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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

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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

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June 8: Relax!

In this series of posts, only a short 8 days in, I have brought up relevant ways for you to take action and get busy living your life.  Most include pushing yourself outside the boundaries of the social norm, outside of your comfort zone.

But what happens when you have an 8a-5p job, a spouse and 2 kids?  5 days a week you come home from work (or are home with the kids all day) and make dinner, take care of the kids, wash dishes and all sorts of other household chores

My guess is adding something like getting lost, spinning the globe, road trips and everything else just seems tedious, too expensive or just not a reality.

I understand.  I have been there.

The last thing you want is something else taking up your hard earned money and your precious little time.  This is just for you.

Once a day, when your day is winding down, instead of moving onto the next “to-do” item, instead of checking those work emails on your Blackberry, put down Twitter, log off Facebook, and do something you probably haven’t done today.

The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.

Take 30 minutes and just relax, sit on the porch and enjoy the sunset, talk to your spouse, enjoy a cigar, enjoy a glass of wine, just… do nothing.  And LOVE it.

With such a busy life, the 30 minutes should give a good time to just unwind, work through things in your mind, clear your mind even.

So, stop reading my blog, and go relax…

Day 8. Way 8.  Do Nothing. Relax. Unwind. Love it.

Do you take time out to just relax and do NOTHING?

Where is your favorite place to sit, relax and reflect?

 

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Project 333: Lessons from an Experiment

Remembering the Beginning

Where it started

About 4 months ago I posted a blog about my participation in a personal experiment known as Project 333.  I asked my readers, and myself, could you live for 3 months with only 33 articles of clothing?

I was all for it. I had quit my corporate job in July and put away all of my slacks, suits and dress shirts in favor of shorts, jeans and t-shirts for my new job.  I had been in that new job for 4 months when I made the decision to pack away the majority of my clothes and settle on just 33 items.

“That’s EASY” you might say, especially considering I could pretty much wear to work what I would wear on the weekends, so not much variety or creativity was really necessary when it came to picking out 33 items, or so it would seem.

December 31st, New Years Eve is when I sat down, went through all of my clothes and filled up around 8 large storage boxes full of clothes, shoes, jackets, hats, etc.  It was liberating, but at the same time a little scary.  Not only was I planning out the clothes I would wear for the next 3 months, I was also planning out the clothes I would wear in California for work, where at the worst it was 50* and raining.  I also had to plan for a trip to upstate New York, as Juliet and I were leaving on January 4th for Rochester and 20* (and below) and snowing.

All in all, the decisions were not hard, but I wanted to be dedicated to this and prove to myself that I could do it.  Little did I know how my life would change and how much this would help me through it.

Changes in Latitudes

We're not in California anymore, Toto

Not 7 days after packing up all of my excess clothes, Juliet accepted a job that would move us back to upstate New York, a little faster than we anticipated.  When she accepted the job, we were thinking March 1st or even March 15th.  Perfect, 2 more months in Southern California, 2 more months of shorts, t-shirts and sandals.

Then the news came.  Juliet starts her new job February 7th, which means we are on a one way plane to New York on February 3rd.

So I quit my job and started realizing that I wouldn’t really miss it.

When it came to moving, we were moving into temporary housing, so we didn’t have to move everything, just our essentials to live in a hotel for 4-6 months.  The last few weeks leading up to moving were quite stressful, packing, planning, booking airfare, renting cars, figuring out just what in the world I was going to do.

“But what does this have to do with Project 333??”

Thanks to Project 333, while my wife packed all of her clothes for work, casual, gym, etc, and filled 5-6 boxes, my clothes fit in 1. This was somewhat due to the fact that Juliet was packing for work, casual and everything else, where I did not have to pack for work, however, the only thing I altered in my Project 333 clothing list when we moved was the addition of 2 pairs of shoes and a few sweatshirts.

Lessons Learned

After reading more from Courtney Carver of Be More With Less, the originator of this challenge, as well as reading more from others who were participating, this “challenge” is not so much of a challenge to force yourself into “living like a poor person” as some people like to put it, rather, it is a challenge to the mindset of what is really needed in life.

