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Three Simple Actions to Increase Your Available Options

Even if you’re perfectly happy where you are, anything you can do to add security and increase your options will help you.

What if you had a different source of income than your paycheck? Then, even if you have a great job and no desire to quit, you’re also earning money on the side. Put it in savings, pay off debt, or put it toward meaningful experiences.

What if you had the ability to travel anywhere? That’s why you should accumulate miles & points, so that you can have a ready-made bank account to get you on a plane and into the immigration line.

Here are three simple actions you can take right now to increase your available options.

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When to Compromise and When to Hold Your Ground

8581789342_d849c00856_z At some point, most of us end up settling in a major part of our life. We compromise and make tradeoffs.

We can’t always get everything we want, of course. We can’t always be in total control. But we can certainly get a lot of what we want, and if we prioritize what's most important to us, we can probably get the top things on the list. Just because we can’t always be in control doesn’t mean that we're never in control.

This truth presents a natural question: when should we compromise, and when should we hold our ground and keep fighting for what we really want?

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“It Felt Impossible, Until I Did It”: One Year in South Korea

Lauren Meeks believes that there is immense value in learning other people’s stories. It all started with an unlikely year of teaching English in South Korea.

I'm a writer currently living in Atlanta, although I'm reluctant to call any place "home." I spent several years abroad as a child, and over the past 7 years I've traveled to every continent except Antarctica (it's on the list!) and over two dozen countries. I travel to experience new cultures and to hear new stories. I firmly believe that everyone has a story worth sharing, and I want to hear as many of them as possible.

I stumbled across my love of traveling almost by accident. I traveled some in college, but I still hadn’t been bitten by the wanderlust bug yet. I was perfectly happy to stick to the tourist trails and then go home to my safe bubble after the trip was over. But at the beginning of my senior year in college, my advisor encouraged me to apply for a Fulbright grant teaching English. Being the good little student that I was, I acquiesced. Since Fulbright only allows you to apply to the program in a single country, I had a decision to make.

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3 Keys to Building a Successful Writing Career

Habit. If you want to be a writer, you first have to write. You can sit down and free write. You can write first and edit later (or "write drunk, edit sober" as the saying goes). You can use a timer and write for 50 minutes every morning or you can plan to write 500 words before going to bed. Whatever works for you is what matters.

Focus. This doesn’t mean “only write about one specific topic” as some people say. If you want to be the world’s leading expert on marsupials in Macedonia, go right ahead. You’ll be a hero to all five people interested in that.

Persistence. You’ve just got to do it! And you’ve got to keep doing it. Over and over. When you find yourself not writing, you have to find your way back. Continuing to work on something for a long period of time is often a strong predictor of success (except when it's not).

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Limited Time: Get a Free Guide to Online Business

Link: Ramit’s “Ultimate Guide to Online Business” (Free)

Every day I hear from new readers who pick up The $100 Startup, especially around the world as it continues to be published in more and more languages (22 at last count).

The world of people interested in creating personal freedom through entrepreneurship continues to grow. And as it does, many of these people have questions about the best next steps to take.

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A Quest to Visit (and Illustrate!) Every U.S. National Park

Technical mapper turned visual storyteller Karla Sanders met restless Colombian web designer Andres in Italy and fell in love. Now, they’re back in America and on a quest to visit all 59 national parks in the U.S.—with a twist.

About a year into having an Etsy store, I was also working as an in-house graphic designer in Cleveland. To sustain our outdoorsy natures, Andres and I would go hiking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Our online shop was doing fairly well, but something was missing.

While on one of those hikes, the idea just came to us: why not combine our love of the our local national park and our illustration skills? Our first masterpiece for Hike & Draw was our illustrated map of all 59 natural national parks.
Karla3

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How to Live in Fear

Are you tired of being courageous and fed up with bravery? Seeking an alternative to risk-taking?

Not to worry. Choosing to live in fear is both easy and safe. Simply follow a few simple guidelines, and you'll live comfortably ever after.

Keep calm and carry on. Beware of danger, true love, and real life.

Play it safe. Never charge down a mountain. Don't run, don't leap, don't go too fast. Be wary of opportunities and new perspectives. Above all: stay the course.

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Just Because It’s Supposed to Work Doesn’t Mean It Will

Dan finished his education degree without ever stepping into a classroom.

After he graduated, he realized he didn’t like teaching and wasn’t good at it. The very first day of student teaching, where the goal was to serve as an intern before accepting a full-time position, he knew that this was not the career for him.

