Music, the soundtrack to the journey of life

How music frames life and memories as we move through life

Music, its a funny old thing.

So emotive, ever changing. Its also how most of us express ourselves.

How we dress. What culture we follow. Our outlook on life. They are all traced back to music.

Through the course of our lives, the soundtrack changes with us.

Music can affect our mood and our memories.

In many ways its magic and that soundtrack can do many important things for us.

It trigger’s our memories

Music forms a bond to our memories in the brain.

A certain song for example can take us straight to a certain place in time.

Its a time stamp for the up’s, down’s and milestones of life.

When music triggers a memory, it can also trigger the emotions, sights and smells that go with it.

When we replay those memories in our minds, they are much stronger when linked to the music we are hearing.

This is one of the reasons that music can be effective in helping people with Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

It helps people connect to their memories and improves mood amongst other things.

It can shape our outlook on life

Life is unpredictable. Its a journey and an adventure.

Over a lifetime there are more up’s, down’s and bumps in the road than we can count.

When these changes happen in our lives. Music can be a great comfort.

The lyrics empathize with our situation, the music surrounds us and comforts us. It’s familiarity helps us to make sense of the big events in life.

Almost nothing else has the same effect on our mood and emotional state.

Our tastes expand and so does our outlook on life

As time marches on, the soundtrack to our lives evolves. The music we listen to changes.

We explore new genres, new artists, new formats.

When we do that, we also tend to explore the culture that goes with that new music.

As the soundtrack evolves so do our interests and our outlook on life.

Of course reading does the same thing, but music is the more accessible medium of the two.

Final thoughts

Music, its more than something we only listen to.

It adds color and context to our lives and gives us stronger bonds to our memories.

As we go through life, we have this great resource to help us navigate the journey.

When we get to the points where want to take a look behind us. That process can be greatly improved by using the soundtrack of our life to view those memories.

Lessons from the Silver Screen

Great life lesson’s from a movie called “Click”

Lessons from an Adam Sandler movie???

I know, I know…

In fairness it was a Sunday night and there was nothing else on Netflix we wanted to watch.

Christopher Walken is in the movie we thought we would give it a go.

Whats the worst that could happen right?

In the end although its not either actors crowning glory, it did provide us with some thoughts to take away and reflect on and some life lessons.

Not too often you get them in a 1hr 20 family comedy

Can you control life???

In the movie the basic premise is that with a magic remote control for your life, that this is possiblle to a certain extent.

So while there are no do-overs, you can fast forward on auto pilot through the bits of life you don’t like.

We see the main character hit the fast forward button through arguments, meetings, illness, work days.

The lesson: Live in the present, hit the fast forward button and all too soon life is over. Huge chunks of time can go by without you noticing.

Skip the small stuff and miss the big changes

As our character moves forward through life missing all the small “unimportant” stuff as he goes, more of his life is spent in fast forward.

By not living in the present he starts to miss the big changes and milestones in life.

Years pass by in a blur, loved ones die and family grows up and changes.

The lesson: Make time for the small stuff, and learn to enjoy it, it all adds up and adds color and context to the big changes in life as we experiance them.

Where’s the rewind button???

While we can spend too much time in fast forward mode, unfortunately for us in real life just like our lead character found in the movie their is no rewind button.

The lesson: We don’t get the chance for a do-over in life, its what we make of it the first and only time around.

What about a replay button then???

Luckily for us, we don’t need to be in a movie to have the advantage of a replay button.

That’s provided for us by the remote control that we have the ability to click in our brain.

The lesson: While we can’t go back and relive events we can replay them in our mind and learn from them.

Learning from our mistakes is surely one of the most powerful lessons we learn as children.

The power of that lesson should not be reduced as we grow older.


Life isn’t always simple, and of course there are times when we just wish we could hit the fast forward button.

However the joy of life is its many up’s, downs and challenges.

The things we enjoy, the things we learn to love, along with those parts of life we would rather not deal with, they all shape us amd make life what it is.

When things dont go so well, we don’t have a fast forward or rewind button.

What we have instead is a set of lessons we can learn and pass onto the next generation.

Watching them grow and being present for the small things that up to the big steps and changes in life is what counts.

The joy of life and of living is in the small stuff…

Remote Working

Could the digital nomad dream be about to open up to us all???

Is this is new normal???

Well if you are remote working right now, then yes this might be an option.

I’m not suggesting that everyone is going to be able to chase the 4 hour work week dream, but the new normal for many is going to be increased flexibility in terms of how and where we work.

We are returning to work, but not to the office

This is something that companies are really switching themselves onto.

Employees can start working again, but don’t need to be in the office environment.

The cost benefits for business are huge, albeit there is a crash coming for the commercial real estate sector.

As employees its also good news, we are not going to be limited to living and working in one place.

There might be some limitations on us to be working in a certain country or time zone for periods of time but the biggest change to working conditions in living memory, maybe even since the beginning of the industrial revolution 250 years ago is coming our way.

What can we expect???

At the moment that is still a little unclear, what we can say is that there will like every other change we go through, a period of adjustment along with positives and negatives.

