#500WED Day 8: Lay down an idea for a project

For anyone wondering where I’m coming up with these writing prompts, I’m actually getting them Lift. Not Lyft like the ride share company but Lift, the like app that helps you build habits and forms a community around people trying to build the same habits too. One of the habits I am trying to form is to write 500 words every day (#500WED) working on a personal writing project. I don’t write for myself enough. That needs to change.

I need an outlet for expressing myself without concern for what it will do to my professional image.

Side story: I recently had a job recruiter tell me I look like a kid fresh out of college on video and that I was way smarter than I appeared on camera. “I totally get what you’re trying to do, and I think it shows great initiative, but it’s not doing you any favors,” he said.

I sincerely thanked him for his feedback and took the video off my website immediately after because I am trying to recruit new clients to work with, but part of it made me a little sad. I always wanted to be a broadcast journalist. Does this mean I’ll never be able to have my own silly YouTube series? What if I made it private and only people I know and am cool with will see it?

Anyway, #500WED is basically a monthly writing challenge with a new writing coach every month. Wanting to start writing for myself for a change, I decided to participate in the challenge. I have been super horrible at building this new personal writing habit. I started two weeks ago and I’m barely on day 8 at this point.

Ideally, once I build this new writing habit of mine, my personal writing time will evolve to be my book writing time. The idea for my book project is called Loveball and it’s a philosophy that I have sort of developed over the years that is a game-like approach to dating and self-improvement.

The game of life can be broken down into three components: the players, the prize, the playbook.

What fun would games be if there weren’t a little competition to keep you on your toes? You are a player in the game of life, but so is everyone else. And we all essentially want the same thing: avoid suffering and be happier. You need to first assess what level you’re at, determine what level you’d rather be and figure out what needs to happen in order for you to get to that upper level. If you’re at point A and you want to be at Point B, what do all to sub points in between look like for you? And who are you up against? What is stopping you for getting there. In the context of dating, the players would be everyone in your current dating pool. Not happy with the people you’ve been dating? What’s the common denominator? You. Whatever level you’re on, that is what you will attract unless you step up your game and elevate yourself to the next level where you will meet more worthy players in the proverbial game for your heart.

And like all games, there is usually a reward at the end. You need to keep your eye on the prize so to speak to get what you want. What is it that you are fighting for? What is your end game? This is what keeps you motivated when the going gets tough or when the competition crushers your hopes and dreams in one inning. To stay in the game, you need a noble goal to be working toward. For me, I’m working toward a life of remoteness. I have a nomadic heart so I want to find someone I can trust who is similar in nature and will travel the world with me. That’s my end game. The man who travels the world with me will truly be a gem in my life when the time comes. The truth is my heart just isn’t in LA and I plan on traveling the world until I find it even if my hair turns gray.

Lastly, there’s the playbook and each one is unique to the person who writes it. It’s up to you to create your own playbook if you want to win at life. Figure out what winning looks like for you, and work backwards. I recently became a volunteer at a local hostel because my involvement is part of what winning looks like for me.

I am way over the 500 word count but I wanted to finish my thought on my book project. Ciao!

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#500WED Day 7: Write about what you learned this year

1. There’s more to success than working hard and expressing gratitude.

I learned that the two ingredients of success missing from my life are spirituality and service. This realization was important to me because I have been struggling to make ends meet on and off ever since I graduated college in 2008. I never imagined I’d have to live through the Great Recession after learning about the Great Depression during my youth. My new interests in meditation and volunteering will help me become a more well-rounded person and give me new wisdoms to draw from in the future.

2. Chasing after money gets you nowhere.

I’d rather be broke and happy than rich and miserable. I spent the last five years of my life chasing after a bigger paycheck only to find that I wasn’t happy when I got it because the work wasn’t fulfilling. Moving forward, I plan on chasing after meaning, fulfillment and values. I’ve got my eyes on Buffer and SumoMe (just applied) so far since I know they share some of my values. I am hoping this new values-based approach to making a living for myself will help me become more successful in life, at least on my terms. I just want to be able to catch up on my student loan payments since it’s the biggest anvil tied to my ankle.

