Mark Bradford on How to Master Your Time, Energy & Resources

Are You Ready for Divorce?

TAKE THIS QUIZ and Find Out. 

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Episode Description

Mark Bradford wears many hats. He's an author, pilot, speaker, coach, and web developer. Above all, he's a master of life's game of time, energy, and resources.

In a revelation born out of the dark depths of his divorce, Mark discovered that life isn't just about clocking hours. It's about mastering the complex interplay of emotional energy, mental stamina, and physical resources.

Join us as we unpack Mark's Alchemy for Life system, which is designed to help you start managing your time and energy so that you can navigate the game of life more effectively.

Mark also explores the concept of having a 'love dashboard' in relationships. He also reveals how you can recalibrate the 'gauges' of your love dashboard to create more fulfilling relationships.

Whether you're in a relationship or hope to be in a relationship, this podcast episode promises to open your eyes to a new way of living.

Show Notes

About Mark
Mark is an author of both fiction and nonfiction books, host of a top 5% global podcast, licensed UAV pilot, speaker and full stack web developer.  He created the Alchemy for Life™ coaching system and won best new author in 2019 for his epic The Sword and the Sunflower trilogy.

Where to Connect with Mark
You can learn more about Mark’s coaching program and podcast at Alchemy For Life. You can learn everything author-related about Mark on his website at Mark Bradford.  You can follow Mark on Facebook at Mark Bradford, on LinkedIn at Mark Bradford, on Quora at Mark Bradford and on Instagram at Author Mark Bradford.   

You can listen to Mark’s podcast on iTunes | Spotify | TuneIn Radio | Podchaser | Lastfm and find Mark’s latest book The Devil's in the Details on Amazon.

Key Takeaways From This Episode with Mark

  • Mark has authored fiction and nonfiction books, hosts a top podcast, is a pilot, speaker, coach, and web developer. 
  • He created Alchemy for Life coaching system after going through a divorce and gaining full custody of his kids. This made him realize he needed to take care of himself in order to properly care for his children.
  • His system views life as being made up of time, energy and resources that get poured out into different facets like productivity, fun, learning, etc. If you run out, you either find more reserves or realize you need better balance.
  • Coaching helps uncover connections between different life facets. For example, one client gained time for piano by realizing driving her kid to sports drained her, so she asked if her daughter even wanted her there. 
  • For people lacking fun during divorce, self-care and self-love are important - treating yourself how you'd treat loved ones.
  • Framing and naming problems is key to solving them. People get stuck in frames and can't see other options. Coaching provides an outside perspective.
  • On relationships, Mark believes all are based on status - "gauges" for qualities we find attractive. These gauges are different per person and change over time as we mature. Communicating gauge changes openly can sustain relationships.
  • The discussion focused on gaining insight into life balance, happiness and relationships through reframing perspectives.

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How to Master Your Time, Energy, and Resources with Mark Bradford

Mark Bradford


relationships, coaching, framing


Karen Covy,  Mark Bradford

Karen Covy Host00:10

Hello and welcome to Off the Fence, a podcast where we deconstruct difficult decision making so we can discover what keeps us stuck and, more importantly, how we can get unstuck and start making even tough decisions with confidence. I'm your host, Karen Covey, a former divorce lawyer, mediator and arbitrator, turned coach, author and entrepreneur. And now, without further ado, let's get on with the show. With me today is my guest, Mark Bradford. Mark is an author of both fiction and nonfiction books, the host of a top 5% Global Podcast, a licensed UAD pilot, a speaker and a full-stack web developer, as well as a coach. He created the Alchemy for Life coaching system and won best new author in 2019 for his epic the Sword and the Sunflower trilogy, which sounds really interesting. Mark, welcome to the show.

Mark Bradford Guest01:09

Well, thank you for the welcome. I appreciate it.

Karen Covy Host01:11

So I'd like to dive in by focusing. I mean, you have done so many things and you've accomplished in so many areas, but I'd like to focus our discussion today more on the coaching stuff and the coaching system that you created. But before we dive into all of that, I was wondering if you could share a little bit of your story, your personal story, with the audience.

