FROM BANKRUPTCY TO BUOYANCY TO BLESSING

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Hi, my name's Jim Johnston and this is my blog.

 

I started this blog originally back in mid 2021, before I really had figured out what I was doing. As had often been the case with me, I’d often run ahead before having a clear picture of where something was going.

As the name suggests, it was originally designed to talk about a very niche subject, which I had overly niched further. It was limited and a little dull.

 

I decided to follow my heart and build a site that focused on something I had a real passion for. Helping people find solutions to make their lives better, by helping them save time or money - in essence that’s what I get my kicks from and I hope I’m slowly getting better in doing that on this site.

My work or business experience stems from a number of areas over my life to date. Yet whilst I describe them as experience it’s important to note that I don’t claim to have been successful in all them, regardless of how long I had been doing the role:

 

  • Store assistant

  • Salesman for a large IT company

  • Call centre advisor

  • Barman & waiter

  • Business manager with a UK bank

  • Commercial Business Manager with a UK bank

  • Landlord

  • Barrister intermediary

  • Estate planner

  • Director

  • CEO

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Working at the bank wasn't always boring...

None of the above roles in the companies I worked for were great places to work. Even running businesses had downsides. 
 
I earned less as a Director and CEO than someone working as a store worker at Aldi over a seven year period. They had a pension given to them too!

Sometimes taking a job is the right way to go unless you are gainfully rewarded within a set time period from when you start a business.

HOWEVER - combined between all of that experience, I gained a lot of positive knowledge, even if some of that was ‘how not to sell a set of towels’.
 
We are the sum of our experiences, and whilst new habits can be formed, we often follow patterns based on learned behaviour.

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My sister and I in Ponders End, London.

Early years: 0-10

Growing up as a kid in one of the poorest parts of London, Ponders End, it taught me mainly survival. Sounds good but if you allow yourself to get stuck with that mindset you will fail to engage in other gears - like thriving, giving, sowing, feeling ‘allowed’ to earn life-changing money.

 

That's why I had a sense of having potential but never being able to ever fully grasp it. Something that is touch to shake even as an adult.

 

I’m actually not even a fan of the word ‘potential’ any more. It is like attributing a type of success to a person (yourself and others) before they have been able to work to receive it.

I am all for affirming and encouraging young people for every small thing they do or achieve that is positive though.

However, I believe using the word with kids can potentially sabotage them if they are constantly told about all of their amazing potential and all of the things they will grow up to do. 
 
That is likely to overburden the child and make them believe that it is untenable if they make a mistake or have a failure in their lives.
 
Being someone that grew up in a tower block, to a single mother I was still protected from the hardship of the world.
 
I was the seventh child, the only one with a different father. Not a great a way to help the family think you're great.
 
My mother being divorced from her previous husband had met a Greek Cypriot guy, who was a local machine engineer. 
 
He may not have been around for long but I am thankful my Mum decided to have me. At 44 she was no spring chicken, so the advice would have been to have an abortion. She was raised in a convent and so decided against this advice.
 
He was no single man. Being a family man already made the situation a little bit complex to say the least.

This was a tough time and place to raise a new-born in your mid-forties and on the bread line. She was a strong, kind and funny woman though and she made it work.

I did get up to plenty of mischief though as a young man.

One time, on a building site next to our tower block, the builders had left for the day and I climbed into a Caterpiller Tractor, started it with my door key and had a bit of fun. I was 7.

I was a happy but poor kid. I don't really remember being able to go any holidays before my teens, although there were a few short coach trips.

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Happy lad at 13 years old. 

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Me & my computer

Teen Years: 11-18

I’ll never forget receiving the best Christmas present ever - a computer! Whilst this didn’t help me socially, I could have cared less!

It was a liberating machine and allowed me the space to explore new worlds whilst being quite closed off.

Although it wasn’t long before our little family took a turn for the worst. My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when I was 13 years old.

Little did I realise that she’d had to go through a cancer treatment a few years prior to this for what I believe was breast cancer.

She’d survived, although I hadn’t clocked on or appreciated what she had been through let alone that she survived. On January 1st 1994, at around 2am in the morning, she passed away.

Following my Mum's passing, I was hurting. Filled with grief,  a lot of anger, frustration and plenty of self doubt I didn’t know what was going to happen next. Not even where I'd be living?  
 
