How to make time lapse videos with your smart phone

How to make time lapse videos with your smart phone

Note: This post is part of a weekend series I’m doing throughout 2015 that is focused on fun things to do (or learn) during retirement (i.e. bucket list items). I hope you enjoy them and use them as inspiration for your own adventures. Congrats to Dennis from our email subscribers who was the winner of this week’s giveaway.  There’s an iTunes gift card on the way to your inbox Dennis. Feel free to use it toward the purchase of the time lapsing app discussed below.

Have you ever watched one those cool time lapse videos and asked yourself “I wonder how they did that?” Me too. So I added “learn to time lapse” to my bucket list. Time lapse is one of those things that has become infinitely more approachable with the advent of apps and the smart phone. Making a time lapse used to involve complicated and expensive equipment (which you can definitely still use if you want to make super high quality videos), but now just about anyone can make a cool time lapse video with equipment they already have in their pocket.  Here’s an easy guide on how to make time lapse videos with your smart phone.

What is time lapse?

Before jumping in, let’s explain what time lapse is. Many people incorrectly assume that time lapse is just shooting a video and then speeding it up. In actuality, time lapse is a series of still photos that are strung together and played back to create a moving sequence. What makes it interesting is that the rate at which the photos are played back is faster than the rate at which they were captured. This allows you to see movement that your eye wouldn’t normally pick up on. For example, you could take a picture of clouds every 10 seconds and then play those pictures back at 30 frames per second and you’d see the clouds rapidly changing and moving across the sky.

What equipment do you need?

For beginners, all you should need is your smart phone, a tripod and an app to help you sequence and render the photos. The app I use is Lapse It, which is available for both iPhone and Android. (Note: Some smart phones like the iPhone have a time lapse setting, but it doesn’t allow you to control any of the settings, so I prefer to use the app).  If you already have a tripod, you’ll need an adapter that will hold your smart phone.

Step 1: Compose the photo

One of the key benefits of time lapse is movement, so when composing your shot, you want to look for things with some sort of movement (e.g. clouds, sunrise, tides, traffic, etc.). Your camera needs to be still while taking the photos, so find an interesting scene, set your camera up on the tripod and you’re ready to go. Note: Try to set up your camera where people won’t be walking in front of it (unless people are the subject of your time lapse).

Step 2: Adjust the settings

Once you’re camera is set up, you’ll need to set the frame rate. That is the number of seconds (or minutes) between each photo. Lapse It allows you to easily adjust the frame rate based on what you’re trying to capture. If something is moving relatively quickly, you can set your frame to capture a photo every few seconds. If it’s moving more slowly (sunrise for example), you can set your frame rate to capture a photo every 10-15 seconds.

Step 3: Take the photos

Once you’ve chosen your subject, set up your camera and adjusted the settings, just hit the “capture” button to start taking photos. At this point you can sit back and relax, because it can take a bit to get enough photos for the video. For example, if you plan on playing photos back at 30 frames per second and you want a 30 second video, then you need 900 photos. If you’re taking a picture of clouds every 10 seconds and you want to take 900 photos, then you need to take photos for 2.5 hours.

Step 4: Render the images

Once you’ve taken all the photos you need, just hit “stop” and Lapse It will automatically bring up the settings for rendering the final images. This is where you can choose the playback speed, add music or filters, trim the video, etc. Each time you adjust a setting, you can play back the sequence to see what your final video will look like. When you have it like you want it, just hit “render” and Lapse It will complete the project. Once it’s done you can save the video to your camera roll or share it to social media like Instagram or Facebook.

The final product

What does the final product look like? I was in Belize a few weeks ago and took a quick time lapse of the sunrise. I’ll put it below, but if you’re reading this post in your email, you may need to visit Intentional Retirement to actually watch the playback. I’m still learning the ropes myself, so this isn’t the best quality in the world, but you get the idea. Now you can give it a try yourself.

Bucket List Books: How and why to add reading to your bucket list

Bucket List Books: How and why to add reading to your bucket list

Note: This is part of a weekend bucket list series I’m doing throughout 2015 that is focused on fun things to do during retirement (i.e. bucket list items). I hope you enjoy them and use them as inspiration for your own adventures.  I’m also doing a giveaway in conjunction with the series that you can read more about below.

