life in balance

Life in Balance: Finding Fulfillment in Work Life and Leisure

In the last couple of posts, I’ve written in detail about activities that Brendon Burchard suggests that we make regular habits as high performers.

Being a high performer in one aspect of life is unfortunately what a lot of people focus on. This aspect is going all out in their work. They essentially become work-o-holics because that’s what is promoted. Their life is based on playing their particular game or professional at the highest level.

Many people put work over other priorities in life.

However, when someone goes head deep in their work, they often find themselves unfulfilled. In another recent post, I wrote about how in the next couple of years, we’re going to start seeing several of our favorite “hustle” based entrepreneurs and thought leaders talk more and more about life balance.

Making the Case for Life Balance

When we think of ourselves outside of our work life, things get interesting quick. Reason why is that in western culture, so many people define themselves by what they do for income. And it’s easy to see why this is the case.

However, as previously mentioned, it’s imperative that we see ourselves as more than what we do as a day job. The worst thing we can do is set ourselves up in a situation where if we are somehow relieved of our duties, we end up not knowing what to do with ourselves.

For those of us in the traditional job world, this often comes through retirement.

Some of us have probably seen the effect that comes with retirement on our elders. Once they’ve retired, many feel like they need to go do some random job just to feel relevant again. Or worse yet, they simply pass away.

In that same vein, I remember the additional stress that my mom was going through as she was nearing retirement. After being a teacher for 30+ years, she really didn’t have much of an identity outside of that. She was quite concerned about this when she passed.

Since then, I’ve talked with a lot of her peers and people her age, and the number one thing I’ve heard that has “saved” them is that they learned how to “keep busy” outside of their old profession.

Getting Clarity on Life Balance

So how do we keep busy in a way that’s meaningful? It’s all about maintaining a life balance. But what does life balance really look like? Depending on who you ask, I think it tends to vary. Some would say that you need to balance your time with your family. Others would say that you need to step out of your comfort zone and be more adventurous. Yet others might say “start a hobby” or work on yourself outside of your work skills.

So which is it?

I’d say it’s a combination of these things.

When I first started the NI blog, I wrote about the 5 Pillars of Happiness (and I would later revisit it when I rebooted the blog 5 years later in 2015). Fulfilling each of these gives you a lot more overall happiness.

However, as I’ve been thinking about this topic a bit more since then and talking with multiple guests of the AoL Podcast, I’ve come to realize that you can break these pillars down further into more specific items.

So let’s look at this further break down.

Further Breakdown of the Pillars of Happiness

1. Mental

In the previous post, I suggested that relationships were a part of mental fulfillment. They are. However, they’re a two way street. So I want to make this differentiation a bit more. Things that fall within the mental category are items affect our perspective of the world. They live in our own mind.

So personalities, attitude, expression of emotions, need for adventure – these are all things that when we fulfill them, put us in a better or refreshed state of mind.

2. Relationships

When it comes to relationships, what’s important here is not so much what we get out of relationships. In fact, it’s the value that others get from us. Are we an elevator or a weight on them?

So what’s our effect on our families? Our friends? How do our spouses or significant others feel about time with us? Do they all come away better after spending time with us or do we suck the energy out of them?

If you really want to have a cheat when it comes to this category – learn about love languages. By default, people generally treat others by utilizing love languages they prefer.

3. Health

One of the things that Brendon discussed in the Habits book, was having energy as a high performer. I really like how he breaks that down. Sure, eating the right things, exercise, and sleep are all parts of having energy.

But there’s more to it than that. We need to also be more preventative about our health as well.

For example, if you were to think about the energy of the car, you’d think a car gets its energy from fuel. However, if you want to have a “healthy” car – you’d make sure that you regularly check the oil, the transmission fluid, and all the other caps that are fairly easy for us as operators to access under the hood.

Well, the same is true for people. We need to make sure we keep track of this stuff more and more as we get older. Otherwise you’re going to end up with a problem that isn’t a cheap fix.

4. Spiritual

Ok, now, this is one that people have kind of lost sight of over the last few decades. Due to the fact that as a culture we’ve become more educated and don’t see the need for religion as much as we once did, spirituality has kind of taken a back seat.

However, when we’re talking about our passions, our purpose, and the work we’re supposed to do in life, spirituality is right at the top of that discussion.

