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How to Make Sure You Get a Good Deal with Cheap Auto Insurance

There are many companies out there offering great deals when it comes to the price of car insurance (I was told that there’s a way to get the cheapest car insurance quotes online). However, even if the price is right, the insurance you buy might not be what you need. In order to determine if the cheap car insurance quote is right for you, there are a few things you need to consider.

What’s Covered?

Before taking out a policy you should make sure you have the coverage you need. State requirements are the least amount of protection needed. However, if you’re in an accident, you want to make sure you do not end up financially liable for the other driver’s injuries or damage to their vehicle because you did not have the correct coverage.

What Insurance Company Holds the Policy?

Many cheap auto insurance policies are sold through insurance agents. For the most part, an insurance agent can often find you a low rate, however, you need to find out which insurance company will hold your policy. There are many insurance companies offering cheap auto insurance policies and each company must meet certain guidelines and requirements set by the state in order to insure vehicles. However, these guidelines don’t cover things like customer service or the speed in which claims are handled.

What Will Happen If There’s an Accident?

Before choosing an insurance company, you need to know what will happen if you have an accident. You can’t predict a company’s actions, but you can make an educated guess. If you have trouble reaching a representative by phone while trying to get the policy, it may not be much better when you have one. If the customer service representatives aren’t able to answer your questions now, they probably won’t be able to answer them later.

These are some things to consider before buying a low-cost car insurance policy. There are many low-cost policies that will provide you with the service you need, however, you need to research the company thoroughly before you make a decision.

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Best Drugs For Seasonal Allergies

When you are facing seasonal allergies you need the right type of drugs. We know, Nancy Reagan told us to, “just say no to drugs” but when you’re dealing with seasonal allergies it can really take over your life and put you on the side lines. We know that there are many natural remedies that you can use but sometimes they just are not strong enough. So, when the natural remedies aren’t strong enough and when you can’t just say no to drugs, here are a list of drugs that you can take that can make you feel better.

We won’t give the commercial name of these drugs because they’re not paying us any money to do so. We won’t give them free advertising but we will tell you what type and what family of drugs you need. The first thing you need is something that can release the mucus from your sinuses and that can clear you out. You need something that directly works on the sinuses or else you’ll just be stuck taking typical cold medicine that isn’t designed for allergies. You also need something that will prevent the allergens from harming you. We all know these type of drugs because they are advertised heavily every Spring and you should start taking them. My doctor actually recommended that I take them your round for my chronic sinusitis.

The next thing you need (aside from 20 year term life insurance rates) is a condition specific drug, something that deals with the things that specifically bother you such as a cough, a sneeze or something like that.

Find these combination of drugs and you will soon feel better from your seasonal allergies.

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Stop Saying “What’s New?” and Ask “What’s Good?”

I hear it all the time.  Oh you know….

  • Mortgage payments.
  • I’m broke.
  • I hate my job.
  • I don’t know what I’m doing with my life
  • I’m not happy.

Don’t you hate this?  Sometimes people ask “What’s New?”, and if you’re going through a rough patch, you’re going to just inundate them with all the details about it.  At the end of the conversation, you’re going to be tired and stressed, and your friend will be cowering in fear over your aggressive attitude.

Try This on for Size.  “What’s Good?”

You’ll be surprised at the reaction you get.  People will actually think about this question, and reply with something thoughtful.

“What’s good?  Wow, I’ve never been asked that!  Oh, well let me tell you…”

Just try it once and you’ll be amazed at how good you make people feel.  Seriously!  Turn around to a friend, family member, or coworker right now and ask them.  Think about it.

Did it work?  Tell me about it!

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How to Wake Up Early With a Purpose: I Can Do It, So Can You!

As I write this, it’s 7:45am.  So far this morning I’ve done the following:

  • Ate breakfast – open-faced egg and cheese sandwich.
  • Put a load of laundry in the washer.
  • Folded a set of laundry that was done.
  • Emptied the dishwasher and wiped down the kitchen counters.
  • Caught up on the news and commented on blogs.
  • 45-minute spin class at the local gym.
  • Shower, shave, etc.
  • Created my to-do list for today.
  • Started writing blog post.

All before most people wake up in the morning.

Most people say I’m a morning person, and I tend to agree with them.  Afternoons and nights, in my opinions, are more for relaxing and unwinding rather than to work and do chores.  However, it’s not like I used to always be like this.

