Black or White? Gray Decision Making is Best

There is an overwhelming desire to make various issues or decisions out to be black or white. That is to say, we tend to think only in extremes.

  1. iPhone or Android
  2. Democrat or Republican
  3. Carbs or No Carbs

The reality is, almost always, that the best solution is somewhere in between, and that there is more than one correct answer. On top of that, what is “right” is often abstract, impossible to know, or is always moving…or, more often, it’s all three.

In our example above

  1. iPhone is great for some people, Android works better for others – there is no “best”
  2. Democrat or Republican – somewhere in the middle is probably the best option for most of us, but each individual has different needs
  3. Carbs or No Carbs – what about “fewer carbs” or “healthy amount of carbs”?


How to Know What is Right

Since there really is no right answer, then how are we to traverse life? Well, for starters, we can all acknowledge that there are a range of correct answers to nearly every issue. There may be a right answer for us individually, but what is right for you may not be right for everyone.


When I was shopping for a new smartphone many years ago, after my HTC Tilt 2 was giving out, I had an important decision: Android, or iPhone. I went with Android, because it gave me more freedom, and I like having more choice in what happens on my screen. I was verbally attacked by some individuals – I’m not kidding. This became such a personal decision for some people, that they would attack those who came to a different conclusion. The truth is, there are a number of factors that go into a cell phone purchase decision: Price, Carrier, screen size, flexibility, ease of use, cool factor, camera resolution, perceived quality of the manufacturer. I had a certain set of criteria that led me to a Droid X. These other individuals had a set of criteria that led them to an iPhone. Other have criteria that lead to Blackberry’s, or Windows Phones, or feature phones.


The point is, we are all different. We have different needs, but we have a tendency to believe that the way we think is the way others think. As such, we tend to see those who have different viewpoints as being “wrong”. This transcends cell phones, and this works for politics, religion, financial management, decisions at work, decisions at home, etc. I wonder how much we could learn if we focused on why people make decisions, instead of which decisions they make.


Over the next week, when you find yourself calling someone “stupid” or “moronic”, even if it’s only in your head, ask yourself why did they make that decision? Why did they do what they did? What were their motivations, and how can you learn from them? You’ll be amazed at how much you learn, and at how much more the world begins to make sense to you.

What do You Really Want Out of Life? Find Your Passion

I write a lot on this blog about how to get what you want – through productivity, personal development, and of course, Health, Wealth, and Love.

However, what if you don’t know what you want? So many people I talk to are just adrift – floating from job to job, girlfriend to girlfriend, video game to video game. They have no idea what they want, so what is the point of taking control? So they can more efficiently drift? No, that doesn’t make any sense.

This is a difficult topic for many folks to understand – they have always known what they want, and know what to pursue. Others haven’t known exactly what they want, but they have a general idea. If this is you, then stop reading this post now – you won’t get much out of it.

Perhaps I can help you to find what you really want out of life by telling my story. Keep in mind, however, that just because you know what you want, doesn’t mean that you’ll know how to get there, or that you’ll ever get there. However, Padorec readers are self actualized individuals who have control of their lives, and find a way to get what they want. You are one of these individuals. But know that just knowing what you want won’t be a magic pill.

My Story

I am not one of those people that has always known exactly what I want. Deep down, I have known, but I didn’t understand what I wanted for years. My Dad is fond of telling a story about when I was a kid. Apparently, I turned to him at one point and declared, very matter-of-factly, “Dad, I know what I want to be when I grow up.”
“What’s that?” He inquired, excited to hear what his only son had decided his fate should be.
“I’m going to be a Millionaire. I’m not sure how I’ll make it there, but I will be a Millionaire,” said I. Such a precocious little kid.

The reason I wanted the Million dollars was that I realized from a young age that being rich isn’t about having things (though many people use their money for that.) It’s about having the ability to control where the resources of the world go. If you are altruistic, then you can direct the resources to projects that help humanity. If you are a spoiled little brat, then you direct the resources to a luxury home builder, a Lamborghini dealership, and, maybe, to Gulf Stream. No matter how you spend it, having money gives you options.