Mark Bradford Guest01:32

Oh sure, the genesis of my coaching system actually came from my divorce, and so when I was going through the divorce with the kids, I ended up having them full time, which is a little bit unusual, and I decided to take them to a psychologist to make sure that they were okay. And, as I said, I didn't want to be Obi-Wan creating Darth Vader. So because I'm just some guy, right? I mean, parenting doesn't come with a manual and certainly there isn't enough documentation out there for what happens during a divorce, especially with children. So I thought I would do that. And of course the psychologist said you're doing everything you can and in spite of what's happening around them, they are remarkably well adjusted. And I thought, oh, I think I can get up now. And she's kind of focused on me and said you're doing everything you can for them, but what are you doing for you? And then that's when I kind of froze and I see you nodding, because that's probably a very common thing and I wasn't doing anything for me, I didn't matter, right. And so what I learned was I did matter and that if, like they say with the planes, if you don't put your mask on first, there's not going to be anything left of you to take care of them, the people you care about.


So it really got me thinking. I thought well, wait a second, what's life made of? Then? And I figured out life was made of three things. Not a box of chocolates, not other things. It's made of time, energy and resources.


And no matter what you do, you're dealing with those three things. You go to work and you give them your time and energy and they give you resources back. And I see you doing like some mental calculations for certain things in your life. Right, I think everyone does that, right, but it really does work that way. And then I ended up figuring out that we spend these three facets, we spend these three things, in five facets of life, and then and I envision it as a flask, just like what's behind me and we'll report out every day we get our time, energy and resources. We pour it out for this or hobbies, or children or friends or loved ones, or job or passions, all that stuff. And sometimes it's 7 pm and you're like, wait, I need some more. So that's sort of where the coaching came from, and that sort of was my story, at least in a nutshell, about divorce, but I'm happy to answer whatever specific questions you might have.

Karen Covy Host03:56

I was just wondering. I like that idea of time, energy and resources. So let's say it's seven o'clock at night and you've poured out all of your time, energy and resources and there's nothing left in your flask or cup or whatever it is that you carry around. What do you do?

Mark Bradford Guest04:18

Well, sometimes you don't I mean sometimes you don't. And that's where a lot of people just sort of I don't want to say, give up, but they have nothing left to give. So either they dig deeper to find more reserves or they just say, well, I'm just done. A lot of times you'll talk to someone on the phone and say, hey, do you want to do this? And they'll be like dude, I'm in for the night, I'm not making any more decisions, I'm done, I'm going to sit on the couch and I'm going to stare at trash TV. That's what I'm going to do and I'm not going to think. And that's where that energy comes from.


Because energy isn't just physical, it's mental and it's emotional. And we forget about those aspects, because the thing that's preventing you from going to work out isn't physical. I mean, if it only relied on you being physically capable of working out, you'd work out all the time. You'd be he-man or she-man or whatever you want to be, but it's the emotional gas that you don't have. I don't feel like it. I don't get in the car. I don't know how good I'll do today, maybe tomorrow. Yeah, that sounds convincing. Tomorrow is better, and that's kind of what we do.

Karen Covy Host05:23

That's interesting because the whole idea I mean I think people discount how much energy making decisions takes, using brain power takes, and just being emotional, having emotions, especially strong emotions or negative emotions, takes a lot of that energy that you have. Or do you have a different experience?

Mark Bradford Guest05:50

Oh, absolutely 100%, and I'm sure your experience in dealing with people, especially through divorce, is probably. Energy is just right in your face. Constantly You're like, oh my God, this is what's preventing this, this is where this is to blame. Blah, blah, blah. It is the energy by far.

Karen Covy Host06:05

So what are someone's options if they're out of energy, If their tank is just empty and they're like you said, I'm going to binge watch garbage television for the rest of the night because I just can't do anything else right now. Is there a way that they can replenish so they can be more productive, or is the game to not drain yourself till you're on zero? I mean, is it which one is it or is it both?

Mark Bradford Guest06:33

It's both, it's absolutely both, and what we find usually when I do the coaching and people fill out this balance sheet, is that there is something draining their energy. They have look and they go. Oh my God, my productivity column is like this long, but my fun column and my spirituality column, my learning column, all the things that would give me energy back yeah, I'm not caring about me so I don't replenish it or I just get by in survival mode, which probably a lot of people who are divorced or going through a divorce or dealing with their kids and stuff, especially probably the 50-50 people. They probably put all their energy in that 50% when the kids are around and when the kids aren't around, they're like ugh and they probably do very little with that time.

Karen Covy Host07:13

Actually, you know it's interesting. You should say that because I was just talking with someone who it's almost the opposite. It's like they put all of their energy into the kids when the kids are with them and then, when the kids aren't with them, they have to put all of their energy into their job to make up for the time that the job suffered while they were with their kids, and that becomes the hamster wheel.

