Crush your excuses and take that first step

Is there something you want to, but are afraid to start? You might want to start learning cooking, photography, or dancing. You might want to start making films, writing novels, or running your own YouTube show series. You might want to start your own business. Or you might want to start a revolution, because new year’s resolutions are for chumps? Or perhaps anarchy?

So, you want to start it (whatever it is), but you haven’t started it yet, because… Why? You are afraid of something?

Sometimes taking the first step is the most difficult part. But what stops you from taking that step? I can’t cover every particular excuse that stops you from doing what you want in this brief post, but let me try to nail down some of the fundamental excuses.

I believe these fundamental excuses include the following:

  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m afraid of making mistakes.
  • I have no idea about where to start.
  • I don’t have enough resources (money, time, equipment, etc).

What can you do about these excuses and take that first step? Let me help you crush them.

Excuse#1: “I’m not good enough.”

You are not good enough? What exactly does that mean? Let’s say you want to learn dancing, but you think you are not good enough at it. Here’s good news. You are a beginner and you are supposed to become better by taking lessons and practicing what you learnt. Being good enough is not a prerequisite for you to get started with it.

So, don’t worry. You’ll get better along the way. But make sure to start as soon as possible, because if you start now, you’ll have more time to practice.

Excuse#2: “I’m afraid of making mistakes.”

This one is similar to Excuse#1 above. You will probably make mistakes as a beginner, but that’s expected. The most important thing is to survive from those mistakes and to learn lessons from them.

The most important question you need to clear away regarding this excuse is: Is there any mistake that will kill you?

If the answer is no, then your mistakes are more likely to make your life richer.

There is no losing in Jiu-Jitsu. You either win or you learn.
– Carlos Gracie Jr.

Excuse#3: “I have no idea about where to start.”

You know what you want to do, but you don’t know where to start. But what exactly does it mean that you don’t know where to start? Are there many first step options and are you overwhelmed by that? Or is it the case that you simply don’t know what to do?

Let’s say you want to start learning how to cook and let me answer these questions from this angle. So, there are many recipes and you don’t know which one you should start with. My suggestion is to choose something simple and stick to what you like within the range of simple things. It might sound too obvious, but I’m sure it will narrow down your options.

How about the case in which you don’t know what to do? You don’t know what to do, because… you don’t have the information you need to get started. Let’s say you don’t have any recipes handy. OK, this solution works for the other question as well, but you can ask your friends or search online. For example, you can search “how to make pancakes” and you’ll find a lot of helpful information on how to make pancakes, including instruction videos. How simple is that.

Excuse#4: “I don’t have enough resources (money, time, equipment, etc).”

You want to start your own business, but you don’t have money to do it. You want to write a novel, but you are too busy with your day job. You want to start taking photos, but you can’t afford to buy a DSLR camera.

  • If you have this worry, I have some questions for you.
  • Is it absolutely necessary for you to have those resources in order to start what you want to do?
  • If it is, why is it absolutely necessary?

If you can’t answer this question, it’s possible that it may not be absolutely necessary after all.

If you can answer it, however, I want you to ask yourself another question:

  • Is it absolutely necessary for your first step to be as big as you think it needs to be?
  • In other words, can you make your first step much smaller so you can actually take it?

Let me give you some examples.

You want to start your own business, but you think you don’t have money to do it? It does depend on what kind of business you want to run, but it’s possible to start a business under $100 and you can read more about it in this post by Chris Guillebeau.

If you want to take a very small step, you can get some “running your own business”  experiences by selling things on eBay, for example. That’s much smaller a step than founding the next Apple Computer, but you do get some experiences.

You want to write a novel, but you are too busy with your day job? But you certainly have 30 minutes a day to spend on writing a novel, don’t you? If you write for 30 minutes every day and you can write 500 words within that time slot on average, it will take you about 100 days to write a 50,000 word novel, which you can edit later.

If you want to take a very small step, you can write a short story instead of a novel. You can even write a three sentence long short story, for example. You can then step up further and further.

You want to start taking photos, but you can’t afford to buy a DSLR camera?
The question is: Do you really need that DSLR camera? Can you get a camera you can afford and start taking photos anyway? If your goal is to learn photography rather than to own a DLSR camera, I believe you can get much closer to achieve your goal by taking photos with a camera you can afford to buy than doing nothing.

The take away message

Don’t worry about how bad you are before you get started. You are a beginner, and you will get better along the way. Making mistakes is OK as long as they don’t kill you. Make sure to learn from them. If you don’t know what to do, ask for help. Make sure to stick to something simple in the beginning rather than trying to do something too complicated. Start small, because it’s possible that you don’t need those resources you though you needed if you make your first step as small as possible.