I remember telling my Mom multiple times that I would get a bunch of money and find a cure for Diabetes. I wanted to ease her pain. I also told her I would find out why she can’t eat tomatoes, (she loves tomatoes, but can’t eat them because it causes arthritis flare ups) and then breed a tomato without that particular chemical compound. I wanted to ease her pain, and improve her quality of life.

I also have always loved learning. Every subject imaginable captures my interest. I never really accepted that it was impossible to know everything. I believed that we could find a way to cram the entirety of human knowledge into our brains. I realized, however, that this would take more time than one has in a single life, which is why I do not accept that we have to die. In fact, I do not plan on dying. For some, this is a bold statement, but the scientific research actually back this up quite well. (I would direct you to read Ray Kurzweil’s books for more information)

Ray Kurzweil is one cool dude
Ray Kurzweil says you can live forever

So, I want to learn everything ever – or at least be able to call up that knowledge. Great. But then I realized that Humanity will eventually no longer be able to live on this rock we call Earth. So we need to escape. But then I realized that due to the Entropy (and a couple of laws of thermodynamics), we will need to escape this Universe. Okay, that’s when I developed my own theory of the multi-verse (before I ever read a thing about the concept of a multiverse I might add). We need to figure out how to escape this universe.

Okay, so to learn everything, I have to not die. Additionally, we will need to know what exists outside of this Universe, so we have to escape this Universe. Additionally, I want humanity to live on, so to do that we will have to escape earth. Then, eventually, we will have to escape the Universe. That’s cool – we can do it. But I want to be around for it.

So, ultimately, what I want to do is to Leave Humanity off Better than I found it.

That is my mission. Me manifesto. That is what I strive for – what I want.

Right now, that mission takes the form of this blog. If I can help to create one self actualized individual because of this blog, then I have succeeded. I know I want to help humanity, and now I have a target.

How Does This Help You?

Telling stories about myself is fun. Now you can see just a little bit of what goes on in the – sometimes messed up – mind of Paul Recchia. But how does this apply to you?
If you are struggling to know what you want to do with your life, then ask yourself one question. What gets you excited? 
Is it your spouse? Your Kids? Maybe you are meant to be a family man or woman.
Your Job? Sales? Maybe you should be a career shark.
Tinkering in your garage? Maybe be a Mechanic, or inventor.
Money? (A lot of people seem to be driven by this, unfortunately) then follow my example above, and figure out why you are excited about money. Is it because of the things you can buy with it? Then ask yourself why those things excite you.
Reading? Learning? Then maybe you are meant to be a lifelong scholar.

Action Plan

I could keep listing examples, but the point is that you need to take some time, do some soul searching, and understand what really fires you up. If nothing fires you up, then it may be time to try something new. Take an art class. Go get a video camera and start making videos. Start blogging, take a course on business, go to a new bar. Whatever it is, try something new. If nothing you are doing right now gets you excited, then it’s time for you to go seek it out.
A lot of people struggle with this because of invisible scripts. They are full of self-doubt, and believe that they can’t pursue a passion because it wont’ pay well.
News flash, you don’t need lots of money if you are fulfilled. You need some money to pay bills, but not gobs of it. If you are enjoying your passion, then ask yourself, what is the point of having more money?
Pro Tip: if you are doing something you are passionate about, others will notice and you may even be able to turn that passion into an additional income (that’s for a wholly different post).
They think that they have to be “responsible” and follow the social norms. Screw social norms. If you love to travel, then find a way to quit your job and travel. If that’s too extreme, then go take a really great trip. Use up your vacation, use up a chunk of your bank account, but go do it.
Understand that you do not have to be drastic right now. There is no risk in finding out what you want to do – you don’t need to worry about quitting your job, or booking a trip around the world. Right now, you just need to find the thing you love to do. If you love it, and you’ve identified it, then you have accomplished your mission thus far. You still have to figure out the how, and Padorec will help with that, but at least the what is taken care of.

Have You Set Your 2013 Goals Yet?

Is 2013 going to be a year of success, or a year of failure?

It’s up to you, but based on the weak sign up rates for the Goal Reminders, I’m guessing it’ll be a year of failure (or at least of limited success) for many of you.
I really, truly want all of you to sign up for the 2013 Goal Reminders (link on right, or the form is below). It takes 5 minutes tops (that includes the time to think through your goals). 
The way it works
  1. You sign up for the reminders – include your name, e-mail address (spam free, I promise) and 1-3 goals for the year
  2. Then, on pre-determined dates (below), you’ll receive an e-mail that shows your goals, and has a quick tip
  3. You continue to work towards your goals, reminded, and assisted along the way
  4. When 2014 rolls around, your life is measurably better

When will I get the e-mails?

