There isn’t a day that goes by that someone doesn’t tell us what a cool life we have and how jealous they are of our trip and experiences. And you know what? It’s true – but not for the reasons you might think.
I’m about to dispel a pretty big myth, and I hope it doesn’t shake things up too much when I do. (Aw, who am I kidding? Of COURSE I want to shake things up!)
Top 7 reasons we have a good life
- We meet interesting people every single day. We ask a lot of questions and process a lot of answers. This generates ideas, opens doors, and sparks connections.
- We connect people when it seems like a good fit, and several of our friends and contacts meet our other friends and contacts and go on to do great things together. We encourage people to connect us to their friends and contacts the same way.
- We stay in touch with our friends and families even though we all lead full lives. It takes time and effort, especially when we typically have a significant timezone challenge, but we do it. We spent years building these bonds, and we don’t want to lose them.
- We spend time together – really together – every single day, listening to each other, sometimes fighting when the air needs to be cleared, and always being each other’s best friend and cheering squad. Most of all, we laugh together every single day. Not a chuckle, a big, donkey-sounding gut laugh.
- We move our bodies every day with a walk. Not only do we get some exercise, but we interact with people in a way you can’t while driving and we notice the little things – smells of bread baking, sounds of children playing, and the beauty of flowers close up.
- We challenge ourselves both physically and mentally in small and large ways on a regular basis. It may be a tough hike or a creative pursuit, or maybe even a big leap of faith when it comes to a business project. We know what we want and appreciate that it takes work and commitment to get there.
- We try new things on a regular basis: foods, activities, and locations, and we challenge ourselves with new and opposing ideas and opinions in the books we read and the people with whom we interact.
All of these things make for a very cool life, indeed. But wait…
What came first?
You may have noticed that I left off one very big item that most people think is the basis for the “cool” in our lives: Travel. Don’t get me wrong, I do think travel adds a lot of “cool” to our lives, but it is certainly not the reason our lives are cool. (I’ve just realized also that truly “cool” people do not use quotes around the world “cool,” but I digress…)
If it wasn’t for all those other things – people, challenges, connection, exercise, paying attention, trying new things – this would be one long experience of checking off boxes on an itinerary: still fun, but not really life changing. And probably exhausting.
I began wondering if this was like the age-old question: What came first, the chicken or the egg? Or, to rephrase it,
“Do we have a cool life because of the travel, or do we travel because we have a cool life?”
We believe the travel sprang from the habits, beliefs, and curiosity we developed long before the trip was even a glimmer in our eyes. Those traits are the same ones that led us to seriously question our lives when they became overloaded and make big decisions to change locations, jobs, and lifestyle, and eventually choose to travel full time. These are the habits we developed to make our life in Seattle a great one and lay the groundwork for an even bigger adventure on our trip around the world.
But we don’t know everything, so we began seeking out a few other people living the life uncommon – the kind of life that makes people ask questions and pay attention – and we’ve gathered their answers to divulge to you all the secret to living the good life. Following are the first three “cool” people you will meet in this series and their lessons for being one of the cool kids.
From the Apple State to the Big Apple
Darcey Howard is just one of those people. You think she has a glamorous and cool life because she lives in New York City, works with talented – and often famous – people around personal branding, and is part of some very cool projects. She’s been married for over 15 years to a man she loves, travels to great places, and goes to both funky and glamorous events on what seems like a weekly basis. This woman has a load of friends, invitations to do fun things, and a big heart to give back to the world.
In short, she’s the kind of person you could easily envy for being smart, attractive, vivacious, and well-connected in a city that is practically the hub of the universe. Plus, you’ve gotta love a girl who knows where to get the best street food in any town she visits.
Darcey would tell you that she isn’t a successful businesswoman or socially connected woman because of those things, though. She would consider herself successful if she were in a much smaller town, with a much less powerful group of friends, attending less glamorous events.
And she’s speaking the truth, because I met her when she was living in Seattle, living much the same type life she’s living right now in Manhattan. She had to make the decision to uproot her business and her cool life in Seattle when her husband had a great job offer in New York City. Since she lives her life like she’s the next contestant on a game show, she said yes.
I asked Darcey what made her life so cool – without telling her my own opinion – and true to Darcey form she responded with enough material for her own blog post.
