The Benefits of Beginning

Having a discussion with a friend and colleague today she said something I think we all feel.

“I like trying new things, but I hate being a beginner.”

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Does that resonate with you? It does for me, but as much as I don’t like the beginner stage and I want to start everything I try at expert stage – I continue to begin again on something new often.

For me, this is part of why I like travel so much, I get the chance every time I arrive at a new location to have the childlike wonder where everything is new.  This part is cool, but until I learn a place, I get lost, turned around and can’t find what I need right away. Things take longer for me because of the unfamiliarity and I risk looking like a fool (have you heard my Spanish?)

Here is the thing though, if we don’t step out into what we do not know, we stop growing. One of the dangers of not stepping into something new is that because of familiarity we miss some pretty cool stuff.

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When I begin something new my awareness is heightened both in how I’m doing the new thing and how it’s being received. I want to do it well and I pay close attention to each step of what I’m doing because it’s unfamiliar to me. My awareness is heightened to a level not seen in what is commonplace for me and I see and witness things that might be otherwise overlooked if I was doing something routine.

Remember learning to drive? Remember when going 5 mph felt like you were flying?  You noticed everything, where your hands were on the steering wheel (was that only my Dad?) where you were focused, the speedometer and the rearview mirror. Do you even notice any more when you pass 70mph unless there is a cop around?

This is what happens when we stop putting ourselves into new situations. Things become routine and habits are formed (good or bad) and life goes a bit into autopilot which to me is existing, not living. It becomes so natural to not pay close attention and do multiple routine things at the same time. When we are in an habitual mode we fail to notice some of the beauty around us and we might even take some things for granted that are precious to us. We definitely miss a lot because we are not paying close attention.

The discomfort of doing something new gives us the opportunity to examine things around us much more closely and be focused on our interaction with them. We are naturally more present in a new environment or when doing something new to us.

In the newness of a process or location we are also at our most vulnerable which encourages interaction with others. Those whom we may have overlooked or not made time for become a necessary connection for continued learning or growth in the new process.

As technology continues to take us away from our natural world and we need to relearn how to “be present” I can think of no better way than to start something new.

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What could you become a beginner at today? Have you always wanted to play guitar, or sing, or learn a language?

There is so much to be gained by continually becoming a beginner, so as we move into Spring, I ask you, what will you begin next?

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10 Critical Items for the Digital Nomad and Location Independent Worker

cropped-gwmhzsxtfet8v2u16d2l_hero-imageThis is not my usual type of post but I have been a digital nomad for years now and it is different than being a traveler with different requirements. Many people have asked my advice about what things I feel are “must haves” for this lifestyle – here are my top 10 picks.

Do you dream of working online and having no restrictions to where you can call home at any time? Do you dream of traveling to different locations to experience their culture without the restrictions of PTO or days out of the office?

If you are dreaming of becoming, or are a digital nomad or location independent worker I have some important tips from the road.  Whether you adopt this lifestyle for a lifetime or simply several months a year, there are some “tools of the trade” that warrant the coveted space in your luggage. Sorry fashion forward travelers, you will have to forgo your shoe collection for these items.

There is a difference between tourist and digital nomad and therefor what to bring on a trip versus what to have for a lifestyle are different as well. As a tourist, if you can’t get internet on a day, you can work around it, as someone who relies on it for their income, it’s a whole different ballgame. This is a list for those who make their living while traveling.

This is my list of the top 10 most important items for a successful location independent lifestyle:

