The biggest tip to creating your perfect bucket list

The Bucket List. Words that to many bring up thoughts of exciting possibilities; no pressure, no time scale, just something to do one day when we have more money, time or usually both. Whether you've seen the film or just quoted the phrase when something appeals, most of us either have or at least talk about our bucket list and adding things to it. But what if we just keep adding to it but we never get round to actually doing any of it - sound familiar...?

Making lists can be demoralizing, particularly when it comes to following through with it. If it's a list of chores I need to get done in a day or a week I'll often 'cheat' and add in a few easy tasks or tasks I've already completed just to make me feel like I'm getting somewhere - it can be a great moral boost.

But it's not just lists of chores that can be tough; even a bucket list can be daunting to the point that you may start wondering if you'll ever get any of it done. And then what? Scrub the list and give up?... I'm a bit of a cheat and like to make things as easy as I can for myself, and this includes doing things I enjoy. So I have a mixed bucket list consisting of everything, (at the moment) that I want to do in my life and all the things I've done that I believe warrant some sort of recognition. (Click here to read my list if it interests you) Now instead of looking like this huge list of less than likely dreams I want to fulfil, my 'Two Way Bucket List' looks like I've almost finished. And if that alone isn't an incentive to follow my dreams and complete the rest, I don't know what is!

And the rules determining what you can add to your list that you've already done? There aren't any! If it felt like a big deal at the time - write it down. If it didn't feel like a big deal at the time but looking back now it does - write it down. Trust me; wrack your brains for just a few minutes and before you know it you'll have this resume of a derring-do life you'll barely recognize - and more importantly, the motivation to carry on and make those wild dreams happen.

Leave me a comment and tell me 'What's on your Bucket List?' - naming one thing you've already checked off, and one thing you've yet to achieve!

Midlife-Crisis, what Crisis?!...

It was 10 years ago this month that my life changed forever. After a successful 23 year career in the British Royal Air Force I handed in my notice and took 'early retirement'. I was 41 years old.

It was a big, bold, move. It was scary, daunting and exciting. I was leaving on my terms. At the time that felt right to me. And I had plans....

My wife and I had long ago decided that we would 'celebrate' my retirement by taking a year out to travel. We would go to Florida, buy an RV and spend 12 months traveling around the USA. What a way to spend that retirement bonus eh?! So we did, and the rest they say is history!

That 12 months turned into 4 and a bit years. That US trip turned into a USA-Canada-Mexico-Belize-Guatemala trip. The RV turned into an RV-with-a-motorbike-and-2-push-bikes-strapped-to-the-back. And our lives and plans for the future changed forever.

You see when I first handed in my notice to leave the military it was an 18-month notice period. We had a loooong time to get ready and get used to the idea. We had wonderful pre-conceived ideas of what it would be like, what we would do, how we would do it and how we would pay for it all. It was a year long trip (in my mind it had to be at least a year to make it worth leaving!) at the end of which we would return to the UK, move back into our house and carry on a 'normal' suburban life in England. (Spoiler Alert: that didn't happen!)

During the course of 'the year' we realised that 12 months was never going to be long enough and we started adjusting our plans to sustain ourselves through a longer time frame. We briefly returned to the UK at the 13 month mark to 'sell up' a few items, re-signed an extended rental agreement on our house and returned to the US with some extra cash in our pockets, a revised budget and some serious belt-tightening! Life was grand! Whilst the US is a big place we took trips up into Canada and down into Mexico and beyond for the winters and to satisfy the visa restrictions we had.

It was around the 4 year point that we were starting, albeit gradually, to look forward to having a home and job and long term local friends again. We'd fallen in love with Canada, and quite specifically the Okanagan and had applied for permanent residency. When the travel bug was biting less frequently we returned to the area as tourists but started looking for work and a job offer that would help expedite that process so we could settle legally. Getting back into the job-world was tough! (And a lot different to the job search process back in the UK) and after a few months of unsuccessful job-hunting our visas were up and we needed to leave the country.