The questions “What do you feel you’ve been called to do?” or “What were you born to do?” instantaneously takes you to that discussion.

One of the biggest problems that people goof up on today is that they associate their work with the next pillar, finances. They feel that as long as they’re getting paid, then the job that they’re doing is what they should be putting their time into.

This is such a bassackward perspective that it’s no wonder that people are unfulfilled at the work they do. When you take a position based on what motivates and drives you instead of it paying the bills, there’s a much higher chance that you’ll be fulfilled with that role.

However, when you can take your 3 P’s and base your own company from them, then you have a much higher potential of achieving true personal freedom.

5. Finances

So if the finances pillar isn’t about having a job, what is it?

It’s simply your ability to properly manage the income that you get. Meaning that you have bills to pay, true – but what’s the priority of those bills versus saving for the future?

Maybe it’s even something at another level. Maybe it’s not even not trying to keep up with the Jones’. Having less to pay for gives you less stress on your income. Therefore, you have more time to develop your other pillars because you won’t need to work as much.

If you’re in a situation where you feel drained all the time because you’re working a position which is just paying you and not giving you any fulfillment, then you’re a paid slave. That’s why you’re not fulfilled and unhappy.

6. The Little Things:

There are things in this world that we use to get our minds off of all the stuff that’s going on in our lives. Hobbies are a great example of this. Gaming has always been my getaway. For people who aren’t digitally inclined, it might be working with their hands. I always remember Gibbs from NCIS working on his boats in his basement when I think of hobbies.

However, just remember that this isn’t what you should make your life about (well, unless you really want to be the next Twitch Streamer or YouTuber). They’re simply a way for your brain to turn off a bit just enough so you can clear your thoughts.

Action Steps

So, if you’re into your work so much that you’re letting weeds grow in the rest of your life, you might want to consider that. Chances are that the more balanced you are, the better luck you’ll have in your work and – if done right – your mission.

Let me know below if you have any questions or have recently found new habits that have worked for you in these pillars.

forever alone

Forever Alone? Here’s My Solution!

I’ve been recently listening to one of my favorite podcasts again for the first time in at least a year or so. It’s called The Art of Charm. There’s a good chance you’ve heard of it!

If not, you might want to check it out. It’s a great show. Jordan Harbinger, who’s actually around my age, is the host and in it he talks with a top performers from various industries in how they’ve been so successful.

It’s actually where I got a bit of some of the things in my show.

One thing I haven’t touched on a great while are romantic relationships. While Maria and I are in a great place in our own relationship, I can’t say that telling others how they should meet people should be anything like how we met.

Honestly, our relationship skipped a couple of steps – including anyone proposing. We moved from hanging out at coffee shops, to her mom inviting me to holidays, and before you know it we were talking about possible wedding dates.

We still don’t remember how that all worked – at least I don’t.

This post, originally from July 5th, 2012, is from that time period. If my memory serves correctly, we might have been engaged at this point since we got married in July of 2013. (Wow, it HAS been five years already!)

Anyway, since Valentine’s Day is just a month away and I’d rather it not be Single’s Awareness Day for those of you who want to find someone, here’s a bit of advice – you don’t have to be Forever Alone. Just like most crappy situations, it usually comes from a negative mindset. Let’s explore a bit in how we can get out of it!

In a previous post, I had talked about Good Guys (aka Nice Guys) and their determination to make themselves bend over
backwards so that they appear nice to everyone.

In the past year+, I’ve learned that while that bending over backward for everyone might be useful for being a politician, it isn’t as so for most people. Also, it isn’t true when you want to appear confident. And better yet, it isn’t so useful when you’re actually trying to attract people in your life. Take it from someone that just happened to “stumble” into a relationship/marriage after being “Forever Alone” his entire life.

Confidence is key in everything in life.


What I’ve Learned about being “Forever Alone”

There are a group of people out there who believe that they are doomed to be “Forever Alone”. What this basically means is that they believe that no matter what they do, they’re really never going to have any good friends. They’ll  potentially lack the great bonds with family members and even worse to most, they’ll never have a significant other in their life. They’ve basically convinced themselves that they have no qualifying values for anyone AND that they have never attracted anyone to them in their life.

