List Making

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.

Minimalism Can Help Your Marriage

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!

Real Life Continues

In a few weeks I will be graduating from college with a BA in Art Studio and Business and Art History minors. I suppose that makes me a Certified Artist.

And this whole graduation thing begs the most common question of all: “So what do you plan to do?”

Well, the same as I have been doing, without the time-suck of classes and homework. An ever-present goal is to be the best husband that I can, so my wife will continue to be a focus of my life. I will continue working at the same place that I had before, though I was recently promoted (partially because of the upcoming time available). My personal reading list won’t have to be set to the side because of school assignments. I will continue to sketch and write as I have been.

So I guess that the real answer is, continue “living my life.” After all, the 4.5 years that I’ve spent in college were a part of my real life, not some sort of practice. Getting married, living in Ireland with my wife for four months, losing some close family members, and paying cash for my motorcycle were all the real deal. And now, I get to do even more of it.

What I Am Tracking

I mentioned that I have implemented a daily tracking system but didn’t go into great detail about what exactly I’m tracking. If you’re interested, here are those details.

    What I’m tracking

  • Wake time – Between my wife and I’s school and work schedules, our daily routine fluctuates greatly. Out of curiosity I’ve started noting what time I actually wake up each day. There is a strong possibility that I will also start noting what my mood is during the day, as I assume these (combined with my sleep amount) strongly reflect each other.
  • How long sleep? – Likely just as important as wake time, I will eventually compare this metric with other items such as how I feel during the day, mood, energy level, etc.
  • Did I floss? – A habit that I’m trying to build, and that I’ve noticed is much easier to do when I have this external motivation to do it.
  • Active? – I explained this in the previous post. Working up from being fairly sedentary to more active each day.
  • Productive? – I have so many projects going on each day that it’s easiest to simply note if I did some worthwhile work each day than anything more specific. The goal is to do something that moves a project forward. Tiny steps consistently done will help me get to my destination.
  • Network? – Take at least one action each day to connect with another person. This may be a business, scholarly, or personal connection. It can be a face-to-face meeting or a quick email. Like the productivity goal, a consistent effort in connecting with people will help me grow a strong network over time.
  • Write love note for my wife? – Sometimes it is easy to overlook writing a daily love note for my wife, but this daily reminder is helping me to meet that goal.
  • Complete school work? – There is always something to be done, even if it’s not due just yet. Why not go ahead and do something, so that it’s not all left till the last minute.
  • Read? – I read a lot, but so much of it is online or purely for school. I am making myself read some for personal reasons, whether it is fiction or non-fiction.
  • Sketch something? – I will soon be a certified artist. To build on that I am in the process of incorporating art into my daily life on a more regular basis. Like networking and being productive, the goal is to simply work on art in some form each day with the knowledge that a lot of little steps will help me to achieve long-term goals.
  • Drink more water than other types of beverage? – I’ve noticed that when I don’t drink enough water I run out of energy fairly quickly. To further complicate matters I’ve noticed that I might drink a lot (coffee, juice, tea, etc) but they aren’t as effective as water. So the goal is to drink more water than anything else. – So far, so good. Consciously being aware of this has helped me to feel better for the last week.

It’s amazing how such big goals can be condensed down into one or two word questions, each of which can be tracked so simply. Those tiny, daily steps make huge progress possible, and far faster than one would expect.

What daily steps can you take toward your goals?

Tracking Equals Improvement

Have you ever tried to implement a new habit in your life and struggled? I have, all too often. Recently I stumbled across Sebastian’s posts about his personal tracking system and decided to try it out for myself. In roughly a week I’ve gone through three different versions of my own tracking system as I’ve worked to discover the version that works the best for me, personally.

The basic idea

“What gets measured gets managed.”
This is a principle that I’ve run across in a variety of business books, but that can be applied to most aspects of one’s life. The simple act of actively noticing (measuring) something forces you to be conscious of it. As you grow conscious of the results and inputs that cause them you will automatically change the inputs to help achieve the desired results.

“You don’t want to break the chain.”
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld measures his productivity by getting a big calendar and crossing off each day that he actively writes with a big red X. After a few days he has a chain of X’s, and then his only goal is to not break the chain. As the chain grows longer the motivation to not break it grows stronger.