The major takeaway I have from this is a shift in the mindset of choosing clothes on a daily basis.  I cannot honestly recall one time, from January until now, where I have uttered the words “I don’t know what I want to wear today?”  I can pick out matching clothes with absolutely no effort, whether that is going out for the night, running errands or hanging out with friends.  I can worry about getting busy living my life and not worry about what clothes I am going to wear.

Current Numbers

Jumping into the 2nd round of Project 333, we are encouraged to update our wardrobe and switch out any items we want for the next 3 months and put away others we wont need.  While I applaud those who do it, I have taken more of a permanent approach to the lifestyle.  While I might not live with 33 items, I keep the number low and have limited my spending on new clothes.

Here is my current tally of all the clothing items I have with me in NY:

  • 38 T-Shirts (16 I consider “outer-wear”, 7 undershirts, 15 shirts for around the house)
  • 5 Collared Shirts
  • 8 Sweatshirts/Jackets
  • 14 Workout shirts
  • 2 Workout shorts
  • 4 Jeans
  • 3 Shorts (1 I consider “outer-wear”)
  • 1 Sweats (loungewear)
  • 2 Slacks
  • 4 Collared Work Shirts (will only wear to work)
  • 6 Baseball Hats
  • 3 Beanies (loungewear)
  • 4 belts
  • 7 Pairs of shoes (1 pair snow boots, 2 pairs running shoes, 4 pairs causal shoes)

Quite the far cry from 33 items, isn’t it?  By my count, for Project 333 numbers, I am at 45 items, as although I have “work clothes” I have not had the need to wear them, nor do I see the need in the foreseeable future.

I have gotten more comfortable wearing my workout shirts instead of t-shirts when heading out, as they handle the dry and wet a little better.  Out of the 14 I have, there are 6 that I will wear out.  I could (and probably will) put about 20-25 items into a storage box, as I am not wearing them, so don’t really need them right now.

Conclusion

The more options you have in your life, the more opportunity you have to be indecisive and waste your time hemming and hawing over the correct decision. I have chosen the path of reducing my wardrobe to quality, versatile pieces that take away the “what do I want to wear today” question out of the mix.  I can now worry about more important things, such as where I am going, who am I spending time with and how I am going to make the most out of my life. I can concentrate on living my life and spend less time worrying about things completely within my control.

 

Have you ever done anything like this? Consolidated all of your clothes into a backpack to see the world? Just downsized to simplify your life?  I would love to hear your insights on what paring down your wardrobe taught you about yourself. Let me know in the comments below!

 

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Holy Shit…. I just Quit My Job

I fucking did it.  WOW.

I turned in my notice today.  In 2 weeks, I will be without a job, with nothing lined up, no income, nothing.  It really is happening, and I am balancing being scared out of my mind with being absolutely exhilarated at the upcoming opportunities that I have in front of me.

In 3 weeks, my journey towards an EPIC 2011 continues, with what will prove to be a life changing and inspiring transition.  My lifestyle, livelihood, profession, goals, will all change.

I will get a chance to take a step back from the corporate world and focus on myself, my family, my passion and my hobbies.  Something that I have not had a chance to do in 15 years.  I can pursue my love of photography or my newfound outlet of creative writing.  I can learn to cook (better).  I can start a new business or pursue a new an alternate career. I can do anything.

The Backstory

My wife and I have lived in Southern California for basically our entire lives.  She is a recognized top salesperson for the largest telecom company in the country.  I am a Senior Systems Engineer in the IT industry.  We have lived the corporate, rat race life that is typical of a Southern California couple with dual income and no kids.  Since we met, we have longed for a life outside of California.  The lifestyle of “keeping up with the Jones'”in suburbia.

Jet Settin'

6 months ago, I walked away from my 8+ year career with an IT Solutions vendor to take a job in the corporate retail space with a national clothing retailer.  That move scared me a little due to the fact that my job security with my previous employer was rock solid, as I had been with them through thick and thin, but in reality, had maximized my potential with my only hopes for a promotion being in the employment of another company with more room for me to move up the ladder.

