Archive for the ‘Positive Thinking’ Category

When to say Yes and when to say No

Monday, March 1st, 2010

yesno
photo by cpalmieri

I like saying “Yes!” to new opportunities and experiences … but not always.

Saying “Yes” to opportunities

I’ve been offered lots of opportunities to take on various responsibilities in my life such as: Becoming Manager of a business software company, taking over an Aikido club, and moving to Vancouver to become a Game Designer/Programmer.

They’ve all been fantastic growth experiences and I’m glad I said “Yes” to them. Sometimes people say “No” to such opportunities; perhaps because they think it will be too difficult, perhaps because they think that they won’t be able to do a good enough job, or perhaps because they are afraid of change. I had the same worries when I said yes, and I *did* have to work hard, and I *did* have to grow as a person in order to do the job, and there *was* a lot of change. And that is exactly why you should say “Yes” when a fantastic opportunity comes your way. Don’t shrink back into your comfort zone, come charging headlong out of it!

What opportunities have you said “No” to that you have regretted ever since? Is there an opportunity sitting on your plate right now (or just round the corner) that you can emphatically say “Yes” to? I hope so.

Saying “Yes” to your kids and loved ones

Last year when I was flying back to Canada form the UK I say a cheesy Jim Carey movie called Yes Man and I liked it a lot. After that I made a big effort to say “Yes” to my kids more often when they wanted me to do stuff with them or look at stuff. I was actually a bit sad to see that they looked surprised when they said “Dad, can you come and look at…” and I said “Yes!” and put down whatever I was doing. I was sad because I realised that I hadn’t been doing that enough 🙁

Anyway, we can’t change the past but we can change the future. So I resolved to be a lot more of a Yes Man with my kids (I just stopped writing this to help my youngest son on World of Goo) and it feels great – although I can still do better. When you are old you’ll look back upon the special times you spent with your kids and you’ll be grateful that you didn’t do an extra 30 minutes of work here and there because you spent it doing something that mattered with your kids instead.

What can you do today with your kids that they’ll really appreciate and remember? Can you do that every day?

I think I’m pretty good at saying “Yes” to Helen (my loved one) when she asks me things; sometimes little things like “Can you make me a cup of tea?” and sometimes bigger things like “Can you look after the kids while I go away for a few days?”. I also try to do small things without being asked as a sign of love, and to do them with a good feeling.

Try saying “Yes” to your loved one next time they ask you for something and better still, try doing something loving spontaneously.

Saying “No” to responsibility

Recently someone asked me if I could take on permanent role at Toastmasters and I said “No (thanks)”. I’m already finding it quite a commitment to just write speeches and take on the various weekly roles that crop up at Toastmasters, especially combined with having a full-time job, 2 kids, and running an Aikido club amongst other things. I knew that the role I was being asked to do would just eat up even more of my free time and feel like a chore, and I didn’t think it was something that would help me grow – so I said “No”. Now, to be clear, I am very grateful that other people DO take up these roles at Toastmasters because I get to benefit from their generosity, and I hope that they get something from it too. Perhaps later on, when I don’t feel like every minute of my day is mapped out, I will take on a role at the club, so that I can give something back.

The next time someone asks you to take on a responsibility, consider “Is this a good fit for me? Can I do it easily? Will I enjoy it?”, and if not, then maybe you should say “No” even though you might feel “obligated”.

Saying “No” to loved ones

Sometimes loved ones may ask you to do stuff that you really don’t feel like doing right now (or ever :-)). Sometimes what they are asking isn’t actually very important to them but would be a real hassle for you, so ask them “How important is this to you?” and figure out if you can say “No” without it being a problem, or perhaps “Sure I’ll do it, but I’d prefer not to do it at this instant. Can I do it later?” – that’s a good one to use when you are gaming and you get asked to put the trash out 😉 Just make sure you DO actually do it later otherwise you’ll build up resentment. Nobody likes a “sayer” who isn’t a “doer”.

Of course sometimes the thing you are being asked *is* important to the other person, and if you truly love them, then perhaps you should do it (like getting up in the night to deal with a screaming baby). However, occasionally you may have to say “No, I don’t feel like doing that. Why is this so important to you?” because the other person has have become fixated on something in a slightly obsessive way, and if you can get to the bottom of that you might be able to avoid doing whatever it is they want ever again! Watch out though, because many people don’t like having their “beliefs” or “habits” questioned in such a way…as the phrase goes “Choose your battles wisely.”

