My One Side Hustle Idea from Dopamine Dettox by Thibaut Meurisse

Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

Introduction

From my perspective, this book is really about dealing with distractions. The kind of distraction that happens because you are more likely to seek your momentary satisfaction from glancing through that gossip on Facebook or the funny TikTok video rather than write that blog post or put in your daily 500 words as planned for the book you are writing.

Craving constant moments of dopamine release will prevent you from being able to focus on what you want to do. If you are trying to build your side hustle, you may be doing it part-time. For instance, before or after work or in conjunction with studying, you don’t want to be continually distracted because you seek constant dopamine release which distracts you from doing what you want to do.

How you can manage that challenge is what Dopamine Detox – A short guide to remove distractions and get your brain to do hard things, written by Thibaut Meurisse is about. 

If you decide to read this book, here’s the title of each part of the book.

The book is divided into six parts as follows:

  1. Part 1 – Dopamine and the role it plays
  2. Part 2 – The problem
  3. Part 3 – The benefits of a detox
  4. Part 4 – A three-step method for a successful detox
  5. Part 5 – Doing the work (and overcoming procrastination)
  6. Part 6 – Avoiding “Dopamine Relapse”

Some key questions to answer

Before I share my one side hustle idea, let’s answer some questions.

  • What role does dopamine play? Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (chemicals in our brains that transmit messages) that makes us anticipate rewards and therefore motivates us to act. It is not a pleasure-seeking chemical but we can get addicted to experiencing the feeling of anticipating rewards.
  • What is the problem with dopamine? The more our actions trigger the release of dopamine, the more of it that we want. This trigger can come through things like drug or alcohol consumption, pornography, sex, or even social media. The more we trigger the release of dopamine, the stronger our need to experience the feeling that comes from dopamine release becomes which can lead to addiction.
  • What is a dopamine detox? It is the process of reducing stimulation to prevent overstimulation and this helps to put us in a proper state of mind so we can tackle the tasks we need to.

My One Side Hustle Idea – Three steps that can help to have a dopamine detox

Here are three steps that can help you have a successful dopamine detox:

  1. Identify your biggest distractions: The first thing you need to do for a successful dopamine detox is to identify your biggest temptations and distractions.
    1. Get a sheet of paper, divide it into two columns and label them ‘cans’ and ‘can’ts’. 
    2. Under ‘Cans’ write down activities that you want to do that are good for you. Such as exercise, writing, working on a project (your side hustle) and so on. These should be productive activities.
    3. Under ‘Can’ts’ write down all the things you must avoid doing during your dopamine detox.
    4. Questions that can help you with the ‘Can’ts’ are: If I stopped doing only one thing, which one would increase my focus and boost my productivity the most dramatically? What other activity do I need to avoid in order to help me increase my focus most significantly?
  2. Add friction: the principle here is this – the harder something is to access, the less likely you are to do it, and vice-versa. So, find a way to make your ‘Can’ts’ hard to access. Look at the habits or activities you want to eliminate and ask yourself how you could add friction. For instance:
    1. Remove all notifications from your phone or put it on airplane mode.
    2. Install an app that can make it harder for you to watch social media sites.
    3. Find creative ways to make it hard for you to indulge in that behavior.
    4. Conversely, make it easier or frictionless for you to do the ‘Can’s’. Put in place things that make it easy for you to do the productive things. For example, in order to do five minutes of exercise each morning, I put dumbbells in my bathroom. So, when I open the cupboard to get my cream, I see the dumbbells and I am triggered to do five minutes of exercise.
  3. Start first thing in the morning: Start your productive activities first thing in the morning before you get overly stimulated. Don’t check your internet or the TV or anything like that when you wake up otherwise you will get stimulated and distracted. Create a morning routine to help you start your day on a positive note with a strong focus.

These are some very simple ideas that you can use to beat that distraction. Your side hustle won’t wait for you. If it’s going to happen you will have to get up and work on it. Dealing with unnecessary distractions that are generated through our need to experience a dopamine release is essential so it does not sabotage our attempts to work on our side hustle.

Book Review – The She Approach To Starting A Money-Making Blog By Ana Skyes

The She Approach To Starting A Money-Making Blog (2021 Edition): Everything You Need To Know To Create A Website And Make Money Blogging by [Ana Skyes]The She Approach To Starting A Money-Making Blog by Ana Skyes presents a sincere approach to creating a blog that can generate income. Ana wrote the book based on her own personal experience and this is not one of those books that promises you immense blog wealth by the end of the month. It goes into detail about the hard work and effort that goes into creating a successful money-making blog.