In University, I was awful at waking up.  In fact, I was your typical college student – going to bed at 3:00am and waking up at 11:00pm.  I missed my early classes, and my marks showed it.  I couldn’t sleep often because I’d stay up late surfing message boards.  I was groggy most of the time, and I had to have my afternoon nap or I was even more cranky.  I gained weight.  My room was a mess.  While I had a social life, I have to say I was a human mess most of the time.

So what changed?  After university I had a short stint working as a construction worker in the field.  For roughly two years, I had to be at work for 5:45am and I’d be on my feet for most of the day.  I’d have to wake up at 5am (or earlier), eat breakfast, and ride my bike 5k before even getting to work.  I had to change my awful habits for work.  However, after changing these bad habits, something else changed –I lost weight, and gained muscle.  I had more energy than ever before.  I was so much more productive in the mornings – even on weekends!  I couldn’t believe it.

Now that I’m all-in in an office job, I’d like to think that some of my habits from a few years ago working out in the field have spilled over into my life now.  I’d like to share some of the secrets I use to make sure I wake up early every day, and ensure that you can do the same.

The List: How I Wake Up Early

  1. I have a to-do list ready the night before.
  2. No computers, no TV, no distractions at least one hour before I go to bed.
  3. I do something to take my mind off the day for that one hour before I’m in bed – reading my Kindle is my best bet.
  4. I drink herbal tea after dinner – preferably something with chamomile, peppermint and lemongrass.
  5. I have black-out curtains in my bedroom.
  6. I have a nightly routine of brushing my teeth and putting away my clothes at the end of the day.  Often, I put a load in the washing machine as well.
  7. When I wake up, I try and get outside as fast as possible.  Often I go onto my patio just to have a quick morning stretch and gauge the temperature outside for the day.
  8. I don’t touch a computer or TV until after I’m done breakfast.
  9. I busy myself in the morning with a few cleaning chores – usually something as simple as cleaning the kitchen.

Honestly, as I sit here, it’s tough to even think of any more strategies.  If you have to take any two away from this list, I have to say getting outside and waking up with a purpose works better than any one of these strategies.

So why does this work?  Well, I believe it is a combination of all of these items.  For you, though, I have created action items for you to work on that will help you sleep, as well as getting up in the morning.


Nighttime Action #1: Drink Herbal Tea.

As I mentioned before, I drink tea, specifically herbal tea with lots of herbal remedies – make sure your tea has at least the following ingredients:

  • Chamomile – found in most teas, it is often used to settle stomachs.
  • Peppermint – tastes good, and calms the stomach.
  • Valerian – also known as “nature’s Valium”, so guess what: it helps you go to sleep!
  • Lemongrass – relieves insomnia, and stress.

Your local tea store should be able to whip you up a blend of these flowers, and you know what, it tastes damn good too.  When all else fails, drink sleepy time, as it already contains chamomile, spearmint and valerian.  It just doesn’t taste as good as the loose-leaf stuff.

Nighttime Action #2: Make Your To-Do List.

Look, I’m not telling you to do anything too crazy the next day.  Just briefly map it out:

  • What’s your plan when you wake up?
  • What simple chores do you want to do?
  • What do you have to at work when you first get in?

None of these are particularly epic, just create a quick and dirty list.  It shouldn’t take you more than five minutes.  It will, however, give you purpose when you wake up, which is what you want, isn’t it?

Nighttime Action #3: Unwind.

This is very important before going to bed.  Usually when we’re on the computer, information is flowing to our head like water.  Well, turn off that tap, and just relax.

Briefly reflect on the day, read, talk to your significant other, listen to some jazz music, or just watch some comedy (Conan does it for me).  Personally, I read a book.  The trick is to just get your heart rate down and to just give your brain some breathing room.

Reading still doesn’t work for you? Follow this trick, from Zen Habits to cure your temporary insomnia:

The simplest cure for insomnia: get comfortable and close your eyes, and then replay your day in your head, in every detail possible, from the moment you woke up. Start from the moment your eyes opened, and replay every movement — getting out of bed, starting the coffeemaker, going to the bathroom, washing your hands, or whatever. Don’t summarize — leave nothing out.


Morning Action #1: Get Outside.

Honestly, this is a no-brainer.  Get outside first thing in the morning.  You don’t have to run, you don’t even have to walk.  Take a few steps outside, and just stretch.  If you don’t know how to stretch,follow this guide from Zen to Fitness.  You’ll find that you’ll get the blood flowing, and even just being outside you’ll appreciate the day a little better.  Plus, you’ll know whether or not you’ll have to get out that winter jacket or if it’s just sweater weather.

