Creating New Habits

Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.

– Mark Twain

I have just finished reading Charles Duhigg’s book on The Power of Habits. It is a fascinating read which basically explains why habits exist and how they can be changed. Habits govern our lives and they are different for each person. We are a bundle of habits that drive our daily behaviour.  Our habits are actions that we take regularly often without thinking. We do something, it feels good or gets the results we want , so we do it again and then again and then again, repeating over and over.

New habits at a snails pace

Slow to create new habits?

Some of these habits we form are good,  others aren’t.  Are we habitually tidy or messy? Early or late? Rude or courteous? Happy or depressed? Our habit become us.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle

As we look at our goals we have to realise that that to change our destiny  – where we want to be in the future – we have to go right back and change our thoughts.  Essentially we become what we think about.

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny. — Chinese proverb, author unknown

I contend that the easiest way to change is to focus on changing our habits.  Habits are a bit like clothes. They are a product of our thoughts and words. We can change them.  We’ve learnt these behaviours, good or bad, because of the choices we made. The habits are not us, but a reflection of our choices in response to certain life experiences.  Beneath your habits exists you, your true self. Many people think they are their habits and just accept or believe that they can’t change things very much.  However, as our habits are really just the result of our choices, repeated time and again over time, you can remove or replace habits with other choices and thus develop new habits by repeating of these new choices.

Every habit has its own little loop that can be broken down into three components.

  • Cue – what is the situation that causes you to start the habit routine? What is it that you are craving? This sounds sensationalised but
  • Routine – what is it that you do?
  • Reward – what do you get out of performing the habit?

As habits are simply our choices that we have repeated so many times that our brains no longer thinks about the choice but on cue just follows the routine without fail to get the reward.  So to break the habit we need to start thinking about making the choice again. Duhigg gives a framework so we can work at changing our habits or develop a new habit.

  • Identify the routine
  • Experiment with rewards
  • Isolate the cue
  • Have a plan

Check out his detailed explanation here

The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg

Habits are at first cobwebs, then cables. – Spanish Proverb

For me, this discussion about habits is important.  How can I create good habits that last, rather than a set of intentional actions that I have to keep thinking about?  I don’t want to have to keep thinking about the action having to do things even when I know that they will be good for me in the long run.   Forcing myself to do things makes me resentful if I’m not careful. I don’t want to resent good habitual behaviours like “ exercise every day” or  “don’t buy junk food”.  The key is recognising the reward and anticipating the reward after doing the routine (habit). The action then becomes pleasurable.  I need to start thinking that I am the health conscious person with good self-control.  Anyone can develop these good habits – you simply need repetitive thoughts which become words, which become actions, which become habits.  If you believe it will become easier, it will. Your actions and habits will eventually become how you see yourself (your character) and will affect everything (your destiny).

We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.

– John Dryden

So choose your goals, choose the person you want to become.  Work out the daily actions you need to take to get your goals and become the person you want to be, make those actions habits.  We can replace unproductive habits with healthy positive ones, if we choose to do so. Habits aren’t us, they are a product of our choices.

Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones. – Benjamin Franklin

Why?

Why are you doing what you are doing?

There must be a reason.

No really, what are you doing?  Why are you doing it?

Is it a habit?

Is it the easiest thing to do? Is doing what you want too hard? Why is it too hard? It is not worth the trouble to do it?  Do you not know what to do?  Do you know how to do it? Is it not worth the effort?

If you keep doing it where will you end up?

Where are you heading?

Where are you heading?
Photo credit: Unsplash.com

Should you do more or less of it?  Are you doing things that don’t matter? Who do they matter to? Are you trying to please others? Meet other peoples needs? Do you need to spend more time on things that matter?

Have you tried and failed before? Should you do it a different way? Can you improve or change the way you doing it? Can you refine what you are doing?

Is it because you always do it this way?

Is it getting you what you want?

Are you where you want to be?

Is it bringing you closer to where you want to be?

What is it that you want to do?

Why aren’t you doing what you want?

There must be a reason.

 

If you are not doing what you want then it is not important enough. You have to work on something important to you every day. Because it is important to you!  If you are not then it is not important enough.  Thoughts and ideas are not enough to get you there. You have to take action. If it is important enough then you will take action no matter that you are tired, stressed, anxious, hungry, busy, procrastinating.

Are the people around you helping or hindering? What are you going to do?

There is always a reason. If you are where you want to be,  well done. Pat yourself on the back, dance a little dance.  Now you are there what are you going to do next?

 

Take little steps.

Move towards where you want to be one little step at a time.

Move towards your dream

Move towards your dream
Photo Credit: Unsplash.com Rylan Lum

What is your next step? Call, read, write, make, do.

One step at a time.

One foot in front of the other.

Slowly.

Surely.

Change your direction now.

See where it takes you.

And don’t forget to smile

Today is a new day! Time to discover your life’s purpose

A new day: It is the first day of the rest of your life. You can decide what you want to do, how you want to do it, who with and when. BUT are you happy with what your are doing? Does it fulfill your life’s purpose? What is your life’s purpose?

Today you can start anew, start moving in a different direction. Or you can continue doing what you have always done.

The big question is what are you going to do?