Ana went from making $0 in 2016 to $62,048 in 2020, quite a journey and she shares with us how she did it in this book. The book is divided into three parts and each part consists of a number of sections. Following is a brief review of each part of the book.

PART 1 – CHAPTER 1: SETTING UP YOUR FOUNDATION

Introduction: introduces what you will have learnt after reading this part of the book.

Knowing your why: Ana starts this section with a very important question, why do you want to start a blog. She believes having a clear reason for your blog will make you more likely to follow through with things, believe in the work you do, be determined, consistent and create an awesome blog.

Finding your blogging niche: Once you know the ‘why’ for your blog then it’s time to think about what your blog will do for others. What Ana means by this is that, you will need to identify a niche for your blog. According to Ana:

A blogging niche is simply a way to describe the topics you blog about and a way to categorize your blog according to the relevant industry.

This section goes into detail on how to discover your blog’s niche and it answers some important questions along the way which include:

  • Do you really need a well defined blog niche?
  • How much do you need to niche down?
  • What blog niches earn the most money?
  • What blogs can’t be monetized?

Identifying your target audience: If you have identified your blog’s niche then you should have an audience in mind that your blog is aimed at. Ana writes that:

We have already established that if you want to start a money-making blog, you have to solve a problem for a specific group of people. It doesnt have to be anything life-changing but, ideally it needs to be something that people are willing to pay money to make go away, fix or improve.

So, this chapter is all about identifying your blog’s audience.

Naming your blog: In this section you will read about actions you can take to give your blog a befitting name. Here’s some advice from Ana about naming your blog:

Ideally, you want the name to reflect your blog’s purpose, speak to your target audience and allow you to cover all the topics you’re planning to write about in the future.

Coming up with a tagline: Ana starts this section by reminding us what we should already know about creating a blog if we have read the book up to this point which are:

  • Why you want to start your blog
  • Whom you want to help with your blog
  • Your blog niche and main topics of discussion
  • What type of content you want to publish
  • What you’re going to name it

Here she writes about how to come up with a short mission statement which she calls a tagline. According to her:

To help tie everything together and give you a sense of direction, you need to come up with a short mission statement, also known as a tagline. These are used to explain what your blog is all about and help your target audience connect with you straight away.

She shares her tagline with us which she recently changed from ‘Empowering women to build digital empires‘ to ‘Helping bloggers increase their traffic and income‘. She did this to make it clearer and to better describe what she provides for her audience.

PART 2 – CHAPTER 2: SETTING UP YOUR WEBSITE

This part of the book concentrates on the more technical aspects of setting up a website for the blog. At the start Ana advises us not to build our blog on a free platform. With that out of the way she concentrates on showing us how to:

  • buy blog hosting
  • set up a wordpress blog
  • get advanced wordpress help
  • create blog pages, posts and content

She also shares other blogging tips for beginners which cover areas such as:

  • using social media
  • branding
  • using google analytics
  • starting an email list

PART 3: CHAPTER 3: HOW TO MAKE MONEY BLOGGING

The first two parts focused on defining a blog vision, identifying an audience and building the blog website. In this part Ana focuses on how to make money blogging and she covers a number of ways to earn income from a blog which include:

  • adverts
  • affiliate marketing
  • selling digital products
  • sponsored posts
  • selling services
  • selling physical products
  • offer print-on demand products
  • sell your blog for profit
  • host a virtual summit or create a membership
  • sell ad space
  • become a ghorst writer for other bloggers or publications
  • sell on Amazon FBA

The last part of the book before the conclusion focuses on how to form a blog monetization strategy. I have written more on this below as my key lesson from the book.

This is a book that gives you a good overview of how to start a blog as an income source. It is particularly good for those who want to start a blog and at the same time it has some lessons for existing bloggers too.

Following are my key lesson from the book on how to create a blog monetization strategy. I have summarized the lesson as a series of steps.

