Category Archives: Lifestyle business

When adventure calls, do you listen?

dsc_9785When you get that little hunch to do something different, to take that trip, to go to that place you’ve never been, do you follow it? Or do you brush it aside as one of those someday maybe’s?

Several months ago, my wife (Jill) and I started dreaming about getting an RV to explore new places and experience new people. We had our sights set on getting an Airstream trailer. Then we found out that Airstream’s are the hottest RV on the planet right now. Apparently everyone wants one of these little gems so the cost to purchase one was approximately $9354369534 over our budget.

This adventure seemed out of reach for the time being but we kept our eyes and ears open for alternatives.

Fast forward a few months where Jill’s dad and step mom come to visit and announce that they had upgraded their RV and want to know if we’re still in the market for one. Erm…YES!

So now we are the proud owners of a Winnebago Chieftain motorhome RV (Rad Vehicle) and we love it!

Adventure tip: Set your sights on adventure but be open to how it shows up. While you are dreaming of how you can afford that expensive Airstream, a beautiful Winnebago might be just around the corner. :-)

Image 1Now the adventure begins. The Winnebago, or ‘Shorty’ as we refer to it now, lives in Santa Barbara, CA and we live in Portland, OR. That’s not cool to be so far from our beloved RV. So we booked our one-way flight to Santa Barbara and started planning our little adventure to drive ‘Shorty’ back to Portland via Highway 1 and 101 along the California coastline.

Rand-McNally-The-Road-Atlas-2002-212x300

 

We immediately dusted off our old Rand McNally Road Atlas (2002 to be exact) and began plotting our trip up the California coast, through the Redwoods and back into Oregon. Hopefully there have not been any major highway route changes since 2002! The first thing we realized is that it’s a long drive and there are so many things we want to see. But, we know that we’ve only got six days to get home so we begin choosing where we want to stop and stay.

 

 

Adventure tip: The planning of the adventure can be half the fun!

Stage 1 – Santa Barbara, California

We arrive in Santa Barbara and Jill’s step mom picks us up from the airport and immediately takes us to Bed, Bath & Beyond to gather some necessities for ‘Shorty.’ Thank goodness we have a seasoned RV’er to guide us.

Then it’s off to see ‘Shorty’ for the first time. We arrive at Jill’s dad’s shop where he is still 1011631_10151670492219037_1767790583_nmeticulously preparing ‘Shorty’ for our arrival. It’s love at first sight!

Our first night of ‘camping’ is spent in the driveway of Jill’s dad and step mom’s place. This is our dry run. The pressure is on to survive our first night in an RV, but with plenty of support close by.

Stage 2 – Pacific Dunes, California

The next day we wake up refreshed and super excited to hit the road. We jump right into action and go fuel up ‘Shorty’ for the first leg of the trip. Then reality sets in as Jill’s dad tells me to ‘take the wheel.’ Yikes! Driving an RV is much different than driving my Subaru. Much different! Like white knuckling different! I am still amazed that some of the cars in Santa Barbara aren’t missing mirrors.

Adventure tip: Every adventure will probably have moments of discomfort because you’re trying something new and different. Sometimes you just gotta take the wheel and hold your breath!

Off we go! We’re headed up highway 101 and I’m doing my best just to keep ‘Shorty’ between the lines on the highway. It feels like the RV takes up the whole lane except for 1.3 inches on each side. But hey, we’re almost the biggest thing on the road. This does not bode well for my ego which is screaming ‘I’m bigger than you so you better stay outta my way.’

We arrive safely at our first stop along the beautiful California coast. It’s heaven. We back into our designated site, plug in the power, and we’re happier than a camel on hump day! We feel as though we have arrived and our dreams of domestic adventure travel have come full circle.

The next morning we are up and off to take a short run along the beach. Then it’s time to hit the road and head North to Santa Cruz.