The negatives are likely to be around:

  • Pay structures being flattened out as employees no longer need to live and work in expensive areas (We already see face book being brutal here and others will follow)
  • Expat assignments ending — Unless you have a critical role that needs to be face to face in country, the days of expat assignments and the advantages that come with them are going to end
  • Tying in essentially a whole office and everything that this contains to your home at your expense.

Like any big change with the negatives comes the positives, which in this case are likely to be around:

  • Flexible work schedule
  • No or much less commuting
  • Greater flexibility to travel
  • More than 1 career at anytime

It will be different for everyone, but one thing is for sure change is coming, and fast.

Making the most of the opportunity

As usual the folks who are most comfortable with change, who are optimistic and see the opportunities to be grabbed will make a succesful transition.

If you have been happy working from home and/or if its always been the dream to pursue life as a digital nomad, now might just be a good time to start working up the plans for how you would do that.

Final thoughts

The early bird catches the worm as they say.

Change is coming fast, for some of us it is already here, I know of at least 12 companies allowing their employees to travel (restricted today of course) and work today, albeit for trade off in pay or benefits.

This is not going to go away, and as businesses look to save costs in order to recover from the disaster that has been 2020 so far.

If you really want to be a digital nomad but need the security of a salary, your time may well have come.

The Power of Habits

Can you make or break a Habit in 90 days

The 90 day rule

There is a school of thought that says you can both break an existing habit or form a new habit in 90 days.

As humans we are of course creatures of habit as they say and a habit is an incredibly powerful thing for us.

So does this 90 day rule exist???

Yes & No

Can you effect change in your life in 90 days? Absolutely

Is it possible to make or break a habit in 90 days? Yes

Is that always the case? No

As with anything in life, the result is determined by the effort you put into it.

Rinse and Repeat

Whether it takes 90 days or 900 days, following through every day or rinse and repeat daily is the key.

Consistency is the key to making it, that’s the only things that works.

Final Thoughts

The truth is that anything is possible in life even changing or forming habits.

Our only limitation is our own thoughts. Turning up each and every day is what makes the seemingly impossible possible.

Does this 90 day rule hold up? Well if you are committed and work hard enough then yes it is, anything is possible if we show up and work hard enough to make the goal happen.

Habits are powerful things for us Humans, whether they are good or bad.

The possibility to break out of them, or to form new ones is there, it just takes hard work and dedication.

Using Vision Boards How to set visual guides to achieve your goals

Image by Canva

What is a Vision Board?

Its a collection of images, pictures and sometimes motivational quotes and aspirations, which are typically glued onto a simple board and set up somewhere in your home where you can see them.

The images and pictures should be things that are linked to your goals. For example they could be:

  • Images that make you feel good, and reinforce the way you want to feel.
  • Images of the way you want to your health to be
  • Images of the home you want
  • Images of a goal you want to achieve like writing your own book
  • Images of a vacation spot you want to visit
  • Images of an educational goal
  • Images of an event you would like to attend

Really anything linked to any of your life goals can go on the visual board.

The quotes and aspirations can be either linked to you goals or can be motivational to help keep you going towards those goals, there are no rules here.

Whats the purpose?

Did you know that visualisation is one of the most powerful mind exercises that you can do?

Essentially the vison board, is a prompt to help achieve your goals through visualization of them.

Because the board is set up somewhere that you can see it often maybe in the bedroom or living room for example, you eye see it often which means that subconsciously your visualizing your goals often. Your also experiencing the feeling of accomplishment or realization of those goals.

This is turn triggers your thoughts towards your goals and sets up powerful connections between your goals and the thoughts and action of success in the brain.

Athletes have been using these techniques for decades to help them improve their performance.

Studies have shown that a weightlifter for example using this technique has the same brain patterns when lifting weights as they do when visualizing lifting the weights.

If we have no mental barriers to sucess and accomplishment in life, it means the physical barriers are much easier to overcome.

Again there are no rules here, whatever works for you is best.

Final thoughts

There are lots of tools and techniques out there to help us with our goals, whatever those goals may be in life.

Vision boards are certainly one of the tools that we can use to build success and have the following advantages:

  • Easy to set up
  • Utilize the power of the brain and its association with visual guides
  • Take very little time to maintain, since the brain sees the goals often and goes through the mind exercise of visualization subconsciously

Im not suggesting that the vision board is the one and only solution you ever need to help achieve whatever goals you may have in life, however it is a low mainteance high impact tool which can help along the way.

This week I’ll be sharing some more on the other tools I use to help set me up for success in life, however what I will say on the Vision Board is that I use it daily and it definitely helps me keep going especially when I’m in need of some motivation.

Learning a new Language

It can be easier than you might think

No Language is perfect and neither are we, but the courses tell us otherwise

Languages are a great skill to master for everything from training and exercising your brain, to making travel and social interaction much more enjoyable.

The problem is that most of the time, we can find them so damn difficult to learn. Sure there are some extremely talented folks out there, that just need 10 minutes in a culture and they learn the lingo, but for a lot of us myself included that’s not the case.

