Adventures in life and marriage


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Making the 30 in 30 Game Plan

by Matthew

People who collect experiences are more interesting than people who collect things.

You might notice that out of my 30 goals, only two involve buying something. I want to live a full life, and that doesn’t necessarily having a full house. These purchase goals will provide experiences to make my life richer. My wife and I have been wanting an Airstream for a few years now, and purchasing one would include the experience of remodeling and then living in it. Buying coffee for 12 strangers? The goal is to make myself meet people, coffee is just the medium.

So how do I plan on accomplishing these 30 goals in 366 days (since that leap year “bonus day” will fall in this time-frame)? By making them as automatic as possible. This means that I will be heavily relying on my calendar and automatic email reminders. I am still in the process of planning the schedule out, but here is the process that I’m using.

Know what I’m working with

You may have noticed that there is a pretty wide range of goals included on my list, free and fairly quick (#12 – read the Bible) to expensive (#13 – buy an Airstream) to time intensive (#1 – cross-country motorcycle trip). To help me come up with a realistic plan I have broken the goals into different categories based on the time and money needed to complete them.

A few of the goals have already been scheduled, and so they were the first to go on my calendar.

  • move
  • pay down school debt
  • go on 7 day backpacking trip

Long term
A number of the goals will only be reached after investing quite a bit of time (from about a month to the entire year). I am scheduling them as a recurring weekly activity, with an initial focused burst at the beginning. This beginning burst of energy will allow me to stagger their starting dates so that I don’t end up beginning a lot of new projects in February and then burning myself out. Many of these goals are free, or only incur a small cost (like gas or the purchase of a book).

  • read 1/2 of Personal MBA
  • find 576 more geocaches
  • learn 5 magic tricks
  • read the Bible
  • 30 informational interviews
  • go on 30 dates
  • make 30 things
  • learn to weld
  • some sort of fitness goal – to be further defined
  • learn to program
  • circumnavigate Land Between the Lakes
  • get in touch with old friends on a regular basis
  • buy coffee for 12 strangers
  • see moonbow (again)
  • become conversationally fluent in a language
  • become a publicly recognized expert
  • have a business of my own

Most of the other goals are more of a multi-day event. Some planning, a big burst of energy, and some money, and they will be completed. These will be interspersed through the year, and combined whenever possible (ie: I can visit DC and the Grand Canyon during the cross-country motorcycle trip).

  • visit the lower 48
  • cross-country motorcycle trip
  • stop in DC to visit the Wall
  • see Grand Canyon
  • hot air balloon ride
  • see Northern Lights
  • buy an Airstream
  • take flying lessons – airplane
  • learn to sail
  • hang glide

Further Definition

Many of these goals are already pretty easy to measure (ie: go on 30 dates, go on a 7 day backpacking trip, etc). There are a few, however, that still need to be narrowed down a bit. So that I know when I have “learned to program” I will come up with a final project that I want to complete, and then I will have a definitive ending point to cross. Likewise, “learn to weld” will involve coming up with a final project to create.

I will write an explanatory post for most of these goals as I begin working on them, including the guidelines for completing each one, my detailed plan of attack, and the reasons behind each one.


No, I don’t have a sponsor of any sort. These goals will be completed around work and my wife’s school/work schedule. The money comes from my pocket. Goal #4 (business of my own) will not only make some of the goals financially possible, but will also allow you to participate! Come back Wednesday to find out how.

The 30 in 30 Project

by Matthew

It’s not the outcome that matters. It’s the decision to act.
~ Chris Guillebeau

A few months ago I read Sebastian Marshall’s post about strategically checking off a bucket list and I continued to mull that idea over. I can do the same thing. Most of the items on my life list are things that I could do relatively easy with a direct application of time or money. Though I might not have the money at the moment, completing many of my goals will cost far less than I imagine, and I do have some time available if I make these goals a priority. So I came up with a new list to work toward for now.

I will be 30 in a few days. To start this decade off right I am going to focus on strategically completing a few of the goals on my bucket list, in addition to some goals that hadn’t quite made it to that list yet. In no particular order, here are the 30 things that I want to complete by February 6, 2013.

