goals

Living Debt Free

On the evening of November 16, 2011, I submitted my final payment to the U.S. Government for my student loans I incurred over my three and a half years of college. When this year began, I knew if I didn’t miss a payment that November would be the month.

And here I am. I have done it.


I graduated in December 2005 from the University of Northern Iowa and here I am, less than six years later, paid in full. It wasn’t easy. in that time I have had three jobs, been unemployed, bought a car, moved four times and had to shop for health insurance.

But I did it. Here’s how.

I started small. What does that mean? It means I went to a community college first. North Iowa Area Community College to be exact. It was a small place where I was given such great attention by my teachers, I learned a lot more than ever possible. My history classes was lecture, coupled with conversation. I went to this school for a few reasons. It was close to home. But mostly, it was a cost thing.

I explored what I wanted to do. Had I been forced as a freshman to declare a major, I would have hurt myself going to a big university and probably been forced to add on three whole semesters of classes. But I didn’t. I started with the idea of political communication, but changed to public relations and now I have a day-job that did not even exist in 2002 when I began college.

And finally, I saved my ass off while in high school (and even in college) so I wouldn’t have to borrow against my future. I must also say that my parents did help, but I didn’t see a dime of the green. They took out loans to pay for half of my schooling. Just half and I covered the rest through scholarships and my own loans. I am really quite thankful for them for that as now I am able to invest in my future in a new way and I can’t wait.

If you’re a fan of Penelope Trunk you know how she feels about education, and I will not argue with her because on the whole, I think she is right. We need to completely re-think our education system. How we teach at all ages. But more importantly, what value does college have?

My college experience taught me more about life, than it did work. I wish I could say different. I know what needs to happen in education so I am currently working hard on ideas to do just that.

But until then, I am now free to go to my own school and learn my own lessons. Yup, I will fail. And I do hope to get a gold star every once-in-awhile. But in the end, I know I will be learning. And that is deserving of something.

Time To Go After 26.2

What a sight: Standing on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan last week with the sun brightening the pristine blue sky and lighting the path for the 47,000+ runners below. The day was what the word perfect was created for and what the word embodies. Around 1:00p.m., my friends’ family and friends arrived and a quick chat ensued. You see, I was there to support my friend Patrick (@PatrickCourtney), a guy I met when I was only five and had just moved to Iowa.

My childhood friend, Patrick, with his ING NYC Marathon Medal.

It is quite the story that 20 years later, we both would end up in New York City. But life has a way of always working out and this race was another reason I believe in life and all it’s wonders.

So, there we stood on Fifth Avenue as his wife watched her iPhone track Patrick’s progress towards. First it was 10 blocks away. Then two. Then we saw him. And he had a smile on his face.

It surprised me, but then as I thought about it as he ran away, perhaps he had the smile on his face because he saw his bride jumping up and down as he approached. Or perhaps it was his family and friends cheering him on and a neon orange sign with orange glitter showing their support. Or maybe it was simply that he was at mile 22, with 4.2 to go. Whatever it was, there he was, smiling.

I’m so proud of him and what he has accomplished and it inspires me as my own journey begins. My date with destiny is June 3, 2012, San Diego.

Time will tell – 200 days to be exact – whether or not I am smiling as I reach mile 22, but as I’m running on that day, I know I will think back to this day in November, when I watched 47,000 people accomplish the impossible.

September At a Glance

I’m going to try to do this little review post at the end of each month and it will be in three parts. (Previous Months: JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugust)

Top Posts for September

Life Size Jenga – June 28, 2010
Break the Cycle – June 15, 2011
Live Laugh Play Dream is a Reality – September 19, 2011
Get a Yearly Physical Now – January 25, 2011
My Minimalist Lifestyle – August 2, 2011

Progress Towards my Goals

I wrote about what I’m striving for in 2011 at the beginning of the year.

  1. Read more. <– Right on track! You can see my book reviews from all the books I’ve read.
  2. Spend more time in personal reflection (focusing on where I’ve grown and where I can). <–it has been a good month of reflection and direction-finding
  3. Outreach more with my consulting. <– launched my coaching venture
  4. Write. <– Finished the first draft … I will spend this month fine-tuning and cleaning it up before requesting a few editors go through it!
  5. Paint. <– I have an idea so now I just need to do it
  6. Take more photos. <– I need to schedule some time to edit some of the latest photos I’ve taken. You can also check out my store for other photos.
  7. Join a club or recreational sports league. (dodge ball anyone?) <– postponed until the fall
  8. Cook. <– I’ve slipped on the in-depth cooking, but I try to cook a nice meal over the weekends
  9. Entertain. <– Will continue to do it with friends
  10. Ask questions. <– definitely getting better at this one