  1. Have a good knowledge of all the possible ways you can make money through blogging.
  2. Choose one monetization method to start with. Ana suggests that if you are just starting out begin with affiliate marketing and creating a digital product.
  3. Look at how other successful bloggers in your niche are doing things and learn from them.
  4. Don’t be quick to give up, continue working on it. Ana had to work for four months before making her first affiliate sale and it was for $7.
  5. Make a clear plan of how much you want to earn and how to earn it.
  6. Keep track of everything you earn from your blog.

Book Review – Small Habits Revolution by Damon Zahariades

Small Habits RevolutionSmall Habit Revolution by Damon Zahariades is a book that teaches a simple yet powerful technique. That of using small actions to build new habits. According to Damon:

We can learn to speak new languages. We can learn to survive in the wilderness. We can learn to cook delicious, mouth-watering meals. We can learn to parallel park (no small feat for some of us!) And we can train ourselves to adopt new, life-enriching habits that improve our long-term health, wealth, and productivity. That’s the purpose of this action guide. I’m going to show you the best method for creating positive, healthy habits. And importantly, I’m going to show you how to make these habits stick.

This is not a big book, with just about 160 pages but it does teach a strategy which anyone can start using straight away to make changes to their life.

The book is divided into seven parts. Each of the parts are outlined below.

PART 1: HOW DEVELOPING HEALTHY HABITS IMPROVES YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE

In this section you will read about the benefits of developing new habits. Each of these benefits is discussed as a separate chapter. Here are the benefits:

  • Lower stress levels
  • Better focus
  • Improved productivity
  • Stronger relationships
  • Greater sense of joy
  • Better sleep quality
  • Improved physical health
  • Ability to take lightening fast decisions 
  • Increase creativity 
  • Greater self confidence 
  • Stronger commitment to your goals

PART 2: TRIGGERS, ROUTINES, REWARDS AND LOOPS

Damon starts this part of the book with this statement:

Every habit, good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, is prompted by a trigger. When the habit is performed, it is either rewarded or punished. When habits are rewarded, they become behavioural loops, which reinforces themselves over time.

This part of the book focuses on triggers, routines, rewards and loops. These four are crucial in helping us develop habits whether good or bad.

The first section in this part of the book is titled, FIRST THINGS FIRST: DEFINITIONS. Here some key definitions are discussed. The definitions discussed are:

  • Trigger: A trigger is a cue or circumstance that spurs you to perform an action.
  • Routine: A routine is an action performed over and over. It’s another way of referring to a habit or behavioural pattern.
  • Reward: Rewards reinforce routines. They represent what you gain whenever you perform an action or series of actions.
  • Loop: A loop encompasses the three previous definitions. Every behavioural loop consists of a trigger, a routine and a reward.
  • Keystone Habit: A keystone habit is a routine that influences, and even triggers, other routines or behaviours.

According to Damon:

These five definitions will help to clarify the ideas found throughout the rest of this action guide. They’ll prove invaluable when we get to my simple 10-step plan for developing new habits that stick.

So, if you are reading the book, it’s important to get a good grasp of those five definitions.

The next section in this part is – THE FIVE DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRIGGERS. Here Damon discusses five triggers which are:

  1. Time: We all go through certain routines based on what time of the day it is. For example, waking up to brush our teeth or whatever it is you are used to doing when you wake up. Therefore, time is one of the most common issues. It’s a valuable tool for developing new routines because it’s easy to control.
  2. Location: Habits can be triggers based on settings. We may associate certain behaviours with some specific locations.
  3. State of mind: Our mind plays an important role in the way we behave. Our state of mind affects how we feel which can trigger certain behaviours.
  4. People: The people we are around can trigger us to behave in certain ways.
  5. Preceding event: Our routines are comprised by a series of actions, so preceding actions we take can be a trigger for the next actions we can take.

The other topics discussed in this section are:

  • How triggers and routines lead to new habits
  • How rewards reinforce newly-formed habits
  • How to create strong habit loops
  • Remember, you’re in control

PART 3: MOTIVATION VS WILLPOWER. WHICH ONE DICTATES YOUR SUCCESS?

This part of the book looks at motivation and willpower and answers the question of whether they can help us succeed in building good habits. The first section looks at why motivation is not enough for us to succeed and four reasons discussed are:

  1. Motivation is not constant. You don’t feel motivated all the time.
  2. Motivation is unpredictable. You can’t anticipate it.
  3. Motivation is short-lived.
  4. Motivation is often dependent on our internal messaging. If you don’t feel like doing something, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to do it.

