Less stuff. More joy.

I like stuff. A lot.

In fact I’ve spent most of my life trying to accumulate more of it.

I’ve got hobbies that require stuff. Kayaks (different ones for different situations), paddles, spray skirts, helmets, glove like things, bikes, climbing gear, camping gear, hunting gear, climbing gear, camping gear. Hell, I’ve got a shed full of gear of different kinds. But the truth is I only use a fraction of it on a yearly basis. The same is true for the stuff in my garage, and the stuff in my kitchen, and certainly the stuff in my closet, and my junk drawer. It turns out that I don’t use 80% of the stuff I own.

But, having stuff is the point right? Stuff brings happiness. Doesn’t it?

I remember as a young boy lusting after some new toy. If I could just have a set of walkie talkies then I’d be happy. As a man the objects of my affection just became more expensive . . . if I could just have an iPad, that new watch with GPS, the list goes on and on.

But stuff has baggage. If you’re not patient, and I wasn’t, stuff brings with it debt. I’ve realized that for most of my adult life a large part of our monthly budget has been used to make payments to credit cards that were used to buy stuff. Tens of thousands of dollars of stuff, most of which I don’t even remember buying. Sure, some of the debt we’ve accumulated over the decades was emergencies like groceries and house payments, but if I didn’t have so much stuff I could probably have afforded to pay cash for those necessities.

I’ve been addicted to stuff. I’ve got my self worth from stuff. I’ve thought of success as having stuff. But it’s all a farce.

Too much stuff just gets in the way. It’s clutter. It’s a distraction. And it certainly doesn’t bring happiness.

I’m sick and tired of being ruled by stuff. A wise man once wrote, “where you’re treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Whatever you treasure, is what your heart desires. I don’t want to treasure stuff above people. I don’t want to treasure stuff above experiences. I’m sick and tired of being ruled by stuff and having my budget ruled by my payments for it.

It turns out that the less stuff I have the less distracted I am. I gave away half my clothes. My closet looks cleaner. I feel relaxed there now. And I can find the clothes I actually want. I’ve sold a bunch of my gear and now I can actually find what I need when I need it. We cleared bags and bags of stuff out of our kids rooms and the same is true. Less mess, more joy.

The same thing is true of my calendar. When I look at my calendar and it’s not full I’m able to relax. When I have back to back appointments I feel the tension of busyness.

I want to find a way for our family to live simply. To not be ruled by stuff and the desire for more. To love each other and the experiences that we have together.

I think we’re just beginning this journey. The journey to contentment. A long time ago a guy named Timothy said, “True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.” It seems to me that godliness with contentment is the opposite of the American Way. We’re ungodly and never content. I want to be content. I want to be satisfied with what I have for today. It’s not that I don’t want to achieve or have goals. But I don’t want to have them at the expense of living in the present. I want to be present with my wife, kids, friends and coworkers. I want to be engaged with them in their worlds and invite them into mine. I want our family to share adventure together. To share passions. To love life together rather than always be longing for something we don’t have yet.

I want less stuff and more joy.

[HT Joshua Becker]

Please unsubscribe from my blog

Hey, Jon Dale here. You’re getting this because you’re subscribed to my blog (or maybe you’re actually reading this on my site right now).

If this in your inbox and you don’t remember me, no big deal, just click unsubscribe at the bottom of this message.

My guess is you haven’t noticed, but I’ve not posted much in the last several years. I used to post pretty regularly, mostly about business and marketing stuff. Then several years ago I decided to take a one year break from blogging.

About twice a year I’d get inspired and write something. But the truth is I really felt like I’d lost my voice. Usually when I’d sit down to write I wasn’t sure what to write about. The stuff that I used to write about just didn’t excite me in quite the same way any more. So rather than posting for the sake of posting, my one year blogging sabbatical became a four year blogging sabbatical.

Over the last four years I’ve learned a lot about myself and the things I’m actually passionate about. I’d like to start writing about those things and sharing a few thoughts on stuff I’m exploring with my friends and others who are interested.

This is where the unsubscribing part comes in. I have no reason to think that because at some point in the last decade you honored me by subscribing to this list, that that means you’ll have any interest in the stuff I’m going to post from this point on.

I’d love it if you stuck around for a while, but if you’re not sure that you want to, please unsubscribe.

Will I still write about business and marketing? A little. I still love business and the way ideas spread. But, I’ll also be sharing a lot more about the other stuff I’m increasingly passionate about. Things like adventure, health, trying to be a good dad and husband, my faith journey and figuring out my place in the world. My guess is that it’s much more eclectic than it has been in the past. Less about businessy things and more about life.

