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2015 Annual Review: Lessons in Writing and Other Independent Work

I spend as much time as possible working on things I believe in. It’s not all out of compulsion—it’s also because I’m motivated to create and share. I’m happiest when I’m making progress on projects that make a difference in the world, or at least the corner of the world in which I have influence.

This post provides a review and critique of my overall work in 2015.

Previous Posts

For years now, I’ve been saying that I want to become more specific and intentional. The problem is that I’m fairly good at a number of things. I know how to decipher and deconstruct successful solutions in several different fields and areas.

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Three Days of Learning & Community: Last Weekend at Pioneer Nation

21786167469_8c1fd27994_z We did it!

Last weekend I worked with a small and dedicated team to produce our second-ever Pioneer Nation, a gathering of independent entrepreneurs.

For the first time in any big event we’ve done, we took everyone onsite for the entire experience. The event was held at The Resort at the Mountain, a scenic setting near Mount Hood, an hour’s drive from Portland.

Events are a ton of work, but they can also be hugely rewarding. Once again I felt honored and inspired to be surrounded by great people.

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The Best Time Management Strategy: Don’t Find the Time, Find the Why

3325745244_76c62bf2f6_zOver the past few months, I've been interviewing people for my upcoming book on dream jobs. Many of the people I’ve talked to are really busy—they've found or created their dream job, but they also tend to do a lot of other stuff as well. Some of them have side businesses or run ultramarathons on the weekends. Some of them have active family lives. Some of them do all those things... and more. I don't always ask the same questions of interviewees, but one tends to come up pretty often: "How do you find the time?"

I liked this answer I heard yesterday:

"It's less about how do I find time and more about why do I find time. You'll always find time for things that have a strong enough why."

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How Much Is Your Time Worth? This Free Tool Will Show You

How Much Is Your Time Worth? This Free Tool Will Show You Deciding how you value your time can help you make decisions. But how do you really know what your time is worth?

It’s partly a hypothetical question, because you don’t always get to choose how much money you'll make or how much free time you'll have.

And it’s partly a practical question, because sometimes you do get to choose. Life is all about making choices, some of which are exclusive and limit us from other opportunities.

A free tool guides you to your own answer of "How much is your time worth" in both hypothetical and practical scenarios.

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Pioneer Nation Returns in October: Here’s How You Can Join Us!

Last year we debuted an all-new event to serve independent entrepreneurs and anyone who felt underserved by existing business conferences. We called it Pioneer Nation—and the first gathering was a tremendous success.

We'll be returning in October (just two months from now!) for our second edition. If you'd like to hang out in a mountain resort an hour from Portland, Oregon and learn new skills for taking your business to another level, you can join us.

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Creative Ways to Succeed in the Knowledge Economy

Reading:

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I enjoyed each of these stories that have been floating around.

If you want to be negative, there’s at least one major point you could critique about each of them. The woman making tons of money on Etsy isn’t actually handcrafting most of her items, which is the guiding value of Etsy. The Rideshare Guy is essentially trading time for money. The poets, well, I guess you could say it’s more of a party trick than real poetry.

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To Be More Creative, Schedule Your Work at 80% Capacity

3601990852_541f71970d_z I'm fortunate to work with great partners, including a wonderful design studio right in Southeast Portland called Jolby & Friends.

I was recently with the Jolby crew on a site visit, and one of them mentioned something about how they deliberately operate their studio on an "80% capacity" model.

The idea is that they schedule themselves only 80% full in order to be available for last-minute client requests, as well as their own work. I thought this was really interesting!

I wrote to Steven, the studio manager, to ask more about how it works.

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You Don’t Have to Win at Everything


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I had coffee with an aspiring entrepreneur who was struggling with priorities.

“I worry I’m doing everything wrong!” he said.

Everywhere he went, people gave him free advice. They told him about email marketing ... and webinars ... and the latest new social network ... and all the things he had to do to keep up.

"I'm not sure I'll be able to do all these things," he continued. "I can hardly keep up with the list!"

Well, that’s the thing. First of all, it’s very hard to fully "keep up" these day. There’s always a new network to learn, a new tool to master. There’s always one more thing that can be done.

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Waking Up at Night with Big Ideas


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Long ago, right before I started this blog and began the full-time quest to "go everywhere," I went through a six-month period of thinking about it. When I say I was thinking about it, I mean it occupied my mental world approximately 80% of the time. I was still working and going to grad school during the day, but my attention lay elsewhere.

Then, at night, I'd go to bed with a notebook on my nightstand. I kept it there because almost every night, I'd wake up feeling excited. I'd have another idea or something new to add to the outline.

I loved this story of Benny Hsu making $100,000 from his t-shirt designs—a huge entrepreneurial success on his own, no doubt. But I also related to how the project took over his life and became all he thought about.

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A Better Approach to “Never Check Email in the Morning”


226823992_0eb2580004_z You’ve heard the conventional wisdom: never check email in the morning.

That sounds great, unless your job involves communicating with people, or if you happen to care about what people have to say to you. In either of those cases, you very well might want (or need!) to see what's happened overnight just as you sit down to work.

It's also true, though, that it's easy to get sucked into replies and never end up creating or building or just working on something that requires long-term focus, all because you can't get your nose out of the inbox.

Years ago I found a better way that I still use most days of the week. Here's how it works.

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How Much Money Do You Need to Live Abroad? 13 Questions to Ask Yourself

This is an excerpt from Working On the Road: The Unconventional Guide to Full-Time Freedom by Nora Dunn.

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Traveling full-time can actually cost far less than it does to live in one place. This is due to a number of cost-saving factors, ranging from volunteering in trade for free accommodation, using frequent flyer miles, spending time in places where the cost of living is cheaper (sometimes), and judiciously monitoring your spending.

There's no template solution to how much money you’ll need to begin your life working abroad, but you can use these questions to help gauge the expenses you’ll have and how they will vary based on itineraries, priorities and travel style.

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What If You Had to Work Only One Hour a Day?


One Hour a Day, No More

I once caught bronchitis, and it lasted for more than a week. I spent much of the day sleeping or complaining.

But of course, I still had to work sometime. My energy level was constantly low, but every so often I'd muster enough strength to work through a few tasks or half-heartedly reply to emails before crashing on the couch.

The rest of the time, when I wasn’t sleeping or complaining, I was on the couch reading or watching bad TV shows on my iPad. Once in a while I’d be inspired to boil water for herbal tea. It was rough—even worse than the dreaded man flu.

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