Tag Archives: Change Your Life

Five Things You Should Quit Doing Today

IMG_20130803_130656_272

There hasn’t been much excitement around the Turtle lately. We’re in between trips, it’s rained nearly constantly this summer, and we’re both working hard to build our businesses. So I don’t have any great camper mishaps to share with you on this (hopefully not for you) rainy Friday.

As I sit here with my cup of coffee and watch water trickle down the windows in my tiny corner office though I do have some advice. You’re welcome to take it with a grain of salt or two Ibuprofen, it’s your choice. Here it goes…

Sometimes you have to quit before you can start.

There are things that we all do every day that can really get in the way of making life changes and doing big things.

There’s the obvious stuff, quit spending so much time on Facebook and go do something important instead. Quit eating so many miniature Kit Kat bars and go for a walk. Both of those were directed at me today by the way.

Then there’s the not so obvious stuff, stuff you may not even know you’re doing. You may have to really pay attention to realize what you need to quit.

If none of the things on this list apply to you then congratulations, you’re a robot.

Quit Doubting Yourself

You’re not too old, or too overweight, or too busy. Those are excuses your mind dreams up because you’re really too scared.

There’s a boy in our town with only one arm. I’m not sure if he lost the other one as a baby or was born without it, but now he’s around eleven years old and just as capable as any other little boy, and some grown men.

He’s also one of the best baseball players I’ve ever seen. He can catch a ball in his glove, throw it up in the air while simultaneously dropping his glove on the ground, catch the ball back in his bare hand, and throw someone out at second before some of the other kids even realize what’s happening. It’s pretty awesome to watch.

Kind of makes all our excuses invalid, doesn’t it?

Quit Procrastinating

I thought I would write about this later, but I guess I’ll get it out of the way. Badda bing.

Seriously though, 90% of the time when I put something off there’s a deeper reason for it. It’s not that I just don’t want to do it. Usually what it means is that there’s a step in the process I don’t fully understand or am afraid to do.

And nearly every time that I finally make myself sit down and tackle the issue it takes such a minimal amount of time that I can’t believe I put it off that long.  Especially when putting it off resulted in a late charge, missed deadline, or some other equally yucky thing. That just irks me.

Quit Trying To Make It Perfect

Most of the time done trumps perfect. I think the only exceptions are brain surgery and rocket science, and you should skip this if one of those applies to you. I’m flattered, but you probably have better things to do anyway.

Get it done, get it out there, and then work on making the next thing you do better than the last.

Quit Building Things In Central Park

In his book Start Jon Acuff talks about the concept of what Central Park does for New York City. It’s this huge patch of green land in the middle of a bustling city, kind of out of place really. Obviously they could find a thousand things to build in that space, there could be more offices and apartments and probably a great pizza joint. But they don’t. Because they need Central Park to keep the city working properly. Central Park is a break in the middle of the crazy. Not to be confused with Central Perk, which is what formed my opinion of Jennifer Aniston and all coffee shops.

Jon goes on to say that everyone needs their own Central Park. A space to rest, time to think and breathe. If you’re constantly rushing from one task to the next without spending a minute in your happy place you’ll quickly wear yourself down. Just like good design your mind requires white space to be effective.

Quit Forcing It

I’m talking to myself here. I worked hard yesterday… I stared at my design program tweaking pixels for nearly 10 hours with very few breaks. I wrote and did chores and caught up on lots of things.

And I’m feeling it today. I’ve had writers block all morning, I’m having trouble focusing and I just feeling scattered. And now I really just want to eat mini Kit Kats and watch Friends.

I know that pushing myself to do great things today won’t work. I’ll get frustrated and instead of getting in the ‘flow’ of work I’ll have trouble making my thoughts show up right on the screen.

So instead I’ll focus on small tasks. Things that have to be done – emptying my inbox, doing the dishes, website updates for a client, maybe just one tiny Kit Kat. These things don’t require a huge amount of thought on my part, but I can get them done and out of the way so tomorrow I can do big things again.

What have you quit in the name of simplifying or doing big things? Are you looking forward to relaxing this weekend or is that when you get things done? I’ll be catching up on Season 4 of Breaking Bad before the premiere Sunday night… if the rain will let the satellite stay on!

