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June 18: Create a Bucket List

This is a guest post by fellow blogger-extrordinaire Elle Swim.  She writes a Bucket List blog, so this is kind of her specialty.

Do you ever feel like your days are slipping away from you?  Do you ever wish that you accomplished more over the weekend or wonder where the time went? Are you tired of experiencing the same thing every day?

What did you accomplishment this week?  This month?  What are your upcoming goals?  What would you like to achieve?  Examine the things that you have done and consider the things that you would like to do.  Having a bucket list reminds you of what is important to you and what goals you would like to achieve.

Creating a bucket list is much like planning out the things that you want to experience in your life.  By writing things down, you are more apt to achieve them. Take time to reexamine and reevaluate your desires and then head out and do them.

So, are you ready to live the life of your dreams? Are you ready to create a list of your own? If you need a little inspiration or a few ideas, please take a moment to look over my list.

Now think.

  • What if you were to die tomorrow?  What would you like to see or do before tomorrow comes?
  • Who would you like to meet?
  • What would you like to see?
  • Where would you like to go?
  • What would you like to do?
  • If you won the lottery, how would you spend your winnings?
  • What achievements would you want to have?
  • What are your hopes and dreams?
  • What skills would have liked to acquire?

Think of as many things that you would like to see, feel, experience, accomplish and do and jot them all down.  Aim for at least 100 goals and you pass that amount than good for you.  The sky is the limit! Get busy living!

Day 18. Way 18. June 18: Create a Bucket List. Stop living vicariously and simply start living.

Where would you like you go?

What would you love to do if money and time were of no importance?

What is on your bucket list?

Share your thoughts, ideas and dreams with us in the comments below!

Life

Foto Friday – June 17, 2011

As the Stanley Cup playoffs come to an end with the Boston Bruins taking home Lord Stanley’s hallowed chalice, I felt it appropriate to honor the hockey players and fans as we all look forward to the 16 weeks until the start of the 2011-2012 season.

This photo is pretty much straight off the camera and that is what is special to me about this photo.  The color filled arena, with the orange glow against red chairs, the color just leaps off the photo, immersing and engaging the viewer.

Now that I am back in New York, I am also looking forward to a more hockey centric region and possible games at new arenas for me, out here on the east coast.

Camera – Canon EOS Rebel XT | Lens – Tamron 11-18mm | Exposure –  F4.5 – 1/5

Any hockey fans in here?

Post some of your favorite photos from hockey games or share your hockey stories in the comments below!

 

Life

June 17: Set a Deadline

I admit it. I am a lister.

I create lists for everything.

  • task lists
  • to-do lists
  • grocery lists
  • project lists
  • wish lists
  • contact lists
  • activity lists
  • bulleted lists
  • see my point?

For me, they are easier to manage than random notes for things I need to take care of.  It offers organization and sense of order.  They help me prioritize the items that need my attention.

But they haven’t been working for me.

In business, I have made heavy use of Microsoft Project and Gantt charts to help define large scale projects, establish timelines, responsibilities, target start and completion dates, available resources as well as estimated deadlines.  These charts, commonly displayed as a task list, were essential to almost any project because it kept my engineering team and myself on task, on schedule and within budget.

So if these lists that I love and abide by so much in my professional life are working so fantastically, why aren’t they working for me in my personal life?

I have had lists in one way, shape or form for some time.  From using sticky notes, written notebooks and dedicated applications. Nothing was working.  I was using Evernote for my task lists and other miscellaneous lists.  It worked great, synchronized between web, computer and phone.  But the one feature it is lacking for a to-do list application is the feature that I needed the most.

The ability to set due dates and deadlines.

I had these great lists, things I need to do, items needing my attention.  However, without actively staring at sticky notes, opening my notebook or loading up Evernote every single day to check when things were due.

It was not until about a week ago when I started using a program called Wunderlist that I realized the error of my ways.  The program is awesome and I love it as a dedicated task management app.  You can create tasks, set due dates, set priority, everything.  It lets you know when items are due in the next 7 days, due today, or overdue.

I need deadlines.

Now with deadlines and alerts, tasks are getting knocked off my to-do list left and right and ahead of schedule.

