The Flow – how to focus and work consistently for hours on end

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience was Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian-American psychologist, where he theorized the concept of flow – a state of mind conducive to an acute focus on productivity.

Focus on studying and working

A theory by a psychologist “The concept of flow” with 4 steps

1. define a daily goal at the micro level (the daily goal) and at the macro level (what’s the overall goal) to be accomplished. Without this, you’ll be easily distracted and will be lost in what needs to complete to reach your goal. To help you reach this, assess what is reachable, and determine goals (“Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience,” 1990).

2. The goal and task need to be challenging enough. If the challenge is really low and your skills are really high, then you’ll be bored. And if the challenges are too high and your skills are too low, then you’ll be too anxious which may hinder you to complete tasks. A person enters into flow when the task is challenging enough for the skill set you have. And then you enter into this positive feedback loop, when the challenge increases then so does your skill increase, and when your skills increase then you need a higher challenge. And because you get a higher challenge, your skills increase and this is exactly what flow is.

3. Distraction kills flow. Get rid of your phone for that time of work, study, etc.

4. Inducing flow is not an easy task. You have to build into the state of flow. When you do it daily, it becomes easier to induce.


Flow: the psychology of optimal experience. (1990). Choice Reviews Online, 28(01), 28–0597.

Why Most People Never Reach Financial Success

The following points are from the perspective of what it takes to start and maintain a successful business. Business ownership and financial wealth have a strong correlation. Below, I list observable challenges and such attributes that I have learned to acquire to get where I am today. After each segment, I add what I needed to do to get on board with these attributes.

1) The environment and its challenges.
If you’re a single mother with two children, for example, it’s much more difficult to reach financial wealth than a single person with no children or a married couple without children that have STEM degrees and makes over $300,000 in combined income. I waited until I was 41 years old to have children. It took me a while to get into a financially stable situation.

2) Direction.
What path to take, and believe that is the best path to wealth. Most millionaires take, on average, 15 to 20 years to reach their status. This is because there are trials and errors in the process. Though educational, Some of those errors cost a lot of time and money, which many can’t afford. Reading many books and/or getting degrees in lucrative fields are, in general, good paths, but then again, both of these require a lot of time and/or money. I studied psychology in college. After realizing that I didn’t have a passion for the field and that my base salary barely paid my rent, I re-enrolled in college and studied computer science. The outcome of this new direction was that I was able to start a business, which increased my income. 

3) Discipline and perseverance.
It requires a lot of discipline to acquire wealth. This starts with a goal and a game plan and sticking with them through thick and thin. Most of this is taught at home. This is also where your environment affects your outcome. I’ve had my eyes on being in business for nearly a decade. It was baked into every career choice I made until, finally, I was an independent software developer and then a hotel owner. It was not uncommon for me to work 10–12 hour days, sometimes 7 days a week. 

4) Ownership.
This is fourth but trumps all of the other three. Take full ownership of your life. You are the owner of your life and what you do has a direct effect on where you’re currently at in life. If you acquired bad disciplinary skills growing up, and you blame your parents for this and you are now an adult, then why are you still blaming your parents if they are no longer educating you? Education, no matter what age, never stops. You take your own education into your own hands and make the changes you need to gear yourself for success. This was kind of an eye-opener in that I’ve read it in several financial books. It has really helped me reassess my bad habits and stay the course. I incorporated a mentality that if I didn’t like how things were going, it had to do with the decisions I’ve made and/or the efforts I’ve placed. I was the cause and effect of my world.

5) Masochism and Resilience.
Most of us humans naturally tend to gear towards ease and stay away from pain. Are most humans millionaires? Statistics to date state we are a rare bunch. You have to be willing to do what most will not or do not do. You have to maintain a high threshold for pain and psychological uncertainty. In other words, you have to acquire a taste for masochism. Masochism translates into working long hours, working an additional two to five hours after you get off your full-time job, researching for hours on end, networking and getting out of your comfort zone, risk your life’s savings if you really believe in your service/product, and if you fail, be willing to do it all over again. I once started a paintball park business. In order to complete the project, I had to invest all my savings. Four months later, I lived in a van for the next 8 months. I learned from my mistakes and continued my entrepreneurial journey in other businesses.

