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Posts Tagged Goals

A Simple Guide To What Makes You Happy

What is most important in life?  What is the path to happiness?  When you live The Tiny Life, these are very important questions to answer because you are removing the excess to the bare essentials.  For me this really comes down to makes me happy and doing more of it, plus figuring out what I don’t like doing and doing less of that.  Happiness is something you work towards, it’s an active process.   The hardest part for me and many is figuring out what really makes you happy.

What Makes You Happy

To understand what it will take to thrive, to be truly happy and find direction in your own life, you need to examine your current life to find out what things really turn us on.  We need to identify the things that bring joy to our lives.

Here is a quick printable worksheet for you

Using the worksheet above, print it out and take it with you during a normal day of life.  Every 30 minutes or so think about what you’re doing, think about everything you’ve done, every little thing.  Reflect on what you’ve done and mark down if you enjoyed it or not.Write-everything-down

If you’re at work, don’t just think about whether you like your job or not, but think about every little task;  you may not love your job, but you may like talking with clients, building the perfect spreadsheet, or working with others to find a solution.  Conversely, you may hate filling out reports, providing customer support, or stocking shelves.

In your personal life think about the things that make you feel energized or fall flat for you.  Do you love spending time with you friends or family at the park, cooking a nice meal, or reading a good book?  Do you hate running errands, cleaning the house, or having a weekly dinner with that gossipy friend from long ago?

In each of these good and bad things, don’t just write down the good and the bad, but think about WHY they fall into the category.  Think critically about if it’s the actual activity or a factor around it that’s coloring the emotion.  In some cases it’s the situation or conditions that make something less or more pleasant.  It is in that why that we will find common threads which lead us to happiness.

HappinessA perfect example is I’ve had crappy jobs that were fun because I had awesome coworkers; I’ve also had great jobs that were terrible because the people I worked with.   Now our natural instinct would be to say one job was great, the other was terrible, but really after some reflection we can determine that what really makes us happy is having great coworkers.  We could take that even further to say, we thrive off of having positive people around us in all aspects of life.

Go through a few days, just jotting down your likes and dislikes, keeping notes and taking time to reflect on each of the things your write down.  Once you’ve done that, look for those common threads, look for trends, look for deeper truths.

In the next step don’t let yourself consider your answers, just put your pen to the paper and write, do a rapid stream of consciousness.  If you consider the answers, you might edit your true feelings.  Answer these questions truthfully on your printed worksheet:

  1. I look forward to ____ the most
  2. Before I die, I want to _____
  3. The things that I value most are _____
  4. Doing _______ makes me feel most alive

With these written down, think about what they mean to you.  Think about why they made their way on to the paper.  It can be a good time to just sit back and consider them.  Think about ways you can do more of what makes you happy and what ways can you minimize what makes you unhappy.

live intentionallyTo continue with the job example I realized one day that if I could find a job with people I like working with and a position that was constantly presenting challenges that require creative solutions, I was very happy.  Conversely I found if I didn’t connect well with my coworkers and my position was very repetitive, I couldn’t stand it.

That was when I started developing questions to ask in an interview to help me determine if that job met those two criteria.  If they did, I’d continue interviewing, if they didn’t, I’d politely bow out.

In the end the most happy people will have most accurately identified what is most true for themselves and acted upon it.  It’s not that we will ever be able to eliminate all things that we don’t like doing, but that our lives are so rich with what we love, that those unpleasant task are just a small part of what is a great life.

Your Turn!

  • What questions help you find what makes you happy?
  • Was there something that surprised you in doing this?

The Tiny Life’s Goals – 2016

It’s officially 2016 and with that, many folks are looking forward to this new year and planning what they want to do. I’ve written a lot about this topic before. I’ve shared my goals in years past and even written how goals and New Year’s Resolutions aren’t effective. You can read some of the older posts here on goals. This year it isn’t just me here at The Tiny Life, so Amy and I each wrote a bit for this post and shared it below.


ryan1I have to be honest, this year I have been struggling a lot with what the future looks like for me. I have concrete things I want to do, but they don’t feel like lofty goals that I must strive for, but just something that I need to put in the work for; work that I find interesting, fun, and achievable, but nothing that is going to push me to my limits. I’m in a very good place with my tiny house, with my career, with the relationships that I have, and with other important parts of my life, but there is something I just can’t quite put my finger on.

Tiny houses force you to ask some tough questions and the answers are often complex, open-ended, or spur larger questions. Tiny living leads you down a road of introspection and spurs existential questions. When I think about two years from now or five years from now, I don’t really know what else I want to do and what I do now, I quite like.

Perhaps I’m circling the root problem with what many call “achievement culture,” which is the idea that we have to always be chasing the next shiny thing, to always do more, do better, and do bigger. Maybe what I need to consider is not what I want to do, but instead focus on how to be content with what is. Writing this makes me think of this story:


The truth is, the happiest I’ve ever been in my life was during the times when I was most grateful. I also learned a valuable lesson: happiness is a hard won thing that comes from within when you’re willing to do the work. Barring having a home, food, and health, you can’t buy happiness.

