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Tips for College Freshman that Everyone Should Follow, at Any Age

2617759816_7716918619Surfing around on the internet the other day, I came across a discussion on advice for college freshman moving into dorms for the first time. I’ve been out of college for about seven years now, but I still found it enjoyable to read since it brought back some memories of my years living in dorms.

I noticed that two pieces of advice were brought up over and over again:

  • Leave your door open as much as you can. The feeling is that this makes you more accessible and that people will stop in to say hi.
  • Say yes to as much as you can, especially at first. You’ll get invites to events or to hang out- say yes to as many as possible.

I came to realize that this advice can actually apply to any time in your life, not just your college years. Now, I don’t mean you should literally leave your door open all the time if you don’t live in a dorm, because if you do this at your home or apartment you would probably get burglarized.

I think it is more about the general attitude of being open to new things. This is also where saying yes to as much as you can ties in as well. If life is pretty ordinary for you right now, you are likely fairly closed off. I’m not suggesting you may be a shut-in, but take an honest look at how you may be cutting yourself off from new experiences.

For example, when you are a freshman in college, no one knows anyone else at first. People are likely to receive invites to hang out with folks or to go on campus events that they maybe would not have had an interest in otherwise. But if they end up saying yes to the invite, they may find out that actually enjoyed themselves. If they didn’t, they still had a new experience and tried something different. Either way, they probably met some new people and made some new acquaintances or even friends.

But why does this have to be any different outside of college?

How many invites do you turn down because you think you wouldn’t enjoy it or because you don’t really know any else that will be there? This isn’t to say that you are always going to end up liking these new things, but what is there to lose, really?

So how open are you to new experiences?

Are you closing yourself off to them, or are you willing to be open and try new things? If you’re always doing the same things or only saying yes to the same old experiences then you’re just going to keep getting the same old results.

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Image: Doug Wallick

Update on Our Media Diet

brokentvOverall this media consumption diet has been great. I am amazed at the benefits so far.

I think the most noticeable thing is that time has become fairly unimportant to me. I hardly ever look at the clock now. I just don’t feel a need to. The first night we did this C.C. and I went to a bookstore to look at journals, and we were both amazed at how we felt like we had all the time in the world. There wasn’t that slight pulling feeling that you normally have to get back home (the odd thing is that you feel that feeling even when there isn’t anything you need to do when you get back!). We took it our time and it all felt much more relaxing then it usually feels when you are out and about.

I really do feel like I have all the time in the world. I don’t feel (the self-imposed) feeling of being rushed or that time is running out. The only time I do feel the pull a little is if there really is something I have to do- like go to work. Though, even this isn’t as bad as before.

I also feel it a little in watching the clock at work (the real job) and waiting for it to be lunch time or time to go home. But I feel that is understandable considering I am at, you know, work. But I feel like if I were working for myself full-time I could really get into a groove of working when inspired and for how long I feel inspired to, and not feel so bound by time.

I imagine that we will ending up continuing our reduction in media consumption even after our trial here. Obviously will we let stuff back in, but not to the same degree as before. We’re already giving serious thought to ditching our cable TV subscription entirely because we really haven’t missed it all that much. I definitely think we are going to keep this up. We’ll keep filling you in on how things are going as the trial goes on.

img by: Lil’ El

Going On A Media Consumption Diet

The other day, C.C. and I had a bit of a State of the Union discussion on how our big Escape from the Ordinary is going. A lot was discussed over a few hours, but I think the main theme was that we feel like we can do better. We’ve realized that we’ve become pretty set in our routines and haven’t been pushing ourselves to really take all of this to the next level.

The biggest problem, we came to realize, is our lack of focus. Way too much of our time gets eaten up by distractions that can fall under the broad category of “media”. Our media consumption includes things like internet browsing, television, video games, reading for pleasure, etc. Now, all of those things are good in moderation, but they have become distractions in our lives because we haven’t kept them in check. [Read more...]

Free Museum Weekends

I justed wanted to make a quick post to share with you something we’ve come across. If you have an account with Bank of America (credit card, checking, savings, etc), they are running a promotion called Museums on Us. For one weekend out of each month you can get into participating museums for free by showing them your credit or ATM card. It seems like a pretty good deal if you already have an account with Bank of America. The free weekend for June is this weekend, June 5th and 6th. You can get more information here http://museums.bankofamerica.com/ It seems like a great way to try something different on a weekend.

Break Your Energy-Sucking Everyday Routines

I am the type of person that can easily get stuck in routines.

