Thursday, December 30, 2010

Looking ahead at 2011: The year of ACTION

I did a lot of reflecting in 2010, a lot of planning, reading, realizing, visioning and that's what made it the year of discovery for me. Looking ahead at 2011, I want to take all that discovery and turn in into action.

As the second part of my annual review, I set out some goals which will help define where I'm headed in the next 365 days. The trick to setting goals is to be very specific. None of this "I'm going to start exercising more" wishy-washy stuff. If your goal is to exercise "more" be specific about it. If you want to make "more" money, get specific about how much money you want to be earning next year.

I will get 30min of exercise 4 times a week. 
I will earn $xxx in 2011

That's just the first step. Then you have to identify at least one action you can do right now to take a step towards your goal. It might look like this:

I will look online for my local running groups schedule and find out when the next session is. 
I will gather my facts and prepare for a meeting with my boss to discuss a pay raise. 
I will create a plan for my small business that will earn $xxx a month to supplement my income.

The final step is to set a deadline. Do this so that you can check in on your progress on a monthly or quarterly basis depending on how quickly you want to achieve this goal. Be realistic. If your goal is to loose 20 lbs, don't set your deadline for Feb 1. You likely will not meet that target (it wouldn't be healthy to) and you will get frustrated and feel unsuccessful. Same thing with any goal. If you want to save for a downpayment on a home, set your target at something your budget will allow. Check in every quarter and see your progress all the way through the year.

I will loose 3lbs a month and keep it off. - Deadline: July 1/11
I will put $250 a month into my "home fund" - Deadline: April 15, August 15, December 15/11
I will create a career path with my boss that will include increased pay and have me reach my income targets by November 1/11 

If you're new to goal setting it can be an uncomfortable process to go through. It seems that whatever your new goal is, immediately there are obstacles that stop you. You don't have gym clothes, or running shoes. You can't afford a gym membership. Your boss is a big jerk. You have no extra money to put away to save etc. etc. etc.

You tell me your goal, and I will find 10 reasons why you CAN'T do it. That's the easy part. There are a hundred reasons why you can't, shouldn't, or why you should just do it later. Your job is to find how you CAN do it and how you can start today.  The brickwalls (obstacles) remind me of a Randy Pausch quote:

"Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out, they are there to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people"

I mentioned in my Annual Review post that this year I've taken my goal setting to a whole new level. This year, I've created categories to help become very specific about each one. If you want to get serious about your goals this year too, I suggest breaking them down in a similar fashion. You can use the same categories I did, or create your own.

I've looked at a few different possible directions for my career path over the last nine months. I've painted the perfect picture of my ideal work day and gotten specific about what I want and don't want my days to include. I've discovered that I don't want a "job". I don't like the idea of going to and from a cubical everyday and working inside a forever churning machine where the work has no end and where the only reward I get is my paycheque, two weeks of vacation and a benefits package. Some may think that security sounds appealing, but it makes me quiver. What I want is work. A project. I want something I can watch come together, something that is created out of my efforts, dedication and long hours. I want something that once it's built, I can be proud of it.

I gave great consideration to self-employment this year as well. I thought about seizing the opportunity of unemployment to start taking writing seriously. Start thinking about writing my book or putting in the effort into making my small business grow into something sustainable that I might be able to live off. While all of that came with many pros and cons, I weighed my fears against my goals and I've decided two things; one, I'm not quiet ready for that type of commitment to independence, and two, to achieve some of my other goals (home ownership and travel) I will need a regular income that I can rely on. And so, I came to my first goal of 2011.

In 2011 I will find meaningful and rewarding work that I enjoy, challenges me and provides me with new opportunity while helping me achieve my goals. 

Friends and Family
This year was particularly difficult in this category and I relied heavily on my friends and family many times throughout the year. I was surprised (although I don't know why) at how my family united and came together so closely during such hard times. They were incredible. I realized how much love surrounds me and how lucky I am to have such great examples of what family really means. 

