Keep the Change

As a kid, we’ve all sold something.  Today, I challenge you to think about and remember the first thing that you ever sold to someone who was not your mother.  Part of what is engrained into many American memories is the iconic lemonade stand.  For others, it may have been girl scout cookies or candy bars that we sold door to door.  Today, let’s try remember what it was and how it made you feel.

Personally, I remember selling lemonade at a stand in front of the house we grew up in.  It was a new development on the Western end of the suburb we lived in.  As a matter of fact, the house that we lived in had only been standing for about 6-7 years by the time we moved in.  There were houses lined down the street and around the corner, but beyond that corner was a whole new world for a 6-year old boy.

Around the corner, there were multiple construction sites.  On a few of them, the shells of the houses had been built.  On other sites, the basement had been dug and the foundation was being built.  As a kid in the summertime, it was a flurry of activity back there.  There were always trucks hauling equipment and building materials back there.   The guys hauling the material were different from my dad.

Construction-Workers

While I may not remember why I began selling lemonade in the first place, I remember that our location was such that these guys would pass our house at the beginning and end of each day.  Location, location, location…is what one of my future classes on business would tell me – and as I write this post today while remembering years past, nothing could be further from the truth.

locationx3

These guys would stop, especially in the afternoons to buy my lemonade.  In my mind as a child, it was the greatest thing ever.  In my childish mind, the lemonade was delicious.  The reality is that it was most likely a cup of the most watered down lemonade-type drink ever.  It didn’t matter – these guys seemed to love it.  Having these guys stop by my stand and buy a big cup of lemonade was AMAZING.  I honestly don’t even remember what we charged them.  I want to say that it was either 25 or 50 cents.  Sometimes, they would give me a dollar.  “Keep the change” was something that I heard a lot of back then.

Lemonade-Stand

Now, I am in my mid-30’s and I while I don’t work in the construction industry, there were plenty of times where I worked on a construction site.  A career in the green industry with a number of years doing landscaping and maintenance left me tired and thirsty many a day in the summer.  It’s been a few years since I stopped at a kid’s roadside stand and treated myself to lemonade from a roadside stand.

This year, I think that’s going to have to change.  This year’s I’m going to say, “keep the change.”

Dreamers and Builders Goal Update

On July 6, 2013 – I wrote my original START introduction:

My name is Rob.

I am just like you.

I am not sure how to write my introduction. I want it to be witty and incredibly cool. I feel kind of awkward writing this in the manner that I am…but whatever. Here I go, here is my introduction. Let’s find out how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Seemingly always at a point of transition in my life even when stable – I delicately balance the good and the bad in life. When good, I try not to celebrate too heavily and when bad, I try to view the experience as a learning opportunity. This is easier said than done.

I claim to be neither an optimist nor a pessimist, but I strive to be a realist. These attempts at realism are fairly new to me. It is an interesting perspective to strive to achieve. My observations lead me to believe that this is also a perspective that many people don’t seem to gravitate towards.

Spirituality resonates with me on a deeply personal level and is a significant part of my life. I was born and raised as a Christian. During my late teens and early twenties, I was introduced to various other worldly religions and cultures. I would grow away from and return to the church repeatedly.

Approximately 5 years ago, I set out on my career path and began climbing the corporate ladder. After several successful years and promotions – I stumbled upon love and gave up my current career to move across the country to try and grow the relationship…only for it to fail. I am learning a lot about myself.

One of the things I have learned is that I have a core set of values. These values and moral code are driving factors which form the beliefs that I have. These beliefs factor into the decisions that I make and the actions that I take in life. I learn and try to act accordingly. I make many mistakes, often repeatedly.

When I repeat mistakes, I feel that it is because there is lesson to be learned – and I continue making these “mistakes” until the lesson is learned. In learning these life lessons, I developed a belief that the corporate ladder and the “normal” life is perhaps not the life for me. It felt like a game.

Recently, I began to believe that I am merely a pawn in game of life. This realization is what set me free. The simple acknowledgement of this allows me to more effectively play the game, for now I have a strategy in mind and am living deliberately in an attempt to play the game efficiently.

Relationships have come and gone, love once lost had now been found…only to be lost again. After a period of stability in life I am preparing for another period of transition on many different levels.

I will be working on a short-term project for my company for the next 6-12 months and will be on the road again. When this project is complete, I will likely quit my job and START living the way I have always been afraid to…well, that is the plan, at least. We’ll see what happens.

As this plan unfolds in front of my eyes, I find myself here…writing an introduction to share with YOU. We don’t know each other, but I suspect my words resonate with you as much as YOUR words have resonated with ME. I am grateful for this and very much look forward to sharing all these experiences with all of you.

