things to do

Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend

It's You that Made Me Talk Again!

Getting back into writing for myself and blogging on this blog has been an ordeal for the past few weeks. I could never think of anything to talk about. The words did not flow freely! I'd want to write, and surely I've stumbled upon something during the day that merits 600 words, but the motivation and creativity just weren't there.

However, I begun to notice a pattern. Every time I would go to bed, that's when everything would come so easily. Full paragraphs and concepts would create themselves in my mind, keeping me awake as I tried to fall asleep. I couldn't figure out why it was happening, but it was a double-edged sword. I liked that I was finally getting some great ideas flowing through my brain, but they were also preventing me from getting enough sleep.

This happened several times before I figured it out: it was the silence. The absence of distractions and stimuli, even visual stimuli, helped my mind to focus for the first time the entire day. Being creative or "finding my creativity" was no longer an issue. When I take away music, YouTube videos, Twitter feeds and HipChat pings, my brain doesn't have any problems thinking and getting things done.

Once I figured it out, the thought of silence became incredibly exciting! If I make an effort to remove as many distractions and stimuli as possible, then what could I possibly create? How much would I be able to get done? What aspects of myself would improve if I were focusing and engaging in my work in the fullest capacity?

I Tried It Today and It Worked Fantastically

As I worked today, I kept the distractions to a minimum. Unfortunately, I have to keep HipChat on because I need it on for work and I need the pings to know when someone is trying to talk to me about something. I can't never ever log in and tell my coworkers to trust that I'm getting my work done, although they can. Part of it also is to build relationships with each other since we all work virtually, and HipChat and our daily meetings are the only ways to do that.

Besides HipChat, I didn't listen to any music or any podcasts throughout the day. I didn't have any YouTube videos play in the background. I just put on my headphones and had nothing come through them. The silence worked tremendously! It was so much easier to get things done, and I felt less hurried and frazzled throughout the day. It seemed like I was working at a pace that accomplished things on my to-do list, but it wasn't a pace that was rushed or that felt like I was conquering an insurmountable number of tasks.

Working in silence is certainly a habit that's going to take some time to develop. I've already found out today that once the distractions are turned on and allowed in, they are very difficult to turn off. It's become so instinctual to browse YouTube or to check Twitter for what's new, even when I don't have any notifications set on the tabs to remind me about anything new. Starting the day with all the different fun, distracting things turned off is the easy part. The hard part is turning them back off when I decide to take a break.

Overall, I'm relieved and freed. I was trying all sorts of things to "find something to write about" or to "find inspiration" or to "find creativity," not realizing that all that pursuit was really making things worse. All I needed was a minute or two to let my mind speak, and the epiphany hit me in the darkness. Clearly, I can't write in the dark, but it's with eyes closed that I found the light I so desperately needed..

Why Am I Here?

And How to Figure Out Why You're Here Too

why am i hereI picked up a book from the library called, Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More than Your Peers Ever Will. It's kind of obvious from the title what it's about. I've read a few snippets here and there, and one of those snippets was the following exercise below. It's used at a non-profit to help kids who can't get beyond their current environment, and the author offers the exercise as a way to show if college is really necessary for someone's dream job. I think it's a worthwhile exercise to figure out what you really want to do with your life, what you want out of it, and what it might take to get there:

What are You Put on This Planet to Do?

This is to be a verb, always a verb, and just one verb. My verb is: to help.

What are Your 5 Greatest Gifts?

Your five greatest gifts are also verbs, and these verbs support your mission (the original verb above). These verbs help with your purpose, and they're not necessarily your biggest strengths or your strongest skills. My five greatest gifts are:

  1. To write
  2. To think
  3. To represent
  4. To ask
  5. To organize

For Each Gift, Come Up with Two Ways that You Could Use it To Add Value to the World

Each way is supposed to be an occupation that uses this gift to add value to the world. Here are my 10 total ways that I can add value with each of my gifts:

To Write

  • Columnist
  • Publisher

To Think

  • Researcher
  • Consultant

To Represent

  • Public Official i.e. State Senator, City Councillor etc.
  • Non-Profit Director

