All posts by Susie

Resolution #1: Make This Your Best Year (and How to Do It)

What if this year you made ASPIRATIONS instead of RESOLUTIONS?
What if you focused on things you want to DO and experience rather than a narrow set of problems?

For many years, I’ve done just that.comic woman making pie superviva

I start each year with a big hairy question: “How can I make this the best year of my life?” Making each year better than the last is a tall order, but I’d say four of the past seven years have been my best. The first year I did this simply blew me away. Packed with all kinds of new experiences and lessons listed on a simple piece of paper. Merely tacked to a cork board.

My self-challenge usually includes resolution-y things related to finance and weight. But the idea here though is to work on those goals as part of an overall yearly plan with related goals.

Step 1: Make a life list to help you think about what you want in life.

It’s all the rage NOT to make lists. But based on feedback from people who made life lists on my old bucket list-making SuperViva, having an “a la carte menu”  of things to do in life, both big and small really helps. Come time to plan the year, or wile away a rainy day, it’s easy to find something fulfilling then check it off, rearrange and re-prioritize.

My list has things big and small on it like:

  • Go surfing in Bali (check!)
  • Teach my niece to make cookies (check!)
  • Buy a rental property (check!)
  • Write a book (checked, twice!)
  • Lose 20 pounds
  • Start a typewriter cafe (still mulling)

Needs ideas? Peruse this worldwide brainstorm to get some ideas from others.

Step 2: Start planning the year (It’s not as boring as it sounds.)

Some practical and fuzzy tips:

Generally, what are you in the mood to do based on your current life situation? 

Are you in a “mid life crisis” or ready to settle down? Are you feeling wanderlust? Fit this general feeling into your yearly theme to guide you.

  • What will become impossible if you don’t do it now? 

For example one year I realized if I wanted to work on saving the rainforests now is the time, not in 10 years. Did you want to see James Brown in concert? It’s too late now. Think about what you want to do that you should not delay.habits for a great life ebook
  • What will your goals take in terms of time, energy, and money? 

Don’t say no too quickly, such as if you want to take classes at night but feel you don’t have the time. 

I highly recommend the book Wishcraft by Barbara Sher if money is a limitation.

First think about what you want to achieve and experience related to work, fun, community, spiritual, financial, relationships and health.

Now imagine your “resolution to lose 10 pounds” tied to a goal to run a marathon or go scuba diving. Or becoming a tango dance!

Come year end, you’ll have a lot more to look back on than a boring weight loss process.

Step 3: Take weekly or monthly reality checks

Yes time will fly and every day life administrivia may take over. Every once in a while I stop and ask myself two important questions:
•    “Is this my best year?”
•    “Am I feeling good about myself?”

I often do this at quiet moments such as in the shower, while stuck in a traffic jam, or waiting for someone at a restaurant. If either answer is no, imagine how powerful it is to blame yourself. Re-set your course toward making it your best year. Caveat: Resist thinking in terms of success or failure.

Things always happen you can’t anticipate. Roll with life’s punches. Getting cancer wasn’t on my life list. Even so I used my downtime to reconnect with friends, focus on spirituality, and learn about my body and health. I also acted on my #1 love which is to help people brainstorm, by creating SuperViva Life Lists.

Those are all things I’d been meaning to do.

Looking Ahead at Looking Back

Imagine it’s December 31. Maybe you’ve realized the year hasn’t turn out how you planned. You’ve reviewed your life list during the year, tried changing things to improve the year, and chronicled the year’s events on your list of things you’ve done. At a minimum you’ll have a lot to look back on. That yearly review you’re doing based on Chris Gillebeau’s advice is a piece of cake.

If you’re not happy with the year you can look forward to the next year being your best. And know that you damn well tried.

Like SuperViva on Facebook to keep up on the latest.

Get in touch if you need help breaking through anything that’s stopping you from real happiness.

How Airbnb Kicks Off Your Bucket List Travel AND Income Goals

For the past year I’ve met cool people from around the world (one of my lifetime life list goals!) by renting a space through Airbnb (fulfilling another life list goal to have a rental property).

I’ve stayed at Airbnb rentals and have played host to dozens of guests. Here’s a bit of what I’ve learned. In short: LOVE.

Airbnb lets people around the world rent anything from a room to a treehouse to an RV to a villa. You get to see reviews of both guests and hosts. So you can feel confident you’re getting what you think you’re getting. And if there’s a problem, Airbnb will step in. Basically the system keeps us all in check.