  1. cross-country motorcycle trip
  2. stop in DC to visit the Wall
  3. read 1/2 of Personal MBA
  4. have a business of my own
  5. pay down school debt
  6. become conversationally fluent in a language
  7. hot air balloon ride
  8. see Grand Canyon
  9. become a publicly recognized expert
  10. see moonbow (again)
  11. see Northern Lights
  12. read the Bible
  13. buy an Airstream
  14. take flying lessons – airplane
  15. 30 informational interviews
  16. make 30 things
  17. learn to sail
  18. hang glide
  19. go on 30 dates
  20. learn a skill of some sort – welding?
  21. some sort of fitness goal – to be further defined
  22. learn to program
  23. go on 7 day backpacking trip
  24. circumnavigate Land Between the Lakes
  25. get in touch with old friends on a regular basis
  26. move
  27. buy coffee for 12 strangers
  28. find 576 more geocaches
  29. learn 5 magic tricks
  30. visit the lower 48

Come back Monday to see how I plan on completing all of these.

List Making

by Matthew

A month ago everyone online seemed to be reviewing their lives in 2011 and putting together their action plans for 2012. For some reason that I couldn’t quite explain, however, I just couldn’t bring myself to do the same.

Sure, I sat down and came up with a long list of things to achieve this year, but it felt forced. And since it was forced I knew that, realistically, I wouldn’t be enthusiastic or driven enough to complete them.

Taking a break

Eventually I just decided to sit back and watch everyone else post their reviews and action plans. The stress lifted from my shoulders. I was still making progress, building things, reading and growing. Serendipity would take care of the rest.

The list grows

Apparently I was just starting too soon. Starting a new set of goals on January 1st just didn’t seem important to me, but February 6th seemed just about right. A list of goals seemed to grow of its own accord.

In a few days I will be entering my third decade upon earth. Anticipating this supposed milestone I have been tossing around ideas about how to celebrate it. Something epic, no doubt. The list that formed on its own has grown into the “30 in 30″ project.

30 in 30

During my 30th year I have compiled a list of thirty things that I want complete. Some are free while others will cost a decent amount. A few won’t take me long at all though others will take the whole year. A few will involve me spending time alone but most involve others. Easy and challenging. I tried to cover many things.

30 things to complete. Friday I’ll tell you what they are.

The Next Step

by Matthew

The next step in the Ready-to-go Dates adventure has been taken. It’s sequel has been created and is live. In fact, the first subscribers joined about two weeks ago.

Like the free Ready-to-go Dates guide, I provide date ideas. Unlike the guide, these are more detailed, are delivered directly to your inbox, and also include romance tips.

Curious about Dates by Design? Go check it out. But you’d better hurry, because I’ll be raising the price in a few more weeks.

Making Progress
Though it might not look like it from the outside, putting together both Ready-to-go Dates and Dates by Design have been a lot of work. Before making either one of them available there was a lot of behind-the-scenes hustle. Writing the actual guides, the first emails, putting together the offers, seeing what people wanted, learning new technologies that make it all possible, creating graphics, and so much more.

Neither of the guides have yet grown to their full potential, but they are making progress. Moving in the right direction. It’s just a matter of time and continued effort before they get there. The momentum has begun.

And, just like before this newest project has inspired another one. While Ready-to-go Dates and Dates by Design are growing I am also working on another project. But that’s a post for another day. (Like Wednesday, in fact, so be sure and come back then.)

Until then, check out Dates by Design.

What I Am Building Now

by Matthew

I recently asked what you were building. (I have also noticed that Ev Bogue seems to be asking something similar recently.)

Even though it was not that long ago that I asked that question my answer has already expanded. Even more people have downloaded the Ready-to-go Dates guide since then. Their feedback has helped me to do two things.

Continue the cycle
Though it would be easy to release the guide and be done with it, that would not fulfill its purpose. Ultimately, I want this to be an amazing, free resource that can help anyone who needs it. To do that, it needs to continue growing, improving, and becoming more accessible.