3. Meditation breeds awareness.

I finally learned the value of meditation. I never really understood the point until I started exploring it for myself in search of answers, clarity, vision. This newfound awareness I get from accessing deeper levels of my consciousness has been the key to a spiritual growth spurt I have long been waiting for. I also realized I wasn’t crazy for being aware of the “voices” in my head–they are both me, just a deeper layer of my conscious mind. It stills blows my mind how the one thing I was so averse to turned out to be the one thing I needed most in my life.

4. Materialism only weighs you down.

I’ve been living out of boxes and suitcases for well over a year now. I also spent the entire year getting rid of more than 80 percent of the possessions I had in storage to reallocate $64 toward a student loan. In the process, I learned where my true values lie based on what I had left – mostly books. The more stuff I got rid of, the lighter and happier I felt. Now my goal is to fit everything I own in the trunk of my car. It will definitely prove to be quite the challenge, but I’m up for it.

5. Letting go of attachments helps alleviate suffering.

This year, I learned that my attachments to the past and to bad memories does me more harm than good. It may seem like common sense but it wasn’t until I learned about the four noble truths of Buddhism that it finally started to click. This realization was pretty big for me because it made me realize that I myself was the source of my own pain, not anyone else. This idea has helped me grow tremendously and get out of a victim mentality that enslaved me for so long.

6. You don’t have to be rich to travel the world.

I used to think you had to stay at fancy hotels and spend lots of money if you ever wanted to travel. Boy, was I wrong. Staying at my first hostel and Airbnb accommodations during my time in Portland totally opened my eyes to a new more affordable way of traveling. And the people I met along my travels in Portland showed me that the nomadic lifestyle and remote career I’ve long been working toward is indeed possible.

7. Not everyone is cut out for the 9-5 life, and that’s okay.

I’m just not cut out for it. Just because most people buy into a system we were essentially brainwashed into during our most formative years, doesn’t mean that I have to too. Forcing myself to live a life that goes against every fiber of my being is no way to live. It makes me feel like a zombie, which is exactly what the government wants. They want your complacency so they can continue to exploit the citizens they serve for their own agenda or personal gain. What about my agenda? What about yours? I don’t want a soul-sucking job. And since the job best suited for me doesn’t quite exist yet, I have to create it for myself.

Life is a struggle no matter what angle you’re coming at it from. If I’m going to struggle anyway, I’d rather do it my way and on my terms fighting for something I believe in–even if it means living out of my car. I’ve always been prepared to do that, but luckily I’ve never had to do it for longer than a week. But I also have contingencies in place in case it comes down to that. I do not fear homelessness because I know it will only be temporary.

I started 2014 depressed about life but ended it with a stronger belief that anything is possible if I stay true to myself. Five years ago, I set myself a goal of becoming a motivational speaker because I wanted to inspire people to overcome adversity and find a way to keep living no matter how tough life gets. I’ve veered so far from that path because I was always so unsure of myself and reacted to criticism. I lacked confidence in myself as a result. But after five years, I am 100% confident that if I stick to my guns and continue to turn down opportunities that undermine my value to the world that I will come out on top.

I just don’t want the next five years of my life to be anything like the last five years. Something has to change. I have to change. I want to change. I want to be a better version of myself. The only way I know how to do that is by doing everything different and, in some cases, doing the opposite of what I would have done.

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#500WED Day 6: Seek to Understand

I’m not really sure I understand what I’m supposed to do with this writing prompt. It’s starts with a really good quote by Maris Popova about how people make hasty opinions based on “quick impressions and borrowed convictions” and leads into a personal anecdote about empathy, compassion and acceptance before ending with a challenge to do the difficult–understand yourself or someone you truly care about.

What does it mean to truly care about someone? Have I no heart if I were to admit that the one person in the world I truly care about at this point in my life is me? Yes, me. How selfish, I know. But I stand by my conviction that the only way I will truly be able to help others overcome adversity is by helping myself do it first. It’s like the emergency oxygen mask on an airplane–flight attendants always tell you to put one on yourself first before helping your child put one on.

But maybe this conviction is my problem. Have I become too attached to the idea of helping myself before being able to help others? Perhaps, so I’m testing out a new theory of mine that helping others while helping myself at the same time would be in my best interest after realizing that a missing component in my puzzled-together life is service.

Being grateful for what you have is easy, being of service to others for what you don’t have is not as easy, at least I don’t suspect.