Stage 3 – Santa Cruz, California

1235985_10151674231884037_2068906025_nWe reach Santa Cruz by 4:00 in the afternoon and are thrilled to learn that our camp site has a direct view of the ocean. At this point we’re wondering why we didn’t pursue our RV dreams sooner! We make the short walk to the beach and then decide it’s time for happy hour.

After settling in (a.k.a. drinking wine) for about an hour, our friends from Santa Cruz show up and we give them the tour of ‘Shorty.’ We move happy hour indoors to fully appreciate the grandeur of our new RV. Several laughs (and more wine) later, we head to dinner with our friends and then return to build a campfire and recount our adventures from the day.

Adventure tip: Always make sure that you have enough wine for friends. Always ask friends to supply you with enough wine for two additional nights. We are, after-all, weary travelers. 

Stage 4 – Humboldt Redwoods State Park

The drive today will be longer (much longer thanks to SF traffic) and will take us to one of my favorite places – the giant Redwoods of California.

We wind along Highway 1 with the Pacific ocean on the left and the beautiful Northern California 1234179_10151675719554037_1394276605_nlandscape on the right. It’s breathtaking! Then we hit traffic in San Francisco. LOTS of traffic! Three hours worth of traffic!

But here’s the thing. If you’re going to be in traffic, it’s pretty cool to be in an RV because your lovely wife (or husband, or kids, or very well trained retriever) can make you a sandwich while you’re driving down the road. Actually, I think you’re supposed to keep buckled up while driving but where’s the fun in that? :-)

We finally cross the majestic Golden Gate bridge and traffic thins. We’re well on our way to the Redwoods but we have a small unanticipated problem. I can only pass by so many good wineries without stopping. So, we pull over at the next winery, engage in a quick testing and grab a couple of bottles for happy hour later that evening.

998804_10151675914359037_1792718296_n

We arrive at Humboldt Redwoods State Park and it’s almost 9:00 pm. I am exhausted from a long day of driving. Feeling a little annoyed that I took a wrong turn and had to backtrack, I am soon completely awash in amazement as I gaze up into the night sky and realize that I will be sleeping under the tallest trees on our planet (literally). All is well.

Stage 5 – Ashland, Oregon

After a morning run through the Redwoods (stunning), we make breakfast in our little house on wheels and continue North to Oregon. We continue to be amazed by the scenic coastline and all the little towns along the way. Each one has it’s own story that I wish I could stop and learn more about. But at the same time, I feel that I gain a new appreciation for all the quiet places along the road that don’t get much attention except for a dot on the map.

As we cross into Oregon, my wife is on the cell phone with her mom and she says to be careful because we have chosen “a very treacherous road.” I quickly dismiss this as endearing comments from a loving mother. Then I realize why she used the word “treacherous.”

The road gets amazingly narrow to the point where I am praying we are the only large vehicle on the road. My left side wheels are on the middle line and it’s a shear cliff with a 1000 foot drop to a river on the other. My wife is leaning away from the passenger side window and screaming for me to “watch the road” and to “SLOW DOWN!” Fortunately the treacherous portion of the road is over and my blood pressure returns to normal again.

Adventure tip: When someone uses the word ‘treacherous’ to describe where you are about to go, you should probably pay close attention and have some valium on hand.

1233551_10151679133804037_1338636390_nWe cruise into Ashland to spend the night with Jill’s mom and step dad. They live on a mountain outside of Ashland so it’s actually better than any campground we’ve stayed at. It’s a private camping paradise with a warm meal (or two), loving family and a nice hot shower…ahhh.

 

 

Final stage (for now) – Portland, Oregon

Our final day of driving takes us home to our favorite city – Portland! We are happy to be home and1175116_10151679617024037_1086876980_n to have had this adventure of being on the road and experiencing all of the beauty and wonderful people along the way.

What adventure is calling you?

Where do you long to go? What adventure is calling you? I encourage you to plan it today and live your life to the fullest. There are no guarantees in this life and I’ve never had a single regret from taking an adventure that I felt I needed to take.

