Where am I?

Below is an excerpt from an email that I had recently sent someone. Funny thing is that I feel like it fits well here for others to see and perhaps express how they feel. Obviously, some things have been modified and this doesn’t include everything.

I’m having those feelings of restlessness again. I know what I want to be doing, like we had discussed 3 years ago. I want to either be doing IT consulting on my own or in a small team, or build a SaaS product, or a combination of the two. I’m not sure if I don’t have the discipline to make the transition or what. I know over the past few years, I got complacent because I enjoyed working with a lot of the people I was working with and I got raises and a bonus each year, so it was easy to get complacent. I still worked on things on the side, but never really pushed it. I see no reason I couldn’t be successful or build something successful. Right now, I’ve got an idea that I’m working on the preselling stage for (creating mockups and making contacts).
Maybe I need to be surrounded with like-minded people who want to build something awesome and are ready to be done with the 8-5.
Maybe I need a plan of attack so that I know if I follow the process it will get me to success.
I don’t know what I need, but I desperately want to succeed at this so I can have some freedom and flexibility. I’ve started writing some blog posts on early retirement, because I’m intrigued by the prospects of being able to do what I want. It’s not that I would stop working, it’s just that I would start doing the things that interest me and probably be 10 times more successful.
Wow, that was a lot to lay out there at once, sorry for unloading it all at once.

Share the Gift of a Positive Feeling

This evening was the last class of the first college class that I’ve ever taught. I’ve wondered how much the students were getting out of it all semester. In the end, only 6 of the 10 original students made it through the entire semester – not a passing grade in many grade books.

But as the students were finishing their final exams and getting ready to leave, the things they said made it all worth it.

Thanks for a great semester. You helped me a lot and I’m not sure I would have made it through otherwise.

I really learned a lot this semester and really enjoyed it. Thanks for teaching it.

Will you be teaching any other classes?

To be fair, the last one could have been so they could avoid signing up for a class with my name attached to it. Either way, it was entirely what I needed to hear at that moment.

I’ve been struggling with some stuff lately, probably not a lot different from a ton of other people. The Christmas season seems especially rough for many. The students’ words enforced what I heard in a podcast on my way home. Sometimes simple actions or kind words, that don’t cost anything but a bit of time or attention, are all that someone needs to lift their spirits and could be the best gift you give this holiday season.

Next time you’re out, smile as you walk past a stranger, ask the cashier how their day is going, or write a kind note to your waiter or waitress.

People matter, especially at Christmas.


It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these chronology type posts. The last one was almost 3 years ago. Time to get back at it.

After graduating from high school, I decided to go to the University of Findlay. I had a full ride scholarship and really only considered one other school where I would have lived on campus. By going to UF, I was able to live at home and save some extra money.

I had enough in scholarships that I could actually cash out my extra money at the end of every semester and have a nice little “bonus”. UF was the easy choice. It’s where I took my post secondary classes so I knew they would be accepted into the major of my choice. By going someplace else, there was no guarantee that all the courses would be accepted, which meant that some of my time spent taking college courses in high school could be considered a waste of time in my book. That wasn’t acceptable.

In addition to that, signing up for thousands of dollars of student loan debt was incomprehensible. I didn’t want to start life off fighting an uphill battle. I was already bent towards being a money saver and preparing for retirement in addition to other big plans that having a mountain of debt would make more difficult.

I never really got involved in extracurricular activities in college. I met some new people, mostly commuters like myself that I met in the student union or in class, but I haven’t stayed in touch with them since graduating. It’s kind of sad when you think about it. Those relationships have been relegated to Facebook friend status.

I worked while in college for spending money. That certainly came in handy later on. Through a series of different job changes, I ended up cleaning the technical lab at Cooper Tire in Findlay for my girlfriend’s dad. It was because of this that I ended up getting an internship in the IT department at Cooper. The Cooper employees that worked the night shift in the lab thought I did a great job, so they made a recommendation to the right people to get me in the door.

When I went in for my interview, there were three intern positions available. They were for networking, desktop support, and software development. I figured that I would be best suited for networking or desktop support, but they had other plans. And that’s how I got started in software development. It wasn’t part of my plan, but turned out that’s where I ended up making a career and I can’t complain too much. Honestly, had I went the other routes, it wouldn’t allow me the same type of opportunities to work remotely or do side work for places several states away.

I started my internship in my third year at the university if I remember right. When they told me how much I’d be making I thought “okay”, until they told me that it wasn’t my hourly rate, but the decimal number was actually moved over 2 spots to the right and it was my weekly pay. I was shocked and excited! I have to say that landing this position at Cooper was what really accelerated my career. I got experience that a lot of other people didn’t get which made it easier to transfer to new positions in the future.