  1. Surge Protector– there are many locations around the world for which power is inconsistent at best. Your most valuable possessions are likely electronic and thus need recharging. Stay protected against power surges that can fry your equipment by always having this between an outlet and your devices. I like this Belkin Surgeplus because it contains both electric and usb outlets, has a rotating plug and is super compact for packing.
  2. Multi-Current Converter and Adaptor– When traveling to different countries I’ve had little pouches with all different plugs. I have since ditched those since pieces can get lost and have an integrated unit that handles every possible country I’m likely to visit. This unit from TryAce acts as both an adapter and a converter. So those of you that travel with hair appliances or juicers can use it to still run your devices without smoking them up. Compact, multi purpose is all what this lifestyle needs!
  3. Warm Coat – It is inevitable that you will find yourself in cooler climates throughout your travels. Having a warm coat is priceless, however they often take up a lot of real estate in your luggage! This option from NorthFace for women and this for men is water resistant, insulated and packs into it’s own hand pocket making it a trifecta win for the location independent traveler.
  4. Daypack – There will be times you get caught in a rain shower or want to go on an adventure in one of the places you land. You can certainly get a backpack that has a rain cover – but let’s be honest, will you have it on hand during that pop up rain shower? Are you likely to be a bit more adventurous and need it for water activities? I recommend having a fully waterproof and durable daypack like this one by Vitchelo the trick to managing this lifestyle is to have multipurpose items and this lightweight daypack will protect your valuables from water damage all while serving as a regular back pack.
  5. Noise Cancelling Headphones– There will be days that you feel like these are the best thing on the planet! You may be sitting that one row in front of the crying baby on a plane or happened to accidentally book the airbnb next to the train station but noise cancelling headphones are the BFF for a location independent traveler. You can get the over ear ones which compact into a small case or the tiny, space saving ear buds. One way or another make sure you have them, you will be grateful one day!
  6. Compact Raincoat– This need goes without saying, I’m sure. You can definitely carry one of those lovely plastic ponchos with you or you can spring for a compact packable wind and waterproof jacket for yourself like this one for women and this one for men.
  7. Electronic Reading Devicekindle, iPad, surface– whichever you fancy but you will want to read at some point and carrying books as a traveler is weight you cannot add to your luggage. These devices allow you to keep your laptop safely stowed and can be used from plane boarding until deplaning without the evil eye from the flight attendants! Additionally, I have my iPad as a back up option for some of my most important programs in the terrible event something happens to my laptop. You’ll not lose by adding this piece of electronics to your gear.
  8. Luggage– This is your life you are carrying around in these bags. You need to be sure you have the most sturdy and best product to hold what possessions you have decided to take on your journey. I am a huge fan of Osprey products as are many of my nomad friends. My gear is a Osprey Shuttle however I think the Osprey Sojurn would have been a better fit for me. Regardless of what suits you, it makes sense to buy quality here – and do yourself a favor, do not get black luggage!
  9. VPN (Virtual Private Network)– As a location independent person and traveler, you will spend time in airports, coffee shops hotels and various shared network locations where you are not secure to do the day-to-day things like pay your bills or transfer funds in your financial accounts. Having access to a secure network has more benefits than watching shows blocked in the country you’re visiting (although that is a feature!) it provides you protection for your data. The Butterfly is the most compact and portable VPN I’ve seen on the market and well worth the money for sure.
  10. HotspotSky Roam Solis– Since you will rely completely on your internet connection, this is a key element for your tool chest. You will find yourself occasionally at a fabulous location that has intermittent power outages, or their idea of reliable internet is not yours. If you are continually telling clients you cannot connect online because of a power outage which took all the routers down in your fab location. This tool is not for a daily use, it is a great disaster recovery system for a day use from time to time.

So there you have it, 10 tools I believe every remote worker, location independent business person or digital nomad should make space in their luggage for.

Note – yes, there are affiliate links in this post, this will not add any cost to the items but I will receive a small credit for anything you may choose to purchase – so it helps a fellow traveler out!

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Valuable Time

We arrive in December each year and remark how fast time slips away.IMG_5922.JPG

I hear often, “it felt like only yesterday we were celebrating New Years Eve!”

So as you reflect over the year that has passed and plan for the year ahead, I’d like you to add something to this exercise. I encourage you to take this opportunity to consider what I call value-based living.

This is a missing component to many people’s reflections I’ve found. I believe it is an essential step to making the most of your time.

What is Value-Based Living?

Value-based living is exactly as it states, living your life by your values. Many of us believe we do this, however upon deeper reflection there is often room for improvement.

I remember growing up hearing the saying that dust bunnies were ok if you had happy children.

The point is that so many of us spend a huge amount of time at work or chasing something that when all is said and done, is not part of our value system.  If you spend all day chasing your kids out of the house so you can clean it and keep it clean and your family is where your values lie….

Can Values-Based Living & Reality Co-Exist?

But E, you say, money is not where my values lie, but I’ve got to make money to live!

I do know this, and yes, you can have a values-based life and make money. The key is to know your values both individually and as a family if you are part of one. In this situation it is more about how much money you “need” to live your values.

The reason this is key is that it gives you a touchstone.

A Fishing Story

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There is a story I love that talks about this perfectly. A fisherman with a small boat went out every day to fish. He would come in from a few hours on the ocean and sell his fish at the local market and go home with some money.

A businessman met him one day and asked him why he didn’t have more fish? The fisherman replied, I have a small boat and this is what I can bring in.

Well, the businessman said, feeling very smug, “Why not get a bigger boat then you can catch more fish and make more money?”

The fisherman thought for a moment and replied, but then I would have to stay out longer and I wouldn’t get to bring my children to school and spend the day with my wife.

The businessman went on to explain the merits of a business plan to catch more fish, make more money, and in the future expand his business and then hire others to do the work and make lots of money.