My current tracking system

My tracking system combines these two ideas in a very easy-to-use, mobile format. I’ve used a piece of grid-lined paper that easily fits into my pocket so that I always have it available. There are 8 columns: one for each day of the week, and one with a list of the 11 tasks/projects that I want to complete/track. For each item I simply check it off once completed, put a dash if I don’t, or write down the information that I want to track. The checks quickly formed a chain that I don’t want to break, encouraging me to keep completing the tasks each day.

    What I’m tracking

  • Wake time
  • How long sleep?
  • Did I floss?
  • Active?
  • Productive?
  • Network?
  • Write love note for my wife?
  • Complete school work?
  • Read?
  • Sketch something?
  • Drink more water than other types of beverage?

Start simply

It would be easy to add a lot of detail to this system, quickly making it cumbersome and something that I wouldn’t actually use on a daily basis. To stop myself from doing this I’ve tried to keep each item to something that can be tracked with a single number or Yes/No answer. Each of these represent a personal goal that I am currently working on, so over time the list will change.

Simple goals
I have become rather sedentary and am working back into a regular exercise routine. Instead of jumping into something that I wouldn’t sustain, though, I have set the goal of simply being active each day. This might mean going and playing a physical game, talking a walk, or working out. This simple goal empowers me to complete it instead of limiting myself to a specific activity, location, or required equipment.

Simple tracking
It takes only a few seconds to note what time I woke up and calculate how long I slept (to the nearest 10 minutes). A yes/no response is very quick to write down. The only further details that I am recording is what action I take to network each day, a few words that mention how I contacted what person. Because it takes so little time and I can always have the paper with me I have made this as easy as possible for myself. Since the answers are so easy I don’t have to remember a lot of details and can record all of them at a single time if I need to.

Simple archiving
A piece of paper folded and stuck in one’s pocket doesn’t last for a terribly long time, but I do want to store the results in order to compare them over time. To do this I have created a spreadsheet that is stored online with the same categories. It takes only a few minutes each week to transfer the information from the paper to digital version, and then I have the entire history available to compare.

Quick improvements

Over the last week I have spent less than a total of twenty minutes and begun to build good habits (flossing daily), become more productive (creating on a new business), and started noticing patterns in my life (sleep and mood).

What would you like to change and improve in your life? You need only a few minutes each day to get there.

I Want To Live Life

I want to live my life, not just view it. That’s why I recently took a break and why I am trying to start a business of my own. It’s easy to sit back and just watch life go by, to react to things, to watch other people having the adventures. But I get restless when I am just watching. That is part of why I get so frustrated with college: we are learning about other people who are out there doing things while we are told to “wait until it is your turn”. Pfft… why can’t it be my turn now?

This site was created because I want to get out there and do things while encouraging others to do the same. My wife and I don’t watch tv, because we’d rather do exciting things instead of watching others do them. Like Sebastian, I love to play sports but don’t care much for watching them, though I’ve always been this way and didn’t have to “give them up”.

Recently this topic seems to be recurring in my life. The article by Sebastian about playing sports but not spectator sports, an excellent post about the Rise of Spectatoritis, and some conversations with friends… all echoing some thoughts that I’d been having on my own.

A Neglected Hobby

One of these lines of thought was about a hobby: bushcrafting (ie: camping, playing in the woods, etc). Nature has comforted me for my whole life, but in recent years I haven’t been making the time to get out and enjoy some wilderness time. It’s easy to make excuses: I live in the city; it’s an hour drive to get out; the weather is miserable. However, if I really want to get out and about, to do something that makes me happy, there has to be a way.

Just behind my apartment runs a creek. It has at least 50 feet of overgrowth on each side of it. This “wilderness” lives in between 4 different residential areas, a no-man’s land. No, it’s not my dream location of acres upon acres of wilderness with old-growth forests. It’s not necessarily a place that I would be comfortable spending the night in (since it is often over-looked by my neighbor’s windows, and I don’t know how they might react to a campfire and hammock appearing just outside their back yard.) However, it is a place where I can get away from my “city life” and practice some bushcraft skills. Wood can be gathered for a fire on my porch (in my grill/fire-pit). Hammock and tarp can be hung for practice. Deer, squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, raccoons, turtles, and more can be tracked and viewed. Most importantly, I can do this whether I have 15 minutes or a whole weekend free.