One of the goals on my bucket list is to read 500 books between ages 40 and 50. Is reading on your bucket list? If not, it should be. Why is regular reading so important? How will you benefit from reading more? How can you make it through dozens of books in the typical year? What have I read so far on my way to 500 books in 10 years? Read on to find out. 🙂

Why You Should Read More

It keeps your mind sharp. Recent studies show that engaging your brain keeps it sharp, improves your vocabulary, improves your memory, helps improve your reasoning ability and might even help delay the symptoms or onset of dementia.

It inspires you to do interesting things. We all want to live full and interesting lives. Reading gives you ideas of things to do and then inspires you to do them. It’s difficult to read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, without being inspired to get up off the couch and plan your own hike. If you read My Life in France by Julia Child, you’ll probably want to sign up for cooking classes or maybe even plan a trip to Paris. Reading is a great way to get ideas and inspiration for your bucket list.

It gives you ideas for self-improvement. Getting Things Done helped me to bring some sanity to my To-Do list. The Power of Habit helped me to understand how I can get rid of bad habits and create good ones. On Writing helped me to improve my writing. Books can help make a better you. As Socrates once said: “Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.”

It’s fun and a low cost form of entertainment. I spend most Saturday mornings on the couch with a cup of coffee and whatever book I happen to be reading. Not only is it enjoyable and relaxing, but it’s cheap entertainment (I get most of what I read from either the library or Amazon).

So in summary, reading gives you a better vocabulary. It makes you smarter and more interesting. It helps keep your mind sharp and improves your memory. It makes you a better conversationalist. It inspires you to do fun and interesting things. It’s great entertainment.  That’s not a bad list of benefits.

How to Read More

Life is busy, so if you want to read more, you need to make it a priority. That said, here are a few tricks that helped me read more than 50 books last year.

Listen to audio books. I drive about 25 minutes to work every day (and 25 minutes home) and spend additional time driving to and from appointments. On average, I probably spend about 90 minutes in the car each day. Rather than listening to the radio, I listen to books. My local library has an App that allows me to download audio books for free, so I always have something to listen to. A little less than half of my reading list last year was audio books.

Speed-reading. I used to be a painfully slow reader, so a while back I did a learning challenge on speed-reading. Read through the article for ways to test and improve your reading speed.

Always take your book with you. I got this tip from Stephen King in his book On Writing. Everywhere I go I either have a book or my iPod with me. You’d be amazed at how much time you spend in waiting rooms, in line or otherwise standing around doing nothing. Take your book along and make use of the time.

Read stuff that you enjoy. If you want to read War and Peace, more power to you, but don’t feel pressure to read things just because they’re classics. Read what you enjoy. If you look through my list below you’ll see Steinbeck and Dickens, but you’ll also see about a half-dozen Jack Reacher novels, which are the literary equivalent of junk food. Who cares? I like them. I took a detective fiction class in college and since then I’ve always appreciated the genre. Read what you enjoy and you’ll read more.

Bucket List Books: What I’ve Read the Last Two Years

Below is a list of what I read during the first 2 years of my 10-year goal. I put Amazon links to each book in case you’d like to learn more about a particular book and possibly add it to your own reading list.

2013 (Age 40)

  1. Wool, Hugh Howey
  2. Do The Work, Steven Pressfield
  3. The Art of Non-Conformity, Chris Guillebeau
  4. Boomerang, Michael Lewis
  5. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand
  6. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity, David Allen
  7. Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before, Tony Horwitz
  8. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  9. The Big Short, Michael Lewis
  10. The Glass Castle: A Memoir, Jeannette Walls
  11. My Life in France, Julia Child
  12. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
  13. The Four Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferriss
  14. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne
  15. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King
  16. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, David Sedaris
  17. The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern, Victor David Hansen
  18. World War Z, Max Brooks
  19. Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, Piers Paul Read
  20. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, Michael Pollan
  21. Grand Ambition, G. Bruce Knecht
  22. Child of God, Cormack McCarthy
  23. Everyman, Phillip Roth
  24. Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Anthony Bordain
  25. Tuesdays With Morrie: An Old Man, A Young Man and Life’s Greatest Lesson, Mitch Albom
  26. No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Missions That Killed Osama Bin Laden, Mark Owen

2014 (Age 41)

