Free Inspiration

My friend Tom, from The Practical Nerd, recently created an amazing resource. He emailed a number of extraordinary achievers and asked them what some of their ordinary achievements are. This insightful question allows us to see behind-the-scenes into their lives to teach us how much like us they are.

Not only does Tom provide a great list of inspiring individuals whose accomplishments and goals include visiting every country in the world, pursuing 10,000 Random Acts of Greatness, and letting readers choose where they live for the next 4 months. He also helps us get a glimpse of just how ordinary these individuals are; some of their goals include graduating high school, eat breakfast on a daily basis, and the author who writes every day.

This is the kind of post that you should bookmark and return to frequently. Look at the accomplishments by those mentioned for inspiration. See how they are ordinary people and know that you can do the same. Use it as a “to contact” list and meet new people. Check out the resources provided by those mentioned.

Thanks, Tom!
Go, check out Average goals from extraordinary achievers.

Adventure Wanted

As I look back over my recent posts, I’ve noticed a disturbing theme: I’m not going on many adventures recently. Certainly not as many as I would like.

So far as I can tell, there are three main reasons for this:

  1. Lack of money
  2. Lack of time
  3. Focusing on big adventures

These are all pretty common excuses that I have fallen subject to. Let’s discuss how to beat them.

Lack of money

While my finances are organized and pretty well under control, they could be better optimized. I just finished reading I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi and will be following the to-do’s that are outlined. It provides an easy-to-follow system that automates your finances.
Once I have this system put together, I will be in a good position to address the problem of not enough money (and really, how many people will say that they do have enough?) According to Ramit, it’s easier to make more money than it is to save more money. My wife and I are pretty frugal already, so now it’s time to raise the income.

Lack of time

School, work, marriage, and everything else in my life. There’s not enough time for everything that I want to do. Fortunately, I have my short list of important things. It’s time to go through my life again and pare down the items that don’t directly advance my interests in the items on the short list. I want to keep my focus on the truly important things in my life.

Focusing on big adventures

I’ve fallen into the trap of only thinking about big adventures. “I want to go see the Moonbow again!” “What about our week-long road trip next month?” These are great adventures, but it’s easy to overlook the small ones that I can take here at home. Trying a new restaurant, checking out the new exhibit at the art museum, enjoying a bike ride with my wife when the weather turns unseasonably warm for a weekend.

The Good News

These are common excuses that everyone falls into. Fortunately, they can be over-come. I can figure out how to make more money (even if it just means taking on a few more hours at work), can find some activities to cut out so that I can free up time (do I really need to be keeping up with those shows on netflix?) and paying attention to the opportunities for daily adventure (time to check out some of the restaurants on my to-try list).

What are you doing to find adventure in your life?

Doing Stuff

I’m an information junkie who loves to research and read. I dive headfirst into whatever the new topic that catches my attention is, reading everything that I can about it: subscribing to blogs, reading books, checking out magazines, and talking to people about it.

What does all that information do?

Unfortunately, as good as I am about gathering information, I’m not nearly as good at acting on it. Knowing how to use it, yes. Creating plans of what and when to take the next step, certainly. Getting things done, not so much. So, for all the time I spend collecting information and learning what to do, I don’t actually get anything done.

Stop learning, start acting!

In order to combat this, I’m going to slow my learning. I don’t need to research, learn, or discover more. While I certainly don’t know everything, I know enough to get started. Progress will fuel my desire to learn more, but it will also help me to focus better, as I will then have more specific questions to find answers for.

What about you?

Are you an information gatherer or someone who takes action? Will you join me as I begin focusing on results instead of information?

Share what project you have been researching in the comments.

Do the Impossible

“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
~The Queen, Through the Looking Glass

Reading Subliminal Captivity: Why We Tell Ourselves To Give Up made me begin thinking about the things that I can’t do.

