YLYW Interview # 11: Joel Runyon Does The Impossible

Joel came to my attention fairly recently when I saw his name being bandied about like Google+ being launched.

People I like, like him. So of course I had to check him out. He had me at The Blog of Impossible Things. I mean, just how COOL is that name?!

While he has a real job, unlike the previous entrepreneurs interviewed here, I’m thrilled by how relatable his responses are – great insights and thoughts on living your dreams and doing the impossible (like, everything you love!).

Q1. Hey Joel! I LOVE how passionate you are about your WHY, ie, “to do the impossible & tell a great story”. What’s the next most important Q in the Universe for ultimate success and happiness & the answer? Don’t say 42.. 😉

Joel: I think you need to figure out what’s truly important to you in your own life. The question that’s helped me out a ton is What story are you telling with your life? If your story was a book, would it be worth reading?”

When you start to understand your life in that sense, you start to approach your decisions differently. When you view yourself as a character in this story that you’re writing with your life, you realize that there’s little room for apathy.

Every decision matters and each adventure is shaping your character in a new and impactful way.

This also helps you zoom out to a 30,000 ft view of your life. You’re able to realize that the present isn’t the future and that you can prepare and mold your future in a way that’s unique to you, if you really want to.

Q2. You’re a man living living life your way and charting your own course in work and life. What gets you down / makes the going tough and what are your fave ways to bounce back?

Joel: I hate being wrong. Making the wrong choice, Picking the wrong thing. Being wrong sucks. Failing in general sucks. I hate it. Absolutely hate it, and it can get me down for a bit. However, usually, I bounce back quickly when I realize that I’m in control of my attitude.

I can’t always control every situation and the circumstances around me, but I can always control how I act. When you realize that, you get a sense of strength that you don’t experience if you’re focused on playing the victim.

Also, being “wrong” isn’t always a terrible thing. Sometimes you do something and find out you were wrong, but you wouldn’t have ever figured that it was wrong unless you made that decision.

Deciding to control your attitude, and not let your circumstances control you helps you focus on understanding, learning and (hopefully) making better decisions in the future.

Q3. What are 3 things you’d most want someone reading this to know about doing the impossible and following their dreams?

Joel: Find out what you really want to do. If you don’t know, try a bunch of stuff until you find something you enjoy. Do that until it’s not fun anymore or until you want to try something else. Repeat. You won’t be perfect. No one is. And that’s totally okay.

It’s better than okay, it’s awesome.

Perfect sounds good, but usually plays out terribly. Things that are perfect, never have any ups or downs. There’s never doubt, there’s never failure and there’s never any redemption or surprise either which are the best parts of life. You will fail.

You will screw up, but don’t let that make you quit. Instead, embrace it, learn from it and keep on pressing on. Because when you do finally succeed, you’ll enjoy success that much more.

It’s not impossible. If you want to make a change, you can. You just have to want it enough. If you need help, just ask. People are a lot more accessible than we give them credit for.

Q4. You have a F/T job AND write a popular blog on how to do the Impossible. What are your top success / productivity / mental strength strategies for getting it all done?

Joel: It’s funny you say that because I feel like I’m constantly unproductive!. I have so many things to do and so many unfinished projects! 🙂 Honestly, I screw around and waste a lot of time, but I still have a lot of free time.

I don’t think we really grasp how much free time we really do have.

Even if you work 40 hours a week and get a full night’s sleep, you still have another eight hours left in the day. Obviously you have other things to do in your life, but when you sit down and schedule things out, it can be surprising how much time there really is available.

Personally, I’ve cut out watching TV (I don’t own one) and try to focus on the really important things I like to do (writing, training, business, friends). Work expands to the time allotted to it (Parkinson’s Law), so I try to set a time limit for the things I do and finish them in that time period.

Also, I try to do mostly stuff that energizes me. The stuff I’m not good at, the stuff that drains me, I try to find a way to minimize or delegate to others who are better than me. That helps me maintain momentum and stay focused on things that I enjoy.

Q5. Scanners find it close to impossible to pick just “one” passion. Yet, focus + clarity = success. Conundrum! How can people who want to do everything they love, make that work successfully without giving up in frustration?

Joel: I’ve found that I have the same problem. I love tons of different things, but instead of letting that hinder my focus as a weakness, I turn it into a strength.

Instead of picking one tiny little niche (personal finance, development, location independence, traveling, athletics), I figured out the common theme for everything I wanted to do… they all seemed Impossible.