What direction are you going to go in? Over the next few weeks this is the question I am going to explore myself.  I want to live a life with purpose, happiness, laughter and joy.  I want to know that my life has had an impact, no matter now small.

How will I determine my passion? my life’s purpose? The little bit of something that just I can offer the world?

First I need to decide what I want.   I’m going to sit down with a cup of tea and some quiet contemplative music and mind map my deepest wishes. What would my life be like if I had no restrictions? If money wasn’t an issue; If my family responsibilities weren’t an issue. I will dream.  I will place no limits to my dreams, my possibilities. My prompts will be:

What do I want financially?

What do I want spiritually?

What do I want physically?

What do I want mentally/to learn?

What do I want with my relationships?

What would life be like if I was wealthy in all those areas?

 

My friends over at FinerMinds have just posted an interesting article that will add to my contemplation. Have a look at their post 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Finding (or Creating) You Life’s Purpose.

I also highly recommend the YouTube video by Vishen Lakhiani of MindValley. The 3 most important questions are enlightening!

Write your answers down. Vishen has a PDF on the MindValley page that you can complete. However I find using mind mapping helps me think outside the box and go with a thought. I often do it on the computer using the MindJet MindManager software, however a paper based version is more flexible and sometime more creative. (I’ll cover mind mapping in another post, promise) It doesn’t matter how you ponder just make sure your ponderings are written down.

Next post I’ll cover what’s next.

The end of the Suitcase Entrepreneur’s 30 Day Blog Challenge

I’m sure you’ve heard that old cliche of “be careful what you wish for as you just might get it”. I really do believe that we get what we focus on; our thoughts, our deeds, our energy and our desires, lead us in their direction. If you are constantly thinking of negative horrible things your whole life takes on that aspect. However if we think of beautiful positive thoughts and expect good things to happen that is what will happen. We will always see that silver lining in the grey storm cloud. We will welcome the rain because it waters the garden.

Yes bad things do occasionally happen to good people and not everything goes our way. Yet a person who is looking at the positive will realise that unfortunate incidents will soon pass, will pick themselves up after a fall and move on. They may even learn something from the incident. In 5 years time The positive person will have moved far and still be having a great time.

A negative person will not. The same unfortunate incident occurs to them and they will drown in misery and why me questions, blaming everybody and everything. They probably will be in the same place in 5 years time.

 “Nothing good is going to happen for you in

your life unless you make it happen.”

– Porter Stansberry

I’m talking about this as Natalie Sisson has asked what does my blueprint for living the dream look like to me? It is day 29 of the 30 day challenge.

30 day challenge

Over the course of the last 30 days I’ve learnt a lot about myself and the online business I hope to create. Some of my initial dreams are probably not what I really want, they’re just a fantasy and wont really fit into the future life I really want. However I know that my dream has to sustain me whilst I work work hard in my 9-5 Job, getting up early and coming home each night to put a few hours in to the on line business. Eventually I will be a free women. The hard work I put in will reward me, letting me lead the life I want.

I’m asking myself the following questions:

What do I really really want in life?

How do I want to live?

What am I willing to give up?

What will I NOT give up?

What’s non-negotiable? What do I mind forsaking in return for having more of something else?

To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.

– Muhammad Ali

They are hard questions with no right answer. Also things and feelings change with time. My life is constantly evolving and shifting as I strive for a better, more fulfilled life. The answers I give today may change a year from now. I need to constantly review not only my progress but whether the destination is where I want to be. I have to have clarity on my values so that my destination is actually a good fit with me. Clarity around my values allow me to make good decisions. I also want to be spontaneous and be open to new opportunities! Whilst a lot of people don’t like change, constant certainty is boring and mind numbing. I like surprises, I like challenges, I like little adventures. Sometimes life just happens. Sometimes it is good, sometimes there are difficulties. Sometimes the only way to move forwards is to keep believing and keep moving.

Dream Catcher

For me, there are three rocks which form my foundation: health, love and income.

Health includes physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health. Love means having a good relationship with my partner, family, friends and community. Income means that I have sufficient means to met my obligations as well as having an rich, comfortable, wise and abundant lifestyle. Money is an important aspect but there are more ways to skin a cat! The triumvirate are interconnected and inter-related. I cannot be deficient in one with out affecting the other two.

I need to be clear with my vision. A vision and dreams have to make my soul sing. Only I can create this clarity. I am in charge. I am the person who knows me the best. I may start with a vision that is blurred and mono chrome. I will paint my future creating a magnificient fresco of many hues, shades textures and dimensions. That masterpiece will give me a clarity to focus on what I want to achieve in my life. It will be my touchstone. It will motivate me to take action to make my dream an everyday reality. To take those little baby steps. To create a live worth living!

 What we fear doing most is usually

what we most need to do.

 – Tim Ferriss

Visualisation of a perfect day

I would be living life on my own terms doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. I will be a free women. I will have beaten the game. Won the rat race. Moved out of the cubicle. I know that I would have “work” to maintain an income, though my work would be something that interested me and would not mind doing it. It would also not consume my time to the exclusion of my enjoyment of life. I will be working for myself. I will be in control of my financial future. A weight would lift of my shoulders. I am cultivating an attitude of abundance and manifesting my future life.