Advertisements

Experimenting With Rejection

IMG_20130731_184007_395

Editors Note: You don’t actually have to Keep Out, despite the sign. This will just probably be a slightly different post than you’re used to from me. There are no cats, or campers, or deep and hilarious thoughts. Just me musing about the direction I’m going to go for the next phase of my work and life. I’ll be back with more hilarity later this week though if this isn’t your thing! 🙂

A little secret about me, I’m terrible at asking for things. I don’t want to impose or take up too much of someone’s time or energy, I don’t like the idea of rejection and I generally don’t do well with being laughed at… unless I started it. That’s probably not earth shattering, I’m sure if you asked 100 people 98 of them would say they hate rejection. The thing is, out of those I’m sure there are plenty that would ask anyway. That’s where I want to be. And considering I’m an growing entrepreneur it would be pretty handy if I could learn to ask for things, because obviously no one is going to just offer it… despite all my hinting.

I read a blog post the other day about a man who wanted to learn to accept rejection. He knew being turned down for stuff was inevitable and he wanted to get past the fear of asking. So he decided to make sure the fear of rejection didn’t keep him from asking for what he wanted in life, because that would have actually been rejecting himself before anyone had a chance. Deep stuff, yes?

The way he decided to conquer that fear was pretty ingenious, kind of akin to the invention of sliced cheese or Redbox. He decided that for 100 days in a row he would make an intentional effort to be turned down once a day. He would ask for anything that came to mind and assume the answer would be no. He asked a policeman to drive his cruiser, a pilot to fly his private plane, and showed up on a strangers doorstep holding a soccer ball and wearing a full soccer uniform, asking if he could play ball in his backyard. He did anything he could to be turned down once every day.

The crazy thing is that according to the story, in all three of those examples, he wasn’t turned down. He played soccer in that mans back yard, he drove that police car and flew that plane. But as cool as it would be to play soccer in a strangers backyard that’s not really the part that piqued my interest. The part I thought was so interesting was the concept of asking with the intention of being rejected. It takes all of the pressure off, if the answer is no you can just shrug and say ‘Yea, that’s what I thought!’. There’s no risk of looking silly or being embarrassed because you tried and failed. Well, I suppose doing the walk of shame in a soccer uniform might be a bit embarrassing, but you know what I mean.

I think the experiment sounds pretty interesting, and I think we’ve established I like a good experiment, so I thought I would incorporate it into the Year of Change. Plus the answers may very well be surprising. Ya never know, maybe I’ll get to drive a police car.

Now, I think there’s probably a very fine line between asking in a genuinely expectant way and sounding pushy, or even having it sound like you’re just joking. I’m sure learning to ask will be just as important as learning to accept a possible no. The question needs to be phrased politely, but in a way that makes it clear you expect the answer to be yes. I’m sure a smile and the manners you learned in kindergarten will go a long way. And obviously being gracious if and when the answer is no would make the whole thing less awkward. Plus it beats silently backing away like a weirdo.

I’m in a perfect position to try this experiment. I own a small graphic design firm and I’m working on growing it by getting more clients. My ideal clients are small boutique businesses and bloggers, and I need to reach out to those people before I can offer to help them with what I do. I also need to contact other design firms and build relationships that place me on their list of freelance contractors. Another goal is to grow this blog and do more freelance writing, which might include guest posting on other blogs. That means I have to put myself out there for those possibilities.

This is the last day of my first experience with the Start Experiment (you know, the cult I joined?), and Round 2 starts this coming Monday. I’ve spent this first experiment getting my website and portfolio in order and talking to mentors, it wasn’t what I planned to accomplish, but it’s what needed to be done first. I’ve come along farther than I even planned in the beginning, and now I’m ready to reach out and start actually building the business side. So I’m going to combine the two, starting Monday the 12th I’m going to spend the next 24 days asking for things that will help me build my business. The answers might be no, they might be yes, I might even get laughed at. Whatever happens though I’ll keep asking and I’ll share it here, along with everything else we talk about! I might even throw some crazy questions in there just for the heck of it.

Also! Do you want to join me in an experiment? The Start Experiment is now open to the public! It begins Monday August 12th and lasts for 24 days. If you’re interested in getting motivated to change your life and want to join us there will be more information on Jon Acuff’s blog starting tomorrow, or you can always contact me to find out what flavor of Kool Aid to bring. 

 

Choose Your Adventure: Life

IMG_20130731_173748_272

Have you ever played a Choose Your Own Adventure type game? It’s usually a book that everyone starts reading at the same spot, and along the way you’re given a series of choices that lead you down different paths. The choices you make determine the outcome of your story. You could read the same book over and over and come up with a different ending each time.