- Know Thy Self. Know what you stand for and what you believe in. No one likes a sell out. If you haven’t figured it out I use the the word “pimpin'” as a euphemism for hustle, moxy, assertive and genuine. Not sleezy sellout.
- No Guts, No Glory. If you aren’t willing to put yourself out there no one will find you. And that doesn’t mean bawdy Facebook posts and too many Tweets.
- Verity Capital. A phrase that my dear friend Sadee Whip gave to how I like to do business and the kinds of companies and people that I will work with. It means that if you are committed to your truth people will buy it. It’s how I live my life.
- Live Your Life Like You Are The Next Contestant On A Game Show. A friend of mine once aptly described me with this reference. I took it as a tremendous compliment. Why? Because Bob Barker doesn’t pick the person that is skeptical, unenthused and afraid to leave their comfort zone. And neither will your next client, boss, soul mate, life-changing opportunity…. insert whatever you have been trying to “manifest” here.
- Be Intentional. If any of you have ever heard me speak you know that this is not just the foundation for my lifestyle but for my decision making and my PBTA (Personal Branding Through Appearance) program. You know the old saying, ‘haste makes waste’, it doesn’t mean you can’t be spontaneous it just means you have to have a reason for what you do. But do something!
Darcey has had some amazing experiences in New York City, but she correctly points out that her eyes are always bigger than her stomach and she has a tendency to take big bites. That happened just as frequently for her in The Apple State as it does now in the Big Apple. Her location does not dictate her level of zest for life. She believes you can live big or live small, and the choice is entirely up to you. Well said, Darcey.
From No Vacation to No Vacation Required
Kent and Caanan are two of the good guys. They tirelessly campaign on behalf of people who don’t have a voice, and when they put their energy behind something, big things happen. They know what they believe, and they put their time, money, and considerable network of friends and acquaintances behind their efforts. They travel the world doing good and injecting a little culture and adventure into their own lives at the same time. They call their style of travel the “advo-cation” to highlight the work they do for the eradication of hunger and poverty.
These are the not the “I gave at the office” kind of guys, though they have plenty of cubicle experience between them.
Lots of people think they have a cool life (and we agree). Could it have something to do with their motto?
Because life should be something you look forward to. Every day.
We asked them what they thought formed the basis of “the cool life” for them:
We often tell people that we quit subscribing to the universal dream or the “one size fits all” dream. Looking back, the smartest thing we ever did was to examine our values – those things that really matter to us. Once we did that, it became easy to say: “Why are we doing XXX… That’s not even tied to a core value of ours.” Sounds simple but knowing what you stand for (our definition of “values”) becomes a roadmap – a compass – guiding you to what is right for your life.
We also believe in the idea that once you identify your values, you begin to live from a place of commitment not comfort or fear.
So…we tell people to brainstorm what really matters to them (values). Taking notes on this allows you to then examine how much energy you put into those things (usually very little!) and how much is wasted (going to activities, etc., that hold no value). Next comes brainstorming/envisioning what a life that DOES honor those values looks like.
These guys are very cool because they live their message and values every single day. And you can do that without ever leaving home.
A common theme
All of us share a few core concepts, starting with knowing what we believe and want and designing a life around that. All of us take regular action – in small and large ways – on the things we want, and we all surround ourselves with people who are also doing great things.
None of us watch a lot of television or spend our free time sitting on the couch. We know that living a great life means a regular injection of new people, new experiences, and new ideas.
In short, we live intentionally and with purpose, and great things follow from that.
I don’t know if the chicken or the egg came first, but I do know that you don’t have to travel around the world to have an amazingly cool life. Though once you start practicing the cool you might just find yourself doing that. Or moving to New York City. Or (fill in the blank yourself).
How to have a cool life
1. Know what you want.
2. Take decisive action every day to move toward it.
3. Ask for things that might seem impossible and be ready to receive.
4. Surround yourself with positive, forward-thinking people.
5. Give back to the world with your own special gifts.
Think about the last time you met someone really cool and what it was about their life that caught your eye. Think about the last time someone felt that way about your life. Better yet, think about the last time you felt that way about your life.
If you don’t already love your life – the people, the work, the creativity – it’s time to do something about it. C’mon. Be one of the cool kids.