My ideal day would be that I wake up in my soft cozy bed and look out the window to the vista of trees, sea and sandy beach.  A lovely cuddle with my partner before I get out of bed, then I would meditate, do my affirmations and visualizations as well as exercise, read and journal before taking a walk along the beach. If its warm enough I might swim. A beautiful light breakfast would be taken on the verandah over looking the garden where the chooks, and goats are moseying about and I notice that some of the vegetables and fruit are ready for harvest. My garden is so bountiful I often have enough produce to share with my neighbours and community. My partner and I talk about the plans for the day and what each of us want to do.

I work in my light filled airy study most of the morning, concentrating on my projects and online businesses. Occasionally I look out at the scenery of the ocean, trees and garden. Lunchtime I need to decide whether to have it at home (using produce from the garden) or at a local cafe where I could meet with a friend or business associate to discuss progress on a particular project.

Depending on the day, the afternoon might be spent in the garden, assisting with a community organisation, planning my next trip overseas,  or doing one of my creative projects. Late afternoon I may go to one of my professional meeting to keep my professional qualifications up to date. I love learning new things and hearing now other people are tackling issues.

I have another walk along the beach and perhaps a swim in the sea before preparing dinner and sitting on the verandah to eat with my partner. Occasionally he may even have dinner cooked for me.  I might watch sunset and all the activity going on outside, with a drink in hand before eating.

No, tonight I suddenly decide, we will see that show I have heard so much about. So we’ll have dinner and drinks at a restaurant near the theatre. The show is great

When I get home I read in bed for a few minutes before turning the lights out and watching the now dark vista whilst I drift off to sleep in my partner’s arms. I dream about my planned trip to visit my family living overseas which is only a short time away and all the things I will do. My dream reminds me that I need to check that the house sitter is still ok.

 shells on beach tumblr_ms9mth4ktW1st5lhmo1_1280

Do or do not. There is no try.

– YODA

Final words

Before I finish I also want to share my learnings from undertaking this challenge. I undertook the challenge to help me create a habit of blogging on a more consistent basis and to help with accountable. It certainly has been a challenge. It wasn’t easy blogging on such a regular basis. I’ve learnt so much. And I’ve found it enjoyable. It’s helped me clarify what I would need to do to get a successful blog – I’m still getting there. I know I will get there as I am moving towards my dream life one little baby step at a time.

Thank you Natalie for giving me the prompts to think about not just for my on-line business but also for myself. I’ve had to think about what my dream really means to me. I keep saying I want to travel and I want my freedom without really thinking about the realities and the consequences.

So what are my learnings from the 30 day blog challenge?

1. Write – to maintain a blog you have to write. Write even when you don’t want to. Write content that is interesting engaging and just plain good. When you realise that it is hard, it suddenly becomes easier. My writing needs to improve but the more I write the better I get (at least I’m hoping so) My goal is improve every time I write. Sometimes I can sit and not have any ideas for ages. I’ve learnt that on those occasions I just need to start, the thoughts just seem to flow out on to the screen. If it is really bad I open MindManager and start using that. It helps be be creative and connect all sorts of apparently dis jointed ideas into a coherent whole.

2. Read and learn. The more I read the more ideas I get. Continuous learning is important. It keeps my mind active and engaged. I read far and wide, getting tidbits of information from all sorts of places. The more knowledge I have, the more I feel able to tackle any challenge I encounter. Reading also makes me a better writer, seeing how other bloggers write, the language they use, the words, the structure, the grammar, the style helps me learn to better craft my own prose. Reading also makes me more creative. I get transported to other realms by great writers, exercising my mind to visualise the scenes. Mind exercises are good giving me more resilience, strength and creative abilities.

3. Generosity. As the saying goes; What you sow, you shall reap. You need to take interest in people (in a genuine way) before they take interest in or you or will help you. Having said that I have found that people will help if you ask. I also have found that helping others is a way to also help me learn and consolidate what I have learnt.

The pier

Where do I go from here?

I have to seriously plan the direction of my blog and what I will do to make it earn money for me.

I need to check on my foundation triumvirate on a regular basis to make sure I have a balance.

Enjoy my journey.

Make my dreams come true!

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on Earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.

– Thomas Jefferson

 

PHOTO CREDIT – all photos from Unsplash    ooomf.com

Days 25 to 28 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge

I’m on the home run the last few days of the Suitcase Entrepreneur’s 30 Day Blog Challenge. I’m merging a few days together in this post.

30 day challenge

Day 25 – What do I need to master to truly enjoy being location independent?

Natalie suggests  four key areas to master:

Productivity – For me this comes down to being planned. For my online business to function while I travel I have to plan in advance, so that I have posts already written and scheduled and everything going on automatic. If the travel is for pro-long periods I have to plan where and when I will have access to reliable internet. It may also mean I have to find some assistance and not do everything myself.  At present this seems a long way off, however as I start my online business journey it is something I have to keep firmly in mind so I don’t end up with a business that doesn’t allow me the freedom that I want.