Sound familiar? I thought it did.

Life, in its essence, is the ultimate choose your own adventure game. We all basically start the same, give or take some environmental and physical differences. Along the way we’re given choices, dozens of them a day sometimes. And the way we respond to those choices determine the outcome of our story.

You might make the choice to drop out of school or finish and go to college, you might decide to get married and have children or focus on your career, you might choose to rob a bank or work in a factory for twenty years. Nothing (aside from those pesky cops) makes any of those choices any more right or wrong than the others. But they all change the outcome of your story.

Sometimes the choices are smaller than that. Choosing to eat a salad or a candy bar, choosing to save money or buy something. But no matter how seemingly insignificant they are every choice changes your path a little.

The key is to make sure the choices you make every day are leading you to the outcome you want. If your dream is to become a doctor and you choose to work in a factory you may have misunderstood the rules of the game.

You won’t get it right all the time, and there will be detours along the way, but you have a much better shot if you know where you want your path to lead. If you know where you’re going and aim to make your choices line up most of the time you’ll get there. The saying “Begin with the end in mind” applies more than ever to this game.

You have to know where you’re going to know how to get there. So where do you want your path to lead? What type of person do you want to be? Don’t just pick at random, really think about the life you want to live.

If you want to be seen as brave and adventurous you may have to choose not to be afraid when the time comes.

If you want to be someone people see as educated and worldly you may have to choose to read a book instead of watching reality TV.

If you want to be a fitness expert you have to choose to practice what you preach.

If you want to own a business, start a blog, or travel the world you have to make the intentional choices that lead to those paths.

The really fun thing about this game is you are in complete control. Even if you round the corner and find a dragon waiting on the other side, you get to choose how to handle it.

Think about how you want to be known, pick your story, and then make sure your choices line up with it. The time is going to pass anyway, so why not make the most of it?

31 Lessons For 31 Years

It’s become a trend in the blogosphere ( which is an actual word according to my spell checker) to take a moment on your birthday and reflect back over lessons learned in the time you’ve been here. Since yesterday was my 31st birthday I thought I would follow suit with 31 things I’ve learned in these 31 years.

Note: I won’t be including things learned in the first 5 years of my life, because I feel like learning to walk, talk, and not pee myself is probably a given.

So here we go, totally random thoughts in no particular order… other than numerical.

1. Bigger Does Not Equal Better (For Me)

I’m at a point where most people want more stuff. They start moving up to bigger houses with more storage space and extra bathrooms, filling up spare bedrooms with nice sets of furniture and adding TVs to guest rooms. But I’m going the opposite direction. I want less things and more experiences. Even if we do build another house at some point it will be small and simple. I have things I would rather do with my time than take care of a big house and the things that fill it.

2. Being Positive Creates Opportunities

I’m a pretty content person. I’m sure that’s partly just my nature and partly an intentional choice I make to stay positive. But it really does go a long way toward creating opportunities. I won’t get all new agey on you, but positive thinking really is all it’s cracked up to be.

3. You Aren’t Your College Major

I graduated college with a degree in software applications programming. In layman’s terms that means Big Huge Nerd. This is definitely true, but beyond that I’m a creative. I write and draw, I design and constantly look for art in everyday things. This is something I’ve done as long as I can remember, and it’s time to stop ignoring it. The programming background helps when I work on websites, but my college major didn’t define who I am today.

4. Do Everything You’re Big Enough To And Then Some

I’ve spent far too much time being worried about what other people think and listening to the voices in my head that say I’m not one of those people who does big things. This last year especially has shown me how important it is to do what you want and do it now. You only have so much time here, don’t waste it wishing you had done more.

5. Luck Doesn’t Happen On Its Own

Wayne Gretzky had a great quote about this one – “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. I firmly believe that luck is the intersection between created opportunities and hard work.

6. Mornings Are Awesome

I wasn’t always a morning person, but I definitely have been for most of my adult life. Mornings are quiet time, the world hasn’t fully woken up yet, thoughts can float around all free and happy, and you become part of the day as it wakes up. If I sleep later than 7 o’clock I feel like I’ve missed something.

7. Travel Often

Not only is it fun to get away and see new things, but leaving your comfort zone can open up parts of you that you didn’t know existed. Go somewhere new, try a strange food, maybe walk around with an Australian accent all day because no one knows any different. You won’t regret it.

