Don’t let your hatred of exercise get in the way of your health. Read More...

I hate exercise for the sake of exercise.

However, I know physical activity is an essential part of healthy living. So I suck it up and exercise anyway. But that doesn’t mean I always follow a prescribed method of exercise that involves going to the gym or moving to a workout video.

Do something fun.

The fact that I don’t like exercise doesn’t mean that I refuse physical activity. Quite the opposite. I love being active. I enjoy riding my bike and hiking. I prefer walking to driving. I love swimming and playing tennis. I recently started fencing with my son and learning how to use a punching bag.

Your exercise time doesn’t have to include a boring routine that you hate. It doesn’t feel like exercise when I’m in the pool or sparring with my son. It’s exhilarating and enjoyable. I get a workout, and it doesn’t feel like a chore.

Find something active that you enjoy and use that as your primary method of exercise. It’s easier to stay motivated when it’s something you like, and you’re more likely to stick with it.

Break it up.

Sometimes you need to work on different aspects of your physical fitness. Most of my preferred activities involve cardio, and not much in the way of strength training. This means I need to devote some of my exercise time to strength training, even though it’s not my favorite.

I find yoga soothing, so I usually start with that. Many of the poses promote strength training using your body weight. If I start the day with five to 10 minutes of yoga, I feel good mentally and it is good for my body.

Throughout the day, though, I look for other ways to boost my strength training. Maybe it’s a few reps with the hand weights or a set of squats. Because I belong to a gym for the pool access, there are days I just suck it up and work out with the weight machines for strength training. But I do it in broken up doses so I don’t end up stuck doing something I hate for what feels like FOREVER.

You can do the same. Break your exercise into 10-minute chunks. Even if you are doing something you hate, you are more likely to stick with a regimen if you don’t have to block it all out and devote a whole half hour at a time to it.

Do something else at the same time.

Distract your mind by engaging in another activity at the same time you exercise. After I broke my wrist, I couldn’t engage in many of my preferred activities. Instead, I had to walk on the treadmill for most of my cardio. I hate that.

To take my mind off that fact, I listened to podcasts or brought my Kindle so I could read. Having my mind engaged allowed me to exercise without really registering how much I hated it. Some days I even answered email while on the treadmill.

I have friends who use a stationary bike while watching TV. They are distracted by the TV, but still get the exercise in. Use this technique to trick yourself into moving forward with exercise — even if you don’t normally like exercise.

Find a buddy.

Working out with a friend can feel like fun, instead of a chore. I don’t usually workout with someone, but there was a time when I had a walking buddy. He and I had similar fitness goals and we met twice a week to walk the track at the university.

Your workout buddy can also help you turn exercise into a game. Look for ways to reward yourselves for improved performance. You can even compete with each other, as long as you keep it friendly.

Don’t let your hatred of exercise keep you from developing a healthy habit. Trick yourself into exercise and you might be surprised at how much you can accomplish — and how much better you feel.

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Do you have a true concept of what is “real” about money after college? Read More...

I had plenty of money in college. I was rolling in it. My parents had given me a credit card so I could charge anything I needed, like groceries, utility bills, oil changes, and more. They paid my rent and didn’t ask questions when I spent more than $250 a month on food.

I worked during college, too – sometimes two jobs at once. Those jobs helped me buy what I wanted (which was a lot). If you’ve ever been to a college town, you know that there’s a plethora of shopping options nearby. Within a five-minute walk, I could access boutiques, vintage shops, and record stores.

If I wanted food, I could get anything delivered. Even if I had a fridge full of groceries, I’d get pizza, pad thai, or fried chicken delivered to my house. In a given month, I’d spend more than $100 on eating out.

I never told myself “no.”

That is, until I graduated.

Welcome to the real world.

The summer following graduation, I had an unpaid internship and a part-time job. For the first time, money was tight. I was paying my own rent that summer and commuting an hour one way (this is back when gas was close to $4 a gallon).

Suddenly, I had to reign in my spending. I said no to going out and shopping. I read blogs about couponing, cooking cheap meals, and getting free stuff.

That summer was a wake-up call. I couldn’t keep spending the same way. When I finally got a full-time job and started being totally responsible for all my bills, I realized how important it was to budget. I was only making about $28,000 a year, and after bills and student loan payments, there was hardly anything left.

