How I Overcame My Fear of a Boring Marriage

by | inspiration. LDS Living. Relationship and Marriage Advice | no comments

Happy couple


I wasn’t afraid of marriage when I was single; I was thrilled for it.


I was, however, absolutely petrified of getting bored in my marriage and watching it fall off of one of the four “cliffs” on the path of matrimony:


1. The Cliff of Regret (6 months)


I was afraid of six months into marriage, after the novelty of being a newlywed wears off, the bills start mounting, and the realization that you are “stuck” forever sets in like quicksand.


2. The Cliff of Boredom (1 year)


I was afraid to hit a year, when I begin to be totally bored with the monotony of seeing and living with the same person every day.


3. The Cliff of Exhaustion (kids)


I was afraid of having kids, when my spouse gets so stressed with kids that she stops being fun, and I start to look for ways and reasons to get out of the house.


4. The Cliff of Growing Apart (empty nesters)


I was afraid that after the kids all started going to school I would be left with a total stranger to call my spouse.



While I was single (check out Dating Never Works . . . Until It Does: 100 Lessons from 1,000 Dates for more on that topic), married people would often encourage me to get married the same way they might have tried to persuade me to eat caviar: they would tell me it was an expensive, acquired taste and hint that they didn’t want to be the only suckers who had tried it.


There was always a smack of, “Oh man, I miss the chocolate cake of being single. Live it up while you can…”


Conversations like these always left me unsure what to expect of marriage.


Should I choose to stay single and avoid the regret and bitterness or should I choose to get married and join the band of married men stealing from their rich past to give memories to their poor present?


Then I met my soon-to-be wife and the choice seemed obvious—neither.


After I met Annie, I started noticing a different perspective on marriage that I had missed before. You see, aside from the many who freely offered up dating advice emphasizing the nightmares of marriage, there are those who quietly lived out happy lives.


They have adventures with each other, they plan fun activities with their kids, they still laugh at each other’s jokes, they truly enjoy spending time together, they disagree with respect…they have what I realized is real love.


So I decided to move forward and ask my wife to marry me.


When I hit my 13-month mark in my own marriage, I rolled over in bed one morning and it hit me: I was still happy.


I looked at my wife and I suddenly realized that just as we had a choice to avoid the first two cliffs, we could avoid the last two cliffs by continuing to make the choice to stay in love.


Just as we have the choice to be positive about dating, we also have the choice to be positive about marriage and starting a family.


It is a choice to be boring.

It is a choice to think kids ruin adventure.

It is a choice to pray together every day and pray for each other out loud.

It is a choice to have family night.

It is a choice to read the scriptures together.

It is a choice to do the dishes when you’re tired from work.

It is a choice to not say that critical comment.

It is a choice to find the positive in marriage and not let the fears leave our relationship on the cliffhanger of a bright future.


And while we don’t always make the right choices–the key is always knowing that it is our choice.


Our adopted grandma and dear friend gave us marriage advice when we got engaged, “You make a choice to marry someone and then choose every day to make it the right choice.”


I’m grateful for the choice we have to avoid the “cliffs” of marriage and I hope and pray that we can each make those choices daily to stay positive about finding a spouse and/or stay grateful for having one.


This article was originally published with some minor edits on


Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
  • Pinterest

This Weekly 30-Min Conversation Could Change Your Relationship Forever- Single or Married

by | LDS Living. Relationship and Marriage Advice | no comments

Relationship Conversation


I’ve been married for 10,000 hours, which makes me an expert.




Ten thousand hours is a little over a year.


That’s about how long it takes to get good at Angry Birds—not marriage.


But while I might not know much about marriage, over the last 10 years I have asked hundreds of people the same question:


What is your advice about marriage?


From those in the twilight of their lives to empty nesters, newlyweds, divorced, and single people (*gasp* yes…they do have great advice about marriage), I’ve taken their answers and adapted them into one simple conversation you can have on a weekly basis.


My wife and I have done this every Sunday since we’ve been engaged, and it is the only piece of marriage advice I feel qualified to give because much of the happiness in my marriage so far I attribute to this one weekly 30-min conversation.



The Relationship Inventory is a 5-step 30-min weekly conversation includes the following topics: finances, plans, appreciation, improvement, and goals.


1. FINANCES—5 minutes


Take a few minutes to talk about where you are at with money, debt, savings, net worth, vacation fund, etc.


If you have a budget, review how you are doing in the month as far as staying under or on par with what you’ve decided together.


My wife and I like to use the Mint budgeting app, but there are lots of other tools you can use together—even just opening bank statements is a step in the right direction.



One of the hardest things for me when I got married was sharing my calendar with someone.


I spent so many years being single, only trying to coordinate my time with a list of first dates, that I frequently forgot to let my wife know when I had places I needed to be or deadlines that I needed to meet.


Taking a few moments to share what the week holds for each of you, reviewing who has the plans for family night, scheduling date night, and, in the case of my wife and me, scheduling when we’re going to work on our side-businesses is critical to setting expectations for that week.


It also makes sure that you have time for the most important things and helps avert feelings of neglect or frustration.


3. APPRECIATION—5 minutes


It is easy to assume that your spouse feels your love and appreciation, especially as life gets chaotic.


But don’t.


As Thomas S Monson has said, “We should not let [the stresses of life] get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. Wrote William Shakespeare, ‘They do not love that do not show their love.’ We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown” (“Finding Joy in the Journey,” general conference, Oct 2008; William Shakespeare, Two Gentleman of Verona, act 1, scene 2, line 31).


