Tag Archives: living fully

Embracing Multiple Interests: Melodee Patterson Interview

Happiness is often a matter of trial and error and for Virtual Assitant Melodee Patterson, that trial and error included many different careers before realizing one lifelong career wasn’t necessary. If the idea of a single career bores you to tears then you’ll definitely want to check out Melodee’s journey…

Melodee PattersonWho: Melodee Patterson of Short-term Solutions
Melodee is a life-long learner who enjoys whatever career she’s involved with at the moment.

Name one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
I have a tendency to change careers the way most women change their shoes. I’ve been a corn detasseler, sales clerk, factory worker, insurance clerk, desktop publisher, receptionist, molecular biology lab technician, and bioinformatician. I loved each job while I was doing it, but eventually I’d start to get bored. And that made me anxious. Why couldn’t I find my “passion” like other people? Why couldn’t I find that one job that I’d want to do for the rest of my working life? I felt like I had a major commitment issue, but I didn’t know what to do about it.

Even our lowest moments fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
I was tired of doubting myself – of feeling like I needed to fit some societal mold in order to be happy. I needed to find a way to justify what I, and others, considered to be a character flaw.

Tell us what you did to break up the pity party. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
I was lucky. At just the right moment, I found a book written by Barbara Sher called “Refuse to Choose!” As I started to read, I became more and more excited. Barbara understood! She knew exactly who I was and how difficult it was for me to stick to one career and one goal. She called me a “Scanner” and said that there was nothing wrong with me. It was a moment I’ll never forget.

Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
After reading the first few chapters of the book, I went back to the beginning and started reading again. I highlighted sentences and bookmarked pages with Post-Its. I wrote notes and ideas in a journal. I didn’t stop reading that book until I hit the last page.

Then I thought about all the careers I’d had, what I had learned from each of them, the parts I had enjoyed most and least, and I considered my next step. I now knew that I wasn’t going to settle down to one job, doing the same thing day after day. I started searching the Internet for ideas. And that’s when I discovered the world of Virtual Assistance.

As a Virtual Assistant, I would have my own business, work out of my home, set my own hours, and be constantly learning. It was even considered an “acceptable” career. It was perfect for me.

Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
I’ve suffered from all three of the Someday Syndromes at one time or another. Currently, I’m working on the “I’ll Get Around To It Someday” Syndrome. I have so many projects that I’d like to do, my brain gets overloaded with it all and I shut down and do nothing.

It took me a year of procrastinating before I finally started writing a series of instructional fiction e-books to help others – especially Baby Boomers – become Virtual Assistants. It’s a special project of mine and I love every minute that I spend working on it. So why am I still procrastinating when it comes to writing the rest of the series?

Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
I decided to involve others in the project to force me to be accountable for completing it. Getting requests for more e-books is also a wonderful incentive.

Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
Reach out to others for help and accountability. If your friends or family don’t “get” you or what you’d like to accomplish, try hiring a life coach to keep you on track. You only get one ride on this carousel, don’t waste it by not even trying to do what’s in your heart.

If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for? You might be tempted to provide a cheeky answer, but stop and think a moment about what would really help you.
Would anyone like to send me on an all-expenses paid trip to Barbara Sher’s Scanner Retreat in Greece?


OK, then – I’d love to hear how others keep themselves from being overwhelmed by new ideas that are constantly popping into their heads. How do you keep track of them all?

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Taking a Holiday with Pop Music Positivity

  • Celebrating life requires a choice to see the best. What do you choose to see?

A few weeks ago, I went to see Madonna in Zaragoza and during the concert she sang one of her oldies – Holiday. Given that I’m leaving on an 11 day holiday tomorrow I thought it would be the perfect song for Pop Music Positivity.

Plus it’s all about making a choice and deliberately celebrating life.

You can turn this world around
And bring back all of those happy days
Put your troubles down
It’s time to celebrate
Let love shine
And we will find
A way to come together
And make things better
We need a holiday

What are you doing to celebrate life? What choices are you making to take a holiday from your fears, your worries and your procrastination? How are you coming together with others to make things better in your life and in the world?

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Stop Talking and Take Off the Rose-Colored Glass Already! Lab Rats Week 3

rnjtc1 on flickr.comWe live in a positivity addiction society. Self-development types (including me) say: “fake it until you make it” meaning that we should pretend to be happy until we actually believe that we are.