Vanity Fair wrote about the explosion in luxury treehouse lodging thanks to Airbnb. So, don’t think just because your work studio doesn’t have a bathroom that someone won’t want to crash out there to wake up to your trickling garden fountain.

historic affordable airbnb craftsman bungalow in portland oregon
We rented a room at this historic Craftsman home through Airbnb in Portland, Oregon.

The Airbnb experience for travelers

I’m getting ready to embark on a long-anticipated trip to Morocco. We booked our first night at a “riad” (super cool restored historic villa) listed on Airbnb. The French owner answered all of our questions about how to get there, with that personal touch you usually get staying in an inn. Much as with a hotel, we won’t choose to stay at places with no reviews — too risky to gamble our travel experience on an inexperienced host.

Need I say the lodgings tend to be cheaper than a generic hotel? Plus, you have plenty of opportunity to chat with the owner and know if you’re on the same page: If you’ve ever gone to a bed and breakfast and felt like you were staying at your parents’ house with the level of coziness, well if that isn’t your thing, you can make sure the style of the Airbnb spot matches your style.

you can list any type of home on airbnb including trailers
One of my goals was to buy an Airstream trailer, and I worked on setting it up as an Airbnb rental. This didn’t work out afterall but people are making good livings renting out Airstreams and having fun staying in them.

Renting out on Airbnb vs VRBO

I also use VRBO as do millions of people. It’s a fixed fee as an “advertising service” for people with properties. The thing is you need to craft a rental agreement with guests, and VRBO doesn’t review them — although it reviews the properties. So the burden is on you to really vet the people renting. This takes a lot more effort and entails more risk than Airbnb. Still it’s worth getting your property in front of more people by listing it on VRBO. If you do, here’s a $50 off VRBO coupon for listing a property.

No money to travel and no rental? Check out Couchsurfing

Previously I have enjoyed Couchsurfing as a completely free way to connect with people around the world who want to meet people passionate about travel and life. Early on, I felt Couchsurfing had really nailed their friends / reviews / profile in a way that you could instantly tell if a person was “good” or had ulterior motives…or was simply not pleasant as a guest or host.

Unlike Airbnb where guests usually have different motivations for renting, from family visits to work to needing a sublet while remodeling, Couchsurfing in my experience fits with more nomadic souls or very young or retired folks — on a budget, open to exploring and connecting, often traveling alone. Here I talked about one of my great Couchsurfing experiences as a host in Berkeley.

stay in a treehouse
I’ve always wanted to stay in a tree house. (photo by Susie Wyshak)

Feel free to ask any questions about renting through Airbnb and VRBO, or how the hell that sunflower got so big, and I’ll try to answer.

A dead simple way to track your goals and memories

Spreadsheets might be the easiest way to track lots of goals.

And spreadsheets you can access on your phone or from your computer increase the chance you’ll actually use what you set up to track your goals and jot down memories.

One Google spreadsheet to track things you want to do AND memorable events and thoughts

The good old Google Spreadsheet hooks to a Google Form. And it’s yours for the copying. Spreadsheet geeks will love it.

Easy: You can bookmark the form in  your Web browser and in your mobile browser.

Peasy: Stuff you enter on the form feeds into the spreadsheet. Then re-sort, slice, dice on the spreadsheet.

Check it out:

  1. Try playing with the form here.
  2. Then, look at the spreadsheet where you’ll see instructions for how to copy it if you like it.

P.S. I track my expenses the same way. I have a form bookmarked on my phone for all the different projects for which I can expense things. Presto! Within a few seconds I can log miles or enter the cost of that coffee meeting.

Lemme know any suggestions!

Susie

goal to learn to paint

I founded SuperViva to give you inspiration for life

I don’t know how Seth Godin does it, but his little daily posts uncannily relate to my life.

Today he posed the question: “If you were brave enough to leap, who would you choose to ‘used to be’?”

As those who had lists on SuperViva, you know the site went down. And didn’t go back up. I had the chance to choose whether to re-create the site or not. One day I may build a similar app. For now I used to be the person behind SuperViva who now is taking care of follow up for folks.

In 2008, the site was having problems, and Seth’s book The Dip somehow came into my life. At that time I considered shutting the site down but instead invested more in it. One day I’ll write the whole story.