Now it is your turn.

Take your to-do list, or create one if you don’t have one.  Prioritize it and add deadlines.

Look good?  Awesome.

Now take those deadlines and bump them up a day.  Agressive? Yes.  Out of the realm of possibility? Of course not.

Push yourself to get things accomplished.  Even the smallest, most mundane task.  Get it knocked out ahead of schedule.  It will energize you and boost your confidence and make taking care of the next item on the list, just that much easier.

Day 17. Way 17.  June 17: Set Deadlines. Knock tasks off that list.  Boost your confidence.

Do you use lists like I do?

What do you use to manage those lists?

How do you keep the deadlines that you set?

Let me know your methods or suggestions in the comments below!

hourglass photo / clock face photo

Life

June 16: Stop Making Excuses and Achieve Greatness

Seriously, knock it off.

All too often in life, we find ourselves making excuses for ourselves.  We are afraid to take risks.  We are scared of the unknown.  We are afraid to step outside of what is comfortable to us.  We are afraid to leave what is safe.

We are standing in our own way.

We work our way through high school and college.  From our first job to our first career. We work for years to build a life that for all intents and purposes is SAFE.  We begin to fill our life with “…but…”

“I should start my own business, I could TOTALLY do that better….. but, I don’t know the first thing about starting a business, so I will just go back to my 8-5 cubicle job where I hate my life but will never stick my neck out achieve greatness”

Who said you have to quit your job tomorrow and start a new business?  Find a business partner, a buddy who DOES know about business, or hey, go read a book. Go back to school. You CAN educate yourself to know how to run a business, but sitting there talking about it is just making you more bitter.  Get out there, make a decision and start controlling your own happiness.

“I really want to take that 2 week vacation to Europe…. but it will cost a lot of money and I can’t be away from work for 2 whole weeks like that, so I will sit here and look at pictures of castles and Mediterranean beaches while I plan my 4-day weekend, the longest vacation I have ever taken”

Take that vacation, trust me, the work will be there when you get back.  That is why you work 40-50 hour work weeks, to make this money.  Great, it sits in a savings account while you continue being miserable.  Spend the money, take the vacation, enjoy the hell out of it.  YOU DESERVE IT.

“I want to lose this extra 20lbs and get in better shape… but between work, friends and family, I don’t have the time to dedicate going to a gym every day, so I will continue to eat food that is bad for me while I sit my fat ass on the couch and watch Sportscenter and “unwind” from work”

Self motivation is hard, but so is losing weight when you don’t change your lifestyle.  Make the conscious choice to give up sitting on the couch, change your diet and start being physically active (walking to the bar for another beer doesn’t count).  Gyms are open 24 hours every day, you can sleep when you are dead. Or when you figure out how to balance your schedule.

“I would love to participate in that event this weekend, it only happens once a year!… but I already agreed to work this weekend, so, I will just have to wait for next year and hope that I don’t have an excuse next year when it comes up.”

The normal work schedule of a normal employee is 260 days per year. Some of us work more than that, inching up on 275-300 days per year.  An annual event takes place once per year.  Prioritize your schedule. Find someone to cover for you at work or make up the day later.  If you want to do something, stop making excuses and just do it. (Nike has nothing on me)

“Check out that girl at the end of the bar, she is so hot, I should go talk to her…. but, she is totally out of my league, so I am just going to sit over here in the corner by myself drinking my light beer before I go home to my parents basement to play video games.”

Man up, grow a pair and go talk to her. You will never know she is out of your league until she tells you she is.  Guess what, she turns you down, at least you tried, and now you know to try harder next time.

Fact is, we talk ourselves out of achieving greatness every single day.  We think we aren’t good enough. We don’t have the time. We don’t have the knowledge.  We stand in our own way.

So here is the challenge.

Stop making excuses. Stop talking yourself out of things. Get out of your own way and allow yourself to achieve greatness.

Day 16. Way 16. Stop making excuses and allow yourself to achieve greatness.

What are the excuses you find yourself making commonly?

How do you plan to overcome them?

