Archives For Motivation

First Lifestyle, Then Work?

February 18, 2017 — 4 Comments

Lifestyles are a major contributor to our happiness, but most often they’re designed around the remaining time we can squeeze from the rest of our life. It’s hard to live a lifestyle of pursuing the things you love if you’re working 80 hours a week.

What would happen if we redesigned our lives around a lifestyle we loved? For the first ten years of my post-college graduate life, my job determined my lifestyle. For the first seven years, I worked for Accenture and traveled Monday through Thursday for 90% of the year. I spent weekends back home in Dallas, but much of the time was used to catch up on the things I missed during the week – appointments, shopping, errands and any other time I could squeeze out to catch up with friends or my then girlfriend.

My weeks were filled with a lifestyle designed around my job. Even though I usually flew out on Monday morning, I’d dedicate time on Sunday evening to packing, ironing and finishing up whatever other errands popped up before heading out. Besides giving me the chance to work face to face with my client, the travel was also advantageous to my employer because it meant I was pretty much there to focus on work. There were no “outside” distractions we face at home like family, friends, clubs and organizations, volunteer activities, personal hobbies or errands. We were there to focus on work.

If I wanted to hang out with friends, it was only the people I was working with at the time. Sometimes that was good, but on other projects like when I traveled to Philadelphia for 1.5 years, I was the only consultant, so most evenings were spent alone. I didn’t mind too much because I was reading and writing a lot and the travel perks were pretty amazing, between hotel points, flight upgrades and extra cash from my per diem.

The job was still a really great opportunity where I learned a ton, met a lot of great people and made good money, but I was so over the travel. I left Accenture in 2011 and went to HP so I wouldn’t have to travel as much and could actually spend time with my wife. It worked out for a while and life was pretty balanced because I was working from home (which presents its own challenges), and I even got to take an unpaid leave in 2013 to travel the world for ten months!

After we came back to work in 2014, things really picked up. I was fortunate to get a promotion to Manager and the new project I joined back on was incredibly challenging and my wife also got a new job. Over the course of the next two years, HP separated, acquired multiple companies and went through a bevy of changes which required some intense work. In the end, I was managing a team of 60+ people globally and a website with hundreds of thousands of users. My day usually started with 100+ emails overnight from Asia and Europe, continued with 10 hours of conference calls during the day, and ended with conference calls with Asia sometimes until 10 or 11 at night. We also worked at least one weekend a month to deliver code to the new website and if the site ever went down at night or over the weekend, I also got to work! Needless to say, I was out of balance again.

I felt privileged to have such a good opportunity to deliver challenging work, make friends with so many people around the world and make some really good money, but it was taking a toll on my mental and physical health. My life was incredibly out of balance, and I wasn’t living the lifestyle I wanted, so we made the difficult decision to quit.

My wife and I have thought a lot about the lifestyle we love and are mostly in agreement (I doubt we’ll ever be in full agreement, but that’s fine). We landed somewhere around here:

  1. Ability to take long vacations domestically and internationally to explore the world
  2. Work similar schedules so we can enjoy each other’s company
  3. Include enough time to catch up with friends and family
  4. Pursue work we enjoy and can make money
  5. Pursue work that provides meaningful interactions and allow us to create or be a part of a community
  6. Earn enough money to do the things we want to do!

Anytime I think of a new career or job opportunity, I try to run it through that filter first. Previously when I thought about entrepreneurship opportunities, I only thought about how much money I could make off of it. Could it get me rich? I never pursued any of those opportunities because the idea would get old pretty fast, indicating I wouldn’t have been successful anyway.

I know many people will think I’m a total asshole for writing this because it’s such a “first world problem”. Most people will never get the opportunity to think about a “lifestyle first” approach due to just getting by paycheck to paycheck or sacrificing your life for the kids. However, there’s always something you can do to move that direction. For us, pursuing this lifestyle first approach motivated us to work really hard and save lots of money, so we can entertain it. I may end up going back to a corporate job that once again eliminates my lifestyle list above, but I’m sure as hell going to try hard not to!

Ayn Rand Inspiration for 2016

December 27, 2015 — 1 Comment

If you’re not familiar with Ayn Rand, I’m writing a post that will come out in a few weeks with my full biased review and explanation of her philosophies. I’ve had quite a cycle starting with an obsession with her philosophies and going “all in” on her objectivism, to then disagreeing with most of her stances, to now being a bit more neutral and pulling some things I like and discarding the rest.

Regardless of my own cyclical thoughts and tendencies, the fact remains there’s a lot of merit in her writing and philosophies and she has some really great quotes. With quotes from Rand’s powerful book Atlas Shrugged, I wish you a prosperous 2016!

