China 2019 – Day 19, Monday, 5th August 2019

This is now my last full week of training (as well as two days next week) before a day and a half in Hong Kong, where I will fly home from next Friday.

One of the great things about being a full time martial arts instructor is that I love my “job”. I don’t have that creeping dread which I used to have every time a return to my daily routine drew closer when travelling or on holiday and working in an office back in the UK.

A mix of luck and hard work got me in the position I am in – and helps me retain it – but what can you do if you are stuck in a rut and all too regularly feel that back-to-work dread that was all too familiar to me for a long time?

Here are a couple of pieces of advice that you might find useful if you are finishing your summer holidays and feeling this way and maybe want to start to make a change in your chosen path…

I think the first thing to do when trying to instigate any change is to appreciate what you already have.

We may often feel like there is a dark rain cloud over our head as we head out for another day or another shift – particularly on a Monday – ruefully daydreaming how nice it would be to win the lottery.

Well, the great news is, if you are reading this, you probably have won the lottery! I doubt I have readers living in slums, who are child soldiers, have been involved in forced slavery, or are living off £1 a day like so many are. I would hazard a guess that none of you are from a country in perpetual civil war, so already you’re one of the luckiest people on the planet!

Appreciating what you have – including family, belongings, pets, friends, house…and yes, that annoying job with the idiot boss – keeps you level headed and calm, so you can move forwards with perspective.

If you are looking to start your own business and gain independence, my next piece of advice would be: start small. I began with one class, and then two per week, and it stayed that way for quite some time. It took 10 years nearly to get to a point where I felt that I could rely on an income – you may be able to do it quicker but always opt for slow and steady when making progress in anything. You need to evolve as a person alongside your chosen field. This takes time. I’ve seen the opposite, and it’s not pretty! Yes sure, a decade is a long time but it’s going to pass anyway, so fill it with big, exciting plans!

So the big question you have to ask yourself is, if you haven’t already, what should I do!?

It can take many years to find your chosen path but one rule of thumb is to ask yourself honestly: what is it that you would do if money were no object. I know for me it’s teaching martial arts and everything that surrounds it. What is that thing for you?

If you are creating something on the side that you want to build up over a number of years to eventually be your sole income, if it’s not something you completely love and are obsessed with, it’s not going to work. You’ll be doing it unpaid, or virtually unpaid, for quite some time!

It needs to be the kind of thing that you would do when exhausted after a day in the office. The thing you’d give up time with family and friends for. That would make you decline going to the pub or the cinema, miss out on holidays to fund, continue doing when you have no clients. If you’re not willing to do any of those things, maybe just forget about it and carry on as you are.

I’m certainly no business expert but after building up a martial arts club over a number of years from scratch, I have a lot of experience in how to do it (as well as how not to do it at times!). One other key thing is, just get on with it! Don’t procrastinate. You will never know until you try!

One thing NOT to do is to feel like there are no options, that you are completely stuck. As I have mentioned in at least one previous blog post, make small changes, do one small thing each day and this will compound into massive positive changes over a period of time.

Get started and have a blind belief and inner confidence that it will work. I doubted myself only once or twice over the many years it took to build up the club and they were only for very short periods of time. I had an inner faith that it would work and that was unshakeable.

A positive mindset is great and absolute crucial but also utilise other emotions. You’re going to do this thing that you’re choosing to develop when you’re not only feeling happy and positive, but also when sad, angry and depressed.

Don’t rely on positivity to carry you through – allow dissatisfaction, anger, and annoyance to fuel the changes you want to see and the life or business you want to develop. They are natural states and emotions and they can be as useful as their opposites. Some of my best business growth spurts have been when I was really angry with my situation, or going through a tough time personally and facing loss or sadness. They drove me on!

There is no perfect situation, find inspiration in everything.

One final thing. Measure success not in days, weeks, months, or even years…. Don’t be afraid to think in decades.

Very few people will have the mindset or stamina, or courage to think like this, or to cope with constant disappointment, failure, rejection, but when you come through it, imagine how strong you will be. No one will be able to touch you.

You will have forged an inner will and a confident power that is made of the finest steel, like a beautiful and razor sharp sword. The thing about these weapons is: they take a lot of hammering when being made but the result is unbreakable.

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4 thoughts on “Day 19 – Going Solo

  1. Wow. Another timely piece – have been pondering upon such things this week………..!
    Thanks Mark.
    Have a great last week there!!
    (Loving the sky!)

  2. I have followed your journey in China with great interest and look forward to learning new things in the classes in the future. I enjoy my Tai Chi class at Haywards Heath. Enjoy Hong Kong. Best wishes. Vivien

  3. What a inspiring experience you have had and I am looking forward to your return so that we (your students) can hear about and benefit from. I have this blog the most inspiring and thought provoking. Enjoy your last few days and safe travels.

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