  1. Jack London: An American Life, Earle Labor
  2. The Graveyard Book, Niel Gaiman
  3. Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, Rolf Potts
  4. The Call of the Wild, Jack London
  5. Walden, Henry David Thoreau
  6. Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War, Nathaniel Philbrick
  7. The Sea Wolf, Jack London
  8. Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
  9. Open: An Autobiography, Andre Agassi
  10. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  11. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
  12. My First Summer in the Sierra, John Muir
  13. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
  14. East of Eden, John Steinbeck
  15. The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
  16. Start Something that Matters, Blake Mycoskie
  17. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
  18. Einstein: His Life and Universe, Walter Isaacson
  19. Roughing It, Mark Twain
  20. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, James Thurber
  21. The Martian, Andy Weir
  22. Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson
  23. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
  24. Escape From Davao: The Forgotten Story of the Most Daring Prison Break of the Pacific War, John Lukacs
  25. White Fang, Jack London
  26. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
  27. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, Walter Isaacson
  28. John Barleycorn, Jack London
  29. A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin
  30. Travels With Charley: In Search of America, John Steinbeck
  31. The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World, Stephen Mansfield
  32. The House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer
  33. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering American on the Appalachian Trail, Bill Bryson
  34. Moneyball, Michael Lewis
  35. A Clash of Kings, George R. R. Martin
  36. Wooden On Leadership, John Wooden
  37. The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life, Chris Guillebeau
  38. The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, Joel Dicker
  39. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lax, Rebecca Skloot
  40. The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin
  41. 61 Hours, Lee Child
  42. 12 Years A Slave, Solomon Northup
  43. Worth Dying For, Lee Child
  44. A Wanted Man, Lee Child
  45. Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl
  46. Never Go Back, Lee Child
  47. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  48. River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, Candice Millard
  49. We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance, David Howarth
  50. A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking
  51. The Shawshank Redemption, Stephen King
  52. Lawerence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle Ease, Scott Anderson
  53. Sailing Alone Around the World, Joshua Slocum
  54. One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaska Odyssey, Sam Keith and Richard Proenneke

Giveaway: One of my favorite books last year was Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum. In the 1890s, he became the first person to sail alone around the world and then he wrote a book about it. He’s actually a really good writer, so in addition to being a great adventure tale, it’s a story well told. This week’s giveaway winner is a subscriber from our email updates list (congrats Karl!) so I’m sending him a copy of the book. Tune into future posts for more giveaways.

Note:  Since I have my own books for sale on Amazon, I am a part of their Amazon Affiliate program.  The links above are affiliate links, which simply means that if you buy a book after clicking one of the links, Amazon (at no additional cost to you) will pay me a small commission that I use to help cover the costs of this site.  That’s not why I recommend the books, of course, but I wanted to be sure to make you aware of it.

Lunch at the Eiffel Tower

Lunch at the Eiffel Tower

Note: This is part a Saturday Bucket List series I’m doing throughout 2015 that is focused on fun things to do during retirement (i.e. bucket list items). I hope you enjoy them and use them as inspiration for your own adventures.  I’m also doing a giveaway in conjunction with the series that you can read more about below.

Part 1: The Trip

The moment I stepped off the private elevator, I knew I was in serious trouble. I knew it in the way that a dog knows he’s in trouble after pulling the Thanksgiving turkey off the counter or the little-leaguer knows he’s in trouble when he line drives a baseball through the picture window. It’s that slow motion, “Oh No!” kind of trouble. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning.

My wife and I love to travel. We’re not trust fund babies or high earning executives, however, so we scrimp in some areas (housing and cars) so we can afford to spend extravagantly in others (travel and experiences).

For Christmas in 2007 I surprised her with a trip to Paris for the following April. As is usually the case, we tried to keep things on a budget, so when it came to food the plan was to opt for the prix fixe meal at cafés or a baguette and bottle of wine rather than pricey restaurants.

You have to splurge a little in a foodie capital like Paris though, so several months before we left I flipped through my guidebook looking for a good culinary candidate for a romantic lunch or dinner. That’s how I came across Le Jules Verne restaurant. It’s a Michelin starred restaurant run by world famous chef Alain Ducasse. It’s located on the second level of the Eiffel Tower and has amazing food with views to match. I assumed that dinner was out of my price range, but my guide book indicated that lunch for two was in the “$50 and up” category. I chose to focus on the $50. This story, as you’ve probably already guessed, is about the “and up.”

The book said reservations are difficult to get, but my credit card company has a concierge service that prides itself in being able to line up difficult travel details, so I called them to see what they could do. A few weeks later, they called me back and said that we had a reservation for two for lunch. Woo-hoo!

Part 2: Credit Card Crisis

Fast forwarding a bit, the day of the big lunch arrived. The trip had gone great so far and we were having a wonderful time. Since we both expected to gorge at lunch, we decided to have a light breakfast. We skipped our normal pâtisserie pig-out and instead walked to a local grocery store called Hediard and bought some raspberries and a few other snack items.