Staying healthy –Travelling for me means a break from my normal exercise and eating regimes, however that doesn’t mean that it is unhealthy. I usually end up doing a lot of incidental exercise when I travel. I walk a lot. I also have a lot of Craig Ballantynes exercise videos on my laptop. These are easy to do even in a small space such as a hotel room. Yoga and mediation can be done lots of different places and cost nothing.  I shop in markets and eat fresh food. I am not adverse to street foods but I really look at food hygiene practices of the vendors before I buy anything.  Yes occasionally I indulge but it is only occasionally and I make sure I do plenty of extra exercise the next day.

Relationships and keeping in touch with your networks – My family and friends are spread all over the global. I make sure I have all their contact details listed in my contacts in outlook. Being an engineer I think being able to categorise and sort data is a strength.  (sorry that doesn’t look good when it’s written down, my friends and family are more than data!)   Keeping in touch while on the road is more difficult but there is always FaceBook status updates!

Keep in touch with clients – Again it takes planning and allowing for contingencies. It’s all about communication and engaging with my community or  my tribe. I need to let people know if I am about to travel and let them know when I will return. If they

DSCF1820

Day 26 – Could you live a minimalist lifestyle? Why or why not? OR What does minimalism mean to you in the context of your ideal lifestyle?

I could live a minimalist lifestyle. BUT would I want to? No I’m not a minimalist. I’m more like a bower bird, collecting bits and pieces here and there. Memories encased in small treasures that I can show visitors. See this strange shaped stone with all the different colours, I picked it up from the Doubs River on French/Swiss board. Although I have an extensive electronic library on my Kindle,  I still have heaps of book lining the walls. How can I get rid of the edition of the Hobbit I had when I was 10 and read with a torch under my bed covers so I won’t get in trouble from Mum. I know it is falling apart and I’ve written things in it but it’s priceless to me.

But maybe that is part of the process for me, part of my journey. Maybe I need to learn to let go. Recognising that things can’t replace people. That people and relationships are the important things. Maybe I need to reduce the clutter, clean out the detritus and flotsam of my life.

When I travel it’s different – I can travel with little clutter. Though even the little I take with me is often not all used. I’m constantly on the look out for the perfect travel clothes, that don’t wrinkle and can used in multiple ways. And gadgets that do multiple things or are smaller and more lightweight than the previous gadget. Less to drag around with me.

I don’t ever envisage me being constantly on the road.  As I said in a previous post I love coming home to my nest, my home with the clutter of precious objects to add more small treasures from around the world.

Indulging in the UK

Day 27 – What is your best travel hacking story

Do I travel hack? Do I enjoy getting a discount? Do I travel like I’m on a French champagne budget when I have a beer budget. Why YES!

I collect frequent flyer points.  I search out free wifi. I eat where the local eat (more interesting than tourist fare by far)

I am a great believer in serendipity  and the abundance of the universe– I always find a car park that is absolutely right for just me!  I always ask, if you don’t ask you might miss out and you won’t know. Sometimes the answer is  no – that’s ok it means whatever it was just not meant to happen for me on that day. If a person or company gives me a great experience or have bought a great product, I let people know.

Sometimes just the smile in return is worth it. I don’t always need to get a discount.

Having a great experience is what it is all about.

I have a fortunate life. I can afford to travel, sometimes I travel in great style. Other times I travel on a budget.

For me it is always about the experience. I have found that connecting with people, being inquisitive and friendly I get that little bit extra out of the journey.

I remember a trip to Morocco. We stopped at a little shop to look at some Berber jewelry. We got talking to the shop keeper about the history of the jewelry over mint tea. Jewelry bought the shop keeper invited us to dinner and to stay the night at his cousin’s home.  We did and had a wonderful time, eating the local foods and learning all sorts about each others cultures.

Mint tea in a Kasbah

Day 28 – What travel tools and services are most important to you when taking your business aboard?

Natalie has some great suggestions on tools and services. She suggests using Flightfox for ticket deals; World Nomads Travel Insurance for inexpensive, off-the-beaten track coverage; and Visa HQ for visa details.  As for power adaptors, her suggestion on using the SKRoss World Adapter Pro + USB  looks brilliant. I’ve added it to my wish list.

I always take several memory cards for my camera and I carry an external hard drive (Seagate)  for my computer so all things digital are handled. I also drop box really important documents.

My iPhone is another important tools I would be lost without – reminders, world clock, maps, lots of different apps (including a free wifi finder which is invaluable) and more.  Having found the free WIFI I can then use skype to phone people or whats app to text.

As an avid reader do I need to mention my kindle?

I also have some waterproof “dry” bags to save all my stuff from my toiletries (there is nothing like the joy of opening your bag and finding shampoo all the way through)

As to help with my online business – autoresponders will be a must when it’s up and going. I am sure there is more

Fast Diet Progress 29th October 2013

Update on how much progress I’ve made with the Fast Diet. What a busy and stressful week I’ve had!  I was so stressed that I didn’t fast  on Thursday and I ate more and drank more alcohol than I would usually. As a result my weight is exactly the same as last week. So no progress.

The Fast Diet Book

 

Or is it? I haven’t gained weight so even though I was stressed and ate food that I won’t normally  it could be rated as a positive rather than a negative. This week I’m back on track and fasting today, Tuesday.