What about willpower? While willpower can help us to take actions, it has it’s own shortcomings and is ultimately not the answer because:

  • Willpower is a finite resource
  • It has a short-term nature

Damon believes building small habits is a better solution than trying to find motivation or willpower 

PART 4: 10 STEPS TO FORMING HEALTHY HABITS THAT LAST

This is a key part of the book as it outlines ten steps we can take to form healthy habits that last. Here are the ten steps:

  1. Clarify the goal you want to achieve with your new habit.
  2. Identify the habit you want to develop.
  3. Break down your new habit to its smallest iteration.
  4. Create a cue to trigger the habit.
  5. Establish a clear objective.
  6. Design a plan to slowly increase your new habit.
  7. Create a simple reward system.
  8. Perform the habit at the same time each day.
  9. Identify the stumbling blocks that can sabotage you.
  10. Monitor your progress once a week.

PART 5: SEVEN RULES FOR SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

If you have followed the ten steps discussed in the previous section how do you set yourself up from success? Damon discusses another seven rules for setting yourself up to succeed. This rules are:

  1. Start small – big changes encounter greater personal resistance so starting with small changes is much easy and has a higher possibility of success.
  2. Commit to performing your new habit for 30 days – If you can do it continually and consistently for 30 days, it’s more likely to be a habit.
  3. Develop one habit at a time – Damon writes that, ‘one of the reasons so many people give up on their New Year’s resolutions is because they try to do too much at once.’ It’s better to try and develop one new habit at a time, at the most two.
  4. Disclose your new habit to others – Tell people who can hold you accountable about the habit.
  5. Perform your new habit early in the morning – Damon believes that performing a new habit early in the morning is easier because there is less personal resistance to it.
  6. Remind yourself of your reasons – Remind yourself of the purpose for your new habit.
  7. Be willing to forgive yourself if you fail – Occasional failures will happen as you try to develop your new habit. When they happen, forgive yourself, get up and get back on the habit trail.

PART 6: HOW TO GUARANTEE YOUR NEW HABIT WILL LAST

This part of the book has information similar to what has been discussed in previous sections but the information here is still worth reviewing because it gives us a way to guarantee the new habits we are developing lasts. The first question answered here is,  why new habits fail to stick and some of the explanations Damon offers include:

  • When the new desired behaviour or routine is too big of a change for the person.
  • Many people beat themselves up when they make mistakes along the way. This can be a discouragement to continue.
  • When people focus more on the outcome than the routine itself.
  • When people lose track of the purpose for wanting the new habit.
  • When people fail to create a supportive environment to support their new habit.
  • When people try to adopt too many new habits at once.

In addition these are things that can help to maintain the habit:

  • Leverage the power of accountability. This has been mentioned before.
  • Use Seinfeld’s calendar strategy. If you are interested in this one then do some research to learn what the calendar is. Or better still, read the book.
  • Link your new habit to a reliable cue. A cue is something that triggers the behaviour that leads to the habit.
  • Insert your new routine into an existing habit stack.
  • Put your new habit on your daily calendar or to-do list.
  • Reflect on the positive effects of your new habit.

PART 7: EXAMPLE HABITS YOU CAN DEVELOP USING THE SMALL HABIT STRATEGY

This is the final part of the book where Damon suggests 23 small habits that we can develop to change our lives. These are the habits:

  1. Eat breakfast
  2. Practice active listening
  3. Do pushups, crunches and squats
  4. Master the art of conversation
  5. Drink more water
  6. Write in a personal journal
  7. Compliment strangers
  8. Take short walks
  9. Read non-fiction books
  10. Declutter your workspace
  11. Smile at people
  12. Meditate
  13. Wake up earlier
  14. Express your gratitude
  15. Keep in touch with friends
  16. Help people
  17. Track how you spend your time
  18. Learn new things
  19. Save money
  20. Use the time chunking method
  21. Start each day with a to-do list
  22. Learn to breathe properly
  23. Take immediate action

The concept in this book is simple and it works. I can say that because I have tried it personally in areas such as doing exercise for five days a week and writing a first draft of a 50-page eBook by writing for just 10-minutes a day. It’s a simple concept that can have very far reaching positive outcomes if we practice it.

So, I do recommend the book. You don’t have to read it start to finish but make sure you read enough of it to start building your own small habits.