Category Archives: Dream

If You Want to Win, You Have to Buy a Ticket

Recently my wife and I watched the movie Eat Pray Love.   In the movie the main character, played by Julia Roberts, tells the story of a man who went to church everyday and prayed in front of a statue of his favorite saint that he would win the lottery.  “Please, please, please let me win the lottery,” he prayed day after day after day.  Finally, the saint could take it no longer and made the statue come to life.  “Please, please, please,” said the saint, “buy a ticket.”

Mega Millions tickets

Image via Wikipedia

Like the man in the above story, many of us hope and pray for a better life but do not take the necessary steps to make it happen. We don’t buy the ticket!  Instead, we just wait for something to come along that will bring us the life we desire.  Most of the time we don’t even know what it is we are waiting for.

Where do I get the ticket?

Playing the lottery involves making a lot of decisions.  Do you want to buy your ticket at the convenience store, the local drug store or the big chain grocery store?  What kind of game do you want to play?  You can choose from buying a scratch ticket, playing a state level game like Pick 3, or go for one of the big prizes by playing Powerball or Mega Millions.   If you pick one of the big games, you have to choose the numbers you want to play.  Are you going to play your lucky numbers, or birth dates and anniversaries?  Of course, you can let the computer pick your numbers for you.  Unfortunately, I think most  people let others pick their lot in life for them.

How much do I spend?

Scratch tickets can be purchased in amounts from $1 to $20+ with top prizes ranging from $500 to new cars and trucks.  Powerball type game tickets generally sell for $1 each, but the more tickets you buy, the better your odds are of winning.  Top prizes in the national lottery games can reach 100s of millions of dollars.  Like most things in life, the more you risk, the greater the rewards.

You already have a ticket!

Like deciding which lottery game you want to play, you have to decide what it is you want in life.  Do you want to get out of debt, find a job you enjoy, spend more time with your family, or travel around the world?  Spend some time reflecting on what you want to change in your life.  Like the lottery, once you have decided what you first want to work on, you have to choose how much you want to risk.  Small risks can safely make small positive changes in your life. Bigger risks can lead to even bigger rewards.  Unlike the lottery though, you don’t have to go somewhere else to get your ticket to change.  If you look for it, you will see that you have always had a ticket to change your life,  and you always will.

What do I win?

If you want more time with your family, your ticket might be finding a committee you are on or another commitment you can eliminate to free an extra evening at home.  You may choose to risk more and find expenses you can cut and unused items to sell which allows you to quit that second job and have much more time with the family and to work on your hobbies.  If you are unhappy with your work situation,  you could might risk a pay cut to go to work for another company.  You could start online classes to get training in a different field in preparation to starting a new career. Or you could go “all-in” and quit if your work is making you that unhappy and dive right in to trying to make a living doing work you love.  There are as many choices as there are combinations of numbers on a lottery ticket.  It’s time that you are the one making the choices.

My ticket.

I knew that I wasn’t happy with my life several years ago.  I’d grown tired of working in retail management, my home life had gotten stale, I had too much debt, too much stress and little hope that the future was going to be any better.  Last August my wife found Tammy Strobel’s Rowdy Kittens blog and we realized that our life didn’t have to continue in the depressing path it had been going.  Together, we decided to go “all-in” and change our lives forever.  I quit my retail management job and do independent contractor merchandising jobs (which I usually enjoy) to support us until I can make it as a writer.  We have sold most of our possessions and cut most of our expenses and have reduced over $13,000 of debt.  Relatives are giving us a place to live until we decide where we want to settle.  We have taken a huge risk and our lives have been changing for the better.  I’m not sure exactly where we will end up, but I do know that I’ve bought my ticket, and soon I will win my prize.

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In 2011 I have committed to Own Less, Buy Less and Do Less.  Please join me in this commitment.  Read my post A Call For Change…Make 2011 The Year Of Less and sign the proclamation at the top of the right-hand column.




A Call for Change… Make 2011 the Year of Less

There comes a time when the people recognize the need for change.  The movement begins with a few pioneers brave enough to voice their dissatisfaction with the way things are now and who paint a picture of how things could be.  The movement grows as their voices resonate with the hearts of the people.

Such a call for change is echoing around the world.  Voices for change tell us that we can opt out of a culture which preaches that buying more will buy us happiness.  They tell us that a fulfilling life is not about who has the newest car, the biggest house, and the most toys, but that  fulfillment comes from truly caring for the possessions and people that surround us.   Instead of working more hours in jobs that penalize our creativity, these innovators show us how to turn our passions into our occupations.

Are the voices for change calling out to you?  Is it time to end the destructive pursuit of more possessions and to begin construction of a fulfilling, uncluttered life?  The path to your new life will be difficult, but trail blazers have forged ahead and cleared the way.

NOW IS THE TIME, TODAY IS THE DAY

It is time to make your Declaration of Independence from the consumer-driven, workaholic culture and join the movement to make 2011 the year of less.