Morning Action #2: Busy Yourself.

Did you write that to-do list?  Great – now knock of a couple items that take a few minutes each.  Don’t have anything on the list that only takes a few minutes?  Do some simple cleaning, like dusting or cleaning your cabinets.  Not only will you get focused and productive to start your day, you’ll also have a clean house (BONUS!).

NOTE! Please note that when I say “Busy Yourself”, it does NOT mean go on the computer and check email.  This could be the worst thing you can do.  If you check email or flip on your blog reader, next thing you know you’re on TVTropes and it’s 11:00am.  Trust me, I’ve been there, and it sucks. Stay productive.

Morning Action #3: Eat Breakfast.

Now this sounds like a pretty easy task.  Why wouldn’t you eat breakfast?  Well, some people complain that they “just don’t have time”.  You’d rather just get out the door than make a quick breakfast.

Seriously, though, that’s an awful excuse.  They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason.  It gives you fiber, protein and charges your body with enough metabolism to kick start whatever you wanted to get done.  Don’t have time?  Just try these two recipes:

Awesome Open Faced Egg Sandwich (Total Cooking Time: 1 Minute)

  1. Put bread into toaster.
  2. Crack egg into ramekin, cover with shredded cheese.
  3. Microwave for 45 seconds.
  4. Put egg and cheese onto toast.
  5. Cover with ground pepper, or salsa.
  6. Eat.

Awesome Oatmeal (Total Cooking Time: 1 Minute)

  1. Put water into kettle and turn on.
  2. Put two packages of instant oatmeal into cup (I prefer Hearty Medley)
  3. Top with almonds, raisins, Craisins, whatever.  Blueberries or bananas work great too.
  4. Pour boiling water on oatmeal mixture.
  5. Stir with spoon.
  6. Eat.

There.  Now you don’t have a reason not to eat breakfast.

“Great, I Wake Up With Purpose.  Now What?”

Ok, so you’ve done all these.  In fact, you’ve been doing them for a few weeks, and you find yourself more restful than ever.  But what are you doing with all this time?  Enjoy yourself.  Even if you wake up and your goal for the day is to simply finish the book you started the night before, than do it.  You’ll find that by following this guide, you’ll open a world to yourself of productivity that you never knew existed.  You’ll get more done during the day, and hey, you’ll even relax more – who’d have thought?

Now, readers, it’s your chance – do you wake up early?  What are your tricks?  If you’re a night-hawk, do you like it?  Got any quick breakfast recipes?  Please leave a comment or email.  Thanks in advance.

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11 Startup Strategies from “Dragon’s Den” and “Shark Tank”

I’m a huge fan of CBC’s Dragon’s Den.  In fact, I recommend anyone to go out now and watch the CBC version, or even still, go watch the newest iteration of that show, Shark Tank, on ABC.

The beauty of the show are seeing entrepreneurs come up with these awful ideas that they think are going to become the “next big thing”.  There are even amazing ideas that are brought down with the worst of presentations and awful valuation of their company.  But those one percent of ideas that get an offer – it wasn’t through a good product alone.  No, it’s a combination of everything that makes for a good investment:  a solid plan, a good valuation, an excellent presentation, an innovative product, and confident and reasonable employees.  The ideas that don’t have all of those features are eventually burned to the ground by Kevin O’ Leary.

While the show is pure entertainment, every once in awhile there are some smart lessons to be learned from the Dragons when it comes to creating your product – so I’ve come up with a list of great tips from watching several seasons of these shows:

1 ) Create an engaging presentation. Imagine this: you’ve got thirty seconds to make $50,000.  You’re going to do it by going on Shark Tank and making your pitch to Mark Cuban to invest that amount of money to take 10% of your company.  To make this amount of money, you’ve got to sell your product like you’ve never sold it before, all within fifteen or thirty seconds.

You better be damn sure that you’ve got a great presentation that can entice potential investors, and to do so, I’d you to keep in mind the practice of an elevator pitch.  From Wikipedia:

An elevator pitch is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value proposition. The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes.

Take the time to really master your elevator pitch and the Dragons and Sharks will be well on their way to investing in your product.  If you can’t present your idea in under two minutes, you can be sure that you’ll have greatly limited your investors (and customers).