Even though my budget was cramped, I decided I wanted to pay off my student loans early. I started tracking every dollar religiously. I was now saving money with the same intensity that I had spent money in college.

I found freebies, coupons, and special deals. I shopped at Aldi — my favorite discount grocery store — and stocked up on the essentials. I avoided eating out and always brought my lunch to work, even when it was Chef Boyardee ravioli.

In 2012, I created my blog to chronicle my debt payoff progress. I wanted to see if I could actually pay off my debt in three years. I thought my blog could serve as inspiration to anyone else trying to do the same thing.

A year after I started my first job after graduation, I got a new job and a small pay raise. When my rent went down, I put the difference toward my loans. Any time my expenses decreased, I just added that money toward my debt.

When my then-boyfriend and I moved with another friend, my rent was cut in half. Again, I put the amount I was saving toward paying down my student loans. That year, half of my paycheck went toward my debt. In November 2014, I made my last student loan payment.

Friends and family members started asking how I paid off my loans so quickly. I directed them to my blog, where I had written about my debt payoff journey. But soon I decided that I wanted to create one simple place where people could go and learn how to pay off their own student loans.

That’s why I created the Student Loan Knockout: A 20-Day Journey to Debt Freedom, my self-paced online course where you can learn the steps I took to become debt free. There are action items for each module and basic steps you can follow. This is not a course for finance experts. It’s for people like you feeling overwhelmed by your student loans and wondering where to turn.

In the real world of money after college, you need to make tough choices and get serious about your budget. Even though the road to debt freedom was filled with sacrifice, being debt free feels sweeter than any shopping spree or take-out meal.

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Afraid to be by yourself? Embrace it! Being alone does not mean being lonely. Read More...

I’ve always been an extrovert. An outgoing, party-loving, talk-to-anyone extrovert. During college, I wanted to hang out with people constantly. Even when I was doing something quiet, like studying, I preferred having a buddy.

That changed when I moved to New York for a summer internship. I lived in the dorms at Columbia University and had roommates, but they were mostly quiet and preferred to stay in.

I learned to love being alone.

It’s not that I had to be alone. I had friends who were in town that summer. At first, we mostly stuck together while exploring the city. Then I started to realize that if I wanted to experience New York on my terms, sometimes I’d have to do it alone.

I started to see weekends as my solo adventure time. I looked through my guidebooks to pick which museum, flea market, or gallery I wanted to visit. Then I’d pack a book and my Metro card and take off. I started saying no to friends asking to hang out. I relished my time alone.

How did this total extrovert learn to love being alone?

Here’s what I did:

Find things that no one else wants to do.

It’s easy to have company when you all want to do the same thing, but sometimes you’re the only one who wants to go see the latest Marvel movie five times in theaters. No matter how self-conscious you feel, force yourself to go.

In New York, I went to movies, restaurants, and concerts by myself. There were times I would have preferred company, but I didn’t want to miss out on experiences because no one else wanted to go. I was forced to learn to love being alone.

There are few things more empowering than taking charge of your own happiness. When you let being alone stop you from doing something, you’re really letting fear take over – the fear of looking awkward, feeling uncomfortable, and worrying what outsiders might think. Doing things by yourself can help you get over that fear.

Make a list of the benefits of being alone.

Sometimes it pays to have a friend or two with you, like if you’re splitting an Uber or walking home after a night out. But other times, having company is a hindrance.

At restaurants, it’s easier to find a table by yourself than as a group. If you’re shopping, you don’t need people to wait with you while you browse and compare two nearly identical pairs of pants.

While living in New York, I learned that I loved being in control of what I was doing. I could take as much or as little time as I wanted. If I hated being somewhere, I could leave and not feel pressured to stay because I was with other people. I could change my plans at the last minute and no one else would be affected.

Bring something else to do.

Every time I do something by myself, I bring a book with me. If I have to wait, it can keep me entertained in a more rewarding way than checking my phone.

For people just starting to do things by themselves, a book can make you feel like you have purpose. You’re reading, not awkwardly people-watching at a new coffee shop. You can also bring a coloring book, a journal to write in, or even your laptop so you can watch Netflix while you hang out.

Having something else to do, like reading, will keep you from feeling like you’re just a loner out in public. When I’m on vacation with my husband, we both bring books to restaurants so we don’t feel pressured to always talk to each other.