I consider my closest friends family as well. Since my Dad, sisters, aunts and uncles live so far away, it's my friends that I have close to me during holidays, special occasions and they are who I turn to when days are tough and I need someone to talk to. They mean the world to me and I am so grateful for them.

In 2011 I will be a better friend and be closer to my family. I will call often, I will not wait until I need something, I will not miss birthdays or special occasions (I'll at least send a card). I will tell them I love them and how much I appreciate them. I will remember to put them first, because I know, that they were there when I needed them and they always will be. 

I have ongoing issues with my back. Issues that take me out of the game and immobilize me until I rest enough to get back on my feet. Every time this happens (which used to be few and far between but happened twice this year), I'm like a teenager who's just removed the entire contents of her stomach praying to the porcelain God and mumbling "I will..never.. drink.. again..".

I lay on the couch, or on the hardwood floor, or bent over the kitchen counter in mind numbing, eyeball twitching pain and swear to whatever God will listen "If you make this pain go away, I will go to yoga everyday. I will see whatever therapist you want. I will make that appointment with the specialist. I will learn to walk on my hands if that's what it takes... anything... PLEASE!"

And in a week or so, the pain subsides so I can walk and I do a few stretches and take it easy for a few days. Then when all is well, I completely forget about the pleas and promises I made just a few days earlier. And so, I have chronic back pain. Everyday. And I do nothing about it. I live with it. I walk around like an 80 year old woman who can't stand up straight, pick up anything heavy or do any kind of impact activity like tobogganing or tubing (on snow or water). I can't risk falling or taking any kind of jolt where my spine might just give up and hate me forever. Alright, I'm overemphasizing the last bit, but you get the point.

In 2011 I will take care of my back. I will strengthen my core and stretch my back, hamstrings and glutes through regular yoga classes. I will make an appointment with my family doctor and get a referral to a physical therapist who will work with me over the long-term care and pre-habilitation of my spine.

I set a five year goal in 2010 to see the world. I said I would visit one new continent a year and over the next five years, I will have been to all 7 continents. I realized this isn't exactly seeing all of the world, but it's a good start.

This year I crossed Asia off my list when I spent 6 weeks in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. I haven't made up my mind about 2011 but it will either be Australia or Africa. Destination to be determined.

In 2011 I will see a country I have not been to. I will visit another of the 4 continents I have not been on. I will start researching the costs of different destinations what I would want to see while I was there.

I really like the idea of volunteering. I did quite a bit this summer either with committees or events and it's a great way to gain experience, give back to your community and add value to your skill set (without having to get a new job or go back to school).

This year I have already committed to being on a committee with a local triathlon organization. Triathlon gave me so much over the years that I really enjoy when I am able to give back.

I will also be leading the 2011 Powered By Noie team for The Ride To Conquer Cancer. This year we want to be at least 10 riders strong and we're already 8. We also have a team in Ontario and the interest for a team in Alberta. Together, we can raise over $40,000 for the fight against cancer.

Click here if you want to join our team! Just ask me for the password

In 2011 I will be a leader for the Powered By Noie team. I will stay focused on our goal of raising $30,000 (BC). I will stay motivated and inspire others to achieve their goals. I will stay organized and host one group destination ride for the whole team every month. 

I really enjoy blogging. I find writing to be therapeutic and I love the feedback I get from my readers / followers. I also enjoy what I get from the blogging community. I have found a few great blogs that I follow regularly and each of them present a perspective that I find refreshing or inspiring. Chris and his Non-Conformist approach, Katy and her minimalist life, Leo and his Zen-ness and all the interesting links / articles those point me to.

In 2011 I will update the look of my blog and find it a new home on another hosting site (don't worry, I'll leave a forwarding address).  I'll create a community of readers that post comments and share their own insight on the post of the day. I will write two posts a week and aim to inspire, entertain, give perspective and share my experiences on my approach to being remarkable. To achieve all this - I will have to live a life worth writing about. 

Not included in this post are a goals in the categories of Finance, Personal Development and Relationship. These are quite personal and I will keep for myself, but I mention it so that you might consider your goals in those areas of your own life.