Im a big believer in at least learning the basics, like yes, no, please, thank you, hello, goodbye, the essential 2 beers please and since im childish, the best swear words.

My work involves a lot of travel, meeting and working with different crews of people with different cultures and languages, many of them speak English as a second or third language, so having these basics in the bank works very well, and has helped improve my people skills.

Over the last 3 years, Ive been based in Central Asia which on the surface is for the most part easy in terms of language, just learn Russian, one language which is universally spoken as a first language across the region.

The difficulty is, well its Russian, for the most part a complex, intimidating and well just really difficult language to learn.

This is the first problem in the way that we are taught to tackle languages, we are taught that they are intimidating and difficult to master, as humans we tend to overthink and over analyze learning tasks and so this new language gets built up to be some kind of invincible monster.

The second problem I have found is that most language courses are looking for perfection and teach a classical clean version of the language. In reality that’s not the way it works each, language is modified by its users.

As an example im from the North East of Scotland so while I speak English, I really have to think about what I’m saying and the structure when I need to speak classical English the way its taught, the real world just isn’t like that, if your not a native English speaker and you spend enough time with me, you will speak English the same way I do. (If you ever bump into a Kazakh who speaks Doric the NE Scottish version of English I probably know them).

Trying to learn this classical version of the language your trying to master can be a nightmare, again it builds up the difficulty and intimidation factor and means it takes far longer to get confident in the language.

The third problem is there is a lot of focus on reading the language, which can be really challenging if the characters aren’t Latin. Again having to learn to read the language immediately builds up builds up the difficulty and intimidation factor and means it takes far longer to get confident in the language.

Especially when there are really good instant text translation apps which are free to use, this is just uneesecary for the learner today, although if I was being cynical I’d say its a great hook to keep us paying for tuition for longer.

OK so what’s the solution?

The good news is that there are other ways to do this, we can make it much easier for ourselves to learn any language. We just need to re-adjust to the viewpoint that just as no language is perfect, we ourselves do not need to be perfect fluent speakers in that language.

Intimidation factor — This is the one thing that makes learning a language so bloody difficult, the thought of the complexity of the task gets into your head, so start with the low hanging fruit.

  • 5 minutes per day with the basics — To begin with just learn the very basics yourself online or on a free language podcast. 5 minutes learning, hello, goodbye, please, thank you etc. will give you confidence in yourself, keep going just with those until you have mastered them.
  • Write the words phonetically — On paper or a prompt card, write the word the way it sounds and include a description, again don’t spend hours doing this, just as you learn and get comfortable with the word, get it on a card in this way, not the way its written in the language your learning, but the way it sounds in your language eg, hello in Russian is Privet, but the sound is Pre, Vet when written in English. Being able to match the word to the sound it makes is much easier to digest than a bunch of letters that make no sense to you
  • Aim for the way word sounds, not perfect pronunciation — Almost no native speaker will speak with perfect pronunciation, local modification of the language sees to that. A part of the intimidation factor with a language is that we are taught that we need have perfect pronunciation before we can speak the language and that’s simply not true. All you need is that a native speaker can understand you
  • Don’t be afraid to talk like a cartoon caveman — What I mean by that is don’t be afraid to miss words out, simplify the language and your sentences as much as you to build confidence and add to your skills as you build confidence, eg, Can you tell me where the nearest restroom is?, this could be simplified to hello, where is nearest bathroom? No one will laugh at you, people will just be happy in general to help out or have a conversation with someone who took the time to try and learn their language. As you build confidence and your skill in the language build up your sentences.
  • Watch TV in that language — Pick your favorite shows or movies and stick the subtitles on for context. This immerses you in the language when you don’t have access to a native speaker, it helps build your recognition of the language and phrases, don’t underestimate the power of that.
  • Learn to count in that language — Start with 1 to 5 then 5 to 10 etc. go as slowly as you feel comfortable with but learn the numbers, once you have those down you can learn to do simple arithmetic in your chosen language, this helps you to think in that language and is a game changer quite honestly. I use this as an exercise 5 minutes before I start my learning for the day and it gets me in the zone.
  • Don’t worry about reading it — In the beginning you don’t need to be able to read the language, you have a translation app to help you available for free on your phone, use that instead, let you brain focus on one task, learning how to speak. Over time your brain will recognize words and start to put it all together for you reading wise, but don’t focus on it. Your brain is truly amazing, so relax, don’t overload it, and let this come naturally because it will.

If like me you struggle with languages but have a real need to learn or are just curious and want to make a start with a new skill, try some of these tips, its taken me long time to get to a point where im comfortable with Russian, almost 3 years actually, but since ive used these 7 tips day to day for the last 3 or 4 months, Ive developed more than I had the previous 2 years.

Languages don’t need to be intimidating or complex, we just need a strategy to kill the intimidation factor at the beginning and use simple tools and tricks to keep us going.

Its like anything else we want to learn or improve at, small steps taken daily build up like compound interest in the brain and lead to something great, the trick is to make it simple, fun and to keep going.