Four Year Year Cycles

Okay I gotta be honest here. The damn kids have got to go back to school. Summer is too long. I’m starting to go stir crazy.

Oh don’t get me wrong, the girls are great kids. They are well behaved and compliant with the rather minimal demands we put on them. We’re four introverts so everyone is usually pretty easy going and giving each other lots of space. They are just here during the day, which means neither Jennifer or myself 100% switch off.

The good news is that youngest is finally starting high school and we’ve got just four more years of school age kids. Which means right now is a finishing line of sorts and in four more years there’s another finishing line.

Looking backwards in time, summer 2009 is when I started this whole MMSL journey. Four years ago. Back then there wasn’t even the phrase MMSL… no MAP, no Alpha Beta Balance, no Captain and First Officer, no Primer, no Time Before Writing… nothing. It’s really hard to imagine a time of not knowing that information and concept collection. Just me lost on Talk About Marriage trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and marriage as the starting point. The ending to that four years has been writing The Mindful Attraction Plan and pretty much the final polish on The MAP as a concept. Plus leveraging all that into the Life Coaching.


2009-2013 has been MMSL 1.0

2013-2017 youngest does high school and lets call that MMSL 2.0

2017-2021 No more kids! Which creates a new freedom for Jennifer and myself and let’s just say that’s MMSL 3.0

We’ve actually somewhat decided what MMSL 3.0 will be in that without worrying about kid watching, we’ll be vastly more able to travel. By travel I mean speaking, appearances, the whole touring craven fame monster thing. Jennifer and I traveling together. Which means we really need to be based out of a hub airport city. Jennifer likes warm weather. Yada yada yada, we’re kinda fixated on Dallas as the targeted city to move to.

We’re already starting to talk about fixing and replacing things based on the move in four years. It’s going to be one massive garage sale / large trash pickup summer 2017 and we’ll move with exactly what we must keep and no more. Then buy new of everything else when we arrive. Plus we both hate maintaining a house, we plan to travel a lot, so we’re obviously more looking toward a condo unit or even a rental when we go.

We ah… still haven’t visited Dallas yet. We’ll do that sometime and see if we like it. But we picked the neighborhood already anyway lol.

Apart from that, I haven’t really visualized what we do other than travel all over the world doing events for MMSL 3.0.

Now of course it’s MMSL 2.0. Which as far as I can tell is whipping myself harder to write more blog posts, but it’s really going to be repeating the same process as The Mindful Attraction Plan five or six more times. Taking one slice of the Primer/MMSL thought and then really expanding that into something properly targeted and marketable. I don’t see everyone needing *all* the books for their own life, but I do see all the books fitting into a shared theoretical framework. Hopefully everything cross sells and it’s all awesome. Plus the coaching and seeing exactly where the whole forum thing goes… 2000+ members now. Wow.

It’s going to be a very busy four years. Five or six more books in the next few years seems crazy, but I think I’ve found my groove with them finally.

Oh and Pro Tip. It’s the exact middle of these four year cycles that seem to be the hardest.

So how about you? Are you in a four year cycle? What’s the next step for you?


  1. says

    It feels more like we’re ending a cycle of sorts. I would say 2009-2013 was/is “Four Years of Happy and Stable”. 2014-2018 might be “Education, challenge, change”. A hunch, based on where we’re going right now. Formal plans? Not so much, no.

    Now I’m going to go play with naming four-year cycles, lol.

    Enjoying your blogging, and wishing you the best and much success!!!

  2. BigRed says

    Just be prepared for lots more summer in Texas. Summer comes early and stays late. I moved to Austin from Washington DC 12 years ago and still miss fall in the Mid-Atlantic.

  3. Mona says

    In January, the eldest kid will be 4yrs old, so 4yrs of parenting. The kids are finally getting to an age where they’re a bit more independent, and play well with each other. Also, this spring my husband will hopefully be finishing his 4yrs of college, and well take a small step up in the world. More financial independence, less crazy scheduling revolving around multiple jobs, classes, and parenting two young children. And to provide anecdotal support to your assertion that the midway point is the hardest, it was. Ten million things seemed to fall apart at once. But the end of this crazy phase is on the horizon, and plans are being made for the next one.

  4. says

    It pays to plan even if a long way off and things aren’t set in stone yet. In ’11ish (maybe end of ’10?) hubby put in for a transfer across country when his company was opening a new division 2000 miles away. Never heard anything back. Then summer ’12 he put in for a position in at corporate office and got flown out for interview (not as far awhile but still large move many states away). It didn’t happen and I was bummed as I had been down paring for awhile. I kept it up and out of the blue he got a call that fall about transferring to that new division. We moved our entire 2 bedroom apt in our 2 vehicles (a pick up with us- hubby, me, baby and pets; truck bed loaded with furniture and towing our car filled end to end with all our stuff). It was so amazing to be able to do that! We bought a few new thing since here but ppl really don’t understand how much stuff literally weighs you down!