The fisherman contemplated the plan and said, so when I expand my business and hire other people then I can be home to walk my children to school and spend the day with my wife?

Smiling, he walked away to go home to be with his family with the money he had earned in his pocket.

THIS is values-based living.

I find so many people get caught up chasing things that are not important to them at the expense of things that really are.

It’s no one’s fault, each day we are bombarded, pinged and flashed with things we’re being told are important to us. After a while it is hard to remember that we know in our heart what deserves our time and attention.

I have been through this myself, which is why I can talk about it and how I actually developed this philosophy of values-based living.

I found that the closer I live to my values, the happier I become. I have incorporated this into my work with others and regularly ask them to really think deeply about their values when they are considering a change in their life.

Making Your Time Count

imagesI haven’t found the cure to slowing down time. What I have discovered is that when you consciously match how you spend your hours, days and months to what is truly important to you, your time feels expanded.

I encourage you today to sit down and really think about what you value. Once you have your list as long or as short as it is, I ask you to consider the year that just passed. Did you spend your days in concert or conflict with your values?

Where you find your gaps is where change will bring the most fulfillment and happiness.

 

Inspiration In Practice

I am always taken aback when someone tells me how inspiring my life is to them. It certainly makes my heart happy that I am helping others consider options that they may not have thought possible originally and I am so grateful for the reminder of the ripples my life generates.

I love to set big goals that most would shy away from because I have learned that there is as much ability to reach an amazing goal as an average one! I have also learned by stretching myself over the years that I am far more capable than I allow myself to believe most days.

I want to let you all in on the whole story though – I have the same fears, insecurities and self-doubts as everyone and I don’t always get it right.

Leaper

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Look, you all have been in my world long enough to know I’m a leaper. I have had tremendous success and a few epic failures. I know there is more than one side to this coin I’ve chosen for my journey.

What fuels my courage?

The possibilities of each leap I take are my main inspiration.  I do a lot of research on the bigger leaps I take, but there is always an unknown. I plan for what I can and anticipate as much as possible, however I have learned that I cannot control the outcome.

I have  learned that control an illusion, and my grandest idea of the best outcome is limited by my experiences. There might be a far greater outcome possible if I get out of my own way and let it unfold!

Epic Failures

I have also had the benefit of failures of epic proportions both business and personal. The benefit to these experiences is that at my lowest point, I was never out. I got pretty low and close to the absolute bottom and I learned that if you jump in a body of water and hit the bottom, you can propel yourself to the top at a speed that shatters a slow swim from the middle!

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Plan B

My sister and I have a history of making plans that somehow might just not turn out exactly as we originally planned. My Type A sister has come a long way and now without any hesitation will say, “Oh well! What’s plan B?”

We call ourselves the Plan B Girls now because it never riles us and because we have a goal in mind and we are determined to figure out a way to get to what is important. We  have learned not to waste time with what could have been and go around what is inconvenient or unplanned to reach our end goal.  It’s brilliant!

When Contingency Planning Gets In The Way

I am a risk manager by trade (20+ years in the legal field will do this to you) however, there are times when you can sabotage your goal by planning on “what if’s”.

Sure I recognize that things won’t always go the way I am hoping and planning. When setting goals with others and myself, examining the full picture is critical to be prepared for what might come up.

Be careful though not to scare yourself right out of your dream!

Right before I left California I almost did this to myself. I was halfway done selling all my items and planning my move to another country and I woke up one morning in a complete panic!

What if my clients don’t follow me online?

What if I get to Panama and I don’t have any way to make money?

What will I do if I can’t run my business in Panama?

I worked myself up so much that I actually considered scrapping the entire move and going back to the workforce and getting another paralegal job (gasp!)

My Truth

It was in the moment that I was considering scrapping my business and getting a “real job” that the nausea set in. It was immediate and visceral and unable to be ignored.

The one thing I have learned is that my body speaks to me! In those moments of self-doubt and insecurity when I retreat to the familiar, my body says, “I don’t think so! You don’t belong there anymore, you’ve learned what you were supposed to – time to move on!”

Wow, I’m so glad for this!

Conviction

In the case of my Panama move, well, you all know how that turned out and I am happy to say, I’m having one of the most successful years in my business to date.

I had to do a couple of things to get here though:

  1. Decide that this was the path I wanted and it was indeed possible to succeed.
  2. Determine what markers I would use to signal a need to reassess my move.

Once those two items were in place, I was ready to move on with confidence that I would not hit total bottom and become homeless in Panama before reassessing my options. I further committed to making it work because I believed in my business and I’d seen my clients follow me when I moved from Boston, so I had proof it could happen.

