As my wife Anne and I were preparing for our move out of the country (we got rid of all of our stuff, took two small bags and headed off to Costa Rica and beyond), I’ve been looking back on the first big move we made: from Pittsburgh to Denver 6 years ago. We left our “stable”, “good” jobs, and headed across the country with nothing lined up.
Looking back on that move, I know I must have been really nervous and stressed. But now that I have some distance from my frightful former self, I remember it as more of “oh, okay, let’s head to Denver now” and it wasn’t a big deal.
The thing that sticks with me is that the response we got from friends, co-workers, and family was resoundingly negative and fear-based. Many of the comments focused around logical things like the fact that we didn’t know anyone in Denver and we had no job prospects lined up.
But one common theme of negative comments sticks out: “I hope you like cold weather”, said in a dismissive, preemptive “I told ya so” tone.
This comment encapsulates the fearful mentality that pervades the paradigm in which I grew up.
Here’s why: Denver weather is among the best in the top half of the US. Yes, Denver gets cold and has snow, but it’s very sunny, mild, and pleasant. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, gets the typical mid-west/east coast weather with cold, snow, rain, humidity, and endless grey days.
So the point here is that people in Pittsburgh, which is in the top 5 worst weather cities in the US, were so concerned about us “giving that all up” to move to Denver.
And that’s the mentality. It’s much easier to endure shitty weather (because that’s what’s known) than to seek out the unknown.
The bigger picture is that this is just one example of the “it’s shitty, but it’s comfortable” mentality. People stay in their unfulfilling jobs for years, let their dreams fade so that they can conform to practicality, and generally live lives they’re “supposed” to live instead of lives they want to live.
We want to change that. We want more people to realize they don’t need to stay in their comfort zone and living the life they’re “supposed” to live.
We’re creating a movement of people breaking out of their pre-written life script and hacking their own path.
Let’s build path hacker together. Send your story of how you’re hacking your own path. Send stories of people that have inspired you to do the same.
Let’s show more people that the weather here is actually quite lovely.
Whether you’re the force behind it, or just trying to manage what comes your way, change happens. Clinging on to what life was like before the change results only in conflict and stress. Opposing and resisting what is doesn’t change what is.
Last year, I wanted big life changes, so I made it happen. Anne and I got rid of everything we owned and headed out for indefinite international travel.
We both grew up in the same conservative, closed-minded area in Pennsylvania and we wanted to kick the shit out of our paradigms–Chuck Norris style. Living in Denver (1,500 miles and a world of mentality away) for 7 years helped, but we wanted something much, much bigger.
So off we headed to Costa Rica, and the fact that we had done it (gotten rid of everything, did all the planning, and then actually did it) felt exhilarating. We had the momentum of a freight train.
Unfortunately, that momentum was quickly derailed. In under two months I’d be living in my parent’s house in the town I had visited only a few times in the past 7 years. A place where the conversations are surface-level and judgmental. Where Anne and I are the crazy, irresponsible, “goofy” family members with apparent issues for not living the script.
Well, sometimes life throws its own changes your way. That’s what happened when my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer early in our international travels. Not knowing exactly what that meant, I headed back to be with my family, and Anne followed a few weeks later.
The initial prognosis was pretty positive and we stayed for over 4 months while my mom went through treatment, largely successfully. During those 4 months we kept our eyes on our next destination, and landed a house sitting gig in Mexico the week my mom finished her treatment.
During our 6 weeks in Mexico, my mom wasn’t doing very well but was told she’d start improving. So Anne and I decided we’d keep traveling and booked tickets to Panama.
Sadly, my mom’s health did not improve and the week before our trip to Panama, we made the decision to cancel our trip and head back to Pennsylvania.
My mom was just released from the hospital and no one knows if she’ll recover to where she was before her diagnosis. So we’re taking it one day at a time.
So for Anne and me, that means reevaluating our situation based on the current reality, and trying to live our lives accordingly.
