Unboxed Life

Boldly existing outside the box through conscious living and constant learning.

25 Things On Adventrue, Work, and Contentment

“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.”

The Bhagavad Gita

The pursuit of Unboxed Living often leaves me with ideas or lessons I know I never would have understood or even realized without this journey. That is not to say I have some profound wisdom or philosophical enlightenment that others don’t. Consciously pursuing the escape from boxes is an exercise in constant learning and unending self-reflection. Along that path you tend to pick up certain notions that continue to benefit you as the voyage presses forward.

I thought it might be fun to share some of my more useful thoughts on life, work, travel, and Unboxed Thinking in general. Like I said, there is nothing earth shattering here, nothing that will shift the paradigms of our time, but what I hope is that I can provide you with some inspiration or motivation to take stock of what you have learned. See what insights you possess and decide to pursue even more enlightenment through your own Unboxed Expedition.

Each person has unique insights to offer. Please share some of your own in the comments so we can all learn from your life experience. For more inspiration check out similar posts from Chris and Tina Su as well. What is the one thing you wish you would have learned sooner? Help us benefit from your unique pursuit of Unboxed Living.

Action is always your friend

Even if it is not quite the right one, a step in any direction is always better than no steps at all. Beginning something you want to do will inevitably lead to doing it, so stop waiting and start doing, you can always correct your path as you go.

Questioning most often leads to answers

I am a firm believer that to be confident in the things you hold true those things must be pummeled with questions and scrutiny. How can you ever know if that is what you really think or believe if you have never tested it against other ideas?

Things you call fact should be subject to scrutiny

It is critical to remain open to having your long-held beliefs changed when experience or new information dictates it. Far too often we hold onto something even when presented with evidence to the contrary. Truth is found through conscious seeking and growth can only happen with an open mind.

It’s not about how much money you have, it’s what you do with it

This can go for when you have lots or when you have a little. It’s not a bad thing to have money but how you choose to impact the world with that blessing is the real test. The more you have the more you should give. On the flip side, even if you don’t have a lot of money you can still make a difference in someone else’s life. No matter how little you think you have, there are always people with less.

(As a follow-up) How you use your money defines what you value in life

Take a look at your bank statement. Within those transactions you can paint a picture of what things you value. Consciously or not, what you spend your money on ends up being what your priorities are. Changing habits to bring your internal priorities in line with how you spend your money is always a good exercise.

Choose to focus on fewer things and learn to put other things aside

I struggle still with this. It seems better to focus more energy on the couple most important things to you than to spread yourself too thin and not accomplish anything. I get lots of help from some awesome people on this, you know how you are.

The control of your life lies solely in your hands

I think the word empowerment gets thrown around a lot. Here is how I define empowerment: When you realize in your own mind that you not only have the ability to make choices, but that those choices are yours and your only, you are empowered. Whether it’s in East Africa or East L.A. the authority to make choices is what being empowered is all about.

Weird is good

If I think about the most interesting people in my life, almost all of them would be called “weird” by one measure or another. Weird is exciting, entertaining, powerful. Weird folks get things done. I strive to be weirder.

Listen to others, and then go do what you want

This is a lesson I continue to work through. Procuring advice or opinions is vital in the success of any venture or activity you choose to undertake. That being said, when it comes down to it you have to do what makes you happy and what you see as your personal definition of success. Do what feels right and what feels good and you will never go wrong.

Sometimes people won’t understand, and it’s ok

When you make a choice to live life Unboxed outside the confines of societies plans for you it is inevitable to encounter even close friends and family who just don’t get it. They cannot relate to your pursuits, cannot comprehend your choices, and will not support the life you choose. This is ok. It does not make you or them right or wrong, it just makes them different from you. Being ok with others not getting it lifts a burden of responsibility from your shoulders and allows you to move forward swift of foot.

You can get paid for doing what you love

The trick is to find the intersection between your passions and what you are good at, and what people will pay for. Find that convergence and find happiness in your work.

Sometimes solitude is the only solution

Stay with me here. I have found that my most inspired, profound, and earth shattering revelations have come when I am alone. For me, finding solitude at home or by heading out into the wilderness by myself has become a vital part of my creative and life process. Finding that balance between cooperation and isolation has bred many a great idea.

Some people just want you to fail

I call them the Armies of Average, the legion of people and attitudes whose sole purpose is to see you fail. Being able to spot these people out and avoid their pitfalls can be a valuable skill to master.