Great resources I recommend

I recommend these resources below if you need some creative inspirations to start what you want to do.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert


If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with your friends by clicking the like button or the tweet button below or by other means. That’s how you can help me grow this blog. Thank you! You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or e-mail, too. I’m looking forward to connecting with you!

Photo: AlicePopkorn

27 lessons on how to live your life as your art

New Year, New Start

What do you want your 2011 to be like?

I choose to make it an amazing year, and I’ll do so by working on my goals. At the very core of these goals, there are two ideas that drive me. One is the idea of minimizing stuff and maximizing experience. The other idea is to live my life as my art. This is how I choose to maximize experience.

The focus of this blog has been more exploratory and personal last year. That is, it was more about me than you. From this year on, however, I will write more and focus more on how you can minimize stuff, maximize experience, and live your life as your art. If you are interested in living a great life on your own terms, then join me and subscribe to this blog (via RSS or e-mail). You can follow me on twitter as well.

27 Years, 27 Lessons, and How to Live Your Life as Your Art

On 1 January 2011, I turned 27. I want to share with you some of the great lessons I learnt from my 27 years of life. For me, these lessons guide me in living my life as my art.

This is my birthday gift to you. (Who said you can’t give gifts to others on your own birthday?)

I hope at least some of them are relevant to you and there’s something you can take away.

  1. Don’t listen to non-sense. When people say that you won’t make it with what you do, they usually have no experiences in what you do and it’s not their business to tell you what to do or what not to do. You don’t have to be impolite to them, but it’s perfectly OK for you not to follow them.
  2. It’s OK to be different from other people. In fact, you are different from others by definition. There’s no reason why you should take extra steps to become someone who you are not.
  3. Create and walk your own path. You can choose the way you want to live your life. Yes, it might be difficult, but not impossible. Also, it’s more rewarding to live your life that way.
  4. Don’t apologize for being who you are. You don’t need to present yourself lower than you actually are. It’s not arrogant or impolite to mention how good you are, especially when someone gives you compliments. Just thank them and that’s all.
  5. Be able to laugh at yourself. Share your imperfections with others and have fun. In fact, showing your weaknesses is a very strong act. That’s what it means to live with a sense of ease and delight.
  6. Get to know yourself. You are better than what you assume yourself to be. Explore your possibilities. Be fair to yourself.
  7. Build a strong foundation. It’s essential if you want to get better at everything. For example, focus on fundamental moves (and principles behind them),  because they are much more important than flashy moves.
  8. Don’t live in the past. You can thank and acknowledge your past, and then simply move on to the future you want to head towards.
  9. Look for similarities. We make connections by noticing similarities within us. While differences are important in the sense that they can make us intrigued about others, never forget that other human beings from different backgrounds are just like you.
  10. Don’t beat up yourself. You are where you are, and there’s nothing so wrong about you being there that you need to beat yourself up. Instead of spending your precious time on doing nothing but criticizing yourself, do what improves your situation.
  11. Believe in yourself. That’s one way to interpret what it means to be confident. No matter what others say, you trust yourself.
  12. Be aware of hidden assumptions. It’s easy to misunderstand others due to the fact that they are talking about something totally different from what you are talking about. When you listen to others, make sure to clarify these assumptions.
  13. Don’t be afraid of loving or being loved. Loving and being loved can be risky, in the sense that you might get hurt and nothing in return. But, so what? Being able to love someone or some people as well as having someone or some people love you are both amazing things in themselves.
  14. Don’t make women your adventure. Take them on an adventure with you instead. In other words, don’t chase them, but keep chasing your dreams and invite them to come along with you.
  15. Love is inclusive, not exclusive. When you love someone, this love for that person is specific to that person, because love is about accepting that person as who she or he is; no one else can be compared with that person. Your love for Person A is different from your love for Person B.
  16. You can’t possess anyone. When you are in a relationship with someone, it doesn’t mean you own that person or that you are owned by that person.
  17. Curiosity is a key to a number of things. Curiosity is what relationships keep going. Curiosity is how we create things. Curiosity is what makes our lives amusing and amazing.
  18. Find your tribe members. They believe in you. They have similar interests with you. They are the ones that matter to you. Grow together with them.
  19. You can do what you love while helping others. It’s not mutually exclusive. You can read more on this lesson in Chris Guillebeau’s free PDF manifesto here.
  20. Let go. Don’t accumulate. These ideas apply to you if you want to have a fewer distractions in your life and to maximize your experiences. It’s easier to have less and to experience more than to have to manage many clutters in your life. Regarding a minimalistic lifestyle, Everett Bogue’s Far Beyond The Stars is a good place to start.
  21. You can interpret your childhood dreams in a creative way. Even if your childhood dream is something like “to become Pegasus“, it’s possible to find a way to become Pegasus, at least in a metaphorical way.
  22. You can learn from everything you experience. When you see your life from this angle, you can start becoming appreciative of what it has to offer. For example. my parents got divorced when I was 10 and my father past away when I was 14; these events made me a big impact on my life and I can say I made something positive out of these experiences.
  23. You’re resourceful. You might think that you don’t have enough. But it’s important to realize that you do, at least, have what you need to get yourself started. It’s much better to have this abundance mentality than to have the scarcity mentality, because you appreciate what you already have and think what you can do with what you have.
  24. Focus on sharing and giving rather than taking. When you involve other like-minded people in your life by sharing something amazing with and giving it to them, your life and their lives will expand more.
  25. Do it anyway. Making mistakes is fine. Reading or planning too much before taking action can only delay your start. Your preparation will never be perfect. Rather than trying to find the perfect timing to start something, start it as soon as possible.
  26. Have a healthy lifestyle. Being fit and healthy is essential for any kind of activities you do whether it’s something that involves your body or something that involves a lot of thinking. Eat properly and do physical exercises regularly. Breathe well. You’ll be able to play hard if you are fit and healthy.
  27. Your life is your art. Things you experience and fantastic people you meet and connect with contribute to your art; they give you stories, visions, sounds and everything else to your art.  Live with this attitude. Celebrate what your life has to offer. You’ll create an amazing art. A life full of wonderful moments.

