Alan Donegan: Rebel Business School Co-Founder, Rebel Entrepreneur podcast host, Rebel Finance School co-founder and Queen's award winner. Marvel movie fan fanatic, breakfast lover and financial independent traveller
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At the time I was working full time on Rebel Business School and growing it, Simon (my business partner) and I were on a mission to change entrepreneurship education and really create impact in the world.
As I wrote out my goal of going to LA to write a movie I wondered to myself if I would ever get round to doing it. After my coffee I met up with Katie (my wife) and as we walked around the canals of Venice she asked a question that changed my life forever.
The question that changed my life
On that day as we walked around the canals of Venice Katie asked me "Why don't we do it? Why don't we go to LA and write a movie?"
My head nearly exploded. What do you mean actually do it? I started to think "you're right, why don't we just go and do it." Years earlier Katie had given me a course called How to write a movie in a month and I always told people I had just never found the month.
Now Katie was saying why don't I find the month? What was stopping me?
We were a good percentage of our way to financial independence (FI). We weren't there yet but we had saved and invested a significant amount. I looked up the numbers and at that point we were 89.7% of the way to our FI number.
Why didn't I create the time and do it? I knew why; I hadn't considered it and I was thinking I just had to keep working all the way to my FI number and I needed to do that first before living my dreams.
Katie shook my world with that question and within three weeks I had spoken to Simon and agreed that I was going to take 2 months out and go to LA to write a movie, I had booked flights and an Airbnb on Santa Monica Beach right next to the pier.
I told everyone what I was up to so that I had some peer pressure to make sure I followed through and I started to blog about the experience on my newly created blog. You can read the first article here entitled Movies, Hollywood and Scriptwriting.
What ever happened to that movie script Alan?
Three years later and I still get asked the question "Whatever happened to that script you started writing Alan?" Just yesterday I was sat in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and a friend asked me this exact question so I was inspired to write this article for you and to give you some thoughts and ideas on following through.
Untitled Script Update
Here is a brief history of the script:
There is a SUPER clear next step, which is to go through the feedback that Ron gave me and develop the next version of the script. If I sat down and did this it would probably take me a week or two of solidly focused time. So why haven't I done it yet? What has stopped me?
There are two main reasons. The first is my original goal was to write a movie and I have done that. My energy was for the initial creativity and the editing sparks much less joy within me. I am not excited about going back through it again and developing the next version; I know I will enjoy it when I do it but finding the energy to start when there are so many other things to do is tough!
The second reason has to do with what I call shiny object syndrome. Simon and I and probably a vast majority of you too suffer from this. We get excited about something, we get into it and work on it and then something else exciting and new and shiny comes along and we go off and do that and forget about the thing we started.
For the last 3 years I have kept repeating "I should finish the script" to myself, but if I am truly honest that is not where my energy lies. You might be thinking "Alan, what the hell have you been up to since? You are retired right; you should be able to find time for this!"
What the heck has Alan been up to for the last three years?
You probably aren't wondering what I have been up to. I am going to tell you anyway and then I am going to ask you what you think I should do next with the script?
In the three years since the movie writing experiment started I have conducted several other mini-experiments; some of which have stuck and some of which have been dropped. The first one started before I even conceived of the movie script.
AlanDonegan.com: this blog
When I was still running Rebel Business School regularly I was in Croydon running a website Wednesday course teaching people to build their own sites. It suddenly it struck me that I don't have a website to create on or share my ideas and thoughts with people.
That night after I had curry with the team I returned back to our Airbnb and started to create my own website. That night AlanDonegan.com was born out of a mission to share what I was learning as I journeyed through life. I wanted a platform where I could share my ideas to help other people. The blog has been through many iterations since and we have created a LOT of content. Here are the highlights:
It has been an awesome project and I have LOVED creating this content for you and the comments, reactions and interactions you have with me. I have spend hundreds of hours writing and creating and I love every minute of it. It is also one of those nice projects that you can pick up and put down at any point!
Rebel Entrepreneur podcast
Sometimes someone comes into your life with an opportunity you can't say no to! Brad and Jonathan from ChooseFI did this to me! At the end of 2019 as Katie and I were finishing full time work at Rebel Business School and taking the decision to become nomadic and travel the world I got a call from Brad and Jonathan.
They told me about their dream to create a network of Podcasts alongside their incredible show ChooseFI to help people get unstuck in life and make progress. They said that my episodes on their show always did well and that they got lots of positive comments and then they asked me if I wanted to create a podcast for their network.
