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My Self Reliance: A YouTube Channel Success Story – But Why?

DISCIPLINE STRATEGY® Blog by Timothy L. Coomer, PhD

Lessons on applying scientific research to solve real-life challenges within a framework called DISCIPLINE: [Decide] [Investigate] [Sort] [Conceive] [Implement] [Persevere] [Loop] [Intensify] [Notice] [Enjoy]

My Self Reliance: A YouTube Channel Success Story – But Why?

[Hey Guys – Breaking news: I just received 300 copies of Discipline Strategy that are available to ship NOW before the official release in January. You can order here: http://bit.ly/DS_SPECIAL. I will sign the book and ship it immediately. This will also give you access to all the online resources.]

I’m fascinated by the things in our society that attract attention. Recently, I discovered the YouTube channel My Self Reliance. It caught my attention for a few reasons. First, the channel features Shawn James, a Canadian outdoorsman, photographer, self-reliance educator, blogger, and freelance writer. His channel started in 2017 when he decided to build a log cabin in the Canadian woods without power tools. He documented the journey and his self-reliant lifestyle through impressive HD quality videos.

Shawn grew up loving the outdoors and shunning the expected traditional path of young men. But, he also saw the necessity of supporting himself and his family. He worked efficiently in the corporate world in a manner that allowed him time to continue to follow his outdoorsman passions.

A few years ago, he exited what most of us would call the “real world” and now fully invests his time and passion in his pursuit of sharing with others his love for self-reliance and independence.

His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers (I’m one of them!) and 150,000,000 video views.


For a few weeks, I have been trying to answer the question, “Why is Shawn’s YouTube channel so popular?” I believe Shawn’s calm, cool, rugged, self-reliance which does NOT include electronics, phones, T.V.s, Instagram, Facebook, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, constant demands, traffic, or noise, is a dream for most of us.

We all want, to some degree, what Shawn has. He is free. Let that word sink in a little bit. He is FREE!

Free from “what?” you might ask. Shawn is free from the daily demands we all face that don’t appear to have been “chosen” by us. I believe all of us live in a reality that is created by our decisions and choices (obviously, there are exceptions). I also think that through decisions, research, planning, and perseverance, we can create new realities. That is the premise of my book, Discipline Strategy.

Do You Want to Change Something?

Most of us aren’t going to pack up and move to the wilderness of Canada and go off the grid. So, short of that, what can you do? First, develop both a short-term and long-term plan, as I explain below.

Short-term Options

Get away from normal routines – find regular times when you can go away. Find a cabin, or a favorite Airbnb, and remove yourself from daily demands. As you set goals for the coming year, schedule these breaks on your calendar.

Block out time – Start blocking off personal time during your week. Unplug from social media, turn the T.V. off, and be undisturbed. Take this time to do something you love. Find a hobby. Go for a nature walk. Put this time on your calendar first and make everything else work around these time blocks.

Create a new habit – Somewhere in your weekly routine, take an existing habit, and add a new habit that supports your desire for some mental freedom. A friend of mine recently started waking up 20 minutes early to journal and reflect on gratitude. He has found that it supports a more peaceful start to his day and focuses his mind on the positive. What nurturing habit could you add to your daily routines?

A Side Note for writers

If you are a writer, consider Rockvale Writers’ Colony, a 503(c)(3) non-profit that my wife, Sandy Coomer, and I started. It is designed to provide writers a rural retreat surrounded by nature, historic buildings, and peace.  Here are a few pictures of Rockvale: http://bit.ly/DS_ROCKVALE_PHOTOS

Long-term Options

If you have been reading my blogs, you can guess what I am going to suggest here. Make a decision for change!

You are not stuck. You are not restricted. You are free to choose a new path. You can make decisions that change your life. I believe that. I have lived that. I have seen other people successfully create positive life changes.

Here is what I think you need to do, and I think Shawn demonstrates this through his life story:

1) Establish financial freedom. You do this by establishing a fixed budgeted lifestyle, becoming debt-free, and investing. Achieving financial freedom sounds complicated, but hundreds of thousands of people have done it by following the teachings of Dave Ramsey. He has all the answers. I started following him decades ago and committed to his philosophy. As a result, I was debt-free at age 40. There is nothing as exhilarating and freeing as financial independence. Go to Dave’s site and start devouring his content: http://bit.ly/DS_DAVE

2) Commit to health. Nothing will screw up your future and your freedom more than health issues. Make a life-changing decision to become the healthiest you can be. Get crazy intense about this. Put it at the top of the priority list. My book provides a complete recommendation on how to do this, but it is a very personal journey. However, I recommend several excellent sources to begin this effort (see the book for a more detailed set of recommendations).

For overall health topics:

Dr. William Davis:  http://bit.ly/DS_DAVIS

Dr. Peter Attia: http://bit.ly/DS_ATTIA

For fitness:

Walk as much as possible: http://bit.ly/DS_WALK

Jog (even if it is minimal): See this article: http://bit.ly/DS_JOG

Resistance training: See this article: http://bit.ly/DS_WEIGHTS

While walking and running are pretty easy to figure out, resistance training seems a little more daunting. I work with a local trainer (if you live in the Brentwood TN area, check him out. He is a living legend: http://bit.ly/DS_HUMBLE).  I believe using a trainer works best for most people. You just need two days a week. You can do this on your own, but I think the investment in a trainer is worth it.

3) Decide and create a compelling vision for your life.

Escaping to freedom is better than escaping from Hell. You want to go toward a powerful and compelling vision for your life that manifests your definition of freedom. It is up to you to create this compelling vision. It starts with a decision and is followed by a serious effort to learn and become your own guru. Then, you have to conceive a plan and begin to work. It may take you five years, ten years, or more to become financially free, physically and mentally healthy, and prepared for your next phase of life. It will be worth every minute of effort.

Honestly, step 1 and 2 (financial freedom and health) are the easy parts. The hard work comes in creating a compelling vision and working toward that vision for many years.

Shawn’s impressive independence, freedom, and self-reliance developed over several decades. He was blessed to have a compelling vision at an early age, and he worked until his vision became his reality.

My Thoughts

A new year and a new decade starts in a few weeks? Before January 1st, find three days where you can go away to think and plan. Make a decision, create a plan, and start building toward your compelling future. You can do this. Dare to decide and create a vision so compelling that your motivation will soar.

Be one of the first 300 people to receive the Discipline Strategy Book by ordering today – ships immediately: http://bit.ly/DS_SPECIAL