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living abroad increases creativity

Living Abroad Makes You Smarter: I’m not kidding!

living abroad increases creativity

Yet another thing to add to your list of reason why living abroad is a good thing: It might actually make your smarter.

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things.

Creativity, adventure and travel are three things that I am very passionate about and they all share one similar psychological characteristic. They all require you to be open to NEW EXPERIENCES.

If you are not open to new experiences than you should leave right now. I’m serious. Scoot, skedaddle. There’s nothing here for you to see. Go back to your boring routine and predictable life. On second thought, maybe you should stick around and see what you’re missing.

The Study:

People have speculated for a long time about the benefits of living abroad. Specifically, there have been claims that living abroad can increase your creativity.

Apparently, it’s no longer a theory but a proven fact with scientific data.

In a study conducted by researchers William W. Maddux (INSEAD) and Adam D. Galinsky (Northwestern University), when you live abroad, there is is a psychological change that you undergo.

It happens when you adapt to a foreign culture, learn a new language and struggle through culture shock while living abroad.

All of these things cause a shift in perspective, which opens your mind to new ideas and IGNITES CREATIVITY. 

My understanding of the benefits of living abroad.

No-one needs to tell me about the benefits of living abroad.

I’ve been traveling and living abroad since before I could walk and talk.  Even today, as i write this, i am living in another country. Only now i do it with my husband and three kids.

I do it for many reasons but mainly because i enjoy the benefits of travel and how it effects me, my thinking and I want my children to experience those benefits too.

If you have ever lived abroad or traveled for any extended period of time, than you also know the effect it can have on you.  It’s undeniable. It can be inspirational and open new doors in your mind and make you see thing in new ways.

If you haven’t lived abroad, think about your last vacation. Were you recharged when you returned home?  Did you feel more clear headed and motivated? Now multiply that by 100. That’s how it makes me feels.

Here are some examples of how my travels have positively effected different areas of my life.

  • My cooking: I have a distinct way of cooking food by fusing different nationalities cuisine together.
  • My Music: I can listen to African music, euro trash and Chinese opera. I love it all. I love the variety.
  • People: Having lived in so many places, I am open to different cultures and peoples customs. This helps me get a long with people from all walks of life.
  • Children: Seeing how different cultures raise their children has made me come up with creative solutions in raising my kids.
  • Conventional Wisdom: Seeing how different cultures live has made me question conventional wisdom. Which I think is  a good thin

Those are just some ways that living abroad has stirred in me a renewed sense of creativity and world views.  Lets take a look at how living abroad has effected other groups of people

Artists & Writers

It’s been common knowledge that living abroad can and has inspired great work from artists and writers. Have you ever heard of  Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso? Some of their most famous works were inspired by living abroad or done while living abroad.

Companies and Corporations

it’s not just artists and writers that benefit or do their best creative work after living abroad. Companies can can also benefit from hiring employees who have lived abroad or by sending people abroad to work In their foreign divisions. These individuals bring a different mind set. A more creative one that finds novel ways to problem solving resulting in an increase to a companies bottom line.

Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs also benefit from increased creativity after living abroad. This could explain why so many entrepreneurs have also lived abroad. If you have been keeping up with lifestyle design than you also know there is a a slew of solo-preneurs who take long term trips abroad and start successful online businesses, and blogs.

Corbett Bar of think traffic started working on his web based businesses(s) while living in Mexico with his wife. Adam Baker, of Man vs. Debt  travelled for a year and built a solid business around teaching people how to create a life they want to live while reducing their debt.

Finally there’s me. I’m starting my own business now while living in France.  In all my previous travels, i have always travelled to soak in a new culture. ( I should have been a cultural anthropologist or linguist). This time I’m using my time abroad to spark my creative entrepreneurial side.  The fact that you are reading these words now are an attestation to that fact.

How to reap the full benefits of increased creativity while living abroad.

Just living abroad doesn’t guarantee you increased creativity. According to William Maddux’s research, for you to receive the full benefit of increased creativity from living abroad, certain criteria have to be met.

  • Length of time: The longer that a person lives abroad, the more that person increases the likely hood that they improve their creativity.
  • Adaptation To Local Customs and Cultures: Exposure and adaptation to multicultural experiences such as different food, foreign friends, foreign music, language, customs, to name a few, is necessary to reap the benefits of living abroad.
  • Vacations Don’t Help: Merely travelling abroad on vacation does not receive the same benefits as living abroad because it doesn’t give you enough time to adapt to the new countries culture, customs and language.
  • AGE: The younger you go abroad, the more it effects and improves subsequent creativity.
  • Don’t stay in your bubble while abroad: Living abroad but only hanging out with your own countries expatriates will do nothing for your creativity. You have to mingle and adapt to the countries environment.

Points of interest:

So what happens after you live abroad? Does you creativity die or diminish? Well according to Maddux’s research, the effects of increased creativity are lasting. What’s interesting is something called priming. Just recalling your time abroad through a memory will show more subsequent creativity within the next 5 or 10 minutes when compared to someone who recalls going to the grocery store or being in their hometown.

In other words, when you reactivate the abroad experiences, it does seem to increase your creativity. Hallelujah!

Lastly and most importantly, living abroad is not the end all be all to increased creativity.  There are many ways to increase creativity. Living abroad is but one fun and interesting way to do it.

So there you have it. Scientific validation for the art and business world that going abroad might be the missing component to activating and stimulating your creative craft or entrepreneurial spirit.


How I Put My Adventurous Goals on Autopilot + Free Goal Setting Worksheet For Adults

Don’t let another dream slip away.

Today I want to share my Free goal Setting worksheet I use based of a system called S.M.A.R.T. GOALS. It not only helps me achieve my goals but it helps me achieve them faster and virtually puts them on autopilot.

But first, let me share my personal story of how I struggled to achieve my own goals.

Goals Are Dreams With Beautiful Legs : Annie Andre

GOALS and Aspirations

I only know of 2 ways to accomplish them.

So that’s what I’ll talk about.

  1. The Write it down method: Many people try this method but fail.
  2. The Just do it method: Pick goals as they arise and just do it (most people use this method to accomplish daily goals, small, short or long term goals and even big goals. (success does vary.New years resolution might be a good example of this method. “I’m gonna lose 20 pound this year” ).

JUST DO IT METHOD TO ACCOMPLISHING GOALS!

I admit, for the longest time, I only used the “JUST DO IT” method ( no affiliation to Nike) and still do for a lot of things. It’s a simple, powerful method and it can be effective. It’s worked well for many of my bigger goals and one off goals too.

However, it doesn’t do so well when you want to have an EPIC LIFE. ( I never use this word epic but thought you could relate). Well  Epic can mean many things. For me at the moment, it means reaching my maximum potential by accomplishing many goals and dreams in a specific amount of time. Not someday, not one day. NOW.

Lots of goals means juggling them all at once. Easier said than done.

Today I still use the “Just do it” methodology when appropriate but lately I’ve been a convert. Now I use a new system which, yes requires me to write down my goals. But it’s a structured system that virtually puts my goals on autopilot. I’ve definitely seen a huge difference in the success rate and amount of goals I’ve accomplished. This makes me feel more fulfilled and balanced.

Let me share with you a story which many of you will be able to relate too. It explains how I became a convert because frankly, I thought writing down goals didn’t work. I thought it was a waste of time and effort.

Writing your goals down is a waste of time if you don’t do it right! More on that later.

Setting Goals: In Survival Mode

After I divorced my first husband, I was left with 2 little boys to raise on my own with no child support, no help, nothing.

 _034

Raising kids in a 2 parent home is hard but raising kids as a single working parent is infinitely harder. Especially when you are struggling financially and maybe even emotionally.

I WAS IN SURVIVAL MODE

I didn’t have the luxury to think of anything but the bare essentials. This meant juggling work, career, the boys day care schedules, cooking, cleaning etc. Don’t forget the added stress of bills, lack of a social life and making sure my growing boys received enough play time and happy memories. I was constantly on GO GO GO GO !

It was a stressful time in my life and I lost a lot of weight. Almost to the point where I was a little unhealthy.

Me, Annie with sons Andre & Kieran
Photo above, I dropped to 115 pounds at 5 feet 8 inches.

Psychology Of Basic Needs

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it was only natural for me to want and focus most of my motivation around money, safety and my boys. I was focusing on my NEED FOR SAFETY

Maslow’s theory suggests that we have 5 levels of needs. The lowest being Physiological, then SAFETY, Love, Esteem and finally Self-actualization.

Only when the most basic level of needs are met will the individual strongly desire (or focus motivation upon) the higher level of needs.

Maslow_Pyramid_of_Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs

I was at the “SAFETY LEVEL”, just one level up from the most basic need which was physiological: breathing, food, water etc. This explains a lot.

I didn’t know it at the time but I was about to put some goals in place that would get me higher up the pyramid.

GOAL: Satisfy Your Basic Need for Safety

Different people go about satisfying their primal need for safety in different ways; sugar-daddy’s, stealing, the lottery, second jobs, more education etc. My plan to satisfy this need was simple.

GOAL #1: Just stick with my current job, work hard and accumulate experience. No real action required except to do what I was already doing. I was lucky that I already had a great job working as a foreign exchange hedging analyst. I knew that after the dust settled from my divorce things would get better WHICH THEY DID.

It wasn’t long until I was actually saving money, socializing and I even relaxed. But just a little because I still wasn’t at the point I wanted to be financially. I was still on a tight budget, and wanted to be just a little bit more secure. Which lead me to my second goal.   

GOAL #2: Change Careers and Industries then climb the corporate ladder in that new industry.  I had a great job but it DID not ignite a passion in me which made my job extremely hard to do.  I had a choice………………..

1- Climb the corporate ladder in my industry of Corporate Finance. OR………………

2-  Change careers and industries to work in the field I’ve always wanted to work in. In other words find my dream job and climb the ladder in that industry.

Naturally, I chose #2, to change industries to find my dream job. But it wasn’t easy.

Career Change: Goal Setting “THE “JUST DO IT” Method:

I instinctively used the “Just Do It” method to flesh out the broad strokes of my plan in my head.

Since I wanted a job working for a web related company in the area of analytics, I devised a simple but effective plan and started acting on it RIGHT AWAY!

Little by little, i started chipping away at the goal. Every night, after the boys were tucked in bed, I tip toed to my computer and devoured information veraciously. My plan was to teach myself everything I could about web analytics, search engine and keyword optimization, HTML, banner ad, click through rates, bounce rates, sales funnels the works.  I also started selling things on eBay which let me apply my learning to a real world situation. (this would prove to be a very smart and strategic move later on.  The eBay side hustle started out as a fun side business but grew to the point where i was sourcing things from overseas to resell.  I was even selling things for neighbors and put ads on Craigslist to sell things for other people. (Many people now do this).

THE BEGINNING OF AUTOMATION: Creating New Habits

Like an overzealous churchgoer, I did this routine rain or shine without pause for what seemed like an eternity but in reality was probably around 12 months.

Then something amazing happened. It became easier. I was getting really good, learning a lot AND making some side money by selling on eBay. Before I knew it, studying nightly and selling things on eBay became a ritual that was as easy as breathing.