2 ) If you can’t sell it, hire someone that can. You know what?  You don’t have to do the selling yourself.  If you’re not going to be great at that elevator pitch, find someone that can do it for you in your place.  Know a friend in sales?  Get them aboard.  Put ads in college newspapers or on university job boards.  Sign up for as an employer.  Put an ad on Craigslist when all else fails.  Finding a great salesperson will allow you to concentrate on other issues, like finances and product innovation.

3 ) You damn well better have a plan – but it doesn’t have to be your typical business plan. You don’t necessarily need to know sizes of your market, or have five-year business plans that detail the ins and outs of valuation and cash flows.  What you do need, however, is a plan of how you want to spend your money and market your product.  Even use a quick Google Calendar to schedule yourself for trade shows, cold-calling, meetings with clients and licensees and so on.  Having a real rough skeleton plan is infinitely better than no plan at all.

4 ) Don’t create something that’s already been made. If your idea is something that you can already buy on shelves, throw it out.  There’s no way as a small business owner you’ll be able to compete with the likes of Unilever and Johnson & Johnson for your organic spray cleaner.  There’s a reason companies like Facebook and Google are Number One – they were first to get to the market.

That being said, there are certain asterisks that could be made to this point.  Food, for instance, is an industry where quality trumps all.  If you’re sure that the quality of your product is better than anything that’s out there, use that as your selling feature.  You’ll have a lot of trouble selling the other features of your product (especially if it’s very well known).

5 ) If you’re getting a patent: Make it airtight, and defend it. There was one episode where one entrepreneur created a pot with a self-contained strainer – basically there were holes in the side of the lid, so when you tilted it to the side it would pour out all the water.  Great idea, right?  He admitted that large kitchen equipment manufacturers had already rolled him over by putting the holes in the top of the lid instead, and he didn’t have a leg to stand on since the patent was for the holes on the side.  The lesson learned here:  if you’re going the route where you’re getting a patent, you better make sure it’s airtight.

Also, if you’re getting a patent, defend the hell out of it.  Do you see a product on the shelves that matches yours?  Get a patent lawyer right away to take it out of there.  The reason you got a patent was so you had exclusive rights to it – it’s yours, take ownership of it!

6 ) Know your market. Who are you selling to?  Find out and market the hell out of that sector.  Go to trade shows, market on google, do what you have to do, just know your market and sell it to the people within that.  And no, your product isn’t for “everyone”, don’t even think about it!

7 ) You don’t need an MBA to know about business – educate yourself. Look, I get it, an education is expensive.  Plus you’d rather put your money into product innovation and marketing rather than that University of Phoenix degree.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know the fundamentals of economics, marketing and business.  There are some great books out there these days that will teach you the value of business without the bells and whistles of a professional education.  Don’t know where to start?  Here are some books I’ve personally read that have helped me with knowing great business strategies:

  • Moneyball by Michael Lewis
  • Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
  • Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rat
  • Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen
  • The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable:by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • Purple Cow by Seth Godin
  • Tribes by Seth Godin
  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk by Al Ries

Have you read all of these?  Congrats, you’ve now got an MBA.

8 ) Understand your valuation. I’d say 99% of people that go on Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank have no clue why they value the company the way they do.  They say to themselves, “oh well, this product could be worth $10 million someday, so that’s how much it’s worth today”.  WRONG.  The company is based on a combination of gross revenue, assets, liabilities, patent worth, liquidation worth, cash flow, the employees, and a bit of speculative magic.  Fortunately there are some good quick-and-dirty ways to evaluate the net worth of your small business:

  1. Use an Industry Multiplier and Crunch the Numbers: Read this guide (from the Canadian government, but very easily applicable across countries), and realize what your company is really worth and find out how likely it is expected to grow in your industry using a multiplier based on historical data.  If your industry is typically more mature and very conservative, use a lower number (such as four), but high-growth sectors such as biotech could be as high as eight.
  2. Find Comparables: Is there another company similar to yours in a similar market?  Use their data to determine your net worth – better yet, use a variety of companies as comparables to find an average.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, there is a lot of speculative magic that goes into valuation.  However, if you sell it right, you can play up the numbers and make your company worth more.  Just ask Enron…

9 ) You’re a cockroach – know your role. Kevin O’ Leary loves calling people cockroaches. But you what?  He’s right.  Understand that you’re a small fish in a big pond.  There are huge companies out there that would just love to crush entrepreneurs and take all their ideas and market.

However, if you make a quality product, start a brand, have some loyal customers and word-of-mouth marketing, it’ll be hard for the these big guys to take you down.