I can’t recommend subscribing to Seth’s blog enough if you appreciate bursts of perspective on life, marketing and business.

used to be

Want to make this your best year? Here’s how I do it.

Originally posted in December, 2006.

It’s New Years. Time for resolutions? Or time for something different? What if this year you made ASPIRATIONS instead of RESOLUTIONS? What if you focused on things you want to DO and experience rather than a narrow set of problems?

For the last seven years, I’ve done just that.

I start each year with a big hairy question: “How can I make this the best year of my life?” Making each year better than the last is a tall order, but I’d say four of the past seven years have been my best. The first year I did this simply blew me away, it was so great!

My self-challenge usually includes resolution-y  things related to finance and weight. But the idea here though is to work on those goals as part of an overall yearly plan with related goals.

Step 1:  Review your life list to see what you want in life.

Come time to plan the year, it’s easy to rearrange and re-prioritize based on the year.

My list has such random things as:

  • Go surfing in Bali (DONE!)
  • Teach my niece to make cookies (DONE!)
  • Buy a rental property (DONE!)
  • Lose 20 pounds (ok, needs work)

Is your life list complete? If not, get inspiration as you go through your day, seeing what headlines, ads, observations or social media posts grab you.

Step 2: Start planning the year (It’s not as boring as it sounds.)

Some practical and fuzzy tips:

ducks in Bali

  • Generally, what are you in the mood to do based on your current life situation? Are you in a “mid life crisis” or ready to settle down? Are you feeling wanderlust? Fit this general feeling into your “2007 Theme” to guide you.
  • What will become impossible if you don’t do it now? For example one year I realized if I wanted to work on saving the rainforests now is the time, not in 10 years. And who knew that Mt. Etna would explode only a year after I spent a week on an agriturismo farm overlooking the great mount. Did you want to see James Brown in concert? It’s too late now. Think about what you want to do that you should not delay. (A Fodors list of 10 Places to See Before They’re Gone may be just the nudge you need.)
  • What will your goals take in terms of time, energy, and money? Don’t say no too quickly, such as if you want to take classes at night but feel you don’t have the time.

First think about what  you want to achieve and experience related to work, fun, community, spiritual, financial, relationships and health.

Now imagine your “resolution to lose 10 pounds” tied to a goal to run a marathon or go scuba diving. Or becoming a tango dance!

Come year end, you’ll have a lot more to look back on than a boring weight loss process.

Step 3: Take weekly or monthly reality checks

Yes time will fly and every day life administrivia may take over. Every once in a while I stop and ask myself two important questions:

    • “Is this my best year?”
    • “Am I feeling good about myself?”

I often do this at quiet moments such as in the shower, while stuck in a traffic jam, or waiting for someone at a restaurant.

If either answer is “no,” imagine how powerful it is to know it’s up to you to re-set your course toward making it your best year

Caveat: Resist thinking in terms of success or failure.

If you’re going to take the “best year” challenge, remember that things happen you can’t anticipate.

I won’t beat the proverbial dead horse and say that to remain happy you need to roll with life’s punches. Oops I guess I said it.

Well I’ve been there: at the end of one of my “best years” I got cancer. Of course this wasn’t on my life list. Even so I used my downtime to reconnect with friends, focus on spirituality, and learn about my body and health. Those are all things I’d been meaning to do.

Looking Ahead at Looking Back

Imagine it’s December 31, and you’ve realized the year hasn’t turn out how you planned. If you’ve reviewed your life list during the year, tried changing things to improve the year, and chronicled the year’s events on your SuperViva “things I’ve done” list, you’ll have a lot to look back on.

If you’re not happy with this year you can look forward to NEXT YEAR being your best and know that darn it, you tried!

How do you go about planning? Chime in here or on Facebook, and I’ll give you a free 15 minute coaching call to help you pursue your most audacious goal.

Important SuperViva Status Message: Carpe diem !

The SuperViva website as we have known it since January 2006 is no longer with us. Much us, the website aged. And much like some of us, it didn’t keep up with technology for a combination of reasons (for which Susie accepts all responsibility!)

We shut the website down June 22, 2013 after attempts at resuscitation. It had a good life, as one can only expect from an inspirational website that was cutting-edge at the time, all developed through Elance resources out of Susie’s pocketbook. :)

What does the shut down mean for you, a SuperViva user? All of the data is intact. We are going to work on contacting SuperViva users to offer to send you your life list as a file.