Between the kids, work, studying and my eBay biz, I felt like an overstretched rubber band ready to snap. I made a strategic decision to quit my job to take a  career break and focus on my eBay business.  Not because I was making loads of money but  because I saw it as a valuable tool to give me the experience I needed to break into the web industry.

After a year of working on my Ebay business, I thought I had accumulated enough experience to look for a job in a company using my self taught skills and eBay skills.  I put up a super cheesy add on Craigslist as an experiment.

“ Rock star eBay Seller Ready To Rock Your Sales Off”

craigslist
Above photo not real add, for dramatization purposes only.
I can’t remember what the actual ad said, I just know it was over the top..

BOOM!  Within a week, I got a call from a start up company in Silicon Valley called Auctiondrop and they hired me.  It was the catalyst that helped me not only change my career but eventually led me to a new position where my salary increased beyond my actual goals.

Bigger Salary—> comfort safety—> check

New Job working for a web related company –> check

DIVERSIFY YOUR GOALS: Or you’ll be sorry

There’s just no pleasing me. I should have been content. Instead I felt unfulfilled because of one simple thing.

I didn’t diversify my goals.

I PUT ALL MY ENERGY AND FOCUS ON ONE GOAL: MY CAREER.I always meant too diversify and do more things outside work but never got around to it. This caused a severe bout of regret. Not diversifying your life goals also left me with some negative effects.

  • WORKAHOLIC: Ironically, I did such a great job of putting my goal on autopilot that it’s all I seemed to think about. I was turning into a workaholic with no life.
  • My life was unbalanced And that made me unhappy: I had safety but at the cost of my other hopes, dreams and desires. Now my life was all about work and my next salary increase.
  • BURN OUT: All work and no play. My life was unsustainable and eventually I got burned out.

Why the long story?

There are 3 things I want to point out in this story.

FIRST: The ingredients:

5 things helped me achieve my goals.   I might go so far as to say that one can’t exist without the others. They are….

1-DESIRE – 2-WILLPOWER – 3-A SYSTEM –4-STRUCTURE –>5-AUTOMATION.

Desire and willpower got me going but those only got me so far. it was the system, the plan that kept me on track when my willpower gave out and i was tired from lack of sleep and ready to give up. It was a simple plan but a plan nonetheless. Without it i might have just gave up. Structure was how i modeled my system, in my case it was through self education and giving myself experience. And finally, repetition over a period of time created automation and new habits After a while it didn’t even feel like work. Remember when I said studying every night just became my ritual as easy as breathing?

SECOND: Balance or unbalance:
Set goals throughout the different areas of your life. Not just work and money and not just at New Years. Otherwise you may end up feeling unfulfilled and unbalanced.

THIRD: You need a plan for your big dreams
The most important lesson I learned is sometimes you have to create your own opportunities. It’s hard work but it helps to have a plan in place to help.

As of late i’ve adopted a new methodology. The “JUST DO IT” method has served me well but as I said earlier, this has to be an Epic life going forward. Which brings me to the second chapter of my life. Where i am today.

Almost done, hang in there. We’re getting to the goal settign strategy soon

LESSON LEARNED:
FIND YOUR SWEET-SPOT IN WORK AND LIFE

sweet-spotThe good news is, I’ve learned my lesson.  I’ve since remarried and have a third child. If you read my last article, than you know that I’m once again in the hot seat and in a sense in survival mode.

Except this time I’m living out a lifelong dream and living in France with my husband and three kids. While we’re here, I want to do EPIC things (I don’t like that word epic but you get what i mean).

I am rebuilding a sustainable life around all my passions. I’m finding my sweet spot in work again and this blog has a lot to do with that . The kids are getting an education of a lifetime living here in France. I have a whole page full of goals I’m working on, there’s just too many things to list.

There’s one thing, doing EPIC stuff requires some planning and organization. So I’ve been using a plan to organize all my goals.

It’s a simple system that will take you 10 minutes to learn. It’s working for me and I want to share it with you. This is saying a lot coming from someone who once though writing out our goals was a waste of time. This plan is NOT for everyone but I think it’s definitely worth 10 minutes of your time to read and then another 10 minutes to try it out. It helps me stay focused, motivated and accomplish more of my goals. Plus it helps me automate my tasks making them habits. I find this last thing to be extremely important because once it’s a habit your mind just gets used to the idea of things and that’s when you go on autopilot.

What makes This system so special?

There’s nothing special about this system. In fact, it’s not even my system. It’s a compilation of a lot of research on my part.

Why research? I didn’t want to re-create the wheel so i set out on a mission to study what was already out there on this topic. I wanted to learn as much as I could about highly effective people and how they

1- Set goals that stick= To Accomplish Great Things

I also wanted to know……

2- The reason why so many people fail at accomplishing their goals and dreams.  Myself included.

2 Things Stood Out The Most In My Research

Amidst all the noise and all the information, I found horrible advice, fringe advice, weird advice, advice that was too complicated or too simple. But smack dab in the middle there was a general consensus on what most people were saying about goals and goal setting.

  1.  You need to make a plan for you goals (YEAH No Duh But How?)
  2. People sabotage their own goal setting efforts by doing / not doing certain things.( ooh interesting!)

Then I took everything I found and tailored it to fit my needs and I structured a goal setting system to combat 8 of the main reasons people keep sabotaging themselves from achieving their goals.

Write smarter goals

FINALLY- HERE’S THE SYSTEM

–> Write S.M.A.A.R.T.E.R. Goals

 

S.M.A.A.R.T.E.R., is a mnemonic acronym. Each letter represents one of the main mistakes most people do to sabotage their goals.

Maybe you have heard of this already because I did not invent it. I just tailored it to make sure that it combatted the main reasons why I might fail at accomplishing my goals. You can do the same too. If you want to learn more about it just click here  wikipedia.com.

 

Here is a table showing what each letter stands for and what mistake it solves.


ACTION SOLVES THIS MISTAKE
Specific
1- Write Specific Detailed Goals 1- Goals Are Too Vague
Measurable 2- Goals should me measure-able 2- You Don’t know when goals is achieved
Actionable 3- Should be actionable 3- No action to complete
Accountable 4- Tell Someone 4- Not accountable = No pressure
Recordable 5- Keep track 5- You don’t build momentum, get discouraged
Time Base 6- State time frames 6- No time limit, No sense of urgency
Evaluate
7- evaluate & revise as needed 7- Stick to goals w/out revising them as needed
Reward 8- Reward yourself 8- Don’t motivate self, lose momentum, give up

S. M. A. A. R. T. E. R. GOALS EXPLAINED

Below, you can read over the 8 explanations for each letter. If you understand why these 8 reasons are preventing most people from accomplishing their goals than you’ll have a better chance at avoiding these mistakes.

When you are done, if you want to give it a try, just scroll to the end to download the goal setting worksheet I created and give it go one goal at a time.

—- S = SPECIFIC —-

Self Sabotaging Mistake #1: Goal is too vague or general.

imageOne of the biggest reasons people tend to fail at achieving their goals is because they create goals that are waaaay too general or vague.

You must write a very descriptive goal like painting a mental picture including all the actions, time frame and anything else relevant.

EXAMPLE: Don’t just say:

“I want to lose 20 pounds” That sounds like a dream with no legs” like “wish I could fly”

YES: Do say:
” I will fit into a size 5 dress by losing 20 pounds by June. I’ll accomplish this by doing the following things:X,Y, Z.

HOW TO AVOID SETTING VAGUE GOALS:

Write your goals down. When you write out your goals using the S.M.A.A.R.T.E.R. method, you are in a way visualizing your goal and creating a mental picture or list. Not just some vague passing fancy. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!

TIPS FOR WRITING YOUR GOALS.

  • Write goal in the positive-What you really want is to look thinner and fit in a size 5 dress not just lose 20 pounds.
  • Try answering what, why, where, when, how, who, which. You don’t have to answer all of these for each goal. It’s just a guide.
  • Lastly, Now make sure your goals also conform to the 7 THINGS BELOW.

    —- M= Measurable —-

    Self Sabotaging Mistake # 2: Goal is not measurable.

    image

    If your goal is not measurable, how will you know when it’s completed? How will you stay on track?

    For some goals like weight loss, this will be easy.

    What if a goal is less tangible like “BE A BETTER PERSON”? You can’t measure that but you can measure the actions behind what you deem to make you a better person.

    For example: “I will be a better person by volunteering 3 times a year at the homeless shelter, take my kids out to the movies once a month and say hello to the postman every time I see him.” Do all that and you are golden.

    —- A= Actionable —-

    Self Sabotaging Mistake #3: You don’t give yourself actions or steps to take towards your goal.

     goal-actionsUsing my weight loss example, If you just say, “I want to lose weight”, not only is it vague and written in the negative, there are no actionable steps assigned to it. Nothing to track. No direction for you to start on your path. Just a vague wish to complete one day.HO HUM!

    If you say ” I will fit into a size 5 dress by losing 20 pounds by June. I’ll accomplish this by doing the following things:X,Y, Z.

    The X, Y, Z are the three actions you will do. Try to include at least 3 whenever possible.

    —- A= Accountable —-

    Self Sabotaging Mistake # 4: You Don’t make yourself accountable

    ACCOUNTABLEMaking yourself accountable is crucial to creating pressure on yourself to complete a goal.

    Remember when you were a kid? You were more likely to do your chores if your mom was pressuring to do it. That’s a form of accountability.

    HERE ARE 3 WAYS TO MAKE YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE:

     

  1.  Tell a few people about your goals.- No one wants to look bad. Try telling a select few people who will help keep you accountable. Tell someone who is going to kick your ass into action. Go read what Derek Sivers said about this here. Very interesting.
  2. Join A Group: Mutual accountability is extremely effective. I have first hand knowledge of this with a master mind group I belong too.. Believe me it really works. Other examples of groups are Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous. Look for one online.
  3. Make a bet: The competition may be just be what you need to keep you accountable and motivated.

—- R= RECORDABLE —-

Self Sabotaging Mistake # 5: You don’t record or track your progress

 goal-chartIf goal is measurable, it should be recordable. This is an important step in the goal process because It gives your mind something to work toward.

There’s just something psychologically motivating about seeing a bunch of X’s on the calendar indicating that you are one step closer to your goal.

HOW TO RECORD AND TRACK YOUR GOALS

There are lots of ways you could record your progress
Want Fancy: Here they areGoals On Track

Here are six free web apps.

If you want a more comprehensive system, I’ve been looking into something called Goals On Track. It’s supposed to help you organize and track goals for all aspect of your life from family and financial, to weight loss and kicking your smoking habit. It’s got chart, bells and whistles. It’s not free. The last time I checked, it cost around $5.00 a month but there is a money back guarantee.

Here are 6 simple way to track your goals.

  • Simple chart- Graph or Goal chart
  • Write or make an X in the squares of a calendar .
  • Keep a journal- example is a food journal.
  • Use a TO DO LIST
  • Pen and paper

—- T= TIME BASED —-

Self Sabotaging Mistake # 6: Your goal is not time based.

image

When will you start, how often will you do it. When will it be complete? These are all things you need to answer otherwise you may just never start. But there’s another added bonus.Sense of urgency.