  5. Louise says

    Luckily our youngest son is only 12, so he will be at home for at least six more years. Maybe more, if he decides to go to the local university, which means he could live at home. And of course there’s still the holidays. I hope they will be here for years yet.

  6. 2manypasswords says

    Can relate to alot in this post. I know what you mean about wanting the kids back in school so you can “switch off.” Mine are old enough to amuse themselves, but not old enough to drive, lol. I hate maintaining a house, too. When I’m on my deathbed, I highly doubt one of my regrets will be, “Damn, I wish I’d spent more time doing house & yard work.” I wouldn’t say I’m on a 4-year cycle per se. But I’ll have more freedom to come & go once the youngest hits junior high school in a few years and then both kids will leave for school in the morning alot earlier than they do now.

  7. KyleJ says

    As a Texan I would recommend Austin over Dallas. At least come down and check it out too. There is quite a lot of cutting edge entrepreneurs as well as a large contingent of internet marketers who’d like to JV with a successful blogger such as yourself. Plus it’s just cooler than Dallas.

  8. says

    I don’t see any clear cycles for us… Maybe multiple cycles happening at once. All I know is that 4 years from now (hell, even 2) will be infinitely easier, but it’s hard for me to see that far ahead.

  9. El_Cap says

    We’re a couple of years ahead of you – our youngest is 16. Lots going on now, so I can relate to the mid-cycle concept.

    I have one suggestion for future writing direction or perspective: Taking a marriage that is good and making it awesome. I found this site looking for ways to encourage my wife to dress up in sexy lingerie more often. Our relationship is good, with sex of some sort about 3x per week (and that matches our drive fine). She would dress up any time I requested it, but I wanted to get it to happen more often without a request. I bought the MMSLP book (the MAP wasn’t out yet), mostly to support what you’re doing – and of course it has been quite beneficial. The concepts for turning around a broken relationship work just as well for making something good into something great. Some of it doesn’t really apply, like setting up to move on to someone else. But so much of it does apply and works well. Creating more attraction more deliberately is accomplishing that goal (and making other things better as well). Thanks!

    I’ll be reading the Mindful Attraction Plan next. Maybe it is already geared more toward what I’m suggesting. I’m not looking for a “solution”, but more for a “tool and diagnostic kit”; more of “healthy living” rather than being at the point of needing “emergency medicine”. You have provided concepts that I can use to see the most beneficial changes or adjustments to make, and they have been most useful. I’m glad to read that you plan to keep on refining and sharing these ideas in the future. I wish you all the best!

    ps. Just so you know – this is coming from a Christian world-view perspective. I know that isn’t your perspective and we obviously don’t agree on everything. That’s okay. You’re not advertising as being Christian, and I get that. None of this prevents our interaction from being mutually beneficial.

  10. Weston says

    Out of the approximately 2 dozen warm weather hubs in the U.S. what makes you fixated on Dallas?

  11. 2manypasswords says

    @Athol – I’ve never been to Dallas, but once spent a long weekend in San Antonio & loved the place. It probably doesn’t fit the bill as far as being an airport hub. But if I was looking at Texas, San Antone would be at the top of my list.

  12. Tim says

    If he plans on a lot of travel, he could do much worse than live within driving distance of D/Fw Airport. From there, you can be just about anywhere on Earth in 24 hours, and anywhere in North America within 4 or 5.

    Now, if we could convince someone to build a Hyperloop between Austin and Dallas…

  13. katherinekelly says

    Moving to Dallas from Europe to attend college was a very pleasant culture shock and I still favor Texans for their warmth and hospitality but you may want to consider Austin if you like a slower pace of life. Dallas can be overwhelming just from its shear size and urban sprawl. Dallas has magnificent displays of modern architectural beauty comparable to what is being built in China so I found the city to be beautiful to live in on many levels.

    I have no cycles probably because I have no responsibilities so I follow whatever interests me and let serendipity work its magic.

  14. Random Angeleno says

    During my cross country drives, stayed in Dallas/Ft Worth, San Antonio and Austin. Dallas has the others beat for air travel convenience, but the other two are better from a lifestyle point of view. Just my $0.02.

