Brace yourself for the battle cry for personal development. In coming weeks, with 2019 fast approaching, the media will again bombard us with the usual ‘New Year, New You’ articles. We’ll be told everything we’ve ever not needed to know by a string of experts in fields ranging from relationships, careers and even DIY. Finding Mr (or Mrs) Right, they proclaim, is easy. Struggling with money? There’s a simple fix for that. Lacking in confidence? Read on!
Except that, unlike printed media, real life isn’t ever black and white. People are complicated and “simple fixes” to life’s greatest problems can’t normally be solved so easily or anywhere as quickly. The bookshelves – real and digital – are creaking under the weight of self-help books making similar claims. In my experience, few live up to their own hype and many repeat the same, regurgitated ‘research’ found elsewhere.
But, from time-to-time, a new title in the burgeoning ‘personal development/self-help’ genre will come along that does exactly what it says on the tin. Hotlifestyle: Essential Basics by Paul McQueen promises many things, but assured happiness and countless riches for all aren’t thankfully among them. Instead, McQueen’s book posits the benefits of making small, measurable changes to our daily lives that can help us to make the life improvements we seek. His is a book that advocates the sense of accomplishment over accomplishment itself; happiness can be found not only at the destination but also in the journey.
Hotlifestyle, then, is in practice a guidebook to getting one’s life back on track. It variously examines the key areas where most of us might at some stage benefit from a helping hand: vitality, life skills, interactions, and enterprise. Each of these four sections builds on and draws upon the last – improving sleep and fitness levels can, for instance, improve workplace effectiveness.
In the course of its 288 pages, the book also provides practical – non-patronising – advice about overcoming some of the more common complaints that could prevent us from living, what he calls, a ‘Hotlifestyle’ (hence the book’s title). Anxiety, stress, fear of failure, and confidence issues are all addressed and supported by the latest scientific research and social studies.
Unlike many of his smug contemporaries, McQueen’s suggestions are actually do-able. Rather than demanding that people immediately switch from a pints-and-pizza lifestyle to that of a teetotal ultra-marathoner, he instead promotes the benefits of making small and sustainable changes in everyday life. (If you’re thinking of making any New Year’s resolutions on January 1, read McQueen’s “30-day Vitality Challenge” first).
What makes the book, an Amazon bestseller, so particularly attractive (and somewhat unique in its field) is the author’s frankness. One person’s measure of success is not the same as another’s, he argues, and wealth in itself offers no lasting guarantee of happiness and fulfilment. Rather, McQueen encourages us to identify our three most important goals - three things that, if we made them happen next year, would make our lives amazing. Then comes the hard part: “It’s time to switch off the TV, throw out the junk food, and get what you know you deserve,” McQueen writes. “You know deep down inside that you want more out of life and that you have the willpower to achieve it.”
McQueen, an acclaimed entrepreneur and speaker, makes no warranties that readers will become overnight millionaires or “new” people. His message is a far simple one. It’s about becoming the best possible version of yourself.
Hotlifestyle: Essential Basics by Paul McQueen is out now on Amazon UK, priced £12.99 in paperback and £8.99 in eBook format. For further information visit www.hotlifestyle.info.
Exclusive Q&A with Paul McQueen
Q1: How did you coin the term ‘Hotlifestyle’ and what does it mean to you?
A: I have always been involved in lifestyle businesses, owning a film production company, making fitness videos and publishing a lifestyle magazine. I was heavily involved in the internet right from the beginning and dreamt of running a company from a sunny beach. It was this thought that gave me the name ‘Hotlifestyle’. The idea has grown over the years to be more along the lines of gaining a competitive advantage through making better lifestyle choices – as I have realised that it is the choices we make which decide how well we live our lives.
Q2: Why do you think a lack of self-confidence can stop people achieving their own ‘Hotlifestyle’ and how can your book help people address this?
A: Very often, anxiety – together with the fear of failure – can be cited as the root cause of a lack of self-confidence. Many people don’t even try for their Hotlifestyle because of these two issues. My book explains how understanding the mechanics of anxiety can put it in perspective. It goes on to show proven methods to desensitize yourself to whatever it is holding you back.
Think of someone you know who has a lot of self-confidence and ask how they got to this position. In most cases you will find that they had a series of small successes. Their confidence built with time as each success led them to the next. The key is to instigate situations that help you practice one step at a time, creating a more confident you.
Q3: How do you think your own ‘hotlifestyle’ contributes to your youthful appearance? Have you always looked young for your age?
A: : My youthful appearance today is a surprise to me. I started to re-consider my lifestyle choices about 25 years ago, when I was 35 years old. I took more of an interest in what I ate and how I exercised, because of two motivating factors: having serious back problems that had followed me for years, and a belly that I began to grow. I started watching what I ate and walked more when possible. I certainly did not “diet” or spend long hours in the gym. The key seems to be “everything in moderation” and reacting to the signs when you know you should instigate change in your life.