Start this part of the conversation with something like, “One thing I appreciated about you this week was…” and get specific.


For example, tell your wife that you appreciated the way she kept the house clean that week or tell your husband you were grateful he did the dishes.


4. IMPROVEMENT—10 minutes


Ask, “What can I do to improve?”


That’s right; it must be a question. We must ask for ways to improve…and be willing to hear an honest response.


The wonderful days are when you are able to hear the response, ‘I think you’re doing great! Just keep it up.’



Take their observations in stride, apologize for any misunderstandings, and don’t get defensive. Don’t fire back with things that they need to improve on, but instead, wait until they have completed their thought and you’ve recognized their pain or frustration before responding. Make plans to rectify the situation.


Then, when they ask what they can do to improve, never say “never” or “always,” because you’ll always be sure to be wrong. Instead, make sure you phrase your answer kindly and constructively: “When you do ABC, I feel XYZ.”


“When you don’t do the dishes, it makes me feel like you don’t appreciate me” instead of, “You never do the dishes!”


If you remember to ask sincerely, listen, apologize, and respond to their asking with kindness and a genuine desire to help you both improve, this can be the most productive moments for your marriage each week.



You and your partner can be a great team. Support each other and ask for support.


By sharing sincere goals and asking for accountability, this simple topic can make you feel more open to suggestions throughout the week and keeps you both focused on a common purpose and gives you one more opportunity to support each other.


FINAL THOUGHT: More than Marriage


Please keep in mind that while this conversation is tailored for a relationship, I’ve used it with roommates and friends at times when it was needed. It is for any type of relationship and probably sounds familiar to any returned missionary who has participated in companionship inventory.


There is no silver bullet for a great marriage (at least none that I’ve learned in the last 10,000 hours), but by taking just 30 minutes each week to go over these topics, it will be like a breath of fresh air that will strengthen your relationship and dispel unrealistic expectations.


At the very least, it’s better than playing Angry Birds by yourself.



A different version of this article originally published on


Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
  • Pinterest

3 Simple Rules for Chasing Your Dreams – Byron Van Pelt Guest Post

by | Guest Post. inspiration | no comments

Byron Van Pelt Bowl of oates


Byron Van Pelt and I met at a Tony Robbins seminar where we happened to be sitting next to each other. He is a life coach, energetic, and an amazing guy to talk to! I was so impressed with him that I had him write a guest post and this is one of my favorite articles on inspiration I have ever read.


It has made me a better person and I’m grateful to be able to share this post.





Zack’s latest post “You Don’t Have to Do Anything” inspired me to write about going after our dreams.


Most people tend to ask me how I ended up becoming a life coach – and what it took for me to “live my dream” full time.


So I wanted to address that here. And more importantly, I wanted to empower you with some ideas on truly creating life on your terms.


If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to pursue your goals until they become your reality, this is for you.


These are my three simple rules for chasing your dreams.



Rule 1: Get Specific or Forget About it


For the LONGEST time I just wanted to quit my job.


It wasn’t because I had to wakeup at six in the morning every day.

It wasn’t because I had to sell car warranties over the phone on a “one call close.”

And it wasn’t because the commute was a pain in the neck.


I wanted to quit my job because my dreams were bigger than that position.


(I have zero ill will toward that company by the way – I worked with some truly awesome people).


I knew I wanted to make more money, to help more people, to use my talents to give value on a larger scale. But I hadn’t FULLY contemplated the exact future I wanted to create.


I later realized directing all of my thoughts to “leaving the job” was the very thing keeping me there.


Think about it like this:


Imagine boarding a 747 in New York traveling to Los Angeles. Picture yourself sitting in first class close enough to overhear the pilots before taking off.


Before they close the cabin doors, you hear the captain say, “Here’s my strategy for getting us to Los Angeles: I’m just going to try to get as far away from New York City as I can. I figure the more I get away from New York, the closer we’ll get to LA. Hopefully everything else just works out.”


How confident would you be in getting to your destination?


The reason I wasn’t able to make traction toward my dreams was because I lacked specificity.


Just like how you can’t expect to get from New York to Los Angeles by simply “getting out of the city” you can’t expect to achieve your dreams by “getting out” of your current situation.


How often have you heard someone say:


“I just want to get out of debt.”

“I just need to get out of this relationship.”

Or “I just need to get out of this job.”


Sound familiar?


The mistake many people make (myself included) is that we try to fly to our dreams by moving away from our current situation.


And this means we’ll NEVER get to chase down the dream because we don’t even know what we want.


So the key is to get extremely clear, laser-focused, and specific when it comes to nailing down what we want. Anything less than absolute precision won’t generate the actions necessary to move us toward our desired future.


Here’s a quick exercise. Take out pen and paper for this one.


Start by asking, “What do I want? Where do I want to be in one year? Three years? Ten years?”


Once you’re done, you’re already more likely to achieve your dreams than 97% of America (According to Brian Tracy, only 3% of Americans have written goals). But it’s only a start.


Now we need to crank up the clarity and specificity. Because knowing that we’re just flying to Los Angeles isn’t good enough. We have to know the exact location of the airport and the runway we’ll be landing on too.


So back to the pen and paper. Answer these questions:


What specifically do I want?”

When specifically do I want it?”

Who specifically is involved with this dream?”

Where specifically does my dream take place?”

Why specifically do I want it?”

How specifically am I going to obtain it?”