Funny thing is that these same people are probably well educated (if not overly educated) folk who have studied over and over why they’re alone – or seemingly that way. And even more ironic is that they typically come up with the same answer: “It’s them, not me.”

The truth is that what makes you smart isn’t necessarily your best friend in many situations. See, the problem here, is that Forever Aloners think that the stereotypical geek/nerd/dork who has had social issues – will always continue to have them. And they get “proven” data to back them up from all of the nonsense that society puts out there.

Most recently, I saw the recent movie 21 Jump Street where one of the main characters (Schmidt) gets turned down supposedly by an attractive girl because he was a nerd. This proves the Forever Aloners perspective. However, while this might have been the case for this one girl, it’s not the case for all!

Read on for the solution…


So What’s the Solution to being “Forever Alone”?

Here’s the deal. If Schmidt hadn’t changed who he was and stopped looking in the wrong places, he probably was going to always be Forever Alone! However, through the movie he actually gains confidence by hanging around an old enemy/new friend Jenko. While Schmidt brings the brains to the friendship, Jenko brings the confidence.

A couple of things that I don’t think Forever Alone people think about are:

1.) If they don’t meet people, they won’t have friends.

Instead, what I believe is that they look at it the opposite way… that even if they were to go meet people, no one would like them… for whatever reason.

2.) Popular people get all the attention.

 Again, this is backwards. You need to get attention to be popular. And to get attention, you need to have influence. And to get influence, you need to have confidence. To get confidence, you really need to be ok with who you are now OR the ideal version of you that you want to be. The more you see the current you becoming that future you, the more confident you become.

3.) Unless they give each other value, some personalities have harder times getting along with other personalities. 

It’s true. Amiables  and Drivers tend to suck the energy out of each other if they don’t understand where each other is coming from. Same can be said about Expressives and Analyticals. However, what’s even more interesting is that those same personalities also attract each other like magnets in the end. Just like Schmidt and Jenko did.


Forgive and Gain a New Perspective

If you don’t want to be Forever Alone, the simplest method of fixing it is by dropping your insecurities. And the easiest way to do that is to forgive others.

Just like Schmidt forgave Jenko.

Forgiveness is the key to insecurity. And that’s exactly what being Forever Alone is… an insecurity.

It’s these insecurities that is the root of a ton of issues in our world today – including being Forever Alone.

Once you start forgiving (others, and even yourself), your next step is to find out that personal mission of yours. Learn to embrace that. Of course, there will be some people who don’t like you because of it. However, there will be others who love you because of it.

Once you find your true self, go find people who are interested in the same things. If it is an SO you’re looking for, make sure one of your networks could potentially involve your new mate.

Seriously, there’s nothing wrong with making everyone friends first and then moving on from there.

It worked for me – it can work for you.

Just as a side note: The “Friend Zone” does not exist after the age of 25 or so. If you think a person is friend zoning you, you probably shouldn’t be wasting your time pursuing them as an SO.

Also, it wouldn’t hurt to understand personalities so that you know which personalities click. It’s much easier to find potential friends/mate if you know why different personalities attract and repel each other.

Action Steps

So what do you think about being “Forever Alone”?

Can it be cured? If so, how? What are you personal thoughts on the matter? Am I full of it above?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!


jack sparrow cosplay

“Long Jon Sparrow” Jon Boersma: Business to Arts, Arts to Business: How to Find Your New Horizon (AoL 073)

For many of us creators, we do things because we have a passion for it.

The question often is, how do we monetize something we enjoy doing without taking the fun out of it? Or, if we’re doing it because we see it as a mission – how do we keep from tainting that mission?

Like today’s guest, I believe, if done right, you can take something you love to do and make a living doing it.

That’s why I believe in Fizzle so much. That’s exactly what they teach people to do.

In this session, Laila and I sit down with an entrepreneur who has taken his passion of geeking out as Jack Sparrow to another level.

He gets paid to actually impersonate Jack as Long Jon Sparrow.

In today’s chat with Jon Boersma, we find out what inspired him to impersonate Captain Jack Sparrow, how much of his work was learned from formal education vs being self taught, and we dive a bit into how knowing about the 4 basic personalities have helped him in his career and how others can apply the same info to their lives.

As always, thanks for listening, and enjoy the show!


