It took me a number of attempts to finish the first year of university. One of the hurdles was money because I was kicked out of home but couldn't get Austudy, the government support payments.

When I was 19 I was working in a Canberra coffee bar named Robert's. Robert was a former assistant tax commissioner or something who'd retired and started the business. He was also involved in Kenja, a communication-focused organisation that was later described as a cult in NSW parliament. Robert paid for some of his staff to attend Kenja workshops and those I went to were interesting but the fervor of the followers was a little unsettling. I sometimes wonder if Scientology is like that.

Anyway, one time I was talking to Robert about how I wanted to study but needed Austudy and didn't know whether I was going to get it or not and he offered some advice that I still reflect on regularly.

He said to imagine an empty box. Well, it looks empty but there are all sorts of atoms in it bouncing around randomly. He said to imagine putting a solid object into the box and visualise how the atoms would react. They would form patterns as they reflected off the object.

This was what it was like to make a decision, he said. Once you decide on a course of action, that decision forces other elements in your life to accommodate it. Patterns will emerge and other elements in your life will fall into place around your decision.