10 ) Don’t sink all your money into the idea. Got a great idea?  Ok, cool, now, to create it does it require you to put a second mortgage on your house?  It might be time to go back to the drawing board.  Please, don’t take out extravagant amounts of debt to follow your idea, you may be digging yourself into a hole you’ll never get out of.

11 ) Finally, ask yourself: Do you really need investors? You should probably ask yourselves the following questions:

  • Can you create your brand online through blogs and forums?
  • Can you utilize Alibaba and Elance to create your product?
  • Do you really need to hire people right now, or can you cold-call licensees and retailers to get your product onshelves?
  • Are you in a city that has trade shows all the time that you can utilize to further sell your product?
  • Can you create pamphlets using Microsoft Word and Kinkos?
  • Do you have any friends in the industry you want to get into?
  • Do you really want to give away 50% of your company to some money-hungry venture capitalist who is only looking out for themselves?

The world is a lot smaller than you realize – get out there and realize your dreams and sell that product.  Who knows, it might be the “next big thing”.

How about you readers – got any good tips for small business owners or entrepreneurs?  Do you love Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank just as much as I do?

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Growing Up Too Fast? Grow DOWN Instead

While my girlfriend and I were getting ready to go to bed the other night, we were lamenting the fact that we have so many to-do lists, and life was starting to become more based around habits and chores, rather than adventure and spontaneity.  It wasn’t just University days that were fun, but even when we first starting living together in my old crappy apartment in the seediest part of Toronto, we just didn’t really care.

Nowadays without realizing, we spend too much time cooking, too much time doing chores, too much time working, and not enough interacting and hanging out with friends and family.

Basically, it seems like we are getting old and boring FAST.

Not that we can’t change certain things – we can try and change our jobs.  Change our habits.  Call friends more.  Spend more time for us to hang out.  Listen to music more like the old days.

The idea behind our lifestyle these days, is that we constantly have to take on more responsibilities: get a job, acquire stuff, clean the house, go to the gym, get groceries, cook, decorate, renovate, et cetera.

Like the Radiohead song “Fitter Happier”:

Fitter, happier, more productive
Not drinking too much
Regular exercise at the gym
(3 days a week)
Getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries
At ease
Eating well

Are these traits not just eating away at our creative and adventurous minds?

Ok, I’m getting off track – let me get to the point.  We eventually had a back-and-forth that really resonated with me, it went something like this:

Me: “It seems like we’re getting old pretty fast eh?  I don’t want to grow up.
GF: “So then let’s grow down instead.”
Me: “Wait… what?”

The idea of “growing down” immediately clicked with me.  Well done, girlfriend!

But what does it really mean to grow down?

I’d like to think growing down is the antidote to our fast-paced lifestyle.  Sure, it’s one thing to just save “have some fun”, but how can you change your life to get back to those carefree days of high school, college, and your honeymoon phase just after college – the days before you had all these responsibilities?

How to “Grow Down” and Shed Your Adult Responsibilities!

The following is a good starter list to help you “grow down”:

Automate Your Life. While I could write another 2500 words on this subject, do everything you can in your life to automate the tasks that eat up your time.  What sort of things could you automate?   The following could be a starter list:

  • Have your bills paid online automatically.
  • Use a website like Mint to track your finances directly and quickly.
  • Hire a cleaner to clean your house monthly or bi-weekly.
  • Outsource other facets of your life – not just cleaning.  Hire a virtual assistant to do all your “secretarial” tasks.  .
  • Automate your email.  If you use email, download these filters from Lifehacker – a must-have.

Shed Your Material Worth. Minimalize.  Get rid of your crap. More stuff means more maintenance, more cleaning, more money, more headaches.  Get rid of all those clothes you don’t wear.  Get rid of furniture you don’t use.  Clean out those shelves, those lockers, and those medinice cabinets of all the junk.

Set “Not-Do” Days and Nights. Too often are we worried about our to-do lists.  Well, set some weekend days or weeknights where you will do no chores and nothing from your to-do list.  Just relax, take it easy.  That kitchen will get cleaned the next day.

Decrease the Noise. Partly why we are so worried about responsibilities is that we are worried about letting other people down.  Well, take out that noise from other people.  Delete people you don’t talk to from Facebook.  Automate your Gmail.

Breathe. Take time to relax every night.  Meditate.  Stretch.  Drink tea.  No distractions will relax your mind and focus your thoughts on what makes you happy.

