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What is Business Plan?

business plan according to Wikipedia is a formal written document containing business goals, the methods on how these goals can be attained, and the time frame that these goals need to be achieved. It also describes the nature of the business, includes background information on the organization, the organization’s financial projections, and the strategies it intends to implement to achieve stated targets. In its entirety, this document serves as a road map that provides direction to the business.

Business plans are inherently strategic. You start here, today, with certain resources and abilities. You want to get to a there, a point in the future (usually three to five years out) at which time your business will have a different set of resources and abilities as well as greater profitability and increased assets. Your plan shows how you will get from here to there.

Business plan is very useful to an individual, partners, groups, and corporations that plan to grow their company to the higher level. Business also definitely very important to the business start up who just plan set up business and create a company. Business plan will be their guide, foundations, and necessity to get findings from the third parties like banks and  creditors.

Business plan writing can be a great source of income.

Why do we need a business plan for our business?

1. A business plan is vital to helping you get finance from investors, stockholders, creditors, and banks.

If you’re seeking finance for your business, you’ll need to show banks and investors why they should invest in your business.

Lenders and investors will only risk their time and money if they’re confident that your business will be successful and profitable.

A thorough and well-researched business plan:

  • shows that you’re serious about your business
  • helps lenders and investors to understand your business idea
  • shows your predicted profits and income streams.

2. A business plan can help you priorities things accordingly and give you a guide on how to accomplish it.

A complete, thoughtful business plan is one of the most valuable tools in helping you reach your long-term goals. It gives your business direction, defines your objectives, maps out strategies to achieve your goals and helps you to manage possible bumps in the road.

Preparing a business plan will help you work out the goals you want to achieve, and the strategies to achieve them. This means you can focus your resources and energy on what you need to do, rather than spreading yourself too thin.

Once you’ve got a business plan in place, it’s a good idea to regularly review and update it to:

  • remind yourself of your goals and priorities
  • assess whether your strategies are working
  • adapt to any new changes in your environment
  • make the most of new opportunities as they come your way.

3. A business plan can give you control over your business, resources and your finances.

The planning process helps you learn about the different forces and factors that may affect your success. If you’re already in business, it helps you to step back and look at what’s working and what you can improve on. Instead of worrying about the future, a business plan helps to give you a sense of control over your business and your livelihood.

Writing and researching for your business plan gives you the chance to:

  • learn about your industry, market and competitors
  • write down exactly where you are in the market and where you’re headed
  • identify challenges you may come across and work out strategies to avoid or overcome them
  • understand your business finances, including managing cash-flow and determining your break-even point
  • set specific goals, timeframes for achieving them and how you’ll measure performance
  • make sound business decisions that focus your activities, maximise your resources and give you a competitive edge.

4. A business plan can help you set your business goals, revenue growth, and future expansion.

When talking about business plan it really helps guide you to achieve your business goals, set your revenue and profit grow faster, achieve your target financial performance, and help you with your business future expansion. Business plan is vital to the business that already been established and same vital to the business start-up.

A business plan is not a document you create once and store in your bottom drawer. It’s a living guide that you should develop as your business grows and changes. Successful businesses review and update their business plan when circumstances change.

Set yourself a reminder to review your business plan regularly. If you have a team in your business, holding brainstorming sessions is a good way to benefit from their knowledge – it ensures you’re all on the same page and that you get their support.

You don’t have to start with a blank sheet of paper

To write an effective business plan you’ll need discipline, resources, time and focus. Although the process can seem challenging, it’s very rewarding and gives you a sense of control over your business.

You don’t have to start with a blank sheet of paper. There are many website that offers business plan guide and template where you can used their business plan services in guiding you and helping you building up the business plan for your business. List below are the best business plan guide and template provider where you can access them online anytime and anywhere you want.

LivePlan

LivePlan is straightforward, easy-to-use business plan creation software that walks you through each step of the writing process. This web-based program is great for business owners looking to create plans for startups, strategic marketing campaigns or funding proposals. LivePlan is also a good option for business owners who aren’t sure what type of business plan they need, because it walks you through the process and proposes templates based on your business’s goals.

BizPlanBuilder

BizPlanBuilder has both a cloud-based and a download option for its business plan-writing software. This software solution has several industry-specific templates you can review and then add to the document editor to create a plan that reflects your own business needs. While you can create a start-up business plan, this program devotes special attention to financials so you are prepared to present your idea to any type of investor, be that a bank, private investor, angel network or venture capitalist and have the data to back it up.

Go Business Plans

Based in Los Angeles, California, Go Business Plans writes business plans that serve a variety of business’s needs, ranging from SBA loans and visa applications to plans seeking venture capital funding. Go Business Plans rated well in terms of the quality of its business plans and its comprehensive feature set, which is why we awarded it our Business.com Gold Award.

Wise Business Plans

Wise Business Plans is a business plan service based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. It writes business plans for businesses seeking venture capital and angel investors as well as businesses interested in applying for SBA loans, E2 visas and L1 visas. The plans are high quality and contain market and industry research drawn from a wide range of sources. Its turnaround times are above average, while the cost is roughly average for the services we reviewed.