When I first wrote about the program, I didn’t have the dates finalized. Now, the program is finalized, and the dates are as follows. You’ll receive a Goal Reminding e-mail on:
  • January 14
  • February 4
  • March 4
  • April 1
  • May 6
  • June 3
  • July 1
  • August 5
  • September 2
  • October 7
  • November 4
  • December 2

What is it really going to cost?

For you. Nothing
For me, there are costs associated with the mail service I use, but I so badly want you to achieve your goals, that I am willing to accept that cost. 
No, you will not receive any spammy, or salesy e-mails from me by signing up. I hate it when blogs pull that crap, so I vowed never to do that to my readers.

You are Not an Island

In the previous post about goals, I stated that I do not have any goals for 2013. Well, that’s not exactly fair. Here I am, asking you to set your goals, and I’m being a little b**** not setting goals of my own. After thinking about this for a while, I realized I was using a cop-out, and so I spent some time thinking, and I set 3 2013 goals for myself.

My 2013 Goals

  1. Increase Padorec Subscriptions by 200 (This gets you updates from the blog – completely free for you)
  2. Lose 50 pounds
  3. Launch 3 products into test mode
Those are in order. My #1 goal is to increase subscriptions by 200. 
I am also getting the e-mails to keep me on top of things!

Set Your Own SMART Goals!

For tips, see the previous post: Skip the Resolutions, 2013 is a Year for Goals
Euchrefan had a great comment on using the SMART Method:

To further the definition of a “good” goal. I have used the S.M.A.R.T. method. 

Time bound

This seems to align with your notes above. I like the use of SMART goals because it’s easy to remember and it helps you think through the goals to make sure they are written clearly. 

Also, the goals don’t have to all be for the year. You may have a goal you’d like to achieve by lets say August. So it’s okay to include that in your goal so you’ve given it priority. 

I haven’t made any resolutions in decades. And I haven’t got any specific goals right now. So I think this is a good time for me to do it. 

Thanks for the reminder.

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Skip the Resolutions, 2013 is a year for Goals

The view from 30,000 feet as I write this
It’s that time. Blogers everywhere have taken to their respective podiums to tell you about their year, and about “what’s coming in 2013”
This phenomenon often takes different forms:
  • Some bloggers talk about, and give links to their favorite posts (all too often, their favorites posts just happen to have links to their courses or e-books)
  • Some will talk about their personal finances and success factors of their businesses.
  • Others still will look forward to 2013, and will issue their intentions for the new year.

I don’t have any favorite posts (well, that’s a lie – I do)
I don’t share my personal finance stats (I might in the future, but that’s not the focus of this blog)
I haven’t set any goals for 2013
So what do I have to talk about, then?
I know! Let’s talk about you!

All About You

Did you have a favorite post last year? If so, help me out by sharing it on Facebook, twitter, or Google+…okay, you don’t really have to share it, but I’d love to hear about it in the comments. That will help me to deliver even better content that you want in 2013.
How were your goals for 2012 met? Was your goal to spend all your money and live life to the fullest because of the Mayan doomsday? If so…I’m sorry for your loss, but I bet it was one hell of a year! There is something to be said for living every year like it is your last year ever (though you probably shouldn’t give everything away every year)
What are your goals for 2013?  Do you have New Years Resolutions? (I hate these – more on that later) or do you have hard and fast goals for 2013? You should use Strategic goals, instead of tactical ones.

How to Set a Goal

An example of a strategic goal for a blogger might be “Increase my subscribers by 200 during the year”. That’s a good one because it has a lot of sub goals attached to it. 
  1. How can you get 200 subscribers without getting 200 regular readers? In fact, you need a lot more readers than that, so now you are also increasing your readership. 
  2. This may mean you are trying to raise your Search Engine Rank. 
  3. To do this, you may need to focus the direction of your blog. 
  4. You also need to work on conversion and retention of subscribers. 