If, however, you don’t know your dreams and have no direction, this false positivity creates a world where you talk instead of do and wander around wearing rose-colored glasses with a slightly stupid smile on your face.

Life Without Talking

All of the Lab Rats talk too much (although Lizzie only talks to herself). They all have ideas that they discuss and plan but do very little to implement.

For example, Alessio wants to start a blog and he talks about blogging all the time, but he doesn’t actually do anything about it. He knows the small steps he could take to get the blogging going, but he doesn’t and is stuck in the talking mode.

Lizzie (to herself) talks about all the things she doesn’t get around to: taxes, weight loss, puppy training, sleeping. In her case the talking happens because she puts heavy expectations on herself, expecting perfection right away and procrastinates getting started because (of course) perfection isn’t possible.

Horatio’s overtalking problem is more general. He knows exactly what he could be doing to move forward all the things he talks about, but he doesn’t actually move forward. For Horatio this block may come from the major block in his professional life – how can he move anything forward if the one of the most important parts of his life is completely stagnant?

And for Wendee it comes down to attitude. She doesn’t do things because she harbors negative thoughts and feelings about many things in her life including her art, her desire to go back to school, her writing abilities.

In one of my favourite fantasy books, Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, the main character, Cimorene finds herself about to be married off to a Prince she can’t stand. Eventually she finds herself in a conversation with a talking frog who asks her what she was going to do about the situation. Cimorene tells him about all the people she’s talked to and complained to. He replies with:

“I didn’t ask you what you’d said about it. I asked what you’re going to do. Nine times out of ten, talking is a way of avoiding doing things.”

The Lab Rats now know what they’re avoiding doing. How about you?

Life Without The Rose-Colored Glasses

As I mentioned before, we live in a positivity-obsessed world. In some ways it’s a good thing – much better to look for the good in people and situations than the bad, but when taken to the extreme it means trying to move forward while wearing rose-colored glasses, not seeing the world as it really is. When that happens we refuse to acknowledge the obstacles to progress and then wonder why nothing happens.

When the Lab Rats took off their rose-colored glasses they admitted to some pretty bleak situations with families that are indifferent or downright unsupportive, complicated romantic relationships, fear and a lack of trust in the possibility of a secure financial future doing something they enjoy, and a general disregard for physical fitness (although some of the Lab Rats are beginning to make an effort on that front).

A pretty harsh lesson hides in what the Lab Rats discovered when they took off the reality-altering glasses: you can’t rely on anyone else to make you happy.

I don’t mean we can’t get support from others or ask for help. I mean we are the only person who can make us happy. We choose to accept negativity from those around us. We choose to be judged by others (I’m big-time guilty of this one). We (for the most part) choose our work situations (often based on our desires to not disappoint others). And we choose what level of fitness we live with on a daily basis (notice I don’t say we choose what level of health because often illness is not a choice).

By actually looking at the world clearly, the Lab Rats can begin to make decisions based on what they want rather than what others want and can see where they are making assumptions that just aren’t true.

Measuring Progress

Last week the Lab Rats learned to pay attention to their fear and to begin to find ways to use their fear to move themselves forward. This week they’ve done the same with the reasons and excuses for not making choices and taking charge of their lives. By being aware of these various excuses they can derail negative thinking and keep false positivity at bay.

And how do they do that? By deciding what they want out of life, regardless of what others think and finding small steps to pursue.

Which is what we get into next week: defining their dreams.

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A Midlife Check-In

  • Someday Lesson: If we don’t run a spot check every once in a while things can start breaking down and we suddenly find ourselves in the middle of nowhere with an engine that refuses to start.

Alex with his Mom in 1969Today I turn 40. A few years ago, just before I left Canada to pursue my dream of being a European writer, I saw my forties approaching and felt nothing but dread and disappointment. I wasn’t anywhere near any of my dreams. I was merely coasting along.

Now that I’m actively pursuing my dreams I see turning 40 as exciting and wonderful.

Other than a chunk of years where I detoured into the world of autopilots and unhappy comfort, every year of my life has been better than the previous one, so I look at aging as something to celebrate!

And how to do I know that each year life is getting better? Because periodically I do a Someday Check-In and see exactly how far along I’ve gotten in each of my three major goals.

