New?  Welcome to The Bucket List Society, a blog about achieving your life goals.  Want to know what this is all about?  Start here, or just go ahead and check out the articles below.

Introducing The 99¢ Goal Coach

by

Friends–

I am now selling something on this blog.  I call it “The 99¢ Goal Coach“.  If there’s a goal you have for which you want advice, help, or accountability– ask your friends first– but then ask me.  Throw a buck in my hat and I’ll give you my best shot.

If you want longer-term coaching, there’s that as well.  That, unfortunately, is closer to market rate than 99¢.  Check it out.

All the best,

–Erik

The Rape of the Muse

by

Photo credit: Susannah Conway (susannahconway.com)

“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
― W. Somerset Maugham

Creative projects live and die by what you do when you don’t feel creative.

Maybe you want to write a symphony. I don’t know. Let’s say you do. Let’s say you take in the music and get halfway decent at composing and now you’re ready to make your big statement with an orchestra. Symphony in F. Or C. Or G minor– that’s a good one too.

Writing that symphony, it will go like this: first, it will be heaven. You will want nothing more in the world than to sit down and scribble out the harmonies of life, love, and loss as you know them. Things will come easily and you will be full of excitement. You will drink from a firehose of inspiration and spew out melody after beautiful melody.

Then, a ways in, that excitement will wane. The music in your head will start to cycle in and out. The inspiration will come to a drip. Writing the symphony is still kind of fun, but maybe you will take some time to write that folk song or a string quartet or some other little project. Something newer and fresher– because the big one just keeps dragging on.

This continues. It gets worse, really. It becomes hell– the point where you’d rather do anything else than the one reason you’re here. You’d sooner fold socks and vaccuum under your bed than write more song. And that’s exactly what you will do.

When it comes to that, you’re at the decision point. Somewhere between dusting the top of your fridge and organizing your bookshelves according to the Dewey decimal system, you will have a realization: Read More

How to Actually Climb a Mountain, Actually

by

Last weekend, I accomplished another life goal of mine– I climbed Mt. Rainier.

Having just moved to the Pacific Northwest a few years ago, it was not immediately clear to me why anyone would consider this important enough to put on a list of goals.  But then, one day, as I was driving to work, I saw the mountain.

From 60 miles away.

Oh, snap. There it is! Photo credit: Marc Smith (flickr: marc_smith)

Especially after climbing Kilimanjaro, I knew that I wanted to spend more time in the mountains.  Considering that for the last 18 months, I’d been living within spitting distance of the premier glaciated mountain in the lower 48, it was doing time.  I always wished I would find myself without an excuse.  And then I did.

So for the last 8 months, I learned how to climb a mountain.  I learned it from reading books, talking to instructors, drawing on past experience, and, in a few cases, present experience.  I learned it searching the internet, highlighting manuals, peppering experienced mountaineers with questions (it was a long car ride, sorry MM!), and– most importantly– I learned it on the mountain, particularly Mt. Rainier, which I have now made the 2.5-hour drive to on more early Saturday mornings than I care to remember.

Climbing mountains is not an unusual thing to see on bucket lists.  There’s something appealing about dreaming about Everest.  But if you read this blog much, you’ll know that I get antsy around too much dreaming (it’s the “books about heaven” thing).

So I’m going to give you an antidote.  I’m going to tell you the basics of actually climbing a mountain.  Things like what to wear, what to buy, what to know, and what to learn elsewhere.

This is just an intro.  I’m a beginning mountaineer.  I’ll say many times here that this article doesn’t cover close to everything, but it covers enough to get you started.

And that’s the question here.  If you actually want to climb mountains, what will you do with this info?  Read it?  Skim the pictures? (they’re good, I promise)  Bookmark it for “later”?  Continue dreaming?

Or will you start tonight? Read More

A Personal Note

by

A few days after writing one of the first articles I posted here, I flew back to Chicago to see my mom, who was sick and in the hospital with cancer.  This was not a new development.  After her first bout with cancer, it appeared again six short months later.  At this point, she was in the hospital more than she was out of it, and things were looking worse then ever.  Far worse.

It was one of those “take the next flight out” situations, and I did.  About 12 hours after I arrived, she took her last breath.  And that was a year ago today.

* * *

Perhaps the most striking thing in the last years of my mom’s life was her decision to earn her undergraduate degree (which she never got while young).  She spent the last few years of her life in classrooms with students her childrens’ age, and at the end of those years, walked across the stage as the top student in the Communications Department.

Her first battle against cancer came shortly thereafter, but she was hardly off chemo before she was sending applications to grad schools.  I was impressed and proud.  Unfortunately, she was not a month into her classes when she had to email her professors to take some time off– the cancer was back.

Frankly, I have no idea what it’s like to tell your boss you’re taking time off to suffer through a life-threatening disease.  She did.  I have no idea what it’s like to pick out your gravesite.  She knows.  Designing your own tombstone?  Amateur artist to the last, my mom sure did. Read More

What I Learned at the World Domination Summit

by

The World Domination Summit lobby. Photo credit: Armosa Studios

This weekend, I travelled down to Portland, Oregon for the second ever World Domination Summit.  This event has always been a bit of a challenge to try and describe.  ”The World what!?” most people ask.  Here we go again…  It’s basically a convention for people who are into micro-entrepreneurship, life-hacking, and travel.  It is a crap-ton of fun, and I got to meet a lot of people and learn some cool stuff.

This post is a bit different from my regular ones.  I want to tell you about what I learned this weekend– and also why I don’t think I’ll be going back next year.

 

Lessons from WDS

When you can’t be vulnerable, joy is foreboding.  The opening talk at the conference was on vulnerability.  Yes, we had to sing at our neighbor and dance in the aisle.  But it wasn’t kindergarten all over again.  The speaker was Brene Brown– and in case there’s any confusion, I mean the Brene Brown with one of the most watched TED Talks of all time.  And yup, she had some serious bombs to drop on us.

This one in particular stuck with me.  It’s about vulnerability and joy.

Vulnerability is tough.  Being yourself when everyone else expects something different?  That’s not as glamorous as it seems.  It’s all sweaty palms and worrying what people will think.  But the alternative is having your soul crushed and being false to yourself, so it’s worthwhile.

And beyond that, it’s necessary.  Life is uncertain.  You aren’t in charge here.  That’s vulnerability right there.  And tell me, how does it strike you knowing tomorrow you could be dodgin’ the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?  I don’t know, but if it doesn’t strike you so well, Brene Brown wants you to get over it.  If you can’t be vulnerable, you can’t live.

Does that make sense?  If you can’t be vulnerable, every peak is just something you could fall off of.  Regression to the mean and gravity are teaming up to ruin your day.  And Brene talked about just that.  She was on a long-overdue date night with her husband, walking back from dinner through the park on a summer night, when visions of masked muggers Read More