Happy Monday.  I hope your weekend was amazing.  I spent most of Sunday organizing and decluttering.  Whenever I spend a little time organizing, I'm always rewarded. Sometimes it's in the form of a few dollars found in the pocket of a pair of jeans.  Other times, I'm reunited with a long lost item I thought I'd never see again.

Yesterday was no exception.  But instead of finding cold hard cash, I stumbled on a brand new journal that I purchased years earlier.  Apparently, I planned on taking journaling seriously again but somehow fell short.  Since then, I've sat through various seminars where people shared amazing stories about how journaling has changed their life.  They've used the journaling process to manifest wonderful results.  That's the journey that I would like to embark on.  And here's how I'm going to do it.
Unfortunately for me, I've never purchased a journal manifesting course so I don't know the exact process that others used to obtain their results. So I'm going to create my own ritual and tweak it along the way.

I've journaled before, but I used it more as a diary.  This time will be a bit different.

One of the essential components of my new and improved journal is a "monthly log."  Basically, it's the place where I capture the main highlights of the month.  Sometimes, things are going really well, my weight is in check, my hair is thriving and my skin is flawless. Then I ask myself, "what have I been doing to create these results?"  I think long and hard and can't pin down the exact actions I took to get there.  There have been times when I look back at a pic and wonder what my routine was back then.  With this monthly, log, I can quickly go back and review a record of my past activity at a glance.

The next component that must be incorporated in the journaling for manifestation process is expressing gratitude.  This is crucial.  Without gratitude, the manifestation process is stifled. Gratitude keeps us in a state of expectation because we're conscious of all the wonderful things transpiring in our life.  Expressing gratitude also makes us feel good. This is absolutely necessary if you're participating in the act of manifestation. It also helps us get through the mental barriers that we sometimes have when we're in the process of manifesting a "bigger" intention.  As we express gratitude, it's important to remember that the things we're now grateful were once desired intentions.

Since this is a manifesting journal, the overall theme is that we are ALWAYS in the creation process (Always Be Creating).  As such, it's important to jot down the all of the manifestations that happen on a regular basis.  That's what this journal is for.

I don't just want to be a passive observer in the process, I want to be actively engaged in the act of creation. So, I'll partake in what I call "deliberate acts of creation."  Let's say, you're inspired by an image of a beautiful interior. You could think to yourself, "I'd love to live in a place like that one day." Or, you can ask, "what can I do right now (or this week) to bring my current reality one step closer to where I want to be?"  Active creation is about taking the necessary steps that activate the creation process.  The last thing you want to do is sit around an visualize all day without doing anything about it.  I plan on adding action items on my daily to-do list from the active creation brainstorming process.  This way, I'm doing something on a regular basis that contributes towards making my visions a reality.

Last, but not least, I'll need to add a component that helps me manifest my big dreams and goals.  The reason why I haven't  reached my big goals is because I've taken very little action to allow them to manifest.  As I update my journal, one the tasks will be to give an account of what I'm doing (or what I will do) to make sure that my long-term goals become real.

The point is to keep our long-term (and semi-long term) goals at top of mind.  I'm convinced that the #1 reason why we don't accomplish our big goals is 'cause we rarely bring them into our current reality.  We keep them segmented away from our daily lives and we don't do anything to ensure they actually happen.  When I journal, one objective is to jot down ways to incorporate my big dreams into deliberate acts of creation.

Let's see if this actually works.  I've done this process before with voice recordings but haven't actually been disciplined in the act of writing it down.  We've all heard that writing things down is a powerful process.  I hope that in 2018, I can proudly say that I'm one of those people who journal every day and that it's changed my life!

This weekend I received a direct message on Instagram.  The young lady was full of excitement in her message as she encouraged me to join her team to earn a side income.  I told her that I loved her mission to help others earn extra income then wished her well on her journey.

It excites me to know how easy it is to earn a side income.  The barrier to entry for some of these business opportunities is very low.  That's a good thing but, on the flip side, the journey for growing your side income could lead to a dead end if you don't take the right approach.

Here's my best advice for taking on the challenge of earning additional income while having a full-time job.
Before all these internet opportunities started popping up, you'd have to get a second job if you wanted additional income.  Taking on a second job was cool but, for the most part, it was unsustainable.  In the digital age, making money is easier, less labor intensive.  But, one the flip side, it's a little harder to generate the results you desire.