Mark Bradford Guest07:37

Yes, because there's only, like you were saying, there's only so much time or energy to go around. And yes, to address the other thing you said, you can't not only replenish it but get more energy. And there are things in life that can give you energy. In fact, they can even be things that previously took energy from you or take energy from someone else. And I use the quick example of someone who has to go to their kids' little league game or whatever.


Right, and for a lot of people that's very draining. They don't want to see it as, yeah, okay, great, I'm here to show up for you. I brought sandwiches, that's good. Oh, my God, when do we get to go home? Right, it's just in a reading a book or they're doing something else, and they're really drained by it. And there are people who are super into the sport or super into their kid and they're like, yeah, this was the best thing in the world. And then they go and say let's get our fries or ice cream or whatever, and they are jazzed and energized by it. So the same thing can have different effects on different people. So you have to find the things that replenish the energy and, if I may be, babble a little bit.


A lot of people have a number of barriers. One of the barrier is giving yourself a license to have fun, and that's one of the big issues with people that when they wanna write a book, is writing a book sounds, feels too much like screwing around Because they can't look anywhere and go. Oh yeah, like all those other people will go eight to five to write a book. That's not the way it works. Most people are writing a book in their off time and it feels like play, or they can sneak the book in between clients or whatever and go. I should probably be getting more clients. Or oh, okay, but I have to make dinner. Yeah, that's sure to be fun. Oh, I gotta stop screwing around. And if you give yourself a license to write, then it will happen, just like the other things.

Karen Covy Host09:21

That's interesting. Yeah, that's really interesting. What about the people who, for them, writing the book is just another time and energy drain? It's like they wanna write it but it's more like work than play. Yeah. And so it's like interesting, so say more about that, yeah, so there should be.

Mark Bradford Guest09:45

Yeah, so I believe humbly that they're doing it wrong then Writing is work. It could be a lot of work, but I think people find time and time again, the things that you put the most effort in typically generate the most joy. I mean, it really gives back to you what you give to it. I mean there are things that people do that people say man, you're fanatical about that. Man, I could never do that, I don't have the time or I don't have the patience to do that. And you're like, oh my God, it's the greatest thing in the world. I love doing this and it's because they put all that energy in and it reflects back to them all this energy, sometimes even more energy. So I think, if you're writing and I could go on and on, so I don't wanna take too much time but there's a different way to write fiction than there is to write nonfiction.


Obviously, nonfiction for most people is a bit more structured. It's a hierarchical arrangement of thoughts, so that can take some mental focus to go and re-looking at things and sheets and things to go. Is this a paragraph? Is this a whole different chapter? I mean, I need to expand on this. This wasn't clear, and then fiction is supposed to be fun, but not good fiction. Good fiction should take some work, because you also need a whiteboard and you need to plan out the what I call the framework, which most people call the outline, and then the characters, and then the characters conversations, and they're all put it against each other and if you're working on the wrong part of it, you're going to have writer's block.

Karen Covy Host11:16

Interesting. What do you mean by if you're working on the wrong part of it, gonna have writer's block?

Mark Bradford Guest11:21

So if you're focused on the dialogue, right, and you're having two characters talking, you're like this is really fun and you're like but I don't know what they have him say next or anything, it's because you don't know their motivation. So you didn't focus on the characters, you're just having two people talk. So of course you're never going to make any progress. Or if you're having characters interact and do things and you're like well, now I'm stuck, I put them at the end of this bridge. Well, you didn't work on the outline. So if you're going to try to get them out of the off the bridge, you can't, because you didn't plan what was supposed to happen there. You have to focus on the outline. So I think if you focus where you're supposed to, it'll just keep coming out until it's done and you'll bounce back and forth between those things.

Karen Covy Host12:04

That's interesting and, to sort of rein the conversation in a little bit, from writing it sounds like a similar analogy could be made for anything. I mean, if you put your focus where you're supposed to be focusing on, you're going to have a much better result and probably a lot. It'll be a lot more enjoyable. I know, depending on what you're focusing on, it may not be fun, but you're going to have a better time of it if you're focusing on the right thing at the right time.

Mark Bradford Guest12:34

Right, I think that's an excellent point. Absolutely, that's worth writing down. I mean that's really important that people do focus on that. We tend to focus on the things that are easiest or that we can depend on and we know the outcome, versus the things that frighten us or things we don't want to deal with.

Karen Covy Host12:49

Yeah, so in your coaching session I want to get into that, the alchemy for life coaching. What do you call it? System technique?

Mark Bradford Guest13:00

Yeah, let's call it a system. I like to think in systems.

Karen Covy Host13:02

OK, perfect. So what is the alchemy for life coaching system? All about.