  • Did you know that you can’t ride a motorcycle year round in central Kentucky?
  • Apparently it’s really hard to return to college after a long break (like 7 years).
  • … much less be a full time student when married.
  • It’s also impossible to study abroad for a semester… with your significant other.
  • I’m sure that having two vehicles that are paid-for with cash is likewise impossible.

Yet I do (or have done) all of these things. Instead of listening to others when they told me “you can’t do that” I figured out how to make it work. It’s easy to make excuses, but if you want to do it, you can.

Go check out Subliminal Captivity and see what impossible things you can do.

Can’t Never Could

Dad always had a ready response any time he heard me say “I can’t do it!”

Can’t never could.

Even though I strongly disliked that phrase as a teenager, those three words contain a lot of wisdom.

  • “I can’t start my own business.”
  • “I can’t lose any weight.”
  • “I can’t support myself as an artist.”
  • “I can’t ask for a raise at work.”
  • “I can’t travel around the world.”

As long as you keep saying these phrases, or any similar to them, you will be absolutely correct. Change a couple of words, however, and you never know what could happen.

  • “I don’t know how to start my own business.”
  • “I haven’t yet lost any weight.”
  • “I don’t support myself as an artist.”
  • “I will research how to ask for a raise at work.”
  • “I will travel around the world.”

Removing the world can’t from your vocabulary will make a huge difference in your life. Even if you don’t want to quit your job and travel the world, you can build the life that you have always dreamed of.

But I don’t know how!

Fortunately, there is now an easy-to-read guide available that will teach you how to turn your can’ts into cans! Released today (I had a sneak-peak since I’ve been a Practical Nerd reader for some time now.) If you want simple and practical guidelines to overcoming the can’ts in your life, you should check out Subliminal Captivity: Why We Tell Ourselves To Give Up.

Even though I grew up hearing “Can’t never could”, I still found Subliminal Captivity to be full of great information that will be really helpful in my life. Best of all? It’s free! (You don’t even have to give your email address.) Check it out!

Cutting the Digital Cord

I spend way too much time on my computer. (Which I’ve mentioned before, more than once.) And I’m getting tired of it.

Recently, I’ve noticed that I have to “entertain” myself with my computer. Bored? I waste time playing a game. Supposed to be doing homework? I put it off reading blogs. Working on my business? I’m “researching” what others have done.

Basically, when I’m home I have the computer in front of me.

I have other things to do

Cutting Back

And so, it’s time to cut back. I don’t need to check my email more than once a day. The internet will not clog up if I don’t read every post in my feed reader. Nothing bad will happen if I don’t keep up with everything that happens on FaceBook.

I will still be on my computer quite a bit. With a web-design class, I face a requirement of being online at least sometimes. However, I can do most of this while at school, and for the homework I don’t need to be online. Likewise, part of my French homework is online, so I won’t be neglecting it.

The Plan

Part of my morning routine includes my online world. I get up, read through some online comics, check the weather, catch up on my blog feeds, and see what some friends have to say.

To start with, I am going to stick with this routine (because it seems to work). However, that will be my computer time for the day, unless I have specific tasks to complete: ie, homework, specific email to send, or specific research to undertake.

Of course, I will have computer access more than just this once a day. My web design class consists of two 3-hour sessions in a computer lab. There I will be able to “catch up” with online things. Or I will just focus on the projects a bit more.

Similarly, at work I sit in front of a computer. Of course, I can easily carry a book to read or take the time to get ahead on homework (I literally sit in front of a computer, but I don’t actually have to do anything on it). This time can be spent doing stuff online, such as working on Adventure-Some!

And so, that’s the plan. I’m cutting back. Less computer time. More real life. Fortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t have to pause for a bit while I do other stuff. I can unplug and take a breather without causing any sort of hiccup in the space/time continuum.

Why don’t you join me? Spend less time with your gadgets.

Do Something Just Because

It’s easy to get caught up in your daily routine. Today, you should take a moment to do something that you enjoy, just for the sake of it.

You don’t have to spend a lot of time on this, or even complete whatever you are working on. Just spend enough time that it makes you smile.