Stay tuned.
Rob

A week after writing this introduction and not 100% sure what I was getting into, I was assigned to “Group 39 – Internet Entrepreneur (Podcast, blogger, developer, etc.)”  Many of the people in that group had clearly defined goals / risks such as:

  • “I will write the first section of my ebook”
  • “In order of difficulty:  Blog daily  Swim 3x a week  Sign up for graphic design class”
  • “I will write 20 blog posts and apply to three jobs.”
  • “Conduct a budgeting workshop for a church or organization or do a one-on-one personal budgeting workshop.”
  • “Grow Twitter to 1,000 followers.  Speak at 2 events.”
  • “I will begin my Christian multi media website and add one new piece of content every week.”
  • Etc, etc, etc

And finally…there was one person in the group that had written one of the longest and most eccentric goals, risks ever seen.  That person was me.  It read something like this:

  • Knowing that by the end of 2013, I will be debt-free.  In early 2014, I will likely have 3-6 months of living expenses saved up from the successful completion of the project I will be working on throughout Texas.  With my parents owning 20 acres and dreaming to start a farm on this 20 acres, it has become my dream to help them grow York Meadow Farm into a successful generational farm in an effort to fulfill my role in the sustenance of America and living freedom and liberty.     It is my dream to follow through on the writing and drafting of a business plan to submit to my parents in order to effectively lease that area of the property just south of the neighbors field, southeast (?) of the pond.  I wish to lease and homestead there with a tiny-house, shipping container or a yurt that is set up as an office / shop.  Fully set up to be operational as a small, independent farm operation.  This is the reason for the official lease.    Hopefully with the way that I grow and produce vegetables on my parcel, they will witness results and we will both be better suited to get to where we are working together rather than fighting.  This lease will allow me the feeling of independence from my parents while still having the ability to live/work independent of them and experience the freedom that is necessary for a man in his mid/late 30’s to have.    Eventually, I’d like to get to a point where I am self-reliant in terms of food production.  What little I do have to buy, I can barter for and/or use silver as a means of exchange.  I would like to run and operate a small hydroponic supply distribution warehouse along with involvement of selling certain vitamins and health supplements?   There are many ideas, but perhaps it could be a health/wellness/self-sufficiency/edible landscaping/permaculture design/online store where I sell and stock the items and then simply control the sales and distribution of the products?     Perhaps my dream over the next 24 days would be to finally develop the business plan / proposal to provide to my parents…

It may have taken several paragraphs to say so…but it appears as though my goal over the next 24 days was to work towards the development of a business plan / proposal to provide to my parents.  The idea at that time was to document the process of developing a homestead and living a life geared towards self-sufficiency and self-reliance without owning land.

Ronne Rock asked the question about how things were going with our dreams…and the reality is that things had been going really well.  During the month of July, I got involved with the START experiment.  During the month of August, I began actively writing for an online magazine called Brink of Freedom.

Brink of Freedom was created on July 31, 2013. The purpose being to create a community of like-minded individuals. People sick of government; who wish to gain true freedom through self-reliance, knowledge, skill, and a true sense of community. Let Brink of Freedom show you how to truly be free. Join us.

This community gave me an outlet to express what I initially began working on with the START experiment.  It gave me purpose and drive.  The editor of the magazine seemed to really like the way in which I wrote my articles and in turn, I felt extremely proud to be a columnist for them.  For the first time in my life, I actually called myself a “writer.”  It felt wonderful.

During this time, I was working on a short-term project for my company and was based out of the Austin area.  My territory was Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma.  The project was going well and I felt really on top of things as far as my life was concerned.  Work was going well.  My boss was happy.  Our clients were happy.  My teams were happy.  I was approaching another peak of my physical fitness and had set a personal record for a five mile run (in barefoot sandals) by running 8:30/mile.  Life was good.

As the months progressed, I ended up writing several articles for Brink of Freedom with a focus on health and wellness.  Towards the end of September I wrote an article titled, Physical Fitness 101.  I was excited about having written this article because it was published right around the time I went on vacation for a camping trip in Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park.

This is where the story gets interesting.  While health and wellness had been my focus…the reality is that health and wellness had always been a struggle for me.  Since the age of 13, I have struggled with a chronic neurological condition called epilepsy.  In April of 2012, while living in California, I changed medications from one that I had taken for over 20 years to a medication that was entirely new.

For the first time in my life, I felt as though I had the blinders taken off of my eyes.  The new medication had side effects that were so minimal…it felt as though there were none.  I finally experienced clarity of thought and did not feel as though the pharmaceuticals were making me feel slow or dumbing me down as I felt they had been up to that point.  All I had known my entire adult life was this feeling.

During this time, I actively began working out and becoming healthy.  I trained for and ran several half marathons and ultimately ran a marathon in April of 2013.  I went on several backpacking trips and visited a number of state and national parks during this time as well.  One of the things that began to occur however was the recurrence of the seizures that were a result of the epilepsy that I suffered from.

Throughout the months of August and September, the frequency of my seizures increased (likely due to the stress of being on the road and traveling.  Just to be on the safe side, I contacted my neurologist and communicated what was happening and requested that I change back to the old medication that I had been taking for the years prior to April 2012.  While the side effects of the medication were less than ideal, they were ultimately more effective at controlling my seizures.  The control of the seizures was of paramount importance, especially with the amount of driving that I was doing on this project.

I began making the transition from one medication to the other approximately a week before my vacation to Utah.  The trip began in Denver where I met with one of my best friends for a couple of days before heading into the high desert of Utah.  During this first night and periodically throughout the trip – just like the prior couple of months – I had multiple small seizures.  Nothing debilitating…but they were taking place.  I just kept ignoring them.

Finally, upon our return trip home – and after the burgers, fries and milkshake at a roadside stand in Utah, we set out on the long drive back to Denver.  In the passenger seat, I passed out and nodded off to sleep.  The next thing I knew, I woke up in the neurological intensive care unit of the Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge, CO.  I had been unconscious for almost two days.