We’ll see what happens, but the two lessons I’ve learned so far:
1. Life is short and can change in an instant. Safety and security are illusions. Find out what you love to do and do it. NOW. If you don’t create your own change, life will change for you.
2. Work with your situation, not against it. Change what you can change, but let go of what you can’t.
Until then we’re all taking it one step at a time, with confidence that we’ll find the way through the darkness.
And the list goes on. Spending 3 hours a night watching reality TV? That’s totally normal and you won’t get called out for it. Spend that time making a YouTube video, and you’ve got too much time on your hands.
Instead of listening to the voice in your head (or the voice from your co-workers or family) about what is “wasting” time, find out what you love to do and do more of it.
Go to campus career fairs. Get the resume ready. Practice interviewing. Apply for open positions. Land a secure corporate job.
Or…find what you love to do and go do it.
Megan Gebhart chose the latter.
Approaching the pending end of college, Megan, like most of her fellow students, was anxious about getting the perfect job after graduation.
Then she had a cup of coffee with a stranger.
That stranger became her best friend. That one cup of coffee led to 52 more. Those cups of coffee took her to 29 cities, 12 states, 7 countries and provided a new perspective on life’s possibilites, and ultimately a job that she defines as perfect.
It all took place during Megan’s aptly named 52 Cups of Coffee project, during which she had a coffee conversation with a new person each week for a year.
She had coffee with Seth Godin and Steve Wozniak. She had coffee with the president of her university, a farmer, a Harvard professor, various entrepreneurs, and an ultra-marathoner, to name just a few.
Through those conversations, she not only gleaned an immense amount of perspective, but she found what she loved to do–travel, meet people, and tell stories. By pursuing what she loved to do, she was offered a job that was tailor-made for her–yes, traveling, meeting people, and telling stories.
On to the interview:
[MV] How did the 52 Cups of Coffee experiment start?
[MG] I received an email out of the blue from kid named Brett. After a conversation with the Director of Career Services at Michigan State regarding a project I was working on, the director realized that Brett had done the same project and decided that the two of us had a lot in common, so he mentioned that to Brett.
We had coffee, and realized we had a lot in common. While initially nervous, I left that meeting exhilarated and I knew it was the start of something big. Brett became one of my best friends and I couldn’t help but wonder: if meeting one new person could have such an effect on my life, what would a year of meeting new people do?
So you knew you wanted to meet new people, but how did you decide on the structure and who you meet up with?
I think it was a mixture of things. I’ve always got various little projects going on and I’m always looking for something to do. I was looking for a project that involved writing and sharing stories. And I knew I wanted to get out and meet new people, so I combined the two and started it as an experiment.
You obviously learned a lot in the 52 conversations throughout your project. What themes stick out for you?
Throughout the conversations, I realized that the happiest people I talked to were the ones that went their own way in life and chose the way they wanted to live. Or others had things happen in their lives that forced them to live differently and they embraced it and were able to make it work in their own way.
The best example of this was Brett’s mom [Brett was the initial coffee conversation] who said “the happiest people are the ones that stop looking from the outside in and from the inside out”.
And I realized that the pressure I put on myself was from what other people wanted me to do. I decided to figure out what I was passionate about and go from there. And the thing that gave me the confidence was that a lot of the success stories of the people I talked to was the fact that those people that had the curiosity to figure out what they were passionate about, the courage to do it, and the perseverance to make it happen.
I was going to all of these resume-building and job search seminars and all of that felt so artificial to me. And I realized that the traditional 9 to 5 corporate job lifestyle was not something I wanted to do. So I kept meeting new people and traveling and I had the confidence that things would be okay.
So you not only had the realization that the standard corporate job path wasn’t for you, but you had the courage to do something different. But you didn’t have any plan for how converting that into a living.
Right. Traveling is a lot of fun, but it does require money. So I was traveling around Europe and I decided that by September I needed to find a job. Then just when I was about to get serious about a job search, the perfect job found me. A contact I had at the Michigan State Alumni Association reached out to me and we worked together to build a job that enables me to travel, meet MSU alumni, and tell their stories.