Good luck with your goal setting for 2011. Remember to make them SMART.

Time associated (deadline)

What are your biggest goals for 2011?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Annual Review: 2010 the year of discovery

I love New Years, and it has nothing to do with champagne popping and kissing at midnight. In fact, to be honest, I've missed the last couple of midnight countdowns passing up the hang over and opting to start the first day of the new year fresh with an early morning and exercise outdoors with friends.

There is one New Years tradition that I don't pass up however and that's setting goals for the year to come. I started writing out my goals in 2006 in what's become known to me as "The List". This was a very simple list I scratched out on a piece of paper and kept tucked into the front of my training journal. It became an important part of my motivation to complete the Honolulu marathon as I wrote it on my hand to remind me of all the things to come in my life after I finished those 42.2 kilometres.

Simple, it worked and it started my belief in writing out my goals.

Since then, my goal setting has become a bit more refined. Last year, I set another 5 Year Goal seeing that my 2005 five year goal was expiring (and realizing) this year. Throughout the year I use my dreamboard and other sources for motivation, but I have figured out the best way to realize your goals is to write them out.

This year, I've taken my goal setting a step further and created something more tangible to refer back to throughout the year. Over the last week or so, I've been conducting my own personal annual review. The process is not original, but it's something that made sense to me and because I am dedicated to a life of purpose and intent, there seems to be no better way than to be direct and specific about your goals.

The details of the review are somewhat personal so there are pieces I've kept private, but I'd like to share some of the process that I found helpful.

I started with asking two simple questions:

What went well in 2010?
What didn't go so well in 2010?

What went well:
2010 was a very big year with a lot to review, but what stands out immediately is that I had Anthony to stand by me through all of it. He's been a warm addition to my life and I am thankful to have him in it. We celebrated our first anniversary in October, although I was somewhere in Thailand and he was at home worried about me. I sent a nice "happy anniversary" email to put his mind at ease :)

Being unemployed for the better part of the year was also a special experience. I used the time wisely to commit to myself and to serve as time of self-reflection. During this time I discovered a lot about myself, what motivates me, what makes me happy, what makes me proud, what fulfills me, what I envision my future to be like (and got into a detail painting that picture). I also came to terms with aspects of what makes me, me, and accepted the good with the bad (or what I think others will perceive as "bad"). I've discovered that inspiring others to achieve their goals is what makes me happy. I'm also learning to not be so hard on myself and accept the best that I can do as being AWESOME and I am still celebrating everyday successes.

In June, my best friend Kierstie and I completed The Ride To Conquer Cancer. We raised over $6,300 in just 11 weeks. Our team, Powered By Noie has grown to 9 riders in BC, 2 in Ontario and the interest of 2 in Alberta for the 2011 ride. This was definitely something that I am proud of and something that went well in 2010.

A highlight of 2010 for me of course was becoming an Ironman. This closed a chapter for me but also served as the beginning of something new. For me, Ironman was about the journey and through the years of training I faced some of the most challenging obstacles and learned incredible lessons about the strength to endure. I also found motivation in this quote from Muhammad Ali.

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ''Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion."

It's not true about hating the training, but it does speak to my Ironman purpose.

After Ironman I took 6 weeks to travel through South East Asia (Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia). This was not only a great reward for my huge accomplishment, but was also a part of my new 5 year goal to see the world.

Late in 2010 I started a small business with Anthony called MANBASKET. The concept came to us only weeks before Christmas so where it stands today is very much a work in progress. However, it's already taught me some valuable lessons and generated a small income. I plan to continue developing that business into 2011.

Finally, I took a great interest in my financial future this year and am reaping the rewards of that. This was not something that came easily, I had to put forth an effort to get that part of my life organized, and it wasn't all fun and games, but in the end, the reward is confidence, security and empowerment.

What didn't go so well:

2010 had a pretty rough and unpredicted start for me. But I didn't let that set the tone for the year. I converted my sadness into energy and let that propel me forward. I was more determined than ever to live a life full of love, intent and purpose.