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Official Proclamation, 2011 is the Year of Less

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a people to dissolve the ties that bind them to a life of bondage to their jobs, possessions and commitments, mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to separate from such way of life.  To support said separation, let the following facts be presented to a candid world.

  • Corporations and their marketing agencies have led the people to take the wrong path in the pursuit of happiness, a path leading to an excess of possessions and expanding home sizes to house these possessions.
  • These excesses have the people climbing over mountains of clutter and swimming in oceans of debt.
  • Governments encourage this excess consumer spending to stimulate their economies and raise tax revenue to pay on their insurmountable levels of debt.
  • The people have become trapped in jobs for which they have no passion, working too many hours in a day and too many years of their lives, to pay for things that they are told they need, but bring no happiness.
  • Work and obligations leave the people with little time and energy to do the things they love.

Knowing these facts to be true, we must separate ourselves from the pursuit of excess material possessions and free ourselves to live and work where and how we choose.  Therefore, we do solemnly publish and declare the year 2011 as The Year of Less.  In support of this proclamation, we, the undersigned, swear to Own Less, Buy Less, and Do Less in 2011 and the years beyond.

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Are you ready to break away from a life where you are owned by your possessions and debt?   Do you want the freedom to support yourself and your family doing work that you truly enjoy and love?  No matter your age or your current situation, it is possible  to change your life for the better.  There is a clear direction for the pursuit of happiness.  Take the first step today.  Sign the 2011, The Year of Less proclamation by leaving a comment stating your participation.   Share this post with your family, friends, and co-workers and give them the opportunity to join you on the journey to freedom and happiness.

Become a voice for change and sign the proclamation.

I Didn’t Want to Change the World, I Just Wanted to Change My Life

“You write in order to change the world…

the world changes according to the way people see it,

and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people

look at reality, then you can change it.” – James Baldwin

I didn’t set out to reduce carbon emissions.  Digging water wells in Ethiopia was not in my plans.  I’ve always done a little bit through my church and other charities to feed the poor, but it was never a mission in my life.  No one ever accused me of being a tree-hugger and I never really did a good job of recycling.  Like many people, I was more concerned with meeting my daily obligations:  got to pay the mortgage, make sure the kids have school clothes, keep two cars operating and have 100’s of channels to watch on our HDTV.

Over the last few years, I had lost enthusiasm for the field of work I had been involved in for over 25 years.  Credit card debt had piled up to the point that I was barely able to make the minimum payments each month.   A recent law forces card companies to inform you on your monthly statement how long it would take to pay your balance to zero making only minimum payments.  One card in which we carried a $5000 balance informed us that we would be customers of theirs for 22 years if we continued to make the minimum payment.  Can you imagine still paying for 2009’s Christmas presents in 2131?   It made me physically sick to face up to that prospect.

Something had to change or I would be working into my late 70’s just to get out of debt.  Those of you who have read my blog before know that my life changed the first time I visited Tammy Strobel’s blog, RowdyKittens.   She showed me that there were people in the world who were cleaning the clutter from their homes and lives.  People were reducing their expenses and paying off debt.  Pioneers were walking away from their day jobs and making a living with their laptops.  Nomads were traveling the country and the world without owning a car. Tammy’s work led me to the works of Leo Babauta, Everett Bogue, Eric LaForest, and Karol Gajda among others, and my life was forever changed.

Over the last few months, my life has changed dramatically.  I no longer have a full time job.  Over $12,000 in credit card debt has been paid and I am hoping to be totally debt free soon.  By the end of January, we plan to be clutter free.  By reducing our debt and expenses, I plan to be able to totally support myself and my wife by working online.  But what about changing the world?

Picture from Chris Guillebeau's Charity: Water in Ethiopia

The high unemployment rate is all over the news, but books like Passionate Living and You Don’t Need a Job, You Need Guts show us how we can make a living on the internet doing things we love.  These books show us it is possible to escape the traditional 9-5 and find security by turning your passion into your job.  This new way of working is changing the world.  Recently, a group of writers combined forces to offer over 1000 dollars of books for $97, with a portion of the proceeds going to Charity:Water, an organization supported by Chris Guillebeau and his Art of Non-Conformity book.  My purchase of these books will help build 5 new water wells in Ethiopia.

Although at this time I may not be a crusader for world change, I realize that everything I do can make some kind of change.  For now, I’m going to continue to work on changing my life.  I know that the things I do may supply clean water for a child, or something I write may change the life of one of my readers.  Every act and every word can change the world.

What are you doing to change the world?  Share your story with my readers below.

Hard Work That’s Worth It…

Many writers in the minimalist area make it sound so easy to clear your house of clutter, but it is hard and often tedious work.  Sell Your Crap is a book about using services such as eBay, Amazon and Craigslist to turn your no longer needed items into cash.  The point of the book is that most of us probably have thousands of dollars worth of stuff sitting around our houses that we no longer use or care about.  That stuff can be turned into cash which can be used to pay off debt or, if you are lucky enough to be debt free, the cash can be saved to fund your future plans.

