by Niall Doherty

It was 3am and I was sat with my laptop on a rickety chair atop a shitty mattress.

The furniture arrangement had me as close as possible to a rusty ceiling fan, the moving air keeping my skin below boiling point and the mosquitoes at bay.

I’d checked into the Regal Hotel the previous evening, thinking it the best of all the cheap accommodation options I’d scouted in Chennai’s Egmore district.

Eight dollars a night, and, as I was soon to realize, overpriced at that.

I put the finishing touches on a 5-hour catch-up work session, shut off the laptop, and tried to get some sleep. There was only a single thin, stained sheet covering the mattress. Filthy as that sheet was, I wished for another so I could shield myself from the mosquitoes. Instead I had to try sleeping fully dressed, with a jacket over my head. Not only did this setup fail to foil the mosquitoes, it also left me sweating like an Irishman in India.

I lay there for an hour. Sweating. Seething.

This is my life, I thought. In mind if not in pocket, I was too poor to pay for a decent bed tonight, and so I suffer silently in the shittiest hotel on the subcontinent.

After an hour, I’d had enough. An unforgettable resolve took hold of me. I’d been fumbling around in my brain for several weeks already, looking for a switch to flip. And now I’d flipped it.

I got out of bed and started packing. Sick of this scraping by shit. This ends now. I’m getting the fuck out of here.

It was just after four in the morning when I got to the front desk. Sat behind was a balding man in a dirty white vest, zombified by a tiny television across the lobby.

“I’m checking out.”

He rose begrudgingly, took my key, and pushed a piece of paper across the desk for me to sign. No eye contact, no how-was-your-stay, not even a grunt.

Regal: belonging to or befitting a monarch.

My arse.

One year later…

…I sit and write these words. I experienced an irreversible mindset shift that night in Chennai. A shift regarding money. By the time I checked into the Regal that September evening, I’d been scratching at the door of that shift for a few weeks already, going so far as to announce on the blog that I was aiming to double my monthly income within six months.

But that night I kicked the door down. My mindset shifted permanently. As a result…

  • September: $1,900
  • October: $5,260
  • November: $6,440
  • December: $4,470

This year I’ve been able to keep up that income level pretty good, pulling in an average of $5k per month.

Now a number of things have contributed to that, not least the low-maintenance advertising business a friend offered me a cut of.

BUT… I’m going to argue that the biggest thing was mindset.

Without that shift, I wouldn’t have been able to rise above that $2-3k mark and keep myself there.

Now you might be wondering what I mean by mindset shift, exactly? How did I begin to see things differently, before vs. after?

Well I’ll tell you.

Before the shift, I heard of people not so different to myself earning $5k a month working online, and I thought, Holy shit. That’s a lot of money! I’m not sure if I can earn that much.

After the shift, I began to believe that $5k a month was well within my reach.

Actually, scratch that. It wasn’t just that I believed.

I knew.

I started seeing $5k per month as the next, inevitable step for me. The number stopped feeling so large, so intimidating.

Looking back, that night in Chennai was really the moment I started earning $5k a month, even though the money wouldn’t manifest in my bank account until several weeks later.

That night in Chennai, that was it. I shifted from a $2k mindset to a $5k mindset, and within a few weeks I had the bank balance to match.

The next, inevitable step

Here’s where I’m likely to lose you. There’s a good chance you’re going to think I’m crazy after you read this next bit.

See, I’ve had another mindset shift of late. Again regarding money.

This time, what got me scratching at the door was interviewing a bunch of entrepreneurs for the 2014 Thai Startup Guide as well as seeing guys not too different from myself pulling in $250k apiece.

But the real shift came two weeks ago, and came not while stuck in some third-world hovel of a hotel, but while chatting with Karol Gajda on Skype.

Karol was telling me about Only72, a niche sales business he started a few years ago. He mentioned some numbers: $500k in revenue in the first 15 months, and $40k raised for charity.

When Karol said those numbers, I waited for myself to flinch. I waited for my $5k mindset to chime in: Holy shit. That’s a lot of money! I’m not sure if I can earn that much.