So with that in mind I have come up with a few things I want to foster in my life for 2016. They’re a little vague at this point because I feel like I’m only touching the soft edges of what is a deeper truth, one that is within me, but I haven’t fully brought to light.

My Goals for 2016:

  1. Learn something totally new, try a new hobby or dig into something complex
  2. Take a class, go to a conference, workshop or other learning event
  3. Seek out situations outside my comfort zone
  4. Talk more to you, my readers
  5. Teach/mentor/coach
  6. Test things to foster gratitude
  7. Do more trips with friends and family
  8. Read a book on stoicism
  9. Book time with no phone or internet, preferably in the woods

My Long-Term Goals:

  1. Sail from Florida to Mexico, arriving to see the Giant Sea Ray migration
  2. Do a river boat tour down the Danube or Rhine
  3. Go see the fall colors in New England
  4. Go on the Trans Siberian Railroad in luxury class
  5. Learn to play the harmonica
  6. Continue being self-employed
  7. Pay for my next car with cash


amy1I love this time of year, because I get to do two of my favorite things at once: set goals and make lists. My friends can attest to how much I love New Year’s resolutions – last January 1st, I holed up in my apartment and set goals the entire day, and no one saw me leave my room until dinner time.

Last year was also my first time taking a new approach to goal-setting. I followed Chris Guillebeau’s method of conducting your own annual review, which you can learn more about here. It helped me analyze what went well and what didn’t in 2014, and helped me chart the course toward a more productive 2015.

I didn’t accomplish everything on my list, but in my defense, I had one heck of a whirlwind year. From an insane winter in Boston, to the Tiny House Conference in Portland, to moving down to Charlotte and starting a new life, I’ve learned how to recognize opportunities when they arise – and more importantly, how to grab onto them when they do!

This year had a lot of ups and downs, and I had to grow and adapt very quickly. I like to tell people that it’s been a crash course in “adulting,” but it has certainly changed me for the better. After a year and a half of living in transition after graduating college, I feel lucky that I have a new city to call home and put down some roots. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.

Here are some of my resolutions for 2016.

My Goals for 2016:

  1. Quit eating sugar for one month
  2. Read twelve books
  3. Purchase my tiny house trailer
  4. Bench press my own body weight
  5. Create five finished art pieces
  6. Do one input deprivation day per month
  7. Write five handwritten letters

My Long-Term Goals:

  1. Build a tiny house (but you guys already knew that)
  2. Live in Japan for at least 3 months
  3. Learn to play the violin
  4. Road trip across the US in a hand-built camper
  5. Play Hamlet
  6. Deadlift 400 pounds
  7. Write, illustrate, and publish a graphic novel

Your Turn!

  • Did you accomplish your goals for 2015?
  • How do you like to set (and keep!) your New Year’s Resolutions?

New Year’s Resolutions

So for many years I’ve written about how you shouldn’t have New Year’s resolutions, but instead how you should focus on what you have accomplished, rather than what you don’t yet have. There are a lot of good reasons to not set goals at New Year’s, but this year I decided, all that be damned, I want to make a list!

Now to be fair, some of these are goals I’ve already set, and they are just a reaffirmation to myself. After this post I’d love to hear your goals and tips for reaching goals!

Goals are important things. They bring a focus to your life and they allow you to determine how to prioritize things. They can make decisions simpler: “does this action get closer to my goal?” They can also be used to achieve a much larger goal, by breaking that big goal into smaller steps.

The list of goals could be a bucket list, a list of affirmations, it could be New Year’s resolutions – whatever form or name you use, there are a few key things to consider.

  1. Write your goals down and post where you’ll see them daily
  2. Make sure your goals are specific, concrete and realistic
  3. Have deadlines. Someday almost always turns into never
  4. Make them worded so you can objectively know when they are achieved

Looking back at 2014 I am really happy with what I achieved. Here are some of my really big wins.

First, I was able to write and publish a book through a publisher and see it on the shelves in Barnes & Noble. The book also just hit number one on Amazon for two categories, making it the top tiny house book of 2014. You can check it out here.

Another big goal for me was to travel to and live in another country. For this, I chose Croatia for a lot of reasons. You can read about it here.

In 2014 I decided I wanted to read more fiction. Most of my reading has been nonfiction and I felt like I was lacking in reading fun stuff. So I set myself to read more fiction this past year, and in the end, I read 41 fiction books.

Finally and most obviously, I moved into my tiny house! It’s been great finally getting to live in it and life has changed a lot for the better.

