Since about 2009 or so, I’ve written down New Year’s resolutions in my Moleskine notebooks. I’d draw sketches and write down my aspirations for the upcoming year, such as financial goals, health and weight-loss goals, and so on and so forth.
The problem was that upon completing the list of dreams and aspirations, I would move on to the next page in the book and not look at them again until years later. Whoops.
I proceeded to do this for maybe… three years? Looking back through my notebook makes for some laughable reading. Many of the 2009 resolutions seem to magically reappear on the subsequent year’s list. I can’t imagine why.
Goals have a way of evaporating when left unattended.
2015 has been different.
For 2015, I made a single goal. I wanted to travel 12 times in 2015 — an average of once per month. I had spent the previous four years basically buying whatever I wanted on Amazon, while forgoing the kind of travel I longed for. This challenge was inspired by my friend Andrew Murray.
Without further adieu, here we go.
In order to plan for 2016, I’m going to take a moment to reflect back on what went right and what went wrong in 2015. I can’t possibly take all the credit for all these things happening, as so many wonderful people had so much to do with all of it coming together. These accomplishments are no particular order of importance.
1. Completed my goal of traveling 12 times this year.
This ended up being a pretty epic year of flying around North & Central America. Truly, it was made possible by the fact that I was able to stay at gracious friend’s houses, family member’s houses, and some serious travel hacking (half of these flights were free). To be fair, visiting the people I stayed with was more than likely the reason I was going to that city in the first place. Regardless, there were only a few hotel stays throughout all of the trips. A big chunk of the flight to the Virgin Islands was covered (as a belated wedding present to Amy and I, and officiant gift) by my friends Curtis & Julie, who I married there in St. Thomas. I wouldn’t have been able to do all of this under different circumstances.
- Chicago, IL
- Los Angeles, CA
- Las Vegas, NV
- Boston, MA
- St. Thomas, US VI
- Siguatepeque, Honduras
- Louisville, KY
- New York City, NY
- Chicago, IL
- Ann Arbor, MI
- Phoenix, AZ
- Breckenridge, CO
2. Blog passed 250,000 views for the year.
While I think I could have done significantly better for various reasons, I’m chalking this up as a success. Onward to 2016!
3. Co-Hosted The SimpleREV Global Conference.
I’d never co-hosted a two-day event before and this was incredibly challenging but rewarding. I met so many amazing people because of this event and couldn’t be more grateful that Joel Zaslofsky gave me the opportunity to co-host it with him.
4. Turned 30 and raised over $3,500 for The Hope Effect.
Amy helped me throw an epic backyard paella-fest and along with the support of our friends and family raised over $3,500 for The Hope Effect. This is the nonprofit started by my friends Joshua Becker and Joe Darago, and the reason I went to Siguatepeque, Honduras this year. I took thousands of photographs and videos at an orphanage there called La Providencia. They use a well-researched model to provide excellence in orphan care. It was a trip with a mission that changed my life and perspective in many significant ways.
For those that donated, you helped build a home that is beginning construction on January 15th!
5. Started recording and editing videos regularly.
I used to have a fear of video and now I absolutely love it. I shot a –low budget– tutorial video for Nice Ride, videos for The Hope Effect, and –sort of– weekly vlogs for Break the Twitch. I find video to be incredibly rewarding and a fun medium to work with. I’ll be increasing video production significantly in 2016. Below is one of my more popular YouTube videos.
6. Had my work published in print.
I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve been paid for a piece that went into a print publication. Very excited to see the edition come out in January of 2016. Check out The Independent.
7. Started a daily reading habit, reading 20 pages every day.
This started late in the year, but has also become the foundation for so much that I’m doing in my life right now (more on this further down). Twenty pages per day equals over 30 books per year, and that’s a few times more than I was reading previously. It’s a wonderful thing – big thanks to James Clear for talking about this method.
8. Decluttered thousands of items from our home and fully embraced minimalism.
Amy and I removed so much stuff from our 1,300 square foot home that it allowed us to rent out our downstairs bedroom to now two different people (at different times) that have brought all kinds of wonderful things into our lives. The additional income has also made it easier for Amy to go on a six-month sabbatical and now work part-time after quitting her corporate finance job. This has made it possible for her to help with Break the Twitch and write more for Uncoveries, her project.
9. Earned more money than any prior year.
Nice Ride did really well in 2014 and saw continued growth in 2015. I did not pursue monetization on Break the Twitch, although this will come in 2016. This ‘accomplishment’ does not make me feel nearly as successful as the one below it.
10. Donated more money and time than any prior year.
I donated more money and time to nonprofit organizations this year than I have in any year before it. Possibly twice as much, if you include expenses incurred to donate time. All of my traveling was enjoyable and significant this year, but by far the most rewarding was going to Honduras. It has helped me view the world with a new lens, with a new mission. I’m glad to have accomplished my goal of traveling 12 times this year, but a re-prioritization is coming in 2016. I am eternally grateful to my friend Joshua for providing me this opportunity to serve.
1. Lacked consistency.
This is my biggest failure by far — while I wrote and created content regularly, there were big gaps in my weekly vlogging and blog post content. As described below, I stopped climbing at Vertical Endeavors and had several months where I did not work out at all. As I mentioned earlier, my blog received 250,000 page views but if I had maintained consistency in direction and schedule it would have been likely twice that. This will be the #1 focus point for 2016.
2. Did not maintain a fitness routine.
As mentioned above, I quit climbing some time around February and didn’t start working out regularly again until October. While I did commute by bike regularly throughout the gap months, my commute isn’t long enough to be significant. For the last three months I’ve been going to LA Fitness with Amy at least three times per week and feel good about our current routine.