Tick tock, tick tock. Giving yourself a limited amount of time not only tells you when to stop and start, it gives you a sense of urgency. Like studying for an exam at the last minute because you have to take the test in 2 hours eeeeeeeeek

photo via Undone clothing at etsy

HOW TO MAKE YOUR GOAL TIME BASED:

  • Simply make a start and stop date
  • Create a schedule:  Don’t just say “Join the gym”. Instead say: Join a gym by June and go 3 times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday”

TIP*Track your goals longer to make them into lifelong habits.

If you are trying to make something a habit or automatic, make your goal timeline long enough so that it sticks.  According to the Cancer Research UK Health Behavior Research Centre, it takes roughly 66 days to create new habits.  If you create a goal that involves losing weight and you want to also eat healthier long term, you should track your goal for at least 66 days. That action, in this case, of eating well, has a better chance of becoming a new habit. Hmmm that’s a long time but worth it I think.

—- E= EVALUATE —-

Self Sabotaging Mistake # 7: You don’t stop to evaluate and revise.

imageIf your goal is not working out what will you do?  Keep going? That’s not going to work, you’ll probably give up.

If you go to the gym 3 times a week and you’re not losing weight than adjust your goals. Go 4 times, eat more fruit, do whatever. Just adjust it so that you can stay motivated to continue.

Tip* Set a scheduled time to evaluate. weekly? Monthly?

photo via Elle moss at Etsy

 

—- R= REWARD —-

Self Sabotaging Mistake # 8: Your goal does not include a reward.

imageRewarding yourself is the best part of your goal. Studies show that by giving yourself small rewards, you will keep yourself more motivated pushing you closer to completing your goal.

IDEAS ON HOW TO REWARD YOURSELF:

When you create your goal chart to track your goals, decide when you will reward yourself. Every week, every 5 pounds you lose, every 100 dollars you save. Just decide up front what it is. Choose something meaningful.

DONE

That’s the S.M.A.A.R.T.E.R method.

How To tailor this system to you

There are a lot more obstacles that i could have put on the list but these were the main ones that MOST people struggle with and most don’t even know it. Recognizing those obstacles and putting them in your goal plan is the key.

Below are some example of things that might be your obstacle to setting effective goals.

Examples: Of other obstacles you might need to include in your goal making strategy.

  • you’re complacent-  I wrote about this in my last article 6 ways to kill complacency & how it helps me stick to my goals while in France
  • You don’t use your best work and rest cycles effectively: Don’t go to the gym at night if you have better workouts in the morning.Put it in your plan.
  • You’re Disorganized:
  • Distracted/ Busy / Sidetracked: Don’t pick a time to write your novel if the kids are whining. Adjust your schedule to make time for your goals. Reschedule your goal if you have to.

Now it’s time to create your S.M.A.A.R.T.E.R goals.

Tips: Here are some tips you should consider when you write out your goals.

  • Don’t get overwhelmed: Start small- Write a list of as many as you want but whittle it down to five or less and start taking action right away.
  • Be realistic with your time and goals
  • Break down bigger goals into smaller steps. I have a goal for business that is a small paragraph but a separate goals and task workbook for all of the different areas. Marketing, writing, researching etc.
  • Post your goals somewhere you can see them clearly. Mine are on the wall in front of my desk on a clipboard.
  • Continue to add new goals as you think of them. Do not just do them on new years.
  • Give your goals some wiggle room. Room to cheat. It’s better to cheat a little bit and continue on rather than stick to your goal and get discouraged and give up.
  • To make your life more balanced, try to work on goals from all aspects of your life. Don’t make all your goals about work. There’s relationship, kids, garden, house, work, chores etc.

READY –>GO  SET –> GOALS

Download the SMAARTER GOALS WORKSHEET HERE

It does come with a detailed description of the 8 most common mistakes people make.
The actual worksheet is on the last page.

S.M.A.A.R.T.E.R. Goals Worksheet


Good Luck, if you have any suggestion or tips that have worked for you, than share them in the comments area below. If you try the worksheet, I would be interested to know what you think. I won’t be hurt. Not all systems work for everyone. I only tried this system myself as an experiment and was surprised that it worked. Guess it pays to be adventurous and try new things HUH?


Complacency Kills your dreams. it's a virus

6 Ways To KILL Complacency + How Killing It Helps Me Stick To My Goals In France

Does this sound familiar?

This is going to be the best year eeever.

I’m going to lose 10 pounds,

be a better person,

do the splits,

start a business,

write a book

and… and… and

Complacency Kills your dreams. it's a virus

Self Portrait Living In Montreal wearing my handmade sleeping mask. So tired

Sounds like your typical goal or New Years resolution doesn’t it? Oh YE of little faith. It may sound like yet another vague goal or passing fancy but it’s not.

Not this time. I swear. You’ll see

DEADLY DREAM KILLER

Everyone has goals in their life. Some we accomplish while others stay on our to do list forever. There are a lot of reasons why we don’t accomplish our goals. I just want to talk about one.

COMPLACENCY

Complacency is like a deadly virus dormant in your system ready to kill your goals and dreams.  It has the power to rob you blind of of new experience, positive change and personal growth.

The worst thing about complacency is that the infected person is usually unaware that he or she is at risk because they feel no pain. Typically you’re in your comfort zone.  There are signs that you may be at risk, you just have to look for them, be aware of them and most importantly take action.

com·pla·cen·cy       noun                  \kəm-ˈplā-sən(t)-sē\self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies


So how do you kick complacency to the curb and accomplish more of your goals in life?

How do you really suck the marrow out of life?

I’m not sure how other people do it but i know how i am going to.

First: By Goal Setting: I use a strategy and road map which I created after i did lots of research on this topic.

Second:  I kicked complacency to the curb: Then I kicked it again and again and again until it was nothing but a bloody stump on the side of the road.

catherine-holding-sign

Catherine in San Francisco on Mothers Day. Getting ready to eat Dim Sum

Disclaimer *I’m Not A Goal Guru*

If this is your first time here, you should know that I AM NOT an expert goal setter. I struggle just as much as the next person but somehow i figure out ways to take action and get things done, just not all the time.

I accomplish the things I do because I convince myself I have to. That’s IT!

chalkboard_rocketscience

Rocket Science

Now that  the disclaimer is out of the way, I’ll get back to explaining how i am accomplishing more of my goals.

First: I Came Up With A Set Of Attainable Goals And Built A Strategy Around How I Am Going To Accomplish Those Goals.

Setting goals isn’t rocket science. Yet every year, thousands, maybe even millions of people like you and me do something pretty typical. WE SET GOALS and PROOOOOOMISE ourselves that we’re going to accomplish them only to fall short or fail completely. Myself included.

I wanted to give myself a better chance at achieving my goals so i set out to study the psychology behind why people suck at sticking to their goals.  I did lots of homework, research and tons of reading to understand  why so many smart, well intentioned people set goals and fall flat on their face. Then I built a system around combating those reasons most people fail.

You can view the system by going to this article: How I Put My Adventurous Goals on Autopilot + download sheet

Second: I Kicked Complacency To The Curb By Playing Mind Games With Myself

As I explained earlier, complacency is like a virus which can really hinder you from reaching your full potential because when you are complacent, you are comfortable or satisfied.   Sometimes when you are too comfortable, you settle for what you have even though you may want more.  The only problem is there’s nothing really motivating you to change or improve your situation.

To me this isn’t living to your full potential. I might even go so far as to say that settling is kind of like living in mediocrity. Sure your life is good but is it great? Are you excited to wake up everyday?

To motivate yourself, sometimes you have to create a self imposed sense of urgency to kick yourself into action.

Bye Bye Complacency: How We Killed Complacency

That is the situation my family is in now. Our  “complacency mentality” is gone and guess what? I feel a sense of urgency which has triggered in me a sink or swim, all or nothing mentality.

We are not in a life or death situation but my families financial security and to some extent our future happiness depends on the success of the goals I (we) want to accomplish.

Adding to our urgency is a time limit. we have less than 10 months to accomplish some of our goals.

Tyler Tervoon over at Advanced Riskology did something similar a few year back when he also eliminated complacency by removing his safety net. His goal was to motivate himself to improve his situation after he lost his job. Hint, it has to do with him not taking anymore unemployment checks. WOW.

So how exactly do you kick complacency to the curb and motivate yourself into action?  I have 6 ways you can do this.

Before I share them with you, let me first share my adventurous journey and how and why we put ourselves in the hot seat. I hope it helps you understand what lengths you can go to accomplish your goals.

Just remember there’s a balancing act you need to master and it’s going to be hard because it involves balancing risk taking and feeling safe.

If you prefer to skip our story than you can just scroll down to read the 6 ways you can kill complacency.  just scroll down.

Turning Point: A little bit of back story

son and brother in law washing windshield of one of the penske trucks

Son Kieran and brother-in law stop to clean a bug infested windshield on their drive across country to storage unit in Boston. Blake is in the other truck and I’m in Montreal waiting with my 2 other children.

Around the beginning of January 2011, my family was at a turning point in our lives.

Both my husband and I were unemployed (thank you bad economy) and we were living out of our suitcases like a pack of vagabonds on the east coast.

3 months earlier we left our California home and expensive lifestyle to look for jobs and a lower cost of living on the east coast. I sold some of our stuff on ebay or craigslist and got rid of other stuff. We put the stuff we wanted to keep in 2 Penske trucks and drove them across the country to a storage unit just outside of the Boston area. We decided to stay with family and friends until Blake could find a job and then settle down wherever that job was.

We really thought that a job was just around the corner. Before we knew it, 2 months turned into 3, than 4 and then we just resigned to living like semi-nomadic vagabonds.

To make matters even stickier, we had to road school the boys because we had no physical address.  We also had to lug around my sewing machine, and fabric because I was trying to run my handmade sleeping masks business on the road.

To say that we were busy is an understatement. It’s amazing how far you can push yourself when you need to.

The Pressure Gets To Me

Back to my turning point: In January after living like that for 4 months, it felt like we were just winging it. Hoping a job would materialize because that’s how it’s always been.

It was extremely hard to be in that position with a family in tow and the pressure was getting to me. Although i hoped Blake could find a job, deep down i knew we had to do something fast before it was to late.  I started thinking and asking questions like ..

Settle somewhere with no job?

Where? 

If we do settle what if we still can’t find jobs?

Then What?

Do I Grow My Sleeping Mask Business?

Do we work at Starbucks?

AHHHHHH!!!!

storage

The storage unit outside of Boston. WAAAAA!!!!

Than one evening after many nights of that endless loop of questions I finally had an idea. It was while my husband and I were siting up in bed reading. I quickly turned to face him and blurted out my idea. I must have been frustrated or just sick of living in limbo and vagabonding because I don’t blurt, not like that.

I said..……

Blake, let’s do something crazy.

No more searching for jobs for a while or working for the man.

Lets get a FRESH START.  Lets create our own jobs and rebuild our lives so that it’s more fulfilling.

And lets do it in France

To my surprise, Blake didn’t scoff or raise an eyebrow. I think I half expected him to tell me to shut up and go to sleep.

I could tell by his reaction and his expression that he was actually considering it which of course made me feel less crazy.

The next morning, I thought the novelty of it would wear off but it didn’t. After about a week we were still keen on the idea and by the end of January 2011, we decided we were going to do it.