Coupled with the challenge of wondering where I was going to live, I watched a room full of people attend the funeral. Hearing them speak afterwards I realised I was going to have to move away from everything that was familiar to me. Including living with a nuclear family.

So I moved in with one of my mothers few friends, home and with her family. I shared a room with one of my best mates growing up and his family. This was a good time.

They really took me into the family and I began to understand the value in having a family too.

Although it wasn’t long before something happened that meant social services whipping me out of there before I even knew what was going on and then I was living with my social worker and her son.

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Taking me in

Four years of stability followed and a brother I had found. I went to school, stayed in college and largely kept my head down. It was a very free household and they looked after me well in that period. After four years, they sat me down and said that they’d decided to move away (around 50-60 miles outside of London).

I was given the option to go with them in the middle of my final college year or find somewhere to live. So much for the family bond. Around that time I had been attending a local church in order to seek out a hot young woman called Hannah.

I was going along and trying to be around her and spend time with her. Proximity is power!  Whilst at a youth event at the Pastors house, we were all eating and he pulled me to one side and asked if I needed a place to live.

Considering I hadn’t shared this knowledge with anyone I’m not sure how he knew this - however he did. My first reaction at being offered a home prior to being made homeless was, I really don’t want to live with the Vicar!

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Young love...

Young adult and married life: 19-23

Although I went against that thought and what followed was the most secure four years of my life. A normal, mentally healthy family is not all common today, somehow I had found one and it was great.

 

You can take the child out of London, but you can’t take the London out of the child or so a similar phrase goes.

I wasn't always the perfect guest...

Driving an uninsured car, without tax or a driving licence. Smoking ‘substances’ out of the bedroom window thinking nobody knew among a few other things. Beyond this the family showed me grace and patience where others would have raged at me.. 

That meant I didn’t have to ramp up any argument or defend myself. I just felt loved and accepted. So I changed.
 
During this four year window I found stability for the first time in my life. By this point in my life I had moved home 27 times, lived with four families and lost my only parent.
 
This allowed me to dream for the first time in a long time again. Dream of the possibilities of who I could be, what I could do, where I could go. 
 
This is the realm of potential. Where you have a stable footing in life that allows you to dream of what could be, without having done anything that warrants being called successful. That's a dangerous place to focus on, rather than the work needed to get there.
 
The family I lived with treated me as one of their own. Another son. My new siblings were equally loving and supportive too. So much so that when I got married four years later I changed my name from Jarvis to Johnston.
 
I didn’t change my name to hurt my half brothers and sisters, some of whom I still stayed in contact with, I had simply found a family to belong to that wanted me around. 
 
Me and my new brother Jared became inseparable at times. Whether driving around, playing sports and generally just hanging out. We had a lot of laughs....and still do!

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The Johnston's

In April of 2002, I married that hot young woman that I met in Church several years prior. We moved in together and this was a whole new arena of responsibility.

 

I had been so spoiled for the last four years I hadn’t realised! 

  • My clothes were always washed and pressed faster than you could blink. 

  • A homemade nutritious meal was ready around 6pm every night. 

  • I was taken everywhere and looked after and I had forgotten how to be a help.

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Hannah looks amazing, I look 15...

My wife was the same way! We had both been so taken care of that we had to relearn everything from cleaning to cooking to managing a budget.

We did it though and we got by pretty well. It was a lovely time together where besides a few speed bumps we managed really well. For what would become a repeating pattern throughout my life I failed to figure out a plan for my life. Get a job? Go to university and study? Start a business?  

Whether it was a lack of conviction to decide or a fear of making the right decision I don’t really know. I took a year out to study theology which actually became one of the most enlightening times of my life. I took a part time job working at TK MAXX for a year to help support us, while Hannah worked Full Time.

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My firstborn

Starting a family: 24

In 2003 my wife was told that due to a problem it would be highly unlikely that we would be able to conceive and have children.

 

This was a difficult time and something we knew would take time to process. We stopped using contraception thinking that we would let things happen in their own timing. With prayer we let go and let nature take it’s course.

Around nine months later she gave birth to our son Micah. We’re still looking for that doctor :)

This was a lovely time of being a small young family. Figuring things out and trying to do the best you can with the limited knowledge you have. 