I tried delaying breakfast last week  and while it worked to some extent I found myself hungry all morning and just couldn’t focus. Today I had breakfast. I’m not so focussed on breakfast and feel a better for it.

Hopefully the week ahead will settle down a bit or at least be more to plan.

 Recipes

What can you have for breakfast?

So far I’ve been avoiding breads, pasta, potatoes and anything too starchy on fast days.

Here are some breakfast suggestions:

Tomato Omelette

Ingredients: cherry tomatoes halved, some red onion diced, basil leaves, 2 eggs, small dash of olive oil

Calories – approx 150

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil up in a small non stick fry pan and add the diced onion. Cook until almost soft then add the cherry tomatoes. Once the tomatoes have softened add the basil stir for a minute or so then transfer to a bowl.
  2. Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Heat the frypan back up and add the eggs making sure they are evenly distributed across the pan. Cook until the egg is almost at the consistency you like. Spoon the tomato mixture over the top and cook for another minute or so.
  3. Slide the omlete out of the pan on to a serving plate. Season with pepper and salt. Viola breakfast!

 

Baked Beans, tomato and egg

Ingredients: Roma tomato, egg and approx 200grams of baked beans.

Calories – approx 170

Directions;

Heat up the baked beans.

Heat up a small non stick fry pan. If you wish you could add a dash of olive oil. Slice the tomato in two and place in fry pan. Cook until almost soft. Fry the egg in the pan along side the tomato. (if it get too dry add a little water)

Slip the egg and tomato on to a serving plate.  Spoon the heated baked beans nest to them. Though I love put the beans on top of my egg , so that the runny yolk mixes in with the baked beans. YUM.

Season with salt and pepper.

 

Fruit with cottage Cheese

Ingredients;  100grams of cottage cheese, sliced pear, sliced fresh fig

Calories – approx 150 depending on fruit

You can change the fruit to suit your tastes and the season.  You could have greek yoghurt instead of the cottage cheese

yoghurt

Porridge

Ingredients; 40grams of oats mixed with water, 150grams blueberries or strawberries

Calories – approx 200 depending on fruit

 

Egg and grapefruit

1 boiled eggBoiled egg

Half a grapefruit

Calories – approx 125

 

Strawberry smoothie

Ingredients; 1 small banana, 50 grams strawberries, 150 grams fat free yoghurt, ice cubes

Calories – approx 170

Blend the ingredients together until think and creamy. The consistentcy can be adjust by adding more ice or adding water.

 

Bacon breakfast

Ingredients; 2 lean rashers of bacon, 1 small Portobello mushroom, generous serve of spinach

Calories; approx 120

Directions;

Grill the bacon rashers and mushroom until the edges of the bacon are just starting to crisp. Place on serving plate.

Meanwhile place the spinach in a covered microwave dish with a little water. Microwave for 3 minutes. Drain and place on the serving plate

 

Have you got any suggestions?

 

PHOTO CREDITS

boiled egg – Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

yogurt – Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Travel Essentials

Being a suitcase entrepreneur mean you are traveling on a regular basis. In today’s post, day 24 of the Natalie Sission  Suitcase Entrepreneur’s 30 Day blog challenge, I have a look at travel essentials that I take no matter whether the travel is business or pleasure.

doingblogchallenge125x125

My bucket list is as long as my arm and growing every day. Every time I see some where interesting I seem to be saying I will have to go there. One of the reasons for this challenge is that I want to be able to travel more. I want to grow an online business that will give me the flexibility to pack up my bags and jet off to a far flung corner of the world to see those interesting places that I’ve got on my long list. My list includes immersion into new and different cultures, learning about how different cultures built their societies, the food and drink they consume, learning new languages, marveling at their architecture and being amazed by mother nature whilst learning and experiencing now different people live.

Some of the times I travel I will stay in luxurious hotels,  other times it will be the local backpacker and sampling the market stalls for local delicacies.

TRAVEL ADVICE

Before I travel anywhere overseas,  I always check the Australian Government  website smarttraveller for all the latest security warnings, local laws, entry and exit requirements and health issues for each destination I’m planning to go to.  Other than jaunts to New Zealand, I register my travel plans with them so I can be contacted in an emergency.  It sounds over the top, however having had a friend in Japan when the Tsunami occurred made me realise how wonderful this is.

Jet plane to paradise

These are the things I take on the plane with me and it rarely varies no matter the destination:

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS

Passport ( check the validity – its best to have at least 6 months validity from the planned date of return) and photocopies of the photo pages.  I have dual nationality, so I often take both my passports but in different places on my person/in my bags. I leave a copy at home with a friend or family member and  also place a copy in my dropbox and evernote

Visas and entry permits – before you go,  it’s essential you check the visa requirements for each international destination, especially if you are going to work whilst there. Visa requirements are often different for holidays and work.  Sometimes the visas and permits are sorted out at the airport on arrival however be careful as you may need  to pay for your visa in cash of the country. If you know this you can come prepared with the correct amounts in the correct currencies.