What excuses did you bypass to achieve greatness?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

 

fitness center photo / office photo / beach photo / bike photo / bar photo

Life

June 15: Sell Your Crap

Yup, you heard me.

Those excess shelves of random stuff you have in your garage.

All the miscellaneous boxes in your attic.

That part of the closet of clothes you never touch.

Sell it!

Have a yard sale.

List it on Craigslist.

Hell, give it away.

“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

In a consumerist society, we are  taught from a young age by marketing companies and other influences that we need a big house, a big car, a big garage, big EVERYTHING. In the end, we NEED these big items just so we can store all of our crap we have amassed.

Buy first, ask yourself a question.  Why?!

As some of my longtime readers have seen, aside from the motivation of moving cross country, I started Operation: Consolidation with chronicled my goal of selling all the crap that I kept up in my attic and never looked at.  Over the course of 2 months, I sold 80% of what I listed on Craigslist, traded a few things away and donated the rest to charity.

5 months later, I can honestly tell you I don’t miss it one bit.  Don’t miss the ATV, don’t miss my old truck, don’t miss any of the old toys, collections, memorabilia or the video games.  It had been in my attic for years without being touched.  And now it is in someone else’s house/garage, not mine.

Also around the same time, I started a new project.  Project 333 was more than an experiment in living with less, it taught me how much excess we all have, from clothes, to shoes, to everything in between.  After leaving a consulting job in favor of an employer with a casual workspace, I packed away all of my clothes except for 33 items.  And it was EASY.

Evaluate the amount of “things” you have in your house.  By “things” I mean items that you have not used in 6-12 months, clothes you have not worn in 6-12 months or really anything that holds no sincere sentimental value and is just taking up space.

Identify what you can get rid of

Sell what you can.

Donate the rest.

Clear your life of crap you dont need. This is meant to challenge your definition of what you need.  This is not meant to teach you to give up everything you love, or be a test of your will, this is to get rid of the excess.  Think of it as excess weight, excess baggage.  This is just taking up space in your house, in your life.

The less “stuff” and “things” that fill your life and space, the more free you become. Decisions become easier, moods become happier.

Day 15. Way 15. Sell your crap. Free your house. Free your life. Free your mind.

Have you gone through and de-cluttered any?

Would love to hear how much you got rid of, how well it went, and most importantly, how you feel now that it is done.  Let us know in the comments below!

Life

June 14: Make Something New

As you might have noticed, I posted another blog earlier tonight.  The first one, a guest post I wrote for Team Cocktail, really got me thinking about actions that embody the mantra of “Get Busy Livin.'”  To speak to kindness and generosity, Lyndsey, the leader of Team Cocktail (her title actually is Director of Awesomeness) simply asked me if I would like to write a guest post on their blog.  Without hesitation, I agreed.  Not because I am hoping for more traffic to my site, not because I am making money off it, for no other reason other than she asked.  My first response was “hell yeah!”

After writing the blog and proof reading it, having Juliet read it, and re-reading it again, the second embodiment of my mantra really became clear.  The only reason I was able to have the opportunity to write for Team Cocktail is because I was willing to put myself out there and engage others, but what really drove the article was that I was not afraid to take the advice of someone else and try something completely new.

For me, that advice led to me trying a Pineapple Mojito.  I know, it is not that far of a stretch, but it is more of the concept that is the point here.  Do away with the old and tired.  Try and make something new.  Whether it is a new twist on an old dinner dish or something completely new that you have never had before. Even if you are out at dinner, or ordering a pizza for delivery, try something you have not had before.

The only way to find out if you don’t like something is to try it at least once.

A few years back, Mike relayed a story to me about how, when he was living in North Carolina with his roommate, they would trade off and cook dinner with a signature item as the staple.  One week they would each cook a new dish with leeks. The next week, they would each cook a new dish with sweet potatoes.

Nothing revolutionary, but they were expanding their culinary talents by attempting to cook new things, but also expanding their palette with new dishes, new ingredients and new methods of preparation.

There is a reason that there are multiple television channels, dozens of magazine publications, thousands of books and millions of websites dedicated solely to food/drink/cooking.  These outlets market to everyone, from those who have absolutely no idea where to start when cooking, all the way to dedicated foodies and home chef’s.