Our "stuffed" basement!

The plan works!  My wife and I have sold more than a couple thousand dollars worth of  stuff and applied it to our debt.  Lately though, we have come to an almost complete stand still in selling our stuff.  Why?  Because it is hard and very frustrating work.  After you decide what to sell, you need to set a price, then descriptions of the items need to be written (you have to make sure your crap sounds good).   Pictures of the items need to be taken and uploaded to your computer.  If you sell on eBay or Amazon, you will have to figure shipping charges.   When the items sells, you have to package it and travel to the Post Office or UPS to ship.

Craigslist has its own set of frustrations.  Once you’ve written the descriptions and posted the ads, you begin a seemingly endless series of email exchanges with people wanting more details about the item or trying to schedule a time to come and look the item over. Be sure and post pictures of everything because if you don’t, people will ask for them. (C’mon people, its a 4-cup coffeemaker, do you really need to see a picture to know what one looks like?)

Once you think you have a buyer all lined up, they don’t show up or change their mind when they see the item.  Then you start all over again with another prospective buyer.  After going through this process dozens of times, it begins to wear on you and discouragement can, and has for us, set in.  When you reach this point, it is easy to quit, to return to the status quo.  I refuse to quit!

One activity I have found helpful when I am discouraged is reading the blogs of the people who originally inspired me. Writers like Tammy Strobel, Everett Bogue and Dave Bruno of the “The 100 Thing Challenge” often address the obstacles that can get in your way and offer ways to overcome them.  A few days ago I ran into this timely post from Henri Junttila on his blog Wake UP Cloud and it reminded me to listen to my heart and remember my dreams.  The only way the dream can come true is by pushing through these obstacles.

We decided to avoid some of the Craigslist issues but not posting any items we were selling for less than $25.  Anything less than $25 was not worth the time involved.  Items under $25 would be either donated or sold at a yard sale.  December in Nebraska is not a good time for a yard sale, so we are going to set the sale up in our basement.  Ebay is going to get a shot at selling some more of my collectible items.  Also, we are going to decide on an end date.  Anything not sold at that time will be donated to our local Goodwill, City Mission and our books donated to our local Library.

We are all going to run into obstacles and become discouraged at times, but the final goal is worth it.  When feeling down, we need to turn to each other for encouragement.  I know that I would appreciate any encouraging comments you readers would like to leave for me.  I am always here to help you when you feel down.  We can always rely on the expertise of the people I have linked to above.  Together, we will achieve our dreams!

Live Your Retirement Dream Now

The Yelp RV.

Image via Wikipedia

I had my retirement all planned by the time I was 35.  At that time I was the manager of a Wal-Mart store making a decent salary, Wal-Mart stock was splitting every two years and the company had a nice profit-sharing plan.  If the company stock growth continued at anywhere near the same rate, I calculated that I could retire by age 55 with over a million dollars in my profit sharing account.  Then I planed to buy a RV and travel the country with my wife, bugging friends and relatives and taking our future grand kids on trips.  When we weren’t traveling I could read, write, play music and work at whatever interested me at the time.

Things didn’t work out according to plan.  I’m 55 and I don’t have a million dollar profit sharing account or own an RV.  Years ago I revised my plan to working until 60 before I retire. Then the age went to 65 and finally to 70.  I scrapped the whole idea of getting an RV.  Last year when I read some stories about Charlie Terry, Wal-Mart’s second oldest worker at age 93, I joked with my wife that I would probably have to work longer than that before I would be able to retire.

Greeter Charlie Terry

Recently I discovered that the problem wasn’t with my retirement plan, the problem was that I thought I needed to wait until retirement to travel the country, take the grand kids on trips, and work doing what I like to do.  Like most people, I believed that I needed to work 40+ years for companies with 401k plans.  I believed I needed to wait until my financial planner and tax adviser determined I had saved enough money to retire comfortably.  We all believe this because it is what we are taught from the beginning of our careers. Even teenagers have the company 401k plan explained to them during orientation.  Google search retirement planning and you will find thousands of websites offering tools to help you calculate how much money you will need to retire, how much money you need to save each month to reach your retirement goal, and how to invest your money in retirement accounts.

THERE IS ANOTHER WAY!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for saving money for the future.  I’m just saying that there is a way to live the life you dream of now even while you are saving for the future.  The internet holds the resources you need to escape the conventional way of thinking about work and retirement. In future postings I will share my experiences with you and show you the resources I have used to start transforming my life.  I will show you how to:

  • simplify your life and unclutter your home
  • rediscover your interests and your passion for life
  • rearrange your finances and reduce your expenses to make a career change possible
  • use the internet to turn your interests and passions into a means of supporting yourself and your family

If you have any interest at all in living your dreams of the future now, then please take the time to investigate the resources that will be discussed in the near future.  Please take the time to leave comments or to ask any questions and share the link to my blog with anyone you think may be interested.