If you want to join me, I’d love to have you along for the journey. But if you’re not sure, please accept my sincere thank you for being part of this over the years and click here to unsubscribe. And while you’re at it . . . feel free to unfollow me on twitter too.

Safe or brave?

It turns out there are basically two type of opportunities. Safe ones and brave ones.

It’s safe to open the fourth auto parts store in Woodland Park, CO. Nobody woke up this morning with an I need another auto parts store to choose from problem, but the research must show there’s market share to be stolen.

It’s safe for Microsoft to launch Bing or for Lowe’s to open a location accross the street from Home Depot.

However, it’s brave opportunities that are fun. Brave people solve problems we wake up in the morning with. Brave challenges the status quo. Brave might not work.

When my friend Tony launched No Outlet, No Problem he launched a brave business. ¬†He realized that a large part of the population both here and abroad needs power for mobile devices when they’re not near an outlet. He knew that the solutions being offered were ridiculously expensive and he decided to be brave and offer a better solution to the world. With a little help from Kickstarter, his bravery has been rewarded (it’s not too late for you to get one).

What are you doing that’s brave?

 

This might not work

If you’re like me you spend most of your time playing it safe…scared to try anything that might not work. At work and at play, with my kids and most certainly with my spouse.

But it turns out that most great things…most things that impact the world…might not have worked.

Dave didn’t have any¬†guarantee¬†that if he created the best leather bags in the world anyone would buy them…but they did.

Derek didn’t know back in 1998 if he started selling CDs for indie artists if anyone would buy them…but they did.

I didn’t know if leaving my wife and kids for six months to do Seth’s MBA would be worth it…but it was.

Six months ago my wife Amy finished her second novel. I read it and it was good…really good. So she asked me if we should explore getting it published. I knew the answer was yes, but to be honest I was afraid for her. You see, I know the publishing industry. I’ve spent the last five years working with publishers and agents and authors. And I know that it’s a mess. Most great books never get published…and let’s be honest many of the books that do get published aren’t that great. In fact, publishers are largely in the business of gambling. They’re taking chances. Making educated guesses. There’s a reason they call them “surprise” best sellers. It’s because it’s almost always a surprise.

So back to my wife and why I was afraid. I was afraid she’d get missed…that her manuscript would end up in a pile somewhere, glanced at but not read. I was afraid for the inevitable rejection letters she’d receive and what they would do to her artist’s heart. But I was more afraid that she’d hide behind the manuscript submission process and play it safe. You see, there’s one good¬†safe thing about taking the traditional route: you get to do it in secret. Nobody knows you’re being rejected unless you tell them. The truth is I was most afraid that Amy might play it safe and the world would have to wait to experience her gift.

So I asked myself, what would I tell my wife if she was a client? I knew immediately. I’d tell her the traditional publishing system is broken, and there’s no need to wait for a publisher to pick you. Instead you can pick yourself, offer your art to the world, and let the readers pick you, and if a publisher wants to come along for the ride and brings something of value to the table, then let them.

It sounded good when I said it…but then I realized…crap, this might not work. But it was too late. Amy believed me. And so I’ve spent the last six months pretending to be brave…as I pulled in a director for a book trailer…as I convinced a famous musical arranger to do the score…as I worked with the best artist I know to create the cover. And then on Saturday, the date I’ve been waiting for¬†dreading arrived. And we launched Amy’s project into the world¬†complete with a ridiculous¬†challenge¬†to publishers. And I’m still incredibly scared that it might not work.

But then again…it might.

What are you doing that might not work?

The trouble with New Year’s resolutions

First let me say I’m a huge fan of goal setting, for that matter I often make New Year’s resolutions. I do think goals work better when they have a deadline for achievement rather than a start date (but that’s another post for another day).

The trouble with New Year’s resolutions is that they make us think we’re the masters of our own universe. That we’re the point of the story. When we think we’re in charge we end up shrinking the story we’re living in down to be us sized.

Most of you know (or if you’ve been reading a while, have suspected) that I’m a follower of Jesus. And for those of us that follow Jesus we have a choice to make every day. And that’s which story we’re going to live in. Are we going to live in our own small story, where we’re the main character and it’s all about us. Or are we going to live in the larger story, where He is the hero and we have a vital role to play. If we believe that we’re characters (albeit important ones) in a much larger story then everything changes. It helps put a lot of things in proper perspective.

At the begginning of The Hobbit, Gandolph shows up and makes Bilbo an offer,¬†”I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging.” But Bilbo, like us, is used to his own comfortable life, “We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can‚Äôt think what anybody sees in them.” But being a polite fellow he invites Gandolph for tea the next day…and most of us know the rest of the story.