Is there anything that you would feel a lot better saying “No” to? If so, try to do it in as polite a way as possible – and remember that you might hear a few more (hopefully good-natured) “Nos” coming your way as a result, so be prepared for that. Good luck!

Conclusion

So I hope that I haven’t horribly confused you with my suggestions. Basically listen to your heart and if it feels right, say “Yes” and, if not, say “No” – it’s that simple. Watch out that it’s not your “lazy” self saying “No”, or your “ought to” self saying “Yes”. Saying “No” takes practice, and it won’t always be easy, but in the long run it’s easier than saying “Yes” to absolutely everything until you are utterly overwhelmed. Saying “Yes” to difficult things also takes practice, but can yield fantastic results, so go for it!

10 tips for getting past “the wall”

Friday, February 19th, 2010

wall
Photo by: viZZZual.com (licensed under Creative Commons)

Quite often I see posts on Indiegamer about people who have nearly finished making their game but then they’ve hit “the wall” and seem to have lost all motivation to continue. Their story is often all too familiar: been making a game for two years, been doing all the work on their own, recently come to the realisation that there is still a ton of stuff to do before it can be released.

I’ve hit the wall a few times myself, so here are some tips that might help you to climb over or break through your own wall:

1) Should you really be finishing this game anyway? Sometimes you might just be flogging a dead horse. Perhaps the best thing to do is ditch the game and begin work on a new one (or give up making games completely, gasp!). There’s no shame in changing projects when you know that the game won’t be financially viable, or you’ve had a much better idea (providing that you don’t have a “better” idea every week and never finish anything) – you’ll have still learned something e.g. how not to do it and how to make your next game faster and better.

I ditched Iron Fist and made my first match-3 game and it led onto to a fantastic career in casual games.

2) Make a To Do list of all the remaining tasks and bugs. Don’t forget to include publishing tasks, which can add up to weeks or months’ worth of work. Then add time estimates to all those tasks. This way you’ll get a decent idea of how long the game may actually take to complete. You may then decide to cut features and only include the high priority tasks in order to bring the launch date nearer, or you may decide that it’s not worth investing any more of your time in the project.

One good thing about having a prioritised To Do list is that you have a clear path about how to proceed and can get satisfaction from knowing what to do each day and crossing off completed tasks. The game doesn’t feel so massive once it’s split into discrete chunks.

3) Get the game play tested (privately or publicly). If the play testers think the game sucks, then maybe you should ditch it unless you really believe that you can still make it great without too many changes. If they think it’s great, then hopefully this will motivate you to finish it and make it even better – especially if they keep asking you when it will be ready.

4) Tell everyone a launch date. Once you commit to something publicly, you are much more likely to complete it in order to not look like a fool (or a “sayer” but not a “doer”).

5) Get some other team members on board who can help finish it and so you can motivate each other (like going for a jog or to the gym with a partner). Of course getting reliable team members is a whole can of worms in itself…

6) Get a publisher or portal interested so you know that you have at least one outlet for sales.

7) Visualise the goal! Remind yourself why you started making the game. Was it just to have fun? If so, and you’ve stopped having fun, then make another game and have fun again, it’s that simple! If it’s to be financially successful, then see the finished game in your mind looking great and selling bucketloads – and figure out the shortest route to get there.

8 ) Take a break. Maybe totally away from the computer (go and do something healthy). Or maybe by playing games that inspire you to get back to making your own game. Sometimes taking a break allows you to come back to your game with fresh eyes so that you can make better decisions.

9) Make a mini-game for a few days. This may get your creative juices going again so that you can get back to your original game with enhanced vigor. It may even make you realise that you need to ditch your game in order to make a better game.

Tips 8 and 9 may work for some people, but part of me still thinks that they are procrastination techniques when you should really just …

10) Finish it! Professionals are finishers, and hobbyists/wannabes are not – sorry if that sounds harsh but it’s true. Stop messing around, just knuckle down and finish it. It’s not easy, sometimes it’s a real slog, but you just have to push on through and finish it to savor the sweet joy of launching a game. If you want it bad enough, you’ll do it. So, what are you waiting for? Close your browser and get to it!