The feedback that I have received has provided me with encouragement to continue, suggestions of ways to improve the guide, tips and ideas that I would have never come up with on my own. Together, we will all make Ready-to-go Dates into everything that it can possibly be.

The next step
Because of the premise upon which Ready-to-go Dates is built – dates that need 20 minutes or less of preparation, and that can be done just about anywhere – it can only be expanded so far. There are many great ideas out there that just require more preparation, have too many options to fit into the one-date-per-page format, or can only be done at a certain time of the year.

Again, based on the feedback that I have received, I am now building what I am thinking of as “Ready-to-go Dates 2.0″. It is going to be the personalized, detailed, ongoing version of Ready-to-go Dates – four emails a month that provide two date ideas and two romance tips.

I am almost done. Or at least done enough.

- whispering - Those who have are on the Ready-to-go Dates list will get first access to the service, and a discounted price. So if you haven’t gotten your free copy of Ready-to-go Dates yet, you might want to go ahead and do so! But don’t tell anyone, that’s a secret! - ends whispering -

I’m so excited that I can barely contain it!

What are You Building?

by Matthew

I recently ran across the site by Scott and love it!

Here’s one of the quotes that really stood out to me.

Build things. This starts from day one. If you are reading about how to write, then start writing. If you’re being taught how to interview, they go find some job openings. People dramatically overestimate how much time them must spend learning before they start doing. The answer is exactly ZERO. The moment you start learning is the moment you must start building and testing.

I recently started doing this, as I decided to go ahead and release my newest ebook Ready-to-go Dates before I got it back from my editor. As soon as I did get the edited copy back I updated the link and informed those who already had a copy that it had been updated.

All of this because I want to be building, doing. As much as I want that, though, I seem to have a tendency to spend time learning things instead of doing them. So this time I defaulted toward action, and it paid off. A few hundred people have downloaded Ready-to-go Dates and a number of them have reached out to give me some amazingly useful feedback.

And now it’s up to me to continue the cycle. If I do nothing, the project will die here. However, I am not going to do nothing, I will implement their feedback, test their ideas, and include the best of them in a new version of the Ready-to-go Dates guide. It will continue to grow and improve over time, spreading and helping even more people.

What about you, what are you building?

Don’t Be Afraid To Try Something New

by Matthew

My wife and I just returned from a handbell concert. Until seeing them mentioned on a tv show this past week, we had never heard of handbells before.

A few days later my boss just happened to receive some tickets to the concert that he was unable to attend and left them at the front desk for employees on a first-come, first-serve basis. Apparently I was not only the first, but also the one interested in them, since I didn’t get in to work until after everyone else and still managed to snag them.

So tonight my wife and I went to check out something we had never experienced before, driven by curiosity and free tickets. Not quite sure what to expect (because how trust can you really put in an example seen on a sitcom?) we went just to see what we would see.

The show was wonderful. The music was quite enjoyable, the setting was beautiful, the ladies in the ensemble clearly enjoyed themselves, and the group shared their sense of humor and love of what they were doing.

My wife and I had a thoroughly enjoyable break from our cram-before-finals evening, which wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t been open to trying something new. We would certainly have missed out if I had just brushed off “handbell concert tickets” as something that I wasn’t familiar with and therefore not interested in.

What is something that you haven’t tried, just because you aren’t familiar with it?

Minimalism Can Help Your Marriage

by froldt

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Lori Lowe, who blogs at and is the author of FIRST KISS TO LASTING BLISS: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage which has been released today at

First Kiss to Lasting Bliss

Materialism is Inconsistent with Strong Marriages

Those of you who are choosing to live a more simple life may be heartened to know your decision bodes well for your marriage. Recent research has shown no matter what your income levels, a high level of materialism is correlated with marriages that struggle more, and that marriages with lower levels of materialism have higher levels of satisfaction. If both spouses are materialistic, the marriage has further struggles. Read more about this study on materialism and marital happiness.

Margaret and Phil are an example of a couple who choose to live in a counter-cultural way. Early in their marriage, they made a conscious decision not to accumulate too many possessions, and not to change their lifestyle as their incomes rose. Since Phil’s parents grew up in the Great Depression, he adopted some of their frugal ways, for example fixing what breaks instead of automatically buying new. They maintain an uncluttered, organized home.