I’ll start with my favorite quote of Rand’s that continues to drive my quest for a BREAK FREE lifestyle

“What greater wealth is there than to own your own life and to spend it on growing?”

This really drives my interaction with work and money along with my desire to create a lifestyle where I get to focus on my wife and my visions – and not spend it all working in a job I may not want. However, to get to this point, you have to realize the system we live in and avoid things like this

“A viler evil than to murder a man is to sell him suicide as an act of virtue”

I equate “suicide” in this quote with giving up your life for the profit of someone else. Work is necessary to get to where you want to go:

“there’s no such thing as a lousy job – only lousy men who don’t care to do it”

However, dedicating your entire life to a job you hate because you need to pay the bills on a bunch of crap you don’t need is the suicide. But you can take control of your money and think about how you can pursue the things you want to pursue.

“Thought is a weapon one uses in order to act.  Thought is the tool by which one makes a choice.  Thought sets one’s purpose and the way to reach it”

Think. Act. Make the decision to live the life you want to live. Don’t be another cog in the wheel, unless of course you want to.

“this is what they want of me, this is where they want me – neither living nor dead, neither thinking nor insane, but just a chunk of pulp that screams with fear, to be shaped by them as they please, they who have no shape of their own.”

No matter where you have to start, just start.

“Do not say that you’re afraid to trust your mind because you know so little.  Are you safer in surrendering to mystics and discarding the little that you know?  Live and act within the limit of your knowledge an keep expanding it to the limit of your life.  Accept the fact that your mind is fallible, but becoming mindless will not make you infallible – that an error made on your own is safer than ten truths accepted on faith, because the first leaves you the means to correct it, but the second destroys your capacity to distinguish truth from error.”

Know your life is incredibly valuable

“to live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life:  reason – purpose – self-esteem.  Reason, as his only tool of knowledge – purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve – Self-esteem, as his inviolated certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means:  is worthy of living.”

You have the potential

“Every man is free to rise as far as he’s able or willing, but it’s only the degree to which he thinks that determines the degree to which he’ll rise.”

And if you haven’t already, find the why

“the desire not to be anything, is the desire not to be”

Because in the end,

“What greater wealth is there than to own your own life and to spend it on growing?”

I found this gem of a post while doing some research for a current post I’m working on. I actually never posted it, but by the references in the post I must have written it in 2011. Just to honor my work, I’m going to post it largely unchanged, and then I’ll write an update and continuation next week. Enjoy 🙂

By 2010 I’d be six years out of college, and I was sure to reside in a downtown high rise overlooking Central Park in New York City.  It would have been a result of my taking the business world by storm, and relentlessly chasing my dreams until I beat them into submission.  Actually, the exact plan was to move to Dallas after college, transfer to New York City, and then off to London.

The plan for success didn’t include what I would actually do, but I think ‘business’ was the common answer.  The answer wasn’t important at that point, but I knew I would be successful and that sounded like an ideal succession of cities to conquer!  This dream of my was formulated well in High School in 1999.  My parents recently reminded me of this and I had to laugh. Continue Reading…

What’s Your Point?

January 4, 2015 — Leave a comment

You might have noticed my blogging activity has slowed to a trickle in the last few months and what used to be weekly blogs are lucky to occur even monthly. My time has mostly been taken up by work as I received a promotion and now manage a global team, but it’s also taken up heavily by our new renovation project – which is about 75% complete after six months. We’re finally getting to normalcy in our house as our kitchen is nearly complete, so I plan to get back to blogging.

However, there’s another reason my blogging has slowed: my wife and I are still mentally floating after we returned from our round the world trip last year (ok, actually returned Nov 2013, does that make it two years ago???). We moved to Dallas, bought a house, fully reentered the workforce, and are both quite busy with work, but we’re somehow lost. We’ve gone from a state of near total freedom back to work servitude and our minds won’t let us fully adapt.

I can’t remember the name of the book I read it in, but a line that stuck in my head since was that it’s easier to never give freedom in the first place than to give freedom and then try taking it away. We had freedom and we’ve voluntarily given it away, but for obvious reasons like we couldn’t be nomads forever and we didn’t have an endless amount of money to blow. However, we know the type of lifestyle we prefer, and now the challenge is making it happen.

What’s Your Point?

Continue Reading…

Is Getting Rich the Answer?

February 3, 2014 — 6 Comments

You know what I’m talking about when I say that, right?  We always talk about nice it would be to get rich – then we’d be happy, or then we’d finally do what we want, whether it’s quit the job you hate, travel the world, or pursue what makes you happy.  Getting rich must be the answer.

However, as the old saying goes, wish and one hand poop in the other and see which one gets filled first!

