My favorite part of this blog is that I have a journal of the last years of my life.  I can compare past projections with what actually happened.  I can discover how I really felt when circumstances were completely different.  Your brain has a unique ability to remember your own feelings incorrectly.  (One of the main points of the book “Stumbling on Happiness” by Daniel Gilbert.)  This has helped me identify some disturbing thought patterns…

When I embarked on this adventure in my RV over three years ago, the point was to check out a bunch of places and see where I wanted to live.  I didn’t realize it would extend for the next 3+ years and leave me with more questions than answers.

It took a year and a half, but I was finally ready to try settling in Portland in Fall, 2011.  Just before settling in Portland, I thought I’d be much happier there.  Quickly after getting to Portland, I realized I missed adventure.  I thought I’d be happier traveling again.  A year later, driving my overloaded Subaru with Portland in my rearview mirror, I questioned if adventure was what I really wanted.

The cycle continued.  Living in Medellin, I was excited to backpack through South America.  While I was backpacking, I was excited to be settling down in Europe for the summer.  I landed in Berlin about 20 days ago, and the idea of settling here scares the heck out of me.

In the back of my mind, I’m still searching for a place to call home.  I’d love to have a city where I enjoy living year-round, a core group of friends, more than just a bag of possessions, etc.  I could still travel, but my homebase would be a place that I’d look forward to returning to.  And no, Reno is not this place.

Berlin is not this place.  I don’t speak the language, and it’s impossible to learn.  The winters here are absolutely unbearable.  I’ll have massive Visa issues.  Germans can be boring, impatient and mean.  (I’ve already been shouted at several times in German and it was not a fun experience).  I enjoy electronic music, but not as much as everyone else here.  I’m already having an amazing summer here but just wouldn’t feel comfortable calling it home.

I’ve been a vagabond for the last 3.5 years.  I needed to think more seriously about where I wanted to plant roots.  I could rule out any city without English as the native language.  I could rule out any city that had terrible weather.  I could rule out any city that sucked massively.  I had actually been tinkering with the idea of going back to San Francisco for a bit.  It had just came to me when I was hiking in the mountains of Peru in February and had stuck around in the back of my mind.

That’s it! I’ll be happy if I live in a place I call home.  I had wanted to since arriving in my RV nearly 3 years ago.  I’ll be happy when I can get that car I’ve always wanted.  I’ll be happy if I buy a cabin in Tahoe.  I’ll be happy when I get an awesome bike, a surf board, new clothes..

I’ll be happy if…if… if…  I’ll be happy when…

It finally clicked.

Why couldn’t I just be happy now?  Happy with what I currently have.  All these external circumstances might make me happy temporarily, but eventually I’ll just become accustomed to them and seek something else.  I could see the pattern in my writing.

“I’m so excited to go to city (x+1)!  City (x) is getting old.  But I still really miss city (x-1) though.”

“I’ll be relieved when my todo list is down to (x-7) items.”

“I can’t wait to be making $(x * 1.25) per month.  Or better yet, $(x * 2)!  I’ll be so much happier when I have more money.”

“It will be great to have (different amount of possessions).  It is such a pain in the ass to have (number of things currently possessed).  I can’t wait until I (buy/sell) my car!”

“I miss girl (x-1).  She was better for me than girl (x-2).  And it doesn’t look like it will work out with girl (x) right now.”

“If only I could bench press (x+5lbs).  I’d be the man.  Maybe I could get my 5k time down to (x-0:30)!”

“My life will be awesome when I only have to work (x/2) hours per week!  Working (x) hours per week is the cause of all the problems in my life.”

“I can’t wait to be (settled down/traveling again).  All of this (routine/chaos) is awful!”

With a consistent record of my thoughts on paper, I’m able to look back and connect the dots.  Clearly seeking happiness in external things is fleeting.  I’ve already achieved so many of my goals.  However, I don’t feel as happy about them as I thought I’d be.  It was time to do some research and see what was really going on.

I found Shawn Achor’s Ted Talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work.html

“If I work harder, I’ll be more successful. And if I’m more successful, then I’ll be happier.”