For some of you, your adventure will look like taking that long awaited sabbatical to pursue a trip and take time away from the rat race. For others it might mean a late summer camping trip to the lake. And for some of you it could mean something bigger. It could mean starting that new business to discover what you knew you should have been doing all along.

One day you will take an adventure. And it will change you. Forever!

Enjoy your journey, now and always.

Best,

Michael

P.S. How have you been changed by an adventure that you decided to take? 

Build Your Own Reality

girl-162474_640

 Most of us are slaves of the stories we unconsciously tell ourselves about our lives. Freedom begins the moment we become conscious of the plot line we are living and, with this insight, recognize that we can step into another story. 

– Carol S. Pearson, The Hero Within

As I move closer to my transition day away from working for a big corporation, I realize that a big part of my identity has been tied to my job and the responsibilities that go along with it. It seemed normal to feel this way while working in the corporate environment. But now things are starting to change.

I feel like I’m waking up.

I feel more exposed.

Things feel more raw.

I guess it’s because I’m aware of the reality of more freedom, being in complete control of my time, being able to create whatever I want, say whatever I want, with no one to answer to but myself.

But then there’s the flip side of that equation. There will be no more bi-weekly paycheck, no matching 401k, no paid vacations, no more ‘stability’ of working for a guaranteed return. I will be the one responsible for creating value and making sure that I’m solving real problems. Otherwise, I don’t get paid.

But here’s the thing.

This is a choice. I am choosing to create extraordinary work for myself.

Work that feels exciting.

Work that fills me with energy knowing that I am making progress with something that matters.

I am no longer bogged down with my corporate inbox, tasks that drain my energy, and doing work that I don’t really care about. I am genuinely happy about what lies ahead.

My mind has somehow expanded to understand that true abundance will never come from a job. It’s funny. I couldn’t see this while I was committed to the day-to-day grind of my job. It’s hard to see the gardens when you’re locked in jail. Abundance showed up when I began pursuing my true desires and let go of the perceived safety of my job.

Now I am focusing on finding creative ways to show others that it’s totally possible to achieve the following:

  • Create extraordinary & inspiring work
  • Make extra income doing it
  • Quit your day job (or at least be ready if your company decides to lay you off)

Now I wake up every day with the motive of enhancement. How can I enhance my family, my friends, my clients, potential customers, my blog readers, people I don’t even know yet but I would like to know?

Some people have indicated to me that it’s great that I’m able to do this but that they are in a totally different situation that doesn’t make it possible for them. They tell me “it’s just the way it is.”

What?

Hey, I realize that we all have different circumstances but many people severely discount their ability to design a life that truly represents the way they want to live.

If working 40-50 hours per week at a job, getting paid vacations, and a guaranteed paycheck are what you need, then great! I’m in your corner 100%.

But if you really desire something more, whether its making a bigger difference through your own thing, traveling the world, being in control of your income, living in a sunny location during the winter (one of my personal favorites), or being able to ski mid-week, I am here to tell you that YOU are in control!

Take responsibility for the life you want to create.

It’s time that we all (myself included) take full responsibility for the life that we create.  I will always be very clear about one thing…that we are all different and the dream that floats my boat might seem completely ridiculous to the next person. But the point is that we all have our own visions of greatness and we all have the free will to pursue it.

Now you might think that my perspective requires a certain privilege available only to those that are already wealthy, successful or otherwise endowed with choices unavailable to you.

This is not the case! This was not the case for me and it was not the case for many people I know that have consciously created their lifestyle.

The only prerequisite to a new way of life is to start creating it. You start with the vision of how you want to live and then you work toward creating the actual life that you envision.

In most cases, it won’t be easy, or straightforward or feel completely safe. But it’s your life that is on the line and I encourage you to start really living it.