However, I have to remember to do this. It’s easy to sit on my computer surfing the BushcraftUSA forums and read about others who are out doing things. Many times I sit there and wish that I had the opportunities that they have. Maybe I don’t, but I do have some opportunities. I can get out and practice and explore. Then, when I do have a chance to visit a national forest I will know exactly what to do and how to do it. Until then, I know where an amazing blackberry patch is hidden. 😀

On Business

I mentioned that I want to start a business of my own. For years now I’ve been reading about business. I can tell you what you need to start a business, how to write a proper business plan (and how to do the quickie, one-page version), explain where and how to get funding, and what to do with it once you’ve got it. I have ideas that can be started for less than $100 and some that would take a few million. However, I’ve never actually done it. I have never run a business of my own, not even a lemonade stand as a kid.

Starting a business is really easy. All you have to do is offer to exchange something of value for money.

  • Is it hot and someone doesn’t have time/hates doing yardwork? Offer to mow their yard for $30. Do this for 15 people and you’ll be making $450 a week. All you need is a push-mower and some gas.
  • Don’t have a mower? Offer to walk someone’s dog. All you need are feet and a hand. Get your first few clients for free from Craigslist.
  • Know how to do something fairly well? Go and teach it to people who don’t know how to do it at all, but would like to.

You don’t have to be amazing at some skill to run a business. You just have to be better or more willing than the person who is willing to pay for what you offer.

So for all of these years I’ve been gathering knowledge on business. Reading those books, taking notes, coming up with plans, etc. But I’ve never tried it. Instead of sitting back and just reading about others doing it, I have decided to do it for myself. The books have been put aside, the plan was made, and I have made my first move.


I want to spend as little money as possible until I have a reasonable expectation of my venture’s success. In fact, I don’t want to spend any money. And so, I’m starting out as a freelance consultant. Start-up cost so far? $0. I’ve offered my freelance services to my current boss in exchange for the contacts of 3 people who she thinks would benefit from what I offer. So I get a practice run and hopefully future paying clients. The profit from those future clients will be spent on building the business.

So what will I be doing? As a consultant I will help my (future) clients understand how they can become more productive with a few simple tweaks to their daily workflow. How will I do this? By combining all of this knowledge into simple actionable steps for them to take: not only do I understand how business operates, but I know about energy management, how not to have meetings, the importance of brainstorming sessions, how modern electronics can help and hinder workers, how email kills your productivity, what the only two important tasks any business does are, how to identify the best ways to do them, and more.

All of that knowledge, though, is useless until I actually get out and do it. I have to act on it and help others do the same. Finally, I am. Instead of reading about it, I’m going to go do it.

What about you?

What do you want to do but don’t? Maybe it’s a hobby you no longer participate in, a dream you watch others fulfill, or something else. Whatever it is, believe that you can do it! Share what you spend time watching others do in the comments.

What I’ve Been Up To

I know that I took a break and it’s been much needed and greatly enjoyed. My wife and I have gone on vacation: visiting a new part of the U.S. and a family member we haven’t seen in a few years; re-started school (my final semester!); explored some places we rarely visit around our home; and more! Spending time actually out and adventuring is so much more fun than just writing about it. 😀

School has just started back, so our schedules aren’t quite figured out yet. On top of that craziness I’m trying to figure out exactly what to do next year, since I’ll be done with school. I have a couple of ideas: one on how to continue my education without the torture of school, and a few on how to increase my income. With the finances such a part of my thinking here recently, I thought that I would share some of the resources that I’ve been looking at. You may notice that I prefer the idea of working for myself in some way, though at the moment I wouldn’t turn down a more traditional job offer.

24 Legit Home-Based Business Ideas
23 Ways to Make Money – it might say for teens, but anyone can make them work
Best of Paying the Bills
Paying the Bills
How to FreeLance – an excellent free guide on getting started freelancing

As I make some progress I will try to keep you updated a bit more frequently.

Internet Sabbatical

I recently realized that I spend too much time online (this isn’t a new thing, I’ve noticed it before.) Those previous attempts don’t seem to have worked, however. So, this time I’m making more drastic changes.

I’m getting offline. Homework and communication with friends/family will still take place, so the internet will be utilized. However, the time spent online needs to reflect its priority in my life. Wife, art, motorcycle… no where in there is a computer mentioned.

I’m not the only one

I recently read this article by Ev Bogue. In it he talks about his relationship with the internet and the services found there. He recently took a month-long sabbatical from the internet. Though he was scared to do so, it revitalized his life. His new goal is to set up his internet business so that it doesn’t need him in order to run. Then he can get offline for as long as he might desire.