And the problem is it’s scientifically broken and backwards for two reasons. First, every time your brain has a success, you just changed the goalpost of what success looked like. You got good grades, now you have to get better grades, you got into a good school and after you get into a better school, you got a good job, now you have to get a better job, you hit your sales target, we’re going to change your sales target. And if happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there. What we’ve done is we’ve pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society. And that’s because we think we have to be successful, then we’ll be happier.

I have always been pushing happiness over the cognitive horizon.  The way I was currently thinking needed to change.

I found another great Ted Talk.  The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO6XEQIsCoM

Clinical depression has exploded in the industrial world in the last generation. I believe a significant — not the only, but a significant — contributor to this explosion of depression, and also suicide, is that people have experiences that are disappointing because their standards are so high, and then when they have to explain these experiences to themselves, they think they’re at fault. And so the net result is that we do better in general, objectively, and we feel worse. So let me remind you. This is the official dogma, the one that we all take to be true, and it’s all false. It is not true. There’s no question that some choice is better than none, but it doesn’t follow from that that more choice is better than some choice. There’s some magical amount. I don’t know what it is. I’m pretty confident that we have long since passed the point where options improve our welfare.

I have more choices than anyone else.  How to fill my day.  Where in the world to go.  I can do absolutely anything and these unlimited options are paradoxically making my life less enjoyable.

I’m always caught off guard when I’m having a bad day and someone I meet admits that they are insanely jealous of my life.  This has happened several times over the last few weeks.  Just goes to show how much we, as a society, look at external achievements to judge happiness.

The Solution: A Journey Inward

Clearly obtaining more external success and abundance isn’t what makes one happy.  I’ve been learning how to live more presently.  I’m by no means an enlightened Buddha master.  But I’ve made a lot of discoveries about myself the last few weeks and that’s a great start.

I’m reading “The Power of Now”.  So far a great book.  I’m also doing “The Presence Process” and meditating for 15 minutes, twice a day.  I’m doing more research on psychology and happiness and have learned an immense amount.  My inward journey has only just begun.


 

I arrived in Medellin, Colombia on November 13th.  Exactly 6 months later, on May 13th, I’m leaving Medellin.  Who knew it would work out like that.  I like sub-headings:

Europe

I’ve learned that Sweden is very much not South America.  People are tall, blond, and speak perfect English.  Everything is insanely expensive.  I don’t feel like I’m going to die when I cross the street.  The sun is up before 4am and sets well after 9pm.  Busses are very quiet and don’t roar by, spewing black smoke.  Someone has actually mistaken me for a local.  That happened zero times in South America.

I’m currently in Uppsala, Sweden visiting my little brother for the end of his study abroad year.  It actually worked out very well because he stays with his girlfriend most nights (who lives WAY closer to the school/town).  So I’ve basically taken over his dorm room.  It feels a little weird to be the random 26-year old guy cooking in the dorm kitchen.

I’m here a few more weeks and then off to Longyearbyen, Norway for a few days, then to Berlin!  I’ve got housing locked down for all of June, and during that time I’ll be looking for something more permanent.  I should be in Germany until it starts getting cold, and then I have no idea where I’m going after that.  There was some talk among friends about renting a killer pad in Bali for a month, and South Africa.  Or I could do my Spanish immersion experiment (see the Spanish sub-heading).

Writing

Over the last month, I have actually been inspired to write more.  The only problem is that the moments when I have lightbulb ideas, I’m never in a place where I can write that idea down and develop it.  (Bus going down a windy road, about to fall asleep, shower, out for a run, getting onto an airplane, out drinking with friends, etc.)  Also, a lot of these ideas are pretty obscure and trying to string them coherently into blog posts, articles, essays or even a novel would be a challenge for a moonlight writer like myself.  Lastly, a lot of these thoughts and ideas are too vague and meaningless without context.  Context that I don’t always wish to share.

I’ve been writing a lot more in my personal journal.  I’ve actually found journaling to be very therapeutic.  It’s very interesting that I’m embarrassed to put stuff in there when I know that I’m the only person who reads it.  Am I hiding stuff from myself?  Maybe I’m just embarrassed when I actually form these thoughts into words.  Strange.  It’s also great to be able to look back several years and see how I was feeling about something.  The brain has an incredible ability to “forget” how we felt about experiences.

