Natalie Sisson’s Blog Challenge

I’m resurrecting this blog to participate in Natalie Sisson’s 10 day blog challenge. I’m also doing a little reminiscing while reading all these old posts too!

It’s interesting to me that my goals haven’t changed that much since I started writing. I’m going to write an update post soon on my current life adventure and fill you all in on my amazing trip to Nicaragua earlier this year.

So stayed tuned for several posts over the next couple of weeks!

Jo

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Not sure where to even start!

This post is so overdue I’m not sure where to even start!

Its been two years since my last update, which I can’t even believe. SO MUCH HAS CHANGED FOR ME!!

I sold my house which was supposed happen in 2013 but never did but it did happen a couple of months ago. Sold most of my stuff and hit the road.

My husband and I set out on a huge adventure all the way across the country and it was truly a once in a lifetime experience.

I spent a year in Montreal with my dad and my husband opening a brand new business in commercial indoor agriculture. It was an amazing experience both personally and professionally. I’ll write more soon but it really solidified my plans to become a location independent person. While managing the business was incredible and really let me use all my management skills, it was very very time consuming.

Stanley Cup Playoffs Montreal 2014

Stanley Cup Playoffs Montreal 2014

Here we are enjoying a well deserved break at a Stanley Cup playoff game in Montreal! Go Habs Go! My husband thought his playoff beard was hot…you can judge for yourself.

We were on-call 24/7 for over a year. I am never doing that again unless ALL the rewards are going into my pocket, its just not worth it.

It did however allow us to save up the seed money to start working on our own business. We are now living in a condo in a beautiful small town in the Rocky Mountains called Canmore, Alberta.

So, now we are focusing on earning a living online and doing that via online affiliate marketing and network marketing.

You can check out my sites and I would love some feedback on any of them.

http://proteinshakediet.net

http://proteinisolatepowderreview.com

http://proteinisolatepowderreviews.com

My overall plans are to build a full scale web portfolio of as many affiliate sites as needed that will generate enough income to fund all my daily needs and also provide a source for scaling my business.

I have set a goal to get to at least $3k/month by the end of this year and I have 100% committed to make it work and never go back to working for someone else again.

I’ll keep you posted!

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The adventure beckons

The adventure is near. After several months of preparation and renovation, I have finally listed my house on the market! Yay! I was beginning to wonder if that day would ever come but now here it is. Hopefully we have a quick sale and are on our way to location independence soon.
We have spent the last few months telling our family and friends about our ‘plans’ which are pretty vague for sure but still they don’t seem to have any clue what we are talking about. I think the closest to understanding is actually my dad, not a category I usually place him in, so that’s interesting. Everyone else is baffled to comprehend the idea of not having a home base or about not having many worldly possessions. They seem to believe that that this is backwards and I guess to most capitalistic cultures that’s true. They also seem to think its about them. We have heard a lot of complaining about how we aren’t going to be around anymore, as thought we are going to drop off the face of the earth. Guess they haven’t heard of technology, it’s okay, we’ll enlighten them.
I try to explain it as downsizing without buying a house. Kids are grown, house is empty and too big, husband now officially unemployed so therefore time to go. Since my husband isn’t working its a great time to take a few months and travel and without a house we don’t have any bills so it’s way less expensive. Still most people think we’ve lost our minds..and maybe we have but I’m okay with that, this is not irreversible. This decision is just a progression of life and the next one might involve having a home base, who knows. I’m not taking it lightly but I don’t view it as life and death either.
This next chapter will open up our realm of possibilities and I am very excited about that!

Jo

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Change your habits, change your life.

I read a couple of really great books last week and I want to share some of the key points with you because they deal with the power of habit and the issue of procrastination which I think everyone struggles with at some point in their career and life.

Just let me start by saying that I read ALOT. I actually have trouble describing it as reading, its more like consuming or devouring. I also read really fast so it’s easy for me to go through two, three, or four books a week. I attribute my success in university to my ability to absorb content at lightening speed, I wasn’t smarter but I could actually get all the reading done. I actually have to put myself on a reading diet sometimes so it doesn’t become all consuming. Thankfully I have managed to transition to eReading because my house was starting to fill up with books. I wasn’t sure I could do it because of the real attachment I felt to the paper copies but it worked and I would never go back. I’ll come back to this transition in a minute but meanwhile onto the books.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg describes why we fall into certain routines and why we continue to do them, even when they become incredibly detrimental to our lives. His theory revolves around the idea that habits are formed in the primitive part of the brain and don’t involve conscious reasoning, somewhere just above breathing in the ‘fight or flight’ region. He hypothesizes that a habit has three parts, a cue, an associated routine, and a reward and that by creating some consciousness around those parts for a limited amount of time(two or three weeks) it is possible to rewire the brain into a desirable habit.