Mark Bradford Guest13:10

So, as I said, what happens is we regard life as time-energy and resources, and what happens is I have something called the balance sheet. I thought it was clever, maybe not and so what it is is that it's a way for people to fill out the five columns I mentioned spirituality, fun, learning, productivity, obligation, that sort of thing and they basically just fill out these five columns to see where their life is at, not where they want to be, but what they're doing right now. And sometimes it's embarrassing, right, you say, well, I have a nine to five job, that's it, and I take care of the kids, but you don't do anything for fun. No, oh, okay, we see the problem right away, right, or would then we kind of expand into what they want to do and so forth? Once they put that out, we start to see the goals just sort of rear their heads, Like a lot of coaching systems.


It's I have a goal, can you help me do that? So what stopped you before? The thing that stopped you before is going to stop you again because we're not addressing it. We need to take a step back. So I look at this and I say life is a game. I'm showing you the board. So once you see the board, you go oh, that's why I can't lose weight, because I want to meal prep, but my job doesn't allow me to meal prep, so I'm just going to end up. I'm going to meal prep once or twice, complain about it at work, and then I'm going to end up just eating out every day because I can't. So you have to change that before you can change the other thing.

Karen Covy Host14:37

So what do you say to someone? I mean, all right, to use your analogy, life is a board. You show people the board and they're like, oh great, but what happens to the rules? What if the rules are stacked against them, like in your weight loss analogy I just don't have time to meal prep, or I don't like to meal prep, I don't like to cook, or I don't. So if somebody is in a situation where the rules seem stacked against them, or like they're going through a divorce and everything is against me, what do you say to them?

Mark Bradford Guest15:10

Oh, let me cheat. I mean seriously. I mean we cheat. It's wonderful. No, it's wonderful, it's a good cheating. It's good cheating because we go around these rules in a way that no one would think to go around them.

Karen Covy Host15:24

Say more about that.

Mark Bradford Guest15:26

Yeah, that probably requires an explanation. So we uncover the fact that something might be caused by something else and when we attack this, something else. That's really simple. Let me give you an example. Somebody is part of the coaching. It wasn't a major goal, but it did spring up as giving them more fun. They wanted to play the piano. Oh, okay, well, do you have the time for it? How do we make? Oh, yeah, but I don't really have the energy and I don't know, and I don't know how to do this.


So what happened was she was driving her kids to these sporting events like all week long. A lot of her kids is a single mom all week long and doing this stuff. Right, so I said so. She said I get home and I'm exhausted and this and this. I said I know this sounds weird, but ask your daughter if she wants you to be there. I said I know this is weird, but just ask her. She ended up asking her daughter and a daughter said well, honestly, mom, no, she said I kind of feel stressed because I see you out in the audience and you're reading a book and stuff and I know like it's no fun for you, so you could just drop me off. She gained three hours in a week because she asked your daughter a question, because she was afraid to be a bad mom, and she's actually being a better mom by letting her daughter breathe and her get the energy to go home and do the stuff that she wants to do, so she ends up being a better person in general.

Karen Covy Host16:50

What do you do for the person who comes to you, especially because when you're going through a divorce, for example, there is not much fun in any of that. So what do you do to the person who comes and says, a I don't have time for fun, or, b, I don't even know what fun is anymore. It's been so long. Either they're going through the divorce or it's happened in their past and they're just so used to the grind they don't even know what's fun anymore.

Mark Bradford Guest17:21

And, as you know, divorce changes you. You knew who you were with somebody, but you try to find out who you are and so you kind of become this new person, because then you start exploring things you may not have explored because you were too busy being a spouse and a father or mother. Like you change and that's fine and that's a good thing. Sometimes people fear change, but that's a good thing. People lose their fun a lot, in fact so much that I gave a talk at a major corporation in front of a bunch of CEOs that were transitioning and the person who hired me looked at me and said in front of everyone I want to hire you to find my fun, because she could see by looking at the she clearly didn't do any fun stuff.


And right, and you're saying very validly that you're going through a divorce and you're so drained by that every three months character assassination or whatever it is that you go through, right, like all that stuff that can happen in a divorce that you just are like, well, I'm just going to be home and sitting in my pajamas, oh my God. I think it comes back to the self care and the self love thing, which is so important, and the problem is that those terms are so overused people forget the meaning and they feel like, well, that's a fufi thing. I don't do that. I work for a living right.

Karen Covy Host18:37

Well, what do you mean by self care and self love?

