The Simple Life

Ahh the 2010s a decade of great change and challenges in my life…


Lost two close family members
Multiple miscarriages
Moved to AL
Had a son
Got divorced
Moved on my own
Re-connected with Megan
Got fired
Worked for a start-up
Megan moved in
Unemployed a second time
Married Megan
Multiple miscarriages
Began as an adjunct instructor
Began work at Aflac
Became a minimalist
Got out of debt
Promoted at Aflac


As we enter a new decade, there are many things I learned from the list above. They impacted and shaped my perspective on many things. There are also many new habits I adopted during the decade that I continue to practice now and in the years ahead.


I still firmly believe that goal setting is good. However, I like to think of them as “challenges,” not goals or resolutions. Every January we tend to get beaten over the head with terms like “New Year’s Resolution” or “New Year, New You,” and I’ve begun tune them out.


To me, the term resolution is something temporary. People should strive to make permanent changes and not temporary resolutions. Also, why do most people only tend to try and adopt new habits in January each year?


All that said, I still feel it is important to set intentional and realistic challenges. When I say intentional and realistic, I mean we need to move past the thoughts of “I am going to lose 10 pounds this year” or “Saving money will be a priority,” and focus on small changes and steps that can lead you to amazing progress. Challenge yourself!


We need to change how we approach our goal setting and look at them as challenges. Begin to focus on Progress NOT Perfection and you’ll be amazed at how many challenges you can accomplish.



Resolve to Evolve
I touched on this mindset in early 2018 and again in 2019. I’m writing again to keep me accountable and to show you how I was able to achieve most of my challenges that I’ve made public. I’m just as committed this year to evolving and achieving my short-term goals as I was the past two years. It’s really easy; I promise you!


My wife Megan and I are using the same method to become more mindful and intentional in our goal setting. We like to call it the “Resolve to Evolve” plan. Check out the link and click on the template to help you brainstorm, create and carry out your goals for the upcoming year.


The action plan only requires you to identify three steps leading up to the goal, along with a 6 month review.  Your goals should be SMART.  SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. It’s that easy!


The last two years, our challenges have focused on five categories: health, career, relationships, financial and spiritual/learning. We chose these categories because these are five focus areas that tie into our core values and beliefs. The easiest way to live an intentional life, one that has true purpose, is to align your daily actions with your core values and beliefs.


By focusing on small changes and measurable progress, you are less inclined to get into a rut and think the goal is un-attainable. This method can help you break the routine of setting unrealistic resolutions that you bail on by March and transform your life in ways you didn’t think were possible.


Goal setting should be a fun, thoughtful activity that encourages you to reflect on your best qualities and how to improve upon them each year. As I stated, in an effort to hold myself accountable I published the blog last year with my 2018 goals and 2019 goals. Here is the update to those goals along with what I have set for myself in 2020.


Tod Meisner


Goal Updates

2019 Goal: Complete 80 workouts in 2019 (knowing teaching four days a week limits my gym time), along with maintaining my current weight and running a 5K. – COMPLETE… I managed 90 workouts and ran two 5Ks. Still holding at 195 lbs as well!
2020 Goal: Complete 100 workouts, run at least three 5Ks and maintain my current weight.
Why? Make health and wellness a priority. Workouts need to be the norm and not the exception.


2019 Goal: Speak at another Ragan conference and one more speaking gig. – Partially Complete…it wasn’t for lack of trying. Ragan events fell through, but I spoke to 5 college classes. I also completed and launched my professional website!
2020 Goal: Maintain professional certifications, continue speaking to classes and leverage my website to pursue paid speaking opportunities.  
Why? Public speaking better promotes myself as an educator, speaker and minimalist.


2019 Goal: One date night dinner per month with Megan and six “keep in touch phone calls” – COMPLETE… I was much more intentional about my phone calls, which led to speaking opportunities!
2020 Goal: Continue date nights and “keep in touch calls,” try for more hand-written notes.
Why? With our professional lives getting busier, it is important for us to be intentional about our “us” time. We like to spend those moments over good food and drinks.


2019 Goal: Donate my time and money responsibly. COMPLETE… Megan and I donated to many organizations important to us and we even became Dynamic Catholic Ambassadors. I continue to serve the St. Michael’s Knights of Columbus when I’m able.
2020 Goal: Begin a better long-term savings plan, while continuing to donate time and money responsibly.
Why? With financial freedom, it is important to me to donate to worthy causes and correlates to my 2019 One Word: Service


2019 Goal: Write nine blogs, read eight books, 10 minutes of prayer per day – Partially Complete… I read 10 books (Dare to Lead, Lies My Teacher Told Me, The Energy Bus, The No Complaining Rule, The Seed, The Soup, The Positive Dog, Training Camp, 100X Leader, Havana Heat) and continued my daily prayers. Work and teaching took up a lot of my bandwidth and I was only able to write six blogs.
2020 Goal: Continue in the classroom of silence (prayer), while writing eight blogs and reading 12 books.
Why? I like to write and it keeps my mind sharp and my blog fresh. It is also another way for me to market myself and showcase my knowledge and abilities.