“When you want more than you have you think you need and when you think more than you want your thoughts begin to bleed”

This is a line from the Eddie Vedder song Society off the soundtrack to the movie “Into the Wild” which is one of my favorites of all time. It speaks to me in the sense that by convincing ourselves that we want more things than we have, then that thought becomes engrained in our minds and we are blinded by it. The pursuit of material possessions is the enemy of pure creativity and will ultimately lead you away from your true path. But that is just my interpretation J

Time spent on work that matters is never wasted

My personal goal is to be able to spend 90% of my time on my life’s work and the other 10% on other stuff. Life’s work, or legacy work, are those things that you have chosen to do that will impact the world in a positive way and are your true passions in life. This is the work that, when you leave this world, will continue to make an impact on people. Whether its service, creative expression, or another form, time spent on the stuff that matters is never a waste.

Time spent with loved ones is never wasted

For all my ambitious ventures and adventure seeking, I have not always valued the people closest to me. Taking time to show those who are always there for me that I notice is something I know I can do better at.

Your actions will impact others far more than your words

Live your life how you see it, pursue your passions no matter the incongruence with the mainstream, and remain steadfast in your convictions to serve others and people will notice. They will wonder why you do what you do. In that moment your actions and your choices have made an impact that words could never make.

Call of Duty is the devil

Yeah, I was once “that guy.” Don’t ask.

No matter how small the amount of time, it can always be productive

Taking advantage of each and every minute that you have in a day is the only way to achieve the goals you set out for yourself. Set time aside for fun stuff, leisure, and make use of every potentially productive minute with meaningful work.

Your choices, private or public, affect your life in unforeseen ways

Call it karma, call it God, call it chance, the fact remains that your choices and your actions impact your life in unforeseen ways. I am a firm believer that we are all given the gift of free agency, to choose what we do in our lives, but what we choose will affect our lives positively or negatively.

For most people, doing what you love does not require $60,000 in student loans

I have gotten some pretty harsh responses from people when I have voiced this opinion before. I recognize that formal education and degrees are often necessary if your passions in life require it. I just think that more often than not they don’t. Going to college for the sake of doing it is a mistake. I truly believe that there is no substitute for experiencing the world, exposing yourself to other cultures, and testing yourself in the classroom of life. 90% of what you need to be successful you can learn out there for far cheaper than most colleges.

Travel should not be a two week a year experience for anyone

Somehow, somewhere, someone convinced us all that getting two weeks every year to go someplace and rush through a “vacation” was the way it had to be. I call bullshit. Why does it have to be that way? If you want to really experience the world why shouldn’t you be allowed to do it? Just deciding not to buy into the short-term vacation model is liberating in and of itself.

Treat failure as a necessary step in the pursuit of something worthwhile

If you think about any venture or activity as circular and not linear you can see that failure is not the end result of any activity. Look at failure as a step, because it will happen, and as a learning tool as you move forward. Seeing failure in this way takes some of the fear out of taking the first step.

A personal connection can change a life

We often times get caught up in accomplishing tasks that I think we forget how important and transformational personal connections can be. I have seen multi-million dollar African aid projects rot and rust in the African sun while right next to it a community garden flourishes. Connection, cooperation, compassion. These are far more valuable than any amount of money.

Have more fun

Plain and simple. If I had made having fun a priority my whole life I wouldn’t be so far behind on experiencing new things. Fun should be at the root of most everything you do, and if it is not, well maybe that thing doesn’t need to be done.

Image: useitinfo


10 comments on “25 Things On Adventrue, Work, and Contentment

  1. chaserbd04
    May 19, 2012

    No matter how much I evolve, I will always be that guy on Call of Duty. 🙂

    • Tanner Colton
      May 20, 2012

      Don’t get me wrong, I still love the game, it was just out of hand for a while :). Thanks for reading Courtney, I appreciate the support. Keep on evolving!

  2. Elizabeth
    May 27, 2012

    Personal connections are so important. I spent way too many years doing things and forgetting this fact. I’ve missed numerous opportunities to connect with people. This left me pretty miserable and lifeless. Thanks to a few key people in recent years, I’ve been able to change this and begin to grow – yourself included. 🙂

    • Tanner Colton
      May 28, 2012

      Hey Elizabeth,
      Thanks so much for the awesome feedback! I appreciate you offering up your experience and your insight. I am so glad that you are finding ways to continue to build on your relationships and that I could be even a small help in that. I hope that you continue to find ways to grow in your relationships and find fulfillment through cultivating them. Thanks for the comments!

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