Off the Bucket List

As of today, I can officially cross off a line item on my bucket list. I have published a book!  BE HAPPIER, HEALTHIER, AND MORE PRODUCTIVE; 365 INSPIRING IDEAS is available in print on Amazon!!

It’s a solid compilation of my blog here – the series I wrote from February through this past February. As I moved through that project, I was often asked if I would turn it into a book and was finally convinced when a few people specifically spoke about how they wanted to give it as a gift in book form. Well… here it is!

Be Happier Cover Final 3D

There are a couple of new ideas that weren’t part of the original blog as I found a couple of duplicates and I deleted one or two that were too similar to others. Overall, it’s a paperback book (416 pages) that offers suggestions geared to promote a better sense of overall well-being.

It’s the kind of book that you can use as a reference, send as a gift, keep on your nightstand, or work your way through (if you haven’t already). It’s the kind of book you’ll a couple of pages of and then try and figure out a time or place to try one of the suggestions. It’s the kind of book that may make you roll your eyes, laugh out loud, and learn from – all in one.

Aside from a shameless plug… I hope you’ll consider this post inspiration for accomplishing those things on your own bucket list. I read somewhere once that if 10 people have an idea – three will act on it – but only ONE will follow through.  While I have a long, long list of things that I only acted on… the printing of my book is a major follow through piece for me. I hope it inspires you to follow through on something near and dear to your heart!!

If you’ve been a supporter – thanks so much! You’re part of why this happened! <3

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

TTAHYou can also listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, orFeedburner

#28 Start a Business

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#28

Start a Business

Many of us are entrepreneurial from the time we are small. Maybe we built a lemonade stand in our front yard, sold Girl Scout cookies, or joined Junior Achievement. If you have a great idea or make a great product, think about starting a small business. It’s never been less expensive to bring your thoughts or wares to market.

Create a Plan

As with anywhere you want to go, the first time it’s easier to get there with a road map. A business plan is a road map for your business and it’s the first place to start. There are probably thousands of blogs, websites, and organizations online that will teach you about a business plan and guide you in designing one. Business.com is one of the free and useful websites offering information about how to do this.

Go Online

The most obvious opportunity is to go online. There are dozens of easy to use avenues from Etsy and Shopify to building your own website quickly on Squarespace or GoDaddy. Getting your services or products on the web can be accomplished with less than $100 and some of your time.

Market Yourself Relentlessly

This is the make-it-or-break-it key to becoming successful. The world wide web is a massive place and your business is a grain of sand there. As a newcomer to the market, you’ll need to grab some attention in any way that you can – professionally speaking of course. Once again, there are dozens of places that you can go online to learn how to market your product. Some of those places are free of charge if you are a good self study. If you want to dive right into the heart of the matter, it may be better to spend some of your working capital money in this arena and take a marketing class that can highlight the most important aspects of promotion. And then, don’t stop… market your business relentlessly to everyone who will listen and give them a reason to tell someone else about you. Light a fire everywhere you go and it will organically spread if there is a wind.

Reinvest in Yourself

If you are one of the fortunate ones, you’ll begin to make money and the best thing you can do with in the beginning is to reinvest it in your business. So many of us are tempted to spend it on those extra things we want – after all, we’re working extra hard – but it’s important to grow your business while it has some momentum and that generally takes capital investment. Even if you’ve only made a few hundred dollars, think of how that money can be spent to market more widely, improve your packaging, or build your inventory. Is there a trade show or a conference that will offer education or networking opportunities? Go to that.

Perseverance

Yes, many small businesses never make it but some would tell you it’s because the business owner wasn’t persistent enough. Remember The Little Engine That Could and go that extra mile… pushing past where most people back down. Don’t stop – not at least until you’ve reached the capacity of your investment in time, money, or resources. There is a time to call Uncle. But, until that time has come – work hard and smart.

If you’ve been wondering about your ability to market a product or talent… this may be your year. Right now may be your time… so why not…

Start a Business

TTAH

Listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

 

 

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#38 Try Stand Up Comedy

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#38

Try Stand Up Comedy

I can only imagine how many people read this suggestion as a way to improve your life and laugh out loud because it may be the farthest thing from something that sounds fun. I suspect there are only two basic perspectives here…  one being that “there’s no way in hell I’d stand up and try to be funny because I’m not” or even if you think you could be funny… “there’s no way in hell I’d stand up in front of strangers”. And still… I stand by the recommendation.