Moving north

Whilst I had moved out of my adopted family home for over two years by this point, I was still very close to the family. We had lunch together most Sundays. We were at Church together. We did a lot of other things together.

 

I had spoken to my brother in law around this time, my wife's sister's husband, and he had moved from the US and was in the UK. He was now moving to Leicester (around 100 miles outside of London).

 

After speaking with my brother in law  and Hannah's sister, we felt impressed that moving to Leicester might be the right next stage of our lives. We could support them with building the Church in Leicester - so we did.

 

I spoke to my Dad and he sent us off with his blessing, even though it was incredibly hard to leave them behind, we still meet up several times a year.

Looking for inspiration: The era of self help 

(Also referred to as self discipline development)

I like to read. In fact, for all my personal challenges over the years I have always been a reader. My birth mother was the same.

 

I naturally enjoy reading books that help you improve as a person. This could be a Jim Rohn classic or a Sci Fi novel. Although it’s generally not the latter

 

Whilst I love Sci Fi movies, books for me are about learning and growing.

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The Miracle Morning - Hal Elrod

I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of books during my life, especially ‘self help’ type books. So why wasn’t I becoming any more successful?

Experiencing poverty

I’d like to discuss this, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard but may help others.

Poverty is like a vice grip that can become un-relinquishing. Its a dark broken place that affects every part of your life.

  • Your relationships

  • Your thoughts life

  • Your ability to hope

  • The way you see yourself

 

Like an addiction, I believe poverty can become a dangerous cycle of destruction that can refuse to let you leave.

 

Not always, but sometimes I believe the only way to break this cycle is with support from those who refuse to leave you behind.

 

Sadly, many Christians in the western world too often abandon people struggling, even from within their own Churches. Advising people to ‘Turn to God’ for your help, not to people.

 

Whilst that advice sounds good, God often uses people to help those in need. That's what Jesus did whilst He was on the earth.

 

One of the reasons I started this site was to support people that want to escape poverty, to be able to do so confidently, and successfully.

 

The grip of poverty is not easy to break free from and can often cause us to blame things outside of our control:

  • Lack of a father figure

  • Had a major failure happen in your life

  • Not found a mentor to constantly (positively) nudge you into the right direction

 

My wife has been incredibly strong throughout our marriage, although the struggles she has had to face are unsurmountable at times. She has become somewhat of a hero to me in how she has endured the toughest times.

 

The reason for our financially struggle was partially down to me being the only income earner for many years. Hannah had been diagnosed with a hole in the heart which had meant she had been unable to work due to facing unpredictable and very severe migraines.

 

The kind that you need silence and a dark room in order to let it diminish. 

 

This went on for many years until the hole was repaired using pioneering surgery, using the noble stitch.

 

My first real business adventure

After a period of financial toughness, I was looking for a new idea. Something we could start that would change the world but also take us out of poverty.

I had come to a point that the pain of standing still

was greater than the fear of failure.

 

I’d had an idea or two in the past but nothing I was willing to go all out for. This time I did.

 

I started the worlds first remote viewings service for online property agents. This allowed those companies to use one of our contractors to conduct the viewing on the agents behalf.

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The Viewings & Property Business

After a slow start we grew in a brand new industry to:

  • Having around 350 contractors all around the UK

  • Growing the turnover to around £500,000 ($700,000) at it’s peak

  • Conducting upto 50 appointments a day

 

We were flying. I had struck up partnerships with G4S, InPost and others. It was a symbiotic dream. All brand new as an innovation. 

 

The company grew fairly fast and I beginning to sense I was out of my depth trying to do everything at the C-suite level alone. 

 

I had failed to have in place a finance director and had also failed to oversee the tsunami of debt that was building against us. Companies were taking longer to pay us, we were taking longer to pay our contractors. We were therefore losing contractors as fast as we could find them.

 

Now I will say that generally I am a positive person but this next phase tested me to my very soul. It also put incredible pressure on the team I had. Something I deeply regret.

 

The long fall from grace and shutting the business

I was taught through everything I had ever read - to never quit, with the exception of one book. That book advised me that sometimes you have to let things go that are not working in order to rebuild with the things that are.