So let’s look at my reading habit as an example. The ‘cue’ for me to read something is usually a need for distraction. I generally look to buy a new book when I am stressed out about work or family, need a break from real life or just generally want to escape. The ‘routine’ used to be a trip to the bookstore to browse through the shelves and look for something appealing. I would pick up several books at a time, often a whole series, and take them home. The ‘reward’ was blissful escape from all life’s daily grind.

Now, the change I made to this habit was from paper books to ebooks and it happened pretty effortlessly but why? The ‘routine’ phase of the habit was disrupted so there should have been some resistance but there wasn’t. Instead of a trip to the bookstore all I do now is go online and download something. I often download multiple previews, read some reviews, and then ultimately pick something to purchase, all in a matter of ten minutes or so. I don’t miss the actual books and in fact have gotten rid of most of my physical collection.

According to Mr. Duhigg the reason it worked is because of the continuity of the ‘reward’. If the reward I was seeking was really a trip to the bookstore to browse the shelves and chat with other readers about the books or even just the collection of the physical copies, then my switch to eReading would have failed. According to him any habit can be modified by changing the ‘routine’ associated with the ‘cue’ and the ‘reward’. The only trick is to truly understand the underlying motivation. Fascinating stuff and I will be doing my own experiments for sure. One final tidbit is the idea of key habits such as exercise. A key habit has a wide reaching effect on other habits and areas of life so someone who manages to create a strong positive key habit like exercise will soon be eating healthier and become more productive at work. Food for thought.

The other book I read last week was The Procrastination Equation by Piers Steel. I was a little surprised to find many similarities in the two books but really procrastination is a habit of sorts, so it makes sense. Professor Steel’s theory is that procrastination is extremely detrimental to people and society because of the lost production it creates and that it is possible to train oneself to stop. His theory also connects procrastination to the same primitive brain area below conscious reasoning and links it to the concept of instant gratification versus delayed reward. He believes that success in modern society is often related to an ability to delay reward but that it is a relatively new phenomenon. His theory suggests that the people with the most procrastination trouble are also the most impulsive and so seek instant gratification. He actually created a mathematical equation that predicts the behavior of a procrastinator.

Boring chores like financial planning for retirement or writing a term paper due in four months are seen as tasks with long term rewards but no immediate benefit and are then delayed to the point where the benefit is closer. That’s why there are so many students who brew a pot of coffee and write their term paper the night before its due. Its also why the vast majority of people don’t have a will even though they know it will create problems for their family. The reward for writing a term paper at the beginning of the semester is the time gained at the end of the semester and that delayed gratification is not enough incentive for most students.

Professor Steel suggests trying some visualization techniques to retrain your thought process and end the procrastination. There is usually something that kickstarts the work at the last minute such as the looming reality that missing the deadline will result in public humiliation or a missed bonus cheque. So, the theory goes that visualizing that dreaded event in great detail with a few other added unexpected events will prompt an earlier start. For example, waiting until the last minute to work on a presentation but then being assigned an unexpected urgent report thereby making it impossible to complete the presentation. Visualizing the fallout of not having control over one’s time during the allotted last minute hours should prompt an earlier start. I actually did this awhile ago to help me get out the door on time. I imagine my boss and the the rest of the management team all sitting around the boardroom table, while I have to walk in ten minutes late and the total embarrassment I will feel. It works every time.

There are also an array of typical time management techniques with the most important ones being to remove distractions and excuses. Using internet browsing blockers, cleaning the clutter out of your workspace, and setting short deadlines are some of the tactics described. Really though the idea is to rewire the procrastination habit into a way to get things done better and more efficiently. All good suggestions for a huge procrastinator like me!

I chose these books because I am really trying to change my whole life routine from a nine to five gal to an entrepreneur. What I am finding is that the motivation to get down to work is really easy for some tasks and not so easy for others. I am not good at dealing with routine and I lose interest in the mundane pretty quickly so I need to find some tactics for powering through those types of chores. I am certainly going to give these techniques a try and would recommend these books to anyone looking for some solid tactics for making changes. Changing my whole life seemed a bit daunting but changing a few habits seems more reasonable and I see now can have some really positive effects on all areas of my life, so I’m up for the challenge. First habit on the list–exercise!

Jo

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Job security is a fallacy

My husband gets laid off from his job…

My husband received a layoff notice last week and I could not be happier. Ok, that may sound a little callous but this is exactly the kind of life event that will help us move forward. He has been nothing but supportive of my dream to pull up roots and hit the road as professional hobos but this gives some added support to the cause. At no point in the future will he be thinking, ‘Man, I wish I would not have quit my job and followed you on this crazy adventure’. There is no job to quit, so therefore no regrets! I think it’s awesome, probably for selfish reasons but whatever.