The final step to learning to love being alone is to go out and simply try doing something by yourself. I’m still an extrovert who’s always down for “Game of Thrones” watch parties and weekly trivia nights, but I also relish catching up on “Veep” by myself, playing video games alone, and painting watercolors while everyone else is asleep.

I still want to be with friends.

But sometimes I want to be with myself even more.

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Don’t be afraid of getting old. I don’t even care about having bigger boobs now. Life is better! Read More...

When I flip through my monthly stack of women’s magazines, I see the same message over and over again: aging is bad. You should try to stop it, prevent it and reverse it. And here’s how you can do it.

But I’ve recently realized that I actually love aging.

Let me first point out that I’m only 27, so my experience with getting older is limited. But after the turmoil of my immediate post-college years, getting older has been awesome.

Every year seems to get better. I get more financially stable, my husband and I get along better, even the furniture and clothes I have slowly get upgraded.

But it’s less about material stability and more about how secure I feel in my own skin. The older I get, the less I care what people think about me or what I look like.

In high school and college, I really wanted bigger boobs. Because, really, what girl with a B cup didn’t?

Recently a friend told me how she went on a certain medication that amplified her rack. I told her jokingly, “Oh, I’d hate to buy new bras all over again.” But truthfully, I don’t want a bigger rack. I’m comfortable with what I have, and it’s taken me years to get to this point.

I also have spent the majority of my life hating my pale white skin. I was teased for looking like a vampire or a ghost, and I’ve always been jealous of those with natural tans. But after getting the worst sunburn of my life a few weeks ago, I realized how much I liked my ivory skin. Tan skin looks great on other people, but on me, it looked like mud I couldn’t wipe off.

The things I cared about, even a few years ago, seem petty now. Who cares if I don’t have a perfect flat stomach? That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t wear a bikini and feel good about it. Why should I worry about wearing my husband’s PJs to the grocery store?

My priorities seem clearer with age. While I still want people to like me, I’ve started to worry less if they don’t. I can’t make everyone happy and I shouldn’t spend my time trying. I feel less of a desire to badmouth and judge other women. The more comfortable I feel with myself, the less I’m threatened by other people.

I see how happy, successful and comfortable my older relatives are. My mom has always been secure with herself, but now I truly realize that she DGAF. I see other women I admire who embrace their age, but continue to be active physically and mentally. They don’t see their age as a hindrance, and that inspires me to keep trying new things and getting better.

While many of my peers see their 30s as deadline that they hope to avoid, I’m looking forward to them. Granted, I miss being able to stay up until 4:00 a.m. and get up at 9:00, but I don’t miss wanting to be like every other girl I knew. I miss the lack of bills that I had in high school, but don’t miss constantly worrying about boys who didn’t care about me.

One of my favorite movies, “Moscow Doesn’t Believe in Tears,” tells the story of three best friends. The first half of the movie follows them for one year in their 20s. The main character meets a man who tells her that life really begins at 40. “40?” she tells me. “I’ll be an old lady by then.”

The second half of the movie sees where they are 20 years later, as the main character finds out, even at 40, it’s never too late to start a new life.

I would always joke with my parents that if life began at 40, then they were just toddlers. But now I see that life, love and self-awareness all get better with age. And I’m looking forward to mine.

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Do you want to get out of town? Read More...

Many of us love going on vacation, and a road trip is a classic vacation. But how do you plan an epic road tour without getting bogged down in the details?

In this episode, we talk about the appeal of the hitting the road, and how you can plan your next vacation to take advantage of what driving has to offer. You might be surprised at how much fun you can have when you slow down and take the time to truly experience the sights.

Before you book your next plane ticket, listen to this episode — then plan to take the car instead.

Concepts

  • What are the advantages of taking a road trip?
  • How to make your next road trip affordable.
  • Tips for creating a realistic itinerary.
  • Strategies for keeping the kids entertained.
  • Tools for planning the right trip for you.
  • How to start saving for your next road trip.

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Resources

LifehackerHow to plan a road trip
AAAFuel cost estimator
Randal S. OlsonIs this the perfect road trip?

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You’ve got time in your 20s to figure all of this out. Make some mistakes, but find some answers by 30. Read More...

Turning 30 is often treated as one of life’s great tragedies — the end of youth and a step closer to death. Morbid, I know.

Well I’m going to be 30 next month. Before you begin offering your condolences, though, let me assure you that I’m perfectly okay with it. In fact, this milestone has made me reflect a lot on how far I’ve come in the last 10 years.

