The Open Mic


One of the things we’ve done at each Escape Adulthood Summit is reserve a chunk of time at the end for attendees to have the floor. It’s always one of our favorite parts, and seems to be a welcome opportunity for people to share whatever is on their mind.

Sometimes they talk about a new thing they learned or a transformation they’ve undergone. Sometimes they offer a word of appreciation for a new friendship that was formed with another attendee. Sometimes they just share their favorite part of the whole thing.

We figured that it would be worth trying it here as well.


The proverbial mic is yours, dear friend.

Feel free to share whatever is on your heart in the comments below.

Secret Mission: 20 Seconds of Bravery


We have come to the last day. Thank you for joining us on this grand experiment we call Escape Lab. We really hope it was a fun, insightful, and valuable experience for you.

We covered a lot of ground over these past four weeks, and you may have noticed a common thread weaving through it all. It’s a theme that might be best summarized in one simple word: Tinker. Whether we’re talking about how to make more time for the people and projects that are important to us, what we should opt-IN to or opt-OUT of, or how to whittle down our Regret-Me-Not lists down to nothing, it all boils down to that one first step. As we’ve seen again and again in the past month, a tiny but bold experiment can change everything. Sometimes the conscious decision to just freaking start is the most important step of all.

I, for one, spent a lot of my childhood being afraid. I was afraid of new experiences. Of meeting new people. Of the unknown. Of drowning. Of looking stupid. Of the future. Of being a colossal failure in life. I was afraid the thunder, the lightning, and the firetrucks. There have been many moments in my life when I have been afraid and, like Susan Jeffers advises, “felt the fear and did it anyway.” Those brief moments of bravery have increased my resistance to fear and bolstered my courage to keep going.

If you haven’t already, we HIGHLY recommend watching We Bought a Zoo starring Matt Damon. It’s a fun little true story about a guy with two kids who literally bought a zoo after his wife died. It also features one of my favorite movie quotes of all time:

“You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

It’s a pretty strong line by itself, but in the context of the movie, it’s profoundly powerful.

I don’t know about you, but to me, there is great comfort in remembering that I don’t have to be brave and courageous every minute of my life.

20 seconds here and there will do.

And so, silly things like sticking a cup to the top of our car or eating spaghetti straight off the table do more than make us smile; they are safe but powerful ways to practice embarrassing bravery.

Now. Although this is the last day of the first Escape Lab, it’s still a Friday, which means it’s time for one more Secret Mission. It may be the most important one yet.


Your challenge, in the next few days, is to do something that requires 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery. We can’t tell you what that might be, but we suspect that in your heart, you may already know. Then report back here, and share what you did and what came of it.

In closing, we leave you with this music video. If we had an official theme song for this first Lab, this would be it.

Oh, and now you can open the final secret envelope marked February 6th, 2015.


Report on your 20 Seconds of Embarrassing Bravery!

Sticky Cup

If you haven’t already, open the package marked February 5th, 2015. Then do the challenge described below.


Just be aware of the national emergency you will cause for everyone around you.

Well, some people will not even notice. But the ones who do are likely to drive miles — I mean MILES, people — out of their way to let you know that you have Taco Bell on the top of your car. Of course, you and the people driving with you have the task of acting clueless. That’s part of the fun (and a challenge).


Share your Sticky Cup story below!

Rethink Rejection with Jia Jiang

jia-jiangA few years ago, Kim and I attended the World Domination Summit in Portland. One of the highlights was getting to hear Jia Jiang share his enlightening take on rejection. Fear of rejection is one of the reasons our Regret-Me-Not lists are longer than they should be. Fortunately, his talk was posted online, and we are thrilled to be able to share it with you. You do not want miss his Krispy Kreme Olympic donut story!

You can learn more about Jia and his work at


What tips do you have for being brave and facing rejection?

Remember Stanley


Today we mostly want you to keep thinking about your Regret-Me-Not list, and we have a few SHORT but IMPORTANT posts to read. Hopefully you can sneak these into a quiet moment in your day:

1) First, check out this post about my brush with the Stanley Cup, and how my epic fail inspired a personal rallying cry and the artwork above.

2) Next, read about how this new rallying cry directly led to me losing my coffee virginity.

3) And finally, some thoughts on why it might be a good idea to be a hoarder.