Finding Funny

Everyone has a funny side or at the very least, comedic memories; stories of times when the absurdity of life found you belly laughing. The longer you’ve lived, the more you have to relate with. But, you don’t have to be on the older side if you are a good observer. There’s a lot of funny in the world and your ability to see it and describe it to other people is what makes good comedic material. In many of the basic struggles that we experience as humans, there is a humorous perspective. Some of the most famous comedians have been able to elaborate on the light side of everyday conflicts; relationships, work, raising children, proposals, traffic, etc.

Writing Funny

Where many of us lose the momentum is between writing the ideas and crafting the ‘script’ of the story. The website CreativeStandup.com offers some great advice about “understanding the principles of comedy” versus “applying rules and techniques”.  In some cases, it’s better to record yourself telling the tales and then have the recording transcribed and begin working from that point. In that way you are breaking the creative process into two distinct pieces but allowing the ‘material’ to flow naturally. There are several highly rated transcription services (apps) that are relatively inexpensive.

Presenting Funny

Once you have a few ideas and a routine you’re comfortable with, try an Open Mic night at a local comedy club. It’s a great way to face any fear of public speaking because people are ‘supposed to be laughing at you’. It’s a great night out with friends if everyone is participating and an awesome way to work on confidence and esteem.

You’ve heard the phrase ‘everyone’s a comic!’ – although notably it may have been a sarcastic expression at the time but there’s a little bit of truth in most sarcasm. Use this as fuel to recall some of your most memorable personal experiences, tell the story with as much absurdity as it can support, and …

Try stand up comedy.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#39 Overcome Self Doubt

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#39

Overcome Self Doubt

Do you ever doubt yourself? Do you doubt you can do whatever it is you’ve set out to do? It’s perfectly normal. We all do it. Self-doubt is something anyone faces at some point in their life. And for some of us it can be a real struggle. When self-doubt – which is defined as the lack of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities – keeps us from doing that we want to do and from reaching our goals, it’s time to take action and work towards overcoming it.

And since self-doubt by definition is caused by a lack of confidence, the solution is obvious. We need no to work on becoming more confident. But how do you go about boosting your self-confidence? Saying “You need to be more confident” is easy, actually doing it can be a little harder, but it can be done.

Fake It Until You Make It

I’m serious. As odd as it sounds this actually works. By acting confident, you can trick your mind into becoming a more confident person. Stand up tall, talk with conviction and take some action. Act like a confident person until you become just that.

Find A Cheerleader

If you’re the kind of person that thrives on praise and gets a big boost in confidence whenever they receive a compliment, go find yourself a cheerleader. Talk to a friend, find an accountability partner, or hire a coach or mentor. Let them know that you work well with praise and ask them to cheer you on as you work on your confidence.

Make a List of Accomplishments

There are probably dozens of things that you’ve accomplished over time. Make of list of all of the challenges that you’ve mastered, the goals you’ve reached, and the problems you’ve solved. This list will act as a reminder that you’ve been here and done that; that you have a track record of accomplishments.

Take On A Challenge

Setting and reaching a goal is another big confidence booster. Set yourself a challenge. It doesn’t matter what it is or what area of your life it applies to. Then tackle it and rise to the challenge. Reaching your goal – whatever it may be – will boost your confidence overall and help you in all areas of your life.

And don’t stop there… throughout your daily life pay attention to your confidence. It won’t take you long to get out of the habit of doubting yourself and becoming the confident and productive person you’ve always wanted to be when you use these tricks to …

Overcome self doubt.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#85 Investigate New Restaurants

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#85

Investigate New Restaurants

For years, our Friday Night Date Night was routine. We took off a little early and then headed to our favorite Mexican restaurant for margaritas and dinner. It was so much of a routine that when the bartender saw us sit down she automatically ordered our appetizers and placed the margaritas in front of us. People nearby would often ask one of us if we had ‘ordered ahead’. While that routine was kind of nice and predictable it prevented us from discovering new restaurants. Since Harlan’s death, I’ve made an effort to discover new Friday night jaunts.