I can also say that landing this position was part of God’s plan. I left my position as an Associate Manager at MC Sports with no idea of what I was going to do next. My girlfriend’s dad was able to get me a cleaning position making the same thing I was making within a week or two of leaving MC Sports. Then within a few months, I had an intern position making more than I had ever made before. Things like that don’t just happen out of coincidence.

Besides landing a great internship, probably the most important event while in college was meeting my future wife, but that’ll have to wait for another time.

Photo by proftrusty

Am I the only one messing up my kids?

I think every parent at some point or another thinks they’re doing a horrible job. Let’s be honest, there isn’t a manual. No amount of reading or learning will get you ready for the things that you’ll experience as a parent. Every time you think you’ve got your kids figured out, they throw you a curveball and enter a new “stage” of life.

If I looked back at the 9+ years that I’ve been a father and marked every moment I said the wrong thing, reacted poorly, wasn’t patient, gave the wrong advice, or talked when I should have listened with #parentingfail, it would be a trending topic on Twitter.

Just remember that you’re not the only parent who’s felt that way. Tomorrow’s successful doctors, lawyers, businessmen, entrepreneurs were raised by parents just like us!

Photo by gagilas

What comes after “death do us part?”

There is a lot of excitement about getting married, but when exchanging vows, no one ever tells you what comes after “death do us part”?

Many people may think that if you’re younger or haven’t been married very long it should be easier to answer that question, but the truth is that you still shared hopes, dreams, and a vision of the future that included the other person.

If you’ve been married for 30, 40, or 50+ years, you’ve shared so much of your life with someone that when they’re not there, it’s hard to know who to share your good and bad days with.

I certainly don’t have the answer, and I’m sure the answer is different for different people.

One thing that I believe would give me assurance in such a difficult time, should I ever find myself there, is knowing that we share the same faith that someday we’ll be reunited.

Do all of these notifications create anxiety?

We live in a notification world. Everywhere we turn someone is vying for our attention. Your phone is buzzing, emails coming in, notifications popping up on your computer, everything wants your attention.

But I’ve started to wonder lately, does all of this add to our lives positively or does it just add more anxiety and distraction that keeps us from truly living our lives?

Sometimes I find myself expecting a text message or email. It may not even be one that I want to deal with or reply to. So when I see that little light glowing or my phone vibrates, I can feel that anxiety rise as I check it. The funny thing is that sometimes the email, text message, or notification might be a positive one, but since I already expected it to be one I didn’t want, I don’t receive it with the same excitement that I might otherwise.

Why do we feel the immediately need to reply right away when we receive a message too? It’s funny because there are usually people right next to us. Real, live, breathing people. We choose to ignore them to respond to something on our phone.

Even though it seems like emails and text messages are as good as a phone call – they talk, we listen, and respond – there really is no guarantee that an email or text message will be immediately received by the other party or that they’re even expecting an immediate response! Yet, when we receive one, we feel the need to reply right away.

It’s possible that I’m the only one who feels this way, but I would guess that I’m not. Have you figured out how to not be tied to the notifications that are constantly popping up in your life?

Is it time to stop making annual goals?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably had to set some long-term or yearly goals. If you’re not the type to do it in your personal life, you’ve probably had to do it at work. After having done this for a several years, I’m beginning to think that the process of setting yearly goals is a thing of the past and should be avoided.

There are some of you out there who are very driven and can probably manage to stay on task for an entire year to carry out something. Let’s face it though, how many people set a goal to lose 20 pounds and forget about it by the time Valentine’s Day chocolates arrive? The same is true in the business world.

In the workplace, you’re expected to plan out goals to accomplish for the year. They usually have to be S.M.A.R.T. goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Result-focused
  • Time-bound

That’s all well and good, but in my experience it has been a relative waste of time, and here’s why. Like anything else, businesses change. The direction they were headed in at the beginning of the year doesn’t always resemble where they ended up going, especially on the micro level. An important project in January becomes low priority because of a new directive in March.

In addition to that, you usually have to wait for upper level management to set their goals so you can align to them. This takes time. Time where you don’t have any goals set. Then there is a review time at the end of the year where you go over your goals and management reviews them. I’m sure there are some companies that have figured out how to plan it so goal setting and reviews don’t reduce the amount of time you have to work on your goals, but I’ve seen instances where the goal setting and review times can eat up 4-6 months of the year, leaving only 6-8 months of actual time to work on them.

Setting personal annual goals has similar issues. Two typical types of goals are related to fitness and money. People usually want to lose some weight, pay off debt, or save up some money. By setting your goals for an entire year, you might work hard on them for a while and then forget about them as they drift from your mind. It starts by thinking you’ve “got 6 more months to get in shape” or “this other expense came up that I need to take care of.”

Ultimately, we either fail at reaching our goals or we make them so simple that we will accomplish them without much effort.