I don’t know why and it is not something that I try to do. Every now and then it dawns on me that I do a lot of things at the same time or in the same way every day. Drive the same way to work, eat lunch at the same time (usually eating mostly the same things), eat dinner at the same time, go to bed at the same time, etc.

Are you like me? Do you tend to get stuck in routines? It actually happens very easily when you are caught up in the work/life cycle. You know how it is- wake up, go to work, work all day, come home, eat dinner, relax, go to sleep… then repeat the whole thing the next day. Even your weekends can turn routine as you have to get all the things done then that you weren’t able to do during the week. It all doesn’t leave much room for spontaneity.

With escaping the ordinary, we tend to think of big events like quitting our jobs, traveling the world, hiking Mount Everest, skydiving, or whatever you can dream of. Those are all part of what we preach, but escaping the ordinary is also about the very ordinary things.

This means breaking your small routines. Drive a different route to work. Eat at a restaurant you’ve never been to before. Try going to bed earlier (more sleep can’t hurt) or try going to bed later (remember when you used to be able to stay up nearly all night?). Try having an actual conversation with those people that you normally only say hi to in passing. Do your grocery shopping or laundry on a different day then you normally do.

Really, the point is just to mix things up. When you get into routines and do the same things all the time, you are going to get the same results. Try changing some of the small things in your life and see what happens. Escaping the ordinary isn’t always about the big dramatic stuff. It is also about changing those small everyday things in your life that keep you caught in the ordinary.

Photo by Colinthedog

Pure Enjoyment

I find that a lot of times, whenever I try something new, I always jump forward and plan on it being a huge success.  I can’t simply do something just because I enjoy it. It always has to be the next big thing—the idea that’s going to be the making of me.  I guess a little optimism doesn’t hurt, but it kind of takes away some of the enjoyment when I’m always looking at things from the perspective of how successful will it be.  There’s so much pressure to be successful that I get overwhelmed even before I start.  I find once this happens, my drive and inspiration go out the window and I don’t even feel like trying anymore.

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Making Changes in your Life One at a Time

Inspiration hits. You want to make changes in your life, and follow the typical process of having a sit down with your self and either mentally or on paper coming up with a list of all the problems you feel you want to work on. At this point you feel motivated and excited about making wholesale changes.

The tendency then is to try and tackle all of those issues and changes all at once. But this can lead to burn out and/or feeling overwhelmed- both of which eventually lead to you likely not making any significant changes at all and falling back into your old patterns.
[Read more...]

How to Stay Motivated

Motivation is a wonderful thing. It is the drive can get us moving and get us started working toward the goals we have for ourselves.

The problem with motivation is that it can only take you so far. It is often fleeting and goes in bursts. It is very easy to get excited about something at first and pour a lot of energy into it. But, as time goes on motivation often fades.

I think that a lot of us who are looking to do something unconventional and out of the ordinary can easily get caught in the ebb and flow of motivation. We read lots of blogs and stories about people doing the things we want to do or living the way we want to live. We make plans and decide we are going to do what it takes to follow in their footsteps.

We write out our goals, vow to take steps to quit our jobs, get rid of things we don’t need, save money to travel, come up with ideas for businesses or way to make money, get out more, etc. We start to follow those plans, but then as the days and weeks go by the motivation starts to fade.

Maybe you miss achieving a small goal, or you buy something pricey when you were trying to save money, or give up on your business ideas because it all seems too daunting. Then you end up bummed out and probably more unmotivated then you were to start with.

Motivation Can’t Push You All the Way Through

Motivation is typically a very emotional thing– and you just can’t always rely on emotion. It is too unstable. You’re not always going to feel happy; you’re not always going to be energized. You just can’t consistently sustain that.

While you are not always going to have your initial motivation and drive, there fortunately are some things that you can do to help.

Just Do It

Yeah, yeah, the Nike thing. I know it is cliche, but there is truth to it. Many times you are going to have to suck it up and just do it. The thing you will find is that once you get started then you should be able to keep going. If your goal is to exercise everyday then there will be days were the last thing you want to do is get on your feet and get moving. Maybe you had a bad day, you are tired, or you want to watch something on T.V. It takes some fight, but if you get up and just start your exercise routine, you’ll get over it fast. Getting started isn’t half the battle, it is more like 90%.

Reacquaint Yourself with your End-Goals

Motivation comes and goes, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily random and haphazard. You can certainly coax the motivation back by reacquainting yourself with your end-goals.