My biggest objections where the time it would take to edit the show and the technical aspects. I was excited to create the content but didn't want to spend my time editing or figuring out how to get on Apple Podcasts etc. They said they would handle all the technical aspects and all I had to do was create and record the content and they would even help me learn how to do that!
How do you say no to an offer like that?
I didn't! lol. I said yes enthusiastically and then later discovered how big of a project I had taken on! I tried to galvanise the Rebel team to do it with me but they were busy running events and eventually Simon told me that I was free to just go off and do it myself.
It has been a rollercoaster of a journey but immensely rewarding.
Here is a brief history of the podcast:
The Rebel Podcast has been a huge part of the reason I haven't got back to the movie. I have been caught up in creating podcast content and it has been one of my main creative outlets for the last three years.
Rebel TV Show
Right in the middle of writing the script something magical happened. We had run the Houston Rebel Business School (formerly PopUp Business School) and PBS came to film and interview me. They created a super cool piece about what we do at Rebel helping people make their own money.
What ensued was the most amazing two year journey learning about the world of television production, producing pitches, creating sizzle reels and pitching to major networks. I promise at some stage I will tell you all as it was a rollercoaster journey to say the least and it isn't over yet.
The lure of TV has been calling and I still have major aspirations to produce a full TV series on both the business school, following people's journey's as they start businesses from nothing and on the Finance School with Katie and I helping people out of debt and onto the path to FI.
If any of you happen to be in TV production or know anyone then I would love to chat to you about how to make this happen! More to come on this journey but the shiny lights of television and the thought of being able to actually achieve the mission of Rebel and change the way entrepreneurship is taught around the world got me so excited.
It is still a dream to take this onto the small screen and reach millions helping them to build businesses, change their lives and their financial destiny.
Rebel Finance School
At the beginning of lock down I wrote an article asking the question "What are you going to build in lock down?" We had all just been granted/forced to have almost unlimited time at home to do what we wanted to do.
Katie and I took this message to heart and build an entirely new training course to help people with their finances. We saw how much of a pickle some people were in with COVID and losing jobs. We wanted to do our bit to support people and make a difference.
The first version of the course was called Take Control of your Finances but was soon re-branded by Katie to Rebel Finance School. For the first 3 courses combined we had 2950 people sign up!
Each course was ten weeks long and so much work! We didn't do much else for the 2.5 months each time we ran the course other than develop content, write follow up emails and then produce resources on the blog. It was a HUGE creative project that we both loved.
We are going to be putting on another course in the coming weeks so make sure you are signed up to my mailing list if you want to come along.
There is such a HUGE problem with finances and a lack of education surrounding them that Katie and I have been inspired to do our bit and really help people.
The extraordinary belongs to those that create it: The Book
Then along comes another major opportunity and I feel like I really, really want to take it but I already have so much on!
For season 3 of the podcast; Patrick the podcast manager and I decided to do a takeover season so we invited you to take over the show and grill me for once!
One of these takeover episodes was with a book coach called Jay. We had an amazing chat and at the end he said he loved the coaching series I had been doing and wanted to offer his services to be the coach for a series helping someone write a book.
I immediately asked "What about if the person you coached was me and we made a series of you coaching me to write a book?" I could tell he loved the idea and in that moment I had committed to writing a book.
I had been wanting to write a book for YEARS but after several failed attempts I thought maybe a coach could help me over the line. For the last 5 months we have been recording together and I have been writing. I have gone from brain storming ideas to creating a table of contents and this last week running a workshop based on the content of the book to get a first draft manuscript.
It has been such a fun adventure and I am learning so much.
Rebel Business School Colombia
We held a launch event at the UK embassy in Colombia, Dani and the team have already run 4 courses and have partnered with the WWF. Was I really going to pass up a trip to Colombia to work on entrepreneurship and explore the country??
You can't do everything at once
As I wrote this review of all the projects I have created and am doing I realised how much I have got going on whilst trying to be retired, reply to emails and enjoy the beautiful countries we are travelling to.
For years I have repeated to myself "You can't do everything at once."
You can't do everything at once but you can do one or two projects simultaneously and then move onto the next one after that. I have started to become a huge fan of sprint/project working. You choose a project, turn it into a fairly easily digestible size and then have a go at it.
I did this by recording just Season 1 of the podcast to see if I liked it. I did this with the movie giving myself a time frame to have a go and then reassess whether I liked it. I did a test with the blog and you will probably notice I go through periods of publishing a lot and then nothing for a while as I focus on other projects.
The one that doesn't fit into the model is the book. That is a binary project. You either write a book or you don't! lol
My question for you as you read this is "what is the next project you want to focus on?"