Mark Bradford Guest18:40

Okay, I do think they're two distinct things. I think self care is essentially taking care of yourself, the way you would take care of your children and loved ones, right? There are things where you're like I'm just going to work two more hours. If your daughter called you and said, yeah, hi, I'm going to stay at work two more hours, you'd be like honey really. How are you feeling? Are you stressed? You know, really, do you think that's healthy? Like you might get some more work done, but probably not. Why don't you just it'll be fine? Like we need to treat ourselves that way, right? We need to say do really take care of yourself.


People think self love is just basically going well, then I'm just going to get a bath when I get home and I'll have my rose petals and reading stuff. That's great. But you shouldn't make it out so that it's this special thing that only happens once a year. Again, if it was a loved one, if you're madly in love with your husband, there are things that you would do and say I'm going to make the greatest meal ever because he loves a roast, and I'm going to make him a roast just because and think, because I care. Well, why don't you do that for yourself. Why don't you take yourself out for a martini and a steak or something or whatever, or say you know what? I'm going to go downtown and I'm going to wander aimlessly through this big library because I love books and I'm just going to do that. I'm going to grab a coffee and I'm going to sit there. I don't have a plan, I don't care, but that's what I like. I'm not going to feel guilty for liking that.

Karen Covy Host20:07

Okay, so the focus of this podcast is decision making and just to play devil's advocate with you here. So he said everything is time, energy and resources, and so and somebody is in this they're talking about self-care, self-love. How do you, when you don't have enough time, energy and resources, decide look, I am going to spend the time to go wander around the library because I love books, but I know that by doing that, I'm not spending time with my kids, or I'm not spending time doing the things that I need to do to get through a divorce or a tough situation, or move house or whatever it is. I have these responsibilities and I'm going to shirk those responsibilities and decide instead that I'm going to go wander around library. I mean how?

Mark Bradford Guest21:02

how do you know people do that? And that's exactly the framing that traps them in that world is the framing that you used, which is I'm shirking my responsibilities and I should be taking care of my kids, and if I don't, I'm, I'm this person, that's less than what I think of myself as. And see you trap yourself in this prison by doing that, by saying I'm shirking my responsibilities versus, um, there's only so much of me to go around, okay, it's not. Well, if I don't do it, no one will do it. Well, okay, then, no one will do it. Then. And I'm not talking about to the level of, like, disregarding your children and they're running outside in a diaper, you know, in the field, or something like that. I'm just saying, if you've never pushed back, you don't know where that wall is.


And the thing is what you'll find a lot with kids, at least, what I found in my anecdotal personal experience was giving them time to be by themselves. Oh my God, it's like you gave them a birthday present, like they're perfectly happy to have me time. In fact, they're thrilled to have me time. I used to go and shop with my daughter and go out and stuff, and we'd come back home and we'd look at each other and go me time, yeah, me time and she would disappear in her room and I'd go and do something else. And it was great because I had zero guilt, she had zero guilt and we got to do what we wanted to. It was priceless. It was such a nice thing.

Karen Covy Host22:19

You know, I think you've hit on something really, really important for people to hear. It's because the consequence of making a decision to do something fun or do something for yourself is often that you feel guilty about doing it, which means it's not fun even though you're doing the fun thing right. So how can we, especially as parents, get to that point where we don't have the guilt and it sounds like you did it by having a conversation with your kid- yeah, yeah. And that's amazing.

Mark Bradford Guest22:56

Yeah, exactly, it's the conversation. It's we sort of define these things in our head without involving the people we're defining. Like all, my daughter wouldn't like that. Well, did you ask her? Well, no, I'm sure she wouldn't. You know, and I'm sure lots of misunderstandings with couples happen that way too. We're like well, I didn't think you would like this. I thought you don't like doing this thing. I don't think I didn't think you'd like going to an art museum. You never asked me, I don't know, you know.


So I think we make these definitions and then we don't check in with the real world. And I think sometimes you just have to, and I think kids actually appreciate a little bit of vulnerability once in a while. I'm not a big fan of, like you know, breaking down and crying for your kids or in having them parent you, which is very destructive. Oh, I'm talking about just being vulnerable, I don't know, like I'm kind of torn because I don't wanna, I don't wanna ignore you, but also, you know, I'm kind of tired from this other thing, would you understand? And they, and almost certainly they'd say, oh, my God, yes, I'm in my room. Bye, you know, it's just the way it works.

Karen Covy Host23:58

That's so. That's such an interesting shift of perspective or, as you put it, shift of the frame. How else do we use framing, or does the framing that we use get us stuck?