I had a side hustle for many years before it finally evolved into a full-time income.  Looking back, I realize when I made mistakes and when I made the right moves.  The idea of earning a side income is a good one but it can quickly turn sour if not done correctly.  You dedicate a lot of time and mental energy. And if the results aren't there, it can be extremely discouraging.

My advice is for you to begin with the end in mind.  Meaning, you NEED to determine if your true desire is to earn a few extra dollars a month or if you wish to eventually transition into a new full-time venture.  Because these are two different paths and require different levels of action.  The worst thing you can do is think you can generate full-time income simply by experimenting with a side business.

If your goal is to create a full-time income (or supersede your current earnings) you need to ask yourself "how many other people are doing this part-time yet earning a full-time income?  Chances are, it's only a small percentage.  This is both good and bad.  Bad, if you want to dedicate only a couple of hours a day on your new venture. Good, if you see others earning high incomes and you're absolutely determined to become one of them.  If you treat this in the same way as you would a part-time job, chances are that you'll end the experience with waisting a lot of your time (and maybe even losing money in the process).

My advice to people who want to earn a side income is to set your initial goal to generate six figures.  Does that mean that you'll earn easily reach six figures in revenue?  Probably not. But if that becomes your goal, your actions will be wildly different.  Six-figure earners on Youtube are doing things differently than those who make a few hundred dollars a month.  This doesn't mean that you'll earn six figures right away, but you'll shorten that initial ramp-up phase.  The one mistake many people make is to operate like a part-timer yet get discouraged when they get part-time results.

It's also important to determine if you genuinely enjoy the activities involved with the new business opportunity or if you're only doing because it can make you money.  It's simple, if you don't like it, you won't keep doing it. If you don't keep doing it, you'll never reach a point where it's worth your while.  Starting and stopping is the number 1 reason why people don't reach their goal. If you're contemplating entering a new "part-time" opportunity, ask yourself, "am I willing to put years of work into this?"

If you are, then your next objective is to map out exactly what you need to do to get to earning your first $1000, $10,000, $100,000.  If you don't see a clear path, you need to seriously decide if you should even start down this road.  The biggest mistake I've made in my early days was working on my side income project and treating it like a side income project.  Nowadays, we have more visibility on what successful business people are doing.  We can reverse engineer their journey and mimic some of their actions.  Do a little research to find other 6-figure earners in the same industry and build your plan from there. This clear path is what will ensure your success.  It may not work 100% but it'll create a solid framework for you to start from.

Once you have a clear idea of your path as a new business person, I strongly urge you to set aside a certain amount of money to invest in your success.  Most (if not all people) view their side income opportunity as something that will bring them money but they rarely think about investing in its growth.  Money is fuel for your business especially if your time is limited.  If you have other responsibilities that require your time, you have to find a way to financially support your business. If you aren't willing to invest money to support its growth, you probably don't truly believe in its potential.

[ Also, don't spend the little money that your side hustle makes.  The money is not yours.  It's capital for growing the business.  You can spend the paycheck from a part-time job, but your side hustle is completely different.  There is little or no opportunity to scale your part-time job but this business has the ability to produce exponential results. ]

The worse case scenario is for you to invest a bunch of your time into something and get little or nothing out of it.  You can make this work.  But you have to approach it from a different angle.  Set yourself up for success from the start.  Invest tons of time learning and studying the best in your new field.  Allow enough time for your efforts to pay off then you can enjoy the fruit of your labor.
If you're someone who enjoys my motivation articles, chances are it's because you wish to fill your life with inspiration/motivation.  Perhaps you're developing some clear goals you'd like to reach.  The big challenge we aspiring goal achievers face is maintaining enough motivation to move from desire into action.