How I changed my Financial Blueprint

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Last Monday I did my second speech at Toastmasters Club 59. It was a speech about money, a topic that some people are not comfortable talking about, but it didn’t seem to phase my audience because the speech went down very well indeed!

Here’s the written version of the speech – the actual speech varied a little bit from this because I did it from memory.

How I changed my Financial Blueprint

Greeting

Thank you madam Toastmaster. Good evening fellow toastmasters and most welcome guests.

Pause.

Strong Opening

“Rich People Suck!”

Pause

Last year I attended a seminar about changing our attitude towards money and during one exercise we had to write down our negative beliefs about money. The guy next to me wrote “Rich people suck” and it’s quite a common negative belief, along with things like: “I don’t deserve to be rich”, or “money is evil and not spiritual”, or “finances are sooo boring”.

Tonight I’m going to tell you about a book I read that made a big impact on the way I think about money.

About the Book

I’ve been into positive thinking and personal development for quite a few years but I never really applied that style of thinking to my finances properly until I read this book.

[Hold up the book]

It’s called “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” by T Harv Eker.

Has anyone heard of it?

It’s not a dry book about finances – it’s packed full of great ideas, and is quite funny and blunt in places.

[Put book down]

The main aim behind the book is to get you to look at your financial blueprint, that’s the way you think about money and deal with money, and to replace any thoughts that hinder your financial success with better thoughts.

I read it quickly and enjoyed it a lot, and then straight away I lent it to Helen, my partner, and said “you’ve got to read this so we can be on the same financial wavelength”.

Our successes

This was back in January 2007 and at the time I ran my own company making computer games and Helen was (and still is) a freelance Science Writer.

One of the things Helen got from the book was a realisation that she wasn’t charging enough – that her work was worth much more. She doubled her rates immediately and still got plenty of work and was able to say no to lower paid jobs. A couple of months later she was earning triple her original rate on some particular jobs!

As for myself, for a little while I’d had a goal of making £5000 from my game company every month. In March 2007 I had my first £5000 month. Then my company went on to have a great year, and the following year my turnover doubled and things are still going strong!

A large part of our success was because we are good at what we do but when we shifted our attitudes towards money, things got even better.

So where do negative beliefs about money come from?

Beliefs about Money

When we are children we hear our parents talk about money in the home, and we hear our peers at school, and what they say begins to shape our financial blueprint.

“Money doesn’t grow on trees”
“No way! We can’t afford that”
“I got the blues so I’m going out shopping.”

Stuff like that. Then by the time we reach adulthood our financial blueprint is already affecting the way we deal with money. It defines if we are always broke, or if we horde our money, or if we are well on the way to being a millionaire.

The book talks about many negative beliefs about money and offers positive alternatives that we can replace them with. Also the great thing about the advice in the book is that it doesn’t just apply to money, it’s about creating wealth in all areas of your life such as love, happiness and health.

For example, one concept I love from the book is that of being bigger than your problems. So let’s say on a scale of 1 to 10 that I’m only a level 1 in terms of dealing with problems. Then along comes a level 3 problem and it seems insurmountable to me. I think “Oh my God, how am I going to deal with that?” But if I work on myself and expand my comfort zone so that I’m say a level 8 person, a level 3 problem is really tiny by comparison, something that I can deal with easily.

Educating yourself

Therefore educating yourself about managing money is vital in becoming financially successful. Once you start effectively managing your money you start to think more about long-term savings, ways to cut your costs, and ways to invest your money to make it grow.

Another great piece of advice from the book is to split your income into several different bank accounts. That’s what I do.

I put 10% of my earnings into long-term savings that I never touch, this is for my future.

Then I make sure all my outgoings are dealt with and then I split the remainder into several more accounts: a giving account, a contingency account, an education account and a Play account. That’s the best account because the idea is to spend it every month just having fun. When you know how much money you have spare for fun you don’t overspend.

The result of using a system like this is that I know exactly how much money I’ve got available for different things. I feel much more in control of my finances.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I encourage you to examine your beliefs about money and ask yourself if those beliefs are serving you well or hindering you. I also encourage you to educate yourself more about money in order to manage your finances more effectively.

Strong Ending

Finally I’d like to remind you that to be successful in whatever you’re passionate about, you’ll need to overcome many obstacles along the way …

And that is why … you need to be … “bigger than your problems!”

Thank you madam Toastmaster.