Mark Bradford Guest24:17

What a wonderful and timely question. So the book I'm writing right now I make a reference to something that happened a long time ago. Let me try to be concise, which is very difficult for me. There was, for the longest time, scholars thought that people in the past couldn't see the color blue. They would look in the text, and even Homer and the Iliad he calls the water wine colored Doesn't mention that the blue sky has all these other, all these other colors for the water other than blue. Blue is mentioned, like once, and in most texts it's hardly ever mentioned, right? So what they finally found, after thinking we were colorblind in the past and other things, is that the way that our language develops is that we typically develop black, white, red, and then it comes after that, and blue is almost always last. And so the lesson from this, which I'm referencing in my book, is that if you can't say it, then you can't see it. So to them, blue was typically a darker color, or it was just like black, or it was just like green, and there's a lot of cultures that simply think of blue and green together. They don't even have a word that separates them, as opposed to this Namibian tribe that had all these words for green.


And here's the interesting thing you and I, growing up in the United States, I presume we have a specific word for light red. We call it pink, it's just light red, but we call it pink. Right In the USSR and Russia and so forth, they have a specific name for light blue. We don't. We call it light blue, just like we should be calling it light red. So guess what happens when you test a bunch of native English people to pick out the pink among a whole bunch of colors versus those people, they pick it out faster. Reverse it and they pick out the light blue faster because they have a name for it, so their mind can see it. And so, using that concept, I think if you don't name it, if you don't talk about it, it can become very invisible to you.

Karen Covy Host26:26

That's interesting. The problem with the whole concept of changing the frame is that people don't even know they're in a frame.

Mark Bradford Guest26:38


Karen Covy Host26:39

Or they don't know that they're framing something a certain way. They just think that's the way it is. To your point, they don't see it because they just think that's the way it is. How can you help somebody or get somebody? How can somebody do to start changing that frame, to see things differently?

Mark Bradford Guest26:57

Right, Besides seeing a coach which one of the purposes and jobs of the coaches, you know, is to see things from the outside, in a perspective that they're never going to see, and bring things of their attention other than that, I guess they can just expand their mind and talk to friends and ask people you know humbly say this is what I'm seeing, Does that make sense to you? They may have friends that will say no, no, that's not how it works. They may also share experiences, just like joining groups and things where you can share experiences from an outside perspective.

Karen Covy Host27:34

Interesting. So you know this whole conversation is fascinating. But because you and I have talked before, I also know that you have an interesting perspective on relationships that I wanted to dive into before we get too far afield. So can you tell me? I mean, in your opinion, what are relationships based on?

Mark Bradford Guest28:01

So, in my opinion, all relationships are based on one thing, which usually shocks people and they're already shaking their heads. And I wrote a series of books, starting with the Status Game, the Status Game 2, and I have a new one coming out which is essentially the third one. The Status Game basically means all relationships are based on status and as I kind of joke, I mean sure you can say, yeah, I'm the emperor of Europe, wow, I'm really impressed. Let's have a relationship. That's a part of it, but it's status that we have on.


What I like to think of is we all have a dashboard, like in our car, of gauges, and so the bigger the gauge, the more important it is to you. Just like in your car, the one right in the center that's big and giant, shows you how fast you're going and how likely you are to die right, so, or get a ticket right. So we have these dashboards with gauges on it for various things, like if we're in a romantic relationship. We have gauges for women, typically height, how much you feel protected the dependability of a person, there's attractiveness, there's attractiveness to others. There's all sorts of different gauges, of different sizes, and that's what dictates. Basically, the status on these gauges dictates what you're going to do.

Karen Covy Host29:12

Okay, I got to push back on this one, all right, what about love?

Mark Bradford Guest29:19

Oh, absolutely. You know I'm a romantic. I'm an absolutely hopeless romantic. I'm someone who believes in magic and I believe in all that stuff. But the logical part of my brain always pushes back and says I can deconstruct that. And so it can be deconstructed into gauges and things. I think if you look, if you could see this magical thing floating in front of you and you look at gauges, if you look at somebody who you felt in love with, I bet on the important gauges they'd be registering really high. And you could push back further and say, well, maybe people don't have a type. Well, they do.


I mean, there's reasons, nurture and nature that's causing you to be attracted to certain kinds of people, certain people who make you feel a certain way. And it might not be something physical, but it might be a spiritual connection that you have with somebody. It might be an emotional connection they're very emotionally mature. It might be an intellectual connection that you really respect the person's mind and the rest of it comes after that and you say, ooh, la, la. Later you know that stuff, that stuff happens. I mean there has to be a physical attraction as well, because that's just how we're built.

