Category Archives: Advice & Research

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.

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.

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

 

Rekindle a Relationship by Looking to the Past and Future

The Oakland Museum of California asked the public to full out a survey to learn what works and the survey filler outer’s vision for the museum in the next decade.

As a fallen member but with warm fuzzy feelings about the museum, the question helped me analyze what brings me to the museum and what makes it not be top of mind…or worthy of a membership. By the time I’d finished my essay about how I love the museum (which has the coolest interactive features, in depth California history exhibits and fun community engagement) and outlined my vision for an amazing future, I knew I need to support the museum to become even better.

I’ve heard advice that couples needing to rekindle their relationships should think back to what first attracted them to each other, to clear out those sticky cobwebs and complications that can develop over time and through life. Recently someone told me her friend called and said “I’m leaving Bob!” The friend said “Wait! Let me try talking to you.” In ONE session she saved the marriage. I’m not sure what she did. But if you are going through relationship issues and have a goal to do the right thing in 2013, look to these simple techniques to help you decide — and move on with your life, one way or another.

While renewing a membership is a whole lot easier than repairing a relationship, I now see how that question can quickly make a difference. Much like repairing a relationships, that first step can be the toughest: getting up to get my credit card to pay for my museum membership.

Famous Artists Talk About Their Goals

All your favorite performing artists and other creative talents didn’t make it by chance. They had goals, especially Lady Gaga. See what some very successful folks had to say on their goals…

“My goal is to be one with the music. I just dedicate my whole life to this art.” – Jimi Hendrix”

“I’d wanted to be an actress my whole life, that was my goal, that was all I cared about.” -Kristin Davis (aka Sex in the City’s Charlotte :-) )

“My goal was just to work regularly. I didn’t ever expect to be rich or famous. I wanted to be a working character actor.” -Harrison Ford

“Only because The Runaways were my baby and there’s no reason to get it back together except to totally have fun. If that’s not the goal, then I don’t want to do it. ” – Joan Jett

“Most success springs from an obstacle or failure. I became a cartoonist largely because I failed in my goal of becoming a successful executive.” -Scott Adams (Dilbert)

Take action! No matter how wild your goals, write them down on a life list, start to connect the dots, and watch the magic happen.

Life List To Do’s The Day the World Ends

Get a life list at SuperViva and live each day like it's your lastIf you’re like me you already live each day like it’s your last. So the day the world ends really isn’t that different from any other. I’m pretty confident we will be here tomorrow and for many years. So are most experts on the world-ending matter.

But say that day did come. Here’s my short list of how to prepare:

  1. Tell your loved ones you love them just like you should all the time.
  2. Do the little things that make you happy. Smell the flowers. Play with your dog.
  3. Meditate on the life you’ve lived so well. Might as well try to make sense of it all!
  4. Have sex. At the very least you’ll burn off a little steam. At the very most you’ll have a very nice steamy end to the world.
  5. Know I’m thinking of you. You’re not alone…even if we’ve never met.

What not to do the day the world ends

  1. Shop for new clothes. Your birthday suit is enough.
  2. Watch the world end on TV. Life is not a spectator sport, and you never could have dreamed “being part of the world ending” as a life list item. So get out there and enjoy…whatever happens.
  3. Try to do everything on your bucket list. (Focus on the things that will really make you happy.)
  4. Over eat. Over drink. Really, you know you’ll have tomorrow to regret it.
  5. Text while driving. Be careful — you don’t want to be the one ending your own world or someone else’s.

Enjoy!!!

Man on Cadillac Mountain
From a SuperViva user: “I just saw your album “People doing life list things” and I love it! I use the website to track my list. Thank you for maintaining the site! Here’s a pic of me @ Mt Cadillac in Maine, working on my goal of visiting all 50 states! “