6) Patience.
As mentioned before, it took most millionaires 15 to 20 years to reach their goal. They had the patience and maintained the course to get what they wanted. They took incremental steps and daily sacrifices without any gratification. Building wealth is a slow and gradual process that requires a lot of focus. It has taken me about 20 years to get where I am at. I currently have assets in the stock market, own two multi-unit apartments, 15 acres of land, and a beach hotel. This was done slowly and incrementally with a focus on investing and starting businesses.

Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic, Are We Experiencing the New Universal Basic Income?

The only way for a universal basic income (UBI) to be funded would be through raising taxes – substantially. There I said it! It was simple. No one really debates this topic since the idea of raising taxes is very unpopular. And this is just a start. Since taxes are the government’s real source of income. The national debt continues to rise to make things even more difficult to fund something like UBI. And then you have a situation where the US is a debtor to China and Japan- approximately 37% of the US public debt via bonds. The debt was pretty bad in the 1940s due to WW2, however, the debt was an investment to stimulate the economy. Franklin D. Roosevelt raised spending but also raised taxes. The important distinction here is that he raised taxes to balance the debt. However, we are currently reaching those heights without a crisis such as WW2 and now that we have COVID-19 we can expect a much higher debt since it was already at an all-time high just prior to the pandemic.

Much of this has to do with political parties in their management of fiscal policies. “During the Clinton administration, there was an official surplus of $419 billion during fiscal years 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001” Balanced budget amendment. (23 April 2020) while Republicans tend to be viewed as fiscal conservatives (based on research it seems further from the truth). If you look at the US debt under Bush it skyrocketed because Bush gave tax cuts and increased spending in an unpopular war. Most of these tax cuts were aimed at benefiting the wealthy. Wars tend to add to the US debt (both Bush presidencies started wars). Republicans overall tend to be war-prone. And then the Obama Administration had to deal with the Great Recession and the housing crisis where he then injected stimulus further increasing the US debt, however, this seems to be the right move to getting the economy back in action as it seemed to have worked. The federal government actually made a profit with the business loans. And then came Trump Administration taking over while there was a booming economy and did the same thing Bush did – tax cuts without cutting spending and further increased the national US Debt. I don’t find any particular reason the economy needs this tax cut except to gain further political popularity among Trump’s base supporters which further placed the country in greater debt.

And then there’s the situation with the baby boomers retiring. What’s worse than tax cuts is social security and Medicare taking the biggest piece of the government income pie. These are the two entities that are growing out of control as far as spending and it’s getting worse every year. The US is the only advanced economy where the debt relative to GDP is to continue growing. It’ll be like Greece’s and Italy’s debt situation. Only these two countries had the European Union to bail them out. Nobody is going to bail out the US it’s “too huge” (Trump’s version).

The US has an AAA credit rating giving investors confidence in buying US bonds which may now be at risk. Here’s where it gets dangerous. At the rate of accrued debt, in less than 10 years from now, 1/5 of all federal taxes will go to interest payments. That’s 20% of the government’s income that is taken away for defense, infrastructure, education, etc… and that’s with low-interest rates. If the interest rates increase, it gets worse. If the debt continues to rise over GDP then the US will not be able to pay its bills that include bonds to investors (china/japan and US), national security, social services, etc.

To get out of the growing debt, the US will have to restructure two of the most financially degenerative entities: medicare and social security. The issues with Medicare and social security have been a heated political debate for decades. To address the problems with Medicare, the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit seems to be a promising move in the right direction. However, that alone will not be the silver bullet. Either income taxes would need to be raised to twice their current amount or sales taxes to approximate a 30% hike. In order to address social security, in addition to the income or sales tax hike, raising the retirement age to 70-plus would be needed.