So instead of focusing on just one tiny passion that I might get bored of down the road, I focused on anything and everything that’s impossible. This allows me to do a huge range of things and still be productive.

If I get bored, I can simply go to my impossible list and pick something new off of it and go do that.

I’m not stuck to budgeting my finances or even running triathlons forever. I pick something I’m interested in the here and now and do it until I don’t feel like doing it anymore. If I get bored, or the thing I picked stops being fun, I let it go for the time being, and pick up something new!

Joel Runyon writes about pushing your limits and telling a great story with your life by doing impossible things. You can follow his adventures at the Blog of Impossible Things or say hi on twitter.

Tia: Thanks Joel, for a smashing interview and sharing your impossible dreams, strategies and straight up inspiration. You’re da bombdiggity. Giggity.

So you, sparkly person reading this, what did you love in this interview? Do you have any seemingly impossible dreams? Let’s hear from you in the comments, k? Ps: If you enjoyed it, put a “like” on it. Thanks!

Facebook comments:



  1. says

    My favorite part was, “I do it until I don’t want to do it anymore”. You mean, no obligations? No shame that people will think you’re a quitter or call you “wishy-washy”?? I think I’ll stick to his way of life. Or at least try it on 🙂

    • says

      I know, right? This is heaven for us Sparklers – knowing how to do everything we love without losing our heads. Gave up the shame about quitting the day I read Refuse to Choose – huzzah! Thanks for dropping by, Andrea!

      • says

        Tiny clarification: I think it’s super-important to follow through on things you’re committed to. The impossible is hard and you’ll want to quit a lot. The trick is figuring out which things you *really* want to do enough to overcome that difficulty and which things you’re just doing because you feel obligated to do so. Feel free to drop the second kind quicker than a hot potato, but if those first kind are really important to you, stick with ’em!

        • says

          Agreed! Vital to follow through, as long as you’re still passionate about and aligned with why and what you’re doing. Often though, Scanners are interested in the learning of something instead of achieving mastery in *that* particular area, but don’t realise it and so beat themselves up for quitting ‘yet again’. That’s the kind of shame burial I’m on about 🙂 Burn, shame, burn!

  2. says

    Huge fan of this:
    “Every decision matters and each adventure is shaping your character in a new and impactful way. This also helps you zoom out to a 30,000 ft view of your life. You’re able to realize that the present isn’t the future and that you can prepare and mold your future in a way that’s unique to you, if you really want to.”

    Oh yes. HUGE fan.

    • says

      Tell you what – I’m pretty inspired in general, but reading Joel’s blog and his interview has turbo-charged my day! He’s a sparkling example of being who he is and living life HIS way, ay. Awesomeness!

    • says

      I considered working on a cruise ship once (in my earlier life as a Massage Therapist) but it sounded like too much work and I get sea-sick, haha. What a great way to live isn’t it? Do what you love till you don’t anymore. Thanks for chiming in, Roy!

  3. says

    Lots of Little Blog Minions 🙂

    Lots of writing. Consistency and interaction with people.

    If you want to focus on a successful business, just make one sale. just once. Then do it again. And again. Like most things, it gets easier and easier, the more you do it. Lots of work, but things tend to work out when you’re not afraid to jump and adjust mid-air 🙂

    • says

      Sorry .. deleted that comment by mistake! For anyone reading, the question Joel answered was about how to create a successful, kickass blog so fast and how to be successful online 🙂 Thanks, J!

  4. says

    love the idea about “what story am I telling?” What a great barometer to guide our intentions! Also, so glad that someone else out there hates to fail too. And gets down about it for a bit. Thanks for the permission! Thanks, Tia, for the great interview! xo

    • says

      Oh girl, I don’t think anyone likes to fail! Some of us are more willing to risk it than others though – that’s what makes the difference between a life well lived skidding to the finish line as opposed to resisting all the way 😀

      I get knocked downnnn but I get upppp againnnn! Thanks for chipping in sista!

  5. says

    I LOVE this:

    “I try to do mostly stuff that energizes me. The stuff I’m not good at, the stuff that drains me, I try to find a way to minimize or delegate to others who are better than me. That helps me maintain momentum and stay focused on things that I enjoy.”

    Keeping the momentum and energy in our work is so key! I’m shifting to this myself, and the first thing I had to let go of was the false notion that I was “supposed” to do it all. Great interview Joel. Thank you Tia!

    • says

      Run your business and life, don’t let it run you. Heck no, never have to go it alone. Takes a village yknow, but yes, you do know 🙂 And that’s the difference between an amateur and a pro. Thanks for sharing, St Claire!


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