Business plan writing can be a great source of revenue to all people who want to render their expertise and services to an individual or companies looking for an expert business plan writers in helping their building up the business plan for their companies. So I advise you should learn and hone your business plan writing skills.

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7 Best Freelance Websites for Freelancers to Apply

Hello everyone! I hope you all have a good day and  good life. Do you ever hear freelance websites or what a freelancer’s work? Do you ever wish to work from home at your own time and earn big money in return? You are in the right blog and you are in good hands so keep reading until the end.

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What is Freelance?

Freelance mean working for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company. Simply means as a freelancer you are working for a people or companies on a project or contract base but sometimes do full time. Here in freelancing you can look and work multiple of companies, people, and clients as long as you can carry it and do the work fine. Hence, in freelance job you can earn so much money as long as you have the good output, results, knowledge of the job, and the capability to deliver on time. The income comes with freelance work are so high and even reach to thousands of dollars per month.

Why is Freelancing on Rise?

Freelance jobs today reach in hundreds of millions per year and the freelancer in the market also reach hundreds in millions with the salary and costs reach more than tens of billions in dollars. This freelance industry will generate billion jobs and hundred billion dollars in the next 20 years and it will keep on rising. Freelance industry and freelance job are really on the rise globally. So what are you waiting for become one of the freelancer and apply for the awesome jobs online and work at your home. List of below top and best freelance websites that you could apply.

Freelance are on the rise because of the multiple benefits it offers to the applicant and to the employer. First, cost savings for employer as they don’t need to give insurance, premiums, bonuses, medical, office space costs, electricity, laptops, and other government demanded benefits but of course some company give benefits to their freelance worker. Second, the benefits of no longer need to travel going work to office because in freelance job you can work at your home even at your bed. Third, the benefits of flexible work time and fast pay. Fast pay likely paid per projects, paid per week, paid per output, and other type payments that is way faster than office base work. Fourth, the benefits of easy communications at your fingerprint without anyone will be looking or listening except your kids though. Lastly, the benefits of bigger income as long as you do best in your work.

Upwork

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Upwork, formerly Elance-oDesk, is a global freelancing platform where businesses and independent professionals connect and collaborate remotely. In 2015, Elance-oDesk was rebranded as Upwork. It is based in Mountain View and San Francisco, California. The full name is Upwork Global Inc. Grow your business through the top freelancing website. Hire talent nearby or worldwide.

You can find work at Upwork for almost all kind of professional and career jobs like bookkeeper, accounting, financial analyst, website developer, engineering, WordPress developer, tax consultant, business consultant, virtual assistant, social media campaigner, website designer, writer, research writer, costumer support, and many more.

If you want to work as freelancer or looking for a new work from home job you are welcome here to apply. Register and create an account now.

Freelance

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Find & hire top freelancers, web developers & designers inexpensively. World’s largest marketplace of 31 million applicants. Getting started is free. Receive quotes in seconds. The Upwork story begins over a decade ago, when the tech lead of a Silicon Valley startup realized his close friend in Athens would be perfect for a web project. The team agreed he was the best choice, but were concerned about working with someone halfway around the globe. If you want to work as freelancer or looking for a new work from home job you are welcome here to apply. Register and create an account now.

You can find work at Freelance for almost all kind of professional and career jobs like bookkeeper, accounting, financial analyst, website developer, engineering, WordPress developer, tax consultant, business consultant, virtual assistant, costumer support, and many more. There are multiple project base jobs available at freelance.com

Guru

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Guru makes it simpler to hire freelancers online from over 3 million professionals and get freelance jobs from thousands of projects posted on its freelancing. The best place for employers and freelancers to connect, collaborate, and get work done. If you want to work as freelancer or looking for a new work from home job you are welcome here to apply. Register and create an account now.

You can find work at Guru for almost all kind of professional and career jobs like bookkeeper, accounting, financial analyst, website developer, engineering, WordPress developer, tax consultant, business consultant, social media consultant, website designer, virtual assistant, costumer support, and many more.

Outsource

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Outsource.com lets you hire, manage and pay your freelancers in just a click. You can send messages, files, and make payments all through the website. It is hassle-free! Are a customer-centric professional service company. A few of the services we provide are IT consultations, customized web solutions, mobile development, cloud development, systems integration, server management. If you want to work as freelancer or looking for a new work from home job you are welcome here to apply. Register and create an account now.

You can find work at Outsource for almost all kind of professional and career jobs like bookkeeper, accounting, financial analyst, website developer, engineering, WordPress developer, tax consultant, business consultant, virtual assistant, IT expert, social media consultant, costumer support, and many more.

Outsourcely

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Outsourcely is a virtual assistant company based in Foresthill, CA. They make it easy to connect with virtual assistants through their platform. Outsourcely connects startups and businesses with talented remote workers from around the world. 400000+ Remote Workers. If you want to work as freelancer or looking for a new work from home job you are welcome here to apply. Register and create an account now.