One big obstacle to goal achievement that folks rarely talk about is brain fog.  In my opinion, brain fog is a huge contributor to that feeling of helplessness that keeps you stuck in the same place.  I've suffered from immense brain fog, in the past and also times of mental clarity.   There is a world of difference between the two.  When my mind is clear, I easily take action on things that I've been putting off for months.  This past weekend, I came to the conclusion that I must be an active participant in creating clarity of mind at all times. Because this is so important, I put together a list of the best ways to clear the mind so I never fall into the brain fog trap again.
The worse part about brain fog is that it sometimes feels like normal if you aren't aware of the symptoms.  I'm guilty of allow weeks or months to pass without realizing what's happening.  Actually, I do notice it, but I don't treat it as if it's a problem.  I just think things will get better on their own. But it rarely does unless I act to stop the forward movement.

Some of the signs I notice when I'm dealing with brain fog include:

+ A feeling of laziness and not wanting to do much.  Because I work for myself, these days are even more destructive because I could spend an entire day doing mindless activities in front of the computer.  When I have a string of unproductive days, I know that brain fog is taking over.

+Allowing my external environment to become messy/cluttered.  Whenever I have a clear mind, the first thing I want to do is clean & declutter.  Just like Eddy from Limitless.

+ Forgetting information and frequently losing my train of thought (even in a middle of a sentence).

+Low physical energy.

Those are my most obvious symptoms.  While it's happening, I tend to blame it on the natural effects aging.   It isn't until I'm out of the fog that I realize that it had nothing to do with my age.  This weekend, I realized that I was operating in a hazy state for quite a while.  Now that I'm on the other side, I can tell you what is contributing to me newly clear mind.  

Recently, I've made a few minor tweaks to my diet.  I was developing a habit of heading to the local convenience store several times a week to pick up multiple packets of pumpkin spice flavored madeleines.  I would often eat them as a snack on an empty stomach thereby giving my body a rush of sugar on the regular.  Pumpkin flavored pastries taste amazing but wreak havoc in the body.  I'm sure my blood sugar levels were all over the place.  I then decided to eliminate sweet snacks for the time being and get back to eating healthy salads again.  It wasn't long my mental clarity came right back.  

Often when I binged on sugary snacks, I was well aware of the physical changes occurring in my body as my sugar levels changed dramatically. I could actually feel the effects.  But I thought that feeling was only temporary.  Little did I know of the long-term effects that were infiltrating every area of my life.  Now that I know better. I have to do something about it.  It's also important to know that the health of our gut flora is closely related to our mental clarity.  I know it seems unrelated but there's a direct correlation.  In the medical community, our gut is known as "the second brain." So if you want to create a sharp level of focus, you may want to restock on your probiotics.   

One huge factor to having a clear mind is adequate blood flow to the brain.  I wear a Fitbit step counter every day and looking back at my results, I realize that there were so many days where I only got the bare minimum number steps in.  My lifestyle was extremely sedentary which means that my internal circulation was lacking.  Exercise increases oxygen blood flow to our extremities including our brains.  I get my best ideas while on walks or bouncing on the trampoline.  Both activities are great for ramping blood flow. The combination of incorporating regular walks again combined with healthy eating made a huge difference in my level of mental focus. 

I should mention another tactic that I've used in the past to clear my brain fog.  This year I experimented with taking B vitamin shots with the hopes that it would support healthy hair & nails.  An unintended side effect was a huge increase in my energy levels and my ability to get things done. Suddenly I felt like I was carrying around an internal source of motivation with me at all times.  I got so much done.   Eventually, I graduated to a B6 & B12 shot and got similar benefits.  The good thing about the shots is that I didn't have to change anything else. So whenever I'm looking for a quick way to boost energy & clear the mental cobwebs, this is my go to.

No article on improving brain function would be complete without mentioning meditation.  Meditation sharpens my mind like none other.  This practice has been a lifesaver over the years.   My only problem is in staying consistent.  I kinda have to be motivated to do it on a regular basis.  But if  I don't meditate regularly, I miss out on the amazing, brain powering benefits.  I think back to the times when I worked up to meditating 30-60 minutes a day. I felt unstoppable!  One of the keys to how I stayed consistent was using a meditation disk that lasted approx 30 minutes.  When I could no longer hear the faint music in the background, my session was complete.  I'm definitely bringing that practice back into my morning ritual as a daily practice.

