makes sense to be aware of their menstrual cycle and live in alignment with it.
In my case, the most productive times of the day are mornings and evenings. That’s why I mostly use the afternoon for repetitive and non-critical tasks.
Ignoring the advice of 99%
Most people who want to build a business or improve their lives are crazy about information.
They read countless books, sign up for every free course they can find, and waste hundreds of hours consuming repetitive and mostly useless knowledge.
However, the problem is that knowledge is power is one of the biggest misconceptions of our time.
The truth is that most knowledge is readily available at zero costs for anyone who has access to the internet. That’s also why it’s not really powerful.
Anyone can promise you to teach you something, but it’s up to you to decide whose advice you take seriously.
If you’re not careful about choosing your teachers and mentors, you can quickly lose a lot of time and probably even money.
That’s why I stopped taking advice from people who didn’t achieve what I want to achieve. Instead, I only learn from those who actually created results that I desire — in business but also private matters.
That helped me to separate the wheat from the chaff and save hundreds of hours.
When life gives you lemons…
I won’t deny that 2020 was an emotionally exhausting year.
A few years ago, I consciously decided to avoid the news. I don’t read newspapers, listen to the radio, or watch the news. Normally, the only way I get informed about the news is through social media posts or private conversations.
However, 2020 was different.
When the pandemic hit Europe, my partner and I were traveling in Portugal. Our next stop was France, but the quick measures against the virus forced us to go back home after just a few days.
Even though I gave my best to stay positive, the whole situation was overwhelming and frustrating. And for the first few days, I couldn’t stay focused and productive. I was glued to my phone, updating the news pages and trying to be as well-informed as possible.
While that first felt necessary, I soon realized that it actually didn’t make the situation any better. So I asked myself how I want to deal with the situation and had a conversation with my partner.
Quite soon, we both realized that there’s nothing we can do about the virus anyway. But what we could change was the way we behaved and how we dealt with the situation. Once we realized that, we decided to invest the majority of our time into growing our business.
Luckily, this turned out to be the right decision and we managed to make the very most out of the time.
What this whole experience taught me is that when life gives you lemons, you really can decide what you do with them.
You can turn them into lemonade, bake a delicious lemon tart, enjoy a tequila shot, or whatever else you desire. The point is that in most cases, we really do have an option and can make a change.
The tricky part is that each change starts with a decision. The good news, however, is that you can make that decision right now.
Bonus: Following a mainly vegan diet and reducing waste
At the beginning of the year, I decided to follow a mainly vegan diet. I’ve already been a vegetarian, so the change was pretty easy.
You can find vegan options for almost anything, but I barely even tried the fancy vegan sausages and cheese options. Instead, I decided to go for a more natural diet.
The advantages of a plant-based diet are actually pretty obvious. Reducing the consumption of animal products can have significant benefits for your health, but also the environment and your ecological footprint.
Additionally, I also paid more attention to producing less waste. I tried to buy veggies and fruits without packaging, went for shampoo bars instead of bottled shampoo, and refrained from products with lots of plastic packaging.
The truth is that a vegan diet and reducing waste might not necessarily change your life. For me, going vegan was not a health-related decision but an ethical one.
If you’re familiar with my work, you might be surprised to come across this section. However, if you ever felt inspired by anything I’ve written in 2020, I’d be more than grateful if I can also encourage you to take simple measures that might benefit our environment.
A friend recently told me that 2020 is not the year of getting what you want but the year of being grateful for what you have.
And even though I loved that statement, I believe we can do both: Striving for progress and being deeply grateful for what we already have.
2020 was challenging, but it was also a massive opportunity for growth. And if you’re reading this right now, you’re lucky to be among the wealthy people who have a roof over their head and access to the internet.
Life can be tough, but so can you. And sometimes, a few fundamental decisions can lead to huge changes. So why not make your own choices and set the foundation for an amazing 2021 right now?
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