  • What inspired Jon to do a Captain Jack Sparrow impersonation in the first place? 8:40
  • Where did he get the help to come up with his costume? 11:43
  • When was Jon first bitten by the entrepreneur bug? 14:45
  • Where did his company, Horizons, come from? 16:05
  • How much of his work is formal education vs self taught skills? 17:43
  • How did he get started with Super Gainz Fitness? 23:23
  • When did his business really take off? 26:22
  • What’s the deal with his project Business to Arts, Arts to Business? 31:08
  • Does Jon deal with any copyright issues with impersonation? 34:28
  • What’s some more info on the personalities and how can they help in someone’s career? 36:23
  • What are some of the things that Jon’s looking forward to in 2017? 43:11
  • Three books that he tells others about. 46:47
  • What social norm has taken a 180 degree turn in the past 10 years? 48:50
  • What’s the smallest decision Jon’s made that has had the largest impact on his life? 57:26
  • If he woke up tomorrow as his 10 year old self with all of his memories intact, what would he do? 59:42
  • What’s the secret to achieving personal freedom? 1:01:14
  • … and MUCH more!

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.



Long Jon Sparrow giving a business presentation:

Prince EA: Everybody Dies, But Not Everybody Lives:

Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work

Alyson Tabbitha’s Jack Sparrow Transformation/Tutorial:

jack sparrow cosplay personality types jack sparrow cosplay jack sparrow cosplay

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of the post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The AoL Podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them.

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A huge thank-you to you guys for joining us!


Developing Life Changing Habits Through 5 Types of Triggers

A Little Background in Habit Formation Theory

There are two books that are pretty interesting reads about habit formation. The first one, the Power of Habit (via Audible), Charles Duhigg talks about The Habit Loop. In this loop, there are three parts to forming and reinforcing habits.

1. The Cue / The Trigger – the event that actually starts the habit

2. The Routine – the actual habit that is performed

3. The Reward – what doing the habit gets the participant

In the the second book, Hooked (via Audible), Nir Eyal takes this loop and adds another piece called:

4.  The Investment – The longer we spend doing a habit that yields favorable rewards, the less likely we are to stop doing that habit.

Each phase of the loop is important in developing new habits. If it wasn’t for a cue, we wouldn’t start the routine. If it wasn’t for the routine, we wouldn’t get the reward. If it wasn’t for the reward, the cue wouldn’t mean as much to us in the future. Therefore, we wouldn’t spend as much time on it. So on, and so forth.

Simple enough, right?

Note: In the video above Brendon talks about the importance of Triggers. The term Trigger is another name for the term Cue. Personally when I think of the word cue I think of a cue ball. When hit by the pool stick, the cue ball starts a series of events that hopefully lands a ball in a pocket during a pool game. Likewise, when I think of the word trigger, I think of a trigger on a firearm that starts the whole chain of events that pushes a bullet out of that firearm. Personally, I use them interchangeably, but we’ll stick with Trigger for the rest of the post.

In this post, we’ll be specifically talking about Trigger use and formation. I believe it’s the most important part of the Habit Loop and probably the one we have the most control on.

Trigger 1: Time

In Brendon’s video, he talks about setting alarms to be triggers. Time is probably the easiest way to start habits. Most of us start our days with alarms that starts a chain of events where we’re getting ready for the day. (Others are luckier where they don’t need an alarm to start their day. They’re triggered by kids, pets, or even the sun. Wouldn’t it be nice?)

How and when to use it: In the video, he talks about setting three alarms on your phone to keep yourself calm throughout the day. This helps someone be more present. For me, I use alarms to remind myself when to keep hydrated. Using time as a trigger is typically used to do something that you need to do a reoccurring daily basis.

Trigger 2: People

When I’m around other people, I have an internal switch that goes off. Most of the time, I’m an introvert. But when I’m around others (especially networking), I go into extrovert mode and start talking to everyone I can. Why? Because both of my strengths involve interacting and adding value to other people: teaching and connecting.

Other people will use others as a trigger as well. If you’ve ever heard of social drinkers, these people use others to tell themselves when to drink. While it might not be the best habit to have, the end result is the same as mine: connecting with people.

The difference of the two habits is that I learned mine from hanging around other successful people. While the social drinkers might have learned their habit from their party days at college.