We were moving to France for a year to get a fresh start.

france_map

It’s a map of France PEOPLE!!!

I was so excited, I felt like a cliché. I felt like I had found a new purpose and a new lease on life.

Naturally my mind was buzzing with all the possibilities.

Woo Hoo.  No more packing our bags or lugging our stuff from one relatives house to another. No more unloading and reloading the car. No more wandering.

We had the beginnings of a plan.

A whole year in France to work solely on building a better, more sustainable life while also exposing the kids to another culture. I had already lived abroad several times so I knew how exhilarating living abroad can be, especially for moral and motivation. At least that’s how it was for me.

Naturally I started making a mental list of objectives and goals we needed to accomplish while in France. The biggest of which was to be self employed or at least be able to telecommute to work. .

“Go for the moon. If you don’t get it, you’ll still be heading for a star.”

Willis Reed

Miscellaneous Goals I wanted to achieve while in France

    • Create a business: Become a innerpreneur. Basically I wanted to build a small business around my interests and talents. Preferably a business that helps others and one that I can run from anywhere in the world. This meant no more handmade sleeping masks for the moment. (2 months later this website was born.)
    • Stay in Shape: -Fit back into a bikini again and see if that six pack is still there. Ok, maybe just a four pack. These damn last 10 pounds are a bitch to lose.
    • Build a stronger relationship with my kids: -Just so you know, the teenage years are filled with angst. Just you wait. They don’t stay young and adorable forever.
    • Continue to build a strong relationship with my husband.
    • Experience and do more NEW things in my life. In other words, get out and do shit. Take more risks in life. Having kids and living in the suburbs kind of turned me into an overly practically and risk averse person even though my true nature is to be more adventurous.
    • Work on my bucket list -Try to accomplish all the things that I keep saying I’m going to do but never get around to doing because I created this unsustainable life that required me to work crazy hours to afford it..

That’s part of my list and all the things I wanted to do while in FRANCE

FIRST WE HAD TO GET TO FRANCE!

Even though I had already successfully lived abroad for extended periods of time, it was crucial to my business idea that we go as a family. I didn’t want to be one of those gurus who preach something that they themselves had no experience in. I hate, no I abhor that. It’s like all these internet marketers claiming they can teach me how to make thousands of dollars a month when they haven’t made a dime.

DESPICABLE!. But I DIGRESS.

It was not quite as easy as we thought it was going to be…

  • Phase 1 of Operation “FRESH START” DONE!

    imageIt took us about 8 months from the time we decided to move to France until the day our visas were approved.

It was a huge undertaking both logistically, financially and emotionally for all of us.

We had to jump through hoops, do mountains of paperwork, take care of our belongings, find lodging, pack, get insurance all while we were living like semi-nomadic vagabonds and road schooling the kids. I could write a book about how to move abroad. ( I might just do that).

In the weeks leading up to the day our visas were approved, we literally almost gave up on several occasions. We argued, fussed, we were all irritable. Believe me when I say getting here was quite a coup and it truly does feel like a dream come true. I still can’t believe it. You can read about it by clicking here

Phase 2 Of Operation “Fresh Start” In Progress: Complacency is gone

NewLifeInProgress

If you have some goal you need to accomplish but keep putting it off, consider removing complacency to motivate yourself  into action. It’s like being in a hot seat where  failure is not an option. .

That’s where we are at today.

Our visas are good for one year. We  have roughly 10 more months left on our visas. It’s taken us a little over 2 months to settle and do things like get the kids in school, open French bank accounts, get supplies and other logistics etc.

I feel motivated to make stuff happen because we’ve essentially removed our safety net and have a time limit of 10 more months.

How could I NOT feel motivated. Kicking complacency to the curb is the best motivator

Don’t worry, there are less daring ways to kick complacency aside. I’ve rounded up a few ideas on how you can create an artificial sense of urgency thereby removing complacency.

FINALLY HERE THEY ARE.

6 WAYS TO KILL COMPLACENCY AND MOTIVATE YOURSELF INTO ACTION

Here are a few ways you can remove the “complacency mindset”: In other words, keep yourself engaged, interested and motivated.

happycatherine

Catherine Motivated to run fast. In front of our home in Belmont California

1- Join a support group:

A support group is an engaging way to share your experiences with others and get support when you feel weak, stuck or unsure and need a little boost. It also gives you a sense of belonging which can help at least get you motivated to accomplish your goals. I have never been in a support group. Theoretically it seems like it could motivate you right? Isn’t Alcoholics Anonymous a support group, Jenny Craig.

2- Create Or Join A Master Mind Group

The concept of the Mastermind Group was introduced by Napoleon Hill in the early 1900’s. In his book entitled, “Think And Grow Rich”

A mastermind group is like having your own little mini boardroom of peers. Each person has their own strengths and we all help each other with our objectives. As far as I know this is used primarily for business. To me, this seems very closely related to a support group for business.

I have first hand knowledge of the power of a mastermind group. It’s a great motivator and keeps me accountable in my business. I meet with 4 other people over Skype every 2 weeks. We share ideas, ask for advice, talk about issues or problems we are dealing with or just connect on a personal level

3- Competition

Create a competition with others or yourself. Get creative. This is a sure way to get your lazy bones into action.

I used to work for a company with lots of guys. Guys are always competing. It’s in their nature. 2 of these “upper management” guys were over weight and wanted to shred some pounds so what did they do?

They made a bet to see who could lose the most weight. Guess what, it was the motivation they needed and they each proceeded to lose weight, exercise and eat well. I was actually impressed.

4- Tell People

Telling people some goal you want to accomplish is a great way to get rid of complacency and motivate you. No one wants to look bad in front of other people right? Just make sure you tell someone whose opinion you actually care about. Don’t just tell the mailman.Telling someone who will kick your butt into action would be best.

5- Hardship

Hardship is a fantastic motivator that squashes complacency like a pancake.  Did you know that more people start there own businesses during a recession or after getting laid off than any other time?  I know this first hand. I created two home businesses during times of hardship. One was after my first marriage ended.  The second was when I was laid off. Before those two incidences, I really wanted to start a business idea i had been mulling over but I was just too comfortable making damn good money at a 9 to 5 job.

6- Set Goals And Reward Your Self

Lastly, setting goals can help you kick complacency but you have to stick to it. Rewarding yourself at intervals for each little success is a good motivator. This is exactly what I’m doing for my goals.

If you would like to see the system I use to make and follow my goals than read the next article.  I’ll also make and publish my goal setting worksheet for you too use or just eye ball it and feel free to modify it to suit your own needs.

Bye for now, I’m off to work on some goals. Below is link to the goals worksheet.
Next article- How I Put My Adventurous Goals on Autopilot– Download the SMAARTER GOALS WORKSHEET HERE Includes instructions


How To Teach Your Kids To Be Adventurous: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Not all gifts come wrapped with a bow. Some gifts are less tangible. Some gifts keep on giving years after we are dead and gone.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Each and every one of us has some combination of traits, characteristics and interests that make us who we are. But how did you turn out to be the way that you are? As far as I can tell it’s from a combination of your Parents and outside influences.

PARENTS

If you’re like me, than one of the single biggest influences in shaping you, your morality and your character development can be directly attributed to your parents, your family or some other mentor in you life.

Thanks Dad: My father shaped me into who I am and who gave me the greatest gift of all. A gift that I carry with me everywhere. This gift gives me the confidence to live my life to the fullest in a way that makes me the happiest.  My dad gave me ….The gift of an “ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT”.

His name was was Jean-Louis Andre and he was born on December 21st 1929. I always miss him the most right around Christmas time and remember this precious gift that I still carry around with me.

OUTSIDE INFLUENCES

Sure there were other outside forces that helped in the process of your character development like, school, church, friends, sports or other various activities. However, these other things most likely had a fractured influence on you.  The real meat of your essence probably comes from your parents or some parental like figure or mentor.

Passing On Values: The Secret Sauce

With regards to my own children, my biggest hope for them is to live their life to the fullest with fewer regrets in life? I think the best gift I can give them is to help shape them into humans who are not afraid to live a little adventurously once in a while. But how the heck DO you teach your kids to be adventurous, take risks and try new things?

To answer this question, I had to think back to my own childhood and examine my own fathers childhood too. 

Daddy’s Girl

The easiest way for me to explain how my father instilled an adventurous spirit is to show you by telling you a little about my father and my upbringing. Like most parents, my dad taught me the typical things parents wanted or expected of their children.

  • Be practical, pragmatic and well grounded
  • Don’t lie, steal or cheat.
  • Work hard, study hard, do you chores
  • Treat others the way you want to be treated and try to help others as much as you can
  • yada yada yada.

MODELING: Be a role model

What amazes me is that he was able to instill in me my adventurous sprit without using words. He never said  “Annie, I want you to travel and see the world”. Or “ You need to take more risks and try new things even if it’s scary”. In fact, he never said anything even remotely like that AT ALL.Yet, I always tried to be a little different as a girl. My first scary thing I did when I turned 18 was to pack a bag and move to Japan for 3 years.

I am convinced that it was my fathers actions and the way he lived his life outside of conventional wisdom that influenced me and shaped my adventurous side. NOT HIS WORDS

He didn’t know it, but by simply living his values and life the way he did, he was MODELING.  NO, not fashion modeling. Modeling is a phenomenon known in  social sciences where your actions are a bigger influence on someone than your actual words. For instance, there have been studies done that show that children are over 80% more likely to buckle up if their parents buckle up too. Yes, an actual study was done on this.

I’ve seen this same powerful influence of modeling happen with  my own kids.

When I was learning how to bake, that’s all I did for a month. I baked cookies from scratch day and night until I got the knack for it. Now my middle son and my 4 year old daughter love to bake too. They are really into the whole process of baking it’s kind of cute. My son Andre even thinks he might want to be a pastry chef one day. A mom can only dream.

When I taught myself to sew and started making cute little handmade sleeping masks for my business, my son took up crocheting. Yes, boys crochet too ok. Don’t hate! All my kids have a kind of DIY, tinkering nature about them. Which I think is FANTASTIC!

sleeping_panda eye mask

My own father influenced my adventurous side by living his life as a daring adventure. It had such an impact on me that it’s something that I have striven to do also for most of my life.

udon Thani Thailand

FOR EXAMPLE

My DAD: He was a world traveler who lived abroad in Thailand for over a decade back in the 60’s and 70’s. This was before it was considered cool and trendy and before the word lifestyle design became popular.

ME: From the age of 10, I already yearned to travel and see the world.

  • In high school I begged my father to send me to Montreal to live with my aunt so I could attend a French high school. Which I did. it was the next best thing to going to Europe for me.
  • At 18, I left to live in Japan where I worked doing odd jobs so that I could travel through Asia and Europe for 3 1/2 years.
  • Now after four years of college, over a decade in the corporate world, 3 kids and 2 marriages, my husband and I are living in France on a family sabbatical of sorts with our three kids.

Rewind: Dying the way you lived

It wasn’t just his travelling that influenced me. It was the things that he accomplished, the way he lived and even the way he died.

