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
Health

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.

 

Career
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 www.todmeisner.com!
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.

 

Relationships
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.

 

Financial
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

 

Spiritual/Learning
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?

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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
Attitude

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.

 

Effort

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.

 

Actions

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?

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The Simple Life

It started with my weekly email from Jon Gordon.  The title was “55 Days, There’s No Better Time Than Now.”

 

Upon opening it, the first line said “Counting today, there are 55 days left in 2019.”

 

Whoa? What? Reality-check. As you’re reading this now there are even less!

 

The email challenged readers to pick just ONE thing to better for yourself or your family to close 2019.

 

The message made me immediately realize there is no better time than now to re-focus my efforts on my health and fitness. My wife Megan is so proud that I’ve chosen health as my one thing for these final days of 2019.

 

So, with less than 55 days left in the calendar year, I’ve chosen to close 2019 by being intentional about my health.

 

Tod Meisner

Excuses

In the last two years, fitness and my overall health have been larger priorities for me than ever before. From writing down workout goals, eating better, wearing a fitness tracker, etc. I’ve taken many steps to make fitness and wellness a priority.

 

However, during the fall I tend to get a little pudgy. It is football season you know? I tend to have more adult beverages on the weekends, in front of the TV or at a tailgate, than normal. And you know it’s not a tailgate without Doritos and pulled pork.

 

During the fall, I also teach classes at Auburn, so my days are long and the time to workout is shorter. Well, it’s shorter because I don’t normally feel like beginning a workout at 7:30 p.m.

 

These are all just excuses. What are some of the excuses that you find yourself facing?

 

Tod Meisner

 

Changes

There is no better time than now to stop the excuses. It’s time to implement changes now, before the holiday food is endless, that will help me maintain a healthy weight and not have me second-guessing my food and drink choices for two months.

 

What changes will I implement? Well, I have to make myself realize that 2-3 days a week it must be OK to workout at 7:30 p.m. But that is just temporary. The fall semester is over the first week of December and doesn’t begin again until early January. I will have an entire month of normally schedules workouts!

 

See what I did there? I looked at the positive side of things and not the negative. It’s hard to do, but as I always say, only you choose your attitude, so choose to be positive. What kind of changes can you make to overcome the excuses and be one step closer to your goal?

 

 

An Early Jump

By getting an early jump on my intentional fitness goals for 2020, I will be in the right mindset for our holiday travel. There’s no better time than now to re-focus on family and enjoying the foods and drinks that I like, while knowing I have intentionally planned proper fitness sessions along the way.

 

This mindset all ties back to my minimalist values of focusing on health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution. I’m making a concerted effort to make each of these things an intentional part of my life and not things that ebb and flow. It’s hard to do and takes focus and energy, but it’s been an amazing change for me.

 

There’s no better time than now. There isn’t. No excuses. It’s time to focus on what matters to you and make the most of what’s left of 2019.

 

So what about you? What ONE THING will you focus on to close out the year?

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The Simple Life

I began my journey into minimalism just under two years ago. In the beginning letting go of the clutter was easy.

 

I said goodbye to extra pots and pans that made my last two moves with me. I said goodbye to outdated clothes and those extra pairs of shoes lying around. Also said goodbye to extra towels, linens, utensils, tools, etc. Items just sitting in closets and drawers that collect over time. I use the term “said goodbye” because we are not our stuff. Our things don’t define us. We don’t have to hold on to things “just in case.”

 

New Rules

By using Josh and Ryan’s simple and helpful 90/90 Rule, it was no trouble at all letting go of things that didn’t provide value to me. The 90/90 Rule is simple: Have you used this things in the past 90 days? If not, will you use it in the next 90 days?

 

However, we often also hold on to things “just in case” we need them. We refuse to let go because we might need these things in some made up, non-existent future-state. We stash away things in the remote chance that we might need it “just in case.”

 

Tod Meisner

 

An additional easy way to help let go of these “just in case” items is the 20/20 Rule. As you define “just in case” items, ask yourself, “Can I replace this item for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes from my current location?”

 

If the answer is yes, then get rid of it. Although I’ve yet to replace any item I had previously saved “just in case,” I now know that I can replace them all for less than $20 and not have to travel more than 20 minutes to get them.

 

Following these rules I feel much less confined and burdened by the things I do own. I know the things I have in my home serve a purpose. I know that I have just what I need and I can get anything else I may need with minimal effort (see what I did there!).

 

What About Gifts

That said, there’s one set of items which was difficult for me to fully detach from. Items that prevented me from fully feeling like I had simplified my life. Items that did hold some perceived value. Those items were gifs.

 

It really wasn’t me who had a problem getting rid of them, but it was my feelings for the people who gave them to me. There are different memories in these items and I knew the people who gave them to me might get a bit upset.  I’m a people pleaser by nature and I didn’t want to offend anyone as I was progressing in my new lifestyle.

Tod Meisner

 

Then I had to remember that this is MY journey into minimalism and not anyone else’s. Most people won’t notice or won’t care. It’s not like I’d broadcast to them, “Hey, I got rid of that gift you got me!” Even if someone does get offended, that a “them” problem and not a “me” problem and that’s OK.

As I let go of negative relationships because of my focus on intentional living, some people got offended. As I stopped commenting and participating on Facebook so much, people got offended. When I’m more intentional with things that matter to me, some people get offended when it’s not what matters to them.

 

You can’t let these things bother you. There’s nothing you can do about it. The more you stand for something, the more respect you will command. People will truly respect you when you draw a line and say, “I’m doing this for me and not for anyone else.” As a natural pleaser, it’s hard for me to put aside what other people feel. It really is. But through this journey, I’ve come to realize that what other people think about your decisions don’t really matter.

 

Be Intentional

If you’re making intentional decisions to better your life, that’s what’s important. It is OK to get rid of the clutter and gifts in your life that aren’t adding value. Minimalism is all about letting go of what isn’t important so you can focus on what’s truly important in your life.

 

Tod Meisner

 

The people who truly care about you and love you won’t even notice what you’re giving up if they know it’s making you happy. The people who do care or get offended by your new actions? They probably won’t approve of what you do no matter what. So why try to please them?

 

When you can truly move past what other people think and begin to live a more intentional life, one where your short term decisions and actions align with your long tern values and beliefs, you will begin to find true happiness. Happiness that comes from relationships and experiences, not from material things.

 

So what about you?

What are you doing about all those things you hold on to “just in case?”

 

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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?

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