  15. says

    We’re entering the college phase now… tomorrow we will officially be empty nesters but with 3 to get through college, aka, sorta broke. I’m considering starting a blog for us empty nesters… It’s an interesting time of life, and we are hearing of so many couples who seem to decide to go their separate ways at this point, I guess they hung in there for the kids’ sake, and lost the original mojo that brought them together pre-kids. About a year ago, I saw this coming and knew that we too would be headed for splits-ville if we didn’t actively work on our relationship (my blog is devoted to this “A wife’s journey from vanilla to erotic to save her marriage”), and your insights have been extremely helpful to me. We should have been putting our husband-wife relationship first from the very beginning (we knew better) but alas, we did not. I have yet to read all your books, but I upped my game and have given some ultimatums. So now we find ourselves gingerly trying to re-ignite the fire and recreate what should be there. The jury is still out, but starting to feel glad I hung in there through the worse and hopefully there will be better. Divorce after 50 (especially for the ladies) isn’t a pretty concept. Sort of does give the guys an unfair advantage, requiring the ladies to REALLY up their game a few notches more and then some.

    Texas is a good state in many ways, no state tax being the #1 positive. Depending on where you settle, it can be subtropical (Houston, San Antonio); some seasonal differences (Dallas and West Texas) or temperate (Austin). Austin is cool, weird place, a big college town… but pricey. Houston (and surrounding areas) are a real bargain. I’m originally from the east coast and miss it very much… we may end up back there.

    Taking off from a comment above: I find it somewhat unfortunate that you pulled away from your Christian faith, because so much of your thoughts are very much in line (and some are not). You probably have a pretty big Christian following and it seems that at one point in your life you understood what makes Christians tick (and not the negative stuff, of which there is plenty). You’d have a really powerful following in the faith community if you could link to Biblical truths.

  16. Ellise says

    I was going to say what KyleJ said–Austin is cooler than Dallas. But, Dallas is an airline hub. (as is Houston, but Houston isn’t even on your radar, which is good, because it’s nasty) I’ve lived in Dallas and Austin, and husband and I would love to relocate there when youngest is out of high school.

  17. KNZ says

    Moved from NZ to Dallas three months ago, so here are a few thoughts:
    – the public transport in Dallas is fantastic
    – DFW is really multiple little cities joined together – it doesn’t feel like a big city and doesn’t really have a core inner city like you’d expect
    – it helps if you speak Spanish
    – make sure you are not on a flight path for DFW or Love Field
    – I hope you like cockroaches
    – rent is very cheap compared to NZ, but you probably guessed that ;-)

  18. Michael says

    DFW is a great travel airport, and a genuinely good place to live. Having lived on both sides of the Metroplex, I think you’d prefer Fort Worth, based on your personalities. Smaller, a bit more conservative, less traffic, better cultural attractions, a real downtown. It’s a great place to live.

  19. The Ringmistress says

    I can recommend a great exterminator if y’all come to Dallas. Besides, I have friends in Austin. They have scorpions. And the ones in Houston have gators. I’ll take roaches.

    Seriously, we’re in DFW also. If you and Jennifer come down to scout, we’d be happy to recommend restaurants, service providers, etc.

  20. Neanderthal2000 says

    Trust me, as they get older, you start getting a new honeymoon period. It’s great, and we both love it. The best part was we didn’t know it was coming, so a big fun surprise.


  21. holdingallthecards says

    Re: 4 year plan…I’m there. Kids are 18 and off and running. So am I, in the sense that I’m now semi-single (legally separated) and pretty excited. Dating is an adventure, in that I’ve been in a dead marriage for years and can now start over with a clear conscience with the kids beginning the first chapter in their “adult” lives (how can one be both an adult and a teenager at the same time?)

    Wow–there are a LOT of divorced men starved for romance! I hope they don’t slide back into their old couch potato ways after the 4th date. I remain optimistic.

    @Athol & Jennifer: You guys seem a bit too liberal in your personal ways to be accepted socially in such a conservative town as Dallas. I think the previous posters citing Austin may be correct. Flying about isn’t everything, you know. You’ll still want to have a neighborhood connection with the locals at coffee bars, grocery stores, libraries, UPS, post office, garage, and wherever you wish to work parttime or volunteer (life, in other words). And Dallas is awfully conservative. Perhaps LIVE in the liberal and VISIT the conservative (to convince them to live liberal).

  22. says

    @holdingallthecards Dallas has it’s share of political diversity. One of the most popular publications is pretty unabashedly liberal (the Observer).

  23. Tom says

    Hey Athol,

    You’re actually in a very special four-year race, presuming your kids want to go to college. You have to get them prepared to make their way through university without accumulating debilitating amounts of student loan debt.
    Coming out of college with no, or at least minimal, student debt gives graduates a **huge** leg up over the majority who graduate with 5 figure, and sometimes even 6-figure, debt. There’s more to it than just planning to make enough money to pay their way through, but that’s a topic for a whole series of articles. Anyways, parents who fail to plan with their children, are planning to have their children fail.

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