The future of this site

I love writing. I love working on this site. However, I don’t seem to be any good at writing and keeping a healthy focus on the things that are most important to me.

And so, I’m taking a sabbatical. During that time I’ll plan out what the future of Adventure-Some looks like. There are already ideas for new articles, a new layout, and (perhaps most importantly) a new posting schedule.

Let me know what you would like to see in Adventure-Some two-point-oh!

Finance Tracking

Now that we’ve made some changes to our spending plans, and focused our finances a bit, we need to create a system that automatically lets us know how well we are doing with our goals.

As simple as this spreadsheet is, I’ve become a fan of Mint because it enters the information for me. Even though data entry doesn’t take me very long, it’s much easier to have a computer do it automatically.

It’s easy!

Fortunately, using Mint is quite simple. Part of being a Money Master is letting the finances run in the background so that we don’t have to focus on them. The goal is for our money to help us live the life we want to, instead of being a slave to the money.

Mint has created a series of simple instructions that outline how to complete each step. Since we have created our spending plans, now we can just follow mint’s advice to help us make sure we’re on track with our spending.

Set up

Yes, it will take some time at first to get everything put in place. However, this will be time well spent. Once you get everything set up you will be able to simply log in, check the details, and then use the tools that Mint provides to see how you are doing.


Being able to see a snapshot (no matter if you prefer bar graphs or pie charts) of your personal finances is an amazing feeling. You will be able to see the progress you are making towards paying off your debt, how your savings are growing, and how much of your fun money is left to spend. After all, that’s what it’s really all about, right?

Financial Short List

Nowt that I have a Spending Plan, it’s time to trim the fat from my expenses. Similar to the Short List that helps me free up my time, this will allow me to spend more money on the things that I really enjoy.


By determining what you really want to spend money on, and what doesn’t matter to you, it is possible to save money while getting to spend more on what you love. This is not more frugality advice: “Stop getting a daily coffee and save $4 a day (approx. $100 a month).” Instead, this process will help focus on the actions that have the greatest impact: “If you don’t care where you live and only use your apartment for storage and sleeping, move to a smaller place and save $300 a month. Then you can spend $200 more a month in your guilt-free category while still investing $100 more.”

The key is to cut ruthlessly from any category that you don’t care about so you can spend extravagantly on things that truly interest you.

Finding your focus

There are two main approaches to figuring out where to cut and where you should spend.

  • List areas that you love and don’t mind spending on.
  • List areas you don’t care about and prefer not to spend money on.

I find that a combination of these two work best. While it is easy to list things that you enjoy doing and things that you will never spend money on, the middle ground is often where you can have the greatest impact.

Paying attention to your reactions will help you identify areas where you can cut back. It’s easy to fall into keeping up with the Joneses and spending money on things you otherwise wouldn’t. Here are some areas you may wish to examine:

  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Clothes
  • Dining Out
  • Partying
  • Entertainment
  • Traveling
  • Hobbies

My favorite way to look at these is with the help of a friend. I pretend that they are telling me about a new purchase they are making in each of the categories and note my reaction. If it is negative, then I can generally cut my spending in that category. Positive? I have found one of my focus areas.

Some Examples

  • My eyes glaze over when fashion and the latest shopping spree are discussed. I buy timeless clothing that will last so that I can spend a minimum on my wardrobe.
  • I will talk to anyone about any motorcycle, enthusiastically. However, while I love Ms. Peeps, I love the experience of motorcycling, no matter what brand. Thus, I need any motorcycle that is reliable and within my budget. Newest, fanciest, and fastes doesn’t interest me.
  • Whenever a friend tells me of a trip they are going on, I wish that i could go. Travel is definitely a focus for me.
  • I always wonder what people do with all the room they have in big houses. My two bedroom apartment sometimes seems extravagant to me. As long as my basic shelter requirements are met, I am happy.
  • Any time a friend discusses a new restaurant I make sure to find out where it is. I love the experience of dining out.

The results

I only buy new clothes when I absolutely need them, intentionally keep my rent as low as possible, and don’t spend on accessories for my vehicles. This allows me to travel and go out to eat more often.

Recently, I have begun paying more attention to my reactions to spending. As I gain a better understanding of my financial reactions I will be able to create my Financial Short List. With this focus I will be able to spend more money on the things that I love and live a fuller life because of that freedom.

What are some items on your Financial Short List?