Other Goals I’m Pursuing

  • Speaking Clients – none
  • Coaching Clients – currently in consultation phase
  • Secure an Literary Agent – haven’t started
  • Blog Post Frequency – Currently on pace
  • Business Income – 26% towards goal
  • Read 16 Books – Completed 12
  • Personal Savings Goal – On pace
  • Pay Off Student Loan – On pace
  • Paint Six Paintings – Haven’t had time
  • Attend 12 Networking Events – Behind pace
  • Take Photos Once a Month – I have gone out four times so far
  • Sell a Painting – not yet
  • Start Volunteering – Began working with The Trevor Project in May!
  • Make 52 new NYC Connections – Must update my tracking sheet

And here we are at the last quarter of 2011! I have a lot I need to do and I am now honing in on the few things that I am 100 percent going to dive into and make sure I get them done. I am also now in the planning phase for 2012 and will report on that later this year! How are you doing?

September Theme



Ditching Old Ways!

It is possible to change! There … I said it!

Old way are old for a reason: they are old. Don’t get me wrong. Some of them are good, but why do you think not many CEOs or professional sports coaches stay in their jobs longer than a decade?

Old ways and old tactics get worn out with the same people year after year. And the reason is simple: Their tactics get old. After their departure, some of them change and some of them take their old ways to a new building. But that is not what I’m writing about today.

flickr photo via http://flickr.com/photos/epsos/

I’m talking about you! What can you change from your old ways to make your day-to-day life better and more efficient? I do a personal review each and every quarter (and my next one is this Saturday). I do that so I can get a sense for where I am, where I’m going and where I want to go. Through this personal reflection and analysis, I am able to find ways to improve.

The biggest thing I recently changed has been my note taking. For as long as I can remember, I was either hand-writing notes into my black hard-cover notebook or typing them into Word/Text files that I would try and file as needed. For all my book notes dating back to 2009, I was printing them.

Over the past six months, I have embraced Evernote. In fact, with my new Mac, I now use the Evernote App which has streamlined a lot of my note-taking process. In addition, I am able to now search everything! The old way was bad and this way is not perfect, but it is better.

That’s what ditching old ways is about. It is about making life better. It is about making life easier.

What can you change?

August At a Glance

I’m going to try to do this little review post at the end of each month and it will be in three parts. (Previous Months: JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly)

Top Posts for August

Life Size Jenga – June 28, 2010
Lessons From my Five Biggest Sports Moments - August 16, 2011
Review: Founding Brothers – May 25, 2011
How to Pack up and Move Across the Country – July 19, 2011
7 Ways Google Voice Can Make Your Life Easier – August 10, 2011

Progress Towards my Goals

I wrote about what I’m striving for in 2011 at the beginning of the year.

  1. Read more. <– Right on track! You can see my book reviews from all the books I’ve read.
  2. Spend more time in personal reflection (focusing on where I’ve grown and where I can). <–it has been a good month of reflection and direction-finding
  3. Outreach more with my consulting. <– launched my coaching venture
  4. Write. <– Finished the first draft … now letting it ferment!
  5. Paint. <– I have an idea so now I just need to do it
  6. Take more photos. <– I need to schedule some time to edit some of the latest photos I’ve taken. You can also check out my store for other photos.
  7. Join a club or recreational sports league. (dodge ball anyone?) <– postponed until the fall
  8. Cook. <– I’ve slipped on the in-depth cooking, but I try to cook a nice meal over the weekends
  9. Entertain. <– Will continue to do it with friends
  10. Ask questions. <– definitely getting better at this one

Other Goals I’m Pursuing

  • Speaking Clients – none
  • Coaching Clients – none
  • Secure an Agent – haven’t started
  • Blog Post Frequency – Currently on pace
  • Business Income – 38% towards goal
  • Read 16 Books – Completed 10
  • Personal Savings Goal – On pace
  • Pay Off Student Loan – On pace
  • Paint Six Paintings – Haven’t had time
  • Attend 12 Networking Events – Behind pace
  • Take Photos Once a Month – I have gone out four times so far
  • Sell a Painting – not yet
  • Start Volunteering – Began working with The Trevor Project in May!
  • Make 52 new NYC Connections – Must update my tracking sheet

August just flew by! Seriously … how it is September already?  This is the time that I usually begin to assess the goals that I set out and hone in on the ones that I believe I will be able to spend the last 90 days of the year on and scrap the ones that just won’t happen. In my September review, I will document that process and give you an update on the final goals I am pursuing for 2011 and where I am leaning for 2012.

August Theme


July At-a-Glance

I’m going to try to do this little review post at the end of each month and it will be in three parts. (Previous Months: JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune)

Top Posts for July

Life Size Jenga – June 28, 2010
My Minimalist Lifestyle – June 7, 2011
Review: Founding Brothers – May 25, 2011
Having a Normal Heart – July 25, 2011
I Wanna Be a US Open Ballkid – July 13, 2011

Progress Towards my Goals

I wrote about what I’m striving for in 2011 at the beginning of the year.