Travel Insurance Details. I always travel internationally with travel insurance.  My theory is if you can’t afford travel insurance, you cant afford to travel. Living in a country where basic health care is “free” it’s easy to forget (or not even realise) that an accident or illness overseas can cost tens of thousands.  My credit card has a comprehensive travel insurance as part of its benefits if you charge everything on it and the cost of flights and accommodation exceed a certain amount.  I always check the exclusions and the activities covered. I had thought about hot air ballooning on one trip overseas and found that wasn’t covered!  Like my passport I have multiple copies, both on line, paper and copies with friends.

Driver’s Licence. If I plan to hire a car or scooter I always check whether my driver’s licence will be ok or whether I should get an international driving permit.

Itinerary and tickets – again multiple copies; paper, online and a copy at home with family or friends. My partner and I like to travel with a degree of freedom.  I like things planned whilst he’s far more free spirited. Our compromise is that when we land in a new country our first night is always booked somewhere in advance (whether it is a hotel or somewhere off airbnb) and we have a rough itinerary of where we will go. (You will also find that some countries need an in country address for immigration purposes.) We often go off the beaten track and I like to let my family know when we anticipate that we will check in electronically (even if it is just a text).   I always check where the hotel is, how far from the airport it is, how I will get there and how much a taxi, bus or train will be.  I often have downloaded a map or have a guide book in my carry on luggage so I can orientate myself.

Spending Money and access to money – I know that money isn’t really a document but it seems to fit in this category best. I carry multiple sources and split over my body, and in separate bags. You can now get prepaid debit cards all ready “loaded” with the currency of you choice which you can slip into the ATMs at your destination without having to pay the sometimes exorbitant fees that bank might charge you for using your usual credit card.  I always carry some cash in the local denomination  when I arrive and I try to have lower value notes rather than a couple of big value notes. It save arguments with taxi  drivers!  I also carry a small purse with money for the day in a conspicuous place and have any larger sums of money tucked in pouches around my body under my clothes. That way if my bag is snatched it’s not the end of the world.

Discount Cards. Are you a student, under 26, a teacher or a senior citizen? Remember to take your identification with you, some countries offer special discounts for different types of people. It never hurts to ask whether there is a discount available? Also don’t forget global organisations that you might belong to such as the Youth Hostel Association.

World tour

TRAVEL HEALTH

Vaccinations. Standards of hygiene and medical care are very different in some countries.  I visit the doctor well in advance of any planned trip just in case I need a vaccination that requires more than one dose or a period of time to have maximum efficacy. You also may need proof of vaccinations on entry and exit of certain countries. Australia, for example requires proof that you have had a yellow fever vaccination before they will let you re-enter, if you have visited a country where it occurs.

Medications.  Check you have sufficient quantities of all the medications you will require on your trip. It is best to carry a letter from your doctor stating that it is your medication, the amounts and quantities you take and leave them in the original packaging.  You may also need to check the the medications are legal in the country you are visiting.

Mosquito repellent and sunscreen.  Don’t forget to check out if you are in a malaria zone too!

Glasses and Sunglasses. If you wear contact lenses don’t forget your cleaning and storage solutions. If you are carrying them on to the plane be sure to check the size of the bottles.

Small first aid kit.

Wet wipes. How versatile these things are, I wonder how I coped with out them. Great to wipe your hands or utensils clean before you eat, wipe your face when you’re sweaty,  clean up small scratches, wipe dust off yourself, freshen up if there is no shower and last but definitely not least can be used as toilet roll if you are in a tight spot.

I always carry pawpaw ointment – it’s great for little grazes and cuts and as a lip balm.

Diarrhoea medication – After eating  fish in Fez  (DON’T) and purging the entire contents of my body very quickly this is a must have. A local who took pity on me gave me some crushed cumin. A teaspoon washed down with some water three times a day soon stopped the eruptions from both ends.  So now we take some in our first aid kit where ever we go.

Travel sickness prevention – I get seasick which can ruin a great boat cruise or longer ferry trip.

EQUIPMENT

Iphone –  Remember to turnoff all your notifications and really consider all the things that use data on your phone before you use it. Those phone bills can be a whopper if you’re not careful.  Or perhaps consider getting a global SIM card for your travels. Natalie Sisson has got a great blog post on phone options here.

Camera ( and if going to somewhere with reefs or we will do snorkeling the underwater/waterproof camera). Charged with heaps of extra memory (SD Cards)and a spare battery so I can capture all the special moments of travel.  I also take a special USB stick that I can put the SD card in and download to the computer. Special occasions I will immediately (well as soon as possible) upload the photos to dropbox.

Chargers for the iphone, kindle, camera and all things electronic (though sometimes I do admit that apart from the laptop and iphone charger the other chargers go into the checked luggage). Don’t forget to take the correct adaptor with you.

Laptop or Ipad.  I have only just got an IPad  so I’m looking forward to not lugging around a laptop on my next overseas trip.

Headphones.   If you find it hard to sleep with noise (think trains or buses) you might want ear plugs as well.

Book or kindle. I love my kindle as I can store so many different books on it, and be part way through several of them! If I change my mind about what I want to read mid flight It just means picking a new title out of the library I’ve preloaded.

Notepad,  pen, pencil and watercolours. Yes I do a bit of drawing so I have a little pack of watercolours and a pencil case I take along with me on most trips.  I use the notepad to also journal my trip, put down random thoughts that occur as I travel.