I wake up every day wondering if I should go take another job in the corporate world. The allure of the big salary, the benefits and the perceived stability are appealing. But I know that there is another way for me right now. I know that it’s time for me to create extraordinary work for myself.

It’s okay to take baby steps.

“I can’t just QUIT!” people say. “I have bills to pay.” I get it. I’m not saying quit today. Before someone runs a marathon they learn how to run to the end of the block and back, then run a mile, then two miles. They run several times a week and stay healthy. Then they run a marathon.

Make a list right now. Write down every dream you have. I want to start a business. I want to travel to Africa. I want to simplify my life. I want to have the freedom from many of the worries that I have succumbed to all my life. I want to be healthy. I want to make an impact with my creativity. I want to have more time for myself.

These are not goals. These are core desires for your life. What can you do today to start practicing these desires? Who can you help today? What can you do to simplify your life today? This is how you take baby steps. This is how you eventually run towards freedom.

Challenge yourself.

I want you to think about your current life in a new way.

Ask yourself this question about your job, your relationships, where you live, and how you spend the majority of your time:

Would I want to do this if I didn’t have to?

If yes, great!

If no, it’s time to begin building your own reality. You get to decide what your reality looks like and start designing it. No one is stopping you.

What would it take to wake up excited and go to sleep fulfilled most days? Decide to move one step closer to this every day.

Plan for it.

Do it.

Michael

P.S. Tell me one thing you are 100% committed to doing differently by this time next year.

Why Designing Your Business Around Your Lifestyle Matters

Once you decide to embrace the idea of doing work you love, it’s important to think about your overall goal for doing this work.

Like many people, when I first contemplated the idea of working for myself, I thought that choosing this path was the key to personal freedom.

As it turns out, I began to recognize that how you go about it can mean the difference between creating your freedom and creating something even more demanding than working at a job.

If you are thinking about test driving new business ideas that may lead to leaving your job, there are some very important considerations to make.

laptop-at-the-beach

Lifestyle Business or Startup Company?

Many people make the leap to working for themselves without a clear picture of what they want their business to do for them. Some people will begin with a traditional startup where they will add employees, secure funding, and grow their business. This is a proven model for success but may not offer you the lifestyle that you originally envisioned when you got excited about working for yourself.

There is another option. Advances in technology, communications and social media have made it possible to start and run certain types of businesses in a much different way. Instead of hiring employees, a company can now rely almost solely on contractors and service providers. Instead of renting physical office space, people can communicate over Skype, through email, or via social networks.

A newish term for this kind of company is “microbusiness” and the people who start them are classified as “solopreneurs.” These types of companies are leaner, smaller, and more able to adapt, easier to run and grow, and most of all, more supportive of the owner’s lifestyle goals.

A microbusiness is loosely defined as a company with five or fewer employees. A better definition would be around the intent of the company. The intent of a microbusiness would be a company that is designed to run and grow with five or fewer employees.

After doing a lot of research and having had personal experience with traditional startups, I’m going the microbusiness route and I’m already seeing the benefits. As I began testing my idea to launch a web based interview show and educational site, I wanted to make sure that I could run my business from anywhere with a decent internet connection. This way I’m not attached to anyone else’s timeline or expectations and I can hire other small business experts to assist me with video editing, site design and edits, scheduling my show interviews, etc.

I can also easily start my business on a part-time basis while keeping my day job until the time feels right to move into my “lifestyle business” full time.

This may change slightly as I move forward with my business, but I’m very intent on keeping my business lifestyle friendly.

This will be very important as I move towards my goal of living in different locations during the wet winter months that we experience here in Portland. Part of my criteria is to engineer my business so that I can operate from pretty much any location worldwide. This gives my wife and I the flexibility to travel and conduct business from where ever we like.

As an example, I am writing and posting this blog (joyfully) from Hawaii. And most of the blogs that I have completed, I have written while on an airplane traveling for work. My web show will also have the ability to operate from virtually anywhere. All I will need is my laptop, a high speed internet connection, my portable HD web cam, and my video editing software.

