Be Decisive With Your Life

I struggle with this question everyday, “What am I going to do with all my opportunities?”

Sometimes I ask, “What am I going to do?” But I wonder if that’s the right question. Maybe it is “What do I need to stop doing?”

You can’t focus on everything that has potential. If you try, you’ll spread yourself too thin and you’ll get nowhere. So maybe it’s another way of saying, “Indecisiveness/procrastination is a major problem for most of us.”

We all choose something to do, but most of us choose what is easy, what is comfortable, what is known, what we feel is predictable, and what we were taught to do in school. But it’s a trap, isn’t it? As many of you are finding out right now, what you thought was safe and predictable, isn’t. The go to school> get good grades> get a cushy cubicle job path is as risky as any other path.

That’s the silver lining in a bad economy, it educates us about what is important, it shows us new opportunities, and it forces us to grow. Some of you may not want to hear this right now, but we need recessions in the same way we need forest fires. They are as natural as birth and death, necessary parts of growth and regeneration.

Christine was at our accountant’s office last week getting our business taxes done, when the subject of the economy came up.

Our accountant said he lost his job in a bad recession and he couldn’t find a new one. He was forced to start his own accounting firm from home. It was difficult, but he eventually grew into an office space and hired employees. He said losing his job was the best thing that ever happened to him.

His son went through the same thing during the dot com bubble. He lost a 40K per year job, and couldn’t find another. He eventually gave up on the idea of ever having a job, and instead went freelance. Today he owns his own company and makes 300K a year.

A friend’s father was an engineer and lost his job during a long ago recession. He had three kids at home, a house payment, and a wife who didn’t work. He couldn’t find a job, so he started freelancing and grew his practice into to a respected local engineering firm that lasted decades.

Not one of these success stories is internet related. Two of them happened before the personal computer had been invented. Today, with the internet and social media, your opportunities are exponentially greater than ever before.

So what are you going to do with all your opportunities?

Cheating Death—Why Was I So Lucky?

I’ve been to the edge, and there I stood and looked down. I lost a lot friends there baby, I got no time to mess around – Van Halen – 1978

I’m going to give you another glimpse into my soul.

As I’ve written before, there are at least a dozen experiences that should have killed me. Today I’m going to share one.

(FYI, I began writing this a couple of weeks ago)

This has been one of the coldest weeks in 20 years. And here in Minnesota it gets really frickin’ cold. This morning it was -26 F and it’s been below zero every morning for about a week. Life is difficult when it’s this cold. Things break, cars don’t start, the roads are hell, and traffic comes to a stop. Whenever you go outside you’re weighed down with heavy clothing, mittens, boots, hats. Everything takes longer and requires more energy. The cold aggravates Christine’s arthritis. A week or more of this stuff drains you.

But I’m grateful for the cold, and the colder it gets the more grateful I become. Let me explain with a flashback.

Continue reading Cheating Death—Why Was I So Lucky?

When Did Your Life "Jump the Shark?"

This is a guest post by Daniel Brenton author of The Meaning of Existence (and all that).

I am a late bloomer.

I don’t feel particularly old, but I must acknowledge that I was born in the second half of the Twentieth Century — with a little room to spare. And I must confess it has taken me more years than I’d care to admit for me embrace the idea I had abilities that could free me from a life of the mundane, and give me a life of excellence.

We all do, of course. Some of us are born knowing who they are or what they have, but most of us have to put in the work to find these things.

Continue reading When Did Your Life "Jump the Shark?"

Why I Drive a 13 Year Old Car and Other Wonderful Stories

Why I Drive a 13 Year Old Car at Get Rich Slowly: I know this isn’t popular with the auto companies or the UAW, but this post is excellent financial advice for most of you. I drove a $500.00 car from 1988-1992. I drove a $1000 car from 1992-1997. I drove a $2000 car from 1997-2000. I drove a $12,000 car from 2000 until 2007 (That is the most expensive car I’ve ever owned. I bought it used and paid for it in less than 3 years.) And for the last year, I have been driving a 7 yo mini-van with 100K miles on it. Why? I don’t like to throw money away. Over the past 21 years, I have spent less than 20K on my personal transportation.

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21 Ways to Write Posts that Will Grow Your Blog – I love simple direct posts. I printed this and taped it to my desk.

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If You’re Good at Something – Never Do it for Free – I love this site, Someone Once Told Me, its feed is in my must read daily folder.