You can find work at Outsourcely for almost all kind of professional and career jobs like bookkeeper, accounting, financial analyst, website developer, engineering, WordPress developer, tax consultant, business consultant, virtual assistant, costumer support, and many more.

Onlinejobs.ph

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World’s largest and safest marketplace for finding rock star Filipino workers. OnlineJobs.ph has the largest database of Filipino virtual workers: more than 250,000 profiles and 10,000+ Filipino join each month. OnlineJobs.ph is just the marketplace. You recruit and hire on your terms. If you want to work as freelancer or looking for a new work from home job you are welcome here to apply. Register and create an account now.

You can find work at onlinejobs.ph for almost all kind of professional and career jobs like bookkeeper, accounting, financial analyst, website developer, engineering, WordPress developer, tax consultant, business consultant, virtual assistant, costumer support, and many more.

Toptal

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Toptal is a freelancing platform that connects businesses with software engineers, designers, and business consultants globally. Toptal enables start-ups, businesses, and organizations to hire freelancers from a growing network of top talent in the world. Hire the Top 3% of Freelance Talent. Find quality talent to work full-time. Toptal is an exclusive network of the top freelance software developers, designers, finance experts, and project managers in the world. Top companies rely on Toptal freelancers for their most important projects.

You can find work at Toptal for almost all kind of professional and career jobs like bookkeeper, accounting, financial analyst, website developer, engineering, WordPress developer, tax consultant, business consultant, virtual assistant, costumer support, and many more.

I hope you all become successful on your endeavor of looking freelance job and got many projects as possible and earned thousand of dollars working. Good luck!

5 Best Ways to Retain More the Book You Read

There are many benefits to reading more books, but perhaps my favorite is this: A good book can give you a new way to interpret your past experiences.

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Whenever you learn a new mental model or idea, it’s like the “software” in your brain gets updated. Suddenly, you can run all of your old data points through a new program. You can learn new lessons from old moments. As Patrick O’Shaughnessy says, “Reading changes the past.”

Of course, this is only true if you internalize and remember insights from the books you read. Knowledge will only compound if it is retained. In other words, what matters is not simply reading more books, but getting more out of each book you read.

Gaining knowledge is not the only reason to read, of course. Reading for pleasure or entertainment can be a wonderful use of time, but this article is about reading to learn. With that in mind, I’d like to share some of the best reading comprehension strategies I’ve found.

1. Quit More Books

It doesn’t take long to figure out if something is worth reading. Skilled writing and high-quality ideas stick out.

As a result, most people should probably start more books than they do. This doesn’t mean you need to read each book page-by-page. You can skim the table of contents, chapter titles, and subheadings. Pick an interesting section and dive in for a few pages. Maybe flip through the book and glance at any bolded points or tables. In ten minutes, you’ll have a reasonable idea of how good it is.

Then comes the crucial step: Quit books quickly and without guilt or shame.

Life is too short to waste it on average books. The opportunity cost is too high. There are so many amazing things to read. I think Patrick Collison, the founder of Stripe, put it nicely when he said, “Life is too short to not read the very best book you know of right now.”

Here’s my recommendation:

Start more books. Quit most of them. Read the great ones twice.

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2. Choose Books You Can Use Instantly

One way to improve reading comprehension is to choose books you can immediately apply. Putting the ideas you read into action is one of the best ways to secure them in your mind. Practice is a very effective form of learning.

Choosing a book that you can use also provides a strong incentive to pay attention and remember the material. That’s particularly true when something important hangs in the balance. If you’re starting a business, for example, then you have a lot of motivation to get everything you can out of the sales book you’re reading. Similarly, someone who works in biology might read The Origin of Species more carefully than a random reader because it connects directly to their daily work. 

Of course, not every book is a practical, how-to guide that you can apply immediately, and that’s fine. You can find wisdom in many different books. But I do find that I’m more likely to remember books that are relevant to my daily life.

3. Create Searchable Notes

Keep notes on what you read. You can do this however you like. It doesn’t need to be a big production or a complicated system. Just do something to emphasize the important points and passages.

I do this in different ways depending on the format I’m consuming. I highlight passages when reading on Kindle. I type out interesting quotes as I listen to audiobooks. I dog-ear pages and transcribe notes when reading a print book.

But here’s the real key: store your notes in a searchable format.

There is no need to leave the task of reading comprehension solely up to your memory. I keep my notes in Evernote. I prefer Evernote over other options because 1) it is instantly searchable, 2) it is easy to use across multiple devices, and 3) you can create and save notes even when you’re not connected to the internet.

I get my notes into Evernote in three ways:

I. Audiobook: I create a new Evernote file for each book and then type my notes directly into that file as I listen.

II. Ebook: I highlight passages on my Kindle Paperwhite and use a program called Clippings to export all of my Kindle highlights directly into Evernote. Then, I add a summary of the book and any additional thoughts before posting it to my book summaries page.