To Ask

  • Journalist
  • Policy Analyst

To Organize

  • Community Organizer
  • Event Planner

Choose One Way, and Come Up with 5 Ways to Fortify the Gift in the Real World

Of the 10 occupations, pick one and come up with five ways to fortify the gift, or to be better at that occupation or that gift. I'm going to choose columnist for this, and here are five ways I can fortify my gift to write so that I could be a columnist (or a better columnist):

  1. Start a blog
  2. Pitch the idea to a publication
  3. Go to an event to write about
  4. Attend a writing or journalism seminar
  5. Read a book by a career columnist

Now What?

From the book's perspective, the point of the exercise is to see if you really needed a college degree to be a columnist, in this case. The answer is no, for the most part, especially since it's so easily to start a blog or to pitch an idea to a publication. You might want to go to college to specialize in a subject i.e. biology, history etc. that would be helpful for the column, or to be able to work on the college newspaper or magazine to improve your writing skills, or even to go to college to start a column about college life. But, all of that's not necessarily going to college to be able to become a college because there isn't anything intrinsic about college that's needed to have a successful weekly column.

Overall, it's a good thing to do to get a sense of direction, and to come up with a few ideas for career choices and pursuing your career choices. It's also a great way to think about what you're good at , what you like to do, and what possibilities may exist that compliment those things. It's not always about going to school, which isn't all that bad because school is expensive and time-consuming.

The Little Things I Need to Do (So I Don't Forget)

to do list Once again, I'm doing another one of these big fat to-do lists so that I can keep track of myself and not forget a whole bunch of little things. I'm already losing track of the days of the week because my sleep schedule is completely off, so the fewer things I have to keep track of in my head the better. Here's my big fat to do list of the little things I need to do so I don't forget about them:

  1. Finish Up My Grocery List - I finally planned my meals and went to the grocery store, which put me on a strong path toward my goal of avoiding eating out for an entire month. However, I wasn't able to buy everything on my list. So, I haven't actually made any of the meals I actually planned, and I now have some vegetables that are going bad with each passing day. I need to purchase the last eight or 10 items and get to work cooking some great food.
  2. Eat Soup - Several days ago, I made a big pot of soup with a soup mix that I've had for many months now. I ate some on the day I made it, and that's about it. Now, I have a big pot of soup in the refrigerator that will eventually spoil if I don't eat it (it would seem that there is a running theme here). I even wrote on the refrigerator door to eat more soup. I know it's too hot for soup, but I needed a fiber-rich food with fiber-rich ingredients I don't eat a lot of, and this soup mix counted. Now that I've written this here, I can commit to eating the soup.
  3. Come Up with a New Goal and Action Plan - This one isn't too little, but I am almost done with my goal of preparing the Stirring Media website for the direction change and the upcoming networking event. I have a few more days of actions and then it's all done. I have no idea of what my next goal is going to be, let alone how to get there, so I need to think about that as I wrap up my current project. I could go for another goal with Gateway Grounds, but I do want to think about it and see what needs to be accomplished first before making a decision on a direction.
  4. Purchase New Business Cards - I've been needing to do this since the beginning of the year because I changed addresses, and I admit that I've been putting it off because I don't like the idea of throwing away several hundred business cards. Now that I could use them as cards for my inferno of productivity game, I can now purchase new business cards. This is also crucial toward preparing the business for the networking event, so I also have that as additional pressure and incentive to get this done.
  5. Revise Marketing Plan - Haven't looked at it in a while. Revising it could help me come up with a new goal or action plan. I can't think of anything coming up, which is another reason why it needs another look. For all I know, I could have a few things listed to go for. Also, if I don't have anything coming up, I can set a few more milestones since more things are in place and I can think about taking things to the next level instead of worrying about creating a strong foundation.

Now, what I need to do is turn these tasks into points and set them aside over the next several days. That's doable. I expect to get paid over the next week, so things should turn out fine.