Needless to say, this series of events is the derailment that I previously referred to at the beginning of this extraordinarily long post.  After a week in ICU, I returned back home to recover with family in Ohio.  I was unable to return to Austin to continue working on the project I had been working on.  I was unable to drive for 3-6 months as a result of the intense seizures I suffered from.

Initially, my employer appeared as though they were going to work with me on this with regard to reassignment to a new position, but without getting into any more detail, the long and short of it is that my employment with them was terminated in January 2014.  Luckily, several weeks before the termination of my employment, a new job just “fell into my lap.”  It was remarkable.

This new job is truly a blessing and at the moment, I am currently getting back on track with my life, my writing, my goals and doing everything in my power to achieve them.  Taking the time like this to sit back and reflect upon them couldn’t have come at a better time.  Being a part of the Dreamers and Builders community really got me though some tough times during the past 6 months.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post and be a part of my story.  I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for many of you out there in this community.  Thank you for helping me find inspiration during the hard times.  Thank you for helping me stay motivated when it was incredibly challenging to do so.  I will be forever grateful.

 

 

 

 

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life – Episode 0008 – “Reflections While Driving (Part 1)”

09/15/13 – Episode 0008 – [1:05:14] – Reflections While Driving (Part 1)

Join us today as we discuss:

  • Leadership
    • “Doing things you don’t necessarily want to do at times you don’t necessarily want to do them.”
    • Personal Responsibility, Accountability and Ownership
  • Beauty of Nature
    • Gratitude and Reflection
  • Doom & Gloom vs. Acknowledgement of Reality
    • Shifting focus from problems to solutions
  • strike the rootNature of our political duopoly
  • A Return to Normalcy
  • My journey towards debt freedom and our society’s culture of debt
  • Living beyond our means – living according to our “wants” rather than living according to our “needs”

 debt-slavery-478x315

  • Police Checkpoints
  • Understanding and asserting our rights
  • Conspiracy Theorist vs Conspiracy Analysis
  • Nutrition

Resources for today’s show:

Stay tuned.

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life – Episode 0007 – “Bridging the Gap”

Episode 0007 – “Bridging the Gap”

  • First episode with an official title
  • Grateful for the friends that I have and feeling blessed
  • Hoping to build more friendships and community comparable to that that provides me with the inspiration and motivation behind this blog & podcast
  • Health and Wellness – relaxation by drinking Traditional Medicinals Everyday Detox tea
  • Taking the remaining “uncovered” structure from Episode 0005 and utilizing it for discussion topics today

Episode 0005 Remaining Talking Points:

  • Social Experiments
    • Round 1:  Quitting Facebook – Goodbye, Facebook
      • Pros / Cons
    • Round 2:  Quitting Smartphones
      • Pros / Cons
        • Debt Management
        • Need vs. Want
        • Luxury vs Necessity
        • Dave Ramsey
        • Debt Management, Smartphone “connectivity” and minor lifestyle adjustments – a return to humanity
        • Meeting / Identifying financial goals prior to engaging in the luxury of a smartphone
        • The importance of prioritizing my life
  • Homesteading
    • Naming the homestead:
    • Writing a mission statement and vision statement of the homestead
      • Writing a Mission and Vision Statement (Part 1 and Part 2)
    • Planning stages of a proposal and formal lease agreement
  • Farming
    • The homestead is a part of York Meadow Farm
    • The homestead is a “testing ground” for permaculture design principles
    • The Primal Gnomestead is going to be a part of the farm and a farm in and of itself…

    • Gardening and Permaculture will be integral parts of the homestead AND the farm
    • Permaculture
    • Joel Salatin’s new book:  Fields of Farmers: Interning, Mentoring, Partnering, Germinating
  • Knives
  • Spirituality / Religion / etc
    • Discussion about spirituality and how it factors into the decline of society
    • The loss of our moral compass
    • Apathy & Complacency
  • Chronic Medical Conditions
    • Increasingly part of our modern society
    • How we shouldn’t let chronic medical conditions “hold us back”
    • “Let your mess be your message”
    • Encourage and inspire others to see beyond their conditions
  • Writing
  • Career path
    • Current career path
      • Potential for a position back in Ohio “of my creation”
      • Set it up for future potential…but understand that it is only potential
    • Always prepare for failure and job loss
    • Number one rule towards “job security” –> being prepared to lose it tomorrow
    • Disaster Probability, Impact and Commonality
      • The biggest probability for disaster for me is the loss of a job and my epilepsy
    • We are pawns in the game…
    • We are dispensible cogs in the machine…
  • Together…we can be the change we wish to see in the world.

 

Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life…

 

Writing a Mission and Vision Statement (Part 2)

In Writing a Mission and Vision Statement (Part 1), I made progress with the writing of my mission statement.

The Mission Statements and Vision Statements article suggests that to “create your mission statement, first identify your organization’s “winning idea”.  This is the idea or approach that will make your organization stand out from its competitors, and is the reason that customers will come to you and not your competitors (see tip below).”