Even though the Universal Basic Income idea seems like a good plan for some, dealing with the US debt would have to come first. Most of the initiatives that combat the US debt tend to be politically unpopular. Eventually, a US President will be forced to deal with these really unpopular obstacles and major change is going to be needed. I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of such a US President.

Need Motivation? Think Again ..

Motivation, for me, serves as a catalyst to get things rolling, and to take that initial leap into the challenging unknown. I’m usually very excited and motivated to take on a new challenge whether it be a new business endeavor or learning a new skill that may take months or if not years to acquire. After the motion is set in place and the daily grind is felt, the motivation withers away.

The only thing that gets me through the challenge is a conscious thought- a repetitive voice in my head stating “You gotta get through this. There’s no other way. Stopping would be an utter failure. What’s wrong with you get moving get busy, now!! Stop thinking and start doing. Forget what you don’t like! You’ll get nowhere focusing on these negative thoughts!” It sounds schizophrenic but it works like having horse blinders that help steer your focus looking forward towards your goal.

There will be many days, the majority of them actually, where I want nothing to do with the objective I’m trying to accomplish. What I do is chip at it day by day. Some days will be very productive and some days I’ll be dragging my feet with very little things getting done even though I may spend hours on it. If I work at it every day, then eventually success is reached. You will eventually get to your destination. The outcome is usually more than worth it and it will add considerable value to your life.

Keep in mind that if it were easy it probably would not be valuable. Motivation is not the main ingredient to success. It is a conscious decision to complete your daily objectives and long-term goals. It is a conscious decision to do and continue doing every day until it gets done.

Too Old To Start Programming?

In the Fall of 2002, I started taking my first computer science class at 29 and then three years later landed my first tech job at 32. It took me a bit to grasp computer programming since I was traveling when possible and working a full-time job in an unrelated field. All while taking computer science courses at a community college.

A year later at 33, I became a freelance web developer, circa 2006. In 2011 at the age of 38, I accepted a job offer with the Walt Disney Company as a Web Developer working in a large team of engineers and QA. Some of my coworkers were younger and some were older. It was not really an issue and I learned a lot in that environment. Our team leader who is the person that is one step higher in the hierarchy of developers was probably in his late 50’s maybe early 60s and had been a tech manager at Yahoo prior to being at Disney. He had been a Java developer all his career. We never saw him as old. We respected him for his leadership and mastery of his skillset.

I have since gone into a different field and bought a hotel with the money I made as a software developer. However, I still write code and have built software to better run my business operations. At 47, I’m currently evolving my business’s app which is a POS reservation management system used by my team. Just recently, I updated my skillsets in Java Spring Boot.

Technology has become a fundamental part of our daily lives such that you can end up using it for your personal use or for your business. I have even been contemplating placing my business under a management team and go work in the industry to better refine my tech skill. It’s never too late. What really matters is your contribution. I believe most software developers would rather work with a 50-something-year-old competent developer than a 25-year-old “hot rod” that knows too much.

You Hate your Boss and Want to Start a Business

Before quitting because you loathe working for your boss or working for anyone period, changing your perspective of working for someone can be beneficial for the future business you plan to start.

Have a game plan of what can help you succeed in your business endeavors. Choose to work in an industry you would like to do business in. If it requires academic talent such as technical skills, marketing, accounting, etc., take courses to bring you up to speed. Nowadays there are many options with online courses and certifications. You no longer need a 4-year degree to get your foot in the door.

You can start by working for someone or a company you admire and want to emulate. Learn how they do things, learn how managers operate, and study their management styles, and their leadership. Learn what they do to get business walking through the door. How do they formulate marketing campaigns? What do they do when revenue and cash flow dries up? How do managers and team leaders motivate their teams to go above and beyond?

As a business person, you will encounter all these obstacles and more. Turn your job into a college education in the school of hard knocks. Working for other people may be a bad experience only when you don’t realize the potential it can give you in return. Even if you have a mean grumpy boss, learn what made them that way. There’s usually a history that can be enlightening. You will have good leaders and bad ones. Learn from the bad ones as well. Learn what not to do and all while being on the other side of the aisle.