Someday Number One: Fiction Writing

1.    What’s my Someday?
Becoming a published fiction writer with a book a year coming out.

2.    When do I want to complete it?
By 2026 (started in 2006 with a twenty-year plan).

3.    What are the big steps to get there?
(((write something)edit + submit)repeat)repeat=success

4.    What am I doing right now to move things forward?
Submitting finished novel
Finishing the first draft of a second novel
Finishing the outline of a third novel
Doing a workshop and writing a novella for it

5.    How much progress have I made since starting?
Published two short stories
Wrote a novel, which reached quarterfinals in a contest
Wrote more short stories
Worked  fiction writing into my daily routine

6.    Anything missing?
An agent and a publishing deal, but I’m okay with that because everything is moving along bit by bit and they’ll come. After all, I still have 17 years to go in this plan.

Someday Number Two: Someday Mentoring

1.    What’s my Someday?
A full roster of clients supporting my lifestyle and funding my retirement

2.    When do I want to complete it?
By August 2013 (it generally takes five years for small business to become established and I started this one August 2008)

3.    What are the big steps to get there?
Build reputation
Develop and set up services
Market, market and market some more

4.    What am I doing right now to move things forward?
Writing a second ebook
Providing teaser services to draw people into the programs
Providing tester while developing new services
Editing ebook
Marketing through my blog and newsletter

5.    How much progress have I made since starting?
Reputation continues to grow
Developed services and launched them
Have a few clients
Launched first ebook

6.    Anything missing?
Patience – I see how long it takes to build a business and I get discouraged at times, but I keep at my actions and see progress (albeit in slow motion) and keep going.

Someday Number Three: Fitness / Health

1.    What’s my Someday?
To be in good physical shape and not experience food-related pain/tiredness

2.    When do I want to complete it?

3.    What are the big steps to get there?
Train physically using tangible goals
Improve my nutrition

4.    What am I doing right now to move things forward?
Working on the one-hundred pushups challenge
Starting the two-hundred situps challenge
Including more fruits and veggies in my diet

5.    How much progress have I made since starting?
Have run two 10km races
Did a severe cleanse last year that achieved my ideal body weight but it was too severe to maintain
Almost halfway through the pushups challenge
Have stopped smoking altogether (yes I continued to be an occasional smoker up until a few months ago)

6.    Anything missing?
Missed the sign up window for the 20km race and lost some enthusiasm for it
Allergies forced me to stop running during the summer
Lack the passion to stay away from wheat, sugar, fried foods
Weigh more than I want to

I could beat myself up about the continued problems with my diet, but the reality is that I get along okay. Yes, I’m not in top form, I’m 10lbs heavier than I want to be and I tire easily and have bad allergies, but I don’t worry that much because I’ve learned that when things really matter to me, I find just the right train of thought to turn whatever I’ve been struggling with into the easiest thing in the world.

It just takes time to find it.

Your turn – how well are your Somedays moving along?

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Expand Your World with Travel

Today’s guest post is from Dragos Roua.

Rene Ehrhardt on flickr.comEver traveled long distance? Like 1 or 2 days away from your home, and for at least one week? I know I didn’t, until recently. I never was the traveling type. I always thought the world is equally understandable from my desk, by visiting the Internet.

Well, it isn’t. The world can’t be enjoyed from your computer as much as you could do it out there, in the wild. In the last 9 months I traveled more than 50.000 km and visited countries from Europe, Asia and Oceania. Right now I live in Romania, by the way, and that would be somewhere in the Eastern Europe.

Long Distance Syndrome

I tremendously enjoyed those trips, but only after 1 or 2 days. During the first hours I did have something that I call “long distance syndrome”. It was a little bit of fear, a little bit of boredom, a little bit of uncertainty and a little bit of regret. I was on a plane going from Europe to Asia, with more than 10 hours of flying ahead and kept saying to myself: “what am I doing here?”, “why did I ever left my comfortable desk and embarked on this trip?”, “what’s in this long trip for me, anyway?”.

But as the plane started to gain altitude, my feeling of inadequacy started to fade. I started to observe the people on the plane, to look at the travel maps, I started to focus on what was ahead. What was behind started to die. And 10 hours later, by the time the plane was about to land, in Bangkok, Auckland or Tokyo, I was a completely different person.