I have further identified my organization as the homestead that I will be creating on the land that is known as York Meadow Farm.  This homestead has been named and will be referred to as the Primal Gnomestead.  The “winning idea” that Mind Tools suggests we identify is as follows:  To become a leader in the self-reliance and sustainability movement in Northeast Ohio (by freely sharing knowledge gained by the implementation of permaculture design principles into my future homestead.)  In part 1, we followed the steps outlined in the article and refined that winning idea into what has become the mission statement of the Primal Gnomestead.  The “winning idea” seemed like a great start, but I decided to refine my mission statement into a single sentence.

Mission:

To begin learning the skill set necessary to lead a more self-reliant, independent and sustainable lifestyle.

As previously stated in Part 1…I’m actually satisfied with this statement.  It is brief and to the point.  While the original example we looked at had “measurables” such as time frames (24 hours) and targets (98% customer satisfaction) which we identified earlier…the reality is that I think for the purposes of MY vision statement, I need to keep it a little more simple.  While I think that time frames and targets are important…I can always come back and refine this statement at a later date.

Next…I will focus on the creation of a Vision Statement.

Vision Statement Creation

  • Once you’ve created your mission statement, move on to create your vision statement:
  • First identify your organization’s mission. Then uncover the real, human value in that mission.  
  • Next, identify what you, your customers and other stakeholders will value most about how your organization will achieve this mission. Distill these into the values that your organization has or should have.  
  • Combine your mission and values, and polish the words until you have a vision statement inspiring enough to energize and motivate people inside and outside your organization.  
  • Using the example mission statement developed for Farm Fresh Produce, the owner examines what she, her customers and her employees value about her mission.  
  • The four most important things she identifies are: freshness, healthiness, tastiness and “local-ness” of the produce. Here’s the Vision Statement she creates and shares with employees, customers and farmers alike:

“We help the families of Main Town live happier and healthier lives by providing the freshest, tastiest and most nutritious local produce: From local farms to your table in under 24 hours.”

Last time around, this was the point that I left off writing and today, this is the point where I pick it up. In order to feel like I’m taking the “right” approach to this homestead and the methodology behind carrying out my dream, I feel like I want to break this down and put a lot of thought and effort into what I’m doing.  Hell – I am engaging in a major lifestyle change with this process.  I’ve spent the bulk of my life making decisions without fully engaging.  It is time to change behavior.  Since I’ve created my mission statement, it’s time to “uncover the real, human value in that mission.”

What is the real, human value in that mission?  This is simple!  the real, human value of my mission is precisely the “winning idea” of the Primal Gnomestead.  The real, human value is freely sharing the knowledge that I gain throughout this journey.  My objective with this entire homestead is to live a life that is more self-reliant and sustainable.  I believe that if we all take steps to do this in our lives, we restore the American ideal and begin repairing our broken country.  I feel incredibly passionate about this…and my passion is the “real, human value” that is mentioned in the article I reference.

The article suggests that we “identify what you, your customers and other stakeholders will value most about how your organization will achieve this mission. Distill these into the values that your organization has or should have.”  It’s important to fully understand this statement…we are identifying what we will value most about HOW we will achieve our mission of “…learning the skill set necessary to lead a more self-reliant, independent and sustainable lifestyle.”  

The way I’m understanding the instructions provided is that the manner in which we carry out the achievement of the objective is an important aspect of determining specifically what our vision statement is.  More on this next time around…

Stay tuned.

Rumination on Procrastination

Rumination (psychology)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rumination is defined as the compulsively focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions.[1] Rumination is similar to worry except rumination focuses on bad feelings and experiences from the past, whereas worry is concerned with potential bad events in the future.[1] Both rumination and worry are associated with anxiety and other negative emotional states.[1]

This evening…I finished up a blog post that I spent several hours on.  This gives me a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.  However, this satisfaction quickly led to disappointment.  Allow me to explain…

Currently, I am involved in a little project titled The Start Experiment.  This is a 24 day time period in which myself and several thousand other people have joined together while we each work towards the completion of our own individual goal or risk.  There is much online collaboration with people and frequently there are “3D” interactions in the form of meetup groups or get togethers over dinner or a baseball game.  So far, this has been an overall positive experience with like-minded and positive people.

The “original” Start Experiment kicked off in mid-July, on the 15th day of July if I’m not mistaken.  During that time I was preparing for a series of pretty significant transitions (moving out of my house, preparing to spend 6-8 months on the road and living out of hotels and ultimately taking on a new position with the company I work for.  This was really not the time to be engaging in challenging personal projects where I would prepare to “punch fear in the face, “escape average” and “do work that matters.”  Or…was it?

Well, to make a long story short, I got about 7 days into the project and then began falling behind with my “daily tasks” that came in the form of emails from Jon Acuff.  As each day passed, I refused to clear out my email inbox (which I am diligent about doing – as I am such a GTD nerd and consistently aim to keep my inbox at “zero”).  My initial thoughts were that I would see the emails piling up and this would serve as a reminder that I needed to GET THINGS DONE and I would eventually “get around to it.”   This all began with Day 8 of Round 1 of The Start Experiment on July 22.  This continued until Day 13 of Round 2 on August 24.  Thirty three days of procrastination.

My goal was that I was going to spend time going through each and every one of these emails and spend time reviewing them in order to spend the “appropriate” amount of time on each one so that I could complete the project in the manner that I saw fit and “succeed” in doing so.  Well…as I just wrote, we are more than halfway into the second round of The Start Experiment and I am just now getting to a point of addressing 33 days of procrastination.

