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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Why am I sad? Because I just had a huge argument with Katie, my wife. She is the love of my life and people always compliment us on how strong our relationship is; but we are just two normal humans that have problems too.
We have figured out a lot. We have figured out how to build businesses, how to get to financial independence and we have been working on communication and self-development for decades but we still don't know it all. We still have problems, arguments and issues just like everyone.
Why am I telling you this? I think it is important to realise no one is perfect and we are all trying our hardest.
Changing countries doesn't fix problems
We became nomadic in 2020 (worst timing ever) and have travelled around the world ever since. One of the biggest things I have realised is that wherever I go, there I am. I am the same person with the same neuroses, problems and ways of thinking whether I am on the beach in Mexico, the snow of Germany or the mountains of Colombia.
Changing countries won't fix my problems. Sure it gives me an adrenaline boost, distracts me, fascinates me and gives me energy but at the end of the day I am still me, just in a different location. You can't expect to swap countries, move homes, change relationships or get new clients just to fix your problems.
You are who you are no matter where you are or who you are working with. The key to progress is working on yourself.
People think that getting to financial independence will solve all their problems, that making lots of money and building a business will make them happy and I can tell you with 100% certainty it will not, on it's own.
First you need to work on yourself. Your commination, your mindset, your beliefs, your health. If you get that right then it won't matter in the same way if you are in the grey skies of England, the snow of Germany or the sun and tacos of Mexico. You will find happiness wherever you are.
We (the Donegans) still have arguments wherever we are. This morning we managed to have an argument under the palm trees in the jacuzzi looking over the bay of Banderas, Puerto Vallarta. If you can have an argument here you can have an argument anywhere! lol
Sometimes the most important thing you can do is stop trying to change everything else around you and start working on yourself. The more you work on your confidence, mindset and self-belief the stronger, more resilient and happier you will become no matter where you are.
If we can argue under the palm trees of Mexico then we can argue anywhere. The problem is not the location, it is us. That is where we have to focus.
The biggest gift you can give other people
The biggest gift you can give other people is your happiness. The biggest gift I can give you is my happiness. The biggest gift you can give me is your happiness.
If we were to hang out and you were full of energy, happiness, charisma and confidence how do you think that would make me feel? You would light me up too!
If you came to hang out with Katie and I and we had just had an argument, we were down, sad and feeling like we wanted to hide; what experience would you have hanging out with us?
All this is not to say that we should hide our problems and fake our happiness to make you feel better. No! When you are down you must share it with the people that care about you, figure it out, work on it and work to get back to happiness.
This is just to say that my happiness is my biggest gift to you. If I am happy, full of juice and ideas I can help you solve anything, we can have fun, we will enjoy our time together.
The biggest gift I can give Katie is my happiness. If I work on my happiness, my confidence, my passion then I can give her more. If I am down and moping around I am not going to be a nice experience for her.
What I want more than anything is Katie's happiness. If she is happy, bubbling and full of beans then it makes me feel warm inside. Her happiness lifts me up and it is a positive reinforcing spiral of happiness. The happier she gets the more it lifts me.
What are you doing this week to work on your happiness for the people around you? What can you do to work on your confidence this week?
If it was easy everyone would do it
Sometimes our arguments come from what we are doing. Katie and I are selling our properties, working on Rebel Finance School and more. If you want to know what we have been up to then check out my movie script update here.
Working to get to financial independence, building a business or raising a family is tough. Be easy on yourself when things go wrong. This is one I need to work on. I need to be kinder to both of us when things go wrong.
We keep repeating to ourselves "If it was easy everyone would do it"
We have chosen a more strenuous path than the standard path in life. We choose to stand out, to build businesses, to work on financial independence, to travel and more. This brings challenges which are part of the joy and also sometimes part of the stress that brings us down.
If it was easy to build a business everyone would be doing it. Be kind to yourself and those around you on the journey. If it was easy to get to financial independence everyone would have done it, be kind to yourself and those around you on the journey. If it was easy to lead a successful and happy life then EVERYONE would be doing it, be kind to yourself on your journey to whatever success means to you.
Don't compare your insides to other people's outside
Part of the reason for sharing this story with you is that I think people get an unrealistic idea of who we, the Donegans, actually are. If you were to look at our Facebook posts you would see smiling faces, huge breakfasts and endless chat about finances.