Can Any Business Be Lifestyle-Friendly?

Let’s take a look at how a traditional business can be designed to operate as a lifestyle business. While not every business can be designed to support your ideal lifestyle, I do think that many can be creatively designed (or re-designed) to support the way you want to work and live.

Example: Yoga Business

Let’s say that your dream is to start a yoga business. Most people might tell you that you need to invest in the physical space to open a studio and hire employees to help manage and run the business.

But wait! Let’s first consider your lifestyle goals.

If you love yoga and your goal is to launch a yoga business, lets also take your lifestyle goals into consideration and design a business around them. Let’s say that your lifestyle goals are to travel more, not have employees, and not have to deal with the overhead of renting or buying a yoga studio space.

Based on your lifestyle goals, you may have some options that you might not have considered. For example, you could create income and travel by learning how to plan and lead successful yoga retreats. You could also launch your own yoga training program by finding and leasing a temporary studio space or creating a program to be delivered online. You could embrace your travel bug by offering to lead yoga workshops in other cities or yoga retreat centers around the world.

There is no limit to the number of ways that we can be creative with our businesses. And I believe that the first step should be factoring in our lifestyle goals so that our business can support them.

If you currently have a business, or are planning to start one, ask yourself “how can I make this business more lifestyle-friendly for myself and everyone involved?” You’ll be much happier for it!

Michael

Your One Wild and Precious Life

Camping-in-New-Zealand

At 42, my friend Sarah is not rich, but she does earn a very good salary as a human resources manager for a residential care corporation. Her closet is full of new clothes, she owns a nice house, she drives a new car and she can afford a two week vacation.

By all accounts, Sarah should be happy, right? Wrong.

Sarah’s job is one of those high stress, everything-needs-to-be-done yesterday type of jobs. Like a lot of people, Sarah longs for the weekend and her two week vacation every year.

Remember the days when giving your employer a highly productive eight or nine hours a day meant that you were a dedicated employee? Sarah often gives up her lunch hour, comes in on Saturday’s, and answers her cell phone and email after hours. She is expected to arrive at work before 8 a.m. and often leaves well after her family should be having dinner together. Sarah often feels compelled to apologize for leaving work before 6 p.m. She is just trying to meet the minimum expectations of her employer.

To say that Sarah in unhappy would be an understatement.

Oh, but did I mention that she makes a great salary?

“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” – Buddha

No one sets out to be miserable and well off. Quite the contrary. TV commercials and magazine ads would have us believe that money, and all the goods and services it can buy, is precisely what it takes to achieve the elusive state of ‘happiness’.

So earn and spend is what we do. But are we really any happier?

ManpowerGroup recently released a new snapshot survey that underlines the dissatisfaction among American workers. At a time of high unemployment, lackluster job growth and major uncertainty in world financial markets, many employees feel stuck and unhappy in their jobs.

ManpowerGroup ran the survey between April 16 and May 15 of 2012 and collected responses from workers in the U.S. and Canada. Only 19% said they were satisfied with their jobs. Another 16% said they were “somewhat satisfied.” But the rest, nearly two-thirds of respondents, said they were not happy at work. Twenty-one percent said they were “somewhat unsatisfied” and 44% said they were “unsatisfied.”

What about you? Does your income exceed you level of bliss? If so, you may be suffering from a case of “Affluenza”. Producers of the PBS program by the same name, describe the disease as:

  • The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Jones.
  • An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the American Dream.