To be clear- he has not be even remotely happy at his job for well over a year and so this is really a good thing for him too!

I have read many articles and books where the author cites losing a job as the best thing that ever happened to them. It provides motivation, requires a review of priorities, allows time for reassessing career goals, removes the whole ‘bird in the hand’ dilemma, and is generally a time for free thinking. On the flip side it can create a whole lot of anxiety and fear about money and job hunting. I think in our case it has relieved him of the anxiety around quitting ‘sure thing’ income and it also makes it easy to explain to family and friends.

Job security is a fallacy anyway…

Until last week my hubby was still a believer, as many people are, that with a job comes job security. Somehow, despite the economic downturn and the associated mass layoffs, the mindset that your employer will look after you has remained stuck in people’s heads. The fact that most people will hold ten or more jobs in their lifetime seemed only to apply to Gen Y or the Millennials. However, even baby boomers and Gen X need to consider that it’s not the mindset of the employee that determines tenure, it’s really up to the employer. Just because you don’t want to change jobs, doesn’t mean you won’t be forced to and maybe more often than you’d like.
I believe true ‘job security’ is actually ‘career security’. What I mean by this is actually having a set of skills that make you employable, either at a company or as a freelancer so that you can be assured of a steady stream of income. Sitting in a cubicle putting in your time because you think you have ‘job security’ is a waste of time. I believe that your work should be a positive part of your life and that it should fulfill some of your basic needs to create or participate. Putting in your time, as work is so often described sounds like a jail sentence, no thanks. How about some some Heck yeah or no!
Which is exactly what both my hubby and me are currently working on. Now to pick the start date of our new career!

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Gimli Manitoba

Well not much writing got done in the past couple of weeks. The great flood of 2013 in Calgary took over all activities. Now we have headed to out to Manitoba for some sun fun and Mosquitos to celebrate Canada Day!

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Reinventing my career or myself?

I have made a lot of progress this week towards my new location independent career. I have two really good, or so I think, niche markets that I will be testing this week. If all goes well then I will launch them into full blown ebusiness sites in the next couple of weeks. A little market testing will hopefully verify my perception about what people need in the market right now. Stay tuned as I will certainly post the links here in my blog if I decide to do an all out launch.

Meanwhile, on the home front we met with our financial advisor last week and are getting our financial plan organized. This is just the tip of the iceberg though and the more I dig into what it takes to leave the country for six months or more, the more stuff gets added to the list! I plan to publish a complete list, maybe in a template format for other people to use, no use everyone inventing the wheel.

The house is really coming along with the decluttering. I feel lighter everyday as I purge more and more useless paraphernalia but there is still a long way to go. We want the smallest storage unit possible so we aren’t paying a fortune while we are away.

Our bathroom renovation has made some decent progress as well. I have secured the final two contractors and all the plumbing and electrical should be done by the middle of next week. Looks like I will be doing all the mudding and taping myself but a friend of ours has offered to help with the taping so that will help. It’s a lot of work but the cost is outrageous so we just have to do it ourselves. The target is to get everything done by mid-August.

Finally, as I go through this whole process of preparing to make this huge career change, it has occurred to me that this is really a total lifestyle change. This is going from worker to entrepreneur which requires a total mindset shift. This is more than just switching careers, which I have done before, and it’s really about reinventing the way I view the world. It’s a shift towards self sufficiency at its most basic level, a way of leaving behind the need to validate externally and just knowing that I am and will always be totally responsible for how I live.

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The Critical Path to a Location Independent Career

In my project management work I think a lot about the critical path. It’s the shortest possible route to a complete project and the length of time each of the tasks on that path will take determines the shortest possible time frame to complete the project as a whole.

I have started viewing my career and lifestyle change in this way and it has really helped me to clarify what I need to get done, in what order and given me a time frame to work towards. It’s somehow comforting to have a familiar frame of reference in which to place something that seems so foreign!

So to that end I have created an awesome mind map using an app called Mindmeister which has helped me to see the skills I need to learn immediately and those which I can aspire to in the future. I have jotted down my various online business ideas and determined which ones are first on the list. I have also set some revenue goals, with dates of course, and made a rough budget of business expenses so I can predict my cash flow.