The reason why these questions are so powerful is because “to specify” literally means to “decide definitely.”


As Goethe famously said,


“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.”


Clarity is real power.


Having a detailed vision for the future you want to create is akin to having Google maps for the mind. You might make a few wrong turns, you may be off course for a bit, but your guidance system keeps you on track.


And with a focused guidance system, you EXPECT to get there. This expectation fuels your desire to keep moving forward.


I started making real, tangible progress toward my dreams once I created a detailed picture of what I wanted. And I began adding more details to it over time so that this picture grew from a 2D image into a fully fleshed out 3D reality.


And I would spend at least twenty to thirty minutes a day in this reality. I could SEE the view from my backyard looking out over the water. I could FEEL the warmth from the cup in my hands and TASTE the coffee in my mouth.


Once I knew exactly where I wanted to go and what that reality was going to be like, I began taking radically different actions.


These specific actions are what allowed me to gain enough momentum to eventually quit my job and live my dreams full time.


I did this by methodically building up my life and business coaching client base until I was able to fully replace my income.


You can (and will) do the exact same thing with your dreams if you get so clear as to what you want that you can taste, touch, hear, see, and smell it.



Rule 2: Speed of Implementation


Let me ask you a quick question just for fun:
What was the last self-help/personal growth book you read?


Got it?


Now answer this:


What was your biggest takeaway or key insight? What was the single most important idea you got from reading it?


A little more difficult – I’ll give you a second.


Now answer this:


How did you IMPLEMENT this insight into your life? How did you take that idea and use it to CHANGE what you do on a daily basis?


If you have an answer, you get the gold star. And if you don’t, no worries!


What you’re about to learn is essentially the single most important rule to get you closer to your dreams than just about anything else could.


If you’re like me, then you probably read lots of inspirational blogs, listen to empowering podcasts, read enriching books, and spend a good chunk of your free time “learning” new things.


I did this constantly (and still do). But I would rarely implement much of anything.


I would finish a great book and think, ‘Hmm. Great book. That was so helpful!’ And I would reflect on it for a while. But then I was onto the next book.


I would never DO anything differently in my life.


As I started to become more aware of this, I would go back and read these books again. And then I would start to SLOWLY make changes.


Yet my life wasn’t looking very different.
What was going on? I KNEW all of this incredible information. I had read so many dang books! And yet I wasn’t growing.


Why not?


Learning is NOT gathering new ideas and storing them in the mind.
Learning is NOT memorizing new concepts.

Learning is NOT studying new information.


I realized until I actually shifted what I was DOING in my day to day life, I hadn’t actually learned anything.


Once I made this discovery, I went about the process of “learning” in an entirely different way. Instead of simply taking notes, I started asking, “How can this new idea translate to an action step? When can I install this in my life?”


And I started LEARNING a whole lot more because I was DOING a whole lot more.


To take it up a notch, I then began asking myself, “How can I take this new insight and install it into my life as a HABIT?”


And that’s when my reality started changing dramatically.


My friends would ask me “What was your key takeaway from that book you just read?”


And I would answer, “On Monday morning I’m making twenty phone calls before lunch.”


They would invariably give me a confused glance and say something like, “OK great. But what did you learn from the book?”


I would smile and say, “Before reading that book, I wasn’t in the habit of making twenty calls before lunch. Now that I’m aware of it, I’m going to do it.”


As one of my personal heroes, Eben Pagan, boils it down: “LEARNING is CHANGING your BEHAVIOR.”




So if you want to really make tangible progress toward your dream, implement new ideas into your life.


If you want to REALLY REALLY REALLY make progress toward your dream, implement new ideas into your life IMMEDIATELY.


SPEED matters because the longer we wait to create a change in behavior, the less likely we are to do it.


One of the biggest obstacles I see stopping my clients from getting what they want is “Death by Planning.”


They mistakenly believe they have to research everything there is to know about a particular area before taking action toward it.


They say things like, “That way I’ll know what I’m doing.”


But they don’t end up taking enough action and their momentum dies very quickly.


I get it – I used to be the same way. I was hesitant to start anything until I at least had some kind of game plan. That totally makes sense.


But I suggest going about this in the completely OPPOSITE way.


Instead of creating a plan to KNOW what you’re DOING, start DOING NOW so you can start KNOWING FASTER.


In other words, start doing more so you can learn more. Learn BY executing instead of learning and THEN executing.


What you’ll notice is that you gather a ton of direct experiences from quickly implementing these new ideas. And these experiences are MASSIVELY valuable in helping you CHANGE and GROW.


As a result, you will outpace anyone just like you going for the same dream. While they’re still planning and “gathering research” you’ll be out there truly learning.


Who do you think chases down the dream first?



Rule 3: Accept Feedback and Adjust


The final rule of chasing your dreams requires flexibility.


We started by getting laser-focused on what we specifically wanted. Then we began taking action by implementing new ideas into our lives quickly.


Now we need to receive feedback and make adjustments.


I call this step in the process “Learning Squared.”


So learning = changing your behavior, right? In rule two, we’re taking new actions toward our dreams. When we get a great idea, we quickly go out and try it.


After this happens, we’re going to start getting feedback and we need to learn all over again.


Let’s pretend our dream is to write a book.


When we finish the first draft, we might send it out to a few people in our target demographic to get their thoughts on it.


They might like certain parts of it. They might strongly dislike certain parts of it.


Gathering feedback in this step means truly hearing where the world is coming from. Instead of saying, “Well they just didn’t understand my vision!” we embrace the criticism.