How and when to Use it: Depending on who you want to connect with, you’ll need to practice a method of connecting. Whether you’re the life of the party, the host, OR the bartender, you can’t afford to be socially awkward. Learn how to be normal (which we’ll discuss at another time) and enjoy others’ company.


Trigger 3: Places

Sometimes it can be really hard to get through a kitchen, especially if there’s pie sitting out. Or walk by a pool at the YMCA without wanting to jump right in. Places can be triggers too.

However, among all the triggers, places can be the start of the most mindless habits. This can be good and bad. If you’re an addict and you’re exposed to whatever you’ve been addicted to, it’s much easier to indulge. Likewise, if you’re that same addict and you’re putting yourself in all new situations, it’s much easier to find something else to put your mind on.

Studies by David Neal and Wendy Wood from Duke University suggest that new habits are actually easier to perform in new locations. They say that old locations mean old habits and old routines. If you’re trying to perform a new habit, you’ll have to break the old cycle which can be very difficult. Likewise, new places are like blank slates. There aren’t any pre-existing triggers, therefore it should be easier to start a new habit.

I know for me that I do all my work in an office. Why? Because anywhere else I go I can’t seem to get that same work done. I’ve set the office setting to work and the rest of the house for other things.

How and when to Use it: As mentioned before, locations can equally trigger good and bad habits. First, if you’re trying to do something new, see if you can’t find a new place to do that new thing. Are you working out after several months or years of not regularly? You should probably go to the gym (unless of course you suddenly find all of your furniture replaced by exercise machines). Are you trying to start a business at home? You better not start typing in your comfy chair in the living room. Instead, if you have a spare room/space, go there. If you don’t, go to a nearby coffee shop or restaurant with Wi-Fi.

Trigger 4: Emotions

Many people eat when they’re bored, sad, or even anxious. For most of my life, that was me. Or if you don’t eat, maybe you play video games instead. Either way, these habits are caused by emotions. And as we all know, those who let their emotions dictate to them, don’t live a very happy life.

Emotional habits tend to happen when we’re not present. If you think about the video and Brendon talking about the alarm trigger for a minute, it’s almost a double trigger. First, the alarm triggers you to breathe in a way to make you calmer. As you get calmer, you become more present. If you’re present, you can make better choices. You’re not running on emotions at this point, you’re running on logic. And this new logic can help you build better habits.

How and when to Use it: One thing you can start doing is trying to sense any weird habits you have. Do you bite or pick at your nails? Do you fidget? Then, when you identify them, figure out what caused them. Do they start from you being anxious or bored? Are you still feeling that way? If you are, sense that feeling and then make yourself do something else. Perhaps you can start a few exercises? Or you can take Brendon’s advice and do a breathing technique to calm yourself.

Trigger 5: Notifications and other Events

The last kind of trigger that I know gets the best of me are beeps from my phone and tabs flashing or showing numbers in Chrome because of new messages. If it has a sound notification, I typically got to deal with it. If it’s visual, it gets harder as time goes on. This is the bad side of events being a trigger. However on the other side of the coin, you can build new habits by what’s called Habit Stacking. Habit Stacking is a new term I learned from my mastermind in which you start with one habit. As time goes on, you add another. One such habit stack might be our waking up or going to bed ritual. When it’s time to get up, you typically have a routine that you do. It can be as simple as using the toilet, taking a shower, and then brushing your teeth. Or perhaps you’re one of those who like to start coffee first and then do a few exercises?

How and when to Use it: You should not that the smaller the habit is, the easier it is to put into your life. It’ll probably much easier to eat healthier in the morning than suddenly becoming an early morning runner. However, that said, it really depends on your goals. If you want to feel like you’ve accomplished something by running a mini-marathon, then perhaps the running routine might be better followed by a shake later on in the day.

Picking Your Next Habit Trigger

Regardless of which habit you want to do, you’ll need to make sure that the trigger you choose for that habit is specifically defined and actionable. For me, I like to do certain exercises a day. I typically do them right after I’m done getting my shoes on for the day. I’ll do 35 pushups and then walk the dogs for 20 minutes. After that, I’ll be fresh and alert and ready to get my day started.

Experiences with Triggers?

In the comments below, I’d love to hear how you’ve used triggers in the past for good or bad habits. If you do have some bad habits you’d like to get rid of, what are some ideas that you have to weed them out of your routine?

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