Tis the Season to…Regift?

I am okay with regifting. I may have even gotten one or two regifts this holiday season. And while I did not give a regift, I would have if I had one to give.

giftIf you open a gift and you immediately think that someone you know would like it a hell of a lot more than you, what is the harm in regifting? They say it is the thought that counts. And if your thought is of somebody else when you open a gift, that is what counts.

Suppose, however, that you receive a gift you do not want and when you open it you cannot think of anyone who would appreciate it? That is okay too. If I got a gift I felt nobody I know would enjoy (including me), I would just donate it to some worthwhile cause. Somebody spent time making that item and somebody will enjoy receiving that item. And if you cannot figure out who that is, it is not because the item is unwanted, it is because you do not know enough people. So, give it away and let the universe get it to where it is meant to be.

Donating to charity—the ultimate regift.

How to Start Your Life Over in a New City

About five weeks ago my wife and I moved from Southern California to Austin, Texas to start our new life—no jobs, no family and no friends. We are truly starting from zero. But it isn’t too bad because we are taking some very-well thought out steps to ramp up our new life here quickly.

Goodbye LA.

DSCN1818Step 1: The first thing we did was make a list of friends of friends and other acquaintances we could reach out to once we arrived. If you are moving to a new city there is a chance people you know in your old city know people in your new city. Of course a lot of that depends on what city you are moving to. In our case, Austin is a pretty cool city, so we had about a half dozen names on our friends of friends and acquaintances list.

Hello Texas.

DSCN1875Not long after we arrived we reached out to these friends of friends and acquaintances to see if we could meet them. I have to admit it is a pretty awkward thing to do. After all, these people are total strangers. And I would love to tell you that all of them dropped what they were doing to respond to our unsolicited invites, but that is not the truth. Most never responded, which is okay. I did not take it personally. They have their lives in place and we are just strangers trying to intrude. It did not hurt to try, and a couple of them did agree to meet us, including our real estate agent. She told us that she enjoys wine tasting, as do we. So, now we have agreed to plan a wine tasting trip to the local vineyards in the near future. A new friend in place? Check.

Step 2. I joined every Austin-based LinkedIn group that interested me. Since I will probably need a job someday and I am an entrepreneur at heart, those are the groups I focused on. Fortunately, LinkedIn makes it very easy to find these groups. Here is a list of some of the groups I joined.

• Austin Job Seekers
• Connected in Austin
• Door64 (for high tech professionals)
• LinkedIn Local Austin
• Network in Austin
• Relocating to Austin
• The Austin Entrepreneur Network

I fixed my settings for these groups to receive daily email updates. Many of these groups sponsor networking events, which I want to know about in a timely manner.

Step 3. I joined every Austin-based Meetup group that interested me. In some ways Meetup is better than LinkedIn because all of the Meetups are live events, and attending live events is essential if your goal is to actually meet new people.

Many Meetups occur once a month. That means if you sign up for enough Meetups you have something interesting to do every week. In addition to entrepreneurship, I chose Meetups for activities my wife and I like to do together like hiking, wine tasting, and of course, eating. Here is a list of some of the Meetups I signed up for.

• Local Austin LinkedIn Networking
• Austin Inventors and Entrepreneurship Association
• California Transplants in Round Rock (seriously)
• North Austin Hiking Meetup
• Central Texas Foodies
• Secret Dinning Super Clubs in Austin
• Eagles Nest Austin (a Philadelphia Eagle’s fan club, seriously)

Step 4. I attend at least two live events every week. So far I have met at least a dozen nice people, all of whom I have added to my LinkedIn network, and all of whom I expect to see again in the future at other events. I even met a man who introduced me to two executive recruiters in the Austin area for my area of expertise. We really hit it off as fast friends. I think that he and his wife and me and my wife will go out for dinner after the holidays. My wife even met a woman who is an executive recruiter for her area of expertise when we went to watch an Eagles’ game at a local pub. Our network seems to be coming together nicely.

Step 5. To balance out all the networking, I decided to do some volunteer work. There is no better way to fully immerse yourself in your new chosen city than to volunteer some of your time. The opportunities I am considering include mentoring troubled teens and working in hospice care. I have not actually done any volunteer work yet, but I do expect to after the holidays. The easiest way to find volunteer opportunities in any city is through VolunteerMatch, Idealist.org and Craigslist.

Step 6. Finally, the last thing my wife and I have been doing to ease the transition to our new city is to treat every day with a sense of adventure. There are not many advantages to starting your life over in a new city, but one of them is that everything is new, which means you can make it as adventurous and fun as you want. So far, we have gone on multiple hikes, waited 3½ hours in line for barbecue and shot pistols for the first time at a shooting range. It is all what you make it.

Starting life over in a new city is a challenge, but it does not have to be intimidating. There are plenty of ways to quickly meet new people. They won’t all become life-long friends, but a few will. And before you know it, our new city will no longer be our new city. It will be our home.




The New Serenity Prayer

I live in the moment, because that is all I have

I close my eyes and breath deep to remind me I am alive

I stand, bend, jump, clap and wave because I can

I think of those I love and who love me back and it makes me smile

I cannot predict the future, nor would I want to

I cannot control the future, but I can prepare for it

What comes my way I will deal with, and move on the best I can

I do not need much to be happy

I will survive no matter what

I will strive to make a difference

This moment is pure gold and I am grateful to have it

I will not live forever, but I will live now

What if Your Purpose Does Not Pay the Bills

I fervently believe the surest path to a self-reliant life is to work your purpose—your reason for being here. You are the happiest and most fulfilled when you are working your purpose. That drives you to excel, which assures your self-reliance. But what if working your purpose does not pay the bills. Isn’t that a contradiction? How can your purpose make you self-reliant when it does not even pay the rent?

In my estimation, for most people, their purpose, when done in isolation, will not pay their bills. Certainly not at the start. That is because what people value and what the market values are rarely the same.

Suppose you view your purpose as being the best parent you can be. That is great, but it is not likely that anyone will pay your for that, unless. Unless you also happen to enjoy being a “parent” to other people’s children. Now you might consider opening a daycare facility. In simplified terms, the daycare facility is the intersection between your purpose and the free market. What fulfills you and what will pay you.

Unfortunately, the intersection between your purpose and what the market will pay for is rarely easily identifiable. And while your ultimate goal should be to find that intersection, for some people who will either never happen or it will take a while. So, what do you do in the meantime?

Suppose, like many people, you are gainfully employed at a good job which just so happens to not be your purpose. How do you incorporate your purpose into your life without quitting your job? Until you find the intersection, you really only have one choice: get a second job.

However, in this circumstance, your second job is your purpose. You keep your day job and work your purpose nights and weekends. And if you are unwilling to work your “second” job nights and weekends, I seriously doubt it is your purpose. Your purpose, after all, is something you feel so compelled to do you look forward to doing it in your spare time.

So, how does taking on your purpose as a second job make you more self-reliant? It does so by putting your first job into perspective. It may never fulfill you, but that job provides sustenance for your purpose. Ask any starving movie actor why they tend bar. So they can audition during the day.

Your day job is not a waste of time. It is merely an obligation along your journey, the same way that raising your children, if you have them, is an obligation along your journey. You will have many obligations during the course of your life, but that should not dissuade you from seeking out and fulfilling your purpose. And if you are fortunate enough to discover your purpose, and you stay with it long enough, you just might run smack dab into the middle of that beautiful intersection where purpose meets pay.