For the 5+ years, Juliet has worked her way through the ranks as a very decorated and accomplished sales representative with a national wireless provider. For her, the only step up was to move into a managerial role.  With that in mind and the company’s non-official policy that in order to move up in the company, you need to be able to move to different regions, we began looking for relocation and management opportunities for Juliet across the country.  After various interviews for positions in Southern California, Northern California and Atlanta, Georgia failed to pan out, we decided that we needed to just live our lives and when the opportunity was right, it would come and find her.

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Project 333: An Experiment in Minimalist Fashion

3 Months

33 Clothing items

Could you do it?

My experiment in minimalism continues.  What started with Operation: Consolidation as a goal to de-clutter my life and my attic, has crept into my closet.

What originally started for me was reading an intriguing concept by Nina Yau, where she decided to push her limits and wear the same clothes to work for 7 weeks straight.  Seems like a strange experiment to most, challenged her mentally.  Best part, almost nobody noticed.

Then I found Project 333 by Courtney Carver of Be More With Less. A challenge to all people dabbling in the minimalist lifestyle to take a long, hard look at their wardrobe.  For herself, she found that she would rely on a few staples in her wardrobe, just like most people.

Project 333 challenges anyone who is interested to take their wardrobe and pare it down to 33 items, and wear only those 33 items for 3 months, with a few notable exceptions:

  • Wedding Ring
  • Sleepwear
  • Underwear
  • Gym Clothes
  • Around the house loungewear

So that means 33 items includes:

  • Work Clothes
  • Weekend Clothes (going out clothes)
  • Shoes
  • Accessories
  • Jackets

While it might seem like a daunting task at first, I think it provides a worthwhile challenge.
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2010 – The Year in a Word

Across the blogosphere you will start to see many annual review posts, much like this one.  Some, will take a very different approach in recalling certain events which evoked emotion, while others will bring you a much more traditional approach, bringing you a chronological recap of the year that is past.  To take a cue from fellow blogger John Anyasor, I wanted the inspiration for my annual review to come from a single word.

For me, this year can be summed up in one word.  DEDICATION.

Dedication -n

the act of dedicating or the state of being dedicated

I found myself throughout the year dealing with dedication on many levels, from personal, to professional and everywhere in between.  Now, dedication is somewhat easy for me as I am kind of an all-or-nothing type of person.  I really don’t do (or like to do) anything half-assed.  I put my heart, soul, brain and body into everything I do.  It is that determination which has helped me become successful in my career at a young age.

Maintaining Through Adversity

The last half of my 2009, as well a the beginning of 2010 were definitely marred by a lot of adversity.  After 8+ years with the same company, moving up through the ranks, advancing my career, I was ready for something else.  Different?  Maybe.  I had to find something.  I had to take control of that situation.

I can not abandon my friends and my colleagues. I kept telling myself.

Much time was spent dealing with a project that was handled very poorly from the start by management.  As the engineering lead on the project, I took a lot of the weight and responsibility of the project, along with my boss and my project manager, who are also close friends of mine.  I felt a sense of loyalty to them.  My boss had been by my side, literally and figuratively, for over 8 years. My project manager, 3.   We were in this together, entrenched, fighting the fight.

It was taking its toll on me. Body, mind and soul.  I was working out, eating healthy, doing what I could to make sure I was giving my body the best, but the 8-12 hour days were physically exhausting.  70 miles a day, round trip, coupled with a brutal work day consisting of meetings where I was screamed at, more meetings where I was told I was fucking up, and yet more meetings where we watched the project quadruple in size, but not in budget.  I would spend my days frustrated and dejected.  I would unwind on the drive home, only to realize that I was taking out the left over frustrations on my family.  I became a shell of the person that I was capable of being.  It took me twice as long to do things that would normally be mundane tasks.  I was exhausted.

I stayed the course.  My colleagues, my friends, needed me.  We dedicated ourselves to each other.  We all knew that if one quit, the team would not maintain.  We dedicated ourselves to finishing the project to the best of our abilities.

We never got the chance.

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Operation: Consolidation is now LIVE!

I am very happy to announce that Operation: Consolidation is up, running, and off to a very promising start. There is a dedicated page at the top right of the site, where you will find an entire rundown of the Operation, from background, to current progress, goals, as well as items for sale, sold and donated.

Thanks to the support from everyone who encouraged and inspired me to do this.  This is just another step towards a better, more fulfilling life.

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