Death: Years ago, when I was 21, my dad tried to be a good Samaritan by stopping the getaway car of a robber who had just robbed our local grocery store.  He was struck and thrown 30 feet in the air and landed on his head. He died 3 days later from massive head trauma leaving me and  my then 14 year old brother alone in the world.

Life: he lived a life that he wanted to live and as a result, he was a bit unconventional in his ways.

Not only was he a world traveler, he also had a pilots license, owned a single engine plane, lived abroad in several Asian countries totalling almost 15 years and spoke 4 languages. French, English, mandarin Chinese and Thai. I have photos of my dad climbing coconut trees, holding snakes and doing things that most people from Canada or the U.S. just didn’t do in the 60’s and 70’s.

Being Adventurous in spite of…But how DID he get to be so adventurous?

As far as I can tell, my dad lived adventurously in spite of his parents. Maybe it was because of the times he grew up in that lead him to be more adventurous. At this point I am only speculating.

He grew up DIRT POOR in Quebec Canada. When I say poor I mean like depression era poor, where they only had one frying pan in their house and didn’t always have enough to eat.  At 15, he left his home to go live and work on his grandparents farm to earn some money. I think that one act alone,  of leaving his home as a teenager might have been the catalyst that propelled him and gave him the courage to travel even further and live his life more adventurously.

Around the age of 22, he left Canada and immigrated to Boston Massachusetts in the U.S. where he learned to speak English.  I still remember his funny Bostonian and French accent that was so uniquely him.

Eventually he joined the military to get an education in engineering. Somehow he ended up a pilot and working in Thailand for the airforce in a city called Udon Thani.  He lived in Thailand for over a decade and married my mother who was Thai. I was born a few years later in the 70’s and lived in Thailand until I was almost five years old. Ironically, my first language is Thai, but I no longer speak it. (Use it or lose it people)

image

Fun fact: About my  place of birth:

If you are not familiar with Air America or Udon Thani Thailand, there was a movie loosely based off of this operation called…Surprise “Air America” starring Mel Gibson and Robert Downey JR. You can read more about the Air America operation here on Wikipedia.

Living Like An American

We left Thailand and settled in California after my mother passed away in a bus accident. Dad tried to live a conventional life. Perhaps more for my sake than his. Or maybe it was because he had had his fill of travel and adventure. I’ll never know.

Trying to blend in

Despite his best efforts to blend in, dad couldn’t resist the pull of his adventurous spirit because although we lived in the suburbs and he had a great job as an engineer working at National Semiconductor, we didn’t always live, act or look like typical Americans.

For starters, dad remarried a woman who he met in Taiwan. (Dad went to Taiwan often to train his counterparts.)  Her name was Shew Chang and she raised me until she passed away when I was 14. (Yes, there were a lot of deaths in our family.  It made for a very international and eclectic household: Try as they might, we didn’t always fit the classic image of the American household.

My Unconventional Childhood Home

Growing up all I ever wanted to be was normal. I thought we were anything but normal and I was embarrassed of my family because of our differences.  image

  • Birthday parties were horrible as far as I was concerned.  I hated the fact that my dad didn’t have hot dogs and hamburgers and cake at my birthday party like Vicki V. did at her party. Nooo, we had to have Pad Thai and garlic with black bean crab with a mung bean desert. Not exactly a child friendly meal in our neighborhood.
  • Instead of camping in the back yard or at camp sites, we spent summers in Thailand or Taiwan.
  • On one of our summer trips abroad,  Instead of a dog, I got a pet monkey. image
  • Exotic for us wasn’t Mexican food, but rather fish eyeball soup, chicken feet and turtle soup. “YES I know, not good”.
  • Instead of Billy Joel,  Bruce Springsteen and Pop music, I loved Asian Pop and Euro trash.
  • Instead of baking cookies, we made Asian dumplings and had Asian dumpling making parties.

I could go on and on.

Appreciating the difference

Needless to say, I wasn’t very popular in school. I didn’t really fit in with the Asians and I didn’t fit in with all the white kids. (that’s the major down fall of being a Hapa as the Hawaiians call it.) But I can appreciate it now for what it is.

I’m glad that I didn’t have a typical upbringing. Growing up different than others around me was in a way, my own little adventure and it gave me the confidence I have now to make life choices that might go against the social grains of our society.

What Can The Average Person Do With Their Kids

Which brings me back to my original question of “how the heck to teach kids to be more adventurous”.

Well, you don’t’ have to do anything extreme like travelling and spending summers in Thailand, Taiwan or move to France: unless that’s what tickles your fancy. You can do small little things everyday to instill a sense of adventure simply by doing new things or exploring the unknown. You might already be doing this without even knowing it Just like my parents did for me.

  • Introduce foreign foods to your kids. I’ve been feeding my kids cuisine from all over the world since they were born. As a result, I don’t have very many problems with my kids eating habits. They eat just about anything including Kimchee the stinky Korean cabbage.
  • Sign them up for a sport. My kids didn’t do much basketball or football. We lived by the San Francisco bay so they took part in a youth sailing program. Sports are a great way to instill a sense of outdoor sports adventure.
  • Learn a language together for the fun of it. Japanese, Arabic or ???? I was lucky, I already spoke French so I’ve been teaching it to my kids since they were young. My youngest daughter is fluent in French and probably speaks better French than English. Had I not spoken French, I might have learned a second language alongside with her. You can do a self paced lesson with software programs like Rosetta Stone.
  • Give your kids music lesson: Instead of piano, what about an accordion?  Ok, that’s my dream. That and the musical saw. Don’t ask.

These are just a few of the many things you can do to grow your kids adventurous spirit.

Not only will it be fun and interesting. It will give them the confidence to be more intentional with their life choices rather than letting life slip by.

I may also give them the confidence and guts to be adventurous and live outside of the conventional bell curve so that they can create a life based on who they are, not what society tells them they have to do or how they are supposed to live.

BEST GIFT EVER

My Family Photo Annie AndrePassing on my adventurous spirit to my kids is the best gift I can give them because I know they will remember it long after I’m long gone just I like I remember my own father.

Thanks Dad. I wish you were here today to see me and your 3 grandkids. I love you!

Merry Christmas Everyone From Our Family To Yours

French: Joyeux Noel, Chinese: (Mandarin) Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan, Thai: Sawadee Pee Mai, Japanese: Shinnen omedeto

 

2011 Annual Review Looking Back: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly!

Do you set most of your goals in your head or do you write them out and review them at year end?

I’ve never really been one for annual reviews except when I had to fill one out for work at the end of the year.

They always seemed pointless.

looking back

Up until last week, I kept all my goals up in my head. But now I’m starting to wonder if I could accomplish more by making a formal plan and reviewing it every so often?

Turning Over A New Leaf

This coming year,  I want to try something different. I want to really work on goal setting and doing an annual review to see what worked and what didn’t work in my life.

As I said earlier, I keep all my goals in my head, so this past year I didn’t write out my goals at the beginning of the year.  That doesn’t mean I can’t write out what worked and what didn’t and compare it to what I have logged in my head. This will also help me write a real, detailed plan for my 2012 goals and then I’ll have a written version for next year end .

I hope that in looking back at my successes, failures and shortcomings, I can become more aware and intentional in my choices and adjust accordingly.

The System

I don’t want a complicated system, just a high level over view of the good the bad and the ugly. If I make it too complicated, I know I won’t stick with it so I decided to take Chris Guillebeau’s format for an annual review.

His method is simple and concise. Ask yourself these two simple questions

  1. What went well this year?

  2. What didn’t go well this year?

“Answering these questions is an easy way to begin the process of being intentional about your choices in the forthcoming year. “

Alternatively, if you want a little bit more help to review your year and plan for the next than you should download this free worksheet my Friend Benny Hsu over at Get Busy Living Blog  made. Get it here, it’s free and really helpful

Here I go!!!!!!!

What Went Well For Me In 2011?

FRANCE:

The biggest thing that went well for me and consequently for my family is that in January of 2011, my husband and I set out on a goal to take our three kids, aged 15, 13 and 4 to live in France for at least a year. After 7 months of planning and living like vagabonds with no home and being unemployed our visas were approved on September 25th 2011. We flew to France less than 2 weeks later on October 5th 2011.

I’m super happy about this because moving to France has been a dream of mine that I never thought I would be able to accomplish after I had kids.  It wasn’t easy though.  I had to convince my husband, persuade the kids, arrange the visas, find lodging, figure out where to stay while we waited for our visas and homeschool the kids while living between family and couch surfing for a year. Phew…. But we’re here now and I love seeing the world through my kids eyes.

Survived A Year Of Vagabonding With Three Kids In Tow

2010-02-11_storage_00053

In October of 2010 we set out to move to the east coast to find jobs but ended up vagabonding and living semi nomadically between Montreal and Maryland for most of 2011. We somehow switched gears when we realized how bad the job market was and decided not to settle down until we found jobs. So we ended up vagabonding between Montreal and Maryland for close to a year.

Living semi-nomadically was stressful but it was also fulfilling. we got to travel, stay with both sets of family’s. Mine and my husbands and we learned just how hard we could push ourselves as a family.  It was necessary for us to experience it, otherwise I’m not sure we would have taken the next step and set a goal of moving to France for a year.

Reconnect With Family

aunthuguetteFor about 8 months my family and I lived in my aunt’s home in Montreal. My aunt is 80 years old and she’s the closest thing I have to a mother since both my step mom and birth mother passed away before I was 16.

With the exception of my younger brother, all the family I have in the world live in Montreal Canada.  By staying in Montreal, I got to connect with cousins, have family diners, do Christmas and Canadian Thanksgiving. It made 2011 just spectacular for me. Best of all, my 3 kids got to meet their extended family and improve their French.

Prior to 2011 we (my kids and husband) lived isolated in California with no family around. It made for lonely holidays and no family get togethers.

I also have a whole other side to my family that live in Thailand but I’ve lost touch with them due to language barriers and the fact that they are dirt poor and don’t have computers. But I digress.

I absolutely love having had the chance to spend so much up close time together. Never ever neglect or take your family for granted.

Blogging For Business And Life:

www.annieandre.com Practical adventurology

I started my blog Practical Adventurology at www.AnnieAndre.com as a way to help other adventure challenged people stuck in the grind re-learn how to live more adventurously;  something I lost after college when I started down conformity lane taking jobs I hated and measuring success by title and money.

My blog is my attempt at combining all my passions into one. It’s part business, part travel, part inspirational personal development with an emphasis on being more adventurous because life is just too damn short.

I Connected And Networked With New People:

I’m kind of a micro manager and a loner.

Connecting with people has not been my strong point. In 2011, I made a point to reach out to people.  This is huge because In the real world, I don’t know a lot of people who have had the same views or goals as me so I don’t get a chance to share my views very often.

Online, there are a plethora of people who get what I’m about and vice versa.  I have a wanderlust and entrepreneurial spirit and It’s nice to be able to connect with other like minded people and share stories rather than working in a vacuum. The internet has made this possible.

The first person I ever reached out to happens to be Benny Hsu at www.getbusylivingblog.com.  I found him on Twitter and liked what he had to say about personal development so I reached out to him. I’m really glad I did because it gave me the guts to connect with others after that. Plus I love cheering for him and seeing all his successes in life.

Learned My Limits:

cute_gift_idea_owl_sleep_maskI tend to try to be super human and do everything myself.