Inferno of Productivity: How I Turned My Task List into a Game

inferno of productivity One of the biggest lessons I've learned from my business coach is to be specific, but to keep things simple also. My coach noted that I had a tendency to overwhelm myself by making things too complicated, by not focusing on the little steps that need to be taken to achieve the bigger picture. It's very smart advice, and why my business coach is so awesome (and why she should be your business coach too).

As part of this sage advice, one thing that needed simplification was my to-do list. One weekend, I had a very long to-do list and I hardly got any of it done because I'd look at it and feel overwhelmed. I wanted a way to be able to focus on one thing at a time and to pick one thing to do while also being able to visualize the entire day or an entire week's worth of work (it helps for scheduling purposes, and for organizing when to do what). It then occurred to me that index cards would be a good idea. I could write one task per card but have a pile of cards to represent the day, and many piles to represent the other days of the week. A pile of cards is also much less daunting than a long to-do list. It also makes it easy to transfer things to the next day in case I didn't finish everything.


I didn't like the idea of using index cards just once. I didn't like creating so much waste and using up so many index cards just for a single purpose. So, I thought about how I could reuse these index cards and save them for a second or third purpose. One thing led to another and I came up with my awesome game:

Inferno of Productivity!

inferno of productivity point system

When I thought about saving the index cards, I thought about saving them to redeem for something, which led me to the point system. Obviously, if you're redeeming something, you are redeeming it either for points or prizes, or maybe both. So, what I've done is I count each task/index card as a point. At the end of each day, I count my points and put them in a plastic food container I bought for $5 at the dollar store across the street. On Sunday, I count up all my points and give myself the chance to redeem them for something. I took the time to come up with a whole bunch of rewards for me to work toward, and I assigned them point values based on dollar value and on how big I considered the reward (i.e. I think clothes shopping is a bigger reward than a new pair of shoes because you get more things with clothes shopping. So, clothes shopping is over three times as many points as a new pair of shoes).

I just had to double the number of points each prize is worth because I want them to take a lot of work to obtain. I've done this for a week already, and after one week, I had enough points for half the list. This meant that my list was too easy. Right now, each task is only worth one point, but I might end up changing that in the future depending on the difficulty or the length of time/number of steps needed to complete the task i.e. laundry could be multiple points depending on the number of loads I have to do.

FYI - "Need of the Week" includes things that I would only buy once, or things that I would buy so irregularly that they don't really merit their own points. For example, a spice rack is one of my "needs of the week" because I really do need a spice rack, but I only need to buy one. Haircuts are also in this category because I don't need a haircut every month, but I also consider haircuts somewhat of a luxury and a reward, so they can be something to work for.

Am I More Productive?

points for today

I've only been doing this for a week, so the game and my levels of productivity may still change, but I do think it has made me more productive in four ways. First, since I need to complete the task to count it as a point, I do force myself to finish tasks if I start them. This was a problem I had with my old method, as I would check them off if I started the task or even if I planned to do the task. This meant that I didn't always finish tasks and it would my planner and my lists into a big mess. This wasn't good for productivity, and now it's going away.

Second, I don't forget things that I need to do because I can just put it on an index card and place it with the appropriate day. It also means that I don't have to keep things to do in my head because my to-do list was already written and I didn't have room for it. Things are a little less stressful for me as I don't have to worry about forgetting, and it was always the personal things that got forgotten, since I typically filled my to-do list with work and business tasks. Plus, if I do forget, or need a reminder of what needs to be done, I can just go through the pile and see what's left. It's also great that, in case I don't finish everything, I can take what's left and just add it to the next day's pile. No crossing out, or arrows, or any other mess that clogs up my calendar.