And from the moment I set foot on the new land, I had the best times of my life. I enjoyed the beauty of Waiheke Island in New Zealand, cruised the Chao Phraya river in Thailand, spent quality time on Odayba Island in Tokyo, and many, many more. During all these trips my internal clock was changed, time was almost stopped and I was more aware than ever. I almost hadn’t had any sleep during those trips.

Every time I got back from one of these trips I also had a good feeling, but in a different way. Everything that looked familiar and comfortable before leaving, now looked just… small. It was like I was seeing everything from a distance. I was crawling on a small room while the outside world was so big and had so much to offer. My comfort zone was in fact just a small box, and I was so stupid hanging on there.

But that didn’t stopped the “long distance syndrome” to happen again, on the next trip. Only this time I knew it will last just a few hours. The best was yet to come.

Long Distance Goals

Going for long distance goals is like going on long distance trips. It’s boring and uncomfortable in the beginning, but these are just cocoon pressures. It’s the same things I experienced on my plane in the first few hours. It’s about getting out of your comfort zone. And getting out of the comfort zone is, yes, you’re right, uncomfortable. It’s called “out” of the comfort zone for a reason.

But once you get out of this comfort zone, something beautiful is going to happen. This pressuring cocoon will explode and let something great emerge from inside. A new you, a better you, a fantastic you. It’s so great that you’ll remain baffled wondering where this new you was all the time. It was on the comfort zone, of course, and hadn’t any intention to get out. It was under the pressuring cocoon, feeling frustration and boredom.

Breaking up your cocoon is difficult. The butterfly doesn’t break its cocoon easily. It takes a fantastic effort to go from a caterpillar to a butterfly. It takes persistence and vision. It takes time and patience. It takes power and discipline. But most of all, it takes confidence.

If you look at a caterpillar you can’t really say it’s going to blend into a butterfly. It’s just a strange insect crawling and spending the day in a limited area. You can’t really guess it will fly soon so far from its tree and visit so many new places. But deep down the caterpillar knows it’s more than that. It’s there, in its genetic program and it’s going to do whatever it takes to grow.

Your genetic program is a program of greatness. You aren’t here to crawl from a boring day at a job to another boring day at a job like a caterpillar from a tree branch to another tree branch. You’re here to fly, to experience new places, to offer beauty and happiness.

You’re here to travel long distance. And to enjoy every second of it.

About Dragos

For the last 10 years Dragos Roua has been an entrepreneur in the online publishing business. In 2008 he sold the business to follow his intuition and now focuses exclusively on personal development as a business. Using everything he learned from being a successful entrepreneur, manager, programmer and business man he now helps others become successful too.

You can visit Dragos’ blog at http://www.dragosroua.com

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Become a Nomad with the Location Independent Business Course

The Location Independent Business CourseAs a small business person, I never say no to new clients – unless I recognize that they’d be better served by someone else. I’m not about to take someone’s money if I know of a service or product that will give them what they need as if it was designed specifically for them.

And that’s exactly what I did last month with someone who took advantage of the two complimentary email-based coaching sessions I offer. I always start the process off with an email interview. When I saw this person’s answers I immediately thought: she doesn’t need me. She needs the Location Independent Business Course.

Why did I turn away potential business and send it somewhere else?

Because she knew exactly what she wanted but was just lacking the process of how to do it. In her own words, she said:

I would like to travel the world, not as a tourist, but as someone self employed who can live in each country for a matter of months, get to know the culture, broaden my mind, and explore the variety of life earth creates.

I could probably hand Lea and Jonathan this sentence as a description of their ideal client and save them a lot of work.

I learned in my first business as a Professional Organizer that saying no to a client sometimes is the best thing for the client, for you and for your business. For example, as a Professional Organizer I didn’t work with people who had ADHD – so I would refer them to someone who did.

The clients would thank me for matching them up with the right person, the other Professional Organizer would thank me for the business (and usually give me a referral fee of some sort), and I wouldn’t put myself and the client in a situation in which neither of us would benefit just for the sake of the client’s money going into my bank account.

So, what’s so great about the Location Independent Business Course that I’d send business away from me over there?