Use those resources. Use your imagination.  Pick out something new, and give it a shot. Challenge your palette, challenge your mind.

31 Days. 31 Ways. June 14 – Make something new, challenge your palette, and your mind.

What is the best dish you ever had for the first time?

Share your comments and photos below of how going out on a limb and trying something new really expanded your palette and appreciation for new food!

Life

My Team Cocktail and Pineapple Mojito Addiction

This is a syndication of a guest blog I wrote for Team Cocktail.  Original article can be found here.

Lets get these 2 simple facts out of the way right up front.

Fact 1: Team Cocktail is a bad influence and will drain your bank account.

Fact 2: You will have no money in your bank account, but you will be rocking the most stylish fashion around, be surrounded by hoards of gorgeous supermodels as you wow them with your exotic drink recipes while relaxing on a white sand Caribbean beach.

Or, at least that is how I envision it.

But I am not here to talk about the white sand beaches, the gorgeous women or even the awesome Team Cocktail clothes and accessories.  No, I am here to talk about how Team Cocktail is a bad influence on me (and my wallet) and why I completely love them for it.

It was not too long ago that I came to know Team Cocktail in all of their online awesomeness.  I started following them on Twitter and quickly found out just what an awesome group they were.  I then found myself spending inordinate amounts of time on their website, browsing through all of their awesome clothes and accessories, all while doing my best to avoid breaking out the credit card to completely revamp my wife’s and my wardrobe.

Soon after came my demise. I found their blog.  Yes, this very blog that this article is being posted on.  I started reading updates about these amazing TEAM COCKTAIL APPROVED locations, these great bars, amazing adventures that the other fans were embarking on.

And then came the drinks.  My first foray into the Team Cocktail concoctions was “The Tornado”. I convinced a local bartender to follow the Team Cocktail recipe and was I ever glad that I did.  Smooth, yet sweet, the drink goes down way too smooth for a drink that potent.  Guaranteed to have you feeling like a Tornado hit you after only a few of these great drinks.

My absolute favorite so far (and my wife’s too) has got to be the Pineapple Mojito. As soon as we read that update, the shopping list was made and that was all we could talk about for 2 days.

Here is our journey, in photos, to the best cocktail we have had in quite some time:

The all-important shopping list:

Store #1: RUM

Store #2: A Muddler (we needed a new one)

Store #3: Brown Sugar, Club Soda & Mint

Store #4: Pineapple

Store #5: Mojito Barware

Yes, you read that correctly.  5 stores to get everything we needed to make the mojitos.  That is where this story was born from. I was taking photos of every ingredient as the shopping day went along. Slowest.Day.Ever. Seemed like eternity until we got home and got our mixologist on. (Well, my wife got her mixologist on. I got my bar back on. She used to bartend, me, there is a reason I drink beer)

After a few minutes, our exotic drink recipe turned this:

Into this:

…….And I realized, I have my supermodel….

…now where is my Caribbean beach….

 

Life

June 13: Be Kind, Rewind

The famous words from 1990s advertising, pleading customers of video rental establishments to rewind their VHS tapes before returning them to the store, thus saving rental stores and subsequent customers from spending time to check and rewind every VHS tape.

Just think, back in the 90’s, the act of rewinding a video might have taken 30-60 seconds per video, yet so many customers finished a movie, hit EJECT and took the movie back to the store, figuring that someone else would remind it for them.

What if you were the person that rented a video from the store, got home to watch it, only to find it start up at the final credits.  Now, you have to take 30-60 seconds to rewind the video to start from the beginning. While 30-60 seconds does not sound like a lot of time, the perceived inconvenience and inconsiderateness of the previous renter is what caused the outcry that eventually led to that advertising.  Advertising that pleaded with customers to take 30-60 seconds of their time to BE KIND and think about others.

“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.”

I don’t know when it happened, but it seems that more and more, people are only looking out for themselves. For Number 1.  What happened to the general practice of human kindness?


Kindness is addictive. Whether you are the spark or simply paying it forward, simply being involved is what matters.

It is such a simple concept, yet so hard to implement for the vast majority.