From there we walked to the metro station so we could buy tickets for our planned trip the following day to Père Lachaise Cemetery (where Jim Morrison, Chopin, Oscar Wilde and many others are buried). I walked up to the counter and in my very broken French said “Un carnet, s’il vous plait” which simply means “A 10 pack of tickets please.” I took out my wallet to pay and was surprised to see that my credit card was gone. The person at the ticket counter stared at me while I stared into my wallet.

“I think I lost our credit card at Hediard,” I told my wife. We bee-lined back to the grocery store, but the card was, of course, already gone. We spent the next hour at the hotel calling the card company to cancel it and see if there was any way they could get us another one within a few days.

Part 3: Lunch at the Eiffel Tower

After dealing with the credit card fiasco, we showered, put on our Sunday best and took a cab to the Eiffel Tower. The tower has four legs that the French call “Piliers” and each is helpfully labeled with Nord, Est, Ouest or Sud. Le Jules Verne has its own private elevator located at the base of Pilier Sud, which allows you to bypass the enormous lines at the other Piliers.

We walked up to the door, gave them our names and were ushered into a small dark room with a dim, Thomas Edison style lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. An attendant walked us into the elevator, pushed a button and we started to rise. Which brings me back to where this story started, dressed to the nines and ready to step off the elevator into the nicest restaurant I’d ever seen. The doors slid open and we were immediately greeted by name and ushered to our table.

As we walked, my first thought was of the guide book. No longer was I focused on the “$50.” Now (like all of you) I was painfully aware of the vague “and up.” My second thought was that I had no credit card, about 60 euros of cash and a debit card with a $250 daily limit (to protect against theft), roughly $135 of which I had already used up by withdrawing 100 euros earlier in the day for walking around money.

Once seated, we were greeted by our waiters (plural), given menus and asked if we wanted a champagne apéritif. I looked down at my menu and saw that a glass of champagne was 22 euros or about $30 at the existing exchange rate. I started to form the words “Non merci,” but before I could get them out my wife said “Oui, s’il vous plait.”

With those four words, we shot through the “$50” and started into “and up” territory. And just to be clear, it wasn’t really about the cost of lunch. I’m all about spending on experiences. It was more about the fact that I didn’t have a credit card or enough cash to pay for it. Oh well. C’est la vie!

The waiter returned and my wife proceeded to order the most expensive soup/salad/main course on the menu, the prices of which were about what you’d expect from a restaurant that just charged you $60 for two glasses of champagne. Thinking it would be poor manners to tell him that I was only having the champagne, I ordered as well.

“Isn’t this great!” my wife said.

“Yes, definitely,” I said. Then hesitatingly: “It’s pretty expensive, don’t you think? I’m not sure the debit card is going to cover it.”

“Where did you see the prices?” she said. “My menu didn’t have prices.”

We confirmed this later when the dessert menu came out and also when we struck up a conversation with the couples next to us. The men’s menus had prices. The women’s did not. Well played Le Jules Verne. Well played.

But there was no point in worrying. These things usually have a way of working themselves out. I just hoped the solution didn’t involve me doing dishes to cover our tab. The lunch was amazing, the service was exceptional, the view of Paris was really fantastic and, as I mentioned earlier, we ended up meeting the couples on either side of our table and had a really fun conversation. In one of those moments of travel serendipity, the couple on our left was from Alaska (where my wife is from) and the couple on our right was originally from El Salvador (where I had traveled to earlier in the year). We lingered for several hours (in Paris, the table is yours as long as you want it) until it was time to head back to the hotel, so I asked the waiter for the bill.

He brought it to the table, and let me just tell you, when a waiter hands you a bill that is beautifully printed on a 5”x11” piece of heavy card stock, you don’t really need to look at the total to know that lunch was expensive. I looked anyway. “And up” indeed. Doing a quick conversion in my head, I figured that the total was about $400. For lunch. For two people.

I handed him my debit card with a slight smile, which I’m sure he interpreted to mean “What a lovely lunch we had,” but which actually meant, “I’m sorry in advance that this card isn’t going to work.” A few minutes later he came back to the table, handed me the card and my receipt, exchanged a few pleasantries and was off. I’m still not sure how it worked, but it did. No dishwashing required. The rest of the trip went off without a hitch and I can’t recommend Paris highly enough. Just don’t lose your credit card.