Third, with the index cards, I can put notes with any or all of the tasks. For example, if I need to call someone, I can write that I need to call this person as well as what I need to ask about or talk about. This saves time, hence improving productivity, because I then don't have to call the person back or send an extra email because I forgot to ask that question or to bring up something important. This also helps with just keeping everything in one place. If I need to write an article for someone, then I write how many words it needs to be and anything else I need to do to write the article.

things I've done

Fourth, I'm motivated to do my work and to get something as a reward. Currently, I'm working toward my top prize, an actual home furnishing, because I'd like to get a dresser (I seriously don't have a dresser and am using those plastic drawers for my clothes), or a file cabinet, and/or a bookshelf. It'll take about five weeks of work to have enough points to get that, but I do think that's a fair trade off. In that time, I would have saved the money while having earned enough money as well. Plus, I like looking forward to having more nice things in my apartment. What's also great is that I didn't choose to redeem any of my points from last week because I really need the file cabinet and the dresser, so I'm starting this week with 60 points in container. Yay!

What's Next for the Inferno of Productivity?

60 points

Well, I'm going to pilot it for as long as it takes to get that dresser/file cabinet. Once I get to that point, I'll evaluate the point system, or how many points certain tasks are worth, or even if this game is still fun and worth playing. If it just ends up complicating everything, or if the novelty fades away and it doesn't help anymore, then I'll stop doing it. My fiance suggested that I add breaks to the point system, where for five or 10 points I can take the time to watch a movie or to play video games or something. I like this idea because it means that taking a long break isn't just distracting me from the work that I need to do, but that it will also take away from the overall goal and the big picture of productivity. However, these breaks need to happen from time to time, so it's cool to classify them as a reward.

So far today, I have nine points. Now that this blog post is complete, I have 10 points!

There's No Lenovo Support Center in St. Louis

Lenovo G560 laptop keyboard At least, I couldn't find one when I needed it. About two weeks ago, when I broke my laptop by spilling water on it, I contacted a computer repair service that came up on Google. They suggested that I find a Lenovo Support Center to help me, and that I find it by typing "Lenovo Support Center St. Louis" into Google and going with one of the top results. A support center would already have the part and could do the job right away, while they would have to order the part first in order to do the job.

I thought this was an excellent idea. I didn't know these "support centers" existed, and the possibility of fixing my computer was an incredible one. I could get back to work right away and not have to use my fiance's computer. I wouldn't have to buy a wireless keyboard. But, I was wrong. Below is the summary of the listings on the first Google result for "Lenovo Support Center St. Louis" and my experience:

CompuCom Systems, Inc. 9849 Manchester Rd Saint Louis, MO, 63119-1200 Tel: 888-737-6333 Distanza: 9 Miles

I HATE 888 numbers. I hate automated menus and dial by names and what not. It stems from my short stint of cold calling back in 2010. I once had a dial by name directory tell me I sucked at dial by name directories and it hung up on me. I tried the number, punched in a few buttons to try to get somewhere, but then I gave up. I just want my laptop keyboard repaired. It shouldn't be this difficult.

I do think I should have seen the word, "distanza", as a red flag for this page. I should have also been more curious about the nine miles. Nine miles from what?

CompuCom Systems, Inc. 4227 Earth City Expy Earth City, MO, 63045-1308 Tel: 314-344-3332 Distanza: 17 Miles

This number was a bad number. I don't recommend calling it.

Anders, Minkler & Diehl, LLP 705 Olive, 10th Floor St. Louis, MO, 63101 Tel: 314 655 5500 Distanza: 0 Miles

This listing is actually an accounting firm, so I have no idea why they're on this list. I know this because I've actually been to their offices before, and they helped me with my taxes. I called them anyway, and the person who answered had no idea what I was talking about. She offered to forward me to someone who might know what I'm talking about. She did that, and I got a voicemail. I didn't leave a message. I don't really need some guy calling me back only to tell me he doesn't know what I'm talking about either, or to tell me that they weren't one at all. If the secretary had no idea about being a Lenovo Support Center, and whether they were one and what that means, then they probably aren't one.

Lazerware Inc. 2929 Gravois Ave St. Louis, MO, 63118 Distanza: 3 Miles

Fortunately, someone answered the phone and knew what I was talking about when I asked if they were a Lenovo Support Center. Unfortunately, they weren't taking new clients at this time. Really? I just want my laptop keyboard replaced. It should take an hour. It's an easy $100. What do you mean you can't take me in?