You’re probably thinking: hey, that’s life! He just had to stick it out, and then he’d be fine. And it’s true, sometimes there’s a learning curve on the road of purpose. We’re supposed to challenge ourselves, and it takes time to gain real-world skills.

This was different, though. Dan really didn’t like teaching. It felt uncomfortable and unnatural. He knew he could probably soldier on through the internship, but he didn’t want to go any further.

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Teaching by Example: A Father’s Take on Adventure and Giving Back

Thailand 03 Michael McManus tries to live his life as an example for his daughters. He chooses to fill it with family, adventure, creativity, and giving back.

I am first and foremost a husband and father. I'm also a photographer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist that has started M2 Photography, Gethrr and Poser Photobooth Co. I love creating portraits where my subjects interact with the chalk drawings. When I'm not photographing weddings, rocking the photo booth, or helping others, I'm with my family.

We believe in intentional living and spending our time purposefully. Whether we're playing tag in our backyard or hiking in Norway, all that matters is that we're together. We constantly talk to our children about fear—about not being afraid to try new things, seeing failure as a stepping stone to success, and living life beyond our limits.

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Huge Deal: Get Up to 75,000 JetBlue Points (No Credit Card Required!)

This is a really great deal that will help a lot of people. Here’s the one-minute, short version:

  1. JetBlue will GIVE YOU up to 75,000 points, just for sending them a screenshot and taking a single round-trip flight before the end of August
  2. If you have any number of Virgin America points, you’ll get them matched simply for completing the above (up to 75,000 points in total; more on that in a moment)
  3. If you don’t have any Virgin America points, it’s not that hard to get them—and then you can get all those free JetBlue points
  4. The 75,000 JetBlue points are easily worth $900, so it’s definitely worth doing if you can. And even if you can’t get the maximum, well, it’s free points!

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“The Success I’m Having Now Is What I Planned for Three Years Ago”

The other day I met with a small business owner. Her business is going well, she recently had a successful product launch that brought in a lot of funds and new customers. Awesome!

But what interested me the most is what she said about it: “The success that I’m having now is what I planned for three years ago.”

Three years ago, she set out to build the kind of business she has now. She settled on an area of focus and said no to other opportunities. Then, she took the actions she’d determined were most likely to lead to successes like her recent launch.

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“Traveling Taught Me How to Be a Parent”: On the Road with Christine Gilbert

DSC00393 Several years ago, Christine Gilbert packed up the kids and hit the road. She and her family have been roaming the world ever since.

I’m a writer and photographer who was trapped for years in the Ann Taylor-clad body of a corporate manager, until one day I did something completely ordinary but unexpected. I quit a very nice job and convinced my husband that we were moving overseas.

Since then we’ve reinvented our careers and lives as something between wandering creatives and ill-equipped adventurers. We have two very American kids who have never lived in the US. Instead, they’ve grown up speaking Spanish and English (plus many other languages along the way) and sincerely believe that “America” is the place we go to get new iPads when they break (which is true, actually).

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4 Travel Hacking Tricks for Domestic Trips

I received a note from a reader who wanted to know about traveling domestically. I admit that most of what I get excited about in the world of travel hacking relates to international travel. I like flying around the planet and changing as many as twelve time zones at once, only to do it again a few days later.

But not everyone feels the same way, and besides—even if you travel far and wide, you still probably need to travel shorter distances from time to time too.

How can you benefit from travel hacking when planning relatively simple trips? Here are four very helpful tricks.

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How an Excel Spreadsheet Led One Woman to Change Careers

When even the unconventional life isn’t working out as you planned, how do you course correct to get on a more fulfilling track? Bethany Butzer broke out a spreadsheet and charted her way to a life more aligned with her values.

I’ve never really followed a linear path. I graduated with a Ph.D. in Psychology, turned down a job in academia to work in the corporate world, but very quickly realized that the 9-to-5 cubicle life wasn't for me. After a year and a half, I quit.

A job opened up at Harvard Medical School for someone to help research school-based yoga interventions. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to combine my passion for research with my interest in well-being, so my husband and I sold our house and we moved to Boston.

To my surprise, Harvard didn’t end up being what I’d hoped for. The work environment was extremely competitive and exhausting. The cost of living was through the roof. I spent most of my time at work or recovering from work. After two years of this lifestyle, I realized that something needed to change. Four guidelines helped guide my husband and me through some major lifestyle changes to get us where we are today.

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