III. Print: Similar to my audiobook strategy, I type my notes as I read. If I come across a longer passage I want to transcribe, I place the book on a book stand as I type. (Typing notes while reading a print book can be annoying because you are always putting the book down and picking it back up, but this is the best solution I’ve found.)

Of course, your notes don’t have to be digital to be “searchable.” For example, you can use Post-It Notes to tag certain pages for future reference. As another option, Ryan Holiday suggests storing each note on an index card and categorizing them by the topic or book.

The core idea is the same: Keeping searchable notes is essential for returning to ideas easily. An idea is only useful if you can find it when you need it.

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4. Combine Knowledge Trees

One way to imagine a book is like a knowledge tree with a few fundamental concepts forming the trunk and the details forming the branches. You can learn more and improve reading comprehension by “linking branches” and integrating your current book with other knowledge trees.

For example:

  • While reading The Tell-Tale Brain by neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran, I discovered that one of his key points connected to a previous idea I learned from social work researcher Brené Brown.
  • In my notes for The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, I noted how Mark Manson’s idea of “killing yourself” overlaps with Paul Graham’s essay on keeping your identity small.
  • As I read Mastery by George Leonard, I realized that while this book was about the process of improvement, it also shed some light on the connection between genetics and performance.

I added each insight to my notes for that particular book.

Connections like these help you remember what you read by “hooking” new information onto concepts and ideas you already understand. As Charlie Munger says, “If you get into the mental habit of relating what you’re reading to the basic structure of the underlying ideas being demonstrated, you gradually accumulate some wisdom.”

When you read something that reminds you of another topic or immediately sparks a connection or idea, don’t allow that thought to come and go without notice. Write about what you’ve learned and how it connects to other ideas.

5. Write a Short Summary

As soon as I finish a book, I challenge myself to summarize the entire text in just three sentences. This constraint is just a game, of course, but it forces me to consider what was really important about the book.

Some questions I consider when summarizing a book include:

  • What are the main ideas?
  • If I implemented one idea from this book right now, which one would it be?
  • How would I describe the book to a friend?

In many cases, I find that I can usually get just as much useful information from reading my one-paragraph summary and reviewing my notes as I would if I read the entire book again. 

If you feel like you can’t squeeze the whole book into three sentences, consider using the Feynman Technique.

The Feynman Technique is a note-taking strategy named after the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. It’s pretty simple: Write the name of the book at the top of a blank sheet of paper, then write down how you’d explain the book to someone who had never heard of it.

If you find yourself stuck or if you see that there are holes in your understanding, review your notes or go back to the text and try again. Keep writing it out until you have a good handle on the main ideas and feel confident in your explanation.

I’ve found that almost nothing reveals gaps in my thinking better than writing about an idea as if I am explaining it to a beginner. Ben Carlson, a financial analyst, says something similar, “I find the best way to figure out what I’ve learned from a book is to write something about it.”

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5 Healthy Relationship Habits Most People Think Are Hurtful

It became very successful. A lot of people commented and a lot of people shared and big grown-up websites who get paid to post smart grown-up things asked me if they could copy/paste it, ostensibly to make a bunch of advertising money off people acting like assholes in their comment sections. I said, sure, why not?

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(I know, sell out.)

But the post also helped a lot of people. Since writing it, it’s generated a staggering amount of thank you emails, and no less than 20 people notified me that it inspired them to end their relationships (or even in a few cases, their marriages). It was the wake up call these people needed to finally let go and accept that their relationship was gagging them with a shit-spoon every day. And they deserved better.

(So I guess I’m a home-wrecker and a sell out. Sweet.)

But the article also elicited a lot of questions like, “So if these habits ruin a relationship, what habits create a happy and healthy relationship?” and “Where’s an article on what makes a relationship great?” and “Mark, how did you get so handsome?”

These are important questions. And they deserve answers.

Granted, I have far more experience screwing up relationships than making them work well, but I still wanted to take a stab at a “healthy relationship” post. I didn’t want to just make it a (yet another) “learn to communicate and cuddle and watch sunsets and play with puppies together” type post. You can find those posts just about everywhere. And honestly, those posts suck. If you love your partner, you shouldn’t have to be told to hold hands and watch sunsets together. This stuff should be automatic.

I wanted to write something different. I wanted to write about issues that are important in relationships but don’t receive enough airtime. Things like the role of fighting, hurting each other’s feelings, dealing with dissatisfaction or feeling the occasional attraction for other people. These are normal, everyday relationship issues that don’t get talked about because it’s far easier to talk about puppies and sunsets instead.

Puppies are cute but they don't make a healthy relationship
Puppies: The ultimate solution to all of your relationship problems.

And so I wrote this article. This is the first article’s bizarre twin brother. That article explained that many of our culture’s tacitly accepted relationship habits secretly erode intimacy, trust and happiness. This article explains how traits that don’t fit our traditional narrative for what love is and what love should be are actually necessary ingredients for lasting relationship success.

