Short term pain – long term gain

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This old adage is the phrase for my week. Outside my house there is a hedge that runs down the side of the path, which each year I have to spend many hours maintaining. This year I have decided I have had enough of it and am now in the middle of cutting the hedge down completely.

A better life

This is a long process that will take me many nights to do, much longer than just doing a bit of maintenance. I am hopeful however that over the years we live here, that when we come to move, that it will have resulted in a time saving. With everything in life at the moment I am trying to think long term and not short term, as I really believe this will lead to benefits and a better live overall.

Another way that this task is short term pain for me, is that I am doing it all myself and doing it with one old trusty saw. I am not investing any money in hiring or purchasing any equipment and not paying anyone to help me. I am doing what I think is an improvement to the house by opening up the path and the front garden and not losing any money on it. Not only is it an improvement to the house, I think it will also be an improvement to my life. I love putting in the work, as doing it myself means I will be much better off financially, no matter how hard the work is, it always makes me happy to know that I am saving money.

Time to get in the mood

I think too often we put things off or don’t try that hard today because we are not in the mood or because whatever needs doing seems hard. We need to start looking at the bigger picture and think about what doing something today will mean long term. We all have things we keep putting off, which we may feel ok about but we need to get out of the mindset of short term gain and be willing to embrace the short term pain.

Let’s not just do the minimum, lets not just paper over cracks, lets get our hands dirty and really deal with issues. Lets find ways in which we can make long term efficiency savings. Remember hard work today makes a better tomorrow.

Hard work creates opportunities

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If you are looking for an opportunity, the best way to get your hands on one is through hard work. The more you do, the more opportunities you expose yourself to. The people that give out opportunities are more likely to hand those opportunities out to those people that work hard, so make sure you are working hard.

I have been afforded many great opportunities in life, commentating at Wembley stadium, speaking at the House of Commons, writing for a national newspaper, coaching my team to a national final and the list goes on. Each of these I can honestly say I worked hard to achieve. None of them came easy and I was beyond thankful for each opportunity I was given but I believe I deserved all of them. That’s the thing; with every opportunity, I wanted to know that I deserved it and that I wasn’t just given it.

Unexpected

Sometimes opportunities don’t come quickly, sometimes they come from unexpected places and at times you don’t expect. It’s like this week I have been asked to be a trustee for one of the best theatre projects in the local area. I wasn’t expecting this opportunity and I have never worked with them before, but because of my hard work in the community they have found out about me and think that I can add something to their board.

When this week started I had no clue this offer would come in and was not expecting it, but it felt so rewarding to receive. The great thing with this opportunity is that it presents another chance to get stuck in and work hard in an organisation that creates opportunities for others. Because I have had so many amazing opportunities I want to do all I can to help create opportunities for others and be in a position where I can give opportunities to others.

Making the most of an opportunity

I now want to do the best I can with this opportunity that has been given to me. If you work hard to get an opportunity and then don’t make the most of it, then was the hard work worth it? I have got no clue where this latest opportunity will take me but I am excited to see where it does. That’s the thing with opportunities, sometimes you don’t know where they are going to take you but for many the journey itself is exciting enough and you never know what further opportunities this one opportunity may lead to.

So people its time to start enjoying hard work and its time to get yourself ready for the opportunities that may come your way. Don’t go in to everything expecting an opportunity to come your way but be ready for any that do. If opportunities don’t come your way then its time to start thinking of taking your hard work and investing it in something else that gets you closer to the opportunities you would like in life. The opportunities are out there and ready for those that want to take them.

Projects

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All of my adult life, I can’t remember a time where I didn’t have a project on the go. I am one of these people that likes to fill my time with things, likes to experiment and likes to achieve more than I already have. A project can be anything from creating a piece of art to re-organising the running of your house.

Pressure

The current big project I have on at the moment is to get my book ready for publishing and to get it published by mid September. After releasing “Unbreakable Bond” in EBook form, I then successfully crowdfunded the costs of making it available in print, both of these were big projects in themselves. Now however, because so many people have so kindly given to get the book to print, the pressure is on to make it happen, as it is something that has to happen.

Getting a book published is not an easy task. There are many moving parts to this project and I have to keep on top of them all if I am to hit the deadline. Before I can even get in to the admin side of getting it to print, I have to get the book proofread and formatted by professionals and I need to work with a graphic designer to get the book cover completed.

Putting the hard work in

I want to one day get my book in to bookstores like Waterstones, this means however that I can’t just go through a one stop online shop, that register an ISBN for you and handle the printing and distribution. For my book to have the possibility of one day getting in to bookstores, I have to register the ISBN myself, get my book printed by a company in the UK and get a contract signed with a distribution company that has routes in to traditional bookstores. I am determined to get my book in to bookstores, so it means that I have to work a lot harder than if I was just happy with it being available online, that I could do in 5 minutes and is something anyone can do these days.