These are the core lessons I learnt in my 27 years of life. If you are over 27, what were you like when you were 27? If you are under 27, what do you want to be like when you are 27? Are there any lessons you want to share with us? Do let me know in the comment section, via twitter, or via the contact form.

I hope your 2011 will be an amazing year!


If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with your friends by clicking the like button or the tweet button below or by other means. That’s how you can help me grow this blog. Thank you! You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or e-mail, too. I’m looking forward to connecting with you!

Photo: Aube insanité

On celebrating relationships

Think of someone you care and love. Who connected you with that someone either directly or indirectly? Now, think of that connection maker and ask yourself the same question: who connected you with that connection maker directly or indirectly?

You can keep asking the same question again and again for as long as you like.

After you’re finished with going through your memories, thank everyone who lead you to that person who you care and love.

If you love yourself, you can pretty much thank everyone and everything that led you to where you are and who you are.

If you will go through the same process described above in a year or 20 years, why don’t you thank everyone and everything that will come to your life from now on?

If you choose to be rad and awesome, you will be, because everything and everyone will help you go further. Don’t feel bad about becoming rad and awesome, by the way. You don’t need to be modest here, because going for what you want and being arrogant are different, if that’s what you are worried about.

It’s OK if you find it difficult to thank everyone and everything literally; you can still be aware of this attitude and live with it as much as you can. You don’t need to be perfect as long as you show up.


How do you celebrate relationships? If you liked what you read, please share it with others who might enjoy this post!

Photo: Andrew Stawarz

At least you survived

I was listening to a bonus material of Question the Rules by Johnny B. Truant (@JohnnyBTruant) and Lee Stranahan (@Stranahan) earlier today. This conversation between Johnny and Lee was about faith and belief – going for what you want and really believing in yourself during that process, to put it in a less woo-woo way.

In a segment of the audio, they talk about finding opportunities in seemingly bad situations and seizing them against the odds, so to speak.

After all, we could take advantage of bad situations. For example, we could learn something from those situations. If we do learn something, then those situations become valuable lessons that prosper us.

But it’s up to you to choose how you will respond to those situations. Are you willing to learn something, or will you simply feel bad about what happened and do nothing? It’s your choice.

The next time you are caught in a bad situation, stop and think if there’s something you can learn from it.

If nothing comes to your mind… well, perhaps you should know it didn’t kill you. You survived. And you can stand up again and be stronger than before.

Image: Adrian  Wallett

Letting go of old belongings and creating room for new memories

Taro Okamoto, my favorite artist, believed that life is not about accumulating as many of us tend to think, but it’s about using up what we have. When first I read the very first paragraph of Okamoto’s book Jibun no Naka ni Doku o Mote or Have Poison Inside You in English, which expresses that belief of his, I was impressed and inspired. I think I was 16 year old or so, and I didn’t fully understand… or feel what he meant.