Enjoy.

1. LETTING SOME CONFLICTS GO UNRESOLVED

There’s this guy. His name is John Gottman. And he is like the Michael Jordan of relationship research. Not only has he been studying intimate relationships for more than 40 years, but he practically invented the field.

Gottman devised the process of “thin-slicing” relationships, a technique where he hooks couples up to all sorts of biometric devices and then records them having short conversations about their problems. Gottman then goes back and analyzes the conversation frame by frame looking at biometric data, body language, tonality and specific words chosen. He then combines all of this data together to predict whether your marriage sucks or not.

His “thin-slicing” process boasts a staggering 91% success rate in predicting whether newly-wed couples will divorce within 10 years — a staggeringly high result for any psychological research. His method went on to be featured in Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book Blink. Gottman’s seminars also report a 50% higher success rate of saving troubled marriages than traditional marriage counseling. His research papers have won enough academic awards to fill the state of Delaware. And he’s written nine books on the subjects of intimate relationships, marital therapy and the science of trust.

The point is, when it comes to understanding what makes long-term relationships succeed, John Gottman will slam-dunk in your face and then sneer at you afterwards.

And the first thing Gottman says in almost all of his books is this: The idea that couples must communicate and resolve all of their problems is a myth.

In his research of thousands of happily married couples, some of whom have been married for 40+ years, he found time and again that most successful couples have persistent unresolved issues, unresolved issues that they’ve sometimes been fighting about for decades. Meanwhile many of the unsuccessful couples insisted on resolving fucking everything because they believed that there should be a void of disagreement between them. Pretty soon there was a void of a relationship too.

People like to fantasize about "true love." But if there is such a thing, it requires us to sometimes accept things we don't like.
People like to fantasize about “true love.” But if there is such a thing, it requires us to sometimes accept things we don’t like.

Successful couples accept and understand that some conflict is inevitable, that there will always be certain things they don’t like about their partners or things they don’t agree with, and that this is fine. You shouldn’t need to feel the need to change somebody in order to love them. And you shouldn’t let some disagreements get in the way of what is otherwise a happy and healthy relationship.

The truth is, trying to resolve a conflict can sometimes create more problems than it fixes. Some battles are simply not worth fighting. And sometimes the most optimal relationship strategy is one of “live and let live.”

2. BEING WILLING TO HURT EACH OTHER’S FEELINGS

My girlfriend is one of those women who spends a lot of time in front of the mirror. She loves to look amazing and I love for her to look amazing too (obviously).

Nights before we go out, she always comes out of the bathroom after an hour-long make-up/hair/clothes/whatever-women-do-in-there session and asks me how she looks. She’s usually gorgeous. But every once in a while, she looks bad. She tried to do something new with her hair or decided to wear a pair of boots that some flamboyant fashion designer from Milan thought were avant-garde. And it just doesn’t work.

When I tell her this, she usually gets pissed off. And as she marches back into the closet to redo everything and make us 30 minutes late, she spouts a bunch of four-letter words and sometimes even slings a few of them at me.

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Men stereo-typically lie in this situation to make their girlfriends/wives happy. But I don’t. Why? Because honesty in my relationship is more important to me than feeling good all of the time. The last person I should ever have to censor myself with is the woman I love.

Fortunately, I date a woman who agrees. She calls me out on my bullshit sometimes, and it’s honestly one of the most important traits she offers me as a partner. Sure, my ego gets bruised and I bitch and complain and try to argue, but a few hours later I come sulking back and admit that she was right and holy crap she makes me a better person even though I hated hearing it at the time.

When our highest priority is to always make ourselves feel good, or to always make our partner feel good, then nobody ends up feeling good. And our relationships fall apart without us even knowing it.

It’s important to make something more important in your relationship than merely making each other feel good all of the time. The feel good stuff happens when you get the other stuff right. The sunsets and puppies, they happen when you get the more important stuff right: values, needs and trust.

If I feel smothered and need more time alone, I need to be capable of saying that without blaming her and she needs to be capable of hearing it without blaming me, despite the unpleasant feelings it may cause. If she feels that I’m cold and unresponsive to her, she needs to be capable of saying it without blaming me and I need to be capable of hearing it without blaming her, despite the unpleasant feelings it may generate.

These conversations are paramount to maintaining a healthy relationship that meets both people’s needs. With out them, we get lost and lose track of one another.

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3. BEING WILLING TO END IT

Romantic sacrifice is idealized in our culture. Show me almost any romantic movie and I’ll show you a desperate and needy character who treats themselves like dog shit for the sake of being in love with someone.

The truth is our standards for what a “successful relationship” should be are pretty screwed up. If a relationship ends and someone’s not dead, then we view it as a failure, regardless of the emotional or practical circumstances present in the person’s lives. And that’s kind of insane.

Shut up and jump already.

