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Imagine for a moment you’re young and in love. Your life is carefree and you can travel anywhere you want.

But at the same time, imagine you’re an ambitious go-giver, a Type-A person that wants to leave a mark on the world, while also enjoying the finer things in life.

Oh, and you get to do this all with the love of your life.

Sounds like a Perfect Life, right?

But also a life full of distractions, temptations, and obstacles.

Today I want you to meet two of my dear friends, Rob and Laura Hanly, an Australian couple that I teasingly refer to as Digital Nomads.

Can you give me a quick background on your life in Australia?

They have a culture that starts with tradesmen, and they get up early. Whereas everywhere else we’ve gone in the world we’ve thought, “Why aren’t the coffee shops open?” So, Australia, or Sydney, has a very much early to rise attitude. Everyone gets in, very much work oriented, professionally oriented in Sydney, especially where we lived. So, it probably wouldn’t be too different to how we structure ourselves now, but just with a different backdrop and different opportunities.

What were the biggest changes that you guys made in your routines, once you got married?

We didn’t live together before we got married except for one month or something just to make the lease work. That was a really big thing for us because one of the biggest things that we heard is that people get married and then nothing changes. There is no milestone around this, whether you do it legally or a personal commitment to each other. It’s sort of like everything just keeps rolling. So, we’d been living together give or take a month before we got married.

Laura: I discovered that Rob eats a colossal amount of peanut butter. Colossal.

Was it harder or easier living in Thailand?

Laura: Everything changed really. I  left my corporate role about a month before we moved, and so I was still sort of working out what it looked like to work for myself, what I needed to be focusing on daily, what my new routine was going to be. And in the midst of that move to a completely different country with a completely different culture, and in a way it was great doing it all at once because I didn’t have enough time to sort of think myself into a hole about, “What am I doing for work every day?” because there was so much that I had to adapt to, kind of ripping off the Band-Aid and getting it all done at once was really good.

Rob: The lucky thing was that there was a coffee shop that opened at 7:00 am and it served the best coffee because the barista was trained in Australia. That little piece of home made the transition easier.

We moved to Chiang Mai because we knew some people there who basically helped us get our feet on the ground and start going. It Made a really big difference having sort of an established network there before we even arrived because people had already sussed out all of the good places to work and all of the good places to eat.

Laura, talk to me about writing focus.

Normally I’m up at about 6:15, and I like to go for a walk in the morning just to kind of get myself ready. Then I try to get some coffee, have some food, and then go to the office and get started working normally by about 9:00.

I do blocks of writing with 25 minutes of deep work and then I take a 5-minute break. Usually, to go and get some water or do something just to keep my body moving. I usually go from 9:00 to 2:00ish but if I don’t get 2,000 or 3,000 words done I’m annoyed.

When do you do your editing? Do you have a lunch break then? And when do you shut down for the day?

Usually by about 2:00, sometimes a little bit later, I’ll be ready to grab some lunch, and then I want to train in the afternoon. I don’t like being in the gym when it’s super busy so by the time it’s 5:00 pm it’s too late.

So I  have some lunch, go home, get changed, then hit the gym.

Then in the afternoon, if I have client calls I would do them later in the afternoon and leave that time to do sort of more admin stuff.

How important is communication in a marriage and what are your secrets to success in this area?

We laid pretty clear ground rules when we started dating. Right from the get-go, we had very clear standards for each other and for ourselves. We talked about those extensively at that time. That set a good foundation for communicating expectations, which I think are where a lot of people get tripped up, is if I’m expecting something but I haven’t communicated it, Rob could never meet that expectation. It’s an unfair situation for me to create.

Being explicit at all times about what you are looking for in the relationship, and not just what you’re looking for but also what you’re willing to give is crucial.

When we started our relationship, we both were very comfortable with the act of saying, “Here’s what I need. Here’s what I expect. Can you meet that? You can’t, no problems, that’s totally fine. There’s no bad blood or ill will, we’re just not a good fit.”

What resources do you recommend for married couples for communication & flourishing in all areas?

Rob: 

  • Psychologists.
  • External friends.
  • Strong family member.

Laura: Having a network external to the relationship because your partner can’t be all things for you. To expect them to be is very unreasonable and just sets them up to fail. Making sure that you have external sources of support, you know, whether that’s getting a therapist or a specific friend that you’ve known for a long time and really trust to talk about stuff.

What’s your mindset trick to getting back on track when a day goes off the rails?

Laura: Usually if I get to sort of mid-morning and I’m in a funk or I’m really distracted or whatever, I would just cut it. I will stop working and go and do something else. Mostly because the quality of the work I produce when I’m feeling so scattered is going to be so low that I might as well not do it. So instead of wasting the day and feeling frustrated and feeling like I’m just hitting my head against a wall, I go and do something else that I’m excited about. That gets me energized, come back strong the next day.

Rob: I just say, “You know what? Right now, for whatever reason, your psychology is not aligned. You do not have a life or death situation right here, and you have the ability to reorganize your day to match where your psychology is at right now, so just do it.”

Sometimes that means that my ideal perfect day doesn’t happen, but the key thing is I got the ideal perfect result.

 How do you get the relationship back on track?

Honestly, I think it’s just coming at it head-on. But also, you need to go about it at the right time and in the right manner.

Wow. What a show. That was so much fun and it’s so powerful to be able to do these interviews in person. I’d love to hear what you think of today’s show, and what you plan to change in your relationships, your morning routines, and productivity patterns for maximum success. Keep me posted, and please email me at support@earlytorise.com or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter.

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Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men's Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he'll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com

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