This is the difference between strategic and tactical. Your strategic goal is to increase subscribers by 200. All the other stuff is tactical – it’s the “how” of the goal.

Note: Some may argue that 200 subscribers is simply a tactical goal as part of a larger strategic goal like “to be a dominant blog [top 5] in the personal development space”. That’s a bit vague for me for a one year goal. That is more of a mission than a goal. 
Whatever level you set your goal at, however, just make sure it is something you can act upon, and it will be considered a good goal. Notice that I didn’t say “achieve”. A goal doesn’t have to be something you know you can achieve – it is something you should be able to work towards. Odds are, if you set a goal that you know you can achieve, then you will achieve it by around March, and not have anything else to work on.

Why I hate New Years Resolutions

Ever since I can remember, I have despised the idea of New Years Resolutions. (it should be pronounced New Year Resolution, by the way – bad grammar…what a shame) Even when I was in Kindergarten, I remember making a resolution to give up New Year Resolutions. For whatever reason, I have a distinct memory of being in Mrs. Wagner’s class, and making that statement. I was a weird kid, though – I also was doing simple algebra and figured out how to steal all of the fireman stickers from atop the cabinet. Man I would hate to have had to teach me.
Anywho, why have I always hated New Year Resolutions? I think it’s because of the subtext that comes with setting them. 41% of New Year Resolutions this year are slanted toward Money (specifically, handling it better) That means that in 2012, you are stating that you handled your money poorly. However, it’s not like on January 1, you realized “Holy Shit, I handled my money poorly!” No, you absolutely realized that during 2012 – but you didn’t make the change then. It’s like saying “I’m going to start my diet on Monday.” I have always hated that this arbitrary day on an invented calendar seems to have such a huge effect on everyone. This is why this post is coming out on January 2nd, instead of December 31st. This way, you are not setting a New Year Resolution – you are setting a goal for 2013.
My thought has always been “well, the Universe doesn’t give a hoot that it’s now 2013, so why should I?”
I understand the power of goal setting, however.

Why I give you permission to set Goals for 2013

Even though I hate the resolutions – I realize that the concept of a new beginning is very powerful for most people. It’s one of the benefits of the cyclical nature of our society. It is also beneficial to put a time frame to our goals. However, I ask one favor. Don’t make a resolution. Resolutions are usually made to be broken. In fact, come March – tell people you are still keeping a New Year resolution. They will be absolutely shocked. Our society expects people to give up on their resolutions. So, if you already made one, start ignoring it today – as opposed to January 4th where I suspect most people give up on their resolutions. 
Instead, set a goal for 2013, or even multiple goals. Be specific, though!
Examples of Bad Goals:
  • I’m going to [eat healthier, work out more, drink less, etc.] this year
  • I’m going to manage my money better this year
  • I’m going to be nicer to people I meet this year
  • I’m going to finally find a job I love this year
Did you notice how vague those are?
Examples of Good goals:
  • To lose 30 pounds this year
  • To work out 3 times per week this year
  • To limit myself to 2 drinks per night, twice per week
  • To track my finances using (or any other method – define it!) and reduce my spending on [food, bars, gas, clothes] by 15%
  • To compliment at least one person every day
  • To get a job working on alternative energy projects which I am proud to tell my family about
Did you notice how ultra specific those are? Also, did you notice that instead of using the format “I’m going to”, I changed it to “To….”. This is a subtle change, but it gives our goals more a feeling of a mission, instead of being something we’d like to do…if we get around to it. Lastly, those are actionable – you can work to ensure you compliment one person per day. “Being nicer” is hard to act upon, because it is so vague.

I also like to set a margin of error on those weekly/daily goals. I used to set a goal (working out every day was one) and then when I missed a day, I was a failure. Now, I set in a margin of error so that I can still be successful. For example, I would now say “To work out 3 times per week this year, for at least 45 weeks”. Now, if I miss a week, I’m still within the reach of my goal.

Get Goal Reminders Monthly

Take ten to thirty minutes right now, if you haven’t already, and define your goals. I’d recommend you keep it in the 1-3 range. That way you will not lose focus.
Tips for setting your goal:
  • Make it specific
  • Make it actionable (something you can work on)
  • Make it meaningful (setting a goal to work out 3 times a week is pointless if you don’t actually want to work out)
Next, fill out the form below. Once a month, I’ll send you a reminder that you should be working toward your goal. Since you don’t have to worry about remembering your goal, you can focus on achieving it! Don’t worry – the only e-mails you get as a result of signing up for this will be reminders to work toward your goals. 