Hawk iSolutions Group, Inc.6349 Plymouth Ave St. Louis, MO, 63133 Tel: 6362567534

First of all, the number listed on the Lenovo Support Center website (the one listed here) and the number the company lists for itself on its website, are two different numbers. They don't even have the same area code. Second, the only number listed on the company's website that has the same area code is their fax number. I decided not to call any number and just fill out the form and see what happens. I didn't get any response. Why don't you respond? I want to give you money! I am a lead! You should want leads and follow-up with them diligently!

When double checking this, I also realized that the business has two different addresses listed too.

Talk to Mike

My ultimate conclusion is that if you need your Lenovo laptop repaired, talk about Mike about his computer repair services. You might have to order a part or two first, but he has been the most helpful throughout this whole thing. It was his idea to check out a Lenovo Support Center in the first place, which was great because he didn't automatically take the business for himself. He knew of a faster, perhaps cheaper, way to help me with my problem and offered that first. It's kind of worked out since he was so helpful, since it looks like he's now the best thing ought there.

As of now, I dub him and his company the Lenovo Support Center of St. Louis.

I Have My Computer Back!

back in business After a day and a half with no laptop, I finally have something operational! The only problem I have is that the laptop keyboard doesn't work, but I am still able to use a wireless keyboard with my computer to get things done! I am so happy! I didn't lose any files or information. I don't have to buy a new laptop. I don't have to spend an exorbitant amount of money to get my computer back. My only costs are the wireless keyboard and the repairs to the laptop keyboard, so at most I'll spend about $150 on the whole thing.

I Even Have a New Setup!

Since I have to use the wireless keyboard, I actually have a new work arrangement on my desk, and I wish I would have thought of this sooner (it would have actually prevented this whole mess in the first place). With my laptop on the top shelf, and the keyboard on the desk area, I actually have room to write and to eat! That has been one of my biggest complaints with my previous setup, as I would have had to write on the laptop or move it entirely. Eating was also a little troublesome, as who knows how many crumbs have gotten in there. It was also a little uncomfortable as the food was on the side of the computer, so I had to sit at an angle in order to eat and it wasn't quite the same as sitting in front of a television to eat. That's not the case anymore! I do wish my screen were larger, but that should get fixed eventually as I do have a new pair of prescription glasses waiting for me. I still need to do some rearranging, like figure out where my drinks should go and where my lamp should point (it's kind of pointing at the corner of my eye right now). But, I don't think there's a way this could have come out any better.

I Can Do Work Again!

I don't need to use my fiance's laptop anymore, which was kind of awful to use because it didn't have any of my bookmarks. It didn't have any of my passwords. He shuts off all the scripts so none of the pages load properly unless you turn them on, and then you do turn them on and each page comes full of ads and pop ups. Google Reader doesn't quite work. Plus, it's all set up for someone who is 6'2", and I am nowhere near 6'2". I am just so glad to be back with my computer, where everything is already a few clicks away and I don't need to waste time finding my links and my passwords just so I can do my client work. I already had to delay some client work because I didn't have a permanent workstation, and I didn't want to take something on while figuring out a new permanent, functional, work environment. But, now that everything is 98% back to normal, I can get work done! I can make progress toward my upcoming online publications! I can get my Business Breakthrough homework together! I can write about something other than a broken laptop and feeling tied down as I wait for the thing to dry and for everything to recover!

That's enough rambling. I need to create more viral blog posts and get articles up for the coffee publication and the maternal health initiative. I also need to work on my other website, do keyword research again and redo the About Us page, and all that other good stuff. You know you love your job when you are actually relieved and excited to get back to work.

I Spilled Water on My Laptop

what a weekI write this from my fiance's computer because, as my headline says, I spilled water on my laptop and it's out of commission for at least a day. Maybe forever, but I'm hoping there's still something to salvage through all this. I just tried turning it on and the keyboard is still wonky. I hope that's the only thing that's wonky. I tried to unscrew the keyboard so that it would be easier to dry, but as far as I know, we don't have a screwdriver that's small enough. Besides, the underside of the keyboard could use some cleaning. There are tons of food crumbs and fingernail clippings under there.