So by pursuing what you love to do, you were approached with a job that lets you continue doing what you love to do. How is it going so far?
It’s been great. I’ve been able to continue living nowhere for the past year while traveling and meeting people.
In the 52 conversations you had, you received lots of advice. What advice would you give to people that realize that they want to pursue their own path, but might not know where to start?
Any life change or big goal starts with one step. Just take some sort of first step. I might be biased, but the first step is to find that thing that lights a spark inside of you, then find someone that is doing that, or has that experience, and reach out and have a conversation with that person.
In that conversation, you’re very likely to find something that leads you to step two and see where that takes you. And hopefully you get to a point where all of these things add up and you’re living the way you want. But the most important thing is to just start. You’ve got to take the first step.
As I was driving in my mom’s car the other day I realized that my music options were limited to the local radio stations preset on her car stereo. Of the six options, there were three commercials playing, two awful songs, and one tolerable tune playing. It was something I would never seek out to listen to deliberately, but I chose to stick with Bob Seger given my limited options.
As “Nightmoves” played on, I realized that while driving around my musical goal had been to find something that is somewhat tolerable and keep it there. Going through the other 5 preset stations, or delving into the abyss of the “seek” function had only lead me back to Seger, but with less time to listen to the song I “chose” to listen to. So I learned that if the Scorpions come on, just leave it there. And if the DJ plays Steve Miller Band, you’re set for a good 3 minutes.
I think it was when I heard the 3rd Stevie Ray Vaughn song that it occurred to me that this is what most of us do with our lives.
We accept the 6 preset classic rock stations that life presents to us, and we hope to find one that’s tolerable and stay with it.
In looking for something better, we’ve been burned by the “seek/search” button one too many times to realize that the time spent pushing buttons rarely pays off. Sure, you may catch a good Zeppelin tune, but it ends soon after, and then you find yourself listening to a local plumber commercial to kick off a 10 minute commercial break.
With music, we don’t accept this. For years, we’ve demanded other music options in cars–8-track, cassette, cd, MP3, and satellite–so that we can listen to any and all music that we want to.
But with life, we often settle for the choices presented to us–viewing our life options as those 6 buttons, each associated with a radio station ranging from shitty to tolerable.
Go to college, get a job (and if you’re lucky, your job will be tolerable), get married, buy a house, incur a mountain of debt, and then work at the job you hate because you feel you have to in order to maintain your lifestyle. All of the stations on my “car stereo” had a slight variation on that tired theme.
The reality is that like music, life has an infinite library of options. And when we’re willing to leave the presets of the one medium we know, we find the stuff we really love.
Technology and tools such as Pandora and Spotify have given us easy access to endless amazing options for music. And along with music, has also given us endless amazing options for life. It has also given us the ability to connect, share, and explore in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.
We can break out of our job/industry/lifestyle presets and connect with amazing people doing awesome things around the world. We can open our minds and our hearts and our soul to the limitless options of life.
So if you’re stuck in a world with too many Kansas tunes and car dealer commercials, it’s time to think outside the presets and find the stuff you love.
For this Path Hacker interview, I had the pleasure of holding a Skype call with Danny Dover, one of my personal inspirations and a downright awesome guy.
Danny did more cool shit in 2011 than most people do in a lifetime. To name just a few, he became a published author, ran a marathon, traveled to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Panama, Belize, Mexico, Canada and France, summited Mt. Rainer, starred in a commercial, and learned to fly a plane, all while doubling his annual income and cutting expenses in half.
Danny does stuff like this all the time. He decided to create a life list (aka bucket list) and to pursue his list aggressively. His deadline for completing everything on his list is not before he “kicks the bucket” or in some far-off, “someday” like most of us. Danny’s deadline is a mere 5 years away. Setting a short deadline keeps him on task to be continually doing all the things he wants to do in life.