Recommendations

One of the first places I turned to were friends and family. I wanted to know what their favorite eatery was and why. I started my list. It’s always nice to have a personal recommendation when visiting someplace – especially by someone who knows you and is considerate of your time and budget. Most people are candid if they believe you won’t enjoy a certain experience.

Yelp

This is a great ‘recommendation’ app for smartphones. Generally, you can access the menu there and see photographs that have been taken by other people who’ve eaten there. Of course you can read their ‘reviews’ and determine if it’s a place you want to try. I’ve found that its necessary to read through a number of review in order to get a balanced perspective. Sometimes, people are having a bad day and leave solid derogatory review for a small infraction.

OpenTable

This is another smartphone app that is mostly for reservations; you won’t find every restaurant here but those who are will typically leave a table or two specifically for people who request tables through the app. Case in point: on a beautiful spring day in Baltimore, we strolled along the waterfront and decided to have lunch at a waterfront restaurant. When we approached the maitre d’, he told us it would be a 90 minute wait. We knew we didn’t want to wait that long so we found a bench and I checked Open Table to see what was available in our location. That very restaurant had a table for 4 available in 15 minutes. We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch overlooking the Baltimore harbor that day and I spent just a few minutes being just a little smug about the work-around.

Dinner Club

If you really need inspiration, start a dinner club with a couple of friends or family members. Plan to meet once a month at a different restaurant each time. There’s a certain sense of adventure that you’ll experience in doing so and even if there’s a less-than-great meal now and then – you’ll at least have had fun with people you care about.

Be brave, trash the routine, and give your taste buds an adventure by…

Investigating new restaurants.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#87 Attend a Concert

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#87

Attend a Concert

I’m sure many of you have – at least once in your lifetime – been to a concert of some type. There’s a wonderful element about music that helps us feel better, no matter the genre. And there are so, so many options. No matter your preference, Country, Rock, Opera, Acapella, Easy Listening or Jazz and there may be almost as many different type of venues.

Outdoors

My personal favorite is attending a concert outdoors, preferably at the beach where I can combine the sensations of both the sun, sand, and music all at once. Summer concerts in big outdoor stadiums can also be a blast, albeit crowded. The acoustics there may make the sardine effect totally worth it however. Smaller outdoor venues can be a lot of fun as well and it’s there that we often find new bands that are just getting started on the circuit. Often, outdoor concerts won’t have a seating capacity – especially at locations like the beach but you are always vulnerable to the weather.

Indoors

Indoor venues vary from small and intimate to covered Superdomes. There are venues with front stages, stage-in-the-round, and others with no stage at all. Indoor venues generally do have limited seating and there’s a special energy to a ‘packed house’, especially because special effects generally have more of an impact inside. Of course, weather isn’t an issue indoors but crowds can be.

Old and New

I’m always a bit surprised when I see bands that I loved as a young adult still pull in packed houses entertaining an entirely new generation of music lovers. Bands like The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, and The Who are still touring. Mick Jagger, from The Rolling Stones is 74 years old and still entertaining millions of people. If you’re a Stones fan… You’d best catch their next tour. Some of the newer music artist are drawing great audiences also and we’re never too old to enjoy good music.

Perhaps you’ve discovered a new genre that you’d like to see in concert. Don’t forget colleges, casinos, and State Fairs when considering concerts – they often book new artists that are gaining momentum.

Go ahead and take a look at TicketMaster, VividSeats, or StubHub (rated #1) and see who’s going to be in your area – or consider traveling to see a much loved band and make a weekend of it. The best holiday gift may be tickets that allow you to …

Attend a concert.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#91 Host a Party – Just Because

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#91

Host a Party

The days of dinner parties for the sole purpose of spending time with people we enjoy seems to be a thing of the past. Granted, some of us may invite friends over for a barbeque or pizza night but in my world it most often meant the kids too and was the only way we made the effort to socialize at home. I’m making this recommendation to bring the party back home – just because.

Hosting

Back in the day of dinner parties, people used their best china, set out the crystal and sterling, and donned a string of pearls when they hosted friends. I’m not recommending that kind of formality as it also – has gone by the wayside in most urban homesteads. A ‘party’ for this reference is any gathering of people for the enjoyment of one another company and not for a special occasion. It can mean dinner, or not. It can mean decorations, or not. It can include alcohol, or not. And it can be formal, or not. Hosting means that you decide, you plan, you do the work (or delegate), and it’s at a location of your choice, preferably your home where you can relax and enjoy.