You know what pairs well with procrastination?

Beer.  At this time, I am drinking a Real Ale Brewing Company Brewhouse Brown Ale.  This is a Texas beer and seeing as I’m in Austin at the moment – it seems like an appropriate beer to drink.  A few days ago I bought a sampler pack and have had one of each so far over the past few days.  So far, I liked the Full Moon Pale Rye Ale the best…but I digress.  Nevertheless, it is great to contemplate one’s procrastination over a nice, heady brew.

So…after 33 days of procrastination, I have decided to alter my original plans of “going through each and every one of these emails and spend time reviewing them in order to spend the “appropriate” amount of time on each one.”  Instead, I just went to my email inbox, checked the little box that said “Select All” and I highlighted each email in my inbox.  One more click on the “Archive” folder and there we go…inbox to zero.  The reality is that I don’t need to address each and every single email.  I have learned my lesson as is evident in my last blog post.  I’m feeling caught up and on track with everything here in Round 2.

The reality is that these daily “tasks” that we’re receiving via email really are not that challenging.  However, like many things in life…the little things can add up and suddenly become one BIG thing.  These BIG things are the things that seem to become incredibly overwhelming and stressful.  This is similar to the snowball effect…

What is important to learn is that the “snowball” stays manageable as it gets bigger until a certain point.  Once it reaches that point, like the picture above indicates, there is no going back.  Things continue piling up until they get dealt with accordingly or it simply blows up in your face!  Personally, I have had more experiences with the latter rather than the former.

Today, I was grateful enough to deal with a series of these little snowballs.  Ultimately, as I dealt with each little snowball accordingly, I realized just how small each little snowball really was.  As these tasks continue to come to me on a daily basis, I will simply take the time to deal with them as they come in.  I may have to make some adjustments to my schedule in order to do so, but these small adjustments will be much easier to deal with over time than making a HUGE adjustment to deal with a HUGE snowball!

This is common sense…however, common sense is not so common – this is evident during my reflection and rumination on procrastination.

Stay tuned.

Trying to feel productive and playing catch up (again)…

Today, I am going through old emails…mostly relating to The Start Experiment

With The Start Experiment, I find myself doing this on the weekends…”playing catch up” from the previous week.

Day 13 task was easy:

Day 13: Hollywood

Someone mentioned in the Facebook page that some of the Start Experiment content was too easy or too short. To that I say, “Boo Hoo.” You guys didn’t sign up for something long and tedious. I want these ideas to be like we’re having coffee together. That I’m offering up a question or a challenge or like today, telling you about something that I think is awesome.
 
Today’s challenge, and it is one, is to go see the movie “The Way Way Back.” It’s maybe the best picture of what it means to lose your way and find it again I’ve seen in a long time. I absolutely loved it, to the point that if it was out on DVD I’d show clips during the Start Conference. At the bare minimum, watch the trailer today.

That’s what I did.  Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qoaVUdbWMs

Now with Day 12, we have been tasked with the following:

Day 12: Temperature check.

It’s day 12, the midway point.
 
Time to see how things are going.
 
In your journal, answer these 3 questions:
 
1.     What went well the first 12 days?
2.     What went poorly?
3.     What will I do differently in the second half as a result of the answers to the first questions?
 
If you’re so inclined, share your answers on Facebook!

To “make progress” I feel like I need to write about all this shit, but it’s not really required.  I’m just an anal retentive freak about all this stuff.  Anyways, with regard to the above task…I broke down my writing about this Day 12 task into a 10 minute segment.  Here goes.

1.  The first 12 days went well…better than the first 12 of Round 1.  I made considerable progress on my goal/risk last weekend, but this week failed to look at any of the suggested tasks until today.  So, while I’ve made progress, I still feel like a slacker.  I guess the reality is that like much of everything else in my life, I take the “rules” and bend them to fit the way in which I feel they best apply to my life.  It’s really as simple as that.

2.  What went poorly?  The fact that I seem to procrastinate on these daily tasks.   The reality is that they aren’t difficult and if I just committed to them I wouldn’t find myself “playing catch up” each weekend and feeling like I’m stressing about this stuff during the week!

3.  What will I do differently during the second half as a result of these questions?  It’s simple, really…I suppose I will make a point to process my email as it comes in and deal with these tasks on a daily basis…considering the ease of the daily tasks thus far.  I just need to actually “do” it – rather than just think about it and deny the fact that the emails are in my inbox.   (I know  they’re there.)

Well, that was easy.  On to the next task…working backwards to Day 11:

Day 11: Space, the final frontier.

Social media is great. Facebook is awesome. Emails are fun, but the truth is, geography still matters. The space you do your work in impacts the work you do.
 
And the same is true with chasing a dream.
 
Today’s task is to write a paragraph or two about your dream space. Are you looking for a cabin in the woods to write a book in? Do you need the energy of a downtown coffee shop to really create? What’s your dream space? Describe it in your journal so that in the future if you get the chance to build it, you will have a road map.

This one is a good one…and a simple one.  Write a paragraph or two about my dream space? Easy…I’ve got a few minutes remaining in this current pomodoro to simply bang it out so here goes:

My dream space is part of the current goal/risk in this round of The Start Experiment.  It is my future homestead…an acre or less (to be determined) of undeveloped land that will effectively be leased from my parents to form my homestead.  This space will house my future gypsy wagon and eventually a small shed that will serve as an office and/or workshop.