The annual review however should not include things that I could neither control or avoid so I can't really add this to my "what didn't go well" list.

Thankfully, what didn't go well is a much shorter list that what did go well.

Technically I had only three months of employment in 2010. One of which was for the most part spent addressing the passing of mother in January and February/March were some of the most stressful, odd, chaotic and blurred weeks I'd had in my 1.5 years with the Olympic Games. I'd love to have put my Olympic experience on the "went well" list, but if I'm being honest, it wasn't. If this were the 2009 review, it would have been number 1 - a job I loved and a hundred reasons for loving it. But the two months that made up my "Olympic experience" were somewhat tainted. I learned some invaluable lessons from that time, but I'll leave it at that.

My health was an ongoing issue in 2010 aswell. I have various back injuries ranging from a broken tailbone, a spinal cyst and a herniated disc that date back over ten years now. I've learned to manage the chronic pain, but occasionally I re-injure myself and can find myself immobilized or hospitalized. With proper care, it rarely gets to that point, but this year I found myself down and out twice. It's the most painful and scary situation to find yourself in and each time I swear I will do whatever it takes to avoid this ever happening again. When the pain is gone, I carry on as usual. What I need to do is prioritize my ongoing back health an take care of it even when I'm not in major trouble.

There are a few other things that did not go well in 2010, but as I mentioned earlier, they are a bit personal and I'm not here to air any dirty laundry. What I will say is that with everything that did not go well this year, there are great lessons to be learned.

For me, 2010 was a year of discovery. I tried to keep my eyes wide open and learn the lesson in every challenge. Most importantly, I learn celebrate every success that I had.

The annual review doesn't end here. There are goals to set and obstacles to plan to overcome, but that's for the next post.

What were some of your highlights of 2010? 
What were some of your challenges?

Friday, December 24, 2010

My HUGE Financial Reward

It's not what you think. I didn't win the lottery, win big in Vegas or return someone's lost precious puppy. I took an interest in my financial future, got serious about my budget and in return am reaping the rewards.

I have been unemployed since April of 2010. Thankfully, this wasn't a surprise and I had over a year and a half to prepare for living on a fixed income. I saved my pennies vigilantly since knowing that once my contract ended I would be taking the summer off to train for Ironman, enjoy some downtime and reward myself with some long awaited overseas traveling. In order to have this plan come to fruition I needed to have a plan. More importantly, I needed to have a plan I could stick to. Enter Gail Van-Oxlade.

You know who she is. She's the doctor of debt who makes house calls on Slices' Til Debt Do Us Part. Since I had a lot of time on my hands to watch daytime TV, I decided I would give her famous "money jars" a go. I went to her website and downloaded the super simple Interactive Budget Worksheet. Starting here, I plugged in all my co-ordinates and set out to the bank to fill each of my 5 money jars.

For three months straight I spent only cash, using my credit card only for reservations or purchases only available online (like airline tickets - and I immediately paid for them after buying), I wrote everything down in my "budget binder" and did weekly reconciliation's to see where I was overspending and where I could save.

I STRONGLY recommend anyone looking to get out of debt, save money or get their spending under control do this even if just for one month. It was such a strong tool that my spending habits changed dramatically and immediately. If you have ever done a 'food diary' for the purposes of losing a few pounds, this works exactly the same way. Writing down everything you spend makes you accountable for where your money goes. At the end of a week, when you notice that $35 went to Starbucks latte's, cinnamon sticks and the occasional chocolate chip banana bread, it's a great reality check. Similar to the food diary, you begin to change your habits simply because you don't want the shame of having to write it in your budget binder. When I saw a sale on shoes or (more difficult) another awesome cycling jersey, I knew exactly what I would tell myself in a few days when reviewing the week's spending. "Seriously? You spent $80 on yet another [INSERT VARIOUS ITEMS HERE]. That $80 could buy you three days of travelling in Asia." That was relevant to me at the time, but I'm sure you have something that could relate.