Since I had such a lovely experience staying at my first hostel in Portland, I decided I would apply for a volunteer job at one of the local hostels here in LA. I’ve been exchanging emails with someone and will hopefully schedule am interview for next week. I’ve been wanting to get involved in volunteer work, but I wanted to do something related to a cause or mission that I could really get behind on. When I saw an email newsletter about volunteering, I immediately sent an email to Hosteling International asking how I could get involved. The rest is still in progress, so we’ll see how that pans out.

I feel like I’m done with this writing prompt but I still have a little more than a hundred more words to go here.

Seeking to understand myself. Geezes, no wonder I talk so much and need to learn how to be more concise with my language. In cases like these, I’m forced to bullshit my way through shit even when I’m done saying what I want to say or have to say.

I’m just gonna stop right here at 447 words.

But, wait!

Maybe this is the point. Maybe there’s a secret part of me that doesn’t care to understand myself. Maybe the question I’m supposed to be asking myself isn’t who or what am I supposed to try to understand but instead, why wouldn’t I want to understand myself? Dun-dun-dun…

Now, I’m done.

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#500WED Day 5: Befriend your fears

What are you afraid of? Better yet, why are you afraid of what you fear most? Today’s writing prompt challenges me to write about what I truly and deeply fear and seek to understand why.

I’m afraid of spiders. I’m afraid of sharks. I’m afraid of snakes. I’m afraid of the dark.
I’m afraid of life. I’m afraid of love. I’m afraid of happiness. I’m afraid of death.
I’m afraid of failure, but I’m also afraid of success.

As it turns out, I am afraid of many things. Yet I find myself constantly throwing myself into the ring of fire in hopes of …. Oh, I don’t know.

What am I afraid of the most? This is a really tough question. I am not even sure I have a definitive answer on that. I think it might actually be either dying or being abandoned.

Those two things seem to be lingering issues in my life. I fear death because I don’t really know what will happen to me if I die. I fear it will take me too soon before I’m ready, before I’ve had a chance to accomplish all the things I set out to do for myself and for others. It wasn’t until I read a book called “If the Buddha Dated” and was struck by the notion of impermanence–and the attachments I have created to the people, places, things, memories, hopes, dreams and fear that cause eternal suffering–that I realized perhaps I’ve become too attached to the painful memories of how my three most significant relationships have ended.

There’s the image of my first love getting smaller in the distance in the rear view mirror of my tiny little green car everyone use to call the Skittle.

There’s the image of my second love throwing my things over the balcony after I finally decided moving out was the best way to help myself while helping him at the same time.

And now there’s the new image of me cowering in the corner of a bedroom, waiting out the sudden violent outburst (not directed at me) of the one that was fast-becoming my third love… until he skipped town the next day.

There’s the image of me being temporarily homeless after living with the first two loves.

There’s also the image of me crying for everyday for weeks after every breakup.

Clearly letting go has been a hard thing for me to do, and I think my ability to let go originates to the attachments I’ve created to my most heartbreaking memories.

Suddenly, it hits me. The thing I fear most is heartbreak. I fear heartbreak because of all these painful attachments I have to what heartbreak is and feels like. What I could create positive associations with heartbreak? Is that even possible? Surely, it can be done. Earlier this year, I read about a couple happily that rejoiced in their divorce with an Instagram post of them with their divorce papers.

But we all know people only post things on social media to control their personal image and the public perception of what’s really going on behind the camera.

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Letting go of material possessions is no easy feat

There are two things I’m good at–expressing a thought or opinion with words and using social media to share my expressions in hopes of stimulating dialogue both on and off line. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ll see or hear from people I never thought were following my work let alone reading it that tell me how something I wrote started a conversation offline with a friend or significant other about their situation or relationship. And it’s the best feeling in the world when one of my readers expresses their joy in feeling heard and understood when something I wrote or shared really resonates with someone and speaks to their soul. It’s these types of connections that really motivate me to do what I do.

It’s those small moments in time that my heart lives for despite how shitty my financial situation might be.

I may be living out of suitcases and duffle bags, and sleeping on a two-inch thick cushion inside an empty room with a few holes in the wall and two empty hanging shelves, but I still feel grateful because I have way more than everything I could really need or want.