Karen Covy Host30:29

So yeah, sorry to interrupt, but is there a love gauge?

Mark Bradford Guest30:35

Well, I guess I call it the love dashboard. So there's three dashboards that we have. We have one for love, so it's our romantic partner. We have one for friendship and then we have one for ourselves and what we like about ourselves. So when you look in the mirror, you go I feel good about me being me, and it's because you register high on your important gauges. And when you're looking there and go, oh boy, I don't like what I did, or you know, this does not feel like me. Or your friends are like yeah, that's not you and you're registering low on the gauges that are important.

Karen Covy Host31:04

What happens? I mean, all right, so you've got these dashboards and you've got all these gauges. Are they the same for every person?

Mark Bradford Guest31:13

Absolutely not. Not only are they not the same for every person, because different people are attracted to different people. There are people that say, look, I just want to be a good parent, I don't care about making a zillion dollars, I don't care about this, I just want to have integrity, I just want to have honesty. Or you can have someone who says I need to have accomplishments just because of my childhood. I grew up poor and I'm never going to be poor, and so and so forth. Not only are they different for people, but they've literally changed for you and your life.


It's one of the reasons people split up, because their love gauge gauges shrink and grow depending on their maturity and their end happenings. You can have a gauge for how much of an artist someone is oh, what a beautiful poet this guy is. Oh, my God, that's what attracted to him. He has long hair, playing his guitar on the couch. You get to a point where you have kids and you go okay, dude, get a job, because that gauge shrinks. And now the one for dependability and the one for trustworthiness and the one for provider goes a lot bigger because you want a good dad for your kids and the guitar playing hippie guy is not doing it for you anymore. That stuff changes. Just like you grow as a person, you grow apart from someone. When someone says they're growing apart, I always think, oh, their gauge has really changed.

Karen Covy Host32:24

Is there a way if someone sees that in your language our gauges are changing? I don't want that to happen. I would like to sustain this relationship. Is there a way to make that happen? Is there a way to recalibrate your gauges, so to speak?

Mark Bradford Guest32:44

Absolutely. I think you could do it without losing who you are. If a gauge changes for a legitimate reason, then it changed. Leave it alone. That's just you. You've matured. You have a different like or dislike or something or importance. Your partner has to adjust to that, just like you have to adjust to that for your partner as well. I think they're the ones that have to adjust, with a lot of intimate discussions about that, and say I know in the olden days we used to go out drinking and stuff like that and it was fun, but now I need a little bit more intellectual stimulation. Now I need somebody who has a bit more ambition, or something like that. That's really where the conversation is, I think.

Karen Covy Host33:30

Do you think the gauges change out of a conscious decision, or is it something that just happens because of the environment? What makes the gauges change?

Mark Bradford Guest33:43

The gauges change based on some of the fundamental building blocks of psychology that we have that cause us to go towards. Freud had a concept called the pain pleasure principle. He's the one that developed it and everyone expanded on it. It's basically that humans are binary, that we go towards pleasure, we go away from pain, that's it. You can break down every single thing in your life into that binary. I know it's again deconstructing and demystifying. But even the most nuanced things in your life, your spirituality, wanting to be a good person, that all breaks down into seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.


I think that formula changes your gauges. But when you say can you forcibly change them? It's kind of like saying I really like vanilla and I don't like chocolate. Well, I should make myself like chocolate. Why, if that's your like, that's your like. I think self-discovery can maybe figure out that you don't really like tall guys and you keep picking tall guys who are a-holes and you wonder why you date a-holes. It's because you feel protected, and protected equals tall. You ignore the protection gauge. I think a little bit of self-discovery can help that.

Karen Covy Host34:58

Interesting, but you don't think that the gauges are, that it's a conscious decision-making process of I want to be this or have this, or do this.

Mark Bradford Guest35:10

I do think so. But behind it is a because, and it's discovering the because of it is discovering the why of it is where you're really going to do your work. So if you say I want this, I would say, well, why? Like if you said, well, look, I want to change this case, I want a lot more wealth. I mean, there's obvious reasons as to why you have it. But if you're happy and you're fairly well to do and you say, no, I want a lot more wealth, I would say, well, why? And you could say, well, because of my childhood. I don't ever want to be wanting or I want to. I don't want my kids to ever suffer. Or vacations are really important for my mental health, ah, okay, so those are the things you really want.

Karen Covy Host35:52

Interesting. It's a very interesting perspective and a way I have. You have a very unique way of framing things and putting the discussion that I haven't heard before. So it's it has been a very interesting conversation and I want to wrap it up by asking what I admit is a totally unfair question. So this is, I mean this podcast has to do with all things, decision making. What's the best decision you've ever made?