So what are we to do about it?

My suggestion, and what I plan on doing this year for my personal goals, is to try not to accomplish as many goals and set a shorter time frame to complete them. Last year, my wife and I had probably 15 total goals for the year. We accomplished some of them, and others we did well at for a few months and then tapered off.

This year we plan on only having about 4-5 goals at a time and our time frame is only 3 months. This does a couple of things. First, it keeps us more accountable since we’ll be reviewing them more often. Also, it allows us to break up our goals into smaller increments that are easier to achieve.

For example, if I wanted to lose 30 pounds this year, for the first three months of the year I might try to lose 7.5 pounds. This keeps me from losing interest and thinking I’ve always got more time to work out later. It also gives me a sense of accomplishment after achieving a smaller sized goal that I can take with me into April and beyond.

What are your thoughts on setting annual goals? Have you set them for yourself personally or where you work? How have you been at accomplishing them? Let me know your outcomes and strategies in the comments below.

Awkward Exercise

This summer I started running to get some exercise. I haven’t been as consistent recently, but I was doing it nonetheless.

One of the first things that came to mind when I started running was what I looked like to other people who might see me run by. After a while, that concern started to fade from my mind.

The reason? I realized that I’m the one out there exercising and trying to be in shape. Most of the people who are watching me and might think something probably aren’t exercising. So I guess they can think what they want but it doesn’t mean much until they get out there and do it too.

That’s the way it should be with a lot of things in my life. So often we let other people control what we do based on what they might think about us, but they aren’t in our place.

Oftentimes, others may be speculating on things they don’t know or understand. We end up holding ourselves back based on what others think, or worse yet, what we think they’re thinking.

When you start something new, you may start questioning yourself. It seems easier to just believe that others are thinking the same negative thoughts, even when they may not be.

You need to remind yourself why you started doing what you’re doing in the first place and keep on going. If what you started will have a positive result in the end, you have to do it for yourself.

Buckling your kids

If you have kids or transport some in your car, at some point you had to buckle one of them into the car. Eventually they’ll get to the age where they want to do it themselves.

At this point, you’re stuck with either doing it for them while they scream and yell at you saying “I wanna do it! I wanna do it!” or sitting there in the car for 10 minutes while you wait for them to buckle each piece. With any luck they’ll give up and let you finally help them.

Assuming you let them do it themselves, a day will come where you hop in the car and count on them to do their part. You’ll start driving to your destination, and at some point turn around and find out that THEY NEVER BUCKLED THEMSELVES UP!

Face it, this has happened to you. You’ll probably feel like a failure at this point. Or you’ll blame your kid and tell them “if you’re not going to do it then I’ll do it for you every time.” Or you could take the scared straight approach – “if we were in an accident you would have went through the windshield”. (That’s especially effective at our house since it happened to my wife when she was younger and has the scars to prove it. If only she pulled out the pictures.)

The point is that you will make mistakes with your kids. Along the way, you’ll assume that you’ve screwed them up for good. Hopefully you didn’t (you probably didn’t), but only time will tell.

(Of course, we’re perfect parents, which means that nothing described in the post above has happened to us personally.)

Photo by treehouse1977

Can you do good, and make good money?

A while ago I was scanning Facebook and saw a video a friend of mine posted. Her brother modified a Jeep-like kid’s vehicle to be remotely controlled for the son of someone he knew. Their son had a handicap that kept him from being able to drive a vehicle like this in the same where their brother could.

I’m not that surprised that he was able to develop this type of thing. The guy who did it is incredibly creative and resourceful.

The first thing that came to mind was that he should make more of these vehicles and sell them. I figured there were tons of parents out there with children with similar conditions and would love to have something like this.

Do you know what filled my mind next? Guilt. I felt guilty that I could take a nice gesture like what he did and turn it into a money making opportunity.

Then I thought about it more. Should I feel guilty for thinking that way?

Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that I shouldn’t. I thought that this incredible act could end right there with the one modified Jeep, but if someone were willing to pay for another one, why should it stop at one?

What if he were able to make a healthy profit modifying things like this for kids who need them? Would that tarnish the good work being done? I don’t believe so.

Let’s think this through a bit. Let’s imagine for a minute that he starts making these and people are interested in buying them. He’s doing this on the side, but can’t keep up with the demand on his own. So he may quit a job that isn’t that fulfilling and start making these full time. Eventually he ends up hiring an extra person or two with his profits and expands the business. He continues to turn a nice profit and is able to use some of it to give some of these vehicles to children’s hospitals and others who could use them.

I know I made a lot of assumptions there. The point is not that he should do any of these things, but more to point out that someone can truly do something good, and make good money while they’re doing it. If you’ve got the right mindset and good intentions, you can do good works, while making good money doing it.

Photo by State Farm