Escape Lab LIVE is TONIGHT!

Join us tonight (Tuesday, February 3) from 8:00-9:00 pm CST for more smiles and shenanigans. If you’re new to this, all you have to do is go to this special event page starting at 8:00 pm. We will be posting questions and comments right on that page, and you will be able to Like, leave comments, and post questions of your own. You might want to drink a Mountain Dew or fill your Must Be Nice mug with something caffeinated, because the action gets pretty intense!


Are you a memory hoarder? Have you ever had a Remember Stanley moment, whether you missed out on a memory or took advantage of a chance to make one?

Regret-Me-Not List

As we kick off the last week, we shift the discussion to regret. But not before we give out three more SWELL prizes!

[ Get transcript ]

Stuff to Check Out

Download the Regret-Finder-O-Matic!

• Read the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.

• RSVP for the next Escape Lab LIVE, which is this Tuesday from 8:00-9:00pm CST.

SWELL Prizes

• Congrats to Monica, Kimberly, and Debbie! They win the Freedom, Eat Dessert First, and To the Moon and Back prints, respectively.


Feel free to share any potential regrets you uncovered in your reflection time in the comments below…

Secret Mission: Operation Care Package

Week three is just about in the books, but not before we send you off with a secret mission! One of our goals with Escape Lab was to not only improve the lives of the participants, but to encourage them to make a difference in the lives of others, too.

We hope that the experience of opening your Treasure Box was special. We hope that you were able to sense the care we put into each one, and we hope it brightened your day.

Now we hope that you’ll be inspired to create that experience for someone else who needs it.


This week’s secret mission is to create a care package for someone. I could be for a person close to you, or somebody you don’t know well at all, or even a complete stranger. It doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to cost much; it’s more about the thought that goes into it.

We are excited to share a video created specifically for this Lab by our good friend Ryan McRae. Some of you may recognize him from last year’s Escape Adulthood Summit. Quite simply, he is a master at putting care packages together and he was willing to share some tips with us. We think you’ll find this short video as helpful as it is humorous!


Obviously, this mission will take some time and thought, but when you complete it, we’d love for you to share your experience below. Oh, and if you’d like to share your story with Ryan, you can email him directly at

Who did you make your care package for? What did you include in it? How did the process make you feel?

Barbarian Spaghetti


You may or may not have known that spaghetti has Adultitis-fighting superpowers. As long as you keep it off of plates, that is.

This is one of the more polarizing ideas I’ve shared in many of my speaking programs. The thought of eating a spaghetti dinner sans plates either causes people to roll their eyes in disgust or exuberantly start planning when to do it.

As you might expect, children, who are weary from always being reprimanded to be more “civilized” at the dinner table, love Barbarian Spaghetti immensely. But it is a great gift to give grown-ups, too. We spend way too much time worrying what other people think, and that can be pretty exhausting. It’s fun to give others the permission to have fun, be a little silly, and not take themselves so seriously.

We’ve done this a few times, including Ben’s first birthday party and at a previous Escape Adulthood Summit. I am pleased that many audience members embrace it, and send me photographic proof. Here’s another.

I can assure you that in each case, the only one disappointed with the outcome is Adultitis.

Your challenge is to host a Barbarian Spaghetti dinner. If not tonight, then sometime soon. And if you find yourself completely opposed to the idea, you might want to ask yourself why. It could be evidence of how important it is for you to try. By the way, if you think of another meal that is on par with spaghetti, go for it. (But let’s just say cold cut sandwiches don’t count. :)

And now, please open the third mystery envelope (the one marked January 29, 2015). Inside you will find something to help keep Adultitis from spoiling your dinner.

Of course, we’d love to see your photos of your Barbarian Spaghetti dinner, but it would also be interesting to hear your thoughts on the experience, too, and the response of others you invite to join you!

Share your Barbarian Spaghetti experience below!

Family on Bikes

family-on-bikesAfter 21 years of classroom teaching, Nancy Sathre-Vogel and her husband decided life was too short to live the life of others. After making the decision to grab life by the horns and steer it their own way, the Vogel family spent nearly three years pedaling southward.

Along with their two children, they began a 17,300 mile bicycle journey from Alaska to Argentina which spanned nearly three years and fifteen countries. They’ve documented their journey online at Now, their goal is to inspire and encourage others to do the same.