I interviewed Phil and Margaret for my book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage, which profiles couples who overcame various challenges from drug addiction to infertility, child loss, infidelity, financial crises, military separation, depression, brain injury, stranger rape, opposing religions, disruptive families and much more. But this couple was an example for more of what they did right than for the obstacles that tripped them up. They made conscious lifestyle decisions early in their marriage that has guided them for decades.

When Phil was in medical school and Margaret was a teacher, it was easy to not accumulate too much, because they had very little money. As their incomes increased, they earmarked funds for charity, for mission trips, or long-term goals, such as the education of their two children. Their lifestyle choices allowed them to keep their priorities in check. For instance, Phil chose to provide medical care for indigent patients and doesn’t work overly long hours to advance his career. They have both been very satisfied in the ways they contribute to society and are satisfied with what they have materially.

Making mission trips with their young children also contributed to their view that they didn’t need more materialistic goods to be happy. They found many of the very poor people they met in travels were exceedingly happy despite their financial poverty. Phil and Margaret also have a strong faith that leads them to be generous with what they have.

More than 30 years into their marriage, they have no financial conflict in their marriage and are satisfied with what they have. They enjoy their four grandchildren. While Phil still works, Margaret is retired and has time for volunteer work that she finds fulfilling.

It’s so natural in our society to long for a bigger house, a nicer car, or finer clothes. This is not only because of ubiquitous advertising images, but also because we see friends and neighbors obtaining these goods regularly, whether they can afford to or not. But what do we trade those things for?

My husband and I made a conscious decision early in our marriage to not accumulate any credit card debt and to be wise with our spending. That includes the holiday season, which can be very difficult to manage without overbuying. However, I can also say that being in synch financially has allowed us to avoid virtually all financial conflict in our marriage. The freedom gained from living within our means far exceeds the joy we would obtain from accumulating more.

Experts say materialism often leads to poor financial decisions, resulting in debt and higher stress levels. They add that materialistic individuals spend less time nurturing their relationships with people and more time acquiring things, while non-materialistic people place a higher priority on relationships.

Don’t be afraid to make your own decisions about your lifestyle, even if it’s different from the culture that surrounds you. Invest in your marriage, and it will pay big dividends.

To learn about the other couples featured in the book, visit For more information about Lori or to purchase the book, visit

First Kiss to Lasting Bliss

Thank you so much for the opportunity to join you today on!

What Do You Know About Your Spouse?

by Matthew

You might be surprised how many details just don’t stick in your mind about your spouse. I wrote about an easy way to help you remember them over at Simple Marriage:

Check it out!

Adventures in Dating

by Matthew

I love dating, even though I don’t get to go out as much as I’d prefer. That’s just part of being alive, unfortunately… never enough time. One of the awesome things about being married? You always have a date.

My wife and I love exploring, trying new things, and going new places. Many of our dates feature these activities in some fashion. Because we have been living in the same place for the last few years, however, we have noticed that our dates have fallen into the dinner and a movie rut.

And after years of exploring, dinner and a movie doesn’t always fit the bill. Sometimes we want something more. That might mean a treasure hunt where each clue leads to the next stage of the date or a date that has had details trickled out via a note a day over the course of a week. The only trouble is that figuring out the details those dates takes time. And that takes us back to the original issue: not enough time.

To solve this issue and ensure that my wife and I can focus on each other, we started keeping a list of our favorite date ideas. That way we always had ideas when we needed them.

It occurred to me that we might not be the only ones who fall back on dinner and a movie habit. Finally, I took my list and wrote an easy-to-read guide, Ready-to-go Dates. It ended up having 20 date ideas that take less than 20 minutes of preparation. Though I had more ideas, I only included ones that can be done anywhere.

Cover of "Ready-to-go Dates"

The final draft is actually at my editor right now, but I was too excited to wait. Following the Cult of Done manifesto I decided to go ahead and make it available now. The edited version will be automatically sent out to those who pick up a copy of the current draft.

You can get yours here. Go and check it out!