5 key elements of a great quest (plus book giveaway update)

5 key elements of a great quest (plus book giveaway update)

Before updating you on the book giveaway, I just wanted to say THANK YOU!  You guys are fantastic.  To enter the contest for the free copy of The Happiness of Pursuit, all you had to do was leave a comment or drop me an email to tell me where in the world you call home.  You did that for sure (hundreds of you in fact), but you didn’t stop there.  Many of you thanked me, showered me with kind words, shared inspiring stories from your own retirement, and otherwise were just all kinds of awesome.  So thank you.  It was great to hear from each and every one of you.

This morning I printed all your emails and comments, dropped them in a pillow case, shook it up, and picked out somebody at random.  That somebody was Dennis from Pacific City, Oregon.  Congrats Dennis!  The book is on the way.  (Note: After the drawing everything went into our secure shred/recycle bin).

If you didn’t win, I’d still encourage you to swing by your local bookstore and pick up a copy.  It’s a fast read and timely as you start to think and plan for 2015.

What makes a great quest?

All this talk about having a quest might have you wondering, “What exactly qualifies as a quest?”  Chris shares 5 things:

  1. A quest has a clear goal and a specific end point
  2. A quest presents a clear challenge.
  3. A quest requires sacrifice of some kind.
  4. A quest is often driven by a calling or sense of mission
  5. A quest requires a series of small steps and incremental progress toward the goal.

Let’s look at an example.  In the emails over the last few days a reader shared with me her plans to hike the 500-mile Camino de Santiago between France and Spain next year.  Does that qualify as a quest?

  1. Clear goal and specific endpoint = Walk 500 miles. Stop at the steps of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella.  Check.
  2. Clear challenge = Did I mention it’s 500 miles?  Check.
  3. Sacrifice = Expense, time off work, weeks of walking.  Check.
  4. Often driven by calling or mission = This particular quest is often done as a spiritual pilgrimage, but many do it as a way to answer the call of adventure and excitement in their life.  Check.
  5. A series of small steps and incremental progress toward the goal = It takes about 2,000 steps to walk a mile, so 500 miles equals 1,000,000 steps.  Hiking the El Camino is literally taking small steps toward your goal.  Check.

How about you?

We have a few months left in 2014. As you think about 2015 and beyond, consider the list above and see if you can dream up a quest that brings meaning, excitement, and purpose to your life. As I mentioned last week, I’m doing this over the coming months as well, so touch base if you have any questions or if there’s anything I can do for you.

Have a great weekend, and remember…Life is short. Be intentional.


Photo by Nick Kelly.
The Happiness of Pursuit

The Happiness of Pursuit

A few weeks ago I received an advance copy of Chris Guillebeau’s new book The Happiness of Pursuit (catchy title, no?).  For those who don’t know Chris, he has a hugely popular blog and is a New York Times bestselling author, but he is probably best known for his goal (recently completed) of visiting every country in the world.

In the book Chris talks about the importance of finding quests that bring purpose and excitement to your life.  He offers his quest to visit every country as an example, then weaves dozens more examples throughout the book where ordinary people turned a big idea and a willingness to act into a new adventure.

Get a free copy of the book

I’ve really enjoyed reading through the book and have been using it to outline a fun new quest for 2015 (more on that later this year).  If you’re interested in living an intentional, meaningful life, I’d encourage you to check it out as well.  In fact, I’m going to give you a free copy.  Well, one of you anyway.  My copy of the book is dog-eared and marked up, so I picked up another one to give away.

How to enter the giveaway?  There are thousands of people all around the world who subscribe to the weekly updates at Intentional Retirement.  In just the last few weeks we’ve had people sign up from as far away as North Pole Alaska, Norbury United Kingdom, and Quarry Bay Hong Kong.

I love hearing from those readers (that’s you!), so to enter the contest just go to Intentional Retirement and leave a short comment at the end of this post saying hi and the city you call home.  If you’d prefer, you can also email me at joe@intentionalretirement.com.  That’s it.  “Hi Joe! I’m reading this article in <insert city>.”  I’ll pick one of you at random from the comments/emails and follow up with you to get you your free book.

Have a great weekend!


The most important question to ask about your to-do list

The most important question to ask about your to-do list

If you’ve had a chance to read A Brief Guide to Retirement Bliss, you know how important I think it is to decide what you really want out of life and to take those plans really seriously. If you don’t decide, then three things will likely happen:

  1. Other people will decide for you
  2. You’ll say “yes” to things that don’t get you any closer to the life you want
  3. You will default to the uninspiring and unproductive

If your days are designed by those three things, then each day will find you further and further from the life (and eventual retirement) that you want.

Which leads me to that important question I mentioned earlier. Before adding something to your to-do list or saying “yes” to another commitment, ask yourself:

“Will this get me closer to what I really want out of life?”

If the answer is “No” then don’t do it. What’s the point of busying yourself with a bunch of tasks that don’t get you any closer to a purposeful, satisfying life?

A little lifestyle experiment

With that in mind, I’d like to propose a little lifestyle experiment. There are 16 weeks left in 2014. What can you do in that time to rework and reshape your schedule so that 2015 and beyond is spent focused on things that actually get you closer to what you want your life to be about? What commitments can you wind down? What goals can you set? How can you better align your time with your priorities? Here are a few articles that might help:


Good luck!


Photo by Nick Kelly.