8. You Aren’t Going To Please Everybody

The only way to not have haters is to never do anything. Make the choice instead to make yourself happy, the people that matter will follow if they’re meant to. On the same note, some people will never be happy, no matter what you do.

9. If You Don’t Ask The Answer Will Always Be No

I actually wrote about this one here, and it’s still proving itself to be more true every day.

10. Eating Raw Cookie Dough Probably Won’t Kill You

Despite what my mom said. I ate some last night, and I feel fine.

11. Relationships Are Important

This one seems kind of like a no brainer, but I have a tendency to get so involved in my own life that I don’t take the time to keep up with my friends. I lost a good friend from college that way… I’m sure he got tired of me not answering the phone. Nowadays I try harder to be there, because some things you can’t erase.

12. Cats Are Jerks

Which is probably why they’re so fuzzy and adorable. But they’re still jerks.

13. Investing In Yourself Is Worth It

I don’t like spending money, especially on myself. But I’ve learned that sometimes investing in a course, conference, or just a haircut can have a profound effect on how I feel and act.

14. Everybody Has Fears

I honestly thought I was the only one who had that little voice who said I wasn’t good enough or people would think I was a fraud if I tried to do the things I wanted to do. Turns out, pretty much everybody has some version of that voice. And they’re all wrong.

15. Redbox Is One Of The Best Inventions Of All Time

Seriously, whoever decided to put movies in a vending machine was a genius. The only thing better would be a pizza oven mounted on the side.

16. Better Is Better

This is related to #1. I’ve recently learned that while more stuff doesn’t make me happier, better stuff does. And fortunately enough when you buy better instead of more you tend to spend the same amount of money in the end.

17. If It Scares You It’s Probably Worth It

In general if you find yourself uncomfortable or afraid of taking the next step you’re probably headed in the right direction. Unless you’re approaching a bear, rabid wolf, or giant cave cricket. Then you should back slowly away, perhaps using your Australian accent to confuse them.

18. My 30s Are Already Better Than My 20s

My 20s were good years, lots of great things happened – I got married, built my first house, and had a ton of fun. But as far as my self esteem and attitude towards life in general my 30s are clear winners so far. I spent a lot of my 20’s wondering if what I was doing was right or wrong, wondering what I wanted to be when I grew up, and feeling not so hot about all of it. Now I have a clearer purpose, a better sense of who I am, and better hair… I can’t explain that last one.

19. Marry Someone You Like

I don’t care how uncool it might be to want to hang out with my own husband (really, when did that become uncool?). He’s my best friend and we have fun together no matter what we do. I couldn’t imagine it any other way, and I highly recommend marrying someone you actually like to be around.

20. You Don’t Live In A Bubble

Although I wouldn’t consider myself an introvert I’ve spent years acting like I live and work in a bubble. I’m realizing now that it doesn’t matter what you do or how good you are at it, you need other people around you to succeed.

21. Consistency Matters

You become what you do every day. Do the things that will lead you where you want to go and you’ll eventually get there. Do the wrong things consistently and the grand gestures won’t matter.

22. If You Don’t Make A Change No One Else Will Do It For You

If you are stuck at a certain point in your life, spending your time unhappy and wishing things were different, you have to cause change to happen before it will. No one is going to come along and offer you a new life. Unless you witness a murder.

23. The Journey Is More Important Than The Destination

You should have a destination in mind, but don’t rush the journey trying to get there. Enjoy it, savor it, get lost a little along the way. You may end up somewhere better than you even expected.

24. Laugh Everyday

Even if it’s just at yourself. Find something to laugh at everyday and you’ll be just fine.

25. Don’t Worry So Much

It doesn’t do any good most of the time. I’m not great at this one, but I’m working on it.

26. Find Something You Love And Do It Often

When I was younger I read a lot, wrote often, sketched regularly, made cool things out of random stuff I found outside, and had a ton of fun. As I grew up I quit doing those things because they didn’t fit my new life. Now I find myself going back to the very things I loved to do growing up, and even incorporating them into my dream job.

27. Start Now

Whatever it is you want to do or be, if you start now you’ll be that much closer a year from today. The time will pass whether you start or stay where you are.

28. Do Your Best And Then Let It Go

I’m a perfectionist, if I can’t get something just exactly like I want it I have a tendency to trash the whole thing. But sometimes done is better than perfect, and sometimes the act of doing is more important than the result.

29. Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously

This whole life thing is marvelous, but unfortunately you’re not going to make it out alive. I hope you already knew that, if not I’m sorry for ruining your Tuesday. But now that you know you might as well make the most of it… have fun, laugh, play, work hard, do big things, and eat cake.

30. You Will Regret What You Don’t Do More Than The Things You Did

This speaks for itself. Base your decisions on whether you will look back at the end of your life (see #29) and wish you hadn’t been too much of a wuss to (insert awesome thing here).

31. Keep Learning Everyday

Try your hardest to learn something every day. If you pay attention it doesn’t even take that much effort. There are lessons everywhere, and there is always someone who knows more than you do. Ask questions, pay attention, read everything you can, and soak it in.

Ironically enough I wasn’t sure I knew 31 things when I sat down to write this post, but 1800 words later I guess I’ve proven myself wrong!  If you made it this far I commend you, and your commemorative lapel pin will be in the mail shortly.

Do you have any lessons to add? What would you tell you from a decade ago if you had the chance?

 

On The Beauty Of Working A/C And Starting

Lest you think we melted into a puddle of goo after the air conditioner went out last week, we’re still here. In fact, we’re now the proud owners of a superbly cool tin can (fiberglass, I know I know) with two brandy dandy new air conditioners.

But I’ll get to that in a minute. There’s plenty going on in this catch up post, so I might get a bit scattered, I apologize in advance for that.

First off, I have to mention the passing of my Maw Maw this weekend. My dad’s mom. She lived a long and mostly healthy 91 years and up until the last few she was independent and strong, to a nearly comical point at times. You knew not to wander in front of the TV when the game was on for example… any game actually. That was a running joke in her house. And I’ll never forget her shaking her cane at us like a character out of a movie when we tried to decline coming to dinner after some random family event. She, like a lot of my family, was larger than life at times. She was the matriarch on my dad’s side, a position she handled gracefully.

She also marked the fourth death in my family in the last few years… preceded by my Grandmama on my mom’s side, as well my aunt and cousin from the same side. That’s a lot to lose in a short amount of time, and it was especially tough on the family due to my cousin and aunt going much too soon.

It does however have the sobering, but beneficial, effect of making you consider your own mortality. I don’t want to look back at some point and realize I wish I had done more, or played more, or loved more. I don’t want to assume that I have another 60 years and find out too late that it was really only 10. I want to enjoy now as much as I can, to avoid the regrets that come with ignoring what you’d rather be doing. So that’s what I plan to do.

Now, onto a lighter note. I’ve joined a secret society! Sort of.

I’m a big fan of Jon Acuff’s writing, he’s the author of Quitter and Start (if you haven’t read those you’re really missing out!). He’s a great writer and an even better motivator, and he keeps a blog over at jonacuff.com which I follow. Last week he posted on his blog asking people to sign up to join him on an adventure. The post was up for about 24 hours before he took it down. It was vague but intriguing, and the only commitment at the time was to email him a little information, then wait and see what happened. Considering this is already the Year of Change I figured what the heck, and shot off an email.

I had almost forgotten about the whole deal, between the air going out and my grandmother’s passing. But then yesterday I got an email from him containing the link to a private Facebook group dubbed The Start Experiment. Of course I joined immediately, to find around 700 other people already there introducing themselves. It’s already been inspiring seeing all these people who are ready to do something beyond the norm, and the experiment hasn’t even begun yet. I won’t reveal too much, but so far it looks like it will start as a personal challenge of sorts, with an accountability partner. We will be asked to push ourselves outside our comfort zones every day for 24 days in some way or another, and I can’t wait. As an added bonus, did I mention I’m part of a secret society? I think we should get a handshake or some sort of power ring.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we didn’t melt in here last week when the air conditioner started messing up. There were a few sketchy days, but we were able to limp along by turning it on and off at the breaker when we needed it. We had to keep it off at night or it would freeze up, and I kept it off as much during the day as possible, but regardless we made it.

I did remember last week that we had an extended warranty that had been thrown in with the purchase of the Turtle, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to see what they would take care of. As it turned out, it was actually a pretty good warranty. They even offered to pay for a mobile repair guy to come out and fix it so we wouldn’t have to pack everything up and find a shop that could take us in. This time of year most repair shops are two or three weeks out, so that seemed like a terrible option all the way around.