Today we invite you to watch Nancy’s short TEDx talk and read her post, Making the decision to live a life less ordinary, which contains links to other articles she’s written on various topics, including why they decided to travel as a family and what daily life was like for this biking family.


What was your biggest takeaway from Nancy? What would you do if you weren’t afraid?



Today we’d like to introduce a very powerful activity. Our stories don’t just happen to us; they are the culmination of a series of (hopefully conscious) CHOICES that we make. Deciding whether or not to go to work is, in fact, a choice. Granted, the consequences for NOT going to work may not be very appealing, but it’s a choice nonetheless. Similarly, staying in a job you don’t particularly like is also a choice. So is deciding not to tinker with a possible escape plan that could lead to something better.

First, download this worksheet and print it out. Next, list every single thing that you do over a course of a week. (Print several copies if you need more room.) If you’ve done any of the Time Budget work, this will be a snap. Regardless, the more thorough your list, the more effective you’ll find this to be.

Here are some ideas to jog your memory. Please note that it is by no means exhaustive, and not every item will be applicable to you.

  • I choose to make / not make my bed every day.
  • I choose to go grocery shopping.
  • I choose to make breakfast / lunch / dinner.
  • I choose to go out to eat for breakfast / lunch /dinner.
  • I choose to eat healthy foods.
  • I choose to continue living in this house / condo / apartment in this city / state / country.
  • I choose to clean the house / cut the grass / shovel the snow / organize the garage.
  • I choose to send my kids to school / homeschool my kids.
  • I choose to help my kids with homework.
  • I choose to send the kids to child care.
  • I choose to drive the kids to child care.
  • I choose to go to work at my current job.
  • I choose to commute ___ hours a day for my job.
  • I choose to put in those extra hours to earn that promotion.
  • I choose to start / not start that small business.
  • I choose to allow my kids to be in ___ extracurricular activities.
  • I choose to attend none / some / all of my kids’ extracurricular activities.
  • I choose to ask / not ask that person out on a date.
  • I choose to spend ___ hours a week working on my marriage.
  • I choose to exercise / go to the gym / do yoga / pilates.
  • I choose to spend ___ minutes a day on my personal appearance.
  • I choose to watch the news every night.
  • I choose to subscribe / not subscribe to cable.
  • I choose to own ___ vehicles.
  • I choose to earn that degree.
  • I choose to care for my spouse / sick child / aging parent.
  • I choose to clean the house.
  • I choose to pay for a cleaning service.
  • I choose to attend that upcoming family obligation.
  • I choose to keep my house organized / disorganized.
  • I choose to play with my kids / grandkids.
  • I choose to keep that second job.
  • I choose to give myself / not give myself “me” time.
  • I choose to sleep ___ hours a night.
  • I choose to pursue my hobby.
  • I choose to spend ___ hours in prayer / meditation.
  • I choose to watch ___ hours of television a day.
  • I choose to have a Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / etc. account.
  • I choose to spend ____ hours on the internet a day.
  • I choose to write that book / make that jewelry / play that music / scrapbook those memories.
  • I choose to spend __ hours a week in my secret hideout.
  • I choose to volunteer for that cause.
  • I choose to serve on that board.

Ok. You’ll notice that each item on the worksheet has a blank checkbox next to it. In effect, you are currently opted-out of every single one of them. (Which may cause you to jump for joy or incite a panic attack!) Now, go through each item, one-by-one, and literally check the box next to each one you CHOOSE to opt-in to.

A couple helpful reminders:

1) You can’t do it all. You only have 24 hours in a day. Give yourself permission to say no to GOOD things so you can say yes to the BEST things.

2) It might help you to ignore the “shoulds” and heed the “musts.”

3) Another good rule of thumb: make the choice you’ll wish you’d made on your life’s last day.

4) We all experience different seasons of life. Now that Kim and I have three kids, we cannot reasonably expect to get as much work-related stuff accomplished as we did before we had kids (while being the kind of parents we want to be). So keep in mind that just because you don’t check a box today doesn’t mean you can’t check it three months from now or three years from now, during a different season of life.


Here are a few starter questions. Feel free to answer any or all of them in the comments below.

What did you learn from this activity? Did anything surprise you? What’s one new thing you’re either opting into or out of?