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Blogging Tips for Bloggers with Full-Time Jobs
– As many of you know, I have a full-time job. I know many of you do too. This post offers some good advice on how to keep a blog going when you’re seriously stretched for time.

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5 Twitter Social News Mashups that Kick Diggs Ass – I loved Digg in 2006 and part of 2007, but in my opinion it has “Jumped the Shark.” Reddit has too. Twitter is a much better resource for finding cutting edge information.

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Lemonade Stand – Get Back to the Basics – This is a helpful business post from Andy Liu, reminding us that good business is basic and simple. Good businesses are easy to get.

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Diversification is a terrible way to create wealth – This is another one from Andy Liu. If you’re interested in money or business, you’ve got to subscribe to Andy’s blog. This is great stuff.

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Can a Promise to Yourself Change Your Life? – Liz Strauss makes a concise post we can all learn from.

Work and Play, Are They Really Different?

Have we been trained not to enjoy ourselves?

Are work and play really different or is the differentiation simply a choice we make? Do we choose drudgery as work, so in contrast fun seems that much more fun? Aren’t we simply engaged in activities we choose to label?

  • This activity is play
  • That activity is work
  • Another activity is fun

Why can’t what we do for money, be all three?

Is it okay to work all the time? Is it okay to have fun and play games all the time? If work was fun and playful, then would it be okay to work all the time?

These questions came to mind as I was reading Zen Effects the Life of Alan Watts by Monica Furlong. After living a bohemian lifestyle for over a decade, Alan Watts became an Anglican priest and moved into suburban Evanston Illinios.

Monica Furlong says:

“His Evanston neighbors weren’t all that much to his taste. The main preoccupation of most of them was making money, which Watts thought might be rather fun to do—a clever game, like bridge—only people seemed to have to pretend not to enjoy it.”

Monica goes on to quote Alan Watts himself:

“It must most definitely be classified as work; as that which you have to do as a duty to your family and community, and which therefore affords many businessmen the best possible excuse for staying away from home and from wives. The Nemesis of this attitude is that it flows over into the so-called leisure or non-work areas of life in such a way that playing with children, giving attention to one’s wife, exercising on the golf course, and purchasing certain luxeries also become duties. Survival itself becomes a duty and even a drag, for the pretense of not enjoying the games get under the skin and rightens the muscles which repress the joyous and sensous emotion.”

Monica goes on to say:

“Watts clearly was still struggling with his protestant roots, using his resentment of them to make observations about the link between work and play. For him the barrier between work and play did not exist.”

What I thought was most interesting was how leisure activities can become chores. I know I feel that way sometimes.

What do you think?

How to Find Happiness in a Sea of Bad News

Do you want to know why Americans eat anti-depessants like Cheetos at a Super Bowl party?

Have you heard of the game “Ain’t it Awful?”

It isn’t a board game or a video game or a TV game show, it’s a conversational game we play with ourselves, our friends, our families, and our society as a whole. We play to get an emotional payoff. It relieves us of responsibility for changing the parts of our lives we can change.

You probably played “Ain’t it Awful” with friends when you were in college. Maybe you were sitting around the dorm room and the conversation went like this…

“Did you hear about Anne? She’s failing out. The dean told her she wasn’t college material.”

“Yeah? That’s nothing. Did you hear about Jenny? She’s pregnant and she won’t have an abortion. It’s going to ruin her life. She’ll have to dropout and raise a baby.”

“You know what? It could be worse. My cousin Shelia’s only 21 and already has three kids. She lives with her alcoholic boyfriend who beats her all the time. We’ve been trying to get her to leave. She used to be so smart and pretty. What a waste.”

If it’s a light game of “Ain’t it awful” it ends there, everyone shakes their heads and mutters some version of “Ain’t it Awful” and then the subject changes.

You can be sure you’re playing the game when someone mentions something awful just to be interesting and then someone else feels they have to “one up” them with an even more awful thing.

Another sure sign of the game, is how it promotes powerlessness. To be an “Ain’t it Awful” game, no solution can be sought. Seeking solutions ruins the game. The tragedies must be out of your control. And if a solution is proposed it’s usually impractical and extreme.

It also works as a way of spreading guilt. “Who are we to have it so good, when so many are suffering? It just isn’t fair, and there is nothing I can do. Ain’t it awful?”

The game can be played soft or hard. In the hard version, someone is singled out for failing to understand how awful something is. You know you’ve got a hard player, when they get offended if you try to change the subject or you don’t agree that their story is really horribly, terribly, awful. When a family plays the game hard, children are shamed and ridiculed when they don’t seem to understand how awful something is. Some families play the game hard for generations. How do I know? I’ve been a hard player for most of my life. (And, yes, I realize that this post could be the first round in a game of “Ain’t it Awful.”)