There’s actually a plan and a method to the madness of this idea.  Much of it has been ideas that were actually formed into concrete ideas and have taken form as a result of actions taken place during The Start Experiment.  I’ve bounced many ideas about all of this off people involved in this and have received much inspiration and motivation from them as well.   It’s amazing.

That’s it!  Day 11 task complete and this current pomodoro isn’t even up yet!  I feel productive!

Moving on to Day 10:

Day 10: Success is a better teacher.

People always says “Failure is the best teacher.” That’s stupid. Success is the best teacher (and a whole lot more fun). The problem is that when we succeed we very rarely stop to ask why we did. We celebrate. We cheer. We move on and leave all our lessons behind us.
 
Today’s task is to review one of your past successes. It doesn’t have to be related to your current audacious dream. Maybe you lost weight. Maybe you got an A+. Maybe you mustered up the courage and asked her for her phone number. Big or small, something went well.
 
Why did it? What can you learn? What can you repeat and apply to your current dream?
 
Go.

Strangely enough…this particular day’s task wasn’t even in my email inbox.  Perhaps I felt like I had already done it…but the reality is that I likely accidentally filed it with a bunch of other emails when trying to manage what I needed to process and “do” as opposed to filtering through the trash that I get, which is really just a bunch of crap that I really should “unsubscribe” from…but can’t muster up the courage to actually do so, because for some reason I think this stuff still applies to me in some way, shape or form.  Except that it really doesn’t.

I believe I simply filed this one away because I had actually inadvertently completed this task in the form of one of my “podcasts.”  What I mean is that I spent some time talking about how easy it is to focus on our failures than to recognize our successes.  For whatever reason, I know this is the case for myself and I suspect this is commonplace with many others.  It takes deliberate work and effort to re-frame reality and focus more of our energies on the positive and the success rather than the negative and the failure.

Moving forward (or backward)…

Day 9: Why we accept “jobs.”

One of the best books I’ve ever read is David Whyte’s “Crossing the Unknown Sea, Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity.” I love it so much I will probably blog about it at some point. (Please act surprised when you see it.)
 
In one passage he explains why it is so tempting to just accept a “day job.”
 
Here is what he writes:
“The stakes in good work are necessarily high. Our competence may be at stake in ordinary, unthinking work, but in good work that is a heartfelt expression of ourselves, we necessarily put our very identities to hazard. Perhaps it is because we know, in the end, we are our gift to others and the world. Failure in truly creative work is not some mechanical breakdown but the prospect of a failure in our very essence, a kind of living death. Little wonder we often choose the less vulnerable, more familiar approach, that places work mostly in terms of provision. If I can reduce my image of work to just a job I have to do, then I keep myself safely away from the losses to be endured in putting my heart’s desires at stake.”
 
Wow, that phrase “living death,” has haunted me for a few weeks now.
 
Is it risky to dream? Yes, but it is far riskier to not.

Not much here that we are actually tasked with…so what I simply did was add this book to my “to_read” list and kept moving forward.

Day 8: Thank you.

When I lived in Atlanta, I got so focused on my dream that I stopped spending time with other people. I went so heads down that I just lost touch with all the people in my life who had helped me get started.
 
I forgot to say “thank you.”
 
Today’s task is to tell one person in your life thank you.
 
It can be an email or a hand written note or even a text message. (Handwritten wins the most.)
 
In the midst of the swirl of working on something audacious, thank someone in your life for their encouragement and impact in your life.
 
Give thanks.

This was a most interesting task to work on.  I actually chose to write a thank you letter (email) to my boss…who I am exceptionally frustrated with at the moment.  Long story short, I had moved into a management position to take the place of someone who left our company months ago (actually ~3.5 months ago).  Very little had been communicated to our clients about my presence here and how I would be stepping in to fill the role of a “Project Coordinator” position (even for the interim).

I realized this yesterday as I began making phone calls to the clients to introduce myself to them and inform them of my schedule and field visits with each of our foresters.  My first call was received with frustration on the part of the client regarding the lack of communication that had taken place and his lack of knowledge about who I was, the experience I had and quite frankly a lack of anything other than what he had heard through the grapevine and in passing.  I found this extremely frustrating, because I am the one responsible for talking my way out of the situation that could easily have been prevented by some simple and direct communication with our clients.

However, as I sit here and reflect on life (which The Start Experiment often times causes me to do) – I realized that I have much to be grateful for.  This was an opportunity for me to not sit around and stew about something that drove me crazy yesterday.  It gave me an opportunity to say that while much was left to be desired in terms of communication we can simply leave it at that and acknowledge the good in everything and set the tone for the remaining 6-7 months of this project.  One thing I have learned over the past few years is that it is always better to take the high road whenever possible.  All I hope is that we both have the ability to acknowledge our wrongs and move forward with behaviors that will hopefully prevent the same thing from occurring as frequently.

Again…this is kind of easy once I simply commit to spending a little time on these things!  Moving on…

Day 7: R-rated.

I don’t like being still. I don’t like to pause. Or stop. Or relax.
 
But rest is every bit a part of chasing your dream as working on it is.
 
Today’s task, which will seem really easy but ultimately be hard, is to rest.
 
Hit snooze.
 