Please Help With This Effort

Developers cost money and I’d love the help of those for whom I created SuperViva — people like you needing inspiration. Thanks for any help you can give:




In the meantime, find out what you really want

Even more importantly than the idea of figuring out your goals SuperViva, Susie is coaching people on how to diststill and achieve their goals, starting with what may be blocking you from progress. Read more about Susie’s services and please subscribe to the Dot Connections newsletter in the right column.

Thank you for being a part of an important movement that has resulted in marriages, deep friendships and peak experiences for many people.

Again, your help either donating development skills or money will accelerate the next version of SuperViva for us all!

Susie

The Flight is Half Empty (A Negative Plus a Negative Equals a Positive)

After one leg of a recent flight so jam packed I had to gate-check my tiny suitcase, the next leg gave me pause: The flight was half empty. Wahoo! Then I wondered – is being half empty sometimes more positive than looking at something as half full?

Half Full vs Half Empty

  • Your tummy being half full is good when you’re short on cash and long on hunger. Being half empty is good at an all you can eat buffet when denying your fullness will lead to ravaging through the dessert table’s glistening chocolate cake and 7-layer caramel brownie a la mode faster than you can say Tasmanian devil.
  • A theater being half empty is good when you want your pick of a seat. Now think about viewing this scarce resource as half full. A slight panic sets in as the ideal seating arrangements in the ideal location become more and more scarce. The same theater being half full is good when you’re in charge of tickets and it’s in your best interest to fill that baby up.
  • The swimming pool is half empty indicates a sort of warning to the diver about to land head first. Think about hearing a pool is half full. That might seem like just enough water when in reality danger lies ahead.

As I wrote, the Bloody Mary glass (a flight attendant gifted me to help me forget being transferred to a flight with 2 stops and checking my luggage) was one-third full.

Challenge yourself: The next time you use the phrases half empty or half full think about if there’s any positive or negative connotation, or possible consequences for using either phrase. (Here’s a piece Jane Brody at the New York Times wrote on glass half full thinking.)

milking goats
The goat is half empty. The jug is half full.

Want your next trip to be full of surprise? Let synchronicity be your guide

I get an invitation to spend a few days on the beach in Florida, a trip I really want to take despite being on a budget. Having more time than money, how can I make the most of this junket?

To keep the possibilities wide open I buy a one-way ticket to Florida.

First, what other travel can I combine with this trip?

I fervently am hoping to volunteer at a conference in New York but decide, regardless, to go to New York after Florida. (I later find I am going to the 99U Conference for “insights on making ideas happen” about which I am highly stoked!)

First hurdle: I book the wrong ticket, arriving a day early.

I don’t want to blame my coffee addiction and lack thereof the morning I booked the ticket, but the  12:30am departure had me thinking I’d arrive the NEXT day, not realizing the flight actually departs the “next” day.

Decision: Get pissed or get creative.my muse and companion

Such a low fare is not available the next day, so I decide to go with the flow and turn the flub into a chance to explore.   A quick search reveals several coffee roasters which indicates, to me, at least one source of attraction. My friend had suggested picking me up and dropping me off at the airport after the visit. While leaving a car rental fallow while we use her car is a waste, renting a car will give me freedom and flexibility.

Something good: I’ve been wanting to test drive a Ford Focus, and that’s one of the dirt cheap cars available for rent.

Searching for answers reveals entirely new possibilities: ROADTRIP!

I start to fantasize about driving in the rental car to New York…then make a major find.

Apparently many cars migrate south to Florida and somehow, at some point, need to migrate back to bulldog hanging out of a car by Susie Wyshakother destinations. At insanely cheap rates you can take a one-way car rental from Florida to other destinations. I mean like at the moment Hertz is as low as $20 per day. Usually you get socked with huge fees on one-way rentals. You’re doing the car rental companies a favor. (Maybe one day, they will pay us to drive, ha.)

Decision: Where will I stay in New York?

Airbnb is awesome (and here’s my affiliate link!) for staying affordably in Manhattan or Brooklyn. I’ve also met some amazing people on Couch Surfing, both as a surfer and host. It’s been a little while since I’ve checked out the site. As I read the profiles of Couch Surfing hosts, my heart starts to race. All of these interesting people. The idea of staying with a different person each day thrills me even more, although my mind flashes to the waste of using linens for only one night. (That’s kind of how my Stoic mind thinks.)

