What is a lifeshift? It is centring your life around your greatest passion or enthusiasm. You may make money from it, or you may not. The important thing is that your life meaning is derived from how you spend the best hours of your day, your primetime.
In a lifeshift you can aim to earn your living from pursuing your passion or enthusiasm. Or you can support your passion through doing a job in non-prime time hours, allowing it to take second place to your real interests.
More and more people want to achieve self-expression in what they do. You can only really do this through pursuing what you love doing- lifeshifting.
Easy to say- but how do you do it?
In my own case, I gave up my job as an English teacher, completed a year long martial arts course with the Tokyo Riot Police, wrote a book about it and became a professional writer- achieving a long held ambition and fulfilling a compelling and enduring interest.
Pretty off the wall at first sight but actually I’m a minor lifeshifter. There are people out there who are achieving far more dramatic changes in their lives.
I went from being a pissed off high school teacher in Japan, teaching English to unruly schoolgirls (don’t believe the myth that the Japanese are more well behaved than us) to being a writer of books, filmscripts and articles. Because of my interest in writing I documented the process I underwent, the changes I needed to make. But this was only the start. In the late 1990s I was commissioned by Esquire to write an article about extreme lifeshifters- people who had made huge changes in what they did- a former criminal who became a talkradio DJ, a physotherapist who became a diving instructor, an ex-footballer who became an acclaimed artist to name but a few. Since then I have collected more than fifty stories of extreme lifeshifters, many of which appear in this book.
By studying these people I arrived at some basic conclusions which chimed in with my own experience.
I also discovered that for many people the process of lifeshifting was hit and miss. I also knew there were many ‘failed’ lifeshifters out there who just hadn’t quite happened on the right method.
I found that the techniques used by people to lifeshift could be radically shortened, improved and made more efficient by some basic principles I learnt in Japan.
I’ve called them the Eight Secrets of Lifeshifting.
Some of the principles I learnt from a self-help group I belonged to in Tokyo, called, rather exotically, the Society of the Golden Bat. Such self-help ‘clubs’ are not unusual in Japan. They are often started by young people trying to achieve success in business or the arts. Sometimes the members pay in a sum of money each month for say, twelve months, and then each person takes a turn to draw out the total amount- achieving the effect of a loan when a bankloan may be unavailable or the interest too costly.
But more important than financial aid is the advice and help from the mentors of the club. In the case of the Golden Bat Society (a bat is a symbol of rebirth, a golden one being extra lucky of course) my mentors included a retired school teacher called Ikusan and a pachinko ‘nail doctor’ called Takahashi (his job was fixing Japanese pinball machines so they didn’t pay out too much money). I also received many insights from the aikido masters who taught me during my year long martial arts course.
I now know, from studying so many other lifeshifters’ lives, that these methods are universal but scattered everywhere. Successful lifeshifters kind of happen upon them from a mishmash of sources including inspirational literature, psychology and simple observation of others. But the secrets of lifeshifting are not in the mainstream, they are very much an informal thing. In the mainstream, in the developed West, we seem to have lost sight of the eight secrets as part of a coherent path towards self change.
I’ve sought simply to bring the disparate bits together to make a lifeshifting method wholly relevant to Europeans or Americans without the time or inclination to immerse themselves in a long process of trial and error, obscure reading and an alien culture.
The Eight Secrets
1. The secret of inner change- You are not one self but many selves.
2. You must visit Meaning Mountain. Meaning is the most powerful motivator. Pain and pleasure are low level motivators- but watch how a parent avoids pleasure (say a second helping of food) to give more to their child- because the child means more- and believe me you just bite the bullet- there is no warm accompanying feeling of pleasure- to reclassify this is pleasure seeking is therefore mere semantics. Meaning is the key motivator.
3. Learning methods must be Learnt- ‘how to learn’ may be a skill they never taught you at school. Switch on your secret weapon- the brain’s Nucleus Basalis, the key ‘learning centre’. Latest neuroplasticity studies show we learn fastest when we are shocked, encounter something new or pay very close attention. That is why intensive courses can teach more French in a month than an average UK school child learns in five years. Do you learn when humiliated or in a group- some do. Others work better alone. Find levers that help you to learn. Learn to locate the ‘into it’ feeling. Avoid obstacles. A learning plan for each project- the way a Bedouin loads his camel differently for each trip as a learning example.
4. Timeshift to make more time- discover that subjective or psychological time can only be managed when time is thought of as inner space. Better appreciation of psychological time leads to having more ‘clock’ time at your disposal. Learn that ‘system’ does not equal efficiency, that getting too systematic can devour motivation and kill your will to continue.
5. No more heroes- the ‘good enough’ factor. The search for the perfect drives out the purely functional- and ‘perfect’ is very often a subjective thing.
6. Unlimited energy-Energyshift to increase ‘start up’ and ‘momentum’ energy. Energy threshold busting.
7. The secret of money- Moneyshift to grow a business from a lifeshift. Remember the dictum of thinking ‘more people’ instead of ‘more money’.
8. The secret of manufacturing reality. A real ‘yes’ versus an unreal ‘yes’