Some examples:

  • Spend some time working on that art/craft project you’ve been wanting to work on.
  • Read a chapter from a favorite book (or one you’ve been wanting to try).
  • Take a bath and relax. Don’t be afraid to add bubbles.
  • Take a stroll through a nearby park.
  • Sit and watch the sunset.

Go ahead, enjoy yourself! There’s nothing adventurous about a life spent stuck in routine.

I don’t have time!

If you’re thinking this to yourself, then that’s fine, and to be expected. However, it’s also well worth taking a few minutes for yourself. If you can’t do it today, go ahead and plan on it for tomorrow.

No! I really don’t have any time!

You can always find time for yourself, snatched here and there. Read just one page from that book; perhaps while you’re standing in line at the store. Carry a notepad around with you and sketch while you’re waiting for a meeting.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to take time for yourself! You’re worth it! Do something for yourself today.

Vagabonding – Book Review


The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.
~ St Augustine

The first book I read in 2010 was Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. Not only did I find it to be a delightful read, but also to be full of useful information. No matter if you want to travel or simply find more adventure in your daily life, Vagabonding has advice for you.

Here are some snippets for you:

  • The hardest thing about travel is deciding to go. Once you’ve made that commitment, the rest is easy.
  • Live richly instead of getting rich from life. Live well instead of “do well”.
  • Money is needed to survive, of course, but time is what you need to live. So use money to meet basic survival requirements but spend time lavishly to create the life values that make the fire worth the candle.
  • Monasticism on the move – on the road we often live more simply, with no more possessions than we can carry, and surrendering ourselves to chance.
  • One the road, you should never forget that you are uniquely in control of your own agenda.
  • If you view the world as a predominately hostile place, it will be. ~Ed Buryn (Likewise, a positive worldview can lead to inspiring, human-centric road experiences.)

Every chapter is full of useful information. Vagabonding is not so much a checklist of actions to take as it is a guidebook for how to look at the world. Who knows what you might learn!

Don’t ever live vicariously. This is your life. Live.

Get your copy and see how much better your life could be.

Sometimes Simple is Better

My wife and I currently live in a 2-bedroom apartment. That second bedroom? Designated as an office/art studio.

The office part is true. It houses our school books, a massive desk that is used on a daily basis, and other sundry items.

It also works wonderfully as an art-supply storage room. Most of my materials are carefully tucked away in corners and the closet. Unfortunately, storage was not at all the goal; action was.

The Problem

I came to realize that even though I never worked on any of my projects, I had a lot of great ideas. I even had the energy and a few minutes to spare to work on them. Unfortunately, the prospect of having to clear a workspace, drag everything out of storage, and then set it all up. After working, it’d be time to clean back up again.

Out of those twenty minutes I had to work on a project, about 5 of them would be spent painting. The rest would be set up and clean up.

And so, my projects never moved past the idea stage.

The Solution

As with so many problems, the answer to mine was quite simple. I needed to greatly reduce or completely remove the amount of prep and clean-up time required for each session.

I needed a dedicated art-space. Fortunately for artist me, painting and drawing don’t require a lot of horizontal space. Vertical is the way to go. This means that I didn’t need another desk, but a place to put my canvas or paper. An easel!

Egads! Easels are expensive. They range from $40 for a weak, wobbly thing to tens of thousands for easels that move on their own. I didn’t want anything fancy. Functional, sturdy, and easy on the wallet. While I’m at it, I also want it to be small and light-weight as well.

Fortunately, such a contraption is surprisingly easy to make. An easel is nothing more than a capital “A” that is leaned up against a surface. Two pieces of $1.45 lumber, one piece of scrap wood, 6 screws, a 3 cuts… and I’m done. Total cost was about $3, and it took less than an hour. If I had power tools, it could be done again in about 10 minutes.

Einstein said it best:

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

My easel is a simple affair, but it fulfills my requirements, and means that I’m ready to pick up work on my current project with only a minute or two of preparation.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to go get some painting done! (You should check out some of my portraiture over at