“Learning Squared” means we then adjust our behavior again to create something more in alignment with what the feedback we’re getting.


One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting a business is dedicating themselves to creating a product they don’t even know if people will appreciate.


Their passion blinds them to understanding the market. Then, when no one buys from them, they get discouraged and quit.


See, there’s a bit of a paradox when it comes to chasing our dreams:


On one hand we need to be extremely specific about what we want to accomplish. So much so that we definitely commit ourselves to ONE clear intention.


Yet we also have to have enough flexibility to adjust our vision based on what we’re experiencing.


We have to be BOTH single-mindedly focused AND openly flexible.


How do we do this? Think of it like ballroom dancing.


Before the dance begins, you’re going to take the lead. You need to know exactly where you’re going and the initial steps you’ll be taking.


Then as you begin dancing, you’ll lead your partner with confidence. You may try new moves and routines to make the dance engaging.


But as the dance continues, you’ll need to adjust to your partner. Your partner may want to take the lead. They might not feel like one of your moves is working for them. Or they might want to try something different with you.


Adjusting to feedback means shifting out of “this needs to happen exactly like this” mode and into “I wonder what would happen if we tried this instead…” mode.


In doing this, you’ll experience an awesome harmony between you and your dreams.


You’re clear and steadfast enough to know exactly what you want and yet you’re open enough to create what the world wants too.


You will discover that to truly chase down your dream means to find the sweet spot between your wildest passions and what the world is asking of you.


I was always super passionate about confidence and building strength from the inside out. But it wasn’t until I started really LISTENING to what my clients wanted that I began to really make much of an impact.


They began telling me they wanted to learn how to communicate with charisma. They wanted to learn how to master the art of conversation. They yearned for creating deeper connections with those around them.


If I would have blindly followed my passion in simply teaching confidence, I wouldn’t have been able to serve these people.


So I completely shifted my focus for these clients away from confidence and into teaching charisma and social skills. This made a world of difference.


What I discovered was that our initial dreams rarely end up exactly as we first see them. Either we need to adjust them or we need to adjust who we are to capture them.


Feedback is truly the greatest teacher. And just because things don’t work out the way we expect them to work out doesn’t mean we QUIT on the dream.


We just need to make shifts and go about the whole “learning by doing” process again. Over time, we get closer and closer to the dream until it becomes an unavoidable reality.



So now that you know my three simple rules for chasing your dreams, I have to ask you:


  • What do you want?
  • What is one thing you just learned you can implement TODAY?
  • How are you going to adjust to feedback?


Go chase down your dream. You are more powerful than you will ever know.


If you are like me and want some more Byron…check out his stuff here:



Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
  • Pinterest

The 31st Life Lesson of Adventure

by | inspiration | no comments

Life lessons adventure


Every year around my birthday I pause to think of what the most recent trip around the sun–the last 365 days–taught me.


Not because I think that every year will supply some vast life lesson, but just to be ready in case it does.


This last year has been an impactful one for me: it was my first full year married or having a “real” job (as my mother puts it), I went on 22 trips to 10 countries (including a Tony Robbins seminar, hiking the Himalayas, and camping in Havasupai), I even published a book!


The only reason I mention that is to note that this year, life provided ample opportunities to learn–and I hope that this lesson sticks with me and, perhaps, it might help you think through important aspects of your life as well.


This year my life taught me about adventure. More specifically:


Make time for, give room to, and find purpose in the adventures of life.


Make time for…


There will never be a “good” time to change up your routine.


It is always easier to stay put than not and especially as life gets increasingly complicated with additional responsibilities, it becomes harder to plan for adventure.


Life won’t break its plans for your adventures, but it can bend.


A deliberate life is a well-written one where you can go to the previous chapters of yesteryear and read the voice of the author–not a chronicle written by the the circumstances surrounding the author.


But that requires not idle sitting and hoping the time will come, but planning a trip, taking that vacation, putting in an extra few hours to figure out how to do it with kids, putting it on the calendar, buying the tickets–it requires us to make the time.


Give room to…


I have a dear friend, Scott Jarvie, who taught me this lesson.


He is a man who has an unquenchable desire for the unordinary. He is a professional photographer who travels the country in his Airstream when he isn’t traveling the world. He is the kind of guy who, when he eats out, doesn’t look at a menu, but rather asks the server to bring out a surprise for him. (As a foodie, I have to say, that is bravery beyond my palate.)


During one of our conversations he said to me, “I never plan my trips all the way so that I can give room to adventure.”


This year, as my wife and I have traveled around the world, we’ve tried to do this.


We showed up in Costa Rica with two full days of no plans and ended up on a catamaran sailing through a sunset.

Our flight landed in India with plans to go to the Taj Mahal and no way of getting there but found a way and had the time of our lives.

We hiked for 12 miles not knowing if they would let us camp at the end of the road (and they did).


Some of the most exciting and fun things happened not because we planned them, but because we planned to let life happen.


Put some time in your day to explore and wander through the possibilities and play a little travel roulette. Sure, sometimes you spend 4 hours driving with strangers helping them look for a sloth sanctuary in the Dominican Republic that doesn’t exist…but other times you see the sloth in the wild just after dropping off those same strangers.


Find purpose in…


As I said, life will at times bend, but rarely break it’s plan for yours. The adventures of life can often feel like the misadventures of strife–and quite frankly, they can be. But the unplanned and undesired need not be void of meaning.