I might not have all the answers, but I’ve learned a lot of important lessons that have helped me to embrace this new older, allegedly wiser me. Whether you’re still living up your 20s or are nearing the big 3-0, consider these important realizations you’ll undoubtedly have along the way.

1. Family is really important.

Families come in many sizes with varying levels of dysfunction. And family doesn’t always mean your biological relatives. They’re the people who annoy the hell out of you but you love unconditionally. And the older you get, the more real-life shit you’ll encounter that makes you appreciate the fact they’re in your life.

2. Your body has flaws and it’s not that big of a deal.

For most of my 20s, I agonized over every little perceived defect I could find about myself — so much so that I never really appreciated how awesome I actually was.

Now, I might not be 100 percent happy with my body (who really is) but I am much more accepting of it. And I can say with certainty that life is way more fun when you stop caring so much about whether you have a flat stomach or flawless skin.

3. Happiness can’t depend on someone else.

Whether it’s the approval of a parent or the love of a partner, you’ll find that chasing validation from others will never make you happy, no matter how hard you try. You can’t change the people in your life. Instead, find your passion and learn to derive happiness from what you can control: your own actions and accomplishments.

4. You can’t party like a 20-year-old.

When I was in my early 20s, I didn’t get hangovers. Now a hard night out leaves me feeling near-death for at least 48 hours. Sometimes a quiet night in with Netflix and a beer is much more appealing than going bar crawling or clubbing. And that doesn’t make you any less cool (that’s what I tell myself, anyway).

5. There are no more excuses for poor money management.

Debt is bad. Saving money is good. You spent your 20s learning these two basic principles of personal finance — likely through trial and error — so there’s really no excuse for neglecting your 401(k) or relying on your credit cards anymore. Get it together.

6. You’ve figured out what you want to be when you grow up.

Important Lessons You Must Learn By 30

In your 20s, you had jobs. In your 30s, you have a career. Years of boring, unfulfilling, or otherwise soul-sucking work helped to teach you what it is, in fact, you want to do with your life. You know what you’re good at, what gives you a sense of purpose, and you’re ready to pursue your professional goals head-on.

7. It really doesn’t matter what others think of you.

Maybe you lead an unconventional lifestyle, or have made choices your friends and family disagree with. Maybe you go grocery shopping in worn out yoga pants and no makeup.

You will always be judged by others for what you do, what you look like — for who you are. That will never change. The most liberating realization you will have right around age 30, however, is that it doesn’t fucking matter.

8. You need to make your health a priority.

Okay, so you’re more accepting of your body and care less about what other people think, but let’s not go overboard. You want to make it to your 40th birthday.

Every year of your life past the age of 25 makes it exponentially more difficult to maintain your health. I can look at a piece of pizza and gain five pounds and it takes me a couple more minutes to run a mile these days. I make it a goal to eat clean and exercise regularly — for the most part — because I know it will only get harder from here.

9. Sex gets way better.

I’ll just leave it at that. I might be a few days shy of 30, but I’m still worried my mom might be reading this.

10. Toxic relationships aren’t worth your time or energy.

The older you become, the fewer fucks you will have left to give. In fact, you probably gave out way too many in your 20s and now have to be super conservative with the rest. If a relationship costs you your emotional health, peace of mind, or values, you can’t afford to keep it.

Your 30s should be some of your best years. You’re too old to keep making the same stupid mistakes, but too young to be completely jaded. Find joy in the fact that you’ll someday get over your naïve 20-something phase and finally be — almost — comfortable in your own skin. I know I do.

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You can learn many lessons about being an adult from a teenager. This teen may even be a better adult than you are. Read More...

What makes an adult?

According to society and government, once you reach age 18 you are considered an adult. You can make your own decisions and sign legal documents. But just because you are a certain age, does that make you an adult?

While you might technically be an adult, the actual act of adulting is a little bit harder. Functioning as a successful adult requires more than just turning 18.

In fact, as I look at some of the things so-called adults do (or don’t do), I realize that there is a lot that 21-year-olds can learn from my 13-year-old son. Hell, there are probably some days that my son is actually a better adult than I am.

Here are some of the life skills that my 13-year-old excels at, and will help him when he becomes an actual adult.

Time management.

If you want to be a better adult and more successful in life, time management is key. We all have days when we don’t want to get something done wrong we have a hard time getting a handle on the clock. The idea, though, is to do our best to plan ahead so that we can manage our obligations.