  • A suitcase filled with everyday clothes: half casual attire, half business attire
  • A duffle bag filled with sweaters, jackets, scarves, gloves, spare towels, dresses and other clothes I still wear just less frequently. Was also able to fit a blow dryer, curling iron and a few hangers. I even had room for a pair of flats (for the dresses) and spare flip flops just in case.
  • A duffle bag filled t-shirts, gym clothes, sleep attire, the only long-sleeve shirts I own, an easily accessible spare towel and my Uggs.
  • A tote bag filled with hygienic personal care items.
  • A backpack filled with everything I need for a completely mobile office.
  • A suitcase filled with reference books and a few I have yet to read.
  • A small plastic bin filled with books I’m currently reading or recently read.
  • A cooler for food.
  • A TV tray for a desk.
  • A square ottoman for a chair.
  • Even though I got rid of 80% of everything I had in storage, I’m still left with:

    • 1 large bin full of outdoor/camping gear plus 1 folding chair
    • 1 large bin full of kitchen supplies
    • 1 small but heavy box filled with yearbooks dating back to the 2nd grade
    • 2 medium boxes filled with sentimental and memorabilia type of items
    • 1 medium box filled the complete series of my three favorite books that really stimulated my imagination
    • 1 medium box filled with my most prized book collection (which was what remained after donating at least five other boxes filled with books)
    • 1 medium file box (which I’m trying consolidate into a smaller file box about a quarter of the size)
    • 1 medium box filled with scrapbooking supplies
    • 1 large box filled with educational material and training workbooks
    • 1 large bag filled with 4 boxes of heels I just can’t bring myself to part with
    • 1 large bin filled with packing bags and a large comforter
    • 1 plastic drawer with three college sweaters
    • 2 bags filled with softball gear
    • 1 snowboard
    • 1 yoga mat
    • 1 large iMac and 1 printer
    • 1 magic bullet blender set

    and a few loose items I’m sure I’ve missed.

    Too much materialism can really weigh a person down.

    My next goal is to get rid of 50% of my remaining material possessions.

    To do this, I’ll need to ask myself if it fulfills a basic necessity, such as a sleeping bag or blanket. If it does not, then the next question to ask myself is how long will I be able to survive without it. If I can do without for longer than 30 days, then I probably don’t need it. If I don’t really need it, then I need to really think about why I want to keep something and what greater purpose it serves.

    I’m hoping this approach will make it easier for me to let go of the attachments I have formed to my last remaining material possessions.

    The more I let go, the freer I feel.

    Check out this really awesome Ted Talk about having a rich life with less stuff: http://youtu.be/GgBpyNsS-jU

    In my quest to live a richer life, I signed up for AppSumo’s Monthly1K course to help me start a business. After getting stuck at defining my audience, I decided to start from the beginning. In the process, I discovered there was a demand for “social media writers” which brings me back to the two things I am good at – writing and social media.

    Now, I am in the process of figuring out how to validate this business idea before offering it as a service.

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    #500WED Day 4: Set Your Intentions

    Today’s challenge calls for me to set my intentions for the day not just my to do list. This is actually the perfect writing prompt for today because I just got finished scheduling my priorities for the next three days. It’s one thing to write down on a post-it note what needs to be done, but it’s another thing when you write down what you intend to do to make sure you can cross off every item on that list. You need to consider what has to happen first. Then what happens next and so on.

    I actually have a very action-packed day ahead of me. I think all my days are pretty action-packed. There’s really never a dull moment.

    Today I have three articles for CBS I would like to work on: I need to finish the disaster ready piece which is about half way done and needs a good hook at this point. I need to identify three more MLK celebrations. I’ll need to check my email inbox to see if anyone I emailed wrote back. I’ll also need to start preliminary research on hotel pools. What makes a hotel pool good? Size? Depth? Location? Decor? Privacy? I may want to use HARO for this one. This means I have about 100 minutes for each assignment today.

    I plan on hitting the gym by 4 or 5pm so I can be all showered up by 7pm at which point I will be heading out to Eagle Rock for a meditation group I joined on Meetup a couple weeks ago. I am at a point in my life where I am starting to seek out spiritual growth in light of a personal transformation I seem to be experiencing. It has been a very slow process but it’s a process I needed to endure to achieve my personal objective of being a college speaker. It is also nice to connect with other young souls who get what it feels like to live with an awakened consciousness.