After looking for a mobile RV repair place for hours though I was beginning to think a camping trip to the parking lot of a service department would be in order, until I found a place about an hour and a half away called Southern RV. They did warranty work, were certified, and said they worked anywhere in middle Tennessee… so of course they weren’t open that day.

I did get in touch the next day though and was able to get them started dealing with our warranty. It took several phone calls between myself, the repair shop, and the Xtra Ride warranty adjustor, but we finally came up with a plan. The warranty would pay for nearly all of the service call and all of the parts and labor to repair our existing unit, and we would cover the remainder to install a second unit in the bedroom. Great!

Marty was worried though that repairing the unit would just be a band aid and other problems would keep popping up, so after a lot of talking we decided to go ahead and spend the extra money and replace the unit we had with a new Atwood A/C with a heat pump. The Atwood’s are less expensive than the Dometic we had, and the repair shop said they were impressed with the quality of their construction, plus the heat pump will help lower the propane expense this winter hopefully. I paid for both units over the phone, then spent the next two days secretly hoping I hadn’t been duped by some kid with a fake website.

They said both units would be in by Friday and they should be able to come that same day, or Saturday at the latest. Friday afternoon came and went with no word, and I was really starting to question my own judgement. But then, at 7pm on Friday night, the Southern RV repair truck pulled up out front. The parts had come in a little after 4 o’clock and they headed out then.

It took nearly three hours to install the two units and fix a light switch that wasn’t working quite right, and I was expecting the worst when it came time to settle up. He showed me both work orders, the one they would send the warranty company for the repairs and the one I would owe for the extra labor since I had already paid for parts. It came time for the grand total and I held my breath a little…

That’ll be $85.

Huh? Oh.

That’s not at all what I was expecting. One hours labor. He even waived the remainder of the service call, saying if I wanted to give his guys a little extra to grab dinner with on the way home that would be plenty. I gladly did, and gave him a bit extra too for coming out so late on a Friday. The guys were all super friendly and professional, and they did a great job, definitely a win in my book.

Then we checked out our new units, and they are awesome. I don’t have much to compare to, just our travel trailer and this fifth wheel, but both of our previous A/C’s have been so loud you couldn’t hear each other well from one room to the next. Our TV volume would go from 20 to 50 when the air kicked on. When I walked in the den to look at the new unit I had to ask if it was on yet, it’s that quiet. And the air flow is twice as much as our Dometic Duotherm was producing.

Atwood hasn’t been in the cooling business that long, although they’ve made other RV parts for years. So we took a bit of a risk on these units, not knowing their track records yet. But as of right now I’m thoroughly pleased.

They function a bit different than any I’ve seen before though, and I had to call Atwood this morning to make sure they were working right, which I was assured they were. When the fan is set to Auto most air conditioners will run until they reach the right temperature and then cut off until they need to start cooling again. In these the fan runs all the time. When the temperature is right they switch to low fan speed and the compressor turns off, and as needed they cycle back up to medium or high and kick the compressor back on to cool things down. The result is super quiet and keeps the whole place at a nice consistently cool temp. Now that I know it’s not a wiring problem I have to admit it’s a pretty interesting process. They also have some other neat things, like the Dry mode which acts as a dehumidifier if you’re happy with the temp but want to pull some of the humidity out of the air. It also has a Sleep button,  when it’s set the temperature will rise by 2 degrees over the next hour, or lower by 2 degrees if you’re using the heat pump. All in all we’re glad we spent the money, and hopefully won’t have to do that again for a long time!

This week will be crazy as well, today is my catch up day. Tonight and tomorrow are visitation and funeral a bit more than an hour away from here. Wednesday is a morning meeting and getting ready for Thursday. And then the fun begins! We’re going to pack up the truck Thursday morning, hook up the boat, and head over to tent camp at Mousetail Landing State Park. We’ll stay there a few days fishing and hanging out. I’ve looked around and found a local concert to check out on Saturday night and a few restaurants to look at. Other than that there isn’t much in the area other than lots of rivers and creeks.

It’s an exploratory mission too, we’ll be driving around looking for an inexpensive piece of land along the Tennessee river. We’ve talked a lot about what the next step is and it would be kind of dreamy to be able to go to our own little spot on the river when we feel like it, or even live there for longer periods in the future. Ideally we would find one that someone has already set up for an RV, maybe with a concrete pad and utilities already in place. But if the price were right we could buy a 1/4 acre lot with no utilities and add them as we have the money. It would give us somewhere to go if we didn’t want the expense of paying rent at a campground, because a payment on land that small would actually be less than our rent right now. And it would serve as a bit of a home base too, without the commitment of an actual home base. We don’t want something that requires a lot of maintenance, we want to be able to leave it for as long as needed without worrying about things breaking down or tearing up.