When you are seeking the life you’ve imagined, give way to the better one that you couldn’t have.


I had so many plans for my life when I was 30.


In my 30tn year, I would have multiple kids.

In my 30th year, I would have traveled to all 7 continents.

In my 30th year, I would be a millionaire.


Well guess what, younger version of me? None of it happened.


I made time for and gave room to the adventures of life, but in the end…it didn’t turn out like I wanted.


…it turned out so much better.


I am so grateful for the wife I have and would have waiting another 10 years if it meant finding her.

I have had deeper and more meaningful experiences in countries around the world that I never could have afforded had I spend the money to visit my final content of Antarctica.

I have learned so much more than I ever would have had I gotten lucky with one of my first startups.


So yes, things aren’t as I planned, but in perspective, they are exactly as they should be.


One of my favorite quotes is by Henry David Thoreau,

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours…If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them” (Walden).


Never see yourself as falling short, but as finding purpose in the unexpected this great universe has to offer.


…the Adventures of Life


Life is a tender and beautiful and exciting adventure. An adventure that we create, seek, and at times simply accept.


I am grateful for these last 365 days–each one an opportunity to learn.


My sincere prayer is that this next year, and each year after that we will make time for, give room to, and find purpose in the adventures of life.


Thanks for sticking around until the end of this post. It means a lot you’d share your time with me.


If you like this post, please share. You can find more in my book, Dating Never Works…Until It Does.

Zack Oates Book Dating


Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
  • Pinterest

30 Life Lessons–31st Coming Soon…

by | inspiration | no comments

Every year, on my birthday I contemplate on the life lessons from the previous 365 days. I have learned some amazing lessons this last year and I am going to share my 31st this week–but for now, I’ll give you my previous 30.


While this might not be amazingly insightful or new to you or ‘old man on a park bench’ wise, these lessons have shaped everything that I am and everything I try to be.


….and I can’t wait to learn more!


Please share your big life lessons in the comments.

  1. Follow the Spirit.
  2. Go to bed every night knowing God a little better than the night before.
  3. Never finish a prayer until you feel God’s love.
  4. Study the scriptures to teach something daily.
  5. Confidence is based on who you really are–nothing else.
  6. Leadership is an organized opportunity to help the world and you grow.
  7. Distill every institution, activity and program down to love.
  8. One soul is a good enough reason.
  9. If you don’t think you can change the world, then change someone’s world. Don’t underestimate the power of one–namely, you.
  10. Keep your priorities focused on the eternal.
  11. Serve until you love.
  12. If you have to wonder if they can feel your love, express it.
  13. Godly sorrow is knowing that Christ suffered because of you and not just for you.
  14. There is ALWAYS a reason to rejoice.
  15. Do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it…and try to do a little more.
  16. If you feel stressed, stop. Think. What can you do to fix the problem? Time, Money, or Effort? If there is nothing you can do, then pray. If there is something you can do, then do it. If you ever forget this rule, just go under the stars for 5 minutes.
  17. Expectations for other should be to try; expectations for yourself should be perfect love.
  18. Women bear children, men open doors.
  19. Do what the best version of you would do.
  20. There’s the way things have been done, and the way to get things done. Choose the latter.
  21. The proverbial “self” is not found or discovered–it is created.
  22. Dream big and live smart, but don’t let others’ invented limitations dictate what constitutes “smart.”
  23. Live life sincerely.
  24. Keep your heart open to real love, for love liberates hope.
  25. Seek business partners who display three attributes consistently: innovation, communication and dependability-ation.
  26. Work smart, work hard and know that, in the end, success is given to you.
  27. You are what’s worth it. And while you have a ways to go, you are doing better than you think. In a life filled with dreams broken by ‘just about’s and ‘almost’s and ‘sort of’s and ‘would have been’s…know that you, yes…even you–especially you, are worth being loved.
  28. If you want to see the hand of God, Look. If you want to hear the voice of God, listen. If you want to feel the love of God, serve.
  29. Elevate your faith above your circumstances.
  30. Love is a choice.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
  • Pinterest

You Don’t HAVE to do Anything

by | inspiration. LDS Living | no comments

I was at the barber one day in Utah when it came up that I had lived in New York City.


The young lady cutting my hair gasped, “Wow! I’ve always wanted to visit! It has seriously been a life-long dream of mine. I wish I could go…”


Then her face fell, “but I can’t.”


A bit confused, I asked why.


“Oh, I couldn’t go. I mean, I have to work,” she said.


“They don’t give you time off?”


“They do, but I have never been somewhere nice. I couldn’t afford it.”


“Do you have cable?” I asked.


“Yes…?” she responded, wondering where I was going.


“Cancel it, save the money and you can go in three months. You can even stay at my friend’s place to make it cheaper for you,” I offered.


“Oh, I can’t do that.”


“Then watching TV is a bigger dream than going to NYC?”


“No, but I mean, I can’t just leave and go to New York. I mean what if I get mugged there? I have to stay here and work. I have to.”


The conversation ended with me leaving her a tip to start her NYC fund.


I kept in touch with her.


She never went.



Finish this post at!

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
  • Pinterest

You’re Far From Perfect…Right Where God Needs You

by | inspiration. LDS Living | no comments


So you’ve set some goals to be better and, like every other year, at least a few will be dragged through the winter months before becoming fertilizer to the spring flowers of forgetfulness. And yet, goals are one of the things in life that we need to stay spiritually alive, whether we accomplish all of them or just a few.