Get a Monthly Goal Reminder

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Additional Reading

Goal setting is nothing new – below is a list of some good reading regarding goal setting

Holiday Travel: Avoid the most Common Headaches

I am very fortunate to be able to travel as much as I do. My day job has me traveling every single week, so I consider myself a bit of an expert when it comes to travel. I have about 100,000 miles flown this year, so I’ve done it once or twice.

However, there is one thing I will not do: Travel during the Holidays!

You may not have that choice, however. Perhaps your family lives in Florida, and you live in Michigan. Perhaps they are in New York, and you are in Texas. Perhaps your family is in Kansas, and you’d rather be in Hawaii.

Whatever the reason, sometimes travel is just unavoidable. The reason that travel sucks during the holidays is not because of the volume of travelers. Summer Weekends actually take the honor of being the busiest travel day(s) of the year. The problem with Holiday travel is the volume of inexperienced travelers.

Frequent flyers have a term for inexperienced travelers…they call them (you?) Kettles. This is after Ma and Pa Kettle, who had a show in like the 20’s, and were very very country. It’s a bit of an insult, but I actually have a hard time refuting that after having traveled behind a number of these individuals. You know how TSA shouts “Shoes off, belts off, computers out of their bags, take out all liquids, gels and aerosols” constantly? That’s why it bothers the heck out of me when someone doesn’t take off their shoes and it holds me up!

This is what some Frequent Flyers think of you

The Solution to Holiday Travel

Well, the best solution is to get status with an airline so that you can go to the priority lanes, then get the TSA PreCheck so that you can avoid the main lines. That may not be realistic for you at this point in time.

TSA PreCheck

TSA has a program which allows certain passengers to bypass the main line, and go through a metal detector without taking off their shoes or belts, and keeping their computers and liquids in their bag. Pretty much the only thing you have to do is take metal out of your pockets. For a full description of the program, see the TSA PreCheck Website.

Currently, only those passengers who opt-in will have the opportunity to volunteer to participate.Participating airlines will permit some of their frequent flyers, based on TSA criteria, to opt-in through the airline’s system. Participating airlines have contacted eligible frequent travelers with an invitation to opt-in. Once the passenger opts in, the airline identifies the individual as a participant when submitting the passenger reservation information to TSA’s Secure Flight system.Current members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Global Entry, SENTRI or NEXUS programs are already eligible to participate in the TSA Pre✓™ concept if they are flying on a participating airline at a participating airport. Those passengers need to place their PASS ID in the ‘Known Traveler Number’ field while booking their reservation. Interested passengers who are not eligible through their airline and are not already a member of a CBP Trusted Traveler program may still be able to opt-in to TSA Pre✓™ by applying for one of the CBP eligible programs. Click here to learn more:

Track Wait Times 

The TSA has a website which lays out wait times for all the gates at many airports in the country. Sometimes, you can find a “hidden” security gate. For example, for years, at the McNamara terminal in Detroit, the lower level security line would fill up like crazy. However, if you went up one floor, there were two additional security lines which had a much lower wait time. This was a great secret while it lasted! By tracking the wait times on the TSA site, you can easily determine which lines to go to. 
If there are two gates with 1-10 minutes waits…then choose the closest, but if the security screening line near your gate is 50-60 minutes, and another has 11-20 minutes…well, I think you know what to do.
Find the TSA Security Wait Time Finder either on your computer or on a mobile device. While you’re at it, pay it forward and submit a more up-to-date report.
Another great story about wait times: I was flying out of DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth) and my line had a 45 minute wait. They were literally busing people to a different terminal so they could get through security, and then take the tram back to their gates.

In the scenario where you must choose the best line to go through…follow George Clooney’s advice from Up In the Air. It stereotypes, but I’ve found that he is mostly correct.

Ryan Bingham uses Stereotypes to move through the line faster

The TSA Agents are Children in their Hearts!