  1. Read more. <– Right on track! You can see my book reviews from all the books I’ve read.
  2. Spend more time in personal reflection (focusing on where I’ve grown and where I can). <–it has been a good month of reflection and direction-finding
  3. Outreach more with my consulting. <– launched my coaching venture
  4. Write. <– Nearing completion with a fiction book!
  5. Paint. <– I have an idea so now I just need to do it
  6. Take more photos. <– I just began a Tumblr of my NYC escapades! You can also check out my store for other photos.
  7. Join a club or recreational sports league. (dodge ball anyone?) <– postponed until the fall
  8. Cook. <– I’ve slipped on the in-depth cooking, but I try to cook a nice meal over the weekends
  9. Entertain. <– Will continue to do it with friends
  10. Ask questions. <– definitely getting better at this one

Other Goals I’m Pursuing

  • Speaking Clients – none
  • Coaching Clients – none
  • Secure an Agent – haven’t started
  • Blog Post Frequency – Currently on pace
  • Business Income – 35% towards goal
  • Read 16 Books – Completed 8
  • Personal Savings Goal – On pace
  • Pay Off Student Loan – On pace
  • Paint Six Paintings – Haven’t had time
  • Attend 12 Networking Events – Behind pace
  • Take Photos Once a Month – I have gone out four times so far
  • Sell a Painting – not yet
  • Start Volunteering – Began working with The Trevor Project in May!
  • Make 52 new NYC Connections – Must update my tracking sheet

July has been incredible. I have spent a lot of time reading, researching and prepping some new projects which I am super excited about! The time is flying by quickly, so I need to get a move on these goals!

July Theme

FOCUS: The Present! (v4n4)

Selected Life Lesson

Don’t wait. Decide it now.
-Ange L’s Life Lesson from North Kansas City, Missouri

Richard’s Thoughts…

This week’s lesson is simple: Do it now. Make it happen. Quit waiting. Get off your ass. If you fail, so what? You’ll never know if you don’t try.

Sure I have not yet been invited to close out a conference for 1,000 attendees, but I’m still trying and still dreaming of that day. I keep working at my craft to become even better. But the one thing that we can never stop working on is ourselves. We can not quit that journey. I am always trying to improve myself and my life.

For instance, I am still going through, piece by piece, each piece of paper I own and either saving it, digitizing it, or recycling it. Let me tell you, it is wonderful! With life, you have a choice. Make some decisions now and make your day better for today and tomorrow!

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May At-a-Glance

I’m going to try to do this little review post at the end of each month and it will be in three parts. (Previous Months: JanuaryFebruaryMarchApril)

Top Posts for May

Shawnee Mission North Relays – June 4, 2010
Life Size Jenga – June 28, 2010
Uncomfortable Feeling – May 5, 2011
Review: Founding Brothers – May 25, 2011
Uncomfortable Feeling – April 14, 2010

Progress Towards my Goals

I wrote about what I’m striving for in 2011 at the beginning of the year.

  1. Read more. <– I have really kicked this one into gear. You can see my book reviews from all the books I’ve read.
  2. Spend more time in personal reflection (focusing on where I’ve grown and where I can). <–haven’t had time
  3. Outreach more with my consulting. <– preparing to launch my coaching venture
  4. Write. <– I finally began the fiction book I have talked about for two years
  5. Paint. <– I have an idea so now I just need to do it
  6. Take more photos. <– Just attended a photography class in Brooklyn … photos to come! You can check out my store for other photos.
  7. Join a club or recreational sports league. (dodge ball anyone?) <– postponed until the fall
  8. Cook. <– I’ve slipped on the in-depth cooking, but I try to cook a nice meal over the weekends
  9. Entertain. <– Will continue to do it with friends
  10. Ask questions. <– definitely getting better at this one

Other Goals I’m Pursuing

  • Speaking Clients – none
  • Coaching Clients – none
  • Secure an Agent – haven’t started
  • Blog Post Frequency – Currently on pace
  • Business Income – 21% towards goal
  • Read 16 Books – Completed 6
  • Personal Savings Goal – On pace
  • Pay Off Student Loan – On pace
  • Paint Six Paintings – Haven’t had time
  • Attend 12 Networking Events – Behind pace
  • Take Photos Once a Month – I have gone out four times so far
  • Sell a Painting – not yet
  • Start Volunteering – I attended an orientation for the Trevor Project and will start this month!
  • Make 52 new NYC Connections – Must update my tracking sheet

The month of May seemed to fly right on by! And here we are, and it is June! I have nearly completed the first draft of my latest book, finally met my online friend Jenn and began a modified workout program! Been a great month … much more is to come! :-)

May Theme

Life Coaching