Get Friends to Help. Recruit some friends with this idea.  Tell them to grow down.  Take a night out with your friends, treat it like your old college days.  Play guitar hero.  Play beer pong.  Fuck it, you’re old – not dead!

But Be Careful…

A couple things you have to worry about before “growing down”:

Keep that Budget in Mind. Before you go and hire cleaners and virtual assistants, make sure it all fits within your budget.  Just because you CAN automate, doesn’t mean you should – especially if you’re going into debt.

Some Responsbilities Have to Get Done. That’s the truth unfortunately.  I’m not telling you to sell your house or leave your family, I’m just trying to get you to minimalize and to have some fun.

At The End of the Day…

When it’s all said and done, it’s all about the following:

Have Fun.
Be Creative.
Be Spontaneous.
Be Happy.
Enjoy Life.

How about you readers – got any tips for growing down?

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Starting Something New

Ok, folks – if you couldn’t have guessed by now, this blog has to do with a little something about being in your mid-20’s.  So what does this stage of your life consist of?  I’m going to delve into several categories here, each of which I’d like to touch on in this blog:


  • Starting, or ending, a long-lasting relationship
  • Getting comfortable with sex, your sexuality, and having sex
  • Getting married


  • Entering financial freedom
  • Paying off student loans
  • Buying the stuff you’ve always wanted
  • Realizing how much debt you have
  • Entering into long-term debt (i.e. buying a house)
  • Starting (and sticking to) a budget


  • Starting a career
  • Realizing that your job is shit, and you want to do something about it
  • Moving up the ladder


  • Starting, and sticking to, your hobbies
  • Moving to a new city
  • Balancing your job, friends, family and that special someone, all while leaving time for yourself

… and Finally:

  • Grappling with the idea of getting older

That’s quite a list eh?  Well, unfortunately, it happens to everyone in their 20’s.  Some people deal with it, some people need help, while others just ride the waves and just don’t even think about it.

This blog is to help out with some tips and to share some thoughts about how to get over that hump of getting older, and how to have fun doing it.  Sex, relationships, money, careers, lifestyle, it’ll all be here.  Hope you have fun reading it as much as I’ll have fun writing it.

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How to Be Awesome, a Journey Inward

The other day I wrote about the following thirteen Awesome qualities, as follows:

    1. Moderation
    2. Humility
    3. Energy
    4. Organizing
    5. Healthy
    6. Stability
    7. Passionate
    8. Meditative
    9. Loving
    10. Stylish
    11. Adventurous
    12. Leadership
    13. Confidence

I’m going to kick-start a project of mine sometime soon that will be incorporating all of these qualities into my life, and bettering myself.  Somehow, someway, I will be tracking each of these individually.  Perhaps I’ll do it Gretchen Rubin-style (i.e. one a month), or maybe I’ll have my own way.  Either way, I’ll have a big kick-off next week listing each of these goals, where I’m at now, and how I plan on tracking them.  Before I do so, I’m just going to write some initial thoughts on what I plan on doing.

What’s Wrong With Me Right Now?

Look, there’s nothing technically wrong with me.  I am happy – enough.  I can rhyme off why my life is so great.  In fact, here’s a list right now.

The Good

  • I’ve got a job that’s fairly well-paid.
  • My job gives me a great work-life balance.
  • I’m in a steady relationship.
  • I’ve got lots of good friends I can rely on for advice, and laughs.
  • I’ve got a loving family.
  • I’ve got a roof over my head.

So what’s wrong here?  Well, I feel there are several things on my “long-term goal” list that I can’t manage to get off the ground.  There are also some nagging issues that I just can’t shake.

What Can Be Improved

  • Money management.
  • I want to be a better boyfriend.
  • I want to be a mentor.
  • I want to be more involved in the community.
  • I want a real hobby and a passion outside of work.
  • I want to define my own path.
  • I want to wake up earlier during the week.
  • I want to do more on weekends (work, and play).
  • I talk too much when in a group – I want to listen more.
  • I want to have more responsibility at work.
  • I want to start a small general contracting business on my own.
  • I want to renovate certain areas of our house.

So the list goes on.

Can I do this in a year?  Maybe.

Do I need to? Not really.  However, I’m 26, and I want to start paving my own way.  I’m three years out of school, and I feel like my sixteen year old self would hit me right now.

I don’t want to define time limits, however I want to be on the right path with these goals with measurable, quantitative increases of the thirteen qualities.  I will achieve each of my long-term goals if I am Awesome in the thirteen characteristics.