 

When I started the company, seven years prior, I never saw myself failing. Yet here I was, after months of contemplation, I realised there was no way back.

 

I tried in those dying months to seek out a buyer and one came forward. Although it was clear that this was a ploy to run the business down further in order to pick it up for ‘peanuts’ later.

 

I then sought out an insolvency practitioner and closed the company. It made headlines with the national property tabloids.

 

Whilst it was sad and affected a lot of people, I was also incredibly relieved. The pressure and weight I had been carrying was gone, like a weighty back pack after a very long walk.

 

I was not making much money all in the company. Despite the years of struggles, pressures and anguish, I was earning about the same as a worker at Aldi (local supermarket).

 

Why did I allow myself to face such circumstances for so little for my family?
 

The loses I incurred from the business affected me financially. I had taken several personal guarantees on the business against my own home. The creditors came chasing and I then had to declare bankruptcy.

 

I felt as though my dreams were dead. This dark period blocked me from allowing me to hope for the future.

‘Cooked in the squat’

Zig Ziglar uses this phrase to describe southern biscuits (like cakes) failing to rise in the oven to a person that gets stuck when they were expected to grow and do well in their business.

 

Over the next year or so I reflected and had become ‘cooked in the squat’. I expected things to turn out right and here I was, worse off than when I started.

 

Time pressures hit you into your 40s. “I thought some of my dreams would have happened by this point!”.

 

To get out of the squat and rise you have to let go of what’s happened.

 

My faith
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Figuring things out...

My personal faith is important to me and has helped me through the darkest times. 
Even when you feel completely alone or abandoned in this world, there is one who sticks closer than a brother.
 
If I hadn't walked this journey with Jesus, I can assure you I would no longer be here.
 
Through the hardest times alive I can tell you that they are lonely places. Places where it is hard to come back from alone.
 
I pray you have the strength to carry on if you are in a dark place today. Reach out if this is the case. I would love to chat with you a while.

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The people I love most.

Where do I re-start from?

Restarting takes time after a major financial or business loss. Truth is there is no perfect answer if you are facing this. 

For some it's wait to heal emotionally and mentally. For others is throwing yourself straight back out there. It's down to you as a person.

Whatever you do avoid allowing yourself to spiral in your everyday responsibilities.  

Draw up a routine after a big failure, stick to it. Re-prioritise that which is most valuable. Your health, your family, your relationships, your relationship with God. Keep to it. If you struggle, find a friend to do it with you, or your spouse.

You may see and hear of other people's successes whilst you're working things out for yourself. That's OK. I’ve learned that you need to focus on your own story, don’t be overly attentive of everyone else’s story. Yes, celebrate their success, but you are not part of their story - you have your own story to participate in.

 

Rising up

After much reflection, prayer and prompting I decided that whilst I may not know the end of the story, I believe the next step was to begin my journey helping people the only way I know how, though advice, a little guidance and sharing where I have found success so that others can benefit too.

Where I am now

Over the last 18 months I have found new purpose and direction for my life, that is backed with a new level of energy and discipline to push hard for the next three years.

 

I feel energised at the possibilities of what will happen next, in the coming years.

 

I am now working on P.I.E nearly full time and the hope is that it will eventually replace my main income by January 2023.

 

My portfolio of investments continues to grow and you’ll learn all about those in the INCOME SYSTEMS section.

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Ready for the here & now

One of the greatest fears that holds people with a poverty mindset down for so long is that they ‘don’t deserve to have wealth’ or ‘that the money will mess me up’ - plus many many more. 
 
These are all lies. You don’t have to be worthy to have wealth, and wealth will never ‘have’ you as long as you are able to continue to keep giving it away.

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The here and now

My hope is to meet lots of new amazing people, continue to grow financially, lead others to financial freedom. Above all else continue to serve other people.

 

If you’ve read this far then I am so grateful to you. It would be great to connect and support each other and to build each other up.

I am not a perfect human being (who is?) but I always try to speak honestly to everyone.

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Thank you for reading my story. If you’d like to join me on this journey and you'd like to learn from both my mistakes and successes then sign up.


I pray this story encourages you, blesses you and lets you know that whatever you’re going through, you’re not on your own, it has happened to other people and that you will get through this.
 
Blessings,