I’ve actually had several moments where I’ve been inspired to write a story of some sort.  Every idea I’ve had would be a first-person narrative that parallels my own life with myself as the main character.  I feel like its a little ego-centric, but whatever, nobody is being forced to read it.  And every time I try to start anything, I type a few words out and delete everything.  This is repeated a few times until I re-decide that writing stories is not my thing.  I did spend a lot of time recently with an incredible writer, so maybe its just her rubbing off on me.  Maybe I’ll just start by writing for my private collection only.

Spanish

I burnt out in February and couldn’t shake it until I left South America.  I had a really crappy experience one day in Peru in February and since then, was too frustrated with myself to be excited about Spanish.  I think it was mainly due to the fact that I thought I should have been much better by then, and I was still struggling.  After leaving, I’m realizing that my Spanish isn’t that bad, and I was just being too hard on myself.  Also, I lived and spent most of my time with English speakers, so it’s no wonder that my Spanish didn’t improve much faster.

I’d really like to become fluent in Spanish, but I know that will never happen until I’m forced to use Spanish and only Spanish.  My plan is to live in a Spanish-speaking country for 3 months, but speak zero English.  I’ll be living with Spanish-only speakers and try to get involved in some sort of organization that does everything in Spanish.  It will take a bit of research to set this up.

Business

I’ve been bumming around as a backpacker for over 7 weeks straight now.  This is not conducive to business at all, however I’ve been able to stay afloat.  I’ve been getting more and more ideas and more excited about living in one spot for a significant amount of time so I can buckle down and start taking my business to where I really want it.

I’ve also been realizing which aspects of my business I enjoy.  I’ve found that I don’t enjoy the sales side of things.  I don’t enjoy squeezing every last dollar out of my site.  I much more enjoy the programming/development side of my business.  Setting up systems and creating a more user-friendly resource, etc.  Statistics.  Data.  Etc.  More to come on this in a later post when I can develop what I’m talking about a little further.

Pictures

So I have an awesome camera on my phone (Google Nexus 4) so I’ve been taking a lot more.  However now I’ve found out I’m terrible at organizing these photos after I’ve taken them.  So you just get one picture of Sweden for now (above).

 

I know it’s been 3 months since my last post.  I’d like to promise to post more, but I know that would be a lie.  I’ve decided I’m not all that excited about giving general descriptions of the places I go.  I’d prefer to tell tales of some of the crazy adventures I’ve had, but I think they might be inappropriate for the general public, and they would all end with “yeah, I guess you just had to be there”.

I finally left my safe bubble of Medellin a few weeks ago.  Took a little trip through Brazil and ended up in Buenos Aires.  All places I went had similarities and differences, bla bla bla.

I’m headed to Ushuaia (southernmost city in the world) in a few weeks.  I’ll make my way up the globe over the next 6 weeks and end up in Longyearbyen (northernmost city in the world), so this should be a fun adventure.  After spending a few days going insane in the midnight sun in the polar circle, I’m going live in Berlin for the rest of summer.

Sorry for the short, stark update.  I promised myself I’d post an update, but just wasn’t able to harness any motivation to write something profound.  I’ve got some cool business and life stuff to write about in the coming months, just a matter of finding that desire.

Anyway, I got a new phone so there are pictures again!

Oh and it’s got one of those really cool panorama features, so every single picture I take from now on will be 8,000 pixels wide by 200 pixels high.  I also went to Peru with my brother, and again, I don’t even take pictures with him because it would be embarrassing.  See his awesome Peru pics here: http://sfnomads.com/2013/03/04/la-frontera/

 

2012 In Review – The Adventure Continues.

Nearly 360 days ago, I wrote a nice little rant: http://www.tomsadventure.com/2011-in-review-is-the-adventure-over/ – It was good to vent, and writing can be very therapeutic, as evidenced by the part that says

Just writing this helps motivate me by painting a picture of the “promised land” in my mind.

Since I love contrasts, I’ll basically just follow the exact same format as that post one year ago, but from an updated perspective.

Sure as heck no longer feels like the adventure is over.  Right now, I’m in my awesome apartment, located in the best part of Medellin.  I’m lying on the couch in my underpants, all the windows are open and the temperature is an absolutely perfect 72 degrees.  It’s 1:55pm on a Sunday and I’m struggling to find things to do to fill my upcoming week.  The kitchen is a disaster, but the maid comes tomorrow, so we can easily just order domicilios tonight.