Always make sure when writing down your challenges to set realistic deadlines, work in a 6-month review or check-in dates to track your progress and have a “why” behind each goal.


If you’re not aligning your why to these goals, you’ll lose focus on their importance and more than likely fail to meet them. Without these steps, your goals will lack direction.  And without direction, you may end up at an unknown, and unwanted, destination. Work to be intentional and not accidental.


Tod Meisner


One Word
I want to leave you with one final, easy, and actionable step to help you make 2020 the most productive year of your life. Pick your one word. Yes, one word. Author Jon Gordon and others have used this method to help people focus on just one simple word, instead of a daunting list of broken promises or unrealistic resolutions.


My one word for 2020 is “Expand.” I want continue to push myself in 2020 and get out of my comfort zone. I was able to have the best year of my professional life in 2019 by expanding, and I want to be even more intentional about it in 2020. So for me, “expand” can mean many things. It can range from running a longer distance, speaking to more students, choosing broccoli over beef and embracing the discomfort that precedes growth.


To choose your single word, you must have a clarity and focus in your decision. You are moving toward the future rather than swearing off the past. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Identify the person you want to become
  2.  Identify the characteristics of that person
  3. Pick a word

Before you embark on this journey, a subtle warning: Don’t be surprised if living out your “one word” feels unnatural and awkward at first. Remember, the reason you want to focus on this word might be due to the fact that this characteristic may not currently be present in your day-to-day life. Give it time and stay with it.


So, give it some thought. Follow the above steps and think about your one word for 2020. By focusing on one word and setting realistic goals in 2020, you will begin to believe in yourself like never before. You will be on your way to becoming the best version of yourself.


Support, Challenge and Celebrate
Be honest and challenge yourself in 2020. You can’t grow as a person if you aren’t honest with yourself. You must know yourself to lead yourself, and you must challenge yourself without being too critical of yourself. In 2020, begin to believe in yourself without being prideful.


We’re imperfect people striving for perfection. We have to learn to celebrate our progress again in 2020. Perfection isn’t possible. But, a constant effort and a constant celebrating of our progress is possible. The more we celebrate our progress, the more progress we’re likely to make.


Consistently focus on your word this year. Use it to be intentional in your actions and not accidental. Use the word and your goals to challenge yourself to become the best version of you. Work to celebrate the transformative progress you make in 2020. The psychological encouragement that comes from knowing that we are actually making progress is incredibly powerful.


What are your challenges for 2020?


The Simple Life
“There are three things you can control every day. Your attitude, your effort and your actions.”

–Jon Gordon


The fact is simple. You are NOT in control. Not of everything, at least. However, you can focus on what is within your control and play the odds. If you focus on the things you can control, you will place yourself in the most ideal situations, most often. By doing that, odds are, life will work out the way you want it more often than not.


How Do You Do This?

So, how do you do this? By focusing on what you can control.


How do you know what you can control? You must start by understanding the difference between what you can control and what you can’t. This is very important.


I personally believe there are three things that you can focus on every day to ensure you’re focusing on what you can control.

These three things are your attitude, your effort and your actions.

  1. Keep a positive attitude
  2. Work hard every day
  3. Ensure your actions are making yourself and others better

If you can do these three simple things each day, you’re focusing on areas you can control and that are important.


Tod Meisner

Choose to be positive. Positivity is contagious. Positivity makes you worth interacting with each day. Be someone that other people look forward to seeing each day.  


I challenge you to try and be the most enthusiastic person you know. See how much this impacts those around you in a positive way.



Your work ethic doesn’t form overnight. It takes years and years of honing your skills and grinding until you reach your goals. You get to those goals by putting in the work. By sitting at the desk and working hard.


I equate this to the age-old question, “How to you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time. Show up and do the work and work hard each day, one day at a time. Stack these hard-working days on top of each other and eventually you naturally form your work ethic.



You know the Golden Rule. Treat others as you would want to be treated. It is a maxim found in many religions and popular culture. Align your actions with your long term values and beliefs.


Go out of your way to be kind to those around you. Open a door. Give a compliment. Ask someone how they’re doing — and genuinely listen to their answer. Take someone out to lunch. You’ll be amazed at how these acts of kindness will transform your life.


Tod Meisner


Focus on what you can control to ensure your life works out the way you want. There can be a lot of variables in your life and you can’t control many of them. Focus on what you can control and watch your life change. I promise it’s not a cliché, it’s the truth.


What about you? Will you start focusing on these three areas to change your life for the better?


The Simple Life
“Sometimes the best way to grow is to subtract.”

In my journey into minimalism and living a more intentional life, I’ve had to remind myself of the above quote many times. I spent the first 30+ years of my life chasing the “American Dream.”


It’s what we’re told to do right? Go to college, get a job, make decent money, get married, buy a house, make more money, buy more stuff, just keep climbing and chasing. Oh the fallacy of the “American Dream.”


The idea that “anybody can make it in the US if they work hard enough” has been a bedrock of American life since the country’s birth. However, data is showing that inequality and economic mobility are highly correlated, and inequality has been on the rise in the US for the last half century. 