I Don't Like My Fiance's Computer

He's 6'2", so his computer setup is designed for someone who is 6'2". I am not that tall, so it's a little awkward and uncomfortable. He's also disabled all the scripts and cookies, so getting some websites to load properly is a hassle. I can't even use Wordpress unless I turn off the scripts because without them much of Wordpress doesn't come up. Never mind that I don't even have any of my bookmarks or passwords, and that I still have work to do. It's just as productive to sit around and do nothing as it is to use this computer to do work. I still have to spend a ton of time finding my links and the right password. I hope I don't have to buy a new laptop. I don't have the money for it right now.

I'm in a Pickle Right Now

I still need to get work done, and after trying (and failing) to get the keyboard removed from my laptop today, I'm crossing my fingers it will be 100% tomorrow. The keyboard still wasn't working properly when I turned it on this afternoon, but I did notice that the corner of the screen that changed colors had improved. Perhaps it just needed more drying. I left it somewhat disabled, as maybe that will improve airflow. I have no idea what I"m talking about here. If it's not working tomorrow morning, I'm going to have to take it in or look into a new one. I won't lose everything, since most of my work is backed up with a program called Trend Micro Safesync, but I would have to reinstall everything and I think the only work-related thing I'll lose is my Quickbooks.

Well, this all puts me in a pickle because on the one hand, I could stay up and get some work done and go to bed late, like every other night for the past month. On the other hand, I could go to bed in an hour or so, get up early and cross my fingers that my computer works. I really want to be moving away from the night owl sleep schedule, but I've gotten nothing done today and I'd like to get something done before tomorrow. However, it's been a hard day and I should probably sleep. If I get up early (if being the key word there), then I could maximize my computer time tomorrow and catch up on some work. I don't know. I'm not sure if I could sleep knowing that I have so much to do. I'd rather lighten my load first. I've never been good at the "go to bed now to wake up early and do work" sort of thing. I tried doing it in college many times and it never worked.

Well, I Think We All Know What's Going On

I'm going to get some work done. I have two blog posts to do that need to go up tomorrow, so I'll work on those first. That might be all I do, but that might be enough.

Another Big Fat To-Do List

lots of things to doI need to do another one of these because I'm at that point where I have a lot of things to do in life, and a lot of things to do for work, so it's getting very difficult to keep track of all it. The only time the personal stuff actually gets on a list is on the weekend, since I do less work on the weekends, but usually the personal stuff is the same. There's always laundry, vacuuming, grocery shopping, bathroom cleaning, and video game playing. But, I have to remind myself to mail my father's day present, and to work on Half the Sky stuff, and to organize my social outings (I'm going running on Thursday. Can you believe it?) I have no idea why I agreed to that idea.

The To-Do List

Anyway, here's the big fat to-do list, a general list of bigger things I need to do. Things that can't be done in one day or would need to be broken down into smaller steps. I've segmented it so that it's a little more organized and easier for me to track, to use, and to have everyone keep me accountable on these things.


  • Type/Scan Business Breakthrough Homework - I need to send Tiffany my debt document, my brand identity, my CEO identity, and my list of strategic partners.
  • Research Ideal Client Avatar - This is the next step in my business breakthrough homework. I need to do the research on who my ideal customer is. I need to find out how many "ideal customers" are out there and if I would be satisfied with a one percent market share. I also need to figure out the market value and the lifetime value of one customer. This might be hard because I'm doing the coffee blog, and the definition of customer might be wonky. It also might differ depending on the kind of customer I get from the blog (purchasing something vs. speaking engagement vs. fan vs. other service/product)
  • Do at least one coffee blog post next week  - I am going to do the coffee blog. It is going to be great. I am going to review the coffee shop within walking distance from my house.
  • Microsite activism challenge - My business coach has issued me a CHALLENGE! For one month, I am to make progress on building one site based on my activism idea, and to report back the results that I have. My first step is to get the site together.
  • Make Changes to Stirring Media Site - I have a whole list of pages that need to be redone, added, and deleted. I need to get on this since I am changing direction with my business, and I don't want my site generating new leads or advertising something that I no longer want to do. I'll delete first, then add and redo. Some of the pages that need deleted can simply be rewritten too.