A very wise man—the director of the BYU MBA program, Professor Grant McQueen—gave a final lecture to the graduating class of 2015. He said something that changed the way I look at others and myself.


“When we feel that we are not enough, we must remember one thing: it’s true.


“And that’s okay. In fact, that’s perfect.”


By not being enough, and by realizing that we aren’t, we have the ability to move beyond where we are to where we can be. If we are always doing what we did yesterday, we will never have a chance to accomplish what we could have tomorrow.


As John A. Shedd said, “a ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”


God feels the same way.


We weren’t sent here to simply repeat our rudimentary, metaphorical multiplication tables of what we know, but to divide our effort between practicing the basics and striving to master the advanced calculations of what we have yet to find out.


Basically, if you are doing your part and still think that you are far away from where you should be, or if you feel you have too many goals to ever achieve them all, know that where you are is just fine for the Lord.


When God needed an ark, He didn’t go to a ship builder. He went to the man of faith who was willing to listen and learn.


When God needed a new land settled across a great ocean, He didn’t go to a great explorer. He went to Nephi and the brother of Jared, who were willing to work hard and ask for the Lord’s help.


When God needed His church restored, He certainly didn’t go to a famous pastor. He went to the boy who humbly prayed in the woods behind His home.


Finish this post at


Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the book!

Zack Oates Book Dating


Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
  • Pinterest

A 3 Question Tool that Removed 99% of My Worry in Life

by | inspiration. Relationship and Marriage Advice | no comments



I have self-prescribed ADD (I haven’t been diagnosed because I can never finish the tests). Like many of you, I have a very hyper-active mind which leads me to take in a lot of data and try to draw instant conclusions about the world around me.


It can be exhausting.


The problem is that I’ve always had an issue sorting through what to be concerned about about and what will be fine.


Often in my snap judgements, I have found myself on the wrong side of the worry tracks, which just leads to a whole train of supplemental self-inflicted problems.


So I came up with a tool to help me quickly and accurately sift through the situations of life.


This is a tool that can help you in business, daily happenings and especially relationships.


A lot of people say ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff,’ and this tool will help you determine if it can indeed be categorized as “small stuff.”


It’s a quick three-question survey that I ask myself anytime I feel the need to worry so that I can easily determine if it is worth worrying about:


  1. Can it be solved with time?
  2. Can it be solved with money?
  3. Can it be solved with effort?


If the answer is yes to any of those then it isn’t that big of a deal.


If it can’t be solved with time, money or effort, then there isn’t anything I can do to make it better, so why worry about it anyway?


So far, I have found that about 99% of problems can be solved with time, money or effort.


If a problem is going to take time, seek for patience.

If a problem is going to take money, seek for perspective.

If a problem is going to take effort…just get it done.


Now, let me be the first to admit that I’m not perfect at this and some days just straight up I’m bad at this.


I get frustrated when I’m driving in traffic and someone cuts me off. Well that cost me an additional 2 seconds of my time. Not a big deal.


I was upset when United charged me an additional $174.79 for a flight I already purchased. Well that cost me 2 hours on the phone arguing and a little bit of a lighter bank account. Irritating? Yes. A big deal? No.


I had some ‘sticker shock’ when I got on the scale a month after my honeymoon to find it having gone in the wrong direction 10 pounds. Well…that just takes a little effort and time. (Still waiting to solve this issue with money by buying a magic pill that turns Captain Crunch into raw broccoli.)



So while I still need to work at my initial reaction, these questions have been invaluable in helping me move on from these perceived “problems” much faster and minimize the post-situation worry time.


One thing I learned from studying Buddhism is being present. So much of worry lies in the chosen fear leading up to a single moment, or dragging the pain of that single moment on well past the initial infliction as some kind of a badge of twisted honor. The problem and issue usually only lasts a moment, it is us who expands that moment to fill our lives with worry by focusing on things that have not yet happened or dwelling on that which is past.


Now don’t get me wrong…there are some really really hard problems that can’t just be justified away–the death of a loved one, an unfaithful spouse, a breakup–but even those, when given time, can lead to healing and even strength. I’m not saying you should ignore it and hope it goes away; but face those issues while giving yourself time.


After pondering on the formation of these questions for many hours and continuing my study on Buddhism, I found out I could have saved myself a lot of time if I had just read this quote by the Dalai Lama XIV (but hey, that’s not something worth worrying about),If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.


So I challenge you to take a step back and when you find that bubbling from somewhere deep when a problem arises, take a step back and ask yourself: Can it be solved with time, money or effort?


99% of worries will melt away like Texas snow and the rest…well, that’s the reason man invented working out.


Zack Oates Book Dating

Get more updates and your chance to win a free copy of “Dating Never Works…Until It Does”

* indicates required

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
  • Pinterest

Five Tips for Traveling in Iceland (with 7-day itinerary)

by | Travel | 1 comment

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Iceland scenery

Okay, so it seems like everyone is going to Iceland (due to a combination of cheap airfare and Instagram), so I thought I’d save you hours and hours of research and help you plan an itinerary to get the most out of your week in Iceland. This is the blog post my wife and I wish we had prior to going.


(Also note: We are not getting paid for any links or tips here–this is straight up our opinion.)


Overall here’s what you need to know about traveling to Iceland: Getting there is cheap, staying there is cheap, doing ANYthing there is super pricey, but man…the place is beautiful!


My wife and I did the whole trip for $2,700 for 1 week ($1,400 flights and hotels through Groupon Getaways + $300 rental car + $1,000 food, gas and activities for both of us).