This year I am proud to say I asked for help.

Help from my kids and my husband.  I closed my profitable sleeping mask business because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle running it in France while I start up a new entrepreneurial venture at the same time.

This was extremely hard because I worked on my home business for three years to get it to the point it was at.

I had to set a limit.  I was so stressed out over all that I had to do. Between, travelling, visas, the kids, cooking, making sleeping masks by hand, homeschooling and more, I was a miserable bitch. There I said it.

Allowing myself to let things go and ask for help has given me some breathing room and made me less irritable.

I also invested in myself by getting help from several coaches. I was able to achieve in a few months what would have taken me three times had I tried to go it alone. I highly recommend investing in a coach to meet with a few times a year. Or form a mastermind group. Both of which I do now.

Learned To Bake:

DSC_0062

I love to cook and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a pretty good cook too.

I cook Thai and Chinese food the most. Baking has always been my weakness. I’ve always wanted to learn how to bake especially cookies.

My cousins wife Diane is an amazing baker and she showed me how to bake her amazing cookies. Baking is like having a super power.

Not only can I make great tasting cookies, but baking is a great way to connect with the hubby and kids. Everyone wants to help and everyone loves to lick the bowl Thanks Diane. I love you.

What Didn’t Go Well In 2011

My Son Kieran

sailingOne of my regrets is that my son had to give up his sport of youth sailing when we left our home in California and turned into a vagabonding family of five.

We lived minutes from the San Francisco Bay, so sailing was just so spectacular for him and for us to watch.

By the age of 14 ,he had been sailing and racing competitively for over 6 years.

I hope he will be able to do some sailing this summer in the south of France, If we can afford it. Cross my fingers.

Homeschooling / Un-schooling

Because we lived like vagabonds in 2011, the kids did not go to a physical school. My husband and I had to homeschool them and let me tell you it was hard as hell. It was too much.

Between uprooting and moving our family to the east coast, living like vagabonds, running a home business and taking care of the kids, I did a terrible job of home schooling. Or at least, I didn’t do them justice.

I think I would have done a better job had we been in our own home and not moved but it’s water under the bridge now.

Not Enough Dating

CIMG0516My relationship with my husband means everything to me. I am very conscious about our bond and believe that a good relationship still takes a lot of work. Having time alone and doing activities together is one of those things I like to do with my husband to ensure our bond and keep having fun.

But, my  husband and I did not take enough personal time to develop our relationship in 2011.  We barely did anything all of last year. We were really busy with all that was going on, but that’s no excuse.

Next year will be different. I know it.

Not Enough Progress on my new entrepreneurial venture

I’m sad to say, I didn’t achieve all my entrepreneurial goals. I planned on writing an e-book and failed to finish.

I planned on coming up with a business model to monetize and turn my skills into a business. I didn’t execute.

I bit off more than I could chew by committing myself to some things I just didn’t have time to do. This is something that just couldn’t be avoided because making the move to France and vagabonding took all my effort and all my time.

2012 will need to be different. I can’t afford it not too be.

With my home sleeping mask business quashed for the moment, I  need to start a second source of income to be able to support and contribute to my family financially.

2012 will be about marrying my passion for travel, entrepreneurship, helping people and rolling them into a profitable business model. ANY IDEAS?  Post them below in the comments area. 

Well that’s it. There were other small wins and loses in 2011 but these represented the bigger ones that really effected me.

LOOKING FORWARD to 2012

In looking back and evaluating the good and the bad, I can see that everywhere I failed was because I didn’t really sit down and plan my year and my goals.

All my goals were in my head. Had I sat down and prioritized I might have foreseen that I was biting off more than I could chew for 2011.

As a result I stretched myself too thin.

DSC_0826For 2012, I plan to write down my goals. I mean a really detailed plan so that I’ll have something to look back upon at the end of 2012.

Now that we are settled in France, I can really focus on doing some of the other goals that I didn’t get a chance to do.

  • Mostly, I want to work on turning my multi-passions into a thriving business while also helping people realize their own dream of travel and living abroad. Especially people who have kids. I’ve noticed there is a lot of talk out there about single people travelling but not a lot of families with kids. There is a certain mystery about it and I want to help clear the air about how more people can do what we are doing.

If I can make a positive impact on the world while also providing for my family, well, that would be idea wouldn’t it?

  • I also plan to try to have more fun especially with my kids. I’ve been way too serious for the past 2 years mainly because I’ve been worried about money ever since getting laid off and running my own sleeping mask business.
  • Lastly, I want to build strong relationships with new friends, old friends and be more adventurous by doing, seeing and experiencing more things in life.

Your Turn

Tell me what went well for you in 2011 in the comments below and what didn’t go so well.

Do You Want To Live In France? 10 Excuses Stopping You From Living Abroad Debunked!

Ever since I can remember, I have dreamed of living in France but never believed I could ACTUALLY DO IT.  I always had 100 excuses why I couldn’t move to France.

AT first it was lack of money, then it was my job, then after I got married it was because I had kids, then it was because of timing and then *excuse after excuse after excuse. add another excuse here.

What I didn’t realize was that my fears, misconceptions and limiting beliefs were ultimately stopping me from taking the first step to pursuing my dream of living in France.  I was my own worst enemy. In the end I overcame my fears since as I write these words, I am living in France. My point is, it’s O.K. to be scared, heck it’s normal but you don’t let your fears stop you from achieving your dreams.

I’m happy to say that as of October 2011, we (me, my husband and our three children) moved to the south of France where we will stay for a few years.

I’ve put together a list of my own personal mental road blocks along with reasons why you should not let them stop you from just going for it.

1: I don’t have a job lined up for my year abroad

You don’t need a job to move to France. Yes it would be easier and that would have been our first choice too but we didn’t have that luxury.  We decided to finance our trip ourselves and use our time in France for personal development., spend time together and work on our freelance careers. But what if you don’t have enough money?

2: I don’t have enough money

Money, money money. The obvious answer would be to save but for those of you who spend every single cent you have and have nothing to spare? I sympathize. I was in that same position for a long time. You’ll have to wait until you are in a better position to save but that doesn’t mean you can’t do other things in conjunction like cutting back on spending or starting some freelance activity now that you could eventually do remotely at some future date when you can move to France. Just make sure you put the extra money you save or earn in a special account for your trip. Heck, you can even tweak your tax estimators to give you the largest possible refund in some cases. It might take you a few years to archive your goal but you can do it.

Here are some ideas on different ways which you can cut back on your spending and potentially save a few thousand dollars or more toward your trip abroad.

3: It’s too expensive

The other misconception about moving abroad is that it’s too expensive. Living abroad isn’t like going on vacation. It’s a lot cheaper. Instead of paying for an expensive hotel room and eating out every night, you rent an apartment or house and cook meals at home like you would in your home country.

Also, you may be able to eliminate certain expenses that you incur while living in your home country like a car which means no auto insurance and no gas.  This is the route we chose. We have public transportation and access to trains in Marseille France so we can go wherever we want any time.

If you own you home, you can rent or sublet it out to cover some of the cost of living.

Lastly, choosing where to go for your move abroad is a lot like choosing a car. You chose based on your budget.

If you only have 12,000 dollars to buy a car, you don’t choose to buy a Mercedes. When choosing a place to move to, if you have 12,000 dollars for a year you don’t choose Paris, you choose someplace where you can live for 12,000 dollars like parts of South America or Asia.

We wanted to stay in Paris but we couldn’t find anything within our budget so we chose Marseille  where the cost of living and food is considerably cheaper than Paris and even cheaper than living in the cities we were living in the United States.

4: I don’t know where or what to do with all my stuff

You can either store it all in public storage or get creative and put an ad on Craigslist or some other online ad and ask to rent someone’s basement.

If you have a lot of junk, um, I mean stuff what about downsizing and selling the stuff you don’t need anymore in a garage sell?  If you do this, my advice is to start downsizing early so you can asses how much stuff you are going to keep and need to store.

5: I can’t go because I’ll lose my job, be out of the workforce and fall behind

can'tlive-abroadThe best thing to do would be to convince your boss to hold your job for you while you are away. Or do your job remotely.

But if you can’t don’t sweat it.  It won’t make a bit of difference to your future employer if you are away from the work force for a year.  In fact it might work to your benefit depending on how you use your time.

Moving abroad is an impressive feat and your future employer might see your move abroad as a sign that you are more well-rounded and can handle change easily. While abroad you could also work on getting a new set of skills to help your career. Even learning a language might help your career.

I’m using my year abroad to do a few things that will help me should I decide to rejoin the work force. I’m also working on an entrepreneurial venture, a book and helping my kids by giving them a solid understanding of a second language which they will need for college.

But you don’t have to sharpen your skills while abroad, you can always use your time abroad to recharge and get reconnected with the person you used to be before you got busy with work and life.  No one will look down on it. You will return recharged and have a better sense of who you are and what you want to do with your life.

6: I don’t speak the language

I’m not going to lie, not speaking the local Language will be hard. But don’t look at this as negative. It’s an opportunity to learn a new language which is part of the adventure. When I moved to Japan at 18, I didn’t speak Japanese. I only knew the song “Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto” and a hand full of words which I studied on the plane to Tokyo. I quickly immersed myself in the culture and really enjoyed the challenged of learning Japanese. It literally turned everyday into an exciting adventure.

7: I can’t go because I have kids

The first time I took my kids to Europe, my son Andre was 9 and shocked me when he said “ I didn’t know there were homeless people here”.

It never occurred to me that my children’s views of the world were limited to the suburbs of our comfortable life in Silicon Valley.

I think taking my kids out of their protected suburban bubble to experience other cultures has made them more appreciative of what they have and more aware of other people and their cultures making them more compassionate and open-minded.

Another great reason is to give your kids an opportunity to learn a second language and possibly bilingual. I can’t tell you how many people I know that have said that they wished they could speak another language.

8: What will I do with my house?

If you own your home, rent it out.  My home is rented in California and it helps finance part of our cost of living in France. If you are a renter you have it a little easier, you can just give notice and move out or if you want to have the same house for your return, you could see about subletting your house during your time abroad. You never know. Talk to your landlord.  Plus, if you sublet your home out, you could always rent it for more if you rent it furnished. Do your research and know all your options.

9: I can’t leave my life, my work, my friends or relatives behind!

It might be hard but it’s only temporary. Your friends and family will be there when you get back.  You will have gone away and had an amazing year abroad and you’ll see that nothing really changed when you return. Besides, If you are really worried about losing touch with friends there’s a great thing called the Internet where you can make video calls using Skype. It’s free. The other person needs to have it installed on their computer. Or if you pay a monthly fee, you can make calls to landlines and cell phones. I pay 3.00 dollars a month for unlimited calling. That’s almost free.

10: I don’t know anyone or have any friends in the country where I want to go

This is the worst excuse ever. This is one of those excuses that my teenager would use but happily didn’t. Yes it’s hard to say “au – revoir” to friends and family back home but moving abroad is an opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and do something different for a change.

I was on the phone setting up our electric for the apartment we are renting in France and the woman I was talking to asked me where I was from. Then we got to talking and before I knew it, we decided to meet for coffee. (in a public place of course). My point is, there’s lots of things you could do to meet new people. Just be creative.