There’s an invitation that God has for you this coming year. ¬†An invitation into a larger story, an adventure of epic proportions.

So, here’s a question for you to ponder as we head into 2013. Which story are you going to live in?

Happy New Year friends.

P.S. Something I pray every day¬†on a regular basis that helps put all of this in perspective is The Daily Prayer that John Eldredge put together. There’s a free pdf and mp3 of it here. Thanks to @gpackiam and @johneldredge for inspiring this post.

 

How I accidentally became a morning person

I’m not naturally a morning person.¬†Left to my own devices I’d get out of bed five minutes before I need to leave the house.

I remember as a child my dad having to come into my room multiple times each morning to wake me up for school. As I became a “responsible adult” I got the place where I even set my alarm for 18 minutes before I HAD to get out of bed so I could hit the snooze button twice and then get up. I dreaded the sound of the alarm clock. Perhaps in part because I often dreaded the day.

The only time I found it easy to get up early was when I had something I really wanted to do the next morning. Need to get up at 5am to go snowboarding? No problem, I’d wake ten minutes before my alarm went off.

Three years ago I got sick and tired of being out of shape and a few of my annoyingly fit friends encouraged me to do a triathlon. I signed up for the Boulder IronMan when it was still a year away. I started training with a coach and it quickly became evident it was going be difficult to fit a couple of hours of training each day into my already full schedule. So, I decided to get up early in the morning to work out before my family got up and I accidentally became a morning person. ¬† Now, I’ll wake up early even on the weekends when I don’t particularly want to.

Since then my friend Michael Hyatt has written a lot about the benefits of being an early riser. Mike’s got his list, but here are five things I’ve discovered I have by getting up earlier:

  1. Time to think and pray
  2. Time alone (I’ve got four kids and I try to get up at least an hour before the first one gets up)
  3. Time for breakfast (this is supposed to be the most important meal of the day and I used to grab something unhealthy on my way out the door)
  4. Time for exercise
  5. Time to read and write (see above about having four kids)

We all have things we’d like more time for.¬†My friend Andy Traub has written an excellent little book called Early to Rise¬†that will take you on a thirty day journey to becoming an early riser. Even though I was already an early riser I’ve been working my way through the 30 Day Challenge and loving it. Each day he offers a short essay of encouragement and an early riser action tip. This morning’s tip, ship something, hence my first blog post in a very long time.

The book doesn’t come out until next month, but Andy’s offering a few free early copies at¬†EarlyToRisebook.com (click on the Free Book button on the right).

Most of the people who discover I get up so early say something to the effect of, “I wish I could do that”. Well, the truth is you can, and Early to Rise will help. Thanks Andy.

What time do you get up?  What do you do with the first two hours of your day?

Three Kickstarter projects you’ll wish you hadn’t missed and three you shouldn’t

Three projects you’ll wish you hadn’t missed:

The Pebble Watch raised over $10 Million on Kickstarter

  1. Pebble: E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android
  2. Elevation Dock: The Best Dock For iPhone
  3. Seize the Year!
And three you shouldn’t (there’s still time to get in on these):
  1. Twig: the amazing ultra-portable cable for your iPhone
  2. I’m Fine, Thanks
  3. The Kinkajou: A bottle cutter with a new twist

Question: What are you favorite Kickstarter projects (past or present)?

365 Days of Pikes Peak – The Journey

This is a guest post from Shaun Dagget (aka The Pikes Peak Guy). Shaun is best known for photographing Pikes Peak every single day for a year as a result he’s somewhat a of legend in this part of the country. He launched a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign and has gone on to release a series of companion products to his original coffee table book (which he’s just released in a softcover version). His story is amazing and has huge implications for publishing specifically and business in general. Shaun is a perfect example of the kind of entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau talks about in his new book The $100 Startup.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a first-century Roman philosopher who has been credited with saying, “Luck is where the crossroads of opportunity and preparation meet.”

As a photographer, I live by this definition. If I get up at 3:30am, drive an hour to a location, then hike in 5 miles with 30 pounds of camera gear so I am set up in time to catch the sunrise… it is not lucky to get a beautiful shot, it is preparation. The luck comes in when the rising sun lights up the sky as though God personally painted the sunrise purple and orange just for me and I am able to get an epic photograph (not just a beautiful shot).

But as a solo-preneur, who wanted to publish a coffee table book of my photographs, my luck didn’t come getting a lucrative book deal, or from finding a powerful agent, or even knowing an influential person in the publishing world… my luck came from not knowing ANYTHING about the publishing industry at all.