But it’s not just a hurried pursuit of checking things off a list. Danny’s list is not the goal, but a means to an end. The real goal is to live a life of happiness and inspire others to do the same. It’s working wonders. Danny is the happiest he’s ever been, and I can personally attest to the fact that he’s a big inspiration others.
His Professional Bio Reads: “Danny Dover is a passionate SEO, influential writer and obsessed life list completer. He is also the author of the best selling book Search Engine Optimization Secrets. He was previously the Lead SEO at SEOmoz.org, one of the world’s leading SEO companies, where his articles were read more than a million times. His expertise has been cited in Time Magazine, PC World, Smashing Magazine and Seattle Post-Intelligencer and has been translated into Japanese, Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, German and Hungarian. He has spoken at numerous conferences (spanning three continents) and his work has been accessed online in more than 175 different countries. Danny spends his time checking items off his 150+ item long bucket list (half of which are now complete) and working on his startup, Making it Click. Making it Click is an online marketing training course that features actionable how-to videos from the world’s best online marketers.
On to the interview:
[MV] You were really successful early in your career. A lot of people would be content to be at a point in life where they’ve got a really good job, speaking opportunities, and offers to be an author and professor. However, you reevaluated your priorities at that point in your life. How did that come about?
[DD] It started out slowly. As I was traveling around a lot speaking at conferences, I realized I really, really loved that. I loved the people I was meeting, and the experiences I was having. Then I started to realize I actually liked those things more that my job and the SEO work that I was doing. And as I was meeting cool people who were doing interesting things, the conversations I was having tended to be more and more about happiness and exploring the idea of ‘what is happiness and how do you sustain that’?
And the people that I was having these conversations with were successful by any way you want to define that. Either they had a lot of money, had families that they loved, had accomplished great things, or all of the above. And these ideas kept coming up that it wasn’t things that made them happy, it was family and friends, travel, and experiences that made them happy.
And it slowly occurred to me that I could have more of these experiences now. It really doesn’t cost that much to travel if you do it smart and cheap. And I realized that it wasn’t possessions that made me happy it was awesome experiences and awesome people.
From that, I started to reevaluate my life list. I had a list at the time, but it had things on it like ‘get an Oscar, and Emmy, and a Grammy in the same year’, so it wasn’t very realistic [laughs].
So I went through and audited that, and I got it down to something that was very challenging, but still potentially doable, at least in theory. I kept adding to the list and adding to it, (based on conversations with friends and coworkers) and then I had a really long list. I reevaluated it at that point and I got it down to 100 items.
I first started working on the list was when I was speaking at a conference in Sydney. It was the first time I had been out of North America, and I though it was a great opportunity to start checking some things off the list. Once I started working on the list I realized I really loved it and that this was what I wanted to do.
From there, I set an arbitrary deadline (May 25, 2017) and started working on it.
How committed are you to the deadline?
After I set the deadline I woke up one day and decided ‘I want to go shoot guns and get a tattoo’. So I called my friend and we went to shoot guns.
Then I went to get the tattoo. I got the deadline for my life list tattooed on my butt.
And so the lame joke I always make is ‘I can’t change my deadline, it’s too much of a pain in the butt’ [laughs].
It’s actually been really helpful because some things on my list take a lot of time, for example, getting a patent, but having the deadline forces me to make it happen, and that has made all the difference for me.
You’ve written on your blog that you stopped drinking, stopped watching TV, and got fit. Was that part of your life list or were those things separate?
Those changes were separate, actually. I had already started pursing my life list and I think it was around the time that I had a bad break-up.
It was under similar circumstances as a previous break-up, so realized that I was making the same mistakes and that I wasn’t growing, and that something needed to change.
It did something to my head. So I went for a really long jog. Well, it was as long as it could be since I wasn’t in shape at the time, and I’m sure it devolved into a walk [laughs]. Then I thought ‘this is ridiculous. I’m not making the right choices and something has to change.’