I now have my own business and I regret not working more frequently for other talented people. The bosses I did work for, which at the time I dreaded, have been the most influential in how I execute my business. I did not realize at the time that I was going to be using their tactics and leadership skills to execute my business. I only realized once I was in their shoes. With the right frame of mind, it is precious information.

If your end game is to be in business for yourself, then this is a good way to kill two birds with one stone – making money you can put towards your future business and learning the ropes in a real-world scenario. If you can, work for free if it allows you to get closer to the person that makes the decisions. You can study how they operate. Studying and picking the mind of the decision-maker in a successful company would be an invaluable educational experience. You can’t get this type of education at a university and by the time you start your own business it’ll be too late.

$100 an Hour as a Software Developer?

I hear and see a lot of video blogs hyping that you can earn $100 or even $300 an hour freelance in the tech industry as a software developer. My question is: if they’re preaching that this hourly rate can be charged, why aren’t they doing it? If I were making $100 to $300 an hour writing software as a freelancer (being my own boss) I’d be doing just that and not writing on this blog. I freelanced for 5 years using the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) and its related frameworks (when it was very popular amongst developers and corporations).

I worked hard and constantly searched for good-paying clients. I had a variety of clients but none came close to a $100/hr mark. The closest I got was $60/hr and these clients were far in between and rare. It is simple math. Clients that can afford to pay a rate of $100/hr are mid to large-size companies. Most companies that can afford this rate hire full-time developers who can have better oversight over the development/project. I’m not saying $100/hr clients don’t exist but they are very rare. After 5 years of freelancing, I grew tired of chasing work and not being financially stable.

I was hired as a software developer by a Fortune 500 Company making $100,000 per year. It was a relief to finally have a lucrative position and stable income. I really enjoyed freelancing, but the income inconsistency and less-than-favorable hourly rate wore me down. You’re more likely to succeed as a freelancer if you take yourself out of the writing the code equation, hire a coder to do the coding and you focus on building a client list. I learned this a little too late in my freelancing career.

With the money I made in freelancing and saved at the Fortune 500 Company position, I have since then bought a hotel in the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. I still do a bit of software development for our in-house POS system. Overall, $100/hr as a freelancer sounds like a dream job. The only problem is that more times than not, it is too good to be true.

Duplex Vs. Fourplex – What is a Better Investment?

My situation may be a little different than most but many can possibly relate. At the time of buying our rental properties, we had a business that depended heavily on our input- this is now bettering since we’ve been working on implementing business systems for the past year. And that business was in another country where we had to live in order to run it. As a result, we had little flexibility logistically.

These two factors made it extremely difficult to get our duplex property rehabbed and ready for rent with the budget we had in mind. Also, I realized that I wanted to follow the criteria of what was working and avoid what was not. I realized that even though our fourplex was having a lot of problems receiving rent from the inherited tenants and going through several evictions in the process, the cash flow was still positive. The fourplex proved to be much more resilient through hard times compared to the duplex we had (a separate rental-ready duplex).

Both properties went through hard times as far as receiving rent from tenants, and yet at the end of the day, the fourplex, having only owned it for no more than two years, was more than half paid off while the duplex, also owning it for nearly 2 years, we were negative $3,000 plus the purchase price. I soon realized that the amount of cost and work to get a newly bought duplex that needed full rehabbing up to speed was no longer feasible for our criteria in investing. It was time to jettison the unnecessary dead weight unpleasant from our portfolio. And so we sold it.

The duplex sold for $12,016.88. We purchased it for the sale price of $7,600 sometime in the middle of 2017. It was one of our first properties and we had big expectations with plans of getting our hands dirty, creating some forced appreciation, and then renting the two units out. It all made sense and we were eager to start! Nearly two years later, we realized that we had bitten off more than we can chew.