It's not to say I never went over budget or bought things I didn't need. But at least I was VERY aware of how much over budget I was, and was doing so willingly. When you don't know how much money you have to spend to begin with, you don't know when you've spent it all.

I've stopped using the money jars, but the principles and lessons are still with me. I've been debt free and saving money consistently even as I'm unemployed and on a very fixed income.

My curiosity in my finances didn't stop there. I figured that if I could be in this much control of my spending, I must be capable of more. So I continued to be interested in my financial future and made an appointment with my banks financial advisor to talk about my RSP's and some other savings that I had. He was happy to talk to me about all kinds of securities, registered and non-registered accounts, tax deductions and high interest something rathers.... it was all too much for me at the time, I didn't really get much out of it except that now I know that there's a lot I don't know. 

Fast forward a few months and my "living within my means" lifestyle is still keeping me debt free and I no longer miss the expensive take-out sushi and I haven't even noticed that I haven't bought new shoes or pair of jeans in months. I'm much happier not receiving a visa bill. I do however, continue my interest in a financially responsible future by reading books like "Smart Women Finish Rich" and even though it's not as exciting and the last  edition in the Twilight saga ( I read that too), it's been exciting in it's own right. More than ever, I'm confident and feel prepared to ask the right questions when it comes time to address where my money is and what it should be doing to work for me. Half way through the book I made another appointment with that same financial advisor that confused me months ago and after spending two hours talking to him about all the same things that I now understand, I have a sense of independence and empowerment that only came by me taking a genuine interest in myself and my future. 

I've finished the book now and because I found it so valuable, I wanted to skim through it again and highlight some of the key lessons that stood out for me. I figured I would share them here since I'm in also the midst of conducting my own annual review and this might just add to it.

Chapter One: The facts and myths about your money
- You do not need to make more money. You need to better manage the money you have.
- Know WHERE your money is. Debt? Assets? Mutual Funds? RSP's? Cash? Bonds?

Chapter Two: Put your money where your values are
- Ask yourself "What is important about money to you?"
My answers were:
- Money gives me the ability to make my own choices. It gives me options.
- Having my own money gives me control over my life
- Money gives me the ability to fill my live with my own ambitions
- Having money gives me peace of mind

Understanding why money is important to you helps your decisions on where you spend it.

Chapter Three: Figure out where you are and where you want to go
- Find your "stuff" and get organized. Tax returns, retirement account statements, checking and savings accounts, other investments, credit card statements, mortgage material, major liabilities (car loans), insurance documents (home owners, renters, life insurance etc) and will's and life trusts.
- Online banking makes gathering this information very easy, but it's important to at minimum review where all this material (as applies to you) is and keep it organized.

WRITE OUT YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS. And add to that something you can do NOW to take steps toward that goal.

Again and again I see this tool being promoted/suggested and I (too) swear by it. It works. Do it.

*at this point in the book one of my goals that I wrote down was to be more educated in investments (mutual funds, RSP's etc). Before the end of the book, I had re-visited my FA and (as mentioned above) am reaping the rewards of that meeting). Until this review, I had forgotten that it was one of the goals I had written down. It's s powerful tool. Do it. 

Chapter four: Getting real about what you spend. 
- Helpful review of the budgeting lessons I learned earlier this year with the money jars.

Chapter five: Not putting all your eggs in one basket
- The super boring but necessary educating part about preparing for emergencies, retirement and other very grown up stuff. This is where I went back to see my FA and what was previously "pre-tax/ rate-of-return/ moderately aggressive vs conservative"  mumbo-jumbo investment stuff finally made sense. Repetition works well with me.

Chapter six: Following the 12 Commandments to attracting greater wealth
- Getting paid what your worth and knowing what that is.
This book ending with these commandments was the perfect segway into my next read which has been patiently waiting on my nightstand. Linchpin by Seth Godin.

There were so many lessons I learned financially this year, but it all started by TAKING AN INTEREST in myself and my financial responsibility. You can hear the same thing over and over or get advice from the best and brightest advisors on the planet, but if you're not interested in yourself, it's not worth a damn.