At that time I was living with my friend Ian, who is a personal trainer, and I asked him how to get fit. He recommended to me what worked for him and he recommended CrossFit and a Paleo diet. So I started taking CrossFit classes three days a week and doing the diet, and between those two things I lost the majority of the weight.
So that was the point where you started to work out, but you had been really out of shape. Then you ran a marathon last year. How did that happen?
I had never been a runner and had never run more than 3 miles, but I recruited my friend Sam to train with me. I called him up and I said ‘Sam, I’m going to train for a marathon, and I want you to do it with me. We’re going to train for the marathon and we’re going to run it in Argentina together.’ And he said ‘okay’.
So I trained as I traveled. I trained in Rio, Belize, Argentina, Chile, and on June 27, 2011, I completed my first marathon.
How long was it from the the initial “long jog” when you were really out of shape until you ran a marathon?
That ‘long jog’ was in December of 2010, and the marathon was June 27, 2011.
6 months to go from out of shape to running a marathon is extremely impressive. How have these accomplishments affected your life and your happiness?
It’s been a complete 180. My freshman year in college was tough for me. Academically I was doing fine, but spiritually and socially it was tough. I was depressed and unhappy. But after gradually getting into this life list mentality it’s the complete opposite.
I’m an extremely positive person and I run into moments where I laugh at myself for laughing at just nothing [laughs]. It’s completely different, night and day, and it’s been sustained for 4 or 5 years. And this is how I feel all the time now.
All this happened because of the actions you took. What advice would you give to people that want to make a life change but aren’t sure how?
I think it starts with surrounding yourself with people that inspire you rather than drain you. That’s what enabled me to get some momentum and get over that initial inertia was surrounding myself with people who challenged and inspired me. That came from coworkers at SEOmoz and my friends Ian and Sam. And frankly I wasn’t even asking the right questions at the time. My goals were set too low. But they were the ones that saw potential and inspired me.
You’ve been an inspiration to me through the posts on your Life Listed blog. Are your plans for that blog to inspire others and build a community or is it just a personal blog?
It started as a tool to keep pressure on me to keep moving forward on the list. If I made my goals public, it made it harder to fail. Then as I started to get positive feedback on the blog, I realized that I get a lot more fulfillment from helping other people than me just talking about myself [laughs].
And so I struggle with that when I’m writing posts about myself and I’m still trying to figure out how to help people in the best way.
Another inspiring thing on your Life Listed blog is the “happiness audit” that pertains to career happiness. How did you come up with that, and how do you use it?
The happiness audit started slowly. I was doing a lot of research on happiness, doing a lot of reading on it, and I started doing a lot of thinking on how to quantify happiness while I was in Argentina. It turns out that someone else that spent years on the topic ended up being a friend of mine so we had a lot of discussions about it over coffee.
But the happiness audit was started in my early stages, actually before I went to Argentina. The review part is essential. I review it with my manager every two weeks. I do the audit myself the day before our meeting and share it with my manager so they always know if we’re on the same page.
It’s important because I can get a paycheck anywhere, but there are other things that are important in my life.
The story of Tammy from rowdykittens.com has been a big inspiration of mine. What I love about Tammy’s story is how she and her husband went from the typical consumer-driven lifestyle and “keeping up with the Joneses” to minimalist living and enjoying the finer things in life.
Specifically? Well, Tammy and her husband were living the “normal” middle class life of living a two-bedroom apartment, driving two cars, commuting long distances and living well beyond their means.
They were stressed and in debt just like many normal American couples. Instead of resigning to that lifestyle, Tammy and her husband decided to pursue their own path instead. Not only did they downsize their apartment and stuff, they went big by going small. They now live in a tiny house of 128 sq feet, and Tammy now works on her own terms.
It’s an awesome story and an inspiration to me in my process of getting everything I own into two small bags.
So it was great to chat with Tammy and get some more insight into her process of transformation and hacking her own path.