Romeo and Juliet was originally written as satire to represent everything that’s wrong with young love and how irrational romantic beliefs can make you do stupid shit like drink poison because your parents don’t like some girl’s parents. But somehow we look at this story as romantic. It’s this kind of irrational idealization that leads people to stay with partners who are abusive or negligent, to give up on their own needs and identities, to make themselves into imaginary martyrs who are perpetually miserable, to suppress their own pain and suffering in the name of maintaining a relationship “until death do us part.”

Sometimes the only thing that can make a relationship successful is ending it at the appropriate time, before it becomes too damaging. And the willingness to do that allows us to establish the necessary boundaries to help ourselves and our partner grow together.

“Shoot myself to love you; if I loved myself I’d be shooting you.”

– Marilyn Manson

“Until death do us part” is romantic and everything, but when we worship our relationship as something more important than ourselves, our values, our needs and everything else in our lives, we create a sick dynamic where there’s no accountability. We have no reason to work on ourselves and grow because our partner has to be there no matter what. And our partner has no reason to work on themselves and grow because we’re going to be there no matter what. It invites stagnation and stagnation equals misery.

4. FEELING ATTRACTION FOR PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE RELATIONSHIP

Our cultural scripts for romance includes this sort of mental tyranny, where any mildly emotional or sexual thought not involving your partner amounts to high treason. Being in love is like a cult where you’re supposed to prefer drinking Kool Aid laced with cyanide to letting your thoughts wander to whether other religions may be true too.

As much as we’d like to believe that we only have eyes for our partner, biology says otherwise. Once we get past the honeymoon phase of starry eyes and oxytocin, the novelty of our partner wears off a bit. And unfortunately, human sexuality is partially wired around novelty. I get emails all the time from people in happy marriages/relationships who get blindsided by finding someone else attractive and they feel like horrible, horrible people because of it. Not only are we capable of finding multiple people attractive and interesting at the same time, but it’s a biological inevitability.

What isn’t an inevitability are our choices to act on it or not. Most of us, most of the time, choose to not act on those thoughts. And like waves, they pass through us and leave us with our partner very much the same way how they found us.

This triggers a lot of guilt in some people and a lot of irrational jealousy in others. Our cultural scripts tell us that once we’re in love, that’s supposed to be it, end of story. And if someone flirts with us and we enjoy it, or if we catch ourselves having an occasional errant sexy-time fantasy, there must be something wrong with us or our relationship.

But that’s simply not the case. In fact, it’s healthier to allow oneself to experience these feelings and then let them go.

When you suppress these feelings, you give them power over you, you let them dictate your behavior for you (suppression) rather than dictating your behavior for yourself (feeling them and yet choosing not to do anything).

People who suppress these urges are the ones who are likely to eventually succumb to them and give in and suddenly find themselves screwing the secretary in the broom closet and having no idea how they got there and come to deeply regret it about twenty-two seconds afterward. People who suppress these urges are the ones who are likely to project them onto their partner and become blindingly jealous, attempting to control their partner’s every thought and whim, corralling all of their partner’s attention and affection onto themselves. People who suppress these urges are the ones who are likely to wake up one day disgruntled and frustrated with no conscious understanding of why, wondering where all of the days went and remember how in love we used to be?

Looking at attractive people is enjoyable. Speaking to attractive people is enjoyable. Thinking about attractive people is enjoyable. That’s not going to change because of our Facebook relationship status. And when you dampen these impulses towards other people, you dampen them towards your partner as well. You’re killing a part of yourself and it ultimately only comes back to harm your relationship.

When I meet a beautiful woman now, I enjoy it, as any man would. But it also reminds me why, out of all of the beautiful women I’ve ever met and dated, I chose to be with my girlfriend. I see in the attractive women everything my girlfriend has and most women lack. And while I appreciate the attention or even flirtation, the experience only strengthens my commitment. Attractiveness is common. But real intimacy is not.

When we commit to a person, we are not committing our thoughts, feelings or perceptions. We can’t control our own thoughts, feelings and perceptions the majority of the time, so how could we ever make that commitment?

What we control are our actions. And what we commit to that special person are our actions. Let everything else come and go, as it inevitably will.

 

5. SPENDING TIME APART

Crazy girlfriend is not in a healthy relationship

You see it all the time: the man who meets his girlfriend and stops playing basketball and hanging out with his friends, or the woman who suddenly decides she loves every comic book and video game her boyfriend likes even though she doesn’t know how to hold the XBox controller properly. We all have that friend who mysteriously ceased to exist as soon as they got into their relationship. And it’s troubling, not just for us but for them.

When we fall in love we develop irrational beliefs and desires. One of these desires is to allow our lives to be consumed by the person we’re infatuated with. This feels great. It’s intoxicating in much of the same way cocaine is intoxicating (no, really). The problem only arises when this actually happens.

The problem with allowing your identity to be consumed by a romantic relationship is that as you change to be closer to the person you love, you cease to be the person they fell in love with in the first place.