Many political and religious movements use games of “Ain’t it Awful” as a recruiting tool, using shame, guilt, and fear as a means of control.

The TV news, much of our schooling, and our society as a whole feeds us this game constantly. They dredge up the worst possible news, stick it in your face, and if you don’t say “Ain’t it awful” with enough sincere heartfelt disgust, then you must be some cold-hearted sociopath. It is no wonder half the United States is running around on anti-depressants.

But it isn’t true. The game of “Ain’t it Awful” paints a false picture of our world. For the most part, our world is a wonderful place, and we are powerful beyond our own comprehension. The “Ain’t it Awful” stories are the exceptions, not the rule. But even if the world is awful, how are guilt, shame, and depression going to help?

So what can you do about this game?

Stop playing it. Don’t spread bad news just to spread it. If you are going to talk about a problem, then seek a reasonable solution. Find out if it is actionable for you. If it isn’t, move on, and focus somewhere where you can make an impact.

You’re probably not going to end world hunger, poverty, or war.

But you can:

  • Be good to the people you touch everyday
  • Create a positive idea
  • Spread it
  • Start a business
  • Create a job
  • Create 10 jobs
  • Make some money, save some, spend some, and give some away
  • Teach others to do the same

If everyone did that, the biggest problem we’d have is… what to do with all the kindness, jobs, and money.

Now wouldn’t that be awful?

Learning entrepreneurship, education, family balance, small business from the experts

When I find something that cranks me up, I have to share it. In this video Jonathan Fields interviews Gary Vaynerchuk. They talk about:

  • Education and how it’s out of touch with the present economy and society
  • Building a business – going from 0 to $50,000,000
  • Finding your passion
  • Being true to who you really are
  • Balancing family life
  • What it really takes to make it
  • The future of corporate America

This video is about 50 minutes long, but it’s worth every second. If you’re interested in living the life of your dreams, Gary Vaynerchuk and Jonathan Fields will help you get there… if you’re willing to listen.

Do What You Love – Become a Career Renegade

Do you want to build the life of your dreams? Do you want to learn how do it from experienced teachers? Men and women who have proven themselves?

You can find the answers in Jonathan Fields new book, Career Renegade: How To Make A Living Doing What You Love.

I read an advance copy of the book over the weekend and I couldn’t put it down.

In his book, Jonathan tells his story. It begins with Jonathan as an overworked securities lawyer. After working 72 straight hours, he turned pale white, dropped, and ended up in the OR. His immune system had collapsed and a serious infection almost killed him. Fortunately, he made a full recovery and he listened to the message his body sent him. From that point he re-designed his life.

Knowing that he needed to take better care of himself, he developed a plan, quit his job, lived off his savings, became a personal trainer, eventually owning a yoga studio, blogging, speaking, and writing, a journey he shares in detail.

Not only does he share his story, but the stories of other Career Renegades who had different paths than his. Not all are entrepreneurs, some found better jobs. Not all did it online, some did it the old fashioned way. Not everyone has made millions, but all have found a way to live comfortable lives doing what they love.

People Like:

Ann Rea
Bert Ingley
Gina Trapani
David Riklan
Bette Fetter
John Jantsch
Brian Clark
Liz Strauss
Victoria Colligan
Anita Campbell
Leo Babauta
Joe Alban

But this book is so much more than a compilation of stories. It is filled with detailed instructions on how it was done, and how you can do it too.

When you read Career Renegade you will learn:

– How to find your passion

– How to develop a new career path

– How to organize and sell knowledge

– How to build community

– How to protect your intellectual property

– How to build authority

– How to be social online

– How to build a blog and other social media exploits

– How to market yourself on the cheap

– How to cultivate the right mindset

What I like best about this book, is how Jonathan presents this information in plain direct language that is easy to understand and apply. He also presents his ideas with a dose of cautious common sense. This isn’t one of those ‘burn your bridges’ books. Jonathan is far too wise to take that track.

If you want to change your lifestyle by harnessing the passion inside yourself, Career Renegade is a great place to start. It isn’t expensive. It’s one of those books, if you put the ideas into practice they will pay for themselves a thousand fold, maybe more.

This book is a must read for anyone looking to make a career change.

You can find Career Renegade at Amazon.com and most other retail bookstores.