[MV] How you were living your life after you first got married?
[TS] We were living beyond our means. Basically, we were spending more than we were brining in and buying stuff that we didn’t need. At the time I was really concerned about what others thought of me and I felt like I had to look a certain way, live in the perfect apartment, and have a big diamond ring too.
That seems to be the default way of living for may middle class Americans. How were your values influenced by society rather than what is actually important to you?
Consciously or subconsciously we are shaped by advertising. And that’s not surprising, considering that the average American is exposed to 3,000 ads everyday. A lot of these ads present unrealistic images of what we need to live a happy and healthy life.
When did you start to realize that was not a sustainable or happy way to live?
I recognized that I wasn’t happy while I was working in the investment management industry. I left the industry about eight years ago because I was depressed; to cope I started drinking too much wine at night. That was a big red flag for me and I knew it was time to get out and make a career change. Making such a big change took time and it didn’t happen overnight.
How did you get more clarity on your values and make a change, and what actions did you take?
In short, by reading a lot and talking with my husband, Logan. We started by taking very small steps. As we simplified we knew that we had to pay off our debt. By itself, that’s a really big goal. So we broke it up into steps, what I call micro-actions.
Some of those actions included creating a budget, not charging stuff to our credit card, building up an emergency saving account, and selling our cars. By taking very small steps, we were able to pay off $30,000 in debt in four years.
When did you move into your tiny house and how is it going?
We moved into our little house on October 23rd and we adore the living space.
For example, we have a dedicated drawer for computer cords and other odds and ends. Leaving these items out on the counter would clutter up the house quickly. In addition, I love our window nook. It’s a space to read, it folds out into a single bed, and under the seat is storage for our camping stuff.
Tiny homes don’t have to be cramped. These little spaces can feel open and spacious; it’s just a matter of designing them well. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, ‘You know you have reached perfection of design not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away.’
What advice would you give to people living life according to society’s values but are looking to hack their own path?
As humans, we crave to be liked and accepted by others because we’re social creatures. However, I don’t think it’s healthy to live for everybody else. It’s important for you to do what’s right for you. For instance if I become fixated on other peoples expectations, I take a step back and remind myself that I only get one life. My life is finite and I want to use it well.
I truly believe you can accomplish any goal by taking a few small steps every single day.
Sound words from a true path hacker. Small steps really do add up to big changes. Read more about Tammy’s amazing journey at rowdykittens.com.
And be sure to check out Tammy’s latest project, your lovely life, for simple lessons of joy, beauty, and gratitude. It’s quite a lovely site sure to provide you with inspiration.
I’ve been a fan of Sean MacKinnon Buchan’s work for a while now, but it wasn’t until I chatted with him for this interview that I learned he was a Physical Therapist.
That’s because Sean has a pretty awesome hobby. He’s a photographer, and I’m in love with most of his subjects: Colorado craft beers.
Sean wasn’t trained as a photographer. It was just something he wanted to do, so he started doing it. As he got out and started taking photos, Sean met cool people doing interesting things, and a “beertographer” was born.
Now Sean is a part of Colorado’s craft beer community, spending his free time doing what he loves, honing his skills, and picking up paying gigs that further fund his hobby. All while drinking some damn fine beer along the way.
[MV] You are a photographer and lover of craft beer, but you are a Physical Therapist by day. I’m guessing you didn’t have that all mapped out when you entered college. What did you study in college and how did you land on PT?
[SB] My original plan going in was that I would get my BS in Microbiology. Once I realized how boring the lab was, I toyed with Computer Science, followed by Zoology, and finally ended with a degree in Biology.
After I hurt my shoulders swimming and had to undergo Physical Therapy, I realized I liked the idea of helping people and working with my hands, so I did some volunteer and observation work at a few local clinics. I realized Physical Therapy was something I wanted to get serious about so I hurried to get all of my prerequisites done, and luckily it worked out.
How long after you finished college did you become a Physical Therapist?