2012 started out pretty depressing, spending a dark, cold, wet winter in Portland.  My to-do list was stacked miles high with no end in sight.  As the summer rolled in, things got brighter, and my outlook more positive.  Leaving Portland in October was a bittersweet goodbye and immediately started getting my adventure fix.

Some of the things I’ve done in 2012 include:

  • Going to South America for the first time
  • Visiting 2 new countries: Canada and Colombia
  • Visiting 10 new states: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas
  • Survived the end of the world

This awesome adventure combined with a mostly hands-off business has really upped my motivation.  I can really focus on creating personal goals and improving myself in the new year.

Last year, I wrote this visualization.  Let’s revisit it after one year:

My shoulder feels great and I can start lifting again, not to mention do any other activity without any pain or worry.

Never did the surgery.  Just a lot of PT.  Shoulder doesn’t feel great but I’m lifting and doing lots of shoulder exercises.

Taxes are done, I’m completely removed from CA, and my accountant knows how to handle everything.  I have minimal interactions with my accountant, and don’t have to worry about any bullshit IRS crap.

The problem with taxes is that you have to do them every year.  This year will be much simpler since I’ve been an NV resident the entire year.  My CPA is great and is able to handle almost everything on his own.

All my websites are sold.  I just have one website to think about.

Boom!  Done!  Feels great!

My house in Reno is fully repaired and in good standing with the city, rented out and managed by my property manager.  I’ve got all my stuff moved to the only one-bedroom unit in my new 8-plex.  The 8-plex is fully occupied, and I’ve got the property manager doing everything, automatically depositing the rents into a bank account, and the mortgage payments are being automatically deducted.  I sit back and enjoy the cash-flow and the essentially free unit.

The only difference is that we have one vacancy in my apartment.  Other than that, this is EXACTLY what has happened.

I’ve found an amazing contractor who I can trust and will handle all the programming/design needs of my site.  I can just email him an idea for a new feature and he understands exactly what I want.  Users who find bugs simply submit a ticket with him and he fixes the bugs.  I don’t even have to know it happened.  He is in charge of making sure the site is live and properly functioning at all times.

The new version of my site makes managing everything ten times easier.  I’ve got my content manager more involved, and I don’t have to do any work, other than answer a few emails here and there.

Still not quite there.  I’ve found a genius who is working on building the new site, but he’s a bit behind schedule.  However this guy really knows his stuff and I’m 100% confident that he’ll do an amazing job.

Boom.  I’ve just freed myself from all these nagging responsibilities.  I go out and buy the best travel gear (instead of using a free Bodybuilding.com gym bag).  I buy a one-way ticket to Vilnius, Lithuania.  Or Seoul, South Korea.  Or Rosario, Argentina.  Or buy a motorcycle and start riding south.  Or north.  I don’t even bring my laptop.  The adventure resumes.

I do have the best travel gear.  It was a one way ticket to Medellin.  I did bring my laptop, but it was a MacBook Air this time and much more choice.  The adventure has resumed.

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PS-

1.  Just going over this post from a year ago has inspired me to write out another “ideal” situation.  I hadn’t revisited this post in a year and I was shocked at how perfectly I described some of the aspects of my future life.

2.  There’s no pictures because the camera on my phone broke again.  And I’ve just accepted I’m not a great picture taker.  I have to rely on getting pictures from everyone else which isn’t always so easy.  I’ll do a picture update soon.

3.  Travel gear post has been postponed.  I’m really not doing much backpacking here in Medellin.

4.  Travel plans: random trips around South America over the next few months (Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil), then to Sweden in June, and spending the summer/fall in Europe.

 

One year ago I was dying to settle down somewhere.  I had become exhausted with bouncing around for months at a time with nowhere to call home.  I wanted to live in a house, drive a car, buy a motorcycle, and have hobbies.  I wanted to have a core group of friends, roommates, and was even willing to entertain the idea of possibly being in a relationship.

One year into this stability and I am itching for another adventure.  The only problem is that I didn’t realize how hard it would be to say goodbye to my life in Portland.  The final few weeks were truly an emotional roller coaster.  On one hand, I was excited to break free from my day-to-day and explore the world again.  Also, the rain had finally returned to Portland, and I couldn’t fathom the idea of another wet and dark winter.  On the other hand, it was incredibly difficult to say goodbye to everyone who I had spent so much time with in Portland.