It was really helpful for me to re-write some of these lessons, so thanks for taking the time to read them if you made it all the way through.

Stay tuned for my annual review which takes into account lessons learned beyond my finances.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Operation Re-Connect

I have 261 friends. At least that's what Facebook tells me. Somehow that's hard to believe. If I have that many friends, how come when I throw a party I'm always scared no one will show up? I have 261 friends!

Now, I also have friends that have upwards of 500, 600, 700+ friends. Where does that put me on the popularity scale? I think 261 would fill a room nicely should I die and they all show up to pay their respects, however, it makes me a hermit compared to the guy that has 976 friends. Should I feel bad about this? Is this an indication that my years of focused Ironman training and declined RSVP'ing to dinners, bars, parties, weekends away (and on and on) have resulted in social suicide? Considering that of my 261 friends, I have maybe three that I speak to regularly (one of which I live with), I think having 261 friends is quite the success.

I wonder about those that have say 700+ friends. What do you do with them all? I have maybe a night or two out a week visiting various friends in varying social groups and I still haven't seen (I'd say) a majority of my friends in a dogs age. I'm a bad friend maybe? How do you keep up with 700 or more friends?

Then I started thinking, as with my recent efforts to de-clutter my life, it's time I started choosing quality over quantity when it comes to my relationships as well. It always struck me as odd when people would make a friend request via Facebook and then never follow up with as much as a "Hey.. How've ya been the last 10 years?" Sure it's fun to Facebook creep through their photos, but after the initial peruse through, you never really go back. I just think it's weird that even though we had enough interest in each other to connect, the effort / interest stops there.

Enter Operation: Re-Connect.

I've decided that I'm going to attempt to befriend (or re-friend) all my 261 friends. Some times I see their photos up in the side bars so I click on it, see what they've been up to, then send a message saying hello, or congratulations or "what's that all about?"or "do you know of a good real estate agent" or in one case "how do you get your body to twist like that?"... whatever might strike a conversation and result in at least one return message.

It's a very simple concept, although there are a few rules and qualification clarities to make:

- If you haven't spoken to them in more than two months, they qualify for Op: ReCon. Send them a message.
- Family must be contacted by phone. They're family. Seriously, pick up the phone.
- If you don't recognize them or have any idea how you know them, remove them from your friends list.
- If after much thought and several message drafts you can't think of one thing you would say to this person. Remove them.

So far, I've re-connected with a friend that finished the New York City marathon this year. A friend whom I haven't spoken to since grade 8 who just moved into the house across the street from the house I lived in at that time. Her new house in which I use to babysit the kids that lived there. I had a three or four time return convo going with someone now living in India and how life is so different for him now. I got an invite to stay with friends in England should I ever be on that side of the pond, plus some awesome advice about trails and new adventures to seek right here in my own BC backyard.

So far I've re-connected with 17 of my 261 friends. That only includes those that I have initiated conversation with (of people haven't spoken to in more than two months) and I am going to try and re-connect with all 261 of my friends before my birthday in March. There's no particular reason for that date, it's just that every goal needs a deadline and that one seems to be reasonable and one that I won't forget.

I'll try to send 3 messages a day (on average) which should get me to my goal on March 6th (depending on how my total number of friends fluctuates up or down). So either by randomly clicking on some one's status via the news feed, photos that appear in the sidebar or just working alphabetically through my friends list, I hope to re-friend my friends one by one taking pride in my quality 261 friends.

Never again will I introduce myself to someone at a party only to hear the response "uh.. yeah, I'm *Becky... we're friends on Facebook.."

*Some names may have been changed to protect individuals involved.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Knowing What Your Looking For

Today I read a blog post on ANOC that reminded me to always be thinking about a few very important things. While the list wasn't long, it was significant. Check it out if you have a minute.

Things like dreams, influences, relationships and passions are all things I think of regularly and I try to  nurture them, re-visit and rejuvenate them as often as necessary. But there was something else that resonated with me today and that was "destinations".