I wish I could say I learnt the idea of using up my life over the last 10 years, but I started getting it only recently. I came to understand this idea deeper and better by working on designing my life. What kind of person do I want to be? What do I want my life to look like? Answering these questions helped me clarify my vision and move towards it, because it tells me what I need to leave behind in order to get to where I want to go.

Some exercises in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way gave me some initial momentum. You get asked to get rid of your old clothes and what doesn’t belong to your vision. Once you get used to getting rid of some of your old belongings, you’ll get used to making more room for a new stream. At least that was the case for me.

Thankfully, I’m not an accumulative person in general. Even though I didn’t have many clothes, I still could manage to get rid of my old T-shirts that I didn’t wear anymore. I did have some attachments to them, though.

What makes it hard to let go of personal belongings is probably attachment we have for those items. It seems as though they store our memories and throwing them away is almost like erasing those memories. Of course that’s not really the case, although our belongings might function as triggers for our memories. And I can understand that sentiment about letting go of old memories by throwing away old belongings.

But, I decided that I need to make room for new memories anyway. If I end up forgetting those old memories by losing memory triggers, so be it. I trust my brain for keeping what matters to me. In any case, I’m determined to make new, even greater memories.

I’m aiming at becoming minimalistic about my possessions. By ‘minimalistic’, I mean as much as I could pack everything I have in a backpack and be ready to go. It will be really difficult to keep a hundred of books with me given this goal, but I’ll try as much as I can.

Getting rid of clothes was easy for me. I still have some that I could release from my hands, but I guess it’s OK for the time being.

I really don’t have much, apart from CDs and books. I did manage to get rid of most of my CDs – so, what’s left is a pile of books.

Although I cleared some of my books, there are a number of books making towers in my room still. Most of them are specialized books written in English (i.e. philosophy books) and I don’t really want to let them go. In fact, I could, but the problem is that I wouldn’t be able to access to those books at a library in Japan easily. I’ll do something about it though.

Instead of accumulating things in my life, I now want to give and share more. Not necessarily material things, but experiences, feelings and memories. To me, that’s what using up my life means in a nutshell.

On that note, I’ve decided to give away a copy of The Artist’s Way to one lucky person among not-so-many readers of this blog. It’s my copy. If you want to be considered for this give away, please write a comment on this post and tell me your story or tips about letting go of old belongings. I will pick the one lucky person at random on Monday and announce the winner in the next post. In the mean time, have fun letting go of your old belongings…

photo: Magda Sobkowiak

Could there be a romantic monkey?

When I talk about making the world more romantic, I believe that some of you, if not many of you, probably think that I’m talking about what’s often depicted in the main stream media. An example could be a man behaving like a gentleman, caring a woman like a princess, carrying her bag, buying her flowers and chocolates and making everything sweet for her.

You may be glad or disappointed to hear that I’m not talking about romance in that sense. Of course, doing this kind of things is nice and sweet and I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do such things under any circumstance. I should let you know where I’m coming from.

I want to tell you a little bit about why the example above doesn’t necessarily fit with my idea of being romantic. If we look at what this man in the example does, we might conclude that he’s a romantic person. But is he really? What if he is simply following an instruction? We could teach a monkey to pass flowers to a woman, but I believe that it doesn’t make this monkey a romantic monkey. The monkey did it, because he was instructed to do so.

We could also look at the man’s intention for doing supposedly romantic things. Why does he do these things? I can’t list every possible reason here, but I know a few that I think are questionable as an intention. For example, he does it because it’s supposed to be romantic. And let’s not stop here. Why does he want to do what’s supposed to be romantic? I guess the major reason could be that he wants to impress the girl in the hope that she will like him.

So, he has an agenda and that’s why he acts that way. He buys flowers for her, because he is trying to make her like him with this gift. In a way, he is changing the way he is according to what she might like in his view. In other words, he is not presenting his authentic self. That doesn’t sound like being open to the world, because if he was open to the world, he wouldn’t have to change the way he is. He would instead choose to see what will happen to them if he shows up as who he really is.

I believe that if he has this attitude of showing up in the world with his authentic self, it will make him more romantic if he hasn’t already been that way.

I hope this entry clarified what I mean by ‘being romantic’. If you like this idea, you can help me make the world more romantic too – all you need to do is to show up and stand on this earth as who you are I don’t know if monkeys could be romantic, but I know you could!

photo: SpiritMama