I put this one further down on the list because it's kinda hard to do when you have a really foggy mind.  Basically, this is when you intentionally carry out tasks with a high level of focus (no multitasking) until the task is complete.  For extra points, you try to avoid engaging in a bunch of random thoughts while doing so.  You work single-handedly (and single-mindedly) on everything you do.  I practiced this a couple of years ago for a few weeks, and let me tell you, I have yet to replicate the type of results I got during that time.  It was as if I was reaping the results of hours of mindful meditation but I hadn't actually meditated.  I was "acting as if" and it worked out incredibly well. 

Other tactics that helped bring me out of a mindless state include:

+Cleaning & clearing out my environment.  When our surroundings are clear, we think better.

 +Altering your environment (working from a different location, driving a different route to work, going for a walk after work instead of heading straight home).

+Being close to nature.  This helps our mind to slow down because of the low level of stimulation.

If you want to accomplish anything in life, you need the help of your mind to rev up your motivation.  With 3 months left in the year, we have to enlist the power of our brain in order finish the year strong.  Start with nutrition and pair it with activities that bring blood flow to the brain. The sky is the limit from there. 
For most of my adult life, I've been on this journey to build effective habits.  For the most part, it's been a real struggle. I try hard. I even do the habit for consecutive days to try to imprint them in my subconscious.   None of that really worked.  So I had to deal with the disappointment and failing to develop yet another habit.  No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get some of the habits to become permanent.

But, looking back, I realize that a few habits have really stuck and I've executed them on a daily basis for years.  If I could just figure out why some habits were lifelong and why others fizzled away, I could change the course of my future.  After a bit of reflection, I think I figured out the key to making habits a permanent fixture in your life.
The whole "21 days to develop a habit" thing might work if only we were able to stick with it long enough.  That's always been my problem.  I can't keep up the charade long enough to engrain it into my life permanently.

I think I figured out my biggest mistake.  The fatal flaw is in trying to instill a new habit without a support system to ensure its success. It's kinda like an organ transplant situation.  The new organ, although necessary, isn't well received by the body unless certain measures and precautions are taken to ensure the organ isn't rejected.

Our subconscious likes to carry out routines and patterns that take out much of the guesswork. Building new habits doesn't fall under that equation.  That takes too much work, willpower, and mental exertion.  It wants you to go back to the way things were.  That's why we constantly fail at changing our daily habits.

Transplant recipients are given medication to prevent the body from attacking the life-giving organ.  We too have to employ strategies to prevent habit rejection from taking place.  Like an organ transplant, we must make our subconscious think that this new behavior is similar to our old ones. Make it believe that this is a normal part of our everyday.

 The way to do this is through a VERY SIMPLE process called habit linking.

Basically, if you want to integrate a new habit, you pair it with another, WELL ESTABLISHED habit or routine. For every habit you're trying to build, find a way to link it to another logical behavior.

It's that simple.

You're less likely to reject the new habit because your subconscious is already involved in carrying out the old one.  I've been trying to get myself to go to the gym for months.  But last week, I went three times!  How?!   Well, all I did was make the connection that I could go to the gym after dropping off packages.  My gym is just blocks from the post office and, I go there almost the same time every day.  So I told myself to swing by the gym after leaving the post office.  So far, it's worked like a charm.

It was such an easy transition.  The best part about habit linking is that the habits don't have to be huge.  For example, every time I drink a can of my favorite carbonated water, I add a few drops of liquid chlorophyll as a daily detox.  It may seem like a small action but prior to that, I had a hard time remembering to use it.  The only supplements I consistently take are collagen. Why? Because I've linked taking them with water in the morning on an empty stomach.

Habit linking is basically the art of changing your life, one habit at a time.  It works because there's a build it reminder (the already established habit)to carry out your new action.

There are no more excuses about "forgetting" to take your desired action.  All you have to do is follow through with what you said you would do.  This method does take a little bit of willpower up front. But not nearly as much as if you were to jump into the new habit with nothing to support it.

Let's make the habit building process as refined as possible. That's what the subconscious wants, it doesn't want to exert the effort required to launch a completely new habit. It wants to operate on autopilot.  Use habit pairing to make it easy so we can increase our chances of success.

Every one of us working on our personal development has one thing in common.  We seem to go through these cycles of either being super-motivated or not.  It's a struggle.  We get pumped up and move quickly in the right direction, then it seems that we start losing steam.  If we allow that lull to continue, we can lose valuable momentum. Worse yet, we could forfeit some of the progress made during our high-motivation phase.