Is Paris on your bucket list? Here are some other fun things to do:

  • Ride a Bateaux Mouche on the Seine
  • Get ice cream at Berthillon on Île St. Louis
  • Take a walking tour of Montmartre and buy a painting from a local artist
  • Visit the Shakespeare and Company bookstore
  • Walk through Pére Lachaise Cemetery
  • Visit Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Walk up the steps of the Arc de Triomphe
  • Find a good local bakery (boulangerie) and try some fresh bread
  • Find a good local pastry shop (pâtisserie) and try pretty much everything
  • Visit the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay

Giveaway: I really like Woody Allen’s movie Midnight in Paris, so I’m giving away a copy this week to someone signed up for our 2015 Bucket List Giveaway (e.g. on our email list, Pinterest page, Facebook page, etc.). This week’s winner is Darla from our Pinterest page. I’ll touch base with her to get her the movie. Meanwhile, if you’d like to participate in future giveaways, you can read more about it over here.

The 2015 Bucket List Giveaway

The 2015 Bucket List Giveaway

Success in just about anything can be boiled down to two things: 1) Knowing what works and 2) Doing what works.  At Intentional Retirement I try to balance my writing between those two things. Sometimes I write about what it takes to have a secure, meaningful retirement.  Sometimes I put those things into practice and then write about my experience.

Not surprisingly, I plan on doing more of that in 2015, but with a small twist.  During the week I’ll continue to write about the nuts and bolts of a great retirement, but each Saturday I’ll write what I call a “Bucket List” post.  It will be a short story about something fun or interesting that I’ve done (or am in the process of doing) from my Bucket List.  I’ll include a “How To” with each article in case some of you want to try it out.  I’ll post them on Saturday to give you a little weekend inspiration and also so you can feel free to pass over it or save it for later if you’ve had a busy week.

To make it fun, I thought I’d do a little giveaway with some of the posts.  And by little, I mean I’ll be giving stuff away all year and it will include small things like books and big things like plane tickets.  I’ll post more on the prizes and rules below.

I hope you follow along and enjoy the articles, but more than that I hope you’ll use them as inspiration for your own adventures.  We’re not designed to just sit around and think about life or endlessly make plans for “Someday.”  We’re designed to live life.  The only way to make that happen—to make 2015 different and better than any other year—is to make plans and execute them. Knowing what works.  Doing what works.

Bucket List Giveaway Rules

How do I enter?  There are two primary ways to enter.  First, you can follow one or more of the Intentional Retirement Social Media sites.  For example, like us on Facebook and you’ll get one entry.  Follow our Pinterest page and get another entry.  Ditto for Twitter and Instagram.  If you already follow us on one of those then you’re already entered in the giveaway (see how easy that was).

Second, you can tell your friends about the site and encourage them to sign up for our Free Retirement Toolkit.  If someone you refer signs up for the Toolkit, I’ll give each of you 5 entries in the giveaway (note: if you’re already signed up then you’ve already got 5 entries).  For example, get 10 of your friends to sign up and you get 50 entries and they each get 5.  The only catch is that I need to know who to give credit to, so you just need to let me know.  There are two easy ways to do that.  You can CC (or BCC) on the email when you tell your friends about the site.  Then if any of the people in that email sign up, I’ll give you the credit.  You can also just have your friend respond to the “Welcome” email they get after signing up to let me know who referred them.  Bottom line, just let me know who to credit.

Can I enter more than once?  Yep.  Every time you do the things described above you’ll get an additional entry (or entries).  And no, you can’t “like-unlike-relike” or “subscribe-unsubscribe-resubscribe” to get multiple entries.  All of the entries will be cataloged in a spreadsheet and maintained throughout the year.  Winners will be randomly drawn from that spreadsheet, so the more entries you have, the greater your odds of winning something.

What are the prizes?  The grand prize is $1,000 plane ticket on your airline of choice, anywhere you want to go.  This will come in the form of a gift card on that airline, so you can use it for multiple tickets if you prefer.  I’ll give that away on New Year’s Eve of 2015 so you can ring in the New Year by going somewhere awesome.  Throughout the rest of the year I’ll be giving away books that I’m reading, books or guides that I’ve written, gear associated with certain Bucket List items and things I pick up on my travels.

Legal mumbo jumbo.  Void where prohibited.  No purchase necessary.  See the official rules over here.

Five-second summary: Follow along throughout the year.  Get your friends to do the same.  Win cool stuff.  Repeat.

As always, thanks for following along.  I’m excited for 2015 and I hope you are too.  Touch base if there’s ever anything I can do to help.

~ Joe

Photo by Ben Carr. Used under Creative Commons License.
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  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!