It’s Christmas time. I know the PC thing is to say “It’s the Holiday Season!” but let’s be honest…it’s Christmas time. A large number of you are traveling for Christmas, not Kwanzaa (no lost love for Kwanzaa, but it’s just not as ubiquitous). I bet you are bringing gifts to the little children you are going to see (Nieces, Nephews, etc.). Here’s my tip. Don’t wrap them!
The TSA is full of agents who are young at heart. They love opening gifts too. More importantly, they don’t like wrapped gifts. My sister used to travel with wrapped gifts…once. They “tried to be careful” when opening them, but they did their damage. She had to re-wrap everything. 
Bring the gifts unwrapped, then when you get to your destination, ask your hosts for wrapping supplies, or just go buy them yourself (they should at least have tape and scissors). You will be doing this no matter what, so it’s better if you only wrap the gifts once, instead of twice. 

Carry-On Bags are your Friend

You probably don’t want to pay for checked bags. $25 minimum, each way. I highly recommend learning to pack your essentials in a carry-on bag. You are allowed a carry on and a personal item on nearly every flight in the US. Take advantage of this – a roller bag plus an over-stuffed backpack will work. Obviously, gifts may end up being too large, but if that is the case, then you should be ordering the gifts online and having them shipped to your destination. 
If you want a super cheap roller bag for a carry on, and you don’t mind looking like an 8 year old girl, here is a $30 bag from Amazon which qualifies for Prime. 
So, not only does using carry-on bags save you $50, but it also allows you to move much quicker. Waiting for a checked bag sucks. Plain and simple. Plus, if they lose your bag, then you’ll spend your entire holiday trying to track it down. Bring your carry-on’s.

Credit Cards – A Free Checked Bag

A number of Airline Credit cards gift you a free checked bag. I know the Delta Gold AmEx does this, and the United Mileage Plus Explorers credit card gives you a checked bag for free as well. I am not providing a link to these cards because the URLs change frequently. Do a quick search on either “Delta Gold AmEx” or “United Mileage Plus Credit Card” and you will happen upon it. Just make sure you cancel within one year, or you will have to pay the annual fee.

Cheat the System

Technically, this violates airline policy, so I can’t officially recommend this. I can tell you what I have observed others doing. They bring a bag that they know will be too big for a carry on through security. This is the first place you may get stopped – if TSA tells you your bag is too big (this only has ever happened to me at Newark…even when my bag was a legal carry on size). Bring it on through, then when you get to the gate – about 10 minutes before boarding starts – go talk to the gate agent. Tell them you realize you’ll probably have to check your bag anyway, and you’d like to volunteer to check it through to your destination  They will likely be elated at your generosity (and will likely let you board earlier than the rest of the “kettles”) and will check it through to your destination (meaning if you are flying Dallas to Atlanta to Ft. Lauderdale, they will take your bag from you in Dallas, and deliver it to the baggage claim in Ft. Lauderdale). 
This is highly risky, as you are technically violating the baggage policy, but usually agents are too freaking lazy to enforce those rules. Those of you who are semi-frequent travelers will know that they will probably ask for people to check their bags through anyway. Boom – you just got a free checked bag. I have no idea what the hassle is if you get caught…hence the “very risky” statement.

Get to the Airport Early

Look, I know it sucks to get there early. Sitting around at the airport can suck. But the problem is all the inexperienced travelers. Even if you know exactly how to breeze through security, Ingrid and Irving (those are my examples of 94 year old names) might not. Old people can take up a lot of time in security. So you need the extra time. So here’s what you do…PLAN FOR IT! Bring a game to play, or a video to watch. Bring some snacks. Most importantly, go seek out the comfy chairs. Most airports have them now – there are the standard crappy chairs, then there are hidden comfy chairs. This can be la-z-boys, regular padded chairs, or even massage chairs! Find them…and use them. (DFW Terminal E has some particularly comfy chairs. 
If it’s just you, consider buying a one day pass to an Airline Club. It’s probably worth it if you get nice and liquored up on the free booze. Just don’t drink so much that they don’t let you fly – that can happen. 

Sign up for Automatic Updates

All airlines have the ability to have status updates sent to your phone or e-mail. Sign up for this! This way, the Airline will automatically notify you if your flight is delayed or if the gate changes (notorious among American Airlines). If your flight is cancelled, immediately go to a ticketing agent, or call into reservations to change your flight. This gives you about a 2 minute head start on the others, and will allow you to potentially get on a  new flight before the others.