Airbnb would be simpler, a basic “visitor” relationship. Couch Surfing opens up all sorts of possibilities for synchronicity, especially as with the detailed profiles I can peruse for who is into innovation, travel, arts, and food.

But I don’t contact anyone just yet…which turns out to be a good thing.

“Well,” I wonder, “since it’s the off season and I’ll be on the East Coast, is a trip to Europe in order?”

The Travelzoo Top 20 email arrives. Doh. Dare I look? “$1399 — Greek Islands: Santorini & Mykonos 8-Nt. Trip w/Air” That is DAMN cheap.

Decisions leading to a Yes / No on Greece

  • I’ve been wanting to go to Greece for years, especially after falling in love with Greek philosophy  as well as the mastic gum produced there.
  • Life is short, and I haven’t taken a big trip in a long time.
  • Er uh, and it departs right after the conference.
  • My tourism can help the Greek economy.

I email a Greek friend to get his opinion on the itinerary. Then I remember a Greek cooking school I’ve been wanting to check out. Would a set tour not give me the flexibility I’d want? Something to consider before taking any plunge, especially on a juicy deal. For example, I could instead plan a trip to Southern Italy, another place that’s been on my mind, and combine a hop to Greece from there.

The itinerary is TBD but the possibilities entice.

Weighing goals, constraints and possibilities into trip planning leads to a richer experience with time and money most efficiently spent. Open your eyes and mind as you travel this Spring to new possibilities. Where will your whims take you?

Kickin it Euro style. Is it time to do so again? We shall see!

 

Paint the Perfect Future By Projecting Forward to Backtrack

painting a door blueWhen one door gets painted wrong…

There I am painting a beautiful new wood door with the bright blue that seems to be my theme lately. I’m clad in an old sweatshirt, I’ve cleverly turned inside out so the paint gets on the inside instead of outside, so I can still wear the sweatshirt out with a semblance of neatness.

I’m leaning up against the door, seeing smears of blue on the sweatshirt, when it occurs to me: Why didn’t I wear one of the many aprons that have accumulated from all the cooking events I go to. A vision of a drawer stacked with aprons I somehow never remember to wear while cooking taunted me. There again I didn’t remember the aprons before painting.

When planning for any event in life, whether a big trip or painting a door, stepping through the motions is key to planning the most streamlined, error-free experience.

As I touched up the door to fill in some blanks, thinking of how I should have stepped forward through the painting job, a bunch of little dots jumped out at me. Oh, I forgot to dust the door which had been sitting out for a couple days after I primered it.

Another door opens…

If I were my painter friend, I’d sand it down and re-coat.

If I were me, I’d think: I’m adding another coat and that area is near the bottom of the door, which will be in a dark hallway. No one will notice and my priority is getting the job done. The next coat of paint will cover the little specks, for the most part.

And next time, I’ll project ahead and make sure I go through the steps rather than winging it. Winging it is sometimes good, but a little planning goes a long way. (The idiom here would be “Haste makes waste.”)

A good lesson remembered, and all before 9am.

Come see my door sometime and judge for yourself! Or see some really good blue doors.

Rediscover Life’s Magic by Talking to Strangers

I’m in a cafe and hear these three guys talking about shipping kilns and how their container is held up at the port, due to some customs snafu.

Only moments earlier I’d been driving across the San Francisco Bay Bridge with some visitors, pointing out those very same container ships that transport cargo around the globe.

Put Yourself On the Line, Risking Rejection, Risking Being Perceived as Rude

Curiosity got the best of me. That’s not hard to do, since I believe and have experienced that talking to strangers leads to magic.

“I couldn’t help overhearing,” I said, explaining how I was just wondering what was in those containers.

Well it turned out this guy was setting up a new ceramics making facility. I asked, “For Heath Ceramics?” Yes. My enthusiasm delighted him no end, which delighted me.

We had some other major connections which slip my mind, a good reminder to write down magical synchronicity (aka coincidence) right when it happens. All I know is this delightful morning and connection will remain in my mind, giving me the warm fuzzies, every time I come to this cafe in San Francisco.

The next step: Intrigued? Sign up for the Dot Connectors email to get more tips about making such magic happen in your life. Or simply subscribe to this here blog’s updates as I’ll be posting when this  new project gets off the ground.

Yours caffeinated,

Susie