A couple weeks ago, my son and I were talking about our after-school day. I reminded him that I had a meeting to go to and that he would be on his own after dinner. He mentioned that he knew that he would need help with his homework and suggested that we tackle the homework first, before he practiced saxophone. Rather then springing the homework on me after I returned from my meeting, he thought ahead to all of what he needed to do that afternoon and took the initiative to make sure he had time for all of his obligations.

Sometimes we just run out of that time and we have to choose between different activities. That’s just life. Adulting is recognizing that sometimes you do have control over your time, and making sure you prioritize what is most important.

Do you have to be told what needs to be done?

My 13-Year-Old Is a Better Adult Than You Are

We only need direction sometimes, especially when we’re learning something new. However, if you want to be a better an adult you need to recognize that sometimes you just need to do what needs to be done without being told.

My son comes home from school and knows he needs to take care of certain things. He has music practice, fencing practice, and homework. I don’t need to tell him to get started on these things; even on days he doesn’t necessarily want to get going, you still getting started even if I’m not home too tell him to do so.

After I broke my wrist my son really stepped up, keeping track of when he needed to start the laundry and paying attention to what time to start dinner. In many cases, he saw would need to be done and went ahead and did it.

Eat healthy meals.

We all like junk food. I’d rather eat cake than make a salad. However, I know that macaroni and cheese for dinner every day and over processed foods aren’t good for me. So I don’t make them very often.

My son is learning how to be a better adult by making better food choices. When he make dinner, he includes a fruit and vegetable in addition to whatever the entrée is. He helps with cooking, and is capable of reading a recipe. Thanks to Blue Apron, it’s possible for him to see you what we plan to have and get step-by-step instructions on making a nutritious dinner.

Track your spending.

Maybe it’s because I write about money, but my son is already learning habits that many 20-somethings I know don’t have down. I recently got him a debit card, and he is very good about tracking his spending.

He also takes the time to think about what he wants to buy with his money. He almost most never makes an impulse purchase because he had a clear idea of what he hopes to use his money for, and the knowledge that if he uses his money on something today he won’t be able to buy something else tomorrow.

He’s also learning to give money to charity and set aside money for the future. He follows the stock market because he is investing in an index fund with his long-term savings money.

Finally, he’s constantly thinking of other ways to make money. He works hard and his 4-H projects so that he can earn ribbon money, and he helps out with administrative duties in my home office. He also has big plans for a YouTube channel and other online ventures. We’ll see if he follows through with any of them.

Obviously my 13-year-old is not ready for many of the responsibilities associated with being an adult. But he’s got a pretty good handle on things.

What do you think makes an adult? Are there some things that you see so-called adults doing that aren’t very adult-like at all? How are you trying to be a better adult?

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Anxiety still carries plenty of stigma. Have you ever wondered what anxiety feels like? Here’s what might help. Read More...

Editor’s note: Whether you have anxiety or you have a close friend who has anxiety, it’s good to understand what other people may be experiencing. Part of successful adulting is communication and empathy, and reading or hearing what someone may be going through is helpful in that respect, and will help grow stronger relationships.

In the old days, the days of your parents, they just called you nervous. If you were on edge, it was your nerves. If you had a particularly bad episode, they would say you had a nervous breakdown. People went their entire lives without knowing the actual cause of that nervousness: anxiety.

Thankfully anxiety is better understood today, and for good reason: it’s one of the most common mental health disorders on the planet. According to The New York Times, it’s now more common among college students than depression. No matter who you are, you or someone close to you has probably been affected by anxiety.

But despite its ubiquity, anxiety is still misrepresented and misunderstood. It’s a difficult disorder to describe, and as such you’ll still hear it referred to as “nerves” or “stress.” Those terms aren’t completely off the mark, but they lack the nuance to truly explain just what it actually feels like to have anxiety.

How does it feel?

I didn’t realize I had anxiety until my senior year of college. I was often stressed and anxious, but so was every Type A student managing a full course load and extracurricular activities. I’d known since high school that I frequently got stomach problems if I started getting nervous or upset, mostly due to my irritable bowel syndrome, but I never considered that the nervousness itself was a symptom.

When I heard someone describe the symptoms of anxiety, I recognized them immediately. Anxiety is about feeling overly nervous or worried with no reason to be. It’s about perceiving every minor slight or incident and worrying about it incessantly.

