Today’s guest post comes from Alan Donegan. I first met Alan at Chautauqua in Ecuador. At first, I was intimidated by his booming voice and extroverted nature. Then I had a conversation with him at lunch one day and knew he was a good human. Then, I saw him speak about PopUp Business School and knew he was an incredible human.
Alan is many things to me. He’s a life coach who gives me honest advice when I need it. He’s a motivational speaker who makes me want to be a better person. He’s a man who lives his dreams which inspires me. However, I’m happiest that he’s my friend.
Back in 2007, I was 30 years old and I got fired from my job. I did something stupid that I had to sign a contract saying I would never talk about and I left wondering what the world held for me next. I wish this was the story of me telling you what I did but I think this will be better……….
I got a small payout from my last employer for signing that contract which was just enough to survive for a few months. I had no idea what I was going to do next as leaving that job was a shock!
I searched the job boards, trawled the papers and the internet to find a job that would interest me. I struggled to find much and the exciting jobs that I did find all said I didn’t have enough experience. I was lost and wondering what to do next.
If you go back even further to when I was 21 I was in a similar position. I had always dreamed of working with my dad in the family business and when that collapsed in millions of debt, scandal and court appearances I was left wondering what to do. That particular collapse set me on a lifelong journey into self-development which changed my everything.
Out of the first job loss came a passion for self-development and out of the second came a desire to start a business and share all the things I had learned. In 2008 I choose to start my own training business and my life changed forever………..
A World Of Infinite Possibilities
Fast forward to now and the world (for me) has vastly changed as well as my position in it. I am on a flight from London to Houston to run a PopUp Business School. I have become a millionaire at the age of 40 and never have to work again. I am about to start on a new phase in my life to become a scriptwriter and launch a new blog. I see a world of infinite possibilities and amazing things you can go and do and tackle.
This is a far cry from when I got fired from my job in 2007 and ended up in the Job Centre. The Job Centre in England is where they give out the government benefits for people who don’t have employment. The scene is a 60s government concrete building with brown stains up the walls, security eyes you up as you go into a beige soulless space.
You sit waiting for your advisor who will grill you about whether you are actually searching for a job or not. You are surrounded by people smelling of alcohol and weed wondering what you are doing with your life. You tell your advisor that you want to go on a training course because it will improve your skills and they tell you if you go and miss your next appointment you will be cut off benefits. All this pain for £56 (about $70) a week.
It used to take me a few days to recover from the experience of going to the Job Centre before I even wanted to go out and talk to people again. The place sucked the life and energy out of me.
So how do you get from Job Centre at 30 to 40-year-old millionaire, business owner and soon to be screenwriter? That is what I want to share with you today.
What I Learned Along The Way
Anything is possible given time, energy and learning
This one is a bold statement but it is amazing what you can do given time, energy and effort. Most people completely overestimate what they can achieve in a month, get nowhere near doing it all and then give up. What I have learned is that if you start working hard, learning and really commit to something it is AMAZING what you can achieve over time.
This happened to me just the same as everyone else! When I launched my business in 2008 I had a goal of making £100,000 in the first year. I didn’t make it anywhere near that bold target and I became disheartened and disillusioned. I remember being sat at home watching movies to try and distract myself from the pain of not having hit my goal. I had some dark moments in the first year of running my business where I nearly gave up!
It actually took me 6 years to hit that target but I nearly gave up when I didn’t get as far as I wanted in the first year.
I am about to go into a new phase of my career and start screenwriting. Writing this article has caused me to think through how I will approach this differently now as opposed to when I was starting my business.
- Understand it is a learning journey and my first version is not going to be perfect but I have to get it out there to get to version 2!
- Be easy on myself and if I don’t hit my target I know that I can keep going and work to get there
- Focus on making progress each day and not on whether I hit some big goal at the end or not. If I focus on the daily progress I know the big goal will take care of itself
“Anything is possible,” is a belief. That means it is not true or false it is something that I hold in my mind as if it was true. I am probably not going to become a pro-footballer at my age (40) but nearly everything else is possible. If I really wanted to be a pro-footballer I am sure I could find my way onto a team for 15 minutes if I paid enough!
So many of the people I come across hold the opposite beliefs such as “I can’t do that” or “I am not good with technology” or “I will never be able to do that” and those beliefs trap them. They never start.
My belief gives me the power to start and a lot of excitement to go for things.
The first step to achieving anything is believing you have a chance of success. Can you convince yourself you have a shot? Can you convince yourself you can do it? If you can, you stand a chance.
Know that there is a different world out there
In 2007 when I lost my job and ended up in the Job Centre I was stuck in a certain world. I was stuck in the world of job searches, newspaper listings and awkward interviews for roles I didn’t really want.
Tim Ferriss’s book The 4 Hour Workweek showed me a completely different world and that inspired me by helping me to see a whole new universe.
Who knew you could write a blog and travel the world earning money? Who knew you could become financially free by saving and investing? Who knew you could start a YouTube channel and make a full-time living reviewing technology or talking about what you love!? Who knew.
You don’t know what you don’t know. I didn’t know any of this was possible, so I was stuck looking locally in my hometown for the same old boring jobs. To be able to see a world of opportunities, you have to open your eyes and go hunting for them.
So many of the people I have met don’t even see these opportunities. They are stuck where they are and just look around locally. The opportunities you are looking for are probably outside your current circle of friends, outside your current physical community and until you get your head up and start looking around, you will never know what else is out there.