That may seem counterintuitive, but the fact that I didn’t know I was breaking every rule along way was actually my lucky break. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t succeed by making a ton of mistakes (and I made a ton) from not understand the publishing world, I succeeded by creating my own path to publishing a book by using an entirely new set of tools.

I am not saying that the traditional publishing world is broken or doesn’t work anymore, what I am saying is that for me (and I bet for thousands of people just like me) the traditional approach to getting published isn’t necessarily the best way to approach your own success story. I am saying that by taking a totally new approach to publishing my book, other authors may find my story just what they have looking for to help them reach their own goals.

I am the most unlikely author you will ever meet. And for that reason I love to tell my story of how I went from a completely unknown photographer, to a published author that hit Amazon’s Hot New 100 list in my category and sold out inventory on the first day of release. My book hit those milestones in spite of the fact that it retailed for $99, and in spite of the fact that nobody knew who I was (my name isn’t even in my book!), and in spite of the fact that it was a self published effort by someone who just 1 year prior had no idea how the publishing world actually worked.

Even more amazing is that today, just 10 months after my first book, I did a limed released of my second book to the market and sold just over 2,000 copies on the very first day (by limited release I mean that it is not available in any book store or on Amazon or B&N).
I am not giving those stats to brag, I am giving those stats to show how truly improbable it is to be where I am today.

My story is one that combines the tribe concepts in Seth Godin’s books, the business acumen that Michael Hyatt is know for, and mushes it all up it in power of current social media, emerging social media and the possibilities of crowd sourcing. I was also lucky to get some outstanding guidance and a ton of encouragement from a true agent of change, Jon Dale. Each of these people, their ideas and concepts had a big influence on how I approached my book project, but there was one tool that people are just starting to talk about, and was the game changer that brought my book to the market , Kickstarter. I believe this is a game changer not just for me, but for the entire publishing world.

This is blog post, not a step-by-step how to book on publishing or what Kickstarter is; it is the beginning of a conversation on the subject… so I will wrap up my message.

If you ever thought your dreams of being published were impossible, re-evaluate your doubts.

After carving out my own path through the maze of new possibilities and actually seeing some success, I believe that anyone can achieve the same and more. I encourage everyone who aspires to be published to consider crowd sourcing and look into Kickstarter, and maybe even forget everything you thought you knew about the publishing game.

As one of Kickstarter’s all time highest funded projects in my category, and a published author because of it… I hope I have something to offer to the conversaion, and encourage everyone who is reading this post to ask me the how and why behind this success.

Shaun was kind enough to provide me with ten copies of the new soft-cover version of his beautiful coffee table book, 365 Days of Pikes Peak РThe Journey to give away to my readers. Congrats to all the winners.  If you don’t hear from me then you didn’t win.

Question: Why would you like a copy of Shaun’s book? You can leave a comment or ask Shaun a question by¬†clicking here.

Review of The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

Every once in a while a book comes along that hits you right between the eyes and changes everything.

For me this happened when I read Tribes and realized that the way business and marketing works had changed and most people didn’t realize it. My life’s work is a result of the change in thinking I experienced while reading that book.

A few weeks ago I was priveleged to receive an advance copy of Chris Guillebaue’s new book, The $100 Startup. ¬†I’m convinced this book is going to do for thousands of people what Tribes did for me. ¬†It’s going to change the way they look at business and work…forever.

In The $100 Startup¬†Chris shares story after story of people around the globe who’ve started businesses based on their passion and providing value to others. ¬†He shares the story of Benny Lewis an Irishman with a knack for learning languages who left an engineering career to travel the world and teach people how to learn languages using his methods. He describes how Michael Hanna was laid-off from his professional job and started a mattress store with a unique twist…he delivers people’s mattresses by bicycle. One day he realized he hadn’t worn his suit in two years so he carried it out to his bike and delivered it to Goodwill.

This book isn’t just a series of inspiring stories it’s also a blueprint for how to start your own business.¬†If you’ve ever wondered if you can be one of the lucky ones who get’s to spend every day making a living doing something you love, the answer is a resounding yes, and this book will show you how. You’ll find yourself and your passion in it’s pages…and you may never be the same.

Chris has been kind enough to provide me with ten copies of The $100 Startup to give away to my readers.

On 5/15/12 I picked 10 winners from among those who left comments. Congratulations to:

Thad, Mark, Sam, Theresa, Jamie, Tricia, Dustin, Todd, Rocco and James who each received a free copy.

The $100 Startup is available on Amazon and everywhere books are sold.

Thanks to everyone who entered to win.

Question: Why would you like a copy of The $100 Startup? You can leave a comment by clicking here.