  • When someone needs to merge into traffic, let them merge. One car length doesn’t matter.
  • When you are the one who needs to merge, and someone lets you, give them a wave to let them know you appreciate it
  • Ask someone how their day is. Actually care about their answer.
  • Hold the door open for the woman pushing a stroller.
  • Give the homeless guy on the street corner a buck or two. Even a 40oz will make him happy.
  • Never forget to say “thank you”

Small acts of kindness. Big impact.  Simple as that.

31 Days. 31 Ways. June 13: Practice Random Acts of Kindness

What does kindness mean to you?

What suggestions for random acts of kindness would you like to share with everyone here?

Life

June 12: Take a Hike

Leave.

Be Gone.

Take a hike.

Find a mountain

Find a trail

Grab a few bottles of water

Take a walk.

Get the blood flowing.

Hiking is great for the mind, body and soul.  It get’s you out into nature where you get away from the toils of society, the hustle and bustle of the city life and everything that comes with it.  It provides opportunity to connect with nature, free your mind to wander to different places and find a different focus.  It also provides us with one hell of a workout.

Now maybe a hike or workout is associated with losing weight, and in reality, we don’t all need to lose weight, but there are benefits that can be gained by simply being more active are well proven.  There are many stories of people that have bettered their life through leading a more active lifestyle coupled with a complete and healthy diet.

I had a friend whom I used to work with that over the course of 12 months, she walked between 2 and 4 miles on her 1 hour lunch every day.  Along with eating healthy, she lost 75lbs during that time.  When I would talk to her about what she gained the most from it, it wasn’t the weight loss, it wasn’t the fact that clothes fit better or she had more confidence.  Her favorite part of the whole endeavor was that she now felt ALIVE.  She had energy and she wasn’t afraid of anything.  She beat her weight, she could beat anything.  Already a strong single mother, her weight loss journey turned her into someone with a zest for life that was unparalleled.

But I am not here to tell you about leading a healthy lifestyle, or watching your intake of calories, or any other diet/health related topic.  There are plenty of online resources that are qualified to tell you about those things.  I am not one of them.

What I am here to challenge you to do is to get out and find a mountain.  Then fucking conquer it.

You have absolutely nothing to lose, but everything to gain.

Think you can do it?  I think you can too.

Day 12. Way 12. Find a mountain, take a hike, conquer it.

Are you a fan of hiking?

Have any hiking stories of amazing peace and tranquility or any photos of amazing views?  Share them below in the comments!

 

hiking photo credit

Life

June 11: Blow Off Work

Work is just another 4 letter word.

Sometimes you HATE it.

Sometimes you LOVE it.

But in the end, it is still WORK.

We dedicate so much of our lives to making that paycheck, working 40-50-60 hour weeks, with time away from family and friends.  Planning vacations is fun, but typically 3-9 months in the future.

What about.. Monday?

As someone who has been part of the corporate America workforce for over 10 years, I have had many of those Sunday nights, just really, flat out not looking forward to Monday morning and heading into the office.  Hell, I have had times when that feeling hits every single night of the week.  But that is life, and that is work.  Sometimes you hate it, sometimes you love it, but it is always work.

So I am here today to tell you this:

Take an impromptu day off work, you deserve it.

You heard me right.  Call in sick.  Take a mental health day.

Here is a list of 10 things to do on your newfound free day:

  • Sleep In. Pretend it is the weekend.
  • Go out to breakfast.  Beats the hell out of the bagel or donut you would have in the office.
  • Take a mini-excursion. Get lost.
  • Make new friends
  • Take in a daytime baseball game.
  • Go to lunch. Far, Far away from work.
  • Go for a hike.
  • Enjoy a happy hour.
  • Be spontaneous
  • Relax for longer than a few minutes.

The most important thing of a day away from work is to make sure you take advantage of that time and do something you normally wouldn’t do, on a day that you don’t encounter too often.

Day 11. Way 11. Take a mental health day. Blow off work.

Have you ever taken a mental health day?

What is your favorite way to spend an impromptu day off from work?  Let me know in the comments below!

 

Hair in the wind photo credit