I’ve bookmarked several great looking spots on Craigslist and some local realtor websites, and we’re excited just to go ride around a new area and look at the possibilities. Even if that doesn’t turn anything up it will still be a great weekend of fishing and camping!

Are you doing any camping this weekend? Starting anything or joining a secret society? If not you should at least go right now and do one thing that scares you… it’s great for the soul. 🙂

How To Get A Little Better Every Day

wpid-IMG_20130522_075051_039.jpg

Sometimes it takes just the smallest shift in perspective to change how you go about your day and help jump start real change.

Everyone has something they would love to make happen, but most never take the steps to get there. They sit there day after day, unhappy with the situation but unsure if they could ever change it, so they do nothing. Maybe it’s because of fear, or not knowing where to start, or maybe it just feels like real change is too hard. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re working towards a goal, no matter what it is.

Maybe you want to be debt free or a size 4 and you feel like it’ll take you forever to get there. Maybe you want to declutter your house, simplify your life, or build a business but you don’t know how to even begin. All you can see is the huge gap between where you are now and where you want to be, you don’t see the thousands of steps that will help get you there.

You start to think one decision won’t matter in the long run because the task you’re looking at is so big. Today doesn’t feel very powerful when it could take years to get where you’re going. That’s when you start making bad choices, because if today doesn’t matter then the choices you make today are miniscule compared to the huge goal in front of you.

But what if instead today is all that matters?

Unless you’re in the waiting room about to have liposuction or have just won the lottery you’re probably not going to drop 3 sizes or be debt free by the end of today, but you can be in a little better shape than you were when you woke up.

You can choose to go for a walk, no matter how short, or to not spend $4 on a coffee, or to take one small bag of unused stuff off to donate. You can choose to do things that cause you to make just a little forward progress. Even if it doesn’t feel like it will make a difference at the time, it will.

All those little choices add up, and winning is almost always the result of being born Charlie Sheen making small intentional choices every day. You don’t have to make the right choice every single time, that could cripple anyone with indecision. All you have to do is make sure that the net of your choices at the end of today has made you a little bit better in some way.

Your life is the sum total of your days, which are the sum total of your decisions, and those days are going to pass regardless of how you spend them. You can either sit idly by and wish things were different, or you can use the time you’ve been given to change for the better.

You could…

  • Get out and go for a walk around the block. It may be a short walk, but it’s a lot farther than you would have gotten if you’d stayed on the couch.
  • Eat a little something before you leave the house if you’ll be gone for several hours, that way you won’t spend money eating out.
  • Put a $5 bill in a jar. Next time you have a $5 bill, put it in the jar too. Only put fives in the jar and see how fast it adds up.
  • Take everything out of one drawer, separate it and decide what goes back in the drawer. Get rid of the rest.
  • Read an article on something related to your dream. Google is a wonderful thing.
  • Want to start a business? Decide to do one thing every day to get started – read articles, find your domain name, set up a price structure.
  • When you run up on something in your closet that you don’t love or don’t wear much, take 3 seconds to take it off the hanger and put it in a donate/sell box.
  • Start planning a trip if your goal is to travel, even if you don’t have the resources to go yet. Doing the research will make it more real in your mind and give you a good idea of what you’ll need.
  • If you want to be a writer, start writing. Sit down for 20 minutes and just write the first thing that comes to mind.
  • Clean up. If you’re anything like me you’ll be more motivated and feel better at the end of the day if your space is clean.
  • Say no thanks to a commitment you don’t want to take on. Just one for now.
  • Say yes to something that scares you. Push yourself to go outside your comfort zone and see what happens.
  • Set up a budget so you know how much money you really have.
  • Take a class. One class on something you want to learn how to do. Or even smaller, just research and find that one class so you know what’s out there.
  • Do something totally unique to your dream or goal.

Incidentally, the majority of this post was written in my head while taking a short walk this cool quiet morning. More often than not I think you’ll find that one good choice leads to other things falling into place. I always feel more productive when I walk in the morning, I have more energy to make better choices, and I nearly always clear my mind enough to be much more creative the rest of the day. It’s worth far more than the few minutes out of my day that it takes.

