My story of how the simple act of writing and decreeing gave me the courage to leave home and country and leap into an unknown adventure.

I still remember the feeling to this day. It was mid-2005. I was a young associate lawyer in a well-known and reputable law firm in Manila. I was standing inside the carriage of the light rail train that travelled over the city’s major highway. I was doing the regular commute to my office, which was really just a 20-minute drive from where I lived.

I was crammed, body to body, with a carriage full of strangers. Talk about breathing on other people’s necks. I felt stuck.

I stared at the traffic below. If you’ve been to any major Southeast Asian capital city and driven or commuted during peak hours, then the term “rush hour traffic” would very likely have already taken on a completely new, visceral meaning for you. Venturing into Manila rush hour traffic is an adventure into the unknown. Imagine perhaps fifty thousand cars crammed within a four-lane, 24 kilometer stretch of highway, all travelling southward, and needing to arrive at essentially the same destinations by 9 a.m. You get the picture. When I was child growing up in Manila, my family and I would ride in our car on weekends and travel outside the city. We would breeze through this same stretch of highway that I was on that morning; it was normal for us to reach our destination within half an hour. But this was many years later. Two to three-hour trawls through morning traffic was normal.

I stared at the cars and felt sorry for the drivers. They’re stuck too, I thought. Just as stuck as everyone around me in the train carriage was. Just as stuck as I was. In truth, I’d been feeling stuck in almost every conceivable sense for a long time prior to that early morning commute to work.

I had already started my professional life as a lawyer. I was on track to reaching all the major milestones I had targeted when I graduated from college. At 21, I was starting at one of the best law schools in the land. At 25, I was editor-in-chief of the law review, and set to graduate, armed with a job offer from the richest, most prestigious law firm in the country. Six years later, I was a promising young associate attorney, on the fast track to make partner one day. I had not yet reached the summit of the mountain where every lawyer one day aspired to sit, but I was well on the way.

As I stood inside that packed commuter train that morning, however, looking down at the cars crammed like matchboxes, a deep and quiet uneasiness gnawed at my insides. It was a feeling I had become all too familiar with in recent months. It was a feeling that I was finding increasingly hard to deny or justify, and even harder to run or hide from.

I was miserable. Not because my life was bad — as you can expect, it was far from that — but because I knew I was meant to do something else and be someplace else.

I was miserable because, as I looked at the endless stretch of highway below me, with thousands of hot and sweaty, impatient and unhappy drivers, perhaps most of them only being forced, like me, to go wherever it was they were driving to, I saw that this would be my life for the next 30 years. A life of dreary rush hour commutes, unceasing work pressure, stuffy, conservative meetings, and working for money in a job that I was not passionate about. A life that was as far away, both in time and space, from the life that I knew, down to my core, I was meant to be living.

This was the exact moment that I heard the call to adventure.

I had read about it before: the call to adventure that precedes every “hero’s journey” that many of us will hear in the course of a lifetime. It is the call to venture forth into an unknown, mysterious future, where nothing is promised or certain.

I had heard the call once or twice before, but I closed my ears to it because otherwise it would mean quitting my profession. And I was never a quitter. How could I possibly explain this to my family, especially to my mother? She’d worked so hard to put me through almost five years of law school after my father died when I was 21. How could I tell her I was leaving a well-paid, secure job in a prestigious law firm, and leaving the profession that she and my father had dreamed I would one day be successful in?

I had reached the office tower where my law firm occupied two whole floors. I was still unnerved by the experience in the train of hearing the call. It still whispered so loudly in my ears as I was entering the posh, air-conditioned lobby. I stared at the listless expressions on the faces of the yuppies going in and out of the gleaming, polished sliding doors.

As I approached those doors, I saw my own face reflected on their shiny, mirror-like surface. Horrified, I realized that my eyes looked lifeless. Suddenly, I knew that I couldn’t deny the call to adventure, not this time.

If I did, I was in danger of losing myself and ending up just like those elegantly-dressed corporate zombies walking through the glass doors. Again, the call resounded in my ears; only this time, it was no longer whispering. It was blaring.

When that happened, I knew my life, as I knew it, was over.

That call had gripped me by the neck and was not going to let go. But I didn’t know what or where I was being called to. I knew I needed to go on my own journey, but I was clueless where to start. I was going to leave everything behind — my family, friends, job, and possibly even my home and country — but I didn’t know what, if anything, I would gain in return.

I needed guidance. I needed answers to the countless questions racing through my mind. I needed encouragement and assurance that I was doing the right thing. But above all, I needed to develop the strength and the faith to do what was required next. I turned to the only dependable, solid thing that had saved me in similar situations in the past. I turned to my writing.


We unleash a tremendous dormant creative force every time we write with serious, deliberate intent.

This is a principle that has guided me and I’ve taken advantage of my whole life.

I first learned this when I was about nine or ten years old. My mother had been taking me and my siblings along to attend regular Science of the Mind and Man seminars led by this alluring, mysterious and inexplicably charismatic lady called Charley. At that time, Science of the Mind was a new thing and Charley was the only person around who taught it. And she taught it like no one else I had seen before or since.

Her seminars were packed. There was an energy about this woman, with her commanding stature, her full-bodied flaming auburn hair, face made-up like the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, which enthralled an entire roomful of grown, smart, sensible and rationally-minded adults. I still remember my mother, and her friends whom she regularly managed to bring to those seminars, hanging on to Charley’s every word as she delivered her nightly lecture on strange, mystical concepts like mind energy, the collective unconscious, positive thinking, symbiotic energy fields, affirmations, and many others. The adults were captivated.