Lastly, Your Security Checklist

I go through security a lot. I mean…a LOT. At least twice a week, sometimes more. Here is a quick checklist for you. Memorize it – it will save you valuable time going through security.
Hand to the first agent:

  • Your Ticket
  • Your ID (Drivers License or Passport preferred)
  • If you have an electronic ticket (on your phone) then use the scanner they provide
When you get to security, take off the following items:
  • Hats
  • then, Jacket
  • then, Shoes
  • then, Belt
  • then, Underpants (just kidding…but I wonder what they would say if you did)
Take the following items out:
  • Laptop out of your bag (tablets stay in the bag)
  • Liquids out of your bag
  • Everything out of your pocket (if they only have a metal detector, then only take your phone, keys, and other metal out)
  • If they are using a backscatter machine (pictured below), ask to opt out.
    • This means you do not want an x-ray scan, and that they will give you a manual pat down. This is a safety concern. ALWAYS do this if you are pregnant, old, young, or particularly weak. I recommend everyone opts-out. 
Here’s how to use the Bins
  • Put in your laptop
    • If there is room, you can also put your wallet, phone, keys, etc. and belt in the same bin. Don’t put anything on top of your computer
  • Jackets can go in their own bin
  • Bags go on the belt
  • Shoes go directly on the belt
    • This is a pet peeve of mine…Shoes don’t need their own bin! 
  • A purse, if it is open, can go in a bin
I only use one single bin when I travel, and it makes things so much faster! Try to be a minimalist when it comes to the bins!
If you see this machine…ask for an opt-out immediately
So when all is said and done, you can have a fantastic travel experience, despite the Holidays being about the most obnoxious time to travel ever! I’ll post a follow-up in a day or two on finding great fares. I am currently looking for a last minute fare myself, so I’ll post all my tricks and tools to ensure you get the best price available!
Happy Holidays, and Happy Traveling!

Rut Busters: How to Bust out of the Rut!

This will be the first post in a series on Rut Busting.

Ruts Suck.

They also happen to just about everyone. Some people are so motivated that they rarely get into a rut, but I’m willing to be that everyone out there gets them. (If you don’t, e-mail me at and tell me about it)

So how do you bust out of a rut? 

I was recently in a bit of a rut…actually, it was a major rut. Here’s how I spent my days:

  • Grazing in the kitchen
  • Going to work and kind of hating it (okay, hating it)
  • I watched every episode of Frasier available on Amazon
  • I watched every episode of How I Met Your Mother (again)
  • I downloaded and watched every episode of Boy Meets World
  • I started embarking on a trek to watch every episode of The Simpsons (About 166 hours of time, or 1 week of life)
  • I would eat Chinese Food nearly every day from a take-out place
This is a sad, pathetic life!
So, how did I get out of my nasty old rut?
I wrote a journal entry – probably the longest of my life
I spent probably 30-45 minutes writing the longest journal entry I’ve ever written. It got a lot of the issues out of my head so that I could deal with them, and start to realize what was stifling me. I also realized where my issues and mental blocks were originating, so that I could begin removing impediments to a good life.
I read a book about motivation
The book is great. I literally downloaded and started reading it while in a drive-thru line. The book was 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself and it really showed me the light. I didn’t follow every tip (or even read all of them, actually) but it was enough to really get me moving. (Full disclosure: I get a small cut if you click on that link – the non-referral link can be found here) I have since read a number of books which have helped to motivate me. You can find your own books, but I recommend 4-hour work week, Vagabonding, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (I’m working on this now, actually)
I started watching a bunch of YouTube videos
I know, this sounds like it’s actually part of the rut. Here’s the rule: If you are watching Kittens in Teacups, or guys getting hit in the balls…it’s probably part of a rut; if you are watching self-improvement videos, then you can count it as a win. Part of getting out of a rut is to have a purpose. Now, if you’ve been proactive and written a personal mission statement, or defined your life goals (as well as yearly and/or monthly goals), you should be able to develop some momentum based on these. I had not done so, so I actually watched a bunch of Sumo Dojo videos from the guys at App Sumo. I also watched quite a bit on Elon Musk (one of my business Idols) and Tim Ferris (Lots of helpful information, but not an Idol). Shark Tank also really helped me to break out of my mental block! 
I set small challenges
I did a weekend juice fast. This was difficult after eating a bunch of Chinese food, but I did it. 
I began minimalizing my possessions. I realized that I had so much stuff I felt weighed down by them when I was home (I travel weekly for work). This is an ongoing practice. I’m a classic pack rat, so I’m working to get rid of stuff. The key to small challenges is to get momentum. It’s hard to go from doing nothing in life to writing a huge novel. It’s a different challenge to go from nothing to doing 10 push ups a day, or drinking 8 glasses of water a day, or writing for 2 minutes a day. Any small win builds momentum and is a self-fulfilling cycle.
I had some time with Family and Friends
This sounds so cliche, so I almost hate to put it in here. I spent more time with Family and Friends. There are 3 pillars to life – Health, Wealth, and Love. I was working on the Health, the Wealth was doing okay for my age (but not as well as I wanted it to go) and the Love was sorely lacking. A lot of people take “Love” to mean sex. Love doesn’t refer to intimate relationships alone; it can be any sort of relationship – including family and friends. The biggest secret of all is that it can also refer to the relationship you have with yourself. If you are sick of yourself, you need to work on that! I had grown a bit sick of looking at myself in the mirror myself, because I saw an unmotivated guy in a rut! I have since fixed this, and now I look at myself in the mirror and think “Damn, that guys a sexy, motivated, successful guy”. 