1. When should I go?


For us, it all revolved around the northern lights. That was the main reason we went. I’ve always wanted to see them and we got lucky enough to catch them for a bit.


Summertime pictures look incredible, but no northern lights. Wintertime is simply enchanting, but northern lights are fickle ( that is the site where you can get a forecast of how strong the lights will be and the cloud cover).


Northern Lights were a bucketlist item for us, so we went in the winter and were lucky to have a day where the lights were strong and the cloud cover was minimal.



2. Should I rent a car?


renting a car in iceland

They drive on the right side of the road and renting a car for a week should set you back less than $350USD. If it is stormy and wintertime, the roads will be pretty rough, but it is WAAAAAAaaaAAAAY cheaper to rent a car (even with gas being $7-$8/gal) than doing tours the whole time.


Also, I loved being able to stop along the way to pet Icelandic horses, video goats battling and stay longer/leave earlier as we wished. If you don’t want to drive, and are okay paying a lot for tours and need the local history voice-overs…then do the tours.



3. What should I eat?


Iceland breakfast

So I’ll give a couple of restaurants that we ate at, but don’t be shocked to see that the prices are way more expensive.

We ate burgers and fries (no drinks) and paid $60USD.


Not even kidding.

And no, it wasn’t the best burger OR fries I’ve ever had…in fact, they were pretty okay.


We did breakfast in the hotel every morning, made a little sandwich for the day and bought some snacks along the way and then ate out for dinner in Reykjavik. I thought it was a good combo and helped keep costs down for meals.


There were four restaurants that I MUST recommend in Reykjavik (and keep in mind, Iceland is known for their incredible fish dishes…but I detest fish and yes, I’ve tried it since I was 4 years old and yes I still don’t like it and no I don’t take Omega 3 pills and yes I’ll probably die from it…but I’ll die without a fishy grizzled look on my face).

1. Bergsson Mathus for great breakfast and brunch

2. Kryddlegin Hjortu has amazing soup and salad bar for dinner

3. Snaps Bistro Bar for some great sandwiches and duck salad

4. Vegamot for just all around great food–the open steak sandwich and the noodles were great and this is a popular local eatout



4. What should I do there?


So make plans, but be willing to change the days around of those plans depending on weather.


We were based out of the CenterHotel Klopp in Reykjavik, which was a GREAT hotel with a central location. Hot water had good pressure, good breakfast every morning and great service.


Day 1: See the city and chill.

reykjavik church

Get in, take a short nap, walk around the city and keep yourself up until at least 7. You can lose the first 3 days if you go to sleep too early to take too long of a nap. Not worth it. Also, the drive to and from the airport from Reykjavik is about an hour or so and is fairly pricey. If you have a rental car, you save the money of transportation to and from the city.


Day 2: Blue Lagoon and northern lights.

The Blue Lagoon Iceland Zack and Annie Oates

The Blue Lagoon is the super cool hot spring you always see on Instagram. It is even cooler than the pictures. Yeah, it costs like $100USD to go, but sheesh, it is cool and I did not feel that I overpaid. Note, you MUST have reservations. Also note: there is a dry sauna and steam room–try both of those out too while you’re there!


The northern lights is one of those things that makes it so much easier to have a rental car because the tours are charging you tons of money to just drive you 15 minutes out of the city and if you have a car, you can decide when to do based on the forecast.


Day 3: The Golden Circle and City Pool

Gulfoss waterfall Iceland Zack and Annie Oates

This place is seriously awesome. It is a beautiful day-trip to catch a lot of the main attractions of Iceland: waterfalls, horses, hot springs (if you want), hikes, custom foods, etc.


Here are three sites I found useful in doing this drive:

  1. This one has a simple map you can use
  2. This one has a more detailed map
  3. This is a good overview


We then came back to the hotel and went to a pool in Reykjavik. There are some sprinkled all over the city, so just pick one and go. They have hot and dry saunas and hot tubs of different temperatures. Very relaxing ending to any day.


Day 4: Snæfellsjökull National Park

Black beach in Iceland Annie Oates

This is a few hours to drive up there, but it is so worth it! The countryside is breathtaking and the views along the way are incredible. The black beaches, the cliffs, volcanoes, wildlife, lighthouses, churches, everything is just awesome. This is the only decent map I’ve found on this drive.


Day 5&6: Drive the South Coast

So admittedly, we were not able to do this because of the weather, but from what I’ve heard this is such a lovely trip and can be extended to stay for one day out there at the end of the dive and come back the next day. That is the link we were going to use…but alas, it will have to wait until next time we go (in the summer).


Day 7: Snorkeling


Okay…I know it sounds crazy, but I’m telling you…snorkeling was so much fun–even in the winter!


It was soooooooo cold and seemed crazy at the time when it was sleeting rain and the water was just at freezing, but it was incredible to snorkel between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. It looks like a stream from above, but when you get down there, it goes down over 100m and you can see all the way to the bottom if the sun is shining. The water is that clear.


I’d recommend going in a dry suit (they do have a wet suit option is you are a masochist) and this is another one of those things that must be booked in advance with a tour company. We ended up booking it the day of, but had to go through a bunch of hoops and almost didn’t get it done.


My body was not that cold, but my face and hands got a little chilly. Even though I’m a baby when it comes to cold, I wasn’t uncomfortable–it was just the thought of it that made it cold. The dry suit kept me pretty warm. Bring an extra change of clothes though, because water leaked into my suit and I was sure glad I had something dry to change into in the car.