As I hear Sarah speak of her current situation, I can’t help but wonder how it affects her health, her relationships and her resolve to offer her best to the world. I have spoken to Sarah many times about her current situation and how she is going to change it. She is hopeful but she has to come up with a strategy to overcome the following:

  • She dreads her 10 – 12 hour work days and longs for a change
  • She often feels that there is no way out and this is just how it is
  • She occasionally numbs herself with TV, food, alcohol, the internet or some combination of them all
  • She’s willing to work hard but she’s desperate to do something more meaningful
  • She’s already so busy and overwhelmed with work and family obligations that it’s hard for her to see other options
  • She’s scared to give up her salary, benefits and ‘job security’ for something unknown
  • She has forgotten what she’s really capable of and what she is meant to be doing
  • She has lost touch with what her unique genius is and how much its really worth to the marketplace

Despite all of these obstacles, Sarah has set aside time during the week to experiment with creating income from a skill that she absolutely loves. And you know what? She is now getting paid to teach people music and she is more excited than ever!

Your One Wild and Precious Life

I recently came across this quote in a line from the poem The Summer Day by Mary Oliver. The poem closes with this line:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Many of the people that I know are increasingly realizing that this is their one life and every day is an opportunity to really live it or to just get by.

What does this mean to you?

What do you really want to be doing with your life?

I believe that these are two of the most important questions we can be asking ourselves.

Here are some examples of family, friends and acquaintances that are either moving in the direction of their desired lifestyle or they are already living it:

My wife, Jill Knouse, walked away from her high paying, high stress job in financial services to pursue her love of yoga. She started down this path eight years ago and she is now one of the most sought after yoga teachers in Portland, Oregon. She has also created her own unique yoga business that leverages her core strengths and talents to teach new yoga teachers how to sharpen their skills and become amazing yoga instructors.

My friends Dakota and Chelsea are making preparations to travel the Western U.S. in a converted Sprinter van. They will experience the West in a way that few people ever will. They will be visiting some of the most scenic natural environments in the world and exploring them on their terms. Something that could never be done with two weeks of vacation!

My friends Rob and Heidi are pursuing their love of fitness and extreme sports by training for and participating in one of the most grueling physical endeavors imaginable. They will take part in the Lake Tahoe Ironman Triathlon later this year. For those that don’t know, this is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run. Talk about setting big goals!

Other friends are planning a sabbatical to spend six months visiting their favorite countries abroad. They realize that their life is happening right now and they want to experience it in a way that will allow them to follow their inspiration now rather than waiting. My guess is that this experience will open up new doors that they never would have imagined.

A guy that I am just getting to know has taken his passion and knowledge of physical fitness, weight training and yoga to become a fitness blogger, certified personal trainer, and yoga teacher in Portland, Oregon. Johnny Nasello found himself in his first post-college desk job and started noticing some changes in himself that he was not particularly proud of. For the first time in his life, he started to develop body fat around his mid-section and he decided that it was time that he did something about it. He didn’t know it at the time but that decision changed his life and he left his corporate job to start JohnnyFit.com.

Pat Flynn used to have a 9 to 5 job, which he really did enjoy. He was working at an architecture firm and loving the line of work he was in. He had no plans to leave, but unfortunately he was laid off. It turns out that getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to him.  He started the Smart Passive Income Blog and used his real life experiences to show people how they can make a great living online. Pat has been publicly tracking his income from his online business and last month he created $51,475.50.

The Choice is Yours

As you can see from the examples above, making a living is starting to take a backseat to having a life. I’m not saying that you need to quit your job to pursue something else. Far from it. I’m encouraging you to think about prioritizing your life in a way that allows you to live it to the fullest. For some, this will mean taking a sabbatical to pursue travel and adventure while they are young. For others it may mean leaving a corporate job to discover what you knew you should have been doing all along.

Is the thought of making a big change scary? You bet. But facing your fears is always more exciting than remaining in a miserable state of predictability.

My goal from the start of this blog has been to encourage you to wake up inspired and fall asleep fulfilled because you’re fearlessly giving your gifts to the world.

One final thing…..take five minutes and watch this video of two people that may be much like yourself. They took a journey. And it changed them. Forever!

http://vimeo.com/36519586

And I ask you the same questions that the man in this video asks:

Is it possible to be happy with this life?

Did you enjoy your story?

In gratitude,

Michael