  • Continue reading books - I have two or three chapters left in The Business of Baby. Then, I'll move on to The Road of Lost Innocence.
  • Get my Father's Day gift ready for the post office - Father's Day is coming up already.
  • Do first Half the Sky newsletter - I created the email list, and that's about it. I said the first issue would come in June too.
  • Reschedule and plan Half the Sky screening - I planned one, and then didn't do anything to advertise it and prepare for it. I need to get on this as it is a huge part of being an ambassador.
  • That Fun Facts list I mentioned - I did say in a previous post that I need to do a fun fact list of sorts, so that I can write a really good bio for this blog. It's one of the last things I need to do for this blog, besides write every day. I do need to do this for the coffee site as well, and perhaps for the Stirring Media site so that the "About Us" page has a little more personality and originality.

My Bucket List, or Life Goals, or Whatever You Want to Call It

bucket list life goalsMy business coach has challenged me to make a list of my one-year goals and my five-years goals. It's actually harder than it sounds. However, after coming across Location 180 yesterday and reading all of that great content, a bucket list seemed like a great idea that would accomplish those goal lists while really thinking about what I want to do in life. Okay, maybe these things don't quite have the one-year, five-year timeline that might be needed for these things (and probably what my business coach really wanted me to do), but bucket lists are better and more fun and I wanted to make that instead. I also really like the name, "Bucket List," because I really like the word 'bucket.' Anyway, here's my list:

  1. Win a WSOP bracelet
  2. Win a WPT title
  3. Play in Bobby's Room at the Bellagio
  4. Be debt free
  5. Own a car
  6. Own a house
  7. Earn my income primarily through an online business
  8. Visit every state in the union
  9. Visit every country in the world
  10. Testify before Congress
  11. Write a New York Times bestseller
  12. Appear on national television (and not through a one-second shot in the stands either)
  13. Own a painting
  14. Make $100,000 in one year
  15. Become a millionaire
  16. Don't eat out for an entire month
  17. Be vegan for a whole year (and hopefully stay that way)
  18. Put 100 slideshows on Slideshare
  19. Get 1500 subscribers to this blog
  20. Build three niche sites as part of my online business/media empire
  21. See the Grand Canyon
  22. Attend a World Cup
  23. Attend a summer or winter Olympics
  24. Give a TED talk
  25. Be able to have a conversation in a second language
  26. Meet the President of the United States
  27. Have a net worth of over $500,000
  28. Collect over 100 decks of cards (I like to collect decks of cards)
  29. Attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  30. Visit Stonehenge
  31. See Macchu Picchu
  32. Ride a gondola in Italy
  33. Spend New Year's Eve in Sydney
  34. Stand in the crown at the Statue of Liberty
  35. Visit the Pyramids of Giza
  36. Visit the Taj Mahal
  37. Visit the Colosseum
  38. Tour the Neuschwanstein Castle
  39. Ride a Cable Car in San Francisco
  40. Rent a bungalow in Bora Bora
  41. Get a masters degree
  42. Play poker in Macao
  43. Tour Petra
  44. See Christ the Redeemer in Brazil
  45. Visit Easter Island
  46. Go to the airport and take the next random flight
  47. Visit Niagara Falls
  48. See Old Faithful
  49. Get Married
  50. Be on Survivor or Jeopardy
  51. Visit a death row inmate
  52. Shoot a gun
  53. Learn to sew
  54. Meet Oprah Winfrey
  55. Be elected into political office
  56. Ride in a hot air balloon
  57. See the Parthenon in Greece
  58. Collect over 100 Matrushka dolls
  59. Read the Bible in full
  60. Give a commencement speech at a major university
  61. Join Toastmasters International
  62. Stand atop the Eiffel Tower
  63. Stay at the Icehotel in Sweden
  64. Tour Hagia Sofia
  65. Explore the Paleolithic Cave Art in Altamira
  66. Hang from Toronto’s CN Tower
  67. Float around the Dead Sea
  68. Ride an elephant
  69. Be interviewed by Barbara Walters or by Jon Stewart
  70. Start my own non-profit organization