Mr 1500 talks about the day that he was at work and the stress was killing him; so he googled how to retire early and in that moment, an entire new universe of opportunities opened up to him!
There are infinite different worlds, possibilities and ways to make money out there. Get your head up, open your eyes and start searching for what you want.
Be willing to try things
At the recent PopUp Business School in Slough, the people in the course kept asking me “How do I know if someone will buy my product?”, “How do I know what people will pay?”, “How do I know if I will be successful or not?” I wanted to scream “YOU DON’T!!”
You don’t know till you try things! The only way to know if your business idea will work or not is to have a go! Minimise the risk and have a go without going into debt. How do you know if you will prefer starting a food business or a blog? There is no way to truly know until you have a go!
Do you like Ice Cream? How do you know what flavour you like most?
The only way to know is to try them! And if you are anything like me you go to the supermarket and buy every flavour of Ben and Jerry’s and do a taste testing evening. I didn’t know I was going to like Half Baked until I tried it; and in that moment my life became infinitely better!
People don’t try things because they don’t know if they will be successful or not or because they don’t know if they will like it or not. Every course people say things like “I don’t know if they will like it?” or “I don’t know if it will work” or “I don’t know if I want to.”
I want to SCREAM “You won’t know until you try!!”
Instead, I calmly reply “What’s the only way to know?”
You have got to test and try things and be willing to accept failure! You are never going to know unless you give it a go!
Accept things will go wrong!
I was stood outside a Barnes and Noble in Florida when I got the call that the people renting out flats were handing them back to us and moving on. We had a month’s notice to be able to find a new tenant and get them rented out again. The flooring in one of the flats was water damaged and needed replacing and Katie and I had never rented out the flats privately before. It was a mess!
As I have become more successful, I have actually found there are more things that can (and do) go wrong! Now I am running 50+ events around the world each year, organising investment flats, running 2 businesses and all the normal life stuff there are even more challenges that arise.
Just because you are successful doesn’t mean bad shit doesn’t happen.
What has changed is the way I respond to things going wrong.
Bad shit still happens I just don’t let it define me and send me backward. I own it, take control, and decide what to do about it. It has been said that life is nothing more than problem, problem, problem, CRISIS! Then some more problems! By trying new things, by pushing your boundaries you are probably going to have more challenges and problems and that is something you are going to have accept.
Problems are going to happen and it is how you respond to them that is going to define your progress, happiness and success.
Recently this year we had some challenges with a client. I had come in for some personal criticism and it hurt a lot. We were in a grey community centre with beige walls and an atmosphere that sucked the life out of you. At the break, I walked outside and called my business partner Simon to let off some steam.
He listened to me rant about the situation and what had happened and let me get it out of my system and then he hit me with it. He asked me “What has this been sent to teach you?”
That question stopped me in my tracks and helped me to find solutions and see different options.
Things are going to go wrong as you launch businesses, push your boundaries and try new things and we have to become comfortable with that. Being successful doesn’t mean things don’t go wrong. Being successful means responding differently when they do.
Surround yourself with people that tell you what you can do
The world is full of people that tell you what you can’t do. They like to say “You can’t do that” or “That’s isn’t possible” or even worse “What makes you think you can do that?” Sometimes out of a desire to protect you, sometimes out of a desire for you not to show them up they will put your ideas down and tell you they can’t be done.
What I have found is that the world is full of people that tell you what you can’t do and there are very few that will help you find a way of doing it.
At PopUp Business School I was training a new trainer recently and he interjected in the workshop about challenges people might face when starting up. I moved on quickly and focused on what people could do. As we debriefed after the workshop we reflected on what had happened. The trainer said to me, “Shouldn’t we tell people why it might not work?” I thought about this and my reply was, “There are so many people that will tell them what they can’t do and point out all the problems they might face that most people need someone to tell them it is possible to help them get started.”
Find people that will help you figure it out. That will help you make progress and will keep you moving forward. Those are the people you want to surround yourself with. Minimise the naysayers and the people that start every sentence with, “The challenge with that is……” and spend more time with people that see possibility and will support you having a go!
Surround yourself with people who see possibilities, not challenges.
Starting a new adventure
In 2007 at the Job Centre I didn’t see a world of possibilities and happiness. I saw a world of drudgery and jobs that I didn’t want to do. I was lost and in a mess. It was actually out of a sense of not having any other options that I started my own business.
It wasn’t easy, in fact at times it has been incredibly painful but that journey has helped me become the man I am today.
In 3 weeks’ time, I am flying to LA to spend time on Santa Monica beach writing a script for a movie. Do I know if I am going to enjoy it? No! The only way to know is to have a go. Do I know if I am going to be any good? No! The only way is to write it and get it out into the world.
I have always dreamed of being involved in movies and I see a world of infinite possibilities where I could write a movie, or design a graphic novel (next on my list of ideas), build an FI Business school or do anything else I want to.
I believe you truly can do anything if you work tirelessly, listen to feedback, learn along the way, and never give up.
The world is a truly incredible place full of infinite possibilities.
Why am I writing this post? Because so many people tell me they don’t like their job, position or life but don’t do anything about it. I want to challenge you to step out of the norm and step into the infinite world of opportunities in front of you.
Thank you Alan for that incredible dose of inspiration!
See what Alan is up to over on AlanDonegan.com.
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