The US is not some special land of economic opportunity. It’s time Americans realize it. But how? How can we get people to realize that you can live a fulfilled and happy life without chasing the fallacy of the “American Dream?”

Well let’s start with all of our stuff. That’s right, stuff. Things. Items. Clutter.


Tod Meisner

Journey to Minimalism

I found out about the practice intentional living and began to change my habits after watching the documentary “Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things” by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. The term “minimalism” gets bad rap because people tend to think of it like art. Minimalism in art often colloquially refers to anything that is spare or stripped to its essentials.


So the minimalist home is often thought of as stark white walls, little furniture, no electronics, etc. The minimalist lifestyle is often thought of similarly. Wearing the same clothes, not driving a car, just one of each at the grocery store, only the basics, boring, stale, and it goes on and on.


That’s not the case! I personally feel intentional living is different for everyone. It is essentially bringing balance to the things that matter. This applies to books, clothes, furniture, people, jobs and general clutter. What is important? What matters the most?


Intentional Living

Your definition or feeling of intentional living probably won’t happen overnight. Mine didn’t. Heck, it’s actually an on-going journey. It takes time to organize, prioritize and discover what is appropriate. You’ll usually find that once you feel like you have de-cluttered, re-organized and prioritized, more stuff has entered your life and you may start some of those processes again.


Don’t fret however, because you will develop a sense of calm and pride in only keeping the stuff that matters or adds value to your life. These periodic purgings won’t be so daunting when you know the end result is feeling in control and becoming a better version of yourself. Like the quote says, “sometimes the best way to grow is to subtract.”


Tod Meisner


Where To Begin?

There are a lot of tactics out there to help get you on your way to living a more intentional life. Tactics to help you stop pursing the fallacy of the American dream and focus on what truly matters. I’d also be lying if I tried to provide you with any tips and claim them as my own. The below links are things that worked for my wife Megan and I when we began this journey in 2017.


20/20 Rule

30-Day Minimalism Game

Packing Party

Start Here


So What About You?

So what about you? Are you feeling overwhelmed and stressed out by pursuing the fallacy of the “American Dream?” Do you look around and see a bunch of stuff and realize that it isn’t making you any happier and sure as hell doesn’t define who you are as a person?


Get started today. Start freeing yourself from the fallacy of the “American Dream.” It is dumb. It’s comparing yourself to other people which only brings about insecurities. As the saying goes, “comparison is the thief of joy.”


If you truly want to be the best version of yourself and live an intentional live, than you must realize that the pursuit of greatness isn’t about being better than someone else. It’s truly about being a better version of you.


How will you live intentionally and become a better version of you?


Career Growth

I’ve not lived up to my pledge to fill this blog with regular posts, because as I’ve said previously, life keeps getting in the way. That’s a good thing though, and I have kept up my practice of writing down the thoughts that swirl in my head. I’ve been working on getting those notes into this blog and I’m finally ready to share a few with you now. Be A Better you!


As I’ve faced some rejections and adversity this spring, I’ve been made further aware that you have to look out for yourself because nobody else will. I’ve also been made well aware that YOU are the only person who cares about your personal growth. It’s up to you, and only you, to make it happen!


It is imperative that when times get tough, you stay positive and you stay proactive. The best way to further your personal growth is through positivity and proactivity. If you aren’t doing these two things, you are being reactive and negative and will be unprepared to take action when faced with adversity.


Keep these tactics in mind as you look to grow yourself personally…


Be passionate, but also be realistic

Being passionate is good, but you must look at the big picture when you get passionate about something. Having passion without realistic goals or a taking a proper look at the big picture can lead to frustration.


Fear will only hold you back

Let go of your fears and face things with positivity. Stop worrying! Taking a risk will be uncomfortable, but if you are confident in your choices, there should be no fear of failure. You must be ready to step outside your comfort zone!


Emotional decisions are usually bad decisions

Letting emotions get in the way of a big decision can lead to misguided reactions. You are usually acting with a minimal amount of thought when emotional. Sometimes our emotions are based on an unusual impulse. Always make sure to take time to look at the big picture and consult your better judgement.


Flexibility for change is vital

It is easy to get comfortable with your surroundings and accepting things as they are. Comfortable is easy, change is hard. But, it is important to stay flexible and learn to accept change. Learning to accept change is vital to long-term happiness and success.


Identify what you don’t want

It is important to realize that recognizing the things you don’t want in your life is as important as recognizing what you do want. Identifying what you don’t want helps you to focus on the big picture. Don’t ignore what you don’t want. Recognize it and make the decisions to get you what you do want.


Take ownership of your actions

When you have considered the points above and have clarity about your personal growth, act and act confidently. Take full ownership of your actions and be ready to accept the outcome. Taking full ownership will allow you to achieve success in the long-term.


YOU ultimately control your attitude each day and hopefully these tips can help you find some personal fulfillment.

I hope to write again soon and provide some personal and professional updates in addition to other ways you can better yourself with positive thinking. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.