So for 2015 my goals are going to look a bit different from last year because I’ve now hit my three largest and toughest goals on my bucket list. Plus, living in a tiny house has opened a lot of doors for me: financially I have more funds to make things happen, time-wise I have a lot more free time and how I meet my obligations has become a lot more flexible, and finally I now can work from anywhere, so I can be anywhere (with my tiny house or otherwise).

My Goals For 2015:

  1. Have an awesome Tiny House Conference in Portland and meet a lot of cool people doing it!
  2. Take at least one extended vacation: road trip across the US and/or live in Budapest/Berlin for 3 months.
  3. See my sister walk down the aisle: She is getting married in March
  4. Start a new business in order to diversify my income
  5. Find or start a Mastermind Group

My Long Range Goals:

  1. Sail from Florida to Mexico, arriving to see the Giant Sea Ray migration
  2. Do a river boat tour down the Danube or Rhine
  3. Go see the fall colors in New England
  4. Go on the Trans Siberian Railroad in luxury class
  5. Learn to play the harmonica
  6. Continue being self-employed
  7. Pay with cash for my next car

Your Turn!

  • What are some of your goals?
  • What are some tricks and tips to achieve your goals or keep motivated?

5 Reasons Most People Never Discover Their Purpose

A recent article came out from Inc. about why most people don’t discover their purpose in life and it inspired me to write this.

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People don’t define what is right for themselves.

I hear it too often, “I did it because I was supposed to”.  That common phrase might be one of the most dangerous phrases today in modern America.  If you are here reading this, there’s a good chance that you know this all too well.  When we grow up we often look to those around us who we trust to help us make decisions and we are smart to do so.  However, there comes a time when we must really start to rely on ourselves more and through introspection, learn what is right for us.  We can still seek the council of others, but as we grow, we must understand when to ask for help and more importantly who to ask.

Not taking the time for introspection and goal setting.

How crazy is it that we spend all this time doing things that may or may not make us happy, but we can’t take an hour to just think about what we are doing with our life.  Introspection is one of the strongest tools I’ve found to help me navigate life.  It brings clarity, it bring confidence, it spurs new ideas and it speaks to the soul.

Using introspection allows you do realize your dreams, but also grapple with your fears; both in productive ways.  Most people never take the time to do this, they do what they do because they are “supposed” to, but don’t take the time really think about things.

Most people are scared of their darkside

Most tiny housers are great people, but everyone has a darkside.  We aren’t talking about a darkside a la sociopath or the like; We are talking about your regrets, insecurities and selfish drives.  Everyone has them and it isn’t until we wrestle with them that we can make any real progress.  It has been my experience that the most amount of growth and understanding occurs in this space; where you face these dark parts of yourself and lean into them.  In some cases I have learned from them, other times I have come to accept them, or in some cases I have come to embrace them.  Whatever it is you have been intentional with them.

Too busy worrying about everyone else.

There are those who’s opinions you deem important, but for most people, we are too concerned with everyone’s opinion of us.  It’s only natural, but spending too much time worrying what others think about us is dangerous.

It is funny in a way, But I have found that those who are most likely judge you or chastise you are often the ones that are the most uncomfortable with themselves, haven’t found themselves, do what they are “supposed to do”, and haven’t decided things for themselves; why would you care about a person’s opinion that is so ill conceived and fraught with insecurities?

Seek the advice of those important to you, then go forth, ignore the rest.

People don’t “buck up” and go for it.

There has been one thing that I’ve found when it comes to people who are doing what they love, are well balanced, living an adventure.  They don’t let excuses get in the way and they act today.  I did this with my tiny house, I put it off, but in the end when I did it, I realized I, myself, was literally the only thing holding me back.

What is more tragic than a life where you don’t get to live your dream?  Having the chance to do something amazing and not jumping at the opportunity.
workshop - orange copybuilding copyConference copy

Tiny House Burn Out

I have noticed over the past month or so I have been getting a little burned out with working on my tiny house.  I think it really has been a combination of my time at work skyrocketing, a series of big set backs and less than favorable weather.  Additionally I had been asked to bring my house to a particular event, which put a deadline on things for me, so it became more of a job, not something that I was enjoying.

322470I have had some big set backs.  The biggest being my electrician was injured pretty seriously on another worksite the day before he was going to do my house.  He will be fine, thank goodness, but it meant I had to restart the process of getting quotes and scheduling work, which set me back about 3 weeks.

Enjoyment of the building process was one of the things that I wanted to make sure was part of building my house.  I wanted to enjoy the journey, to enjoy the realization of my dream, I wanted to take my time and have great posts for you all.  So this week I made the decision to decline bringing my house to that event, which on one had I was disappointed about, on the other, and more importantly, I felt like I could now enjoy the process of building again.  I felt a sense of relief when I made the decision and I think it was the right one to make.

So the moral of the story here is when you build your tiny house, or pursue any of your goals in life, make sure that you enjoy the journey, because it is often better than the destination.  In the near future I will be doing some more house update posts, but here is a photo I took this past weekend.


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