"Because you need to know where are you going, whether it’s a real destination or a representative one. (If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.)"

So I started to think about where it was that I was going and it brought me back to a Work / Life career workshop that I participated in while I was working for the Games. Not having any clue what it was all about at the time, I can say it was one of the best thing I ever did for myself. I ruffled through some filing and found the workshop booklet that we used. I kept it because I found the exercises that the hosting life-coach had us do were THAT valuable.

We started with some simple exercises that included writing out your strengths and skill sets, identifying where you've succeed in your current or past roles and what it is about your position that you really like or dislike.

We also were asked to think about a "pivotal" moment in our lives, or more simply, a time when we were the most happy, felt alive and were excited.  Remembering that time, we wrote out all things associated with it.

  • What was the experience?
  • What were you doing?
  • Who was there?
  • Why did it make you feel so alive?
Identifying the contributing 'good-time' elements helped us move forward to what, in my opinion, was the most valuable exercise of the day. 

We identified, and wrote in detail, our vision of an ideal working environment. We listed everything from what time you start in the morning, how you get to work, where you are, who you work with, what are you wearing and so on. We tried to be as specific as possible.

Here's what my list looked like:

- I start early in the morning when there are only a few people around.
- My day is full and requires some logistical planning and scheduling to make sure my time is used    efficiently
- I have an office to go to, but I am not there all the time (work from home or various work sites)
- I dress professionally, but casually
- I work with people I respect
- I work on time sensitive projects
- My projects have a beginning and an end
- I am responsible for my own schedule
- I work long hours and I am dedicated to my projects
- I am passionate about what I am doing, I believe in it's purpose
- I take work home with me, but have good work / life balance

So there it is, my perfect day. I still haven't found a 'job' that meets these requirements, but at least I know what I'm looking for and that is a HUGE relief. I'm also comfortable with the idea of not finding a "job" to fulfill these needs, but I might have to create the opportunity myself. But I know that by identifying these things, I am taking the first steps towards my ideal life and being at my happiest.

However, if you know what this job is that I'm describing..... email me! Kidding.... (sort of).

Not having found a way to make a living with these prerequisites yet doesn't worry me, and I'll tell you why.

Further into the booklet I found some questions and answers that made me grin ear to ear.  Below are some examples. Keep in mind this workshop was completed in summer of 2009.

Q: What do you want more of? What gives you energy? What do you want to say "yes" to?
A: Travel, new opportunity, relationships, exploring of new possibilities

Q: What do I really want? Who do I want to be? What will I achieve? What impact will I have?
A: I want to inspire others to be their greatest, I want to work on something I am proud of, I want to love someone and be loved by them back

Q: Identify one goal:
A: I'd like to do 3-5 weeks of traveling after the Games in 2010

Q: Identify steps you can take to achieve this goal:
A: Research Thailand and Cambodia (what to do there? How much? Where to go while there)

During this session, the life coach did a great job of getting our creative juices flowing. We were really dreaming and writing down things that we weren't completely sure we could do, but in a perfect world, we could have.

 Fast forward to winter 2010 and here's an update:

- I completed the Ironman (a five year goal) and had an overwhelming response from friends, family and new acquaintances about how inspiring my story was. Because of that, and my own experience, I'm working on a project that will help others achieve their extraordinary goals. The project will launch in January.. so stay tuned :)

- I moved in with my boyfriend whom I love dearly (and who loves me back:)

- Together we are building the foundations of a FANTASTIC new business

- I returned home from 6 weeks of traveling through South East Asia (Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam)

This wasn't meant to be an opportunity to brag about my life, these where just a few highlights selected to make a point. The point is how valuable it can be to really make time and think about where it is you are going. Life isn't perfect and things come up, challenges surface and set backs occur, but like Randy Pausch said "you can always change the plan, but only if you have one."  

I use my DreamBoard now as a way to keep updating new things I want in my life. As life evolves, so do my priorities, my circumstances and my opinions. But if I want to keep defining my own success, I have to at least know what it will look like once I find it.