I took a year off between undergrad and grad school to work while my wife was finishing up her Masters to be a Physician Assistant. During that year I worked retail at the Vitamin Shoppe… it was awful. I entered the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of Colorado in June of 2007 and finished in May of 2010. I took my board certification exam a few months later and I’ve been practicing in Littleton, Colorado ever since.
When did you start taking photos, and when did you start focusing on Denver beer culture?
I bought my first (nice) camera with some graduation money I pooled together after PT school. Photography has always interested me, but up until that point I had no experience with anything but a point-and-shoot. I was searching for a new hobby, something that would take my mind off work when I got home. Lucky for me, it worked.
Around this same time I was starting my love affair with craft beer. While attending a beer festival in Fort Collins, Colorado called the Small Batch Revival I met PJ Hoberman, ringleader of Denver off the Wagon. As fate would have it, they were in need of a photographer and I was more than happy to fill that role.
I’m now a regular contributor to the Wagon, including a weekly column dubbed ‘Beer Porn of the Week’ in which I highlight some of Colorado’s great craft beer in the form of a photo.
You say on your site that you aren’t the guy that has been carrying a camera since age 5 and that you didn’t go to photography school. You do, however, love taking photos. How did you overcome self-doubt to just start taking photos?
When you love doing something I think it’s a little easier to overcome that stuff. That being said, I’ve always been very critical of my work as my wife can attest. Once I got the basics down (I watched a lot of YouTube videos) I just left the house with camera in hand and practiced as much as I could. I live next to Colorado’s largest cemetery and while it may sound weird, that’s where I refined most of my techniques.
How has the hobby progressed and what are your longer term plans with photography?
Beyond my work for Denver off the Wagon, I’ve started doing portraits of coworker’s kids (I work with a lot of women and they have a lot of kids). That’s pretty much been my way to finance this expensive hobby. I’m also doing some work for Denver breweries including photos for their websites and their tap room.
As for the long term, I don’t want this to take over my life as a new full-time job. Right now, photography is my escape from the stresses of working in health care and I would hate for that to change.
You’ve obviously taken lots of photos. What are some of your favorites?
That’s a tough one… but I think my favorites are…
New Belgium Brew House:
and Twisted Pine Tap Handles:
What are your favorite aspects of the Denver beer culture?
Craft beer is one of the only remaining markets where there are true symbiotic relationships between competitors. Go to any brewery in Denver and the owner is likely to recommend another brewery that you should check out as well. I also love that we’re brewing some ridiculously good beer in this city (and state).
I know it’s a tough one, but what’s your favorite Denver beer?
That’s a really difficult one to answer, but I guess if I had to choose just one beer to drink for the rest of my life it would be Yeti Imperial Stout from Great Divide Brewing Co. I absolutely love that beer.
In fact, my wife and I are aging a bottle of Oak Aged Yeti for our 1 year anniversary and a bottle of Barrel Aged Yeti for our 5 year. Sadly it will be a long time until we’re able to open them since we just got married in October.
You’ve said you are thankful for being able to spend your time doing what you love. What advice would you give to people that want to spend more time doing what they love?
I hate to sound cliche, but just get out there and do it. If you love something, as long as it’s legal, there shouldn’t be anything holding you back.
If you want to do anything remarkable in life, you’re going to have haters. Think of any well-known person, either in business, politics, or sports, and then realize that person has a long list of haters.
This blog is about making personal changes to live the life you want to. In that pursuit you will no doubt have doubters. There will be friends, family, and co-workers that want to keep you in your small sphere of limitations and will tell you why you can’t do what you want to do. Those comments are like superfood that feed your own doubts and fears.
After I had been making personal change for a while, I was standing in the shower thinking about my doubters and haters and the fact that they were telling me I wasn’t really making change and that I would forever be confined to be the unremarkable, fearful person I was destined to be.
Then I had the profound realization that I was the only one telling me those things. Nobody was actually saying those things to me. I was.