Doing the Work

I know. Hosting a party can be a lot of work but … it doesn’t have to be! Learning to keep it simple and allowing the pleasure of one another’s company to be the center focus is easier than one would think IF, you can learn to let go of a few things. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be creative. It doesn’t have to be homemade. Giving the bathroom a wipe-over and running the vacuum will help others feel less germ-o-phobic but no one is going to be looking at your baseboards or inside your kitchen cabinets. Asking people to bring a dish to share eliminates a day of cooking and introduces you to different culinary options. Chill out and stay focused on the laughter you’ll generate as you play a round of Cards Against Humanity or belt out a few Karaoke songs.

Theme

Since the goal is to have a party “just because” get-togethers for exchanging something (ornaments, cookies) don’t count; nor do demonstrations like Pampered Chef or Lularoe. The goal is not ‘thing’ related – it’s ‘doing’ related. Get together and engage in comradery. If you absolutely need something to go on – create a theme:

  • Ask people to bring their favorite bottle of wine and do a wine tasting.
  • Ask people to bring a board game and try to play them all.
  • Ask people to bring their favorite dip and snack all night.
  • Ask people to bring a taco topping – provide shells and protein.

Benefits

If you’ve been reading this blog for the last 270 days or so, you’ve no doubt read about the benefits of friendship, laughter, belonging, and doing… hosting a party combines some of the best criteria for positive mental health outcomes so go ahead and look at your calendar … sometime around the middle of January when nothing else is prevalent and …

Host a party… just because.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#111 Run or Walk a 5K

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#111

Run or Walk a 5K

The weekend before Thanksgiving is approaching and it’s typically a popular weekend for ‘Turkey Trots’ and other big, sponsored runs. Why not make the effort to participate?

Perspective

To put this into perspective – most walkers will complete a 5K in about 45 minutes. It’s only about 6000 steps for the average stride (a piece of cake – or pie – for all of you who seek that 10K step goal) and you’ll burn 300 calories. Running of course, will be faster and burn more calories.

Benefits

While walking a 5K once and only once will feel like an accomplishment to those who participate, making it a regular practice has tons of benefits for you body and mind.

Walking improves your mood.

Walking improves your body strength.

Walking improves your cardiovascular strength.

Walking improves your balance and coordination.

Motivation

Maybe the best thing about these ‘organized’ walk/runs like a 5K is that they motivate us to do it with others – to be ‘a part’ of something. We tend to do these kinds of things more frequently if we have moral support in the form of crowds. It’s easier to participate with someone than if we have to make the decision to get up and out on our own.

So, gather some friends and jumpstart your holidays with something that is good for you…

Run or walk a 5K.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#154 Follow the 5 Minute Rule

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#154

Follow the 5 Minute Rule

About a year ago I ran across Mel Robbins and her explanation of the 5 second rule…. A commitment to start those things you’ve been putting off by counting down 5-4-3-2-1 – and GO. She does a much better job of discussing this and extolling its benefits – it’s worthy of attention if you procrastinate. Interestingly enough, as I was explaining it months later – I confused the concept by describing that we can do anything for 5 minutes so go ahead and … just do it. It’s different than Mel’s strategy but helpful nonetheless.

There are tons of things in our life – on our to-do lists – that we simply don’t want to do… we may dread it or be annoyed by our need to accomplish it. Perhaps it just feels overwhelming. The idea behind the ‘5 minute rule’ is that if spend just five minutes on that item  you are avoiding and still don’t find the wherewithal to keep going – then, stop; redirect and know that you made an effort.

Reality

What tends to happen here is that once we begin to attack something – the enormity of it goes away. We often finish before the five minutes is up, having manifested the ‘thing’ to be much bigger – more challenging – than it actually was. Additionally, after giving something five minutes of our time and attention, we frequently discover that we can keep going; that it isn’t that bad after all or that we’re halfway there.

Try It

As you go throughout your day and face something that feels overwhelming or too cumbersome to attack – consider using this 5 minute rule and step into it with a timer set. Let me know what the result is! I love to hear the successes or challenges when people make an attempt to …

Follow the five minute rule.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below