We spent 6 months that winter back in the UK. We made good use of our time and renovated our house, following it's extended period of tenants and got it ready for selling. It had served us well over the 4 years providing us much needed rental income to help fund our travels.

In our 5th year we returned to Canada and got legal status. I was offered a job using my previous skills as a heavy duty mechanic and service manager, work permits were issued and our application for permanent residency was fast-tracked and complete by the fall. We had done it! We were legal residents of Canada. We'd bought a beautiful home and settled in one of the most beautiful parts of the world!

So during our mid life crisis-cum-career break-cum-retirement we managed to visit 40 US states, 6 Canadian provinces, 15 Mexican states and 2 Central American countries. During our winters back in the UK we'd also travelled to 8 Eastern European countries.

10 years ago I took a huge leap of faith. I left that comfortable secure lifetime career with no clear plans of how or where I'd work again, but I've ended up with something so much better. After initially getting work in Canada using my previous skill set, I moved on and re-trained as a Health, Nutrition and Lifestyle coach and most recently I completed intensive training to be a part time volunteer fire fighter in my local community. Life is good :-)

What's on your bucket list? Where would your leap of faith take you?

Ten Keys to Happier Living in 2015

So there's good news and there's good news!

The good news is I have a fail safe plan to ensure you have a happier 2015 than 2014 - and it's FREE

And the good news is..... if it doesn't work you get your money back ;-)

What would you say is THE most important aspect to life? The most common answer seems to be 'health' but I disagree; I firmly believe our happiness overrules everything. Are we saying that all healthy people are happy, or are all unhealthy people also unhappy? Happy people get sick less, they sleep better, have better relationships and just seem to have a more positive outlook on life. And if you think we should put the happiness of others before our own, think about the old adage of the flight attendant telling us to put our own oxygen mask on before helping others. Happiness is infectious, true???

So let's forget the New Year's resolution of losing weight, getting fit or sorting out the attic space, you're just setting yourself up for disappointment...  ;-) If you haven't made the big change in previous years, January the 1st is not the time to commit - I could make up a whole ream of statistics to 'prove' that New Year's resolutions don't work but I think we all know that anyway, right?

So here's a very simple plan from that is not only guaranteed to bring more happiness but it's easy too! A list of ten actions you can take to improve not only your life but the life of others around you too. And if the one you're working on becomes overwhelming or you can't seem to find the motivation right now, put it aside and move on to another. You have a whole year to complete the list and I'm even giving you the rest of December to plan ahead and come up with a plan of action. I'm more than happy to set up a conference call once a month to help motivate those interested in joining in. In the meantime you really need to check out their website - it's awesome!

I'm in, who's with me...???

Join in by adding your comments below and let's all hold each other accountable!

Take the "I want" from "I want happiness" and you're left with..... :-)

Buffalo Chicken Egg Muffins

These have become a firm favourite in our household over the last few months. They are perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast option, mid-morning snack or even lunch! And they are delicious hot or cold. Plus they are the perfect thing to meal prep in advance - just bake up a full pan batch and they keep well in the fridge for the rest of the week!

  • 1 Chicken Breast - roasted and shredded
  • Himalayan Pink Salt 
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • 12 Eggs
  • 3 Green Onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
  • Fresh Parsley, finely chopped or dried (optional for garnish)

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400'. Place your chicken breast on a baking tray and season with the black pepper, salt and garlic powder. Roast for approx 25 minutes (until cooked - will vary depending on the size of your chicken breast!)
  2. Once the chicken is cooked through remove from oven and shred using a couple of forks
  3. Add chicken to a bowl and douse liberally with about 1/2 the Franks Red Hot sauce until the chicken is fully coated
  4. In a separate bowl whisk up your eggs, add the green onions, some black pepper and the remainder of the Franks sauce
  5. Divide the egg mixture equally amongst your muffin cups, then add some of the shredded chicken, then sprinkle a small amount of parsley on top if using - do not overfill the cups - leave at least 1/4 " to top.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes in a 400' oven.
Tips: Use Parchment Paper muffin cups to prevent the egg from sticking. Adjust the Franks Red Hot sauce to suit your taste buds or try another variety of hot sauce altogether!