Well, for one it’s their specialty. The only thing they do is help people set up a location independent business. And they do it in a series of six modules that cover:

  1. The idea for the business including ways to determine if your ideas are profitable.
  2. The strategy for building the business including a one-page business plan (something I recommend to my own clients)
  3. How to get set up no matter where you are in the world including the five “must-have” tools to run a successful location independent business
  4. How to market globally instead of locally including getting into the minds of your customers
  5. What you need to automate your systems making it easy to remove yourself from as many of the processes as possible, and
  6. What you need to travel from place to place in terms of visas, health documents and business best practices.

As you saw in Monday’s Someday Interview with Lea Woodward of Location Independent, she’s lived it. She’s traveled the world while working with her husband. They’ve made the mistakes that cost them lots of money that you can avoid spending by taking their course.

So, if the Someday you’ve been putting off is packing up and traveling the world (or country) while earning a living, I’d highly recommend you check out Lea and Jonathan’s website and especially their Business Course – it could be just what you need to bust that Someday.

P.S. Yes, I am an affiliate of Location Independent so if you sign up for their course you’re helping me build the business that helps others bust their own Somedays.

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Thrill me, chill me: Lab Rats Week 2

  • Someday Lesson: The things we hate most about our lives provide clues to that which most excite us.

As I said on Tuesday, our negative emotions often spur us on towards action. This especially happens when we look clearly at what we hate about our lives and then make the effort to turn everything on its head and look at it from a different viewpoint.

Last week I asked the Lab Rats to bitch, whine, moan and kvetch about their lives for half an hour. This week I asked them to look at each negative thing in their life and turn it around by starting with the words “I want…”

I then asked them to tell me the dream that most thrills them, the thing that makes them feel like they are sitting on top of a rollercoaster about to drop. The dream that fills them with such thrill-a-minute fear they choke up talking about it and get tears in their eyes thinking about.

Here’s what they came up with:

  • Barb: following her teenage dream of being a psychologist & moving into Chicago proper.
  • Cat: finish something, anything!
  • Brett: fully moving into the house they’ve lived in for five years
  • Jim: Stop panicking and start trusting himself.

Notice that they didn’t all choose concrete dreams. For example, while it’s possible to measure Brett’s dream (getting a room featured on the Unclutterer.com blog for example), how does Jim measure self-trust? Barb’s dreams have definite steps: a, b & c. The steps in Cat’s dream depend on what she’s working on.

If you look back at the interviews for each Lab Rat, you’ll see that these dreams totally match up with what they most complain about. Barb has felt unfulfilled in her career for a long time, plus five years ago she changed her life in a big way (leaving her marriage) but then stayed where she was neighbourhood-wise (more or less). Cat’s lack of direction relates directly to her belief that she can’t finish anything – why pick a dream if you know that you’re never going to finish anything?

Brett feels like he ignores anything physical and chooses to veg on the couch and that he has no confidence in being an action-man. And Jim also mistrusts himself whenever making any personal life-decisions, undermining any progress with “I could never do that.”

Over the next ten weeks, I’ll be leading the Lab Rats through a series of exercises that will give them the tools to make the changes they want.

The first step in that journey is picking what they want. I did ask Cat to choose something a little more concrete because to learn how to finish things needs a thing to finish. She’d mentioned her messy desk at work and wanting to get it organized. At first she seemed really unthrilled about it, but then she modified her dream and said that she wanted a “self-organizing desk” and then followed it up with a “mmmmm” and I could feel her interest rising.

Jim’s dream is also non-concrete, but we can leave it as is. He’s in a very inward-focused exploratory phase of his life so the goal isn’t to do something externally, but build up strength internally. And internal journeys are rarely concrete.

Despite the differences in their dreams, they all came from the same place: the suckiness of their lives now. They’ve already moved forward because they took the time to explore what they don’t like about their lives right now in the moment. They’ve created a baseline and now they can measure movement based on that line drawn in the sand.

Your turn: if you look at what sucks in your life, how would you turn it around and turn it into a desire starting with “I want…”?

P.S. Cat asked me what about the difference between a dream and a goal. This is how I define it:

A goal is a concrete part of a dream. For example, my dream is to get my novel published. My goal is to secure an agent. I don’t dream about having an agent – it doesn’t excite me but getting published thrills me down to my toes.

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