I'll leave it there. I think that's an amazing list. These things can go on forever because there's so much to see, to do, to own, and to learn in this world. There's also a lot of things that would be cool to do, but if I died and I didn't do it, I'd be okay. Like, attend the major golf tournaments, or bungee jump, or climb mountains. It would be cool to climb Mount Everest or something, but quite frankly, I really don't think I'm ever going to do that. I have no interest in rock climbing right now, and I don't have very much athletic prowess, so I really have no real desire to climb any mountains. Kind of like with the golf thing. To see Tiger Woods golf in person would be neat, but I don't really care for golf.

Dealing With, and Embracing, Uncertainty

embracing the uncertaintyI was spending time today researching how to niche this blog down, how to niche down content marketing and my current business, and how to niche down my business idea (which is best called a niche site, I think. I also think that it would a very terrific niche site.). I don't think I was getting very far, reading these articles only to have to think about what I'm about and what my passions are and the 882 things that I love and know about and ought to be shared with the world. I was also weighed down by the work that I have to do; how I need to write this for this client, and write that for that client, and do my house chores. I wasn't sure how I was going to get anywhere and to get anything done.

The Tipping Point

After all this, I finally came across an article that actually offered the value that I was looking for really showed how to find a niche and to turn that niche into something lucrative. Entitled, "How to Build a Niche Site that Brings in $500/Month", I knew from the title alone that this was something that I wanted read and that this article will actually provide the value that I'm needing.

Content Marketing/Business Blogging Tip: This article was actually at the bottom of the first page (ranked 10th) for my search term. Proof that you don't need to rank first for your keyword, and that a specific headline makes a huge difference.

It's not a quick read. I'm willing to bet that it's over 2000 words, which makes me still wonder why so many business blogs want 300-500 word posts. You can't get anything done in 300 words. Imagine if this niche-building-site post was only 300 words! It couldn't possibly provide any value! But, I was hooked.

This is the explanation for what I've been wanting to do to build a business and to generate income. I've always thought that niche sites were websites with crappy content created solely to rank for search engines. They don't really care about serving an audience or a customer. They just want to have an exact match domain (or several) and make money from the advertising revenue. It was all about getting traffic and not about having anything once all that traffic got to that site. I didn't realize that you could have a niche site that was also a legitimate business, one that was a trustable brand that had the best interests of its audience in mind. I didn't think that niche sites were a great way to build a business or earn a lot of money because it was all about affiliate marketing, advertising, and reviewing products all the time.

The Uncertainty Moment

Long story short: that post made sense. Other posts made sense. This guy, and what he was all about, made sense. So, I watched this guy's TED talk from last year on the future of the American dream. I found it so impressive that I almost cried, and there weren't any sob stories in it! It just seemed that this 15-minute speech was what I needed to hear at this point in time. I've also found that this speech had a lot of tweetables, some of which include:

  • There are only seven days in a week, and 'someday' is not one of them.
  • Uncertainty is the world's only fear.
  • Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty. - Tim Ferriss (This is the only tweetable that the guy didn't actually say, but attributed to someone else).
  • Make a conscious decision about what's going to make you happy.
  • The future of the American dream lies at the crossroads of fearing uncertainty, and embracing it.

I feel like I've been living in a whole lot of uncertainty for the past few weeks. I feel like I've just realized that, so now I can face it and do something about it. I can trust in the fact that what I want to do and that what will make me happy will be enough.

What Will I Do Now?

I'm going to incorporate and to implement the things he suggested, such as creating a bucket list (I did this when I was like 14, but I couldn't possibly find the list now. I don't think it would be true reflection of what I want to do now) and write out a list of every product, hobby, or interest I have that I might be able to build a site around. Once I do those two things, then I think I really have the start of something good.