After I sent out the post about how Drake’s rich father handles money, another reader emailed me his story.  Basically, he’s rich now because he recently sold a business for millions, and now he’s trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life.  Here’s what he said – let’s break down each paragraph:

I have it pretty good and it’s hard to bitch about a job and work environment that you created but it definitely makes me ponder what I would want to do differently next time.  I know these things for certain:  I hate  commuting, but I don’t like  working from home all the time; I hate sitting in front of a computer all day, I like working out at lunch, I like being creative and building a real product, I like selling at first but hate the repetition of doing it over and over again.

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Getting into my Ferrari in China

Don’t mind me, just getting into my Ferrari!

One of our biggest motivators of buying things we can’t afford is the fear of looking poor.

How embarrassing it must have been for me to drive around in a 1993 white Chevy Lumina with a maroon interior – so embarrassing that I thought the better decision was to take out a $28,000 car loan just so I wouldn’t look poor anymore. But guess what, although I might have looked like I had money with the new car, now I was officially poor!

My car ran just fine, but I made excuses to justify buying a new car. I needed something more dependable – even though my trusty Chevy Lumina never left me stranded on a Dallas highway. It wasn’t the fear of a break down that fed my bad decision, but the fear of simply appearing poor.

Are you afraid of looking poor?

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America, Hell Yeah.

November 4, 2013 — 6 Comments
America, Hell Yeah with stylish shoes

Stylin’ USA shoes in Hong Kong

As we gazed across the bay to the beautifully lit city of Hong Kong, I couldn’t help but notice the young man’s shoes as he walked in front of us. They weren’t the typical high-price Faragamo’s that are becoming normal in the ultra-affluent Hong Kong, instead they were simple canvas shoes decorated on the top with the US flag.

Continue Reading…

It’ll be ok

February 11, 2013 — 23 Comments

When we’re kids, it’s easy to find a reassurance that everything will be ok.  Whether it’s the bump in the night, the stressful math test, or the rough first break up, our parents and other adults are quick to remind us that the end of the world is not imminent.

Cactus Flower

Just as a flower blooms…. just kidding, I like this picture my wife took so I added it in this post!

However, adults don’t have that luxury.  We’re forced to find our own reassurance when making big decisions and often times people are quicker to tell us the reasons to not do something than the reason to do it.

Sometimes we just need someone to tell us, “It’ll be ok”.  We want the reassurance that our big risks are worth it and that all possible negative consequences have been property dealt with and that success is guaranteed.

But of course, you know that no one can ever guarantee you success.  Hopefully, you’ll find support from friends and relatives, but at some point you just have to accept the risk and go for it.  Prepare, make an educated decision, trust yourself, and make the leap!

It’ll be ok.  We’re in the process of making our leap and as you might have read last week, we’re very nervous.  However, we’ve prepared for it and now it’s time to leap.

Dan and J at Machu Picchu

If you subscribe and receive my posts to email, you’ve seen my occasional comments about my awesome wife. We’ve shied away from expanding on her career and goals on YLTL, but we have some big things coming up in the near future so you might hear more from her. I’ll leave it at that for now because we’ll get into more of it later…

Without further ado, here’s J:

Let me first say this post seem serendipitous. It was the result of a silly exchange between husband and wife. I’m currently building a web site featuring news content and videos as a professional journalist. When I asked Dan to review a couple of my recent posts, an audible chuckle drifted from his home office. “Uh, there’s a factual error in here,” he said. “Drew Brees didn’t throw five interceptions – that was last week. He only threw two yesterday.” I rolled my eyes and mumbled a whatever. “Then fix it,” I said with a wink. He baulked at the idea of tweaking my post and went on to ponder his topic for Break Free (shh, don’t tell him I let you in on a little secret – but stay tuned for something big). That’s when something came over me. Only half kidding, I slyly said, “I’ll write your post if you fix mine.” Most likely only half believing me, he responded with a simple yet sarcastic, “OK.”

Continue Reading…

I was stuck somewhere between a crow and a lizard when I was finally able to focus on something besides the extreme pain that was beginning to set in. My mind was shaking almost as much as my legs as I tried to rationalize why I seemed to be the weakest one in a room full of all types (and sizes) of women. I tried my hardest to keep a mental and physical grip on the mat as my hands started to slide out, fighting the sweat.

If you saw my Facebook post last week, you know I was headed to a Yoga class on Friday evening with my wife. It turns out it wasn’t for beginners. I should’ve realized it was going to be tough when the middle-aged woman behind us was doing an unassisted headstand as easily as I was sitting!

In the middle of the class, I was distracted by a song that came on between chants. The most memorable line, “If you’re feeling helpless, help someone.” If you’re feeling helpless, help someone.

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