Stop.
 
Don’t do anything on your audacious today.
 
Put it down for the day.
 
Rest.
 
That’s all we need to do today.
 
Catch your breath.
 
Rest.

I remember seeing this email as it came out…I thought to myself, “I got this!”  Boom – I did.

Day 6: Five questions to ask today.

One of the things I heard often in the first wave of the Start Experiment was that picking a risk was difficult. And it is. I agree with that. Figuring out a dream, a goal or a risk is a weird, oft difficult thing. How can you drill down a little closer to what really matters to you? Here are the questions I often use in my own life.
 
1.                  What do I love enough to do for free?
That’s a cliché you sometimes hear in guidance counselors’ offices in high school, but it’s no less true. What would you do even if no one paid you for it? I blogged for two years and didn’t make a dime. I didn’t need to. I wasn’t writing for money. I was writing because I am a writer and that’s what writers do.
 
2.                  What do I do that causes time to feel different?
When you really get engaged in your something, space and time seem to shift a little. You’ll sit down to do a little writing before dinner and the next time you look up it’s ten and you never ate. Time gets shifted in when you’re doing what you love. Has that ever happened and if so, what were you doing?
 
3.                  What do I enjoy doing regardless of the opinions of other people?
Your dream can’t be powered by opinion or affirmation. It has to be bigger than the feedback of a peer or a coworker. What would you do even if no one ever told you they loved it?
 
4.                  If only your life changed, would that be enough?
If you killed yourself for years creating something and at the end of the experience, the only life that had changed was your own, would that be rewarding enough? If the experience was the lesson and the journey itself was the reward would that be okay with you? Is there something that holds that sway for you?
 
5.                  Are there any patterns in the things you like doing?
If you’ve got a dream, chances are there’s not just one isolated hinge moment in your past. More than likely, you have a list of moments that are similar and related. What patterns can you see in the decisions you’ve made and experiences you’ve loved?
 
Ask yourself those questions. Love yourself enough to actually write down your answers. And when you do, show them to someone you trust. Sometimes, we’re so close to the painting we can’t tell what it is and we need someone else to point out the truth.

Answers:

  1. I love my dreams enough that I would do them for free.  In a sense, that is the big driver to chase my dreams.  While I understand that there is potential to make a profit, the objective for me to chase my dreams is because I think that being self-sufficient, self-reliant and independent is not only important, but I think taking the time to share these skills with others and more importantly provide them with the tools and means to continue doing so on their on and of their own accord is what is important to me.
  2. When I am writing and talking about my passions, time seems to stop.  This is a big reason why I utilize The Pomodoro Technique.  These 25 minute “sessions” help me stay focused and maintain some semblance of normalcy.   My passions and sharing them with others via writing and/or speaking is precisely that which causes time to feel different.
  3. I enjoy the use of cannabis regardless of the opinions of other people.  I began using cannabis at the age of 15, one year after I was diagnosed with epilepsy.  The reality is that while this plant and it’s mind altering capabilities helped me feel “normal” – I never knew why.  There were periods of my life where for various reasons, I chose to remain “sober” – but over the past 5 years, I began to be much more cognizant of how and where my cannabis came from.  Many disagree with my choices due to the legality factor and while we can have this debate all day – my use of this plant is immediately what came to mind when I began thinking about what I enjoy doing regardless of the opinions of other people.  Since learning of the medicinal benefits of the plant with regard to epilepsy over the past 3-4 years, cannabis has taken on a whole new meaning for me.  Currently, I am not using it regularly due to the amount of traveling I am doing and more specifically the lack of a home – but when settled and when I have a safe place to reside, I expect to continue use of this plant in many different forms.
  4. This is an interesting topic of discussion…the question is that if we killed ourselves for years creating something and at the end of the experience the only life that had changed was my own…would it be rewarding enough?  The example goes on to say that the experience would be the lesson and the journey the reward.   Would I be ok with this?  Seeing as I am wired the way that I am wired, the short answer would be “yes.”  I suspect that I would be ok with this because I am a deeply spiritual person and spend much time reflecting, meditating and praying.  I often times think to myself that life is more about the journey rather than the destination…and with this said, this leads me to believe that “yes” – I would be ok with the experience as the lesson and the reward being the journey. 
  5. The last question is about patterns and whether there are any patterns in the things that we like doing.  I believe that life is nothing but patterns and that those who fail to realize this are the ones who are unhappy.  Their inability to recognize the patterns in their lives likely leads them to continue repeating the negative patterns and moreover contributes to their inability to recognize the healthy, positive and beneficial patterns.  This isn’t so much simple math, but merely the powers of observation.

Moving on…

Day 5: Fear gets tricky.

Someone once asked me, “Where do you come up with all these ideas about fear?” I said, “I’m afraid a lot and then I write them down.” Pretty simple process actually.
 
And I’ve learned something new about fear recently. Whenever you are about to make a big decision. Whenever you are about to change jobs, start a business, or write a book, fear goes on a marketing campaign.
 
Fear will whisper, “Your current job isn’t so bad! Look how good the benefits are! Look at how nice people are to you. Look at how great this situation really is.” Instead of attacking you and telling you that you’ll fail in the new job, it launches an advertising campaign gear at how happy you’d be if you stayed put.
 