But that’s not what I heard myself thinking. Instead what I heard was along the lines of, Of course. That’s totally reasonable.

Switch flipped.

Next level.

I’m certain of it.

Now that’s not to say that you’ll see my income shoot up to $15k a month before Christmas. I have no idea how long it will take for this new mindset to produce corresponding results in the real world. But I have set a goal for myself:

$100k in the bank by the end of 2014

That’s $91k more than I have in the bank right now, but somehow I’m pretty confident that I’ll get there.

I was going to keep the goal quiet, not mention it here on the blog. But I realized there were only two reasons I was tempted to do that, both of them bad:

  • I’m afraid I’ll fall well short and end up looking like a fool.
  • I’m worried that you’ll think I’ve turned into Gordon Gekko.

What has me sharing in the end, aside from the realization that the above excuses are lame, is the desire to show the journey. Most success stories are told in hindsight, much like I just told you about that mindset shift I experienced a year ago at the Regal. Maybe I’m making that up though. Not lying, but piecing together a story from fractured memories, a story that neatly sums up how I got from there to here, from $2k a month to $5k a month.

This time around, with the latest shift, I want to tell you that story as it’s happening, so there can be doubt.

Maybe I will end up looking like a fool because of this, perhaps you’ll begin to see me as some money-loving lowlife, but fuck it.

I’m doing it anyway.

How to shift your mindset

If you’re still reading, I’m going to assume that you’re intrigued by the concept of a mindset shift. You’re probably looking to shift your own up a notch or two.

How do you do that anyway?

Look, I’m no expert, but here’s what I believe it boils down to:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

Spending significant time with people who are a notch or two above me, that’s the biggest reason I’m at the $5k a month mark now. And it’s what I believe will take me to the next level.

I’m not just talking about in-person relationships here, though those are ideal. But if for whatever reason you can’t go out and surround yourself with an inspiring circle of people in the physical world, do so virtually. I go back and look at the books I was reading last year around my time in Chennai, and it was stuff like Ikigai, The $100 Startup and The Personal MBA, books that will put a spark in your mind and boot up your ass. At the same time I was hearing from  online buddies about big wins they were having in their businesses, and I first came across the teachings of a guy named Dane Maxwell.

You’ve heard the term “garbage in, garbage out,” right? Well it’s true. If you’re not making a conscious effort to fill your mind with positive and inspiring messages, regularly exposing yourself to examples of people who’ve taken it to the next level, then most likely your mind is being filled with random, small-minded, uninspiring shit. That’s the default for most people. And if you don’t change it, it’s not going to change.

Listen, this isn’t some feel-good Law of Attraction crap I’m trying to sell you on here. I’m not telling you to surround yourself with yes-men. Quite the opposite actually. You need to surround yourself with people and ideas that turn your world upside down, that make you ask and answer hard questions.

It’s uncomfortable. You’ll probably feel worse before you feel better, before the switch flips and you feel like you belong, that you’ve leveled up.

Feels pretty damn good once you get there though. I’ve been on an incredible high these last few weeks in Hong Kong. I’ve had periods of insane productivity and ambition before, but never this intense, never this long-lasting. I’m working my ass off and leaving time for little else, but I truly couldn’t be happier. I feel I’m exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to do. This is what Mihaly was talking about.

This will help (big time)

If you’re feeling me on all the above and looking to level-up your own mindset, I’ve got something for you.

Recently I’ve been reaching out to savvy online entrepreneurs and requesting interviews.

Not one of them has turned me down.

I’ve already recorded insightful conversations with Sean Ogle, Dane Maxwell, Karol Gajda, and Jen Gresham, and I’ve got Sebastian Marshall lined up for next week.

Trust me, you don’t want to miss these interviews. Starting at the end of the month, I’ll be releasing them as part of a free course called The Foundations of Entrepreneurship. If you’re looking to start an online business from scratch, or trying to take what you’ve already got to the next level, this course will help get you there.

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Switches are about to be flipped.


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