If your dream is to move abroad, make it happen.  It’s possible it just takes changing your mind-set and working hard towards that goal.

Conclusion

Don’t just look at all the reason you can’t make the move to live in France or live abroad for a couple of years. You should also look at all the positive things you could accomplish.

what is adventure? 4 definitions

What Is Adventure? 4 Definitions Anyone Can Understand

indiana-jones

Adventure; you want it, need it and crave it.

But do you really know what it is?

Even if you do know what adventure is, it helps to re-examine it’s entire meaning to maximize the benefits it can have on all areas of your life.

Only when you truly understand the full meaning of adventure can you actively seek out and find all the possible opportunities to experience and live more adventurously.

Adventure is funny that way. To enjoy the benefits of it, you have to seek it out. Have you ever known a couch potato to be adventurous?

ADVENTURE MISS-CONCEPTION

Most people have a very limited view of what adventure actually is. Sure they know that doing death defying activities like sky diving is adventurous. They also know that travelling to exotic and far away places is also adventurous. But those are difficult adventures for the average person to experience.

If that’s all you think adventure is then you are less likely to go out and seek it and your adventures will be few and far between.

” I have found adventure in flying, in world travel, in business, and even close at hand … Adventure is a state of mind and spirit. “

Andre Gide

Adventure has a much broader meaning and like a lot of things in this world, the meaning of adventure is open to interpretation. You know, it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

adventureeye

To tackle the issue of defining adventure,

-I first read over all the definitions I could find.

-I also looked online to see how people were using the word adventure in their writing and life.

-I also examined my own life’s adventures.

What I found was that adventure almost always involves risk, and or novelty.

I also identified and broke down the full meaning of adventure into 4 smaller more tangible parts.

In most cases, for something to be considered adventurous, it must fall into one or more of these 4 smaller parts.

1- new or novel, 2- Dangerous or hazardous, 3- financially risky, 4- psychologically risky.

Below is a visual chart breaking down the 4 ways to define adventure and below the chart is further explanation and examples.

adventurechart

THE FOUR POSSIBLE VARIATIONS OF ADVENTURE

A Novel Idea: Adventure for the masses

1. An adventure can be any new, novel or remarkable experience. It usually invokes excitement and or it can give you a sense of accomplishment.

This is the first and easiest way for the average person like you or me to experience adventure. As long as it’s new, novel or remarkable and makes you come alive than it can be considered an adventure.

Example:

Young children find everything so fascinating don’t they? Because everything is new and remarkable it’s like having an adventure everyday.  

Just the other day, my 4 year old daughter built a 4 foot tall Lego structure thingy. She laughed with excitement and amazement as it towered over her head. It was her first time building something so big and to her it was not only new but a remarkable experience. It was a Lego building adventure. 

As you get older, those same new and remarkable things that once brought you feelings of excitement and accomplishments diminish.

They are no longer new and you need newer experiences or different ones to bring that same level of satisfaction. The same principal applies to your life.

Adventure doesn’t discriminate

The beauty of doing new and remarkable things is that it doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter if you are old, physically handicapped, visually impaired, young or a fearful introvert. Anyone can experience the adventure of doing something new and or remarkable because we each have our own point of view and threshold of what adventure is.

Best of all, If you find life is boring, mundane or just feels too common than trying a new adventure might be the answer to spicing up your life.

Even changing the smallest routine in your life is like experiencing something new and can mean the difference between a good day and bad day. Take it from me. I’ve been there and still sometimes go there.

IT’S RISKY AND THE OUTCOME IS UNCERTAIN: Dangerous & hazardous, Financially Risky, Emotionally Risky

2. A bold, daring or risky undertaking usually involving danger, the unknown and an uncertain outcome.

The second way i found adventure used was as a risky and or danger.  Things in this group encompass all things risky and or have an unknown outcome. Risky or dangerous adventures can still be broken down further into 3 smaller sub groups.  Those  3 sub groups under Risky adventures are

1- physically dangerous or Hazardous, 2- Financially Risky and 3- Psychologically Risky.

2a. Physical Dangers or Hazardous

The first of the 3 adventurous risks is not only the most obvious adventure, it is also the least accessible to the average person.

It’s the type of adventure that thrill seekers experience. People who want the adrenaline rush of jumping out of planes, scuba diving with sharks or climbing mount Everest.

But be careful, not all physically dangerous adventures make you feel the same. Although jumping out of a plane would be an adventure for me, the thought of it is scary and terrifying. That fear factor might far outweigh any benefit or excitement I get from doing that adventure.

I won’t speak anymore about this type of adventure because it is the most widely known version of adventure.

3a. Financially Risky

The second type of adventure that falls under the adventurous risk category may come as the biggest surprise. It involves financial or commercial speculation and risk.

To be honest, I never considered a financial risk an adventure but the more I thought about it, the more I realized, yeah, it is an adventure.

Example:

Gamblers, stock market speculators and even entrepreneurs are all embarking on an adventure where the outcome is unknown and their money and finances may be at risk.

imageI am not an avid gambler but I used to go the casino of Montreal with my aunt every few years. The last time I went, I played the slot machines and I remember feeling excitement and anticipation as I watched and waited the for the reels to stop spinning and line up to form a match.

I have to admit, It was fun and hearing the sound of coins dropping in my tray was exhilarating.  I won 250 dollars that day.

The same excitement and satisfaction can be had in an entrepreneurial venture or even a work venture. I once took a pay cut when I changed careers from financial analyst to Marketing analyst.

I didn’t know what would happen in my new career . I really couldn’t afford the pay cut but I remember how it made me feel. The risk felt like a challenge and it gave me a goal to pursue. When I doubled my salary a few years later I was over the moon and felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Need I say more?

WARNING!, sometimes in our busy world of work and life, we focus too much on financial risk and or climbing the corporate ladder. I fell into this trap of trying to reach the next pay increase, the next promotion and soon instead of satisfaction I was getting burnt out. It’s ok to work hard, just don’t make it your singular objective in life.

2c. Emotional or Psychologically Risky

The third and final type of risky adventure is an emotional or psychological risk which if you think about it can be either real or perceived.

This type of adventure often involves overcoming your fears. The adventure in essence becomes about winning the battle over fear.

I used to be extremely shy and introverted. So much so that I would avoid making contact with people at work and in public. I’ve since overcome my shyness but only by giving myself personal challenges. Sometimes it’s planned, sometimes the moment just arrives and I push myself to take it.

Example:

One emotionally adventurous risk I pursued was to get up in public and speak. Well, kind of. I was in Floyd Virginia visiting my brother-in-law during their annual summer festivals. I entered myself in the hollering contest. Basically, I had to get up on stage and scream at the top of my lungs. You should read about it here.

Emotionally, I was scared to death. I was sweating and nervous and I felt  like a fool standing up there. But after it was said and done, I realized I was scared for nothing. I not only have that memory but I also feel like I conquered a fear that was holding me back.

I’m still afraid of standing up in public but I’m less afraid now and want to try it again.

By having a broader understanding of what adventure is, you open yourself up to experiencing adventure almost everyday and in all aspects of your life.

Once you start living life more adventurously, you will start to notice life is more interesting and less boring and ultimately you’ll truly be living your life to the fullest.


What was your last adventure big or small?   Do you wish you could have more adventure in your life. Do you think I ‘m wrong in how I broke down adventure into 4 smaller parts?

chasing the impossible dream we moved to France

We Moved To France: Mistakes To Avoid When Chasing Your Dream

chasing the impossible dream we moved to France

If you’ve decided it’s time to chase that elusive dream of moving abroad congratulations, and good luck. It won’t be easy going against the grain. Here are 5 mistakes you should try to avoid when chasing that dream you once thought impossible to achieve.

WE MOVED TO FRANCE

Achieving a dream means not listening to that voice in your head telling you it’s impossible. If we all listened to that voice than nothing great would ever be achieved. The four minute mile was impossible at one point and so was a flying airplane.

My dream although not as grand has been to live in France. That dream fizzled after college when my career started to take off and when my children were born. It just seemed so impractical, unrealistic and foolhardy. There were always reasons why it could never happen until finally one day my husband and I decided to go for it. It wasn’t the most optimal time almost like having kids. You’re never really ready but you make do and make it work.

Along the way we learned a lot and made heaps of mistakes which you can benefit from. Here are some tips I learned while chasing the impossible dream.

Update: we have been living in France now for 5 years


View Larger Map  << For Now We Live In Marseille France>> 

Since  October 5th 2011, me and my three children have been living in the south of France in a city called Marseille. Blake my husband, stayed behind to tie up some loose ends for a month but he is with us now.

1) Be prepared to work hard

You’re probably wondering how we did it. To that I say a lot of hard work, planning, preparation, sacrifice and time. We wanted to give up a few times and other times it just didn’t seem possible. Immigration and visa laws can be complicated and the bureaucracy is tiresome.

  • We didn’t have cushy jobs lined up.
  • We didn’t know anyone who could help us in France
  • We did it after being unemployed for several years living on our savings and cutting back on all our luxuries.

Despite all the hurdles and obstacles we continued forward with our goals. It was risky but it was worth it. I feel alive, I feel inspired, I feel like I can do more. Best of all I feel happy. Everyday is like one big adventure.

2) Don’t procrastinate

Don’t fall into that trap of believing you have to wait until retirement to live in the momentWhat I find annoying and interesting about our journey over the last few years is that when my husband and I had great jobs in silicon valley with a comfortable lifestyle. We just trotted along through our life in a ho hum manner.

Don’t get me wrong, life was good but it was somewhat ordinary. Back then, I measured myself based off of career success and money. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I find myself wondering why I just drifted through life day after day without trying to achieve more dreams and accomplishing more outside of my career? Why did it take something big ( 2 job losses and long term unemployment) to shake us awake from our life which we seemed to be sleepwalking through?

“No risk no reward”

I’m not sure why I (we) waited. Maybe living comfortably doesn’t inspire greatness. We’ve accomplished more during our time of hardship than we ever did when we were living a safe and comfortable life with great jobs.

3) Safety is an illusion

Don’t put off your hopes or dreams because you are afraid of losing your safe comfortable life. It’s riskier to NOT go after your dreams because you risk your happiness.

I lived the life I thought I was supposed to live. College, career track, marriage, kids, 2 car garage and the burbs. I made all the safe and practical decisions I was supposed to make. We thought we were safe but we still ended up unemployed and in a very dicey situation.

4) Don’t try to get approval from others

I once knew someone who wanted to join the circus with his wife. I thought they were crazy for wanting such a frivolous thing. What annoyed me the most was  they were not moved or swayed by any of the negativity or disapproval. They  pursued their dream despite it.

Be prepared to deal with naysayers and don’t let them get you down or sway you. It’s your life and your dream. You have to do what makes you happy.

See also- How to deal with naysayers and tell you friends and family you want to move or live abroad

5) Don’t give up

Your dream is counting on you so don’t give up. It feels better to have tried and failed than to have not tried at all. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it. Just remember “Winners never quit and quitters never win”

THANK YOU FRIENDS AND FAMILY

The year prior to moving to France we lived like semi nomadic vagabonds and stayed with family and friends, some old and a few new. I want to thank them. Thank you for opening your home to us. Thank you for your hospitality. Thank you for your generosity and kindness.