Stressful

Projects can be stressful and can take over your life at times, so you need to be careful with them. Mot projects you will do in your spare time, you won’t be paid for them and most will cost you money, so you need to be careful not to get too carried away. It is important that you don’t let a project interfere with your work, your finances and your family life.

You only get out of a project what you put in to it. For me personally I would rather try really hard at something and get something out of it that I am proud of, rather than just spending some time on something, not really trying hard and not being too impressed by the outcome. The key thing when doing a project is knowing what you want to get out of it. Once you have finished a project its then time to look at if you got what you wanted out of it and look at what project you want to do next.

Not every project I do is successful, but I don’t think I have ever had a project that I didn’t learn something from.

Reaping the rewards of old work

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Sometimes in life we can try and do something, wanting instant results and get disheartened when we don’t get the results we desire. It is very disappointing when this happens, as the reason you are putting the effort in, is to get the results and whilst you are working, you are already thinking ahead to the results as if they have already been obtained.

When we don’t get the instant results, we will move on to something else, cut our losses and forget about the work we did. The thing to remember, is that just because you don’t get instant results, it doesn’t mean you will never get results from your hard work. It is very rarely that work is in vain and whatever happens as a result of your work, you can always learn something from it and grow because of it.

Written Off

I was reminded of this; by the patch of strawberries we are growing in our back garden. Last year we put a ton of work in and got very little in the way of strawberries for our hard work. I’ll be honest, I was a little disheartened and because of being disheartened I didn’t do anything to maintain the patch since last summer. Because I hadn’t put any work in, I didn’t expect a harvest this year and had written it off.

To my surprise this summer we have had an absolute abundance of strawberries. I have had so many strawberries that I have been giving them away and have exhausted all ideas of what I can do with strawberries. I’ve made strawberry ice cream, strawberry syrup, strawberry jam, strawberry icing and the list goes on.

Encouraged

This summer has encouraged me to never give up on old work and never lose hope that it can be used for good and can come good in the future. There is nothing like when something you did in the past that you have forgotten about comes back in to your life and you see it finally being a success.

Patience is key, you can put in the hard work but you can’t always going to guarantee when it is going to pay off or even if it is going to pay off at all. If you can do the work and be proud of what you have done, then no matter what happens you are equipped for success.

The Sun is Here

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For the last week or two, us here in the UK have been blessed with some gorgeous weather. April in the UK can be a mixed bag when it comes to the weather, so the warm weather has been a nice surprise.

The good weather has encouraged me this last week to get in to the garden. This is our second summer in our home and after doing a lot of work last year, it looks like it may be starting to pay off.

We brought our house because of the size it was inside, the size of the back garden and the price but because we got it for such a good price it meant that it was going to take a lot of work to turn it in to the great house, that we wanted it to be, but we were more than willing to do.

Clear out

Last year I spent most of the summer removing rubbish from our back garden, which the previous owner had left. There was so much stuff just buried in amongst the soil out the back that it meant most weekends I was out the back digging, collecting rubbish and then taking it to the Tip. Doing this meant I didn’t get much of a chance to actually make a start on changing or improving the garden, to get it how I wanted.

Last weekend was the first time my wife and I had been out in the garden since last summer. I was slightly down heartened at the number of weeds that were covering our flower beds after all our work last year but undeterred we got to work. As we got down under the top level of soil my spirits were raised by how easy the weeds were coming out and how many less bulbs and roots there were in the soil compared to last year.

Time to push on

Before we started work on the garden I really wasn’t fancying it, after all the hard work I put in last summer it looked like it had all been for nothing, as if anything in some ways it was looking worse and I really didn’t want to put in more effort, just to get no further forward. I am so glad I pushed on now though, as I can see that things will get better if we keep at it.

Keeping your commitment up to doing something when you can’t see any progress is a very hard thing to do. When you have already put a ton of hard work in and all you can see is a lot of hard work still to go. Even if you think you are prepared for the long haul it is hard to keep going in these circumstances.

The work doesn’t change

My lesson for the week is – sometimes it just takes getting out there and doing the hard work for your opinion of it to change. Regardless of how bad the garden looked, it didn’t change the actual amount of work that is needed to turn it around.

To achieve something, the most important first step is to keep showing up. After this week I know I am going to be turning up every summer with my fork and shovel in hand ready to do battle with the garden. I may not win this summer, but one summer I will and one summer I will have a manageable garden, which looks amazing and on that day I know that it will have all been worth it. If I stopped now and didn’t do anything with garden all I would be doing is throwing away the hard work of last summer.

If you are going to go to the effort of working hard don’t be in a rush to throw it away!