The most efficient workout ever!

We all know the feeling. Maybe we've just come back from vacation, a business trip or even an injury/illness; for whatever reason and however long the break, the workouts have fallen by the wayside and we need to get back on it...

For some there's little motivation, for others there's lots of motivation but at that moment we're all in the same boat; we feel fat, unfit and generally a little loose around the edges. Whether we are or not is a different matter but it can be enough to upset the flow - so much so that for many of us it takes far longer than it needs to to start exercising again. We pull 'perfectly reasonable' excuses out of nowhere, convincing ourselves that we'll be back just as soon as we can be. So a week's vacation can often mean two weeks of no workouts - recognize anything here...?

So how do we do work up the motivation and get back on form when we really don't want to? Well, I have a system of my own that works for me and maybe it'll work for you too! 

I've tried hitting it hard in the belief that my aches and pains from overdoing it will make me feel good again - it doesn't, it just make the next day seem even worse - so I take another day or two off... I've tried carrying on where I left off but somehow I manage to convince myself that I don't have enough time right now, there's too much to do. And if I do start out like this I'm happy to put my hand up and admit that sometime's I've got half way through and lost interest - and that can REALLY set your motivation back - avoid that situation at all costs! 

The one that works for me - I go back to absolute basics; I chose the easiest, shortest workout I know with a plan to put in just as much effort as I need to. This has numerous benefits, mostly psychological; 
  • It's easy and quick to complete therefore it's more likely to be enjoyable 
  • I know I won't ache tomorrow so I won't have any excuses to not continue
  • I won't have to get up super early to achieve my aim
  • At the end and however you look at it - I worked out 
And that is where I get my motivation from - suddenly I'm back on it; I did it, I enjoyed it and I'm ready to do it again - I feel like I've never been away.

So if any of this resonates with you; plan your next break to finish as soon as possible with the 'holiday' of all workouts and just see how quickly YOU feel back on track. Good luck :-)

  • How do YOU get back into exercise after taking a break?
  • What's your 'favourite' go-to easy workout routine? (I love Ultimate Ball from the Supreme 90 DVD series)

Save money and eat better at lunch with this simple advice

Most of now know that there is a lot to be said for pre planning our meals during the week; we get to eat healthier food, we don't grab and go just because we're hungry and haven't thought ahead, and of course we save money! Seriously, what's not to love? (check out more benefits of meal planning in this post)

The Problem is we don't always follow our own advice. Evening meals are one thing; we have a menu, we've shopped for what we want and we choose which meal to eat in which order. Lunches and snacks however seem to escape the rules of eating well. Many of us mean well but when that meeting goes on too long or we get to lunch time and we're already too hungry to have the patience to make something, we tend to go with the flow. Someone orders pizza or suggests going out to lunch and what do 'we' do? We join in; it's sociable, it's easy and it can be instant gratification!

And the answer? At some point during the week find a few moments to plan ahead and prep. It doesn't have to be a major mission to do it all in one go, it can be done during other meal prep or cooking. Whilst the weekend is prime time to plan for the week ahead in our house find a time that suits you (we often do our prep work on Monday night since weekends we're away, busy or just having too much fun!!)