Thank you Chambers, Elders, my aunt Huguette Andre, Rolfe / Levac, Elders / Shupp, Dickinson’s and couchsurfing hosts.

It made for an interesting year and we loved staying with each and everyone of you. Now pack your bags and get over here and stay with us. We have Brie and red wine waiting for you. And there is a great Bistro around the corner from us.

101 Simple Adventures You Can Do Everyday: Bust Out Of That Rut

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We all get stuck in a rut at one time or another-where our everyday life becomes a little mundane and routine. Here are 101 simple adventures anyone can do to shake things up a bit.

Adventure for the unadventurous or the busy person

Adventure is the spice of life. You need adventure in your life once in a while. Some might go so far as to say that adventure is paramount to your happiness.

I’m not talking about climbing Mount Everest, becoming an international spy or buying a Ferrari.

Those are exciting things however most of us don’t have the stomach or the moolah for THAT kind of excitement on a regular basis. So how does the average person sneak a little adventure into their life from time to time?

Definition of adventure

The first thing you need to do is change your idea of what adventure is. Once you do, adventure and excitement can be had everyday because adventure is a very individual thing.

What one person finds exciting is going to be very different from what another person finds exciting. For instance, my husband thinks gardening is exciting but I don’t. A friend of mine finds skydiving exciting whereas I would just find it terrifying.

My point is that adventure doesn’t have to be death defying and just because something is not death defying doesn’t mean it can’t be an adventure because simply breaking from your normal routine or trying something new can  be an adventure.

Want some ideas for some adventures which you can try everyday?

Here is a list of 101 simple things anyone can do or try on a regular basis.  While you’re at it, why not start a journal and document your new adventures? Try to do something everyday for 365 days. Most importantly, make sure you make time for new adventures. It’s hard to fit in new adventures if you are bogged down with mindless chores and tasks.

  1. Cook a recipe you’ve never cooked before. 
  2. Try a food you’ve never tried before.
  3. Get a passport and travel somewhere where they speak another language.
  4. Learn French or another language.
  5. Find a cause you are passionate about and get involved.
  6. Host a couchsurfer or become a couchsurfer
  7. Volunteer to teach English at a community centre.
  8. Adopt a pet- Rescue a dog or cat from an animal shelter.
  9. Look for a new job.
  10. Go volunteer abroad in exchange for free board and food. Workaway is a good place to start looking.
  11. Start crafting: Go on Pinterest.com and search for inspiration.
  12. Write a love letter to someone you love
  13. Set a workout goal. Work your way up to 50 pushups or jog 10 miles.
  14. Learn to dance a certain sytle, belly dancing, salsa, swing, hip hop- you choose.
  15. Redecorate one room with a theme (Zen, cowboy, French chic, boudoir etc.)
  16. Go geo-caching with kids or friends. (need GPS enabled phone or device)
  17. Change your look, your haircut, hair colour etc.
  18. Make an entertaining answering machine message
  19. Learn calligraphy
  20. Start urban foraging.
  21. Find a mentor to help you do something you want to do.
  22. Join a mastermind group
  23. Downsize and sell things you no long need on eBay or on craigslist.
  24. Eat pancakes for diner and or pizza for breakfast
  25. Learn HTML
  26. Build something
  27. Go a week without a cell phone or internet
  28. Learn to weld and make something useful
  29. Learn to play an instrument
  30. Learn to take beautiful pictures
  31. Learn to sew your own clothes
  32. learn to crochet or knit
  33. Learn to play chess
  34. Learn to play mahjong
  35. Passionately kiss in the rain
  36. Take a career break and do something worthwhile
  37. Snuggle in a hammock
  38. Change your eating habbits and detox for a week
  39. Carve your names in a tree
  40. Learn and find constellations like the big dipper
  41. Take up kick boxing, tai chi or karate
  42. Learn to meditate
  43. Take up jogging
  44. Work at achieving the splits
  45. Go to the driving range and hit a bucket of balls
  46. Become certified at something like yoga, zumba or scuba diving.
  47. Become an author: Start writing a book
  48. Become an internet entrepreneur
  49. Learn to be a better photographer
  50. Ride your bike to work
  51. Spend the night in a haunted house
  52. Watch airplanes take off and land up close
  53. Read the entire Bible or Koran
  54. Learn to write with your other hand
  55. Visit a hookah lounge
  56. meditate in a temple
  57. solve a Rubik’s cube
  58. Get a tattoo
  59. Walk through a graveyard at night
  60. Join a book club
  61. Attend local food, wine or music festivals
  62. Read books ( Novel idea right?)
  63. Make your own beer (easier than you think)
  64. Make your own wine
  65. Become a history buff of anything
  66. Become a connoisseur of wine
  67. Learn to sign
  68. Get a second degree by going to night college or earn it online
  69. Pay for someone else’s food
  70. Donate bone marrow
  71. Donate blood
  72. Learn to sing.
  73. Go to the circus: see the cirque du soleil
  74. Go to a concert
  75. Call someone you havn’t heard from or spoken to in a while. Maybe even make plans to meet up with them.
  76. See a musical
  77. Watch a play
  78. Watch a movie in another language you are learning
  79. go to a drive-in theatre
  80. Go to a jazz bar
  81. Go to a karaoke bar and sing or do it at home
  82. Go to a museum
  83. Turn on the t.v. and turn off the volume. Make up funny dialogue with friends and family.
  84. Have a video game competition
  85. learn to identify all the birds in your backyard
  86. Make a herb garden
  87. Grow your own tomatoes or veggies
  88. Make a terrarium
  89. Start a family
  90. Go skinny dipping with someone (or alone).
  91. Go camping and if you can’t than go camping in your backyard
  92. Go on a midnight bike ride with flashlights friends or family
  93. Learn your family tree.
  94. Find Nemo
  95. Take a train somewhere, anywhere
  96. Make Sushi
  97. Learn to read brail
  98. Take a hike
  99. Fly a kite
  100. START A BLOG about something you are passionate about ! Like I did.
  101. Find a penpal and write hand written letters to each other.

What are some of the adventurous things you like to do? 

Boring Life? Maybe You Need More Adventure

Adventure cure for common life

The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.”

-Oprah Winfrey

I get it, you have to make a living, pay the bills, take care of your responsibilities, the kids and think about the future. That’s a lot of stuff to take care of. You don’t have time for anything more. So you settle for your predictable daily life routine.

Road to Perdition

Everyday,  hardworking people like you and me settle for a less than fulfilling life where your biggest adventure is deciding what you will have for diner or what color socks to wear. You are suffering from “common life syndrome”.

Don’t panic! Common life syndrome is curable. Typically Symptoms include but are not limited to

  • Feeling like life is ordinary and routine.
  • NOT living your life to the fullest
  • Making little or no time to do things outside of your responsibilities. Things that matter to you and just might make you happy(er).
  • You endure the common life syndrome because you see it as a kind of sacrifice for the GREATER GOOD of you and / or your families future.
  • You believe HAPPINESS and FULFILLMENT will come LATER right?

Is this all there is to life?

You’re only human and as time passes, a lot of time, you realize this is just not sustainable. Eventually you start to get fed up with the monotonous routine of it all. That’s when you begin to wonder if this is all there is to life? Where is the adventure, excitement and fulfillment in it all?” You know you need to do something, anything to break up your daily routine but you don’t know how, what or don’t think you have enough time so you do nothing.

MEDIOCRITY: AND ROUTINE

It may sound over dramatized but that is exactly how I felt a few years ago. I felt like I was stuck in a rut.  It all felt very dissatisfying. My daily routine WAS my life while my dreams, passions and any sense of adventure were fast becoming distant memories. I complained and moaned to myself but that’s all I did. Between work, the kids, cooking and cleaning, I was just too busy to make time to change and too paralyzed by my routine and comfortable lifestyle.  I often wondered if this is what golden handcuffs feel like.

 

Frog in boiling water syndrom

But Like the frog who sits in a pot of slowly boiling water and doesn’t jump out, life slowly became what it was so I just sat there.  I probably would have kept going like that but as luck would have it, I received the equivalent of a blast of cold water to my face that shocked me into change.

CATALYST FOR CHANGE

The catalyst that shocked me into change came in the form of a bittersweet situation. Both my husband and I were laid off on the same day during a recession and during some of the highest unemployment rates in history. As scary and hard as it was, it was the break we needed to get us out of our rut and we began to see this bad situation as a way to rebuild a sustainable lifestyle while maintaining and fulfilling our need to have a safe family life.

LIFE SHOULD BE AN ADVENTURE

Overnight we had to do what we should have done a long time ago but never did. We had to rethink the way we did things, how we spent our time, money, how we lived our life and MOST importantly we had to change our routine.

In a way our life suddenly became one big adventure.  Everything we were doing was like exploring uncharted waters. It was new, risky, daring and exciting. Changing old habits gave us a new perspective on life and both my husband and I started putting more focus on doing more of the things we used to put off for later.

Baby Steps: Little adventures

We began to get adventurous. But just a little. I say a little because not every adventurous thing we did was earth shattering. In the beginning just changing up little things was enough to appease us. it’s hard going from living a very practical and safe life to one where you break from the norm and start doing things that actually fulfill you in other ways than just your basic needs.

My husband started writing that book he always wanted to write ( In progress) among other things.

I worked on my own bucket list. (here are some examples from my life)

      1. Sports & Health: I took up kick boxing
      2. Food: became a better cook ( maybe even gourmet level , I wish)
      3. Hobbies: I learned how to sew
      4. Hobbies: I improved my HTML skills and learned to take good photographs.
      5. Entrepreneurship: I turned my hobby into a home business and started making specialty sleeping masks.
      6. Kids/ Hobby: I learned how to crochet cute things like sushi and animals with my son.
      7. Leisure: I took walks.( I never did this)

Big adventures 

Eventually my husband and I got bolder and we decided to do something really adventurous but it took us over 2 years to get to that point. In 2010, We left our home in California to replant seeds on the east coast. We Spent a year living like vagabonds in Montreal and Maryland.

Then in 2011, we got even more adventurous. As of this writing, we are spending a year abroad in France with the kids, also known as a sabbatical, career break and adult gap year. If we can swing it, we’ll stay longer but that’s a whole other story.

ADVENTURE IS THE CURE:

The point to all of this is life is too short.  Don’t wait until you are forced to change like we did. Your choices will be limited.

If you feel like your life is too common or boring do something uncommon and adventurous today, now. You don’t need to travel the world or do anything TOO adventurous. Even small little changes to your daily routine can make your life more enjoyable.

  • Wake up earlier to take a walk.
  • Start a new hobby.
  • Ride your bike to work.
  • Change your eating habits. ( I gave up carbs for a week, crazy I know)
  • Make more time to do the things that matter. ( I started reading for pleasure again)

Then if you feel up to it, work your way up to the big adventures you never thought you would ever get a chance to do.

I’m not saying adventure is going to fix everything but it’s a good step in the right direction. And most of all, it will make your life feel less common and more meaningful.

Just remember, adventure is everywhere and you can weave adventure into the daily fabric of your life. Even a conventional life.

Best of all, Its an all natural remedy for the common life.

 

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