It’s important to occasionally get some distance from your partner, assert your independence, maintain some hobbies or interests that are just yours. Have some separate friends. Take an occasional trip somewhere by yourself. Remember what made you you and what drew you to your partner in the first place. Without this space, without this oxygen to breathe, the fire between the two of you will die out and what were once sparks will become only friction.

The artist Alex Grey once said that, “True love is when two people’s pathologies complement one another’s.” Love is, by definition, crazy and irrational. And the best love works when our irrationalities complement one another and our flaws enamor one another.

It may be our perfections that attract one another. But it’s our imperfections that decide whether we stay together or not.

Love Is Not Enough For Us

What is Love?

Love is one of the most profound emotions we experience as humans. It’s bigger than us, meaning, though we can invite it into our lives, we do not have the control over the how, when and where love starts to express itself. Maybe that’s why 72% of people believe in love at first sight. Sometimes, love truly does strike like a bolt of lightening to the chest, and you aren’t prepared for it.

Since love is inherently free, we spend nights tossing and turning in an attempt to understand what it is, and how to know if we have it. How do you define something so uncontrollable and versatile?

That’s the tricky thing about love, we can feel it in a variety of different states–when we’re happy, sad, angry, confused or excited–and our attitudes about love can range from affectionate love, to infatuation and pleasure. We even use love as an action, as a force to keep our relationships with partners, or friends and family, together.

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In 1967, John Lennon wrote a song called, “All You Need is Love.” He also beat both of his wives, abandoned one of his children, verbally abused his gay Jewish manager with homophobic and anti-semitic slurs, and once had a camera crew film him lying naked in his bed for an entire day.

Thirty-five years later, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails wrote a song called “Love is Not Enough.” Reznor, despite being famous for his shocking stage performances and his grotesque and disturbing videos, got clean from all drugs and alcohol, married one woman, had two children with her, and then cancelled entire albums and tours so that he could stay home and be a good husband and father.

One of these two men had a clear and realistic understanding of love. One of them did not. One of these men idealized love as the solution to all of his problems. One of them did not. One of these men was probably a narcissistic asshole. One of them was not.

In our culture, many of us idealize love. We see it as some lofty cure-all for all of life’s problems. Our movies and our stories and our history all celebrate it as life’s ultimate goal, the final solution for all of our pain and struggle. And because we idealize love, we overestimate it. As a result, our relationships pay a price.

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When we believe that “all we need is love,” then like Lennon, we’re more likely to ignore fundamental values such as respect, humility and commitment towards the people we care about. After all, if love solves everything, then why bother with all the other stuff — all of the hard stuff?

But if, like Reznor, we believe that “love is not enough,” then we understand that healthy relationships require more than pure emotion or lofty passions. We understand that there are things more important in our lives and our relationships than simply being in love. And the success of our relationships hinges on these deeper and more important values.

THREE HARSH TRUTHS ABOUT LOVE

The problem with idealizing love is that it causes us to develop unrealistic expectations about what love actually is and what it can do for us. These unrealistic expectations then sabotage the very relationships we hold dear in the first place. Allow me to illustrate:

1. Love does not equal compatibility. Just because you fall in love with someone doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good partner for you to be with over the long term. Love is an emotional process; compatibility is a logical process. And the two don’t bleed into one another very well.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who doesn’t treat us well, who makes us feel worse about ourselves, who doesn’t hold the same respect for us as we do for them, or who has such a dysfunctional life themselves that they threaten to bring us down with them.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who has different ambitions or life goals that are contradictory to our own, who holds different philosophical beliefs or worldviews that clash with our own sense of reality.

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It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who sucks for us and our happiness.

That may sound paradoxical, but it’s true.

When I think of all of the disastrous relationships I’ve seen or people have emailed me about, many (or most) of them were entered into on the basis of emotion — they felt that “spark” and so they just dove in head first. Forget that he was a born-again Christian alcoholic and she was an acid-dropping bisexual necrophiliac. It just felt right.

And then six months later, when she’s throwing his shit out onto the lawn and he’s praying to Jesus twelve times a day for her salvation, they look around and wonder, “Gee, where did it go wrong?”

The truth is, it went wrong before it even began.

When dating and looking for a partner, you must use not only your heart, but your mind. Yes, you want to find someone who makes your heart flutter and your farts smell like cherry popsicles. But you also need to evaluate a person’s values, how they treat themselves, how they treat those close to them, their ambitions and their worldviews in general. Because if you fall in love with someone who is incompatible with you…well, as the ski instructor from South Park once said, you’re going to have a bad time.

2. Love does not solve your relationship problems. My first girlfriend and I were madly in love with each other. We also lived in different cities, had no money to see each other, had families who hated each other, and went through weekly bouts of meaningless drama and fighting.

And every time we fought, we’d come back to each other the next day and make up and remind each other how crazy we were about one another and that none of those little things matter because we’re omg sooooooo in love and we’ll find a way to work it out and everything will be great, just you wait and see. Our love made us feel like we were overcoming our issues, when on a practical level, absolutely nothing had changed.

