Every so often you come across an idea that can change your life. It could be a passing comment, something you read in a book, or a moment of inspiration, but if you act on it, big changes are possible.
Without much introduction, here are four ideas that changed my life.
1. You don’t have to pay for travel.
I took more flights in the last month than the first 18 years of my life. And I didn’t even travel that much last month. Growing up plane travel was always expensive, exciting, and elusive.
So when Chris Guillebeau told me that flights could be free, I was blown away. It quite literally changed my life. Since then I’ve flown to over 30 countries and spent very little doing it.
The method is fairly straightforward—though you should be warned, it’s easy to obsess over. I’ve spent hundreds of hours reading and learning about it. With that warning out of the way, let me introduce you to travel hacking.
Travel hacking is the art of using credit cards to accumulate airline points you can redeem for free flights. The simplest example is that if you want to fly to Hawaii for free from the East Coast of the US you could pick up a the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card which will give you 50,000 points when you reach the minimum spend.
Transfer these Chase points to United (they transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio) and you have enough to fly to Hawaii for free. Saving you as much as $500-1,000! Want to go to Europe instead? That’s just 60,000 miles instead of 45,000.
Credit card companies and their airline partners expect you to get a card, meet the spend, use the bonus, and then slowly accumulate miles from there. Travel hackers go to the extreme and rotate through cards often holding 10-20 at a time to get as many sign up bonuses as they can. This is how they’ll collect hundreds of thousands of miles and tens of thousands of dollars in free flights.
I’ve booked a dozen free flights to Thailand to visit family, flown to Europe in first class, taken the entire family to Hawaii, and a lot more!
Now because the business spends so much money on credit cards I don’t churn through them, but over the years I’ve had over a dozen credit cards (well managed and tracked in a spreadsheet).
Start travel hacking
To get a good introduction to travel hacking take this free course from my brother-in-law Philip: Learn Travel Hacking. Then let me know where you go on your first free flight!
2. It’s not too late to start.
I wish I played sports in school.
By the time I was in college I didn’t enjoy playing sports because I wasn’t coordinated and just looked foolish. I eventually started playing casual games of ultimate frisbee and that gave me some okay hand eye coordination. Combine that with being able to run and being over 6 feet tall and I wasn’t half bad.
Then the invitation came to play soccer.
If I was that uncoordinated with my hands, doing anything with my feet would be a disaster. At 24 years old I didn’t want to start playing with friends who had played their entire lives.
Then a couple friends persisted. “No, seriously. You should try it.”
So I did. And I was right, it was a disaster. But I had fun!
Then I joined a team and kept playing. That was almost four years ago. Right now I play an average of four games a week and even moved closer to the indoor soccer facility!
I’m still not that good, but I have a lot of fun and can see consistent progress. I’m so glad I started playing soccer even years after I thought it was far too late to learn sports.
My mom started a brand new career in nursing in her 50s. Another friend picked up computer programming around the same age. It’s not too late. Just start.
3. Consistent effort wins.
When you do start, be consistent.
Years ago I wanted to start a blog. After six months of sporadic posts technically I had achieved my goal. But I should have been more specific. What I actually wanted was a successful blog. You know, with consistent growth.
I only started to see growth when I started writing consistently. Consistent inputs equal consistent outputs.
When I wanted to write a book I completely failed. Until I started writing 1,000 words a day. By showing up every day I made quick progress on the book. 90 days later I had a finished draft. 180 days in and I had written another book. 650 days in and I had a successful blog, several books, an established audience, and was earning a full time living from my writing.
It wasn’t a spark of inspiration or anything special that helped me build that. Just consistent effort over time.
Advice is easy to give
That advice is easy to give, but hard to follow. Even as I write this I’m trying to regain my consistent writing habit that has been lost for years. So if you struggle, know that I do too. I’m even wearing my Create Every Day shirt to give myself more motivation!
Whatever your goal is, the best way to get there is with consistent effort.
4. Anyone can build their own audience.
I used to want to be a famous blogger.
All the people I looked up to online had an almost mythical status. They were more than just talented creators, they were famous. Or at least internet famous.
Then I became one and realized it’s not a crazy process. Anyone can build an audience. Most just aren’t willing to.
The formula is pretty straightforward.
- Learn something.
- Teach it to other people.
For the best results keep it focused on a specific topic so you can work to attract one audience. Then after a period of consistent output you need to add in promotion by finding people to tell about your work.
Want to build an audience of designers? Put out a video on design every week for two years. It will happen. Your first videos will be terrible. But they’ll get better. An audience of five people will grow to five hundred.
Everyone who wants to do this and fails gets hung up in two areas:
- They are sporadic.
- Their time horizon is far too short.
Sticking to a set cadence is crucial. Once you do that set your expectations correctly. This will be hard. It will take far longer than you think it should.
My friend Sean McCabe says you should show up every day for two years. Do that and you can’t lose.
Those four ideas had a huge impact on me. So much so that I even created a company to help 20,000 other creators execute on their own audiences. Travel gave me new perspectives and new friends who impacted my thinking and writing. That spread to an audience, from which I built a business.
What ideas have changed your life?