    After the the meditation group, I don’t plan on sticking around to mingle so I scheduled some time for me to get some ongoing training and education with mobile analytics and canva design. I will be spending one hour going through unit 2 of analytics training and lesson 28 of canva training. I even notated which lessons I would be doing in my calendar to minimize thinking. And I use Trello as a class portal taking me to the course online as well as to track my progress through the lessons. I made my path of least resistance work for me instead of against by using tools that help me document and streamline my thinking process and task functions.

    I set myself a bedtime of midnight but I’ve been staying up really late over the past few nights so I made sure to not plan anything for before 10am on Saturday. I hope I can get everything I want done by the end of the day.

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    #500WED Day 3: Steal from your heroes

    Today’s challenge calls for me to rewrite my favorite author’s words in an effort to understand and feel the flow of great writing.

    Grab your favorite book, find the passage that ignites your heart and mind, and rewrite it. Feel it. Let it flow. Read it out loud.

    My favorite author is Neil Strauss but my favorite book right now is If the Buddha Dated by a psychotherapist and Reiki master healer Charlotte Kasl, so I’m going to chose a passage I really liked since my goal is to write a similar book.

    Here goes:

    Intimacy requires an ability to both merge and be separate, to come together and be apart, like oscillating on a giant swing fro, oneness and separateness, creating a constant rhythm, and for many, feelings of anxiety. We sometimes feel anxious because failing on love and starting a new relationships resurrected Amy buried feelings about our original attachment to our mother or a primary caregiver. We were once completely merged with out mother and, often unconsciously, we still desire to find that feeling of a union. We want someone to completely enfold us and take care of us.

    As children we needed to be held and protected so we wouldn’t feel cast into an abyss; at the same time we needed to be free to leave our mother’s arms to explore the fascinating world around us. This require a mother who could hold us close one minute, and release us the next. If our parents had unresolved problems with oneness or separateness, they may have been indifferent when they held us or uncomfortable when we wanted to be separate, explore interests, or have friends of our own. Our parents may have written scripts for us or seen us as a reflection of their own worth, rather than as separate people.

    From her earliest memory, Margie remembered her mother encouraging her to be a doctor. She gave her doctor toys, books on doctors, and endlessly talked about her daughter’s future career.

    It was as if she wanted to be able to day, “My daughter, the doctor.” I don’t think she ever asked what I wanted to be. She also talked about what I ate nearly every day and constantly weighed me — you’d think it was her body. She was incredibly concerned the status of the boys I dated and spent a fortune trying to dress me in very feminine clothes when I preferred blue jeans. She was obsessed with me, but never really interested in who I was.

    Marcie felt gripped by guilt whenever she explored activities she enjoyed that didn’t meet with her mother’s approval, and felt incredibly disloyal when she dated a man from a lower middle-class background. Her mother missed no opportunity to cut him down. Marcie’s mother fits the classic picture of a narcissist — someone who sees the world through her own eyes, writes scripts for others and is unable to understand her impact on the people around her.

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    #500WED Day 2: Digestion (Not what you think)

    Today’s writing prompt requires me to digest yesterday by writing about it. What went good, bad, etc? What conclusions can we extract that may positively impact today? What can we learn and, more importantly, who can we share it with?

    I’m going to digest today since its midnight and I’ll write about how it will impact my day tomorrow.

    Well, I felt like I had a really good day today. I didn’t accomplish any of my major goals, but I did get some stuff after working at least 8 hours today.

    The day started with a phone call I had with a recruiter for a dating content director position. It went well so I sent him my resume just a big ago so he could set up an interview for me with the CEO of the company.

    After getting feedback from the recruiter on my website blog, I decided to get rid of it after he said it made me look like I just got out of college when clearly that is not the case when talking to me or when reading my work. I also spent about three hours re-writing my home page content to optimize my relevancy.

    The only thing bad that happened was that I spent 3 hours on my website when it should have been 1 hour instead. I also broke a glass candle holder when my book bag got caught in the crossfire. All this meant that I was not fully present for the Problogger webinar I tuned into meanwhile. At least I got the slide info to reference later at bit.ly/seoblog2014 or something like that.