It has been less than a week and I still can’t think about everyone I miss in Portland without being overcome with anxiety.  While I’ll probably see everyone I want to see again sometime in the future, its so scary not knowing when that will be or if it will ever happen for sure.  I was in a relationship for several months before leaving.  Saying goodbye to her only added to the heart-wrenching departure.  With all the travelling I’ve done in the last few years, I’ve had to prematurely “pause” several relationships, both romantic and friendly.  Right now, I feel like I’m becoming burnt out from this lifestyle.  I’ll probably feel better once I settle down in Colombia, but at this moment, the goodbye’s are still very fresh in my memory.

On the bright side, the sense of adventure is starting to kick back in.  I just spent the weekend in Miami Beach, and I’m en route to Georgia.  Miami was fun, but that place is really not for me.  It was tolerable for the weekend, but the flashy club-scene of Miami Beach isn’t my style.  I did get to practice plenty of Spanish though!

My road trip will continue with visits to Savannah, South Carolina, Nashville, Birmingham, New Orleans, Austin and Dallas.  From there I’m headed straight to Medellin, Colombia to start my new life in Espanol.  Maybe I’ll do all future posts in Spanish from now on.  Who knows.  The adventure continues…

I’ll keep this updated with new stories, pictures and chronicles of my journey.  I’ve loaded up on entirely new gear for this trip, so I’ll be showcasing what items I’ve chosen to bring along this time.

 

Awesome travel backpack I saw at the store.  Complete with a flashlight and stuffed tiger.  Everything you need.  Almost bought it.

It’s been about 5 months since I’ve last posted about my travel plans.  At the time, I was thinking I’d head to South America at the end of September, maybe Bogota or Buenos Aeries, or both: Getting my Travel Mojo Back

I also posted about my 6-month plan for learning Spanish: How I am Going to Learn Spanish in 6 Months

First, I’ll talk about travel plans.

I’m very set on going to South America for 6 months, but I’m thinking of posting up in Medellin, Colombia or Mendoza, Argentina.  I was considering riding a motorcycle down, but that’s not happening.  Too much prep, and takes too long.  Also, my Spanish isn’t where I want it to be for an adventure like that.

I’m not going to leave until the first or second week in November.  I’ve got a tour through the Southern USA with my good friend John (who I traveled in Europe with) set up for the last two weeks in October.  We’re visiting: Miami, Savannah, Atlanta, Nashville, Birmingham, (Mobile) and New Orleans.  After, I’m flying down to South America.

Still planning on doing 6 months in South America, but I’d like to do less backpacking, and more living.  My business is still not as automated as I want it, so I can imagine I’ll need a place with reliable internet to continue working on everything.  Of course I’ll still be doing some side trips around South America here and there as well.  My little brother is currently studying in Sweden until June of 2013, so I’m still planning on leaving South America in May and flying up to Sweden to hang out with him, and spend the summer somewhere around there (Europe).

I’ve switched my socks, underwear, workout shorts and workout shirts to wool.  I have nothing but good things to say about wool clothes, especially for traveling.  More about my travel gear in another post.

5-Month Spanish Progress Report

I’m not even close to fluent.  But I guess that was to be expected.  However, I’m much more comfortable in a conversation.  I understand a lot more than when I started, however I’ve still got A LOT to learn.

What I’ve learned through this process is that there is MUCH more to learning a language than just vocab and verb conjugations.  So many phrases don’t translate exactly.  Spanish is such a different way of speaking than English is.  The most helpful things (in order of most helpful) have been:

  1. My 4x/week Skype Spanish tutor.  I’ve found that having conversations with her is the best way to drive in all the vocab, conjugations and grammar that I’ve been learning.  Also, having a real, living tutor that I pre-paid for a bunch of lessons really forces me to follow through and continue having the lessons each and every day.  She holds me accountable!
  2. Weekly Spanish Meet-Ups.  There are two meetup groups that I go to each week here in Portland.  Both have people with varying levels of skill, but there is always someone much more fluent than I to help teach me.  Again, I’ve also found the best way to REALLY learn the language is to practice actually using it.
  3. Spanish flashcards.  I use the program “Memory Lifter” and created a bunch of custom cards.  Its insanely boring, but helps increase my vocab/verb tenses.  I definitely need to use the vocab in conversation to really remember it though.
  4. Watching Spanish TV/Movies.  Its tough because it’s sometimes really hard to follow.  It helps when there are subtitles/CC in Spanish as well.  This is something I do more just for fun and to get a little bit more practice.
  5. I didn’t switch my phone/computer to Spanish because it was too annoying.