How Will I Track These Goals?

As I said, I really don’t want to put any real time limits on these goals.  But, there needs to be a way to measure each of these quantitatively.  But what I need to do is break down each of the characteristics.

Character Trait A

  • What is it?  Define it.
  • Break it down further, what actions do one need to take to have that characteristic.
  • Be more specific.  What do I need to do to have that characteristic?
  • Where am I now?  Where do I need to go?  Break it down further.
  • What habits can I take every day to achieve this characteristic?

See where I’m going with this?  I just want to be able to find out where I am, and what I need to do to achieve my goals – all while tracking this.

Why Am I Doing This?

Like I said, there’s nothing technically wrong with me.  But there are certain things that nag me every day that deal with the bigger picture.  I want to be a better, more Awesome person.  It would be my dream to start a community of like-minded people that are all trying to achieve certain goals in their life, but I won’t get to ahead of myself – let’s start with me for now.

I will continue to post inspirational messages, and to create guides for various aspects of your life, but this will be the guiding hand on this blog for the next while.  Stay tuned, and enjoy.

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Journey to Awesome: Ground Rules, and Goals to Success

I thought a lot this past weekend about how I am going to track the several ideas I have regarding my journey to Awesome.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I want to be able to break down several character traits I wish to master, and be able to track them over a period of self-improvement.

While I haven’t totally figured out the details of my tracking system, I do want to set some ground rules so things can’t get out of hand.

Self-Improvement Ground Rules

Keep it Easy.  I want to ensure that everything can fit on one spreadsheet, and it will take no more than ten minutes a day to update.

Track Progress.  It should be able to be graphed.  Everything can be quantified.

Reward Successes.  If I meet a long-term goal, I will reward myself somehow.

Don’t Worry About Failures.  Failures are lessons.

Life is Meant to Be Enjoyed.  The paradox of self-improvement is that one can be down oneself while improving, that is to say, why are we improving if we are already happy?  I am already happy in my life, this is meant to push the boundary.  I want to enjoy life while improving it.

Now, onto the master list.  Note that I will be adding and taking away from this list, but for now, I will be tracking each and every one of these:

The Master List of Self-Improvement

  • Moderation
    • Don’t Drink as Much at Bars
    • Stay Within a Budget for Lunches and Dinners
    • Say No at Work and at Home
  • Humility
    • Don’t Brag
    • Ask Questions More Than I Answer Them
    • Don’t Tell Stories When People Don’t Ask
  • Energy
    • Wake Up Earlier to Enjoy the Day Before Work
    • Drink More Tea
    • Drink More Water
  • Organization
    • Keep To-Do Lists
    • Have an Organized House
    • Track Progress of Goals
  • Health
    • Don’t Eat Take-Out
    • Get a Regular Checkup
    • Don’t Track Fitness – Just Be Fit
  • Stability
    • Make, and Keep, an Effective Budget
    • Buy a House
    • Have a Hobby
    • Create Zen Habits
  • Zen
    • Read Classics
    • Decrease Facebook/Email Noise
    • Drink Less; Smoke More Weed
  • Love
    • Be a Better Boyfriend
    • Make an Effort to Know My Family
    • Keep in Constant Contact with Good Friends
    • Enjoy Sex
  • Style
    • Learn Style
    • Have a Hook
    • Care About Work Clothes
    • Stay Clean
  • Adventure
    • Integrate Outdoors in My Life
    • Engage in More DIY Projects
  • Leadership
    • Have a Mentor, in More than One Area
    • Be a Mentor
    • Be Involved in the Community
    • Engage in Politics that Matter
    • Build Revenue from a Business I Start
  • Growth
    • Grow My Blog; Engage and Connect Readers
    • Reward Myself When Completing Tasks and Milestones

Some Other Thoughts

I’ve been thinking about tracking a lot, and I’ve got a system underway that will be both transparent and public.  I want everyone to see what I’m doing, and I want to be accountable for what I’m doing.  I think I may browse a few self-help books at Chapters to see what some prominent authors have done in the past (see, the mentor thing is starting already!).  Anyway, stay tuned, and enjoy the week readers.

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Journey to Awesome: Methods, Trends and Initial Reactions

Well, I’m literally 7 days into tracking my self-improvement now.  While it’s too early to show any trends yet, I just wanted to take a few minutes and go through how I am tracking and some initial trends and thoughts.