If we can master the art of maintaining momentum, we can accomplish pretty much anything.  Let's talk about ways to keep our motivation fire burning.
Years ago, I was explaining to a coworker about my journey to building my side business.  As we exchanged stories, one thing became apparently clear to him.  We both had dreams about "starting our own thing" but his dream was now a memory while mine was close to becoming a reality.  The difference, according to him, was that I continued to move forward while he completely lost momentum.

When I was still in the dream building phase, I had major challenges in keeping momentum.  There was always something that seemed to stand in the way. I worked countless hours. It was nearly impossible to stay motivated on my side project (especially when my results were minimal).  Luckily for me, I had an extremely stressful job. This provided just the external motivation I needed.  The more stress I experienced at work, the harder I worked to get out of the situation.  If I had a comfy 9-5 job, I'd probably still inching my way to freedom.  My advice for you is this, if you're unhappy with your current situation, use that as fuel to propel you to your destination.  Whenever I had exceptionally bad days, I'd take even greater action towards my business and that strategy worked beautifully.

Years later, the dream became a reality.  One of the biggest challenges I face as an entrepreneur is staying motivated.  Not just motivated but motivated enough to engage in the level of action required to continue producing adequate results.

 The very first thing I do when I start losing motivation is to remind myself that it's perfectly normal.  Motivation isn't everlasting.  So, I no longer get down on myself for losing steam.  I see it as a normal part of the process.  If we showered yesterday, do we get depressed for having to take another shower today? No.  It's because we understand the temporary nature of effects of showering.  I look at being motivated in the same way.

Once I realized the truth behind our "motivation cycle," I began to take a different approach.  I knew that I had figure out ways to refuel my drive.  The methods that worked best for me included:

1.) Staying very connected to the desired outcome.
2.) Tracking my progress
3.) Creating a system that moves the process forward.
4.) Connecting with others who were on a similar journey.

Wanting to leave my job was the end goal but I wasn't really pushing for it to happen like I should have.  It wasn't until I became completely obsessed with it that things really changed. Most of us, if we're honest, don't think about our goals enough.  Those who mastered goal achievement often talk about writing their goals down every day. This is to keep it at top of mind.  The more our intentions are top of mind, the more actions we take to move us closer.

I can say that my motivation dipped this year because I'm not really connected to my big goal.  Although I'm currently on track to reach this goal, I haven't really taken an active role lately in ensuring it happens. But, what I am doing is employing method #2 which means that I'm closely monitoring & tracking my progress.  If you go too long without checking in on your progress, you will quickly lose momentum.

When I really want to regain my focus, I have to implement some of my most powerful motivators.  Your job is to learn and understand what gets you motivated!  Pay close attention to what gets you pumped so you can implement it when needed.  I realize that when I meditate or workout out, I'm more likely to be more productive.  When I'm productive, it motivates me to do more!  When I listen to stories of others who reached their goals, I get pumped!

I looked up the definition of momentum and this one really spoke to me:

"strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events"

Notice that it says that force (or momentum) can be gained via a series of events.  The first thought that comes to mind is the Domino Effect.  When I'm feeling really unproductive, I start to implement a series of events in motion.  I'll pick out the smallest task I can do that requires little effort.  When it's done, I get a tiny jolt of motivation. It's just enough to take care of the next smallest thing on my list.  Before I know it, I've completed a series of tasks and I'm motivated to take on larger responsibilities.

When I lose momentum, I regain it taking a series of steps in the right direction.  When you know and understand your most effective series of events, you can generate your own source of momentum at will.

Another tactic I'll sometimes use to regain momentum is to take an "inspiration break."  Basically, this is when I step away from the grind and do something that will inspire and reignite my momentum.  Sometimes I'll go check out someone's travel vlog or I'll treat myself to lunch at a cute cafe.  I'll think of a place or an experience that's closely related to my goal and I try to immerse myself in it.  When I get back to work, I'm full of inspiration.

Bottom line, maintaining momentum takes work on our part.  Don't get bummed about it. Accept that it's a normal part of the journey and adjust your plan accordingly.  When your momentum drops, you should already have a series of actions in mind that you can take to reignite your motivation.  Or, better yet, skip out on motivation altogether and focus on this.