Mark Bradford Guest36:29

Wow, wow. I guess my answers are very intimate answers. So I'm trying, I'm. I guess I've made two. I think I've made two decisions that have really three. Okay, there's three decisions that I've really made. Am I allowed to be a coward and pick the least, the least controversial one?

Karen Covy Host37:00

You can pick whatever you choose.

Mark Bradford Guest37:02

Okay, I will say my cowardly answer is to write books is to immerse myself into writing because it's been such an interesting discovery process, it's been such a valuable thing and what's come out of it especially the sword and the sunflower it's just been such an amazing thing that never would have happened. So I really think it's a bit. I never considered it a decision, so that's why I started with it. Like you don't decide to write books, but I guess, looking back, you could call it that that's my cowardly answer.

Karen Covy Host37:32

I'll take cowardly what is just real quick. I know we've got to wrap up, but can you tell me what is the sword and the sunflower? What's it about?

Mark Bradford Guest37:41

So the sword and the sunflower is an epic coming of age heroes journey, set a thousand years in the future after something horribly cataclysmic happened right around now in which the earth lost most of its population. And yes, when I was writing this, all of a sudden COVID happened and then two other things I was writing suddenly showed up in the news and I thought, am I causing this? But so basically, a stable medieval society shows up and it's about basically a man who is a now is an assassin because of something horrible that happened to him, absolutely horrible, painful. He wants to forget and he just basically takes jobs to be alone in his pain. But he takes one last job that should pay an insane amount of money and it changes him in the world forever. He is actually a part of the world, is completely revealed if any meets somebody that becomes very special to him.

Karen Covy Host38:40

Interesting. It sounds like a fascinating book. Where can people find it so?

Mark Bradford Guest38:44

people can either go to and see all my goodies there my books, the reviews and so forth or they can always go on Amazon and look for me and my books as well. So the sword and the sunflower is an easy one to search for. It's the only book with that name for now, and you can see all my books on Amazon as well. They're available Kindle, paperback, hardcover and even audio book for two of the books that I recorded myself.

Karen Covy Host39:08

Wow, well, Mark, this has been a really, really interesting interview.

Mark Bradford Guest39:13

There's that word again.

Karen Covy Host39:13

So yeah, yeah, but it is. You have a very unique point of view and I appreciate you sharing it with me, with the audience. Tell people if they wanna you know where can they find you if they want to.

Mark Bradford Guest39:29

So again, they go to If they're interested in the coaching stuff, they can go to Alchemy for Life. That's literally writing out the word Alchemy for Life and putting a period between the four and the life, so it's alife and not acom. They can also find my podcast, which is called Alchemy for Life, and that's on iTunes and Spotify and all those other places. You know, you know the drill and so basically, and Alchemy for Life, you're gonna find all my goodies in those two places.

Karen Covy Host39:57

Mark, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us here. I really appreciate it, for everyone who's out there watching or listening. If you like this conversation, if you want more of this, give it a thumbs up, like, subscribe, share, and I look forward to seeing you again next time.

Mark Bradford Guest40:14

Can I interject one last thing, sure, about what you just said, because I think, coming from me as the guest, it is important that they like your show. I mean, as you know, when you're operating a podcast or a show, part of it's in a vacuum and we really need to know, and it's great when we hear later that, oh yeah, I love your show. Well, can you just press one little button and like it or share it, especially if they see an episode that you've done that? Maybe it's not for them, but they have an uncle or an aunt or somebody they know they should forward that or forward the email so that they can see your show and you do such a wonderful job too. So I just wanted to say that.

Karen Covy Host40:51

Thank you. Thank you, I really appreciate that and you're 100% right. I mean, podcasts are, in many respects, labors of love and the more people that like and subscribe, that's what keeps us going and allows the podcast to continue and definitely sharing. So if you could do all those things, that would be great, mark. Thank you again.

Mark Bradford Guest41:11

You're so welcome.

Karen Covy Host41:12

I look forward to seeing you all next time.

Mark Bradford Guest41:14

I do too, thank you.

Head shot of Karen Covy in an Orange jacket smiling at the camera with her hand on her chin.

Karen Covy is a Divorce Coach, Lawyer, Mediator, Author, and Speaker. She coaches high net worth professionals and successful business owners to make hard decisions about their marriage with confidence, and to navigate divorce with dignity.  She speaks and writes about decision-making, divorce, and living life on your terms. To connect with Karen and discover how she can help you, CLICK HERE.


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