    What else happened? I spent a couple hours working on Dan’s social media profile updates while watching Constantine on Hulu. I spent another hour researching MLK celebrations for CBS. Then I went to the gym and showered.

    Even though I didn’t complete any of my projects, which is my daily disappointment, I have to keep reminding myself that I actually did get a shit ton done and that everyday, I am a little step closer to completing my projects. I really need to give myself some more credit. I noticed I’m always looking for it from dad when I share with him my latest thoughts and musings and recent developments in my career. He’s a good ear and sounding board to have around.

    The biggest takeaway here for me is the fact that I am learning how to appreciate the work that I do instead of ruminating in people’s false perception of what it means to work from home. Work is still work, even if you’re doing it in your pajamas

    Today I felt valued and competent. It felt really good. It made me feel confident. I’m not sure what suddenly changed for me. Is it my attitude?? All I did was read a book. Or is my training from the retreat just now starting to kick in? Maybe this is what it feels like when you finally have faith in yourself again

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    #500WED Day 1: Why a blog challenge

    In an effort to improve my writing skills and build better writing habits, I decided to participate in a 30-day challenge to write 500 words every day. I signed up for the challenge via Lift, which I keep getting confused with the Uber-wanna Lyft.

    I downloaded the app a while ago when I was exploring productivity apps. I ended up not using the app because it was too disappointing to see me not be able to stick to a routine. I tend to just go with the flow based on how I feel, but is it even possible to make a routine out of flow? Hmm, I wonder.

    I guess the reason I decided to take up this challenge is because I set myself that goal last week. And I failed miserably. I suffer from this problem called decision fatigue, which I heard about on Tim Ferris’ podcast yesterday. I’ll be sitting down getting ready to write, but then an hour or three might pass and I still haven’t written anything because I’m always torn between writing for myself and writing for others. It’s really debilitating. No wonder I liked that damn Natalie Imbruglia song so much back when I was in high school.

    I got 13 minutes left on the clock (before my battery dies) and I’ve already reached the halfway mark. Will I be able to do it? Now I’ve got 10 minutes to go.

    So anyways, I’m always torn because I don’t know what to write, but I DO know what to write, I just don’t know which one to do first because no matter which I choose, I’ll still feel guilty thinking I should have done the other one first.

    The reason it’s important to me to participate in this challenge is because consistency is the key to success and I really need to learn how to be more consistent if I am ever to grow my readership. I’m also torn between writing about dating and writing about my interests in social media and marketing.

    I have more of a chance at marketing, I feel so incompetent even though I’m really not, it’s just me and my security issues. Anyway, I ultimately decided to take part in this 30-day challenge because it sounds more doable than writing a novel in November or taking one cool photo everyday because my life is just not that exciting, but it could be if I let it.

    I want to travel the world, but more than anything, I really want to live in Spain or Costa Rica for at last 6 months. Maybe even Thailand. Hell, let’s throw Australia in the mix. I need to take one step toward making this happen by getting a damn passport already. Then getting a lonely planet book about Spain.

    This 30-day challenge is really important to me because it takes me an average of 1 hour to write 100 words (unless I’m just pulling shit out of my ass like this and am totally allowed to go off tangent) and I think that’s just too long.

    My ROI for content development services is anywhere from $0.50 to $3 an hour. That is horrible! If I wanted to make an extra $500 a month writing for CBS, I would needed to write at least 33 articles for the month or 8 articles per week. I can barely crank out one or two, but my goal earlier this year was 5 or week so actually, 8 isn’t that far off from 5. It’s still a reasonable goal to work toward, I think.

    Oh look, I made it past 500 words in no time. But none of this is publishable in my opinions. It’s just my mind chattering away on a keyboard.

    3 Simple Steps to Selling Anything

    1. Listen
    2. Relate
    3. Transition

    I got 1 and 2, but struggling with 3.

    Tell me about your health.
    Where would you like to be health-wise? What would make you feel good about your body? (Listen)
    I can understand what you’re coming from. Sounds like you’ve tried ___. What else have you tried?
    Why didn’t it work? Hey, I know it’s tough. (Relate)
    Cos you don’t have X. I can help you solve x. (Transition)
    Is there any reason why you wouldn’t do this today?

    If they say money. Solved. But if you can’t solve it, don’t sell them.

    **Notes from Noah Kagan YouTube video on how to sell anything.