And how did her talks affect me? Well, I was a young, impressionable boy at the time. I didn’t stand a chance. This woman had smitten me with her unearthly ideas and I was beyond salvation. And I was only 10 years old! If she had looked me straight in the eyes and told me in her calm, low and slightly husky voice to shave my head and become a Buddhist monk, I probably would have.

One thing Charley taught was that each person could “think and decree” things into reality.

To decree is to state that something is so and laying it down as law that must be obeyed.

Charley taught that if you desire something, you think about it and write a decree. I always asked my mother who was going to read this decree and obey it, and she explained that it was God.

Every night after each seminar, tables set up outside the exits of the seminar room offered up an array of products that could be of interest to Charley’s students. Books were commonly sold, as were trinkets, amulets and various stones and crystals. But what always caught my attention were these small, bright green notebooks called “Think and Decree” notebooks. I knew they were called that only because those were the words printed in small, light colored font on the top of each blank page of the notebook. I liked them because they were curious objects — empty notebooks that held the promise that you would get whatever you asked for if you wrote it on those pages.

Image for postThink and decree: As a boy, I was taught that if I desired something, I should think about it and write a “decree” in a special notebook.

You can just imagine how enticing these “Think and Decree” notebooks were for a kid. I was sure I would get whatever I listed down in the Think and Decree notebook, even completely frivolous things like my own basketball ring, because, honestly, I thought it was a Christmas list that my parents would eventually sneak a peek at.

I would eventually learn that the point of these Think and Decree notebooks was not to use them like a Christmas present wish list. I would also soon realize that I did not actually get every single thing I wrote on there. I got only those things that I truly and deeply desired, which I thought about most of the time, and that I wrote down and absolutely expected to get.

So, I did get many things that I listed down in my Think and Decree notebook. At first, I thought that it was the notebook itself that was special, that Charley must have imbued it with some of her mystical mojo. But eventually I realized that the notebook was only a tool, and that it was not the tool that was anything special or carried magical powers. It was what I did with that tool that carried, or more appropriately, activated the magical power. And it was this power (which I would also quickly learn was not my parents!) that brought me what I wrote down.

As early as then, I was being taught a priceless lesson by this simplest of tools — a small blank notebook — that whatever I truly desired and wrote down with deliberate intent, which I believed, with a simple, child-like faith I would get and took inspired action to get, would eventually become mine.

I learned this lesson at 11 years old, and it would be my rock, my anchor growing up. It is the same principle that powers each technique in this book.

Having been introduced to the concept of using writing as a transformative and creative tool, it was no longer an alien idea to me by the time I found myself stuck in the light rail train carriage with a hundred other passengers. But after practicing writing in this way as a boy, I had never again written a goal in a Think and Decree notebook or any other notebook.

How often in your life have you learned something valuable — a piece of knowledge, principle or skill — that had the power to elevate you to a higher level and transform you into the best and most amazing version of yourself? And how many times did you learn that valuable principle or skill and never applied or practiced it ever again?

Well I had been taught something powerful and amazing in writing a goal down on paper and decreeing it so. But I never practiced it again. This was unusual considering that writing was in my soul. I had started keeping a journal, in which I consistently wrote, since I was 16 years old. I loved to write. I needed to write. Writing for me is as essential as thinking and breathing.

Soon after that light rail experience, I was browsing through a bookstore when I saw a book that I felt had been written just for me.

It was Write It Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Klauser. The book explained how simply writing your goals in life was the first step to achieving them.

Henriette explained the science behind how and why writing things down tends to actualize what has been written. In the book were collected the stories of ordinary people who witnessed miracles large and small unfold in their lives after they performed the simple act of writing their dreams on paper.

The book was the wake-up call that I had been waiting for. In my book WriteTech, I write how the call to adventure is often accompanied by a herald. It is as if the universe knows we are ready for adventure and sends us a sign — it could be a person, event, circumstance that tells us we are on the right track, that we should go on an adventure. The sign could be literally anything. Even a book.

Write It Down, Make It Happen contained stories of people who had heard their own calls to adventure in the form of a strong desire to do something that they had never done before, a dream or ambition that was seemingly irresponsible or even crazy to the world. But it was something that they knew they had to do or they would forever exist unfulfilled, living half-lives.

The stories in the book reminded me of something I already knew since I had listened to Charley’s lectures as a boy and bought one of her magical green “Think and Decree” notebooks; it was something that I had once learned but since forgotten. Since I could no longer get hold of the original “Think and Decree” notebook and Charley had since disappeared, I bought a similar small green notebook. I wrote “Think and Decree” on the cover page as well as the top of every page, just like the original notebook. On May 16, 2006 I wrote one of the first entries in that notebook:

“I want to work, live, build and establish ties in Australia. I want to experience life there for an extended, indefinite period of time and I want this to happen by January 2007, when I’m 33 years old.”

I wrote down this goal when I was 32 years old. When I wrote it, I had no idea how I could accomplish it. I had neither plan nor resources to achieve it. I was totally clueless as to how I could pull off the massive job of packing up and leaving family, job, friends and home to go live in a country I had never been to, for what could be forever. Still, that was what I wanted and I wrote it down.

But miraculously, exactly 5 months and 6 days from the time I put down that goal on paper, I landed in Melbourne, Australia. I had started a chain of unusual, extraordinary circumstances all through my writing.

As I write these words, I have been working, living, building and establishing ties in Australia for 14 years, 3 months and 22 days. I have experienced life here and had countless amazing experiences. I went back to school, met a wonderful woman, built a loving home with her, and started my own publishing company. An exciting future waits.


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