Torch – I have a small torch which is powered by shaking. It is invaluable. My partner loves his small head torch – though it uses batteries.

OTHER

Scarf. I always carry a big silk scarf or cashmere wool pashmina with me when I travel. They are so useful  – you can wrap it around you when you are cold, fold it up for a pillow, use it as a head covering when visiting religious places, sit or lay on it. In a big emergency it becomes part of my first aid kit and can aid tying splints or as a sling.

Snacks – a variety of nibbles to eat on the plane. I also take my empty water bottle and fill it up just before I get on the plane. I’ve found I can do this most places.

Presents. I carry little presents as give aways. Often this is some pencils with Australia written on them or some little kangaroos or koalas.  These are great if you are staying with families as the kids love them.

Suitcase

 

Photo credits;

Airplane over sea – Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

World Tour Bags –  Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Suitcases –  Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Location Independent – Where in the world would I like to live?

I’m on Day 22 and 23 of the Suitcase Entrepreneur’s 30 Day blog challenge. Natalie Sisson is challenging us to think about what it would really be like to become free and live and work anywhere in the world. Could I be truely Location Independent?

For Day 22 Natalie asks: If you choose to live anywhere in the world, where would that be and why? For Day 23, the question is: what’s your level of location independence? In her book The Suitcase Entrepreneur,  Natalie has a list of qualities that she believe all suitcase entrepreneurs should have. Four important ones are:

  1. Having a vision of how you want your life to be, so that when times get tough you can turn to that vision.
  2. Being able to spend time alone and enjoy your own company.
  3. An open mind and sense of compassion for others.
  4. An independent nature and strength of character to deal with daily challenges.

I love travelling and exploring new places and new cultures, getting off the beaten tourist track and really immersing myself.  I have a long list of places I want to visit.

the beach

One day working from a tropical beach

I can make friends easily and enjoy being social and also time by myself.  I’m fairly self-sufficient and quite resourceful.  I’m usually an organised planned person. My partner has shown me the delight of travelling with few plans, few reservations even in places you can’t speak the language. I’ve learnt to be open to whatever happens, to go with the flow, and to appreciate people.  Travel really does broaden the mind.

mid winter london

the next mid winter in London

 

While  I want to create a life where I can travel more, where I have more time to indulge in my hobbies and passions, to live a gentler, less stressful but more fulfilling life, travelling as in constantly on the move is, for me,  a stressful thing.

When I travel for lengthy period I’ve always become tired. I get overwhelmed and don’t enjoy the experience.  Constant change, different cultural norms, not knowing where you may sleep or eat that night while initially and exciting adventure can eventually become a nightmare.  I need somewhere I can come home too, to relax and rejuvenate, to be surrounded by the familiar; A place of safety and security, where I can be me. A place where I “know” where things are and how things work.  A place where I’m  able to go into my favourite café and be known by name.  I’m Sam Gamgee at the end of Lord of the Rings. “Well, I’m back” as he settles into his favourite comfy chair, cuddling his loved ones.

Could I live in a location for an extended period of time? Maybe.

How would that reconcile with being embedded in the place I am now? At present I live in South East Queensland., Australia. It’s a long haul to anywhere outside Australia (or sometimes even in Australia) I am so wrapped up in what I’m doing day to day, the need to pay the mortgage and bills, having a job,  getting the kids to school,  being close to family, cooking, cleaning, washing, exercising, socialising the list goes on and on. I’ve never really asked myself; could it be different? Would I like it? I’ve always done it this way because that is how I’m socialised to be.

I’m working hard on not being completely dependent on a 9-5 job. I want to be have the flexibility to just take off somewhere, knowing that I will still have income. That I can still have an income that will support me in the lifestyle I want. That the income keeps coming in no matter my location. This is behind the idea of setting up a blog with digital products. I can then operate anywhere in the world with some degree of flexibility.

How will I really behave when I don’t rely on income from a 9-5 type job? Will I still be trapped in:  I have to here to make sure the kids go through Uni, I have to be here because of my aging parents, I have to be here because…..?

I’m not sure and it’s something to ponder on.

If you want some more information on the challenge, check out the Suitcase Entrepreneur here

doingblogchallenge125x125

The Right Tools for the Job – Blog Tools Wish list

The best part about having a virtual business is that the only tools you need are a computer, an internet connection, and your own creativity, right? Not so. Being an online entrepreneur means you can get away with a number of things that your typical bricks and mortar start-up can’t. However, As Natalie Sisson says, you do need some tools to maintain and streamline your online business thus reaching your full potential.

The 30 day blog challenge question for today (Day 20) is:

State your top three tools that you will use (or already use) to save time and money and make your online world more seamless.

Although I’m new to blogging I already use a few tools. Though I have to say it may not be to there full potential and often it is the free version.  The critical thing is to have the right blog tools that will assist me run my blog successfully.

Which Blog Tools do I have?

1. Domain and hosting – I’m using hostgator to host my website. I find it reliable and Host Gatorthe customer support is fantastic. They have a number of different plans to chose from and can upgrade at any time, so no problems if you grow faster than expected.