Your Turn

So now I ask you, are you talking yourself out of what you really want to accomplish? Is there a possibility you are selling yourself short?  I am certain you are far more capable than you give yourself credit for!

I encourage you to set your real goals this year, you know the ones I’m talking about, the ones that maybe you’re even a little afraid to tell others about because maybe they’ll laugh or try to talk you out of them.

As I head forward into a new year in a new location, I am filled with gratitude for this audience with whom share my journey. It is you who continue to inspire me to see how high I might reach and if I in turn inspire you a bit to reach as well – then I am doubly grateful!

Let’s do this!

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In Pursuit of Crow Pose

I have recently returned from a week away at a yoga retreat.  This was one of those things I’ve always wanted to do, but for one reason or another, had never actually done.  I can’t even tell you how I heard about this event, or why it came across my radar, but when I saw it something said I needed to do it now and this was the one.

Our initial evening we were asked to write our intentions for the week.  What did I want to get out of the week?

I was stumped!

This goal girl had no goals for the week, except, maybe to finally get into crow pose for more than a millisecond before toppling.

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Toppling crow

As I pondered this question and searched my soul to figure out my goal for the week, I realized it was just to have this experience.  My goal was to let the week unfold and teach me what it wanted and for me to just be curious and a allow myself to be a novice in this experience.

Now you all know, I am an action person, I like to set goals, make plans, allow them to change but always I seem to have my eye on some prize, some goal.

I have begun to explore another way, to see if there may be times when I would benefit by allowing life to unfold for me. The idea to not drive my life every step of the way and to allow the path to reveal itself with each step is new for me and I’m seeing how much it might benefit me to listen, watch how each move I make changes the landscape before me.

I’m not saying that I believe sitting on a couch eating bon bons is the way for me, nor do I believe you can just OM your way to a fulfilling life. I am saying, maybe releasing my grip on the driving wheel might have some benefits at this point in my life. How about you?

The challenge for me is to find a way to both allow life to unfold while still having a strong direction and taking action and steps. Lord knows I can’t just sit around and wait for life to happen to me – I’m never going to be THAT chill!

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For example, the action I took was to attend the yoga retreat, the release and the unfolding was that when one came across my plate and it struck me, I didn’t question it and I jumped on board. Once I determined I was in a safe space, I further released to the unfolding and allowed all of the people I came into contact with during that week to teach me and share whatever it was they chose to share.

I did not have a list of questions to ask others nor did I have any agenda of accomplishments I hoped to achieve. I did not have to be the best yogi, I did not know anything about the topics that were being taught.  In fact, I knew very little about the stories that were shared or any of the activities or rituals that occurred during the week. I was in a “child’s mindset” which I could have embraced or fought – I chose to embrace it.

Curiosity Is Action

What I learned during this week was precious and not entirely what I could have thought to put into an intention at the beginning.

One of the most important items I continue to learn as I practice my crow pose, is to take careful assessment of how I feel, align myself well, take my time as I move and concentrate on the moment as I look forward, let go and trust myself.

Although you may or may not be a practicing yogi, I believe these lessons may prove helpful in all that you pursue.

Are there places in your life that you are safe enough to let go of the driver’s wheel, be a novice and just be curious? Are there times when you are so busy setting goals and being the best you can be that you miss what others share with you?

I encourage you this month to consider where you might loosen your grip on the driver’s wheel in your life to trust and allow some of life to unfold for you and show you what it has to teach you.

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What To Do With A Little Funk

I’m going to be honest with you all, I’ve been having a bit of a tough time lately.  Yes, even Life Coaches have their days or weeks when things are just in a funk.  It is not that there is one specific thing that is wonky for me, just a bit of everything all over the place.

I recognize that this feeling has come up before and it often occurs when I am working on a major transition, namely a move to another country.  So good news, I am aware of what likely kicked it off.  I also have the benefit of knowing it is not something that will last and I know I have been here before and I moved through it. Knowing this is great, however it doesn’t change the feeling of unease and general funk.

What To Do?

In the past I have dealt with this type of feeling in a very active way.  As some of you know, my mother was never one for coddling us girls, she was more of a “pull up your boots and get on with it” type of woman. So, with all the grace and gentleness of a bull I have usually just plowed through my days just doing everything I needed to do to get to the other side.

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There are many benefits to handling life and its challenges this way.  First, you get a heck of a lot done because you are working so hard at getting through “it” you are like a freight train at top speed.  While moving so fast to get through the days that will land you on the other side, often times additional things get swept to the side and left unnoticed by the side of the road.  Trust me, not dealing with those items today does not mean they won’t pop up again (usually at a most inconvenient time)!