Today’s task is a simple temperature check. If you’re in the middle of a change, is fear broadcasting a success message at you right now?
 
If so, how do you refute it with truth?

Seeing as these Start Experiments have caught me during times of transition…I have spent alot of time contemplating fear (which is why these experiments seemed so appropriate).  However, if I think about it, the past few years of my life and really…the bulk of my adult life has been one giant transition (with periods of stability) interspersed throughout.  During much of that time, I spent a fair amount of time analyzing these transitions and attempting to get at the root of what was going on.  Based on things I read, people that I spoke with and re-reading what I had written over the years, I am inclined to agree with the above in that fear is a big driver of what motivates us in life…and as was stated above can only be refuted with the truth!

Day 4: Beyond the fuzz.

A year ago, I decided I wanted to be more grateful.

I wrote a blog post about having a more grateful heart. I think being ungrateful and entitled would be an amazing way to wreck the fun opportunities I’m getting to do right now. My goal was to be more focused and deliberate about having a grateful heart, but could a goal get fuzzier than that? Where do you even begin on that? That reads like a Hallmark card, not a goal.

And maybe you are there right now. Your audacious feels fuzzy and blurry and not at all doable.

The first thing I did was ask myself, “What actions would a person with a grateful heart be known for?” Then I came up with a list:

1. They’d tell people thank you.
2. They’d send out handwritten thank you notes.
3. They’d slow down during the middle of a busy day to make sure they hadn’t taken anything for granted due to the push and pace of life.

Then I took that list and I applied the items to my own life. For instance, let’s look at number 3. I run around like crazy when I’m traveling to a speaking engagement. I’m nervous and excited and focused on delivering an amazing speech. It would be really easy for me to completely rush by the hard work that the staff at our company is doing to set up the conferences I get to speak at. How can I make sure I have a grateful heart in real-life situations like that?

Next, I took those real-life scenarios and turned them into actions. For instance, one of my goals was to empty my thank you note box. It’s got 100 cards in it.
At the end of the year, instead of looking at my incredibly fuzzy goal of “having a grateful heart,” I looked at  my (almost) empty box of thank you cards and knew that I hit one of the metrics that mattered to me.

Is walking from fuzzy audacious to real action easy to do? Not always, but I promise that the clearer your goals are, the more likely you’ll actually finish them.


Again, not much of a task here…but the grateful theme is recurrent throughout this round of The Start Experiment.  As previously written, it is very easy to take things for granted and of the utmost importance to deliberately act on these thoughts of gratuity when we feel them.  It is important to acknowledge how grateful we are and even more important to communicate this with others and if we can’t do that then reflect on these thoughts with our creator.  Let us attempt to take less for granted and be more grateful in our lives.

Day 3: Refining your audacious.

One of the things I heard over and over during the first Start Experiment was “My initial goal changed during the process.” This is going to happen. This is natural. This is expected. Knowing that, today’s task is to spend a little time refining your audacious. Knowing what you know from the last Start Experiment, how should you refine your dream? Do three rounds of revision before you settle on your new risk. In the first one ask, “Is my audacious crazy enough?” In the second revision ask, “Is my audacious mine?” In the third round ask, “Is my audacious fun?” Refine until you’ve got a yes on all three.

At this point…I am feeling most excellent because it was last weekend and the previous week where I spent time “refining my audacious.”  Luckily, due to the assistance of many fine people involved with The Start Experiment – I was able to do this and feel less overwhelmed this time around and more able to wrap my head around the audacity that is my goal and my risk.

 

Day 2: It’s time to admit something audacious.

I’ll go first.
 
Jenny and I’s audacious goal is to buy a 50 acre island property in Maine someday. We want to turn it into a summer camp where we host families who want to dream together again. The only payment will be your smartphone. Bring a camera, but we’ll be taking the smartphone for a week. There will be archery, art, ocean and a million other things like that.
 
Is that going to happen at the end of 24 days? Of course not. It might not happen for 10 years, but that’s what makes it audacious!
 
Your turn!
 
What’s something audacious you commit to dream about for the next few weeks?

My audacious dream is fairly simple…writing a vision and mission statement for my homestead dream.

Day 1: A New Start.

In the first 24 days of the Start Experiment we picked a risk. Something manageable, maybe even small, that we could hustle on for 24 days. That was awesome. And now, it’s time for a left turn.
 
This 24 day period is titled “Audacious,” because that’s where we’re going to live for a few weeks. In the next 24 days I invite you to step outside of ordinary and dream about something audacious. Gone is the practical. Death to realistic. It’s time to hope big.
 
Today’s task is to spend 15 minutes doing just that.
 
What does audacious mean to you? What might it look like in your life if you were audacious? What is keeping you from being audacious? In your Start journal, spend 15 minutes just reacting to the idea of doing something audacious.

I began falling behind around Day 4 and 5…but after this exercise of spending 2-3 hours on getting caught up with Round 2 of The Start Experiment I am feeling very productive and motivated to spend even more time tomorrow on my my audacious dream as well as my to-do list and maybe even some rest and relaxation this Sunday before another hectic week of travel and being on the road.  If you’ve read this entire blog post…I am very impressed.  I also believe you may want to have your head examined.  That in and of itself is audacious…and if this is you – I’m grateful that you stuck it out with me.  Be audacious!  Be weird.  Do epic shit.

Stay tuned.