As you can imagine, none of our problems got resolved. The fights repeated themselves. The arguments got worse. Our inability to ever see each other hung around our necks like an albatross. We were both self-absorbed to the point where we couldn’t even communicate that effectively. Hours and hours talking on the phone with nothing actually said. Looking back, there was no hope that it was going to last. Yet we kept it up for three fucking years!

After all, love conquers all, right?

Unsurprisingly, that relationship burst into flames and crashed like the Hindenburg into an oil patch. The break up was ugly. And the big lesson I took away from it was this: while love may make you feel better about your relationship problems, it doesn’t actually solve any of your relationship problems.

This is how a toxic relationship works. The roller coaster of emotions are intoxicating, each high feeling even more important and more valid than the one before, but unless there’s a stable and practical foundation beneath your feet, that rising tide of emotion will eventually come and wash it all away.

3. Love is not always worth sacrificing yourself. One of the defining characteristics of loving someone is that you are able to think outside of yourself and your own needs to help care for another person and their needs as well.

But the question that doesn’t get asked often enough is exactly what are you sacrificing, and is it worth it?

In loving relationships, it’s normal for both people to occasionally sacrifice their own desires, their own needs, and their own time for one another. I would argue that this is normal and healthy and a big part of what makes a relationship so great.

But when it comes to sacrificing one’s self-respect, one’s dignity, one’s physical body, one’s ambitions and life purpose, just to be with someone, then that same love becomes problematic. A loving relationship is supposed to supplement our individual identity, not damage it or replace it. If we find ourselves in situations where we’re tolerating disrespectful or abusive behavior, then that’s essentially what we’re doing: we’re allowing our love to consume us and negate us, and if we’re not careful, it will leave us as a shell of the person we once were.

THE FRIENDSHIP TEST
One of the oldest pieces of relationship advice in the book is, “You and your partner should be best friends.” Most people look at that piece of advice in the positive: I should spend time with my partner like I do my best friend; I should communicate openly with my partner like I do with my best friend; I should have fun with my partner like I do with my best friend.

But people should also look at it in the negative: Would you tolerate your partner’s negative behaviors in your best friend?

Amazingly, when we ask ourselves this question honestly, in most unhealthy and codependent relationships, the answer is “no.”

I know a young woman who just got married. She was madly in love with her husband. And despite the fact that he had been “between jobs” for more than a year, showed no interest in planning the wedding, often ditched her to take surfing trips with his friends, and her friends and family raised not-so-subtle concerns about him, she happily married him anyway.

But once the emotional high of the wedding wore off, reality set in. A year into their marriage, he’s still “between jobs,” he trashes the house while she’s at work, gets angry if she doesn’t cook dinner for him, and any time she complains he tells her that she’s “spoiled” and “arrogant.” Oh, and he still ditches her to take surfing trips with his friends.

And she got into this situation because she ignored all three of the harsh truths above. She idealized love. Despite being slapped in the face by all of the red flags he raised while dating him, she believed that their love signaled relationship compatibility. It didn’t. When her friends and family raised concerns leading up to the wedding, she believed that their love would solve their problems eventually. It didn’t. And now that everything had fallen into a steaming shit heap, she approached her friends for advice on how she could sacrifice herself even more to make it work.

And the truth is, it won’t.

Why do we tolerate behavior in our romantic relationships that we would never ever, ever tolerate in our friendships?

Imagine if your best friend moved in with you, trashed your place, refused to get a job or pay rent, demanded you cook dinner for them, and got angry and yelled at you any time you complained. That friendship would be over faster than Paris Hilton’s acting career.

Or another situation: a man’s girlfriend who was so jealous that she demanded passwords to all of his accounts and insisted on accompanying him on his business trips to make sure he wasn’t tempted by other women. This woman was like the NSA. His life was practically under 24/7 surveillance and you could see it wearing on his self-esteem. His self-worth dropped to nothing. She didn’t trust him to do anything. So he quit trusting himself to do anything.

Yet he stays with her! Why? Because he’s in love!

Remember this: The only way you can fully enjoy the love in your life is to choose to make something else more important in your life than love.

You can fall in love with a wide variety of people throughout the course of your life. You can fall in love with people who are good for you and people who are bad for you. You can fall in love in healthy ways and unhealthy ways. You can fall in love when you’re young and when you’re old. Love is not unique. Love is not special. Love is not scarce.

But your self-respect is. So is your dignity. So is your ability to trust. There can potentially be many loves throughout your life, but once you lose your self-respect, your dignity or your ability to trust, they are very hard to get back.

Love is a wonderful experience. It’s one of the greatest experiences life has to offer. And it is something everyone should aspire to feel and enjoy.

But like any other experience, it can be healthy or unhealthy. Like any other experience, it cannot be allowed to define us, our identities or our life purpose. We cannot let it consume us. We cannot sacrifice our identities and self-worth to it. Because the moment we do that, we lose love and we lose ourselves.

Because you need more in life than love. Love is great. Love is necessary. Love is beautiful. But love is not enough.