A Different Approach

Today I’ve been focusing more on just being.  Sitting with the feeling of funk, trying not to label it good or bad, just observing and feeling (even the stuff that just sucks to feel) and letting it teach me what I need to learn so I may move through it.

This is not easy for me by any stretch.  I’m an action person in all senses of the word.  I like to move and create and that requires me to do stuff.

I am finding though that by sitting with things – even the wonky things, there is much to be gained. By allowing the feelings to wash through me and journaling,  I can sometimes hear the message in the mess.

The Benefit

These times cause me to get out of my head and stop plowing through my “to-do” list and listen to the world around me.  I’ve realized that sometimes (I know this will come as a surprise to you) I am so busy moving forward I’m not looking at where I am or not paying enough attention to those around me.

Being in a funk always slows me down and brings me from my head to my emotions.  It’s in these moments that I can be open to the possibilities that although something might not be going as I wished, that doesn’t mean it is not going the way it needs to go.

When I stop rushing, running and doing and begin to just observe what is going on around me there is opportunity to receive.  When I slow I create more peace and I can often begin to see what would have just been a blur had I been trying to push through to get to the other side.

Where Are You Today?

So I encourage you to take stock of where you are today.  Yes, we are midway through the year, so review where you stand for your goals this year, and then just sit with the information.

Don’t rush out to make a plan to make up for lost time or set about 10Xing your next six months, just sit with the information from your review.  Spend some time in meditation and maybe a walk on the beach and see if there is information that comes to you about where you are.

You might just reinvigorate your desire to pursue this goal and come up with a great new idea, or you might find that the Universe has been trying to tell you something but you were moving so fast that you couldn’t see the sign.

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Making U-Turns On The Road Of Life When Necessary

archery-weekendsEveryone in the goal achievement space talks about how important it is to have a clear vision and specific idea of what you want to achieve – even me.  However, I have a number of clients coming to me saying, “I want to work with you, but I really don’t know what my goals are or should be.”

Sometimes the hardest part of achieving your goals is figuring out exactly where you want to go. I’m telling you, although it is helpful, it’s not necessary and I don’t want that to stop anyone anymore!

I’ll let you in on my journey – when I started out, I had no idea where I was going and what I wanted out of life.  All I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, was that I didn’t want to be or stay where I was at the time.

That knowledge was just enough to start on a plan, before that I was just complaining and we know how far that propels you!

The reason that knowing where you don’t want to be works is much like a GPS.  I don’t know about you, but when I get in my car and set my GPS it tells me to start out going south or west or something.  I don’t know where my south or west is, I barely know my left and right some days!

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So you know what I do? I just start in the direction my car is pointed and the GPS redirects me as necessary.  My experience with the GPS is the same in life, you get those same nudges if you set out in a direction that isn’t a match for you regardless if you have set a clear direction or know your south from left.

Have you ever started a project or something and everything seems to be against you?  Nothing goes right, there are obstacles around every corner and it just feels like a slog to get this thing accomplished?  Yah, me too.

Now, I ask you, have you ever started something and it all just falls into place?  You have all the things you need and a few extra things just show up and they seem to help you when you weren’t even expecting or planning for them. Everything just feels in flow and like it’s working.  Yah, me too.

That’s what I mean when I say if you start off on a path that is not the best one for you at the time, you’ll figure it out pretty quickly.  In fact if you don’t figure it out, in my experience you will continue to get obstacles and barriers until you notice, hey, this isn’t working for me, maybe I should try something else.

I know this and trust this now because I’ve seen it happen countless times both in my life and in others.

stepDon’t not start

So many people are not sure where to start or exactly what they want and this trips them up and they just don’t start anything.  I can tell you that they don’t figure out what they do want any faster by not moving.

I encourage you to think about a few things you want in your life.  Is it a new job but you don’t know what’s a good fit for you? Is it a new location? Something else?  No matter what you are looking for in your life, take a step – any step and see where it goes next.  Each time you take a step, ask yourself, does this feel right?  Are things seeming to fit?  Am I uncomfortable because this is unfamiliar or because this is not right for me?

You really know what is best for you.  Not me, Tony Robbins or any guru out there.  It’s up to you to discover it by taking small calculated steps to either move you away from where you don’t want to be or to move you towards what you desire – or both!

If you only know where you are is where you don’t want to be, then take a step at a time away from where you don’t want to be, and see where each one brings you.  Trust yourself to pick up on the signs if where you are heading is not right for you.

Of course if you ever need or want someone to talk out your next steps with, you have a goal achievement specialist in your pocket, don’t hesitate to reach out if you want.