Q4: The book makes some very specific recommendations about everything from fashion to exercise - how do your own life experiences qualify you to advise others on these subjects?
A: I’ve been fortunate enough to meet people from all walks of life, mingling with wealthy individuals and those not so well-off. I’ve owned the big detached house, the flash car and been miserable in the process. I have had my 15 minutes of fame a few times. Like most of us, I thought that lots of money would solve all problems and bring complete happiness, so I lived to work. My book starts off by listing incredibly successful, rich and famous people…who committed suicide. If money and fame doesn’t make you happy, what then? Living a mediocre life doesn’t seem to make people happy either - I’ve asked around. So where do you begin?
I have, over the past 20 years, identified 4 key areas (Vitality, Lifeskills, Interactions and Enterprise) that when addressed will have a knock-on effect leading to a more fulfilling life – a Hotlifestyle. You end up gaining a competitive advantage in life. It is not one single attribute that brings success but the synergy of getting these 4 key areas of your life in order.
Q5: Stress and anxiety are often seen as essentially the same problem - can your book help people identify the differences between the two, and understand how to manage them?
A: This is a huge subject, which is covered in some detail in my book. Stress and anxiety can often have the same physical symptoms, which is why they are sometimes mixed up. The two emotions come from very different places and should be dealt with differently. Hotlifestyle discusses in some detail the mechanics of stress and the mechanics of anxiety to help the reader differentiate between the two. Each chapter suggests ways to manage the cause relating to each issue.
Q6: If there was one piece of advice that you could give your younger self, what would it be?
A: Treat people with the respect they deserve. Sometimes we treat people with more respect than they actually deserve and spend too much time with people we don’t like. Surround yourself with people that inspire you and whom you can respect.
Q7: What was the inspiration for writing the book?
A: Back in 2001 in my capacity as TV producer I found myself working in the editing studio on Christmas day, like many Christmases before. This was a time when I lived to work. I loved my job and would often work long hours, but on Christmas day, really? It struck me how crazy it was, and I realised that the work could wait. I sent everyone home and decided I had completely lost the balance in my life. During the Christmas holidays I imagined working from a beach house and came up with the idea of living a hotlifestyle and all it embraces. Over the years I identified the key elements that I had to get right in order to live a healthy and fulfilling life. It was my wife that suggested I turn it into a book.
Q8: What, for you, is the ultimate workplace style error?
A: Not respecting the company dress code.
Q9: If parts of this book don’t seem especially pertinent to readers, should they read that section anyway?
A: The book is really four books in one, addressing four key areas in your life as mentioned earlier, with each one building on the next. I guarantee that everyone will learn something from reading the whole book. Many of the issues discussed (sleep strategies, anxiety, back pain, wealth creation etc.) will crop up in your life at some time or another. Better to learn the methods offered and be prepared.
Q10: Do you have any specific life goals yourself for the coming year, or do you feel you have achieved everything you’ve set out to do?
A: I am a typical entrepreneur with a million ideas running around my head. I’m always learning, which keeps me young in the mind, and I’m always open to embrace new ideas and opportunities. I set my goals for the forthcoming year early on. What I can tell you is that it will be a very exciting year.
Q 11: You clearly enjoy a jet-set lifestyle that includes travel and adventure. To what extent does travel and seeing the world open the mind?
A: After my studies I worked in export sales which gave me the opportunity at an early age to travel the world and learn about other cultures. I have also lived many years in Germany and Switzerland. If there is one thing I have learned then it’s that people’s aspirations are the same regardless of where you live. The supermarket is the same as in the UK but with a different name. People queue orderly, drive cars and go about their business. There are bad parts of town and as well as good parts. People are generally proud of their country (especially the Australians).
As we moved to a new country quite often, we learned to be flexible and nimble on our feet. Integration, learning the language and finding employment is quite a challenge requiring a thinking-out-of-the-box mentality. I am fortunate that Brits generally have a good reputation around the world, especially in the creative sectors, which has certainly opened doors.
Q 12: You worked in senior managerial positions in a variety of global organisations for whom you facilitated change and increased revenue. What is your single biggest achievement in one or all of those roles?
A: It’s funny how you never forget your first big deal. At the age of 27 I was the export sales manager for a UK flooring company. The main distributor in Italy, who was not a customer at the time, was dissatisfied with their French supplier. I secured all the business for this distributor with a guaranteed contract of two 40-foot containers of floor tiles per week. This made the company the largest supplier of flooring in Italy. Since then I have had two separate companies contact me some years later and ask that I return to work with them. I seem to leave an impression on those I have worked with.
Q 13: You have a rare day free. How will you spend it?
A: This depends on the time of the year. When there is snow you will find us skiing on the slopes about 30 minutes’ drive from where we live. During the summer months we love to go walking in the countryside, often ending up in a beer garden. A reason we chose to live in Bavaria, Germany, is that the summers are long and hot, and the winters are covered in snow.