 

2. Payments –Most people, if they have bought or sold anything on line, know of Paypal. It is the easiest way to start selling your goods and services online and gives you peace of mind. At present  I have a free account which is linked to my bank account. Once I have some products I’ll be upgrading to a pro –account and making the whole process seamless.Paypal3. Social mediaHootsuite allows me to manage my online presence for Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Not only have I set up a dashboard for my personal profiles but also for my website profile and pages too. The free account limits the number of profiles but as soon as I start getting some money in from the blog I will be upgrading to the pro-account. Once I have sorted out my editorial calendar/schedule I will be using Hootsuite to schedule tweets and posts.

4 Note taking and collation Evernote. What a brilliant note taking tool ! your notes are synced to the cloud allowing you to access them from any device (and you can save notes from all your devices too) You can divide your notes into different folders and tag them with all sorts of tags. I immediately clip anything I think will be useful . At a later date I can search Evernote and find the clip or article easily. What more can I say – It’s a god send.

Evernote5. File sharingDropbox allows me to share and edit files: documents, audio, videos and photos with others and to my devices.

Dropbox

As an aside the two later tools are also part of my arsenal of protecting my data as they use the cloud for storage. This means if for some reason one of my devices fails (PLEASE NO – the thing nightmares are made of) I have my most important stuff not only backed up on a separate hard drive but also to the cloud.

Blog Tools I Want

These are the blog tools on my wish list.

1. Mailing List and newsletter manager  – Aweber  has had wonderful reviews and has good templates for opt-in forms and auto responses as well as segmenting  email lists.  It is also meant to work well with wordpress.

2. LeadpagesLeadpages claim to be the easiest way to create beautiful landing pages, launch pages, sales pages and squeeze pages for your website that actually convert. The video on the home page certainly makes it sound so easy! All the people I admire online seem to use them.  The seamless integration with WordPress Facebook and Aweber is a bonus.

3. Scrivener – A dream tool, scrivener is a content –generation tool for writers. As Literatureandlatte.com explain it is a word processor and project management tool that stays with you from that first, unformed idea all the way through to the final draft. Outline and structure your ideas, take notes, view research alongside your writing and compose the constituent pieces of your text in isolation or in context. Scrivener won’t tell you how to write—it just makes all the tools you have scattered around your desk available in one application.  

Scrivener

 

What tools do you use and what would be on your wish list?

Today’s post is Day 20 of the Suitcase Entrepreneur 30 Day Blogging Challenge. 

30 day blog challenge

Fast Diet Progress

I’ve reduced my weight by 900 grams which is pretty dam hot!!!

If you remember  each week I fast two days, usually Tuesday and Thursday. Each fast day I eat a maximum of 500 calories, spread over two meals. However on the Fast Diet you can eat whenever you want on non fast days.

Success Last Week

I tried delaying my breakfast for as long as possible. It was so much easier than I thought. By having herbal teas in the morning I found that I delayed eating until lunch time. By that time on both Tuesday and Thursday I found only a light salad was all I wanted.

Typical salad lunch:

Baby Spinach, water cress or torn up Romaine lettuce leaves

Tomato sliced

Shallots/Spring Onion sliced

Cucumber sliced

Radish sliced or quartered

Sprouts.

Bell pepper/capsicum sliced

To that I might add avocado, boiled egg, sliced chicken breast or a can of tuna. A drizzle of olive oil or balsamic vinegar gives it a bit of Oomph

 

This week on my Fast Diet.

I am going to fast on Tuesday and Friday this week as I have to travel on Thursday and have some important business meetings. Whilst I think I would cope fasting I don’t want the added stress, having to explain to my business associates that I’m fasting so no I can’t indulge in the morning tea cakes and biscuits or the lunch that they are providing.

Again I’m going to delay breakfast for as long as possible and perhaps even skip it all together.

Thoughts for breakfast/brunch

Fruit with coconut milk – Mixing  a cup of mixed berries with ¼ cup of coconut milk will give you a satisfying light breakfast just less than 200 calories. The fat in the coconut milk will make you feel full and helps the absorption of the fat soluble nutrients in the fruit. You could use melon or mango chunks instead of the berries for a different taste.

Scrambled eggs – two eggs with your choice of fresh vegetables is a great low carb hunger beater.  I often use diced tomatoes and different coloured bell pepper/capsicum to jazz up the scrambled eggs. Top with a dash of salt and cracked black pepper. Yum

Guacamole with vegie sticks – Mix mashed avocado with a little lime juice, diced tomato and a pinch of salt (sometime I add a tiny little chilli as well) for the guacamole. Cut up a variety of veggie sticks – carrot, celery, cucumber, bell pepper/capsicum, asparagus (lightly steamed)  – to dip into the guacamole.  Not a fan of guacamole, how about hummus? Or even a tablespoon of cashew or almond spread.

Cauliflower popcorn – an entire head of cauliflower is only about 145 calories or you can munch away for a long time on the cauli. Break up the cauliflower into florets and put on a baking tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with herbs and spices such as garlic, rosemary. Roast  lightly.

Prosciutto wrapped asparagus. – wrap a slice of prosciutto around about four asparagus stalks and roast until the prosciutto edges start to crisp.

 

I’m basing my Fast diet on the book The Fast Diet by Michael Mosley and Mimi SpencerThe Fast Diet Book