Take time to remind yourself about why you have these goals in the first place. Think about what your life will be like once you achieve them. Go back and re-read the websites and blogs that motivated you in the first place. Read about people doing the same things that you want to do. It is easy to lose sight of why you set out on these goals in the first place. Reminding yourself why will keep your eyes on the prize.

Don’t Get Lost in the Details

Most importantly, don’t get lost in the details. Yes, it will ultimately take many steps to achieve your goals and live the life you want. But getting caught up in the steps is a quick way to lose motivation.

Take each step one at a time and don’t get overwhelmed. Have the confidence that you will be able to handle each step when the time comes. Whenever you feel the goals becoming too daunting, remember to reconnect with your end-goal. Remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Become of a fan of the phrase “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”. Usually things aren’t as difficult or scary when the time comes and you actually do them as when you obsessed about them in your head before-hand.

Achieving your goals is all about riding the waves of motivation. You can’t always rely on it being there and ultimately have to dig deep within yourself to push through and keep moving.

Saving Money as a way to Escape the Ordinary

Part of our plan for escaping our ordinary lives has been to reprioritize the way we spend money (spending less on unnecessary expenses and more on travel/new experiences). This has been especially important right now because of our new job situations. This has meant cutting expenses because we’re not bringing in as much in as we once did.

Cutting expenses can actually be very rewarding and I’d like to write future posts about just that, but I’m going to discuss something that has been an unintended consequence; namely that it ties in perfectly with getting out more and experiencing new things.

Because we are looking to spend less, we really have to dig around to find free or cheap new things to do. We can’t just fall back on going out for drinks, seeing latest movie, or a pricey vacation. This has really led us to finding some cool things to do in our area that we wouldn’t have normally discovered.

Community theater, nature preserves, local museums, hiking trails, festivals, and local landmarks are all around and can be experienced for free or fairly cheap. For example, this weekend we are going to a free show offered at the planetarium located in a local college. We’re finding that an area we spent most of our lives thinking had very little interesting things to do actually has some stuff to offer.

Sure, the usual activities that cost some money are still fun to do and can be done once in a while even if you are trying to save cash. But a limited budget can really give you a new perspective on what’s out there to do. You can find some hidden gems that you otherwise would have overlooked, especially things that may be brand new to you and offer up new experiences.

Escaping the Ordinary is Actually Pretty Hard

It’s not easy. As some say, nothing that is worth it ever is easy. But I have to admit, this journey so far has been a bit of a struggle. The goal of the Ordinary Escape has been to get out there more and experience life. However, one thing is very clear– old habits die hard.

This is a tough post to write and maybe that is why we haven’t updated the site in a bit. There really hasn’t been much progress to report on. I think that moving to part time at work was a huge step, but unfortunately things seemed to have died there.

There was some effort at first , but slowly things just devolved into doing nothing. Productive time on my days outside of the “real job” quickly turned into “days off”. I saw that would be a possibility and wanted to strive hard to not let it happen, but it has. I realize that I am the type of person right now that this can happen to and even though I saw it coming I still let it happen.

But at the same time that is really the point of all of this. It is all part of trying to change. It takes time and you can’t really break old deep-seeded patterns overnight. If I were a super-motivated person who wasn’t stuck in a rut then I wouldn’t have started this journey and website in the first place. My wife and I noticed that we weren’t doing what we wanted, weren’t challenging ourselves, and weren’t living life as fully as we wanted. We had a lot of initial motivation that quickly wore away again after we sunk back into our comfort zones.

But I think that the important thing here is to recognize that it doesn’t have to be an instant change. I am beating myself up a bit right now that I have let the last few months squander without doing much, but it is still not too late to get started. Losing a few months is not the end of the world, but never getting started would be. We’ve put the wheels in motion, but we still need to steer this thing down the road.

I’m in a bit of a difficult spot right now, because I think still working for my old job but at part time hours has kept me stuck a bit. In theory it is great because I am earning money and still get to keep my benefits (most importantly health insurance). But I am still stuck in the same mindset/pattern, just for only half the time. I still have all of the stress; perhaps even more so now because I am trying to fit in 40 hours of work into 20.

I think there are a lot of contributing factors, and a lot of things that make this all difficult. If it were easy, then everyone would be trying to do something outside of the ordinary. But at the same time, I can’t let that stop me. I can’t keep talking a big game, but when push comes to shove doing nothing. At this step I think that we need to realize that if we are ever going to escape the ordinary it is going to take some real effort. You can have all the desire in the world, but if you don’t ever actually do anything then you are never going to get anywhere.