I figure that my Spanish comprehension will skyrocket once I arrive in South America, but I’m still trying to cram every last bit I can before leaving.  My plan is to continue taking Spanish lessons while there as well.

What I’ve Been Doing the Last 5 Months

The time seems to have flown by, even though I’ve done a ton.  I took trips to Arizona, California, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Boston and New York.  I went to two awesome music festivals (Sasquatch and Stagecoach), went skydiving again, and went on a lot of smaller adventures up here in the Pacific Northwest.  I’ve definitely enjoyed my time being settled down in one place, but also feeling the itch for something more adventurous.  More about my experiences as a non-nomad in another post.

…Part 4 of the Finding/Buying Aged/Neglected Websites series coming up!

 

After doing the Reddit IAmA, and a guest post on Flippa, I’ve been receiving quite a few emails asking questions about my business.  A few are excellent questions – clearly the person asking the question has researched the topic, read through the posts on my site and would like to get my opinion on it.  However, most fall into the “stupid questions” category.  Your elementary school teacher might have told you that there are no stupid questions, but I can prove them wrong with some of the emails I get.

Most emails do not get a response.  I simply don’t have time to tell each person why their question is stupid, so I simply don’t respond to their email.  If you didn’t get an email back, here are some possibilities as to why:

You are asking a question that has been already answered in my blog.

This makes up approximately 50% of the emails that I get.  ”How do you make money online?”.  ”How can I start my own online business?”.  If you aren’t going to take the 5 minutes to read through my public writing, why would I spend any of my own time to personally respond to your message?

You are asking for personalized help.

“Hey, I just started the website CuteDoggiePictures.com and I’m trying to get more traffic and revenue, will you look at it and give me feedback?”.  No.  Not to sound like a jerk, but I don’t have the time to give personalized feedback on your website.  Part of becoming a successful entrepreneur is being able to figure things out on your own.  Also, I’m not a consultant, so I’m not interested in taking your money to look at your website.

You are asking me if you can ask me questions.

“Hey, I’m thinking of building a website because I don’t like my job and want to make money online.  Will you be my mentor?”.  No.  Especially because you haven’t even lifted a finger yourself.  I know way too many people who are always saying they want to start a website.  They talk about it for years and years and simply never take action.  I’ve wasted tons of time coaching friends who are like this, and definitely won’t waste time coaching strangers.

Your question is either way too vague, or the answer is simply “It depends”.

“Do you think that I should advertise on Facebook?”.  How am I supposed to know?  Facebook ads obviously work for some industries/website and not at all for others.  I’m not the all-knowing-Zeus of websites.

You want to do business with me, but have nothing to offer.

My business is extremely niche, so odds are that you really have nothing of value to bring to the table, especially if you explicitly state that you are a complete newbie.  If you want to start a website with me, the answer is no.

Blog comments are MUCH more likely to receive a response.

Again, I don’t mean to sound like a jerk, I’m just being efficient.  I do receive plenty of good questions which I use to help shape some of my informative blog posts.  If you read a post and would like further clarification on something, just post a comment!  I’m much more likely to answer a question publicly where it can help hundreds of individuals rather than privately emailing one individual an answer.

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The next post in the series of finding and buying aged/neglected sites is still under development!  There is a lot of info in there and it is taking me a while to compile everything I want to say about the strategy.

 

One of my good friends in Australia (Almog) is also a successful internet entrepreneur.  I was lucky enough to be the guest star for his first interview ever!  I think it went pretty well.  We talk a lot about the start of my flagship site, and how it grew to be what it is today.  Almog does a lot of affiliate marketing, but is starting to transition into running an authority community-based website instead.

Give it a listen and let me know what you think!  It’s like an hour and a half long, so grab some popcorn.

www.incomedude.com/podcast/1-TommySupplementReviewsInterview.mp3

 

How I am Going to Learn Spanish in 6 Months

I’ve always wanted to learn a foreign language, but a few things have been holding me back.