We are normal human beings (although Katie would argue I am not that normal!). We have ups and downs, we cry, we argue and we fight. Shit goes wrong, I swear and get angry, I experience negative emotions and things get tough. This is normal life.
You would never know this by looking at our Instagram page or Facebook. You would see endless happiness and assume we are the "perfect" couple. We aren't; by a LONG stretch. Perfect doesn't exist. We all have ups and downs.
If you ever feel down that you aren't good enough, you aren't doing as well as those around you, you haven't made as much progress as others I want you to remember this expression; don't compare your insides to other people's outsides.
What I mean by that is sometimes we get upset, we feel down etc. and then we look around and believe everyone else is happy and leading the perfect life. And if you looked at the outside of these people's lives you would believe that to be true. But we don't know what is going on inside their lives!
Unless I had just told you we had a fight and upset each other you would never have known. You would have looked at our Facebook page and see the latest pictures of the Donegans whale watching and imagined us as eternally happy. We aren't always, we are human too.
Stop comparing your life to what is on Instagram and other places. That is a fake representation of other people's lives. You can't look at those and compare what is going on in your world with what is posted.
Stop comparing your insides to other people's outsides.
Your focus needs to be on your own confidence and happiness. This is the biggest gift you can give to the world. Imagine if we were all confident and happy!
This is sometimes an understatement. Things go wrong, things happen, arguments occur because of misunderstandings, mis-communication or lack of confidence. Things are going to go wrong in life.
After our argument this morning the most important thing is not that we fell out for a while but how we respond to that. How we work to overcome it, learn from it and grow stronger together from it. Shit is going to happen; but what is truly important is how you will respond to it.
This week things are going to go wrong for you and me. Mostly things are going to go right but our human brains don't notice that, we only seem to notice the things that go wrong and then we are going to focus in on them.
These things are going to happen and the question I have for you is how are you going to respond? How are you going to react to them?
After our argument I journaled about what happened, what was said and how we both responded. Katie and I talked about it, we worked through it (in tears) to try and find out what happened so we could learn from it. It was uncomfortable, painful and we both wanted to run away but we did it so that we could learn together. Our relationship is worth going through the tough moments for.
We could run away from it, pretend like nothing happened or we can do the more painful thing and work through it to try and learn together. One thing I am 100% certain of is that Katie has my best interests at heart and I have hers. This means that I can trust that if we work together we are trying to figure things out to make them better not just to work out who is to blame.
Blame NEVER helps. It doesn't matter who is right or wrong. What matters is what we can learn from this together so that we can be happier in the future.
if something goes wrong, if something bad happens, if you have an argument with someone try and figure out what happened and what you can learn from the situation. If you can learn something from the bad stuff that happens then all of a sudden it becomes a valuable learning tool to help you improve your life and those around you.
The important thing is progress
Things are going to go wrong, we are going to make mistakes and NONE of us are perfect. When things do wrong the universe is presenting you with a learning opportunity.
Nearly everything that happens to you has something that we can learn from it, the challenge is finding that lesson, learning it and then moving on quickly. This is my business partner Simon's favourite question he likes to ask me when something goes wrong or I am annoyed. He waits a little bit until I have ranted and calmed down but I always know it is coming. He always asks "What was this sent to teach you?"
If the same thing goes wrong again and again then I would start to ask the questions "What is the lesson here that I haven't yet learnt!" The universe keeps sending me this problem, what do I need to learn from it.
Sometimes it is a person that you have continuous problems with and then the question becomes "What was this person sent to teach me!?" What do I need to learn here?
Sometimes there isn't anything much to learn and it was the other person being a ass, but this is the rare occasion. If they were just an ass then you can move on quickly but I would still reflect on "what can I do differently to avoid this problem?"
What is the point without happiness
Sometimes I wonder if you read my non-money, non-business posts and think "Alan, whatever, get me back to the tips, finance stuff and business ideas!"
I know this is me projecting my own insecurities onto you. So this next paragraph is for both of us.
There is no point having a successful business, financial independence or complete freedom if you don't have happiness and love.
The other things are important and as you read this I hope you can hear Katie screaming "IT'S NOT BINARY!". You don't have to be poor and happy or rich and unhappy you can have both. Both are important; but happiness is the most important.
Take these thoughts, ideas and actions and work on your happiness. It is the biggest gift you can give me and the world.
What are you going to do this week to work on your happiness?
Thank you for reading this, thank you for being a Rebel with me and thank you for working on your happiness for me.