By the end of this sale we had reached an expense amount of $16,561.49 not taking into account flights, hotel, and gas (difficult to determine since we have other properties to apply these expenses). The final payment amount was $10,061.86 a check we deposited with the Bank of America mobile app while abroad. We sustained a loss of $6,474.63. This is the cost for the tuition of “The University of Hard Knocks.”

There are so many things we would have done differently knowing what we know now. Had we done things differently, I believe we would have come out ahead financially in this deal. There was a lot to like about this deal, but we took the wrong direction and it got way over our heads. But finally, we were able to sell this diamond in the rough and once and for all stitch up the hole in our pocket.

Buying Your First Rental Property

During the time of purchasing one of my first duplexes, I didn’t know what to really look out for. Things like the water service coming from the street were still lead piping and it was leaking. Any rehabbing that would take place and the city inspector would have requested me to replace it. That job would have cost thousands. I didn’t get the sewer laterals inspected. It wasn’t an issue in this case because I never got to the point of renting the units but it could have been.

I didn’t factor in the cost of new furnaces and the ductwork which tends to be expensive. All these things and the cost associated with them would have made me think twice. However, even if we had replaced all this we still would be between $30k to $40k for a duplex. That’s not too bad. I think the bigger mistake was starting to gut everything thinking we can rehab a duplex in little time and keep costs as low as possible for us doing it.

We spent a couple of thousand dollars just in the gutting-out process. Then we added a new 220-volt electrical system. That alone cost thousands of dollars. Instead of adding all these overhead costs. I believe we could have not put any money into major upgrades, and instead clean it, paint it, do some cosmetic work, fix some holes in the wall, place some peel it flooring, get a new vanity and mirror in the bathrooms and put it back in the market for sale. I think we would have made at least a 20% return at the end of the day.

Right after purchasing one of our first duplexes, we got ourselves in somewhat of another mess with a bigger property- 12 units building. Fortunately, an investor bought the 12-plex and has a mortgage with us due to be paid off within a year. If things work out according to plan we’ll be able to lessen the losses and use the remaining funds for other deals. Another blow from the lessons of hard knocks! We also learned a lot going through this deal.

Entrepreneur, What Does It Take to be One?

Nearly 8 years ago, I had a net worth of about $20,000. Not much being in my late 30’s. I was an independent software developer with a small pool of somewhat reliable clients. Most of my time was used writing software and then looking for clients which would sometimes last a month or two to find.

I enjoyed this nomadic do-what-I-want-with-my-day type of lifestyle but it was costing me something I wasn’t really acknowledging: I was aging and my net worth was not going anywhere. Being a freelance contractor was not a scalable career- at least not the way I was running it.

So one day an opportunity fell in my lap to buy a hotel in a remote Caribbean beach town in Costa Rica called Puerto Viejo. The down payment was manageable. I’d be nearly broke after the down payment but I was optimistic. So I packed my bag and became a new hotel owner in the Caribbean.

I can get into the ins and out of running a hotel in the tropics but what I want to focus on here is what it has taken for me to survive and strive in this business which I think applies to all businesses- and that is being an entrepreneur in your business. By definition; an entrepreneur is a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so. And this is how I needed to operate to maintain a financially functional running business.

Having a business has taught me many things but more than anything it’s problem-solving on all fronts. You’re thrown an array of challenges; some problems arrive all at the same time, some in a serial sequence, and some will take years to resolve. Since the issues can range from anything from financial security to government policy your best tools are reading as many books and taking as many courses as you can on any subject that relates to the obstacle(s) that lies ahead; and maintaining a strong will in perseverance and resilience.

Financially, you’ll most likely be better off than working the good ole 9-to-5. Just a quick review of the tax codes and you’ll see that it is in your favor to own a business. That is already a good financial head start. This year I will be focusing heavily on technology, marketing, and business systems as they are all at the forefront in relevance to your business.

If you can consume information and utilize it in an ever so changing and rapid way, and be able to swim against the current for long periods of time, then I think such a person would most likely succeed in business which usually translates into doing well financially. Hence, the Entrepreneur!

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