I was trying to prove something to a fictional amalgamation of all the doubters in my life.
Then I finally understood that it’s always that way. Even when other people actually do say those type of things (and they sure do), I am the only one that can doubt myself. I am the only one that hold me back.
That realization has not only helped me be more confident, but also more compassionate. Everyone deals with their own inner fears, and it’s from there that the doubt is cast onto others.
This post is a tangible example of the impact it’s made on my life. The ‘old me’ would have thought “You can’t write about that. People have been studying this for hundreds of years. There are plenty of books and psychologist experts that scientifically explain the process”.
But the ‘new me’ says: “Fuck it. I don’t have a PhD in psychology, and I don’t care what else has been written. This is my personal experience and it has made a huge difference in my life, so I’m writing about it.”
So with that disclaimer, here are some things that helped me, and I’m guessing would help you gain confidence and overcome your inner doubt:
Start making some changes in your life. It doesn’t have to be anything profound, just give yourself a personal challenge and do it. Go for a jog every day for week straight. Have the discipline to not eat any junk food for a week. Just pick something and do it. I found that the more tangible changes I made in my life, the easier it it became to quiet the inner doubt.
I’ve got a long way to go, but I’ve got momentum. And it’s much easier to plow over your inner hater when you’ve got momentum.
This morning I reluctantly pushed my neighbor’s surf board out into the surf. I had been giving myself a pile discouragement over breakfast. “Clearly, I will suck at this. I don’t have to try to surf today. I can just go to the beach. Or even just work. Yes, I could skip the beach altogether and just do some work.” Yes, yes, that would be safe. That would protect me from feeling like a terrible surfer.
But then it occurred to me that in order to be a “terrible surfer,” one must first be a “surfer”. That’s how language works. You have to be the thing before you can qualify it with “good” or “meh” or even “terrible”.
This meant I had to get off my butt, pick up a board, and walk to the beach. So I decided this morning that indeed I am a surfer. I am a surfer. I am a beginner surfer. Am I not standing here in the water with a surfboard in my hands and a leash around my ankle? I am a surfer. And with that, I rode some waves, failed to stand on the board, got water up my nose, rode some more waves, fell off my board, got some more water up my nose, rode some more waves, and sat around in the sand. I am a surfer because I dragged my butt out there and did it.
And guess what. There was no crowd of people laughing at me. No one was there to tell me that I sucked. I was the president and sole member of my own You Suck society, so what was the point of that? It’s way past time to dissolve that society.
I will try to remember this with the next thing I find myself avoiding because I’m afraid of failure or afraid of not being amazing at it on my first try. Note to self: it’s okay to be a beginner.
If you’re doing things in spite of your “beginner” nature, share in the comments. In the meantime, I’ll be over here falling off my surfboard.
I remember going on vacation as a kid (in a station wagon packed with 5 kids, driving from Pennsylvania to Florida, Griswold style) and it was amazing to see the ocean, palm trees, and lizards.
We’d have a great time, and then it was “back to the real world” of Pittsburgh winters and homework.
That feeling would set in at the end of each trip I took. Leaving to go home was like having a painful breakup. I didn’t want to return to “the real world”.
Thinking about that as an adult, it brought up one of the most important questions I think you can ask yourself: who defines your “real world”?
I grew up with the mentality that “the real world” meant unfulfilling work, grey skies, and unhappiness. Because that’s the “real world.” Those other people living happy lives doing what they want? They aren’t living in the “real world” like us. No, we don’t have that luxury because we’re living in the “real world”.
That is crazy. That’s like going to an ice cream shop and being told “No, sorry, the double dark chocolate chunk is only for other people. You only get vanilla.”
That’s bullshit. But that’s what we do with our lives. We limit ourselves to the vanilla of life because we think that’s all we can have, and it’s a self-fulfilling destiny.
But vanilla sucks. So go get the god damn double dark chocolate chunk ice cream of life. Because you can. The only one tell you you can’t is you.