Methods of Tracking

Two words: Excel and Dropbox.  All my tracking goes on within a spreadsheet that is in my dropbox, which I update either at home or at work.  I’ve got extensive experience with Excel, so this is coming in very handy to me.  I was contemplating using a Google Docs spreadsheet, but I find that I want to make this as robust as possible so I don’t want to limit myself to web-only.  If I have to start making macros and the such, Excel is bar none the most powerful spreadsheet out there.

And Dropbox?  Get it.  It’s a lifesaver.  By combining the two of these, I’ve essentially made the budget online-only (like Google Docs) but with the complete functionality of Microsoft Excel.  The best of both worlds in my opinion.

Health, Energy & Fitness

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I wanted to make the tracking as easy as possible, and on as few tabs as possible.  I’ve made a tracking sheet for eating, drinking and fitness all on one sheet.

I’m tracking all my meals on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is basically a vegan or lean-meat paleo dinner, and 1 is a Big Mac combo or a restaurant cheeseburger with a couple pints included.  I know what works for me, I don’t need to track exactly what I put in my mouth every day.  This at least gives a few trends I can work with, and as you can see, I’m already improving my meals already.  If I want to go on a strict diet, I can just up the target number from 45 up to 50 or even 55 and push myself that way.

On the other end of this spreadsheet, there are some more inputs I enter every day, and they look like this:

As you can see, I’m tracking some other miscellaneous items, such as the following:

  • Tea and Water. This isn’t number of cups or glasses, it’s out of a scale of 1-10 as well.
  • Take Out. Something that is important to me.  Am I eating fast food?  I want to track this.
  • Fitness. I’m not doing this on a scale of 1-10, as I know what is considered a workout for me.  Even if it’s a 20-minute run, or a 2-hour blitz at the gym, I’m going to just mark this as a “YES” or “NO” to make it easier.
  • Weight. I only mark it down when I weigh myself.
  • Wrong/Right Comments. Just some general comments on the day’s food.

All in all, this spreadsheet takes me about 60 seconds to fill out – pretty great in my opinion.

Stability and Finances

This spreadsheet is split into three different sections – one I fill out, and then a budget as well as graphing.

The budget, above, is pretty straightforward.  Where am I spending my money.  What category?  A running total, as well as pay type is included.  I wanted to be able to track how often I use my debit card during the month, so that is why I have included the pay type.

Then I have also created myself a budget, as you can see below:

So, what exactly is this?  Well, I’ve automated the following:

  • The income and expenses. When I input my expenses and categories on the tracking sheet, it automatically combines all items that are within that category, plus the month above, and sums them together to give my budget.
  • Formatting. I’ve made items I’ve blown my budget in a nice dark orange (easier to read then red), and the yellow are items to watch out for.
  • A check. There’s a quick check at the bottom to make sure the calculations are working right.

I’ve also got a graph, but there’s not much to see since I’ve only been tracking the finances for a couple weeks (a little longer than the health and fitness sheet).

To-Do Lists

Right now, I’ve created a “long-term” to-do list and a “short term” one.  The short-term one is right on my homepage of my browser as shown below:

Do you like this?  Just install the “tasks” widget from iGoogle.  This, along with my email, and RSS reader, are the only items on my homepage, giving me less noise which is what I want as I track my self-improvement.

I don’t really make my to-do list that complicated, but as I finish items I keep them on the list below so I can keep track of progress.  If I knock off one or two items every night, or take a night off and knock off four or five items the next night, I will stay productive towards my goals.

So, all-in-all, it’s going alright.  However, I just want to go over some initial trends of mine that I’ve seen over the last week, and some other thoughts along the way.

Some General Thoughts

I spend A LOT of money. Way more than I make.  I’m grateful I’m tracking it now.  It’s going to be a long slog to get out of debt.

My habits are better when I track. I eat better, I’m more aware of what I’m spending, and I drink more tea and water.  Pretty fascinating!

It’s too early to have any meaningful graphs. It’s really just some jagged lines.  Give me a month or two and we’ll start to see some serious data trends.

Other, social parts have been left out for now. If I want to track things like how I’m acting at a party, or spontaneity, or my social actions, how do I track this?  I don’t want to become completely OCD while in public or private.  Once I get these fundamentals on auto-pilot (i.e. health and money), I will start to work on the other sections.

Anyway, all in all, I’m enjoying this, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the trends reveal themselves over the next few months.

What do you think readers?  What else should I be doing to track progress?  Got any tips/software/websites that would be handy to use?