3. Did not save enough money.
Whelp, despite earning the most in one year that I ever have, I did not save very much cash at all. Including my work 401k, I saved less than 15% of my income. While I did donate more money than I ever have before –which I’m very proud of and will continue — that is not the reason. The majority of money spent was shifted away from things and towards experiences like traveling and eating meals out. This will be the second major focus point for 2016 and will be critical to 2016 success. My ideal for this is to save at least 50% of income while maintaining our current standards of living. This comes down to earning more, but primarily saving more.
4. Wasted a lot of time.
Building upon the consistency thing, I realized that traveling every month can really upset a routine or established schedule. In addition to that, I spent a lot of time on Facebook, Instagram, and more than I’d care to spend on my phone. This is a major part of what I’m working through on my blog Break the Twitch, and part of my very public journey. I’m in the middle of creating solutions that I’m actively using to solve this problem and it’s been going incredibly well so far.
5. Not enough energy into maintaining relationships.
I met so many amazing people in 2015 and at the same time failed to maintain relationships that are really important to me. Again, going back to consistency, there were too few date nights, too few ‘thank you’ cards, too few Skypes and phone calls to people I love, friends new and old. If I have failed you this year by not letting you know that I care, know that it is one of my biggest personal failures.
1. Consistency is key.
I really want to drill this one home – I’ve known this one for a very long time but sitting here at the end of 2015? I’m feeling the sting of it. I view consistency as the number one way to be successful in life, business and relationships. Consistently doing the things that matter with the people that matter is what makes for great results.
2. We are what we do every day.
To continue down the consistency path, I have realized to the core of my existence that I do not have that many days left. It may be 20, it may be 20,000, but this quote has really impacted me significantly this year:
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. – Annie Dillard
I have completely reshaped the way that I spend my days based on this information, focusing on attainable daily habits to reach a lofty long-term goals. No amount of effort given in a single day makes any significant difference compared to small daily effort for a long duration of time. Imagine it this way: what would be a more productive use of your time, working out for 24 hours straight or working out for 30 minutes per day for 48 days in a row?
3. Whether you spend all your money on physical possessions or experiences, you’re still spending all of your money.
This is pretty self explanatory. It’s all still consumption and somewhat unnecessary as such. Happiness and contentment comes from within, from giving and doing meaningful work, not from collecting frequent flier miles nor widgets.
4. Instead of trying to eliminate bad habits, focus on building more good ones.
If you eliminate a bad habit that wastes time, you will fill it with another bad habit that also wastes time. Start by building a foundation of good habits and keep building up that foundation until the bad habits get pushed out. I’m currently creating an online course to teach this concept in full.
5. Time is non-renewable.
Time is simply that, non-renewable. Money can be made until the day you die, in the case of many celebrities, even after. We will never again have the present moment, and it’s gone before we know it. Entering my 30’s, I’m hyper-aware of the increasing speed at which time passes. My efforts in 2016 will focus on this.
6. Relationships are everything.
Foster them, build them, create them. Holy cow, some of my most amazing experiences and opportunities have come from really good, gracious, caring friends that I’ve made in the last year or two. Being open to hearing other perspectives, sharing stories, and just being yourself is so important in this regard. Give without the expectation of something in return – it’s a wonderful feeling.
2016 will be a continuation of the daily habits that I have already established in Q4 of 2015. I will be building upon that foundation in order to accomplish my higher level goals in 2016. You may notice that these are not long-term goals, but the daily habits that will lead to them. These are the things that I currently do every single day and will continue to build upon in the new year.
1. Read 20 pages every day.
I love reading personal development, business, and nonfiction books. I’ve been reading 20 pages a day for the last several weeks and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I use this to collect and accrue knowledge that contributes to what I’m able to teach through my businesses. I will continue this through 2016.
2. Play piano for 20 minutes every day.
I’ve always wanted to be a better blues piano player, but have neglected daily practice. Sitting down irregularly is great, almost a meditation for me, but it does not improve my playing. Daily practice does.
3. Make the bed every morning.
I used to hate making the bed, but I now see it as a ‘first thing’ habit on which to build other successful routines. I actually really enjoy making the bed now, even with the decorative pillow. 😉
4. Meditate/Pray/Reflect every day.
Right now, I’m meditating for two minutes per day. I tried to start out with 20 minutes and felt too much resistance to doing it, so I broke it down to just two. As the weeks progress, I will ramp this up to at least 20 minutes per day.
5. Write at least 500 words every day.
This is the engine that will drive my business and personal growth. Writing 500 words per day will net me 182,500 words written at the end of 2016 which equates to two books, at least a hundred blog posts, and an online course.
6. Express gratitude every day.
Directly, to someone I care about. I will write a letter, make a call, send a text message, give a hug, or just simply reach out and tell someone directly how much they mean to me.
Hey, if you’ve gotten this far you’ve read over 2,250 words. I just want to take a moment to send my utmost gratitude to my wonderful wife Amy, who has been my life partner for almost a decade. Thank you for figuring this life thing out with me. To my parents, who provided me a platform on which to slowly figure out this whole life thing, thank you dearly. Thank you to my wonderful family and my incredible friends for sticking with me and being on this journey as well. I would have to chop down a forest to write the quantity of thank you cards you all deserve.
I appreciate you.
Lastly, I apologize for any typos, misspellings, grammatical errors, or other such things. It is in this case that I believe the message to be more important than the delivery.
. . .