That was it – how I got out of my rut – it started with small changes which gave me momentum to lead to bigger changes. Simultaneously, I was focusing on the parts of my life which were lacking – namely health and love.

Keep in mind that this did not all happen at once. I started with Shark Tank (I watched every episode from the beginning once I ran out of Boy Meets World), and things grew from there.

So, once you have the momentum, how do you keep it going?
That’s going to have to wait for the next post.

Why Bother Being Born?

We all tend to focus so much on the present – and that is important.
But it is also important to look to the end, to examine your entire life, including the part that has not happened yet, and think about what you want to have done.

Some people will say they’d like to have raised successful, well-adjusted children
Some will want to have made Millions
Some will want to have helped to elminate poverty
Some will simply want to have survived (not a recommended end of life goal)

Living does not Mean Surviving
Surviving: Not being dead
Living: Experiencing the magic that life has to offer

In the end, will you look back on a fulfilled life, or will you mourn the life you never had.

I’ve had the thought that we can “finish” our lives at some point for a while now. It always nagged in the back of my mind, but it really came to the forefront of my mind when I watched a documentary by Spike Jonze. It was a portrait of Maurice Sendak (known most famously for authoring Where the Wild Things Are)

Sendak’s most famous work
The Documentary
The documentary, Tell them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak is a wonderful film, full of insight and wonder. I highly recommend the DVD. It used to be available on Hulu, but it appears it was pulled down. I’ll let you know if it goes back up. 
While the entire film is fantastic, there is one particular segment which I have gone back to many times to draw inspiration. The title is “Sendak on Death (And Life)” on YouTube. I have to say that this is a man who has experienced so much pain in his life (he died on May 8, 2012 – if you were unaware), and yet he has found happiness. His work was his true happiness.

This segment asks the noted author: Why Bother Being Born? And what follows is a truly introspective journey which we can all benefit from. It is a mere 5 minutes long, so sit back, ignore the world for a bit, and watch.

Motivation You can Draw from Maurice Sendak
I like to watch this video every time I find myself seeking some inspiration. It is a very moving video that drives me to pursue what makes me happy. I have watched it (and listened to it) many many times, and I’m sure I will do so again and again. 
Disclaimer #1: I do find that you need to be in the right mood for the video. You should be in an introspective mood.
Disclaimer #2: It will be better if you first watch the full Documentary…but it is great even without knowing the full context

If you’d like to watch the full documentary first, then you can find it at Amazon, or you can view it illegally on the Internet, but I can’t make a recommendation on a site (I truly don’t have one for you, or I’d share)

So consider what your life should be.
Ask Yourself: Why Bother Being Born?
When you are this man’s age, will you be proud of a life well spent. Will you be done with your life? Or will you mourn never having lived a life in the first place?