Living with anxiety is like having the most pessimistic devil on your shoulder. When I lose a client, anxiety tells me that I’m not cut out to be a freelance writer. When I forget a friend’s birthday, anxiety tells me that this is why I struggle to keep friends. Anxiety is a straight-up bitch.

I spent years with different therapists learning about cognitive behavioral therapy and how, even though I couldn’t cure my anxiety, I could learn how to recognize when it was affecting me.

What helps?

One of the best strategies my therapist taught me was how to challenge the anxious thoughts in my head. There are many ways anxiety can manifest itself, but thankfully there are just as many ways to combat it.

She gave me this worksheet where I could list the anxious thoughts I was having, why I was having them, and a more rational scenario. For example, if I was anxious about not hearing back from an editor and assuming that he didn’t like my latest article, the worksheet could help me realize that he likely hadn’t taken the time to read it yet.

What helped even more was taking medication, a solution I resisted for years. It’s one thing to go to therapy, but I was convinced pills were only for people who were “broken.” Even when my equally prescription-dubious husband suggested it, I resisted. I was worried I wouldn’t feel like me anymore. I was also worried that if my anxiety did improve, it would be because of the pills and not anything I accomplished

After consulting with a good friend who takes anxiety medication, I finally talked to my doctor. After one day’s dose, I felt significantly better. Suddenly I wasn’t as anxious on a regular basis, and when I was, I could handle it.

I compare anxiety to driving on the highway in the dark with traffic cones everywhere. Anxiety medication can remove the cones and make it easier to drive, but you’re still in charge of the car.

I know there’s plenty of stigma about anxiety and medication. When I texted my mom that I was getting a prescription, she left two voicemails. I told my dad in person, and he got very quiet — a rare feat, if you know my father. Society is still coming around to mental health medication, but to me it’s like taking medication for high blood pressure or cholesterol.

The more I talk about it openly, the more I find out how many people I know that are medicated. Like anything, the more we share, the more we realize how similar we are.

Do you have anxiety? Does a close friend? Share your experiences — you might help someone.

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What is your passion in life? Can you even answer that question? Here’s why it’s important to find your passion now. Read More...

As a fresh college grad with a terrible diet and pack-a-day Marlboro habit, I knew it was time to get in shape. And after months of forcing myself into the gym every day, something finally changed.

I ran an entire quarter of a mile on the treadmill without stopping. Looking back now, it was such a small accomplishment, but one that filled me with confidence and the desire push myself harder.

From there, I worked my way up to a mile, then two, which then evolved into a full marathon — and then five more. At some point, running became my passion and it changed my life in several positive ways.

What’s yours? If you struggle to answer the question, it might be time to do a little soul searching and discover what you’re passionate about. Here’s why.

Your passion gives you a sense of purpose.

Maybe you’re someone’s husband or wife. Perhaps you have kids, or you’re hyper-focused on your career and kicking ass at it. All of these things are fantastic.

However, the older you get, the more you’ll notice your peers defining themselves by their relationships or what they do, not who they are. That’s an easy way to lose yourself entirely.

Having a passion affirms your values. Maybe it’s volunteering, painting, writing — hell, even playing video games. Your passion in life is a reminder of what’s most important to you outside of these other obligations. It allows you to find enjoyment in something that’s all yours, out of the control of others, and instills a deeper sense of meaning to your life beyond simply existing.

It drives you to accomplish goals.

Plenty of people live day-to-day simply going through the motions. And that’s fine, but it’s also incredibly boring.

Setting goals — and even more importantly, accomplishing them — makes life so much more enjoyable. Having a passion gives you something to strive for, whether it’s setting a new personal record in a 10k or achieving level 80 in World of Warcraft.

Not only will you feel good about yourself for reaching your goals, but you’ll be much more interesting at parties and have something to #humblebrag about on Facebook. And isn’t that, really, the ultimate goal in life?

You’ll inspire others and be more successful.

Passion is contagious. When you’re hungry, driven, and full of positive energy, it tends to rub off on others – which a great thing for everyone involved.

Richard Branson, one of the most accomplished and well-known entrepreneurs, gives a lot of credit to passion for his success. In a recent article for the Daily Monitor, he wrote, “When you believe in something, the force of your convictions will spark other people’s interest and motivate them to help you achieve your goals. This is essential to success.”