A tour company we saw a lot of people using was this one: You can find it cheaper though.



5. Any last thoughts?

Snæfellsjökull National Park



Iceland is a beautiful country with amazingly kind people. I loved sitting in the hot tubs and just talking with the locals (and don’t worry, because almost everyone speaks English). They are really used to travelers since there will be 1.3M people who visit this country of 300k in 2016.


It is a great way to spend a week of your life and will be a trip you will remember forever.


Like with all traveling, you will never have the time, you need to make it. If die never going to Iceland, it isn’t because you couldn’t find the time, it is because you didn’t want to go–and that’s fine. Just be honest with yourself. You have full control over going and can do it for a very reasonable price. Look, you’ve made it this far into the post, so either you are seriously considering it or already decided to go.


If you have decided to go: yeah man! Rock on and enjoy the trip. Let me know of any other good restaurants/activities I can post.


If you are still considering it: just do it. Put aside $50/mo to go and you’ll be able to afford it in no time. If you can’t take that much time off of work, for for fewer days. Just make the decision and do it.


Let’s put it this way: I’ve been to 34 countries and this is the only one I already have plans to go back to.


Happy journeys and if you have any questions, drop me a comment.



Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
  • Pinterest

5 Reasons You CAN’T Call it a “Date”

by | Dates. Single | no comments

date frustrations


The following is an unfortunately true story.


Some of you will be completely shocked.

Some of you will completely understand.

And the rest of you, well, you are the reason I’m writing this public service announcement.


It was a warm day in the early summer when a girl named Foxy bumped into an acquaintance named Dickson (names have been slightly altered).


The following conversation ensued.


Dickson: Hey Foxy, you should come over tomorrow night.

Foxy: What time?

Dickson: Whenever.

Foxy: Ummm…well I’m pretty busy.

Dickson: Whatever. Just come!

Foxy: Okay…I guess I can pop by.


The next night Foxy knocked on Dickson’s door.


He yelled for her to come in.


dating is hard

What Dickson may have looked like.

Dickson was on the floor in his PJs playing a video game. Without even looking up, he told her to sit on the couch…where she remained for 30 minutes suffering through semi-distracted side-conversation. She wasn’t offered a drink, a snack or at the very least a turn at the game (and I do mean the very very least).


Foxy finally had enough.


“Hey look Dickson, I’ve got to head home now. Like I said, I’m pretty busy.”

“Oh no…let’s go to get a snow cone real quick!”

[sigh] “Okay…but I don’t have a lot of time.”


After Dickson finished his round, he changed, did his hair…and then off they went.


When they arrived at the snow cone shack, he turned to her and said, “You can get whatever you want…as long as it’s under $2.” She ordered a Tiger (ripping Dickson apart and spilling his) Blood…small.


After a terribly long drive back to Dickson’s flat (which was about how the date was going), the evening was finally over and Foxy was free at last.


Now if this whole saga doesn’t just toast your muffin…then there is this.


The next week, Dickson bumped into a group of Foxy’s friends.


And while he didn’t have the decency to actually ask her on a date, or the courtesy to plan anything, or the tact to show respect, or the class to not put a price tag on her options…after alllllll that…he somehow had the gumption to brag to her friends that he took her on a “date.”


That’s right…he called that abomination of a human-to-human interaction a “date.”


Not an “all the reasons why I’m single” evening.

Not an “I skipped every class on social interactions” exhibit A.

Not even an “I was raised drinking Uncle Pappy’s moonshine” excuse.


A “date.”


Now if you are floored this is a real story…you had/are having a really good streak of dating. Stay in deep waters.

If you are thinking you might be Foxy in this story…I am so sorry men like that exist.

If you don’t see something wrong with every single detail of that story…listen up. You are probably Dickson.


Here are your 5 Reasons it ISN’T A DATE!


1. If you do not use the word “date,” you can’t call it a date.

Now, I am speaking a bit hyperbolically here in that you don’t actually need to say “date,” but you must make your intentions clear. Saying, ‘come over’ like a feral nimrod is a lot different than saying, ‘I’d love to take you to dinner this weekend.’  


2. If you don’t set a time, you can’t call it a date.

In a bind it could be, ‘I’m not sure when my soccer game will end, but it should be around 8. I’ll let you know if that changes, okay?’ But usually is it just, ‘I’ll pick you up at 8.’


3. If you do not have something planned, you can’t call it a date.

Please remember that figuring something out when they show up is not a plan. Also…why are they coming to your place anyway? Go pick them up.


4. If you aren’t respectful, you can’t call it a date.

Ask about them, be courteous, listen, and put away your phone.


5. If you give them a price limit, you can’t call it a date.

You give your kids a budget, your employees a budget and yourself a budget. If you can’t afford anything more than a $2 snow cone, then either plan a different activity or stop going on dates because you need to spend your evenings looking for a job.



So if you do any of those five things, my friend, your only bragging rights should be to your WoW (World of Warcraft to everyone else still reading) friends whose sole social interaction consists of the pizza delivery calls to get extra cheesey crust.


Don’t be a Dickson.

Go on real dates.


Please share this to raise awareness so that the Dicksons of the world know, or everyone else can help not propagate his gene pool.



Also, don’t forget to sign up for the mailing list for the Bowl of Oates book and enter for your chance to win a free copy! 

Dating Never Works Zack Oates



Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
  • Pinterest