  1. I’m bad at memorizing things. I’m terrible with names, useless facts, dates, etc.  I can figure things out if there is a formula, but it’s really hard to derive Spanish words from their English counterpart.
  2. No necessity. I spent a few weeks in Spain last summer, but that didn’t really force me to learn any Spanish.  I spent a few months in Costa Rica in 2008, but was also graduating college in the months leading up to it, so I didn’t really put forth an effort to learn it.
  3. I’m lazy. Learning a new language takes a lot of work!  Hours a day and you don’t see the improvements immediately.

Well my impending South America trip is really sparking my motivation.  I intend to do a lot of the trip solo, and I’m seriously considering doing it on a motorcycle.  Being able to communicate effectively in Spanish will be critical for a successful journey.  I don’t need to be fluent by the time I leave.  I just want my Spanish to be better than most locals’ English so that our default language is Spanish.  If you are seeking out English speakers the entire time, you won’t learn much Spanish.

The 6-Month Plan

I’m starting out at a beginner level.  I barely passed my second year of Spanish in high school, so I really don’t have much of a foundation.  My plan is essentially to surround myself in the language every day, and force myself to understand it.  I’ll be attacking from all angles:

  • The 1,000 Word List: I found a list of the 1,000 most commonly used Spanish words with their English translations.  I printed the list out, which is 5 pages, double sided.  I’ve committed to memorizing 10 words a day for the next 100 days.  On the 100 day mark, (June 22nd) I’ll be testing myself on all 1,000 words.  I carry this list with me wherever I go, so I can keep studying wherever I go.  Standing in line, waiting for a friend, eating lunch, etc.
  • Skype Spanish Tutor: I found a Spanish Tutor in Mexico who I Skype with 3x per week, 50 minutes each session.  She charges $9/hour for a 1-on-1 Spanish lesson.  We chat back and fourth, go over exercises and she corrects my speech.  The lessons are rough, but very good practice.
  • Watching Telemundo/Univision: Instead of watching garbage like Storage Wars or Ice Road Truckers, I’ll just put on one of the two Spanish-language stations we get.  Just listening to people speak Spanish helps familiarize yourself with the pronunciation, word order and common phrases, even if you don’t understand what they are saying.  As a bonus, sometimes I’ll be able to pick up pieces of what they are saying, and be able to assume what some words mean based on the context and what I see on the screen.
  • Getting Sucked into a TV Series in Spanish: When I was sucked into the show Lost, I would always look forward to watching the next episode.  When the series ended, I felt like crap knowing how much time I wasted.  I vowed never to get sucked into another series again.  I recently realized that I can use that excitement to force myself to watch series in Spanish.  I started watching The Walking Dead in Spanish.  I’ll watch each episode in Spanish first, so I’m frantically trying to understand what’s going on.  I usually can’t quite figure it out, so I’ll watch it again in English to keep me interested in the plot line.
  • Reading Goosebumps in Spanish: I loved Goosebumps books when I was a kid because they were easy to read, and the story was always pretty captivating.  I bought a few of them in Spanish, along with their English versions and I’m slowly chugging through them.  I’ll read a paragraph in Spanish, try to understand what’s going on, then read that same paragraph in English so I stay on track with the story.
  • Speaking Spanish with the Roommates: I try to use my Spanish around the house as much as I can.  Playing ping-pong, we’ll keep score in Spanish, and even curse in Spanish if we lose a point.
  • Switching my Phone and Computer to Spanish: There are language settings on most devices, so switching to Spanish helps you get that much more exposure throughout your daily life.

Hopefully this will be enough to have a solid foundation by the time I leave for South America this fall.  As long as I keep the motivation up, I believe I’ll excel.  Maybe I should get a Spanish-speaking girlfriend?  Or maybe I should start posting on my blog in Spanish?  No es una buena idea!

If anyone else has some good ideas, let me know!

Adios amigos!

 

2011 In Review – Is the Adventure Over?

Sure as heck feels like it.  Right now, I’m in my 100-year-old house located in a questionable neighborhood here in Reno, NV.  It’s 11:28am, and I’ve only crossed off one item on my daily to-do list.  I’ve been sitting at my desk, staring at my computer screen, paralyzed from over-thinking my daunting list of to-do items that need to happen before my next adventure.