Phew. With all of that chaos out of my head, I have some clarity of purpose and a real sense of possibility that this new career style and lifestyle isn’t that off the wall and can be approached in much the same way I always approach new plans. Is it life changing? Sure. Is it irreversible if it doesn’t work out? Not at all. This is not a life or death situation, it’s just a change. My perspective on that is usually very clear but was a bit lost and I am happy it’s back. I highly recommend using this kind of mind mapping process if you need to make plan but require something more than just a list.

So onto the events of the week.

This week turned out to be hugely productive. We had a massive garage sale and sold a ton of old junk that has just been collecting dust in our basement for years. My hubby was so excited about the sale that he has been listing stuff on Kijiji ever since and sold a whole bunch more of our bigger ticket items. This is great as I really think he could be a savvy eBay or Amazon storefront marketer and this just proves my intuition was spot on!

Our bathroom reno hasn’t had much progress but I think we have at least found a plumber and a solution to our drainage problem. If we could just get an electrician we would be styling. We have set a target of mid-August to list the house and since we have two weeks of vacation in that time frame also, we really have our work cut out for us.

Speaking of time frame..I figure if we list our house by mid-August we should have it sold by September and an October possession date is exactly right. We can leave right around Halloween which should be just when the snow starts flying. I am so excited!

On the business front, I finally found my first suitable keyword for the Niche-site Duel that Pat Flynn is leading and I applied for the Mastermind group as well. If all goes well I should have my first passive income niche site up and running within a week and (fingers crossed) some income in the next month. I am also working on my copy writing and SEO skills as these seem to be universally required, no matter what form of Internet business I end up pursuing and are certainly critical to niche site development.

That’s all for now. Do feel free to leave me a comment if you have any tips or thoughts!

Jo

‘No fate but what we make. Sarah Connor’

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Tapping into the Entrepreneurial Mindset

Well gap year preparations are in full swing around here which is really exciting to say the least! This week was spent working on our bathroom reno project which has officially moved from demolition mode to reconstruction mode and a serious decluttering also occurred. Next weekend is the community wide garage sale so we will take advantage of the free advertising and try to sell some stuff of our own. The goal being to get the house on the market ASAP.

Now that we are on our way to being homeless, I have really being thinking about how we are going to earn a living, especially at first while we build our Internet presence. Every Friday night my husband and I head for our backyard hot tub and have what we like to call Hot Tub Therapy. This consists of discussing anything and everything that is on our minds and making short term plans and long term goals. It’s my favorite time of the week.

This week’s topic was how to divide up the work of our new lifestyle business and he made a comment which was a bit strange to me. He basically wanted me to list all the tasks that were necessary for our business so he could pick which ones he would focus on. I am totally focused on categories of work such as administration, marketing, niche categories, banking and he is looking for daily tasks lists. I realized at that moment that we have very different perspectives of what this business means to us. He thinks like an employee and I think like the boss. This doesn’t truly surprise me I suppose, it’s not the first time I have been called bossy! It got me thinking though about what qualities are needed to have an entrepreneurial perspective and if it can be learned or if it just comes naturally.

I have always had a business owner perspective. I come from a family of business owners and serial entrepreneurs. My dad has seven siblings and every single one of them have been self employed for the majority of their lives. I owned my first business at age 21 and it seemed like the natural thing to do. I worked in the family business for many years and while I was technically an employee, I still felt an ownership of my areas of responsibility. Even now while I am clearly nothing more than an employee, I don’t feel the same need for ‘permission to act’ that is evident with other people. I run my division like I own it, within certain parameters of course but I am totally willing to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.

So, I did a little digging into the qualities required of entrepreneurs and here’s what I came up with:

1. Desire to succeed.
2. Resilience and persistence
3. Risk tolerant
4. Organized and able to plan
5. Persuasive and able to gather support
6. Self starter
7. Open minded
8. Confident
9. Creative
10. Passionate
11. Intuitive
12. Life long learner
13. Good communicator
14. Leader
15. Focused

These characteristics are a compilation of multiple articles and websites, mashed up into my own words. When I look at this list the thing that strikes me is that these are all the same qualities that a great employee would have too, so what’s the dividing line? In my opinion the really critical factor is risk tolerance. Once a person can cross the line of being dependent on someone else’s success to earn their living and are able to trust themselves to be successful enough to earn a living then an entrepreneur is born. It’s all a matter of taking ownership of that risk. As for me, I am ready to own it and as for my hubby..well he’s putting all his faith in me too!

Agree? Disagree? What do you think the one single factor is that moves someone from employee to employer? I would love to hear from you.

Jo

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May Long Weekend 2013

Just spent an absolutely amazing three days with my family and friends out in the western foothills of Alberta. We quadded, sat around the campfire, played washers and horseshoes, played with the kids, and just did all those great family bonding things that make life great. Here are a few pics of our time. We even saw a wild horse!

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