There are few accomplishments better than being a source of inspiration to the people around you. Except maybe becoming a wildly loved, self-made billionaire. Take it from Sir Branson, you need passion in your life.

Remember, it’s about you.

As a runner, I’ve won first place in my division and also been one of the last people to cross the finish line. I’ve logged 60 mile weeks and gone months without lacing up. Some days I feel like I could keep running forever, and others, my legs might as well be made of lead.

But I keep going, no matter my speed, age, size, or ability. Because having a passion is not about being the best; it’s about striving to a better version of yourself.

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Slow down. Experience. Your vacation isn’t about what you show your friends on Snapchat. Read More...

Have you ever come back from a vacation and felt like you needed another vacation?

This is pretty common when you’ve packed in a lot of stuff in one trip. For many of us, a vacation seems like the perfect time to do as much as possible. Unfortunately, this is approach to a vacation can mean a lot more stress and a lot less relaxation.

If you aren’t going to relax and have a good time, what’s the point in going?

Plan fewer activities.

When I was growing up, there were times that the vacation was just a rushed and stressful mess. We ran from activity to activity site to site without really experiencing anything. My favorite vacations were those that doesn’t involve quite as many activities.

When you have a chance to slow down and experience life you are far more likely to enjoy what you are doing, even if you do a little bit less of it.

Don’t forget: you can always come back again.

Even if you don’t, you’ll still make better memories if you truly experience a small part of something rather than getting a superficial view of lots of things.

As you plan your vacation, figure out which activities are most important, and which site you want to see more than the rest. Focus on the most important activities and don’t worry about cramming everything in. You can move slower I feel like you’re on a real vacation.

Take your time.

If you plan a real vacation with fewer activities, you will have time to slow it down. This can help you relax more and feel like you really are on vacation.

This effect can be enhanced if you plan longer vacations. When you have the time to take more than a day or two, you can enjoy yourself more. I am looking forward to my summer vacation because we will take six or seven weeks to move slow. For a good portion of that time, we will have a home base in the Philadelphia area.

Having a large chunk of time and a home base can help you move slowly and relax more. This works best if you are location independent with your work or if you have the ability to bank vacation days with your job.

Choose shorter trips.

Another way to plan a real vacation is to make it shorter. This can’t be a weekend getaway that doesn’t take you very far. When you choose a shorter trip, it should be more about seen one thing or just relaxing in a new place.

One of the things I like to do is go camping. I pick a place within four hours so that I only spend a half day of travel each way. Then it’s usually possible to spend two whole days in the woods. It’s very relaxing and I feel refreshed when I get home — especially after I take a shower.

Travel light.

How to Plan a Real Vacation

There’s nothing like having to put it away a ton of stuff to ruin the end of your vacation. That’s why I like to travel light. I have one medium-sized suitcase and that’s it. If I will be gone longer than a week, I plan to do laundry. I don’t get bogged down in packing a lot of outfits or shoes or makeup. I don’t even bring a carry-on beyond the backpack hold my laptop and other tech gear.

The fewer things you bring with you, the less you have to worry while you travel and the less you have to put away when you get home.

Traveling light can also apply to souvenirs. My son and I have a tradition of getting one magnet for each place we visit. This allows us a nice, cheap memento that doesn’t take up space. Plus, we know exactly where to put it in when we get home — on the fridge.

Plan time to relax.

As you plan a real vacation, don’t forget to schedule time to relax. Keep your schedule clear enough that you can sleep in, just to sit in the hot tub, or read on the balcony. Plan a spa day. Take a long dinner. Sometimes, I like to cancel a plan so that I can keep doing something I enjoy.

Don’t plan out every minute of every day. Leave room for spontaneity or just to discover something new. You’ll be glad that you didn’t still every single second with some sort of planned activity.

If you don’t time to relax while on vacation, you’ll come home and feel like you didn’t get a vacation at all.

Put the camera away.

Finally, as you plan a real vacation, consider putting the phone away. Yes, your phone is probably your camera, but if you send all of your time trying to get the perfect shot for Facebook, you’re not really enjoying the moment.

Leave the selfie stick home. Take a couple pictures of what you see and a couple pictures of you and your loved ones. All you really need are a few pictures to trigger your good memories. You don’t need a ton of pictures to try and impress your Instagram followers.

Once you learn how to plan a real vacation, you’ll get the most out of wherever you go.

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