Can you turn it into a digestible project that you can have a go at around your business, around your job, around your family and make it happen?
It is ok to put things down for a while
I feel guilty for not finishing the movie project. My friends rib me a bit (and deservedly so as they put time and energy into helping me with the project) and every time they do I feel a pang of guilt for not finishing it off.
I want to give you, me and everyone else out there permission to put projects down sometimes. It is ok to take a pause; it is ok to not finish something if you have lost momentum or something else comes up.
I think in our culture we put some much pressure on ourselves to finish everything we started and this has negative consequences for our mental health and ability to change quickly and move onto different projects.
If you have been doing something for a while that is no longer serving you I give you permission to put it down. Not that you need my permission but sometimes hearing that can give you permission to do what you know you have been needing to do.
Going with the energy
Sometimes you get HUGE excitement for new projects that come along and want to start them immediately. When this happens something has to give because your life is already full.
It's not like you have 10 hours a week spare that you can dedicate to the new opportunity. Most of the the time we have to make a choice about what you want to do. Starting one thing means letting going or putting something else down.
As my friend Kristy from Millennial Revolution likes to say "If you say yes to one thing you are automatically saying no to everything else!"
If something comes up that gives you HUGE energy excitment maybe it is time to put an old project down and throw yourself into the new one.
Not flip flopping between things
There is a balance though; if you constantly move to the new & shiny thing you never complete any of your projects or put in the hours needed to actually become good at it.
Sometimes you lose motivation for a project and instead of changing to a new more exciting one you have to rediscover your why or reason for the project. Losing energy is not always a sign that you need to ditch the project; sometimes you just need a rest and to rediscover your motivation.
You don't get motivated to do things, you get motivated by doing things.
If there is a project you have that you want to push over the line you just have to start it. If you don't start it you will never find the motivation to complete it and there is tremendous value in the last 20 feet of a project.
Most people don't squeeze the value and learning out of their projects. They don't push till the end, do the last few actions and then reflect on what went well and what we have learnt. This can be were the true value of a project lies.
In the past I would run a Rebel Business School, put all my energy into promotion and then running an exceptional course but by the time the course itself was over I would have lost energy for the project. But a huge percentage of the project value lied in completing the feedback, reporting to the client and winning the next piece of business
There is a difference between going with the energy and flip flopping between projects without every finishing them.
How do you know the difference between a project that is ripe to be parked and something you just need to finish? This is a question I have been asking myself for a while and here are the questions I ask myself to help me decide:
Ask yourself these questions about the project you are thinking of ditching to see if you can re-connect with it before putting it on the back burner.
If you do put it on the back burner then it is not gone forever. My movie script has moved from active project to someday maybe. I have not got rid of it forever. I am still excited to find the week or two it takes to push it to the next level, for now the other projects come first!
Annual review doesn't have to be annual!
We as humans have a tendency to like to do things (arbitrarily) on certain dates. We celebrate certain birthdays more than others (ones ending with zeros), we like to do our finance meetings at the end of the month and we like to think about goals yearly.
These are completely arbitrary dates. What I mean by that is that we seem to wait till random times occur to do things we want to do.
Why do we have to wait till we have been married for 10 years to have a HUGE celebration? Why do we have to wait till the 1st of January to create and set goals that "should" last an entire year? Why do I have to wait till tomorrow morning to have breakfast? Why can't I have eggs benedict for dinner?
An annual review doesn't have to be for the end of the year. In fact I think goal setting and reviewing should be done every 3-6 months.
I also recorded an entire episode of the podcast all about how we conduct our annual reviews to help you to reflect and create.
Take a moment to think about what you want to do, where are you with your current projects, if it is time to stop something, park something or start something new! There is never a wrong time to reflect, think and find new energy.
What's next for Alan
Katie and I are deep in the process of doing our annual review questions and goal setting. It is the 6th of March and we are having great fun doing it. We have achieved and done so much already this year and now it is time to check we are on the track with where want to be and decide on some new goals to replace the ones we have finished.
We haven't finished yet but I have huge energy for making the following things happen this year:
What's next for the script?
I am open to suggestions on this one! If it was purely down to me I would probably park it for a while and come back to it when I have energy to finish it; but maybe you have a better idea? Maybe you want to read it? Maybe you know who I should speak to? If you have ideas please get in touch!
Tell me what you are up to
I would love to know what you are working on, what you are letting go of and where your energy is. Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think!
Have the most fabulous week and don't wait till a round number, random date or other special occasion to do something amazing. Seize the opportunity and do it now.
Thanks for reading