It takes no longer to boil a dozen eggs than it does to make a coffee, so do both at the same time. There you go, each of you has an egg or two each day! Wash and chop a bunch of salad veg while that night's dinner is in the oven; you've already got the utensils out and the counter is already a mess so let's kill two birds with one stone! Bag the salad leaves in Ziplocs, chop up and bag carrots, celery, bell peppers, add some baby tomatoes and hey presto you have a week's worth of healthy snacks. Boil up a pan of grains; I like to use sprouted quinoa and brown rice mix; portion it up into containers and there's the protein for your lunches. You can even fill a bunch of Mason Jars with all the salad items so you only need to add dressing and shake it up at lunch time - could it be any easier? Grill up some lean chicken and add some to each salad or the cooked rice; even the messy jobs like grating cheese - do it all now and bag it up! Are you starting to see the picture now?

You're way more likely to eat healthily if you take your food in to work/college etc with you. And this doesn't just work for the busy commuters, it's just as effective if you work from home - trust me I learned the hard way. You get all the nutrients your body needs to do its daily tasks and you get to choose a good balanced and tasty menu each week. It really is as easy as it sounds to do all this prep work while you're in the kitchen doing other things; don't leave it till the morning as you're rushing out the door - it won't happen. But it's easy to grab those containers and ziplock bags full of snacks and lunch that you prepared' 3 days ago!

Let me know how it goes!

  • Do you meal plan?
  • What are some of your favourite items for prepping in advance

What happens when the work/life balance swings too far...

I'm a big believer in getting the work/life balance right, I always have been and a career in the Military helped me achieve it for more than 23 years.

Then came summer 2013; I was into my second year of running my own business, (InSpiralCoaching) and like most people working on their own with no real structure or set hours, I was struggling with the guilt of not being busy when I had no reason to be. In my mind I should be head down, arse up from dawn till dusk - after all, how could I ever succeed if I wasn't at my desk 80+ hours a week!

So I did what I had to and got done what needed to be done but I spent many hours looking longingly out of the window as the beautiful weather passed me by, convinced in my own mind that I was far too busy to actually take time off to enjoy life. Instead of loving the hike and the bonding time, walking my dog was just an escape from my desk - but only if I had my headphones on, studying as I went. I'd beat myself about how little I would achieve some days, and when I did succeed it was never enough. All the things I love about living here in the summer; hiking and mountain biking with Meli, (the aforementioned pup), paddle boarding our myriad local lakes and long days of motorcycling ended up taking a back seat. So when I looked back at the end of summer I started to wonder what it was all about; where had it gone?

We're limited to our time on this amazing planet and at 50 I figured I wasn't far off half way through mine - I only have another 50 or so summers left in me... So I vowed that come this summer there was no way I wasn't going to live it to the full, come what may! I'd tipped the balance to one extreme and (purely in the interest of research you understand!) I was determined to go check out the other end of the scale and not miss a thing. Thankfully I'd taken on a bit of part time work helping out at Urban Harvest last winter so I couldn't completely escape the real world - I had some structured commitments in my week!

So I'm happy to say I took on this summer with a vengeance and dragged (?! - yeah right!) my long suffering wife with me. Long motorcycling trips were arranged starting with a five day expedition with friends, we went camping on undiscovered, (to us) islands, hiking, cycling and paddle boarding were regular activities and fitness was at an all time high. We went to classical concerts and music festivals. I snuck in a 4 day trip to ride my bike around a track and we even managed a two week trip to visit friends and family in SoCal, catching up with two friends I went to online 'school' with and another we'd not seen for almost 10 years. Did my business suffer? probably. Did my finances suffer? definitely. Was it worth it? abso-frickin-lutely...!

It's called balance right? So whether we tip the scales lightly each way or we set them rocking like a ship in a gale it's no good just looking at the here and now. We need to look at the bigger picture over a greater period of time and see how well it balances. Work 100 hour weeks if you need to to but don't forget to add in some 'let's go crazy' time to make up for it - and don't feel guilty about doing it; no one's judging you - unless they are in which case they don't matter!

Who knows; maybe next year I'll get it right, maybe not. Like the rest of us, I'm just a work in progress :-)
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