All you really need to focus on right now, at this moment, is making one decision that will ensure that tonight you are just a little better than you were this morning. Not perfect, just a little better. Don’t worry about getting it all right, one day your choices will have become habits and you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come.

You don’t have to sell your house, run a marathon or win the lottery to get started, you just have to start. One day, one hour, one choice at a time.

Project 333 – Thoughts From Day 22

wpid-IMG_20130327_172538_070.jpgI’m now 22 days into this experiment in paring down my closet, and I thought it might be time for another update.

For those just getting here I started this month by joining Project 333 for the first time, a 3 month long challenge which entailed taking about two thirds of my wardrobe, packing it away in a tote, and moving it to our storage building for now. You can find the original post here.

I wasn’t sure how easy or difficult it would be when I started, even though I didn’t wear a ton of clothes to begin with. It was just a little scary those first few days, looking at the gaping hole in the closet where the rest of my clothes used to live and not having the options I had before.

Now, 22 days in, I have made a few mistakes, learned a few surprising things, and can honestly say I really do enjoy it and will continue on when this 3 months is up. It makes me proud to look at my clothes and realize that I’m really only using what I need, and I’m looking forward to going through a full 4 seasons of this and finding out what my resulting wardrobe looks like.

Here’s a few bullet points… mistakes, surprising revelations, high points, etc.

I think my most surprising realization was the effect that this has had on my overall happiness. I didn’t realize this benefit until about a week and a half in… I looked in the mirror one day, and for about the 4th day in a row said to myself “You look pretty good today, good on ya!”. Because I don’t always talk to myself, but when I do I want to sound like an Englishman from the 1800’s.

The point being, that by having to choose my absolute favorite clothes I now end up wearing something I love every day. By extension, even though I’m wearing the same clothes more often, I feel better about myself. And ya know what else? Nobody notices or cares that I wore that shirt six days go. I logically knew this would be a benefit, but I don’t think I expected it to have an effect on my overall mood and self confidence, so that was a neat surprise.

– I lost my cardigan for several days (it fell to the bottom of the closet behind Marty’s shoes, and I didn’t look for it hard enough apparently) which really messed up some outfit choices! I did eventually find it, but the whole ordeal confirmed that for me, in this season, it’s a staple of my wardrobe.

– There have been a couple of times that I’ve gotten a little frustrated because something I wanted to wear was in storage. It was never a style issue, it was actually all weather based… we had a really cold snap and I ended up being outside for extended periods twice during it. But, other than my one cheat (see below) I managed to get by. And I realize that the frustration wasn’t at the challenge itself, or the lack of enough clothes, but at my own failure in choosing the right clothes for our weather. I’ll know better next time around hopefully.

– I did end up cheating once. I didn’t keep a long sleeved shirt out originally, I had a pullover and a cardigan, but there are times in early spring that a long sleeved shirt layered under a t-shirt is the best choice. We had a ballgame to go to on a particularly nasty cold evening, and I didn’t want to freeze to death for the sake of my experiment. So I found a long sleeved shirt that I hadn’t taken to storage yet (it was in the wash at the time), I had thrown it in the back of the closet to take later. Even with the long sleeve, my pullover, and the North Face jacket I still froze! I hated to cheat, but not enough to be even colder for those couple of hours. That also reaffirmed the fact that I need a long sleeve at all times, just in case!

– I bought a few things yesterday, which were mostly upgrades to things I already had, but two of them did have to be swapped into the closet and something else removed. I took out my North Face jacket until this fall and replaced it with a bit lighter weight zip up sweatshirt that I bought on clearance. I also swapped out a strapless shirt for a long sleeve shirt I picked up (also on clearance). The strapless shirt will probably come back out for the summer round, but I really won’t have much chance to wear it until then. I’ll be better equipped to make realistic choices based on the weather from now on I think.

I don’t buy clothes very often, but I’d like to eventually have a smaller wardrobe made of higher quality pieces… so I picked these two well made shirts up on after season clearance, as well as a pair of really nice, thick, comfy lounge pants, and a nice running shorts/tank set (did I mention it was a great clearance sale?!). I then swapped out two pairs of pajama pants that worn out or didn’t fit, a pair of running shorts that didn’t fit well, and several pairs of pajamas and a few workout shirts. I think all in all I came out with less items and more quality, so no buyers remorse here.

So far my overall impression of Project 33 = really positive. I’ll be joining up again at the end of this season for sure… hopefully you’ll join in if you haven’t already!