2011 started out insanely fun, spending time in San Francisco, then traveling the world.  I learned so much and met so many interesting people during my 5-month tour through 3 new continents.  Things slowed down in the summer when I returned to the US, moved my business from CA to NV, and decided to settle down in Portland for a bit.  While it was my decision to stay put for a while, I’ve had a tough time adjusting to the lack of adventure.

Some of the things I’ve done in 2011 include:

  • Going to Vegas for my first time (twice)
  • Going to the southern hemisphere for the first time
  • Traveling to 3 new continents (Australia, Asia and Europe)
  • Visiting new 16 countries: Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Czech, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and Scotland
  • Flying and jumping out of a plane (not at the same time)
  • Buying my first house

This lack of adventure combined with the work of restructuring of my business has really taken a toll on my motivation.  Logic tells me to just start getting things done.  However, I still seem to be paralyzed in my state of overwhelm.

The things that I need to do include the following: (You should probably skip this part.  I just need to bitch about things for a minute.  Seriously, don’t read it.)

  • Get shoulder surgery to repair my torn labrum.  I haven’t been able to lift for all of 2011.  Recovery will include 2-6 weeks in a sling.  I’ll need to get a different car if I want to drive since my M5 is manual.
  • Finish taxes, both personal and business, and for both my CA and NV corporations.  This action involves doing bullshit paperwork, and then writing a check for hundreds to my CPA and a check for thousands to the IRS and CA FTB.
  • Finish selling all my websites except one.  This involves disclosing all I can about every website I own.  Also involves selling several websites for a loss.  So doing extra work to lose money.  Great.
  • Removing the notice of violation from my house in Reno so that I can rent it for much less than I would have if they didn’t make me convert it back to single family.  Dealing with the building department is like eating glass.
  • Move from my house in Reno into a unit in the apartment that I’m currently in contract with.  Just have to wait for the bank to approve the short sale, anytime between now and whenever they feel like it.
  • Fire the current contractor that is supposed to rebuild my main website.  They are already 5 months behind schedule and I’ve already paid them 60% of the contract value.  They have no idea what they are doing, and I’m going to be out thousands of cash, and 9 months of time.  Doing more work to lose even more money and time.
  • Find a new programmer that will be able to re-program my website correctly.  Figure out how to find a quality worker that knows what they are doing and won’t screw me over.
  • Manage my main site, which already feels like a full-time job.

After venting, I’m immediately starting to feel better.  I can already picture the end results if I tackle these problems correctly:

  • My shoulder feels great and I can start lifting again, not to mention do any other activity without any pain or worry.
  • Taxes are done, I’m completely removed from CA, and my accountant knows how to handle everything.  I have minimal interactions with my accountant, and don’t have to worry about any bullshit IRS crap.
  • All my websites are sold.  I just have one website to think about.
  • My house in Reno is fully repaired and in good standing with the city, rented out and managed by my property manager.  I’ve got all my stuff moved to the only one-bedroom unit in my new 8-plex.  The 8-plex is fully occupied, and I’ve got the property manager doing everything, automatically depositing the rents into a bank account, and the mortgage payments are being automatically deducted.  I sit back and enjoy the cash-flow and the essentially free unit.
  • I’ve found an amazing contractor who I can trust and will handle all the programming/design needs of my site.  I can just email him an idea for a new feature and he understands exactly what I want.  Users who find bugs simply submit a ticket with him and he fixes the bugs.  I don’t even have to know it happened.  He is in charge of making sure the site is live and properly functioning at all times.
  • The new version of my site makes managing everything ten times easier.  I’ve got my content manager more involved, and I don’t have to do any work, other than answer a few emails here and there.

Just writing this helps motivate me by painting a picture of the “promised land” in my mind.  I’ve still got an ocean ahead of me, but constantly visualizing and focusing on my goals will help give me reason to move forward.

Back to the visualization:  Boom.  I’ve just freed myself from all these nagging responsibilities.  I go out and buy the best travel gear (instead of using a free Bodybuilding.com gym bag).  I buy a one-way ticket to Vilnius, Lithuania.  Or Seoul, South Korea.  Or Rosario, Argentina.  Or buy a motorcycle and start riding south.  Or north.  I don’t even bring my laptop.  The adventure resumes.