Sunday, January 17, 2016

8 Things I think will change my life in 2016

Looking back, I realize I didn’t do one of these for 2015, but that’s probably because I was in the midst of a giant life change; transitioning from employment to self-employment. In doing so, I was more focused on the macro than the micro.

Now that it’s 2016 and I’ve been self-employed for a year, I’m starting to think about the little things again, which makes me want to write another one of these posts. If anything, it’s humorous and insightful to look back at them after a year and see what stuck and what didn’t. For example, my list of “7 things I think will change my life in 2014” and their outcomes is as follows…

Purple Belt in Jiu Jitsu - I’m still a purple belt. Self-employment takes a lot of time and I’ve neglected my training because of it. I still train, just not as much as I should. I hope to change that in the near future.
Personal Training Certificate - I’m still a personal trainer and I love it. This certificate has opened so many doors, it’s almost unbelievable.
Sugar/Alcohol - The idea behind this one was to only consume sugar and alcohol one weekend per month. That lasted about one month. I still confine most of my sugar and alcohol consumption to the weekends, but I enjoy my happiness too much to reduce it much beyond that. 
Precision Nutrition - This one has been extremely gratifying. I’m still a certified Precision Nutrition coach and have helped several people lose massive amounts of weight over the last year.
Intermittent Fasting - I still use intermittent fasting from time to time. It depends on what my current goals are. For losing body fat, it’s extremely beneficial.
Objective C - I studied this for a month or two and then quit. Apple came out with “Swift” to replace Objective C, so I was going to switch to that, but never did. I may just have to face the fact that I'm not going to be a computer programmer.
Hustle - This one was all about entrepreneurship, and whaddya know, by the end of 2014, I was self-employed. Hustle is my new middle name. 

So without further ado, here’s my List of 8 Things I think will change my life in 2016.

1. Honesty - I consider myself an honest person because I’m generally truthful. On the other hand, I often keep quiet about certain things so as not to ruffle feathers. To be honest though, (see what I did there) I’m getting tired of keeping quiet. I’m just not as concerned with what other people think of me these days, so I’m going to be a little less reserved in what I say and do.

2. Goals List - Every year around my birthday, I take some time to write down what I want to accomplish over the year, and for the most part, I accomplish a lot of what I set out to do. On the other hand, several of my goals fall through the cracks simply because I forget about them. This year, I’ve written down ten physical goals and five life tenants that I consider paramount, and every morning, I physically put pen to paper and rewrite the entire list. Then, later in the evening, I go through and grade myself on each (A,B,C,D,F). If I’ve taken positive steps towards achieving a goal, I give myself an A and write what I did well. If I did bad, I give myself a D or an F and write what I could have done better. So far it seems to be working. My goals are always at the forefront of my mind and I find myself constantly searching for steps to take during the day to help me accomplish them.

3. Writing - One of the goals on my list is to write a book in 2016. It doesn’t matter if it’s a book I publish or that sits on my computer for the rest of my life. I just want the accomplishment of writing an entire book. To make that happen, I’m trying to write at least 500 words a day. So far it’s going well.

4. Meditation - Referring back to Honesty in the number one spot, meditation is something I’ve been doing for a while now, but I’ve been hesitant to share. I find that about half the people think it’s hippie, new-age crap, while the other half thinks it’s dangerous and that I’m opening my mind to the devil. The word “meditation” comes with a lot of negative connotations, but it shouldn’t. For me, meditation has nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with health and performance. We have so many stimuli in our modern world that our brains are overwhelmed. Meditation is simply a means to give the mind a break; a chance to sit quietly without needing to accomplish anything. It’s very refreshing and it turns out science is finding it has a lot of benefits. Increased happiness, better problem solving capabilities, and decreased stress and feelings of anxiousness are just a few. I find it helps me sort through problems with less emotion, I get less frustrated when things go wrong, and I’m able to work harder, longer, with less stress and anxiety. If you’re interested in trying it out, is the system I use.

5. Style - Many who know me well know that I could care less about dressing well. If I had my way, I’d wear jeans and a hoodie for everything. On the other hand, one of the goals I write down every morning is “Improve my social skills,” and dressing better is key if I really want to accomplish this. Surprisingly, I’ve found it’s not that difficult to be stylish. First, let me clarify that “stylish” is not the same thing as “fashionable.” Lady Gaga is fashionable, Audrey Hepburn is stylish. Glitter beards and man buns are fashionable, leather shoes, a bomber jacket, and good fitting jeans are stylish. Fashion changes every season. Style does not go out of style.

6. Primal Man Stuff - I like modern technology, but near the middle of last year, I started feeling like something was missing. Then, on a whim, I tossed a line into my parent’s pond, caught a bass, and realized how badly I missed fishing. I made it a point to fish every weekend after that and it was unbelievably refreshing. Then I bought a splitting axe and starting splitting wood and building campfires in my backyard. It was amazing. I think iPhones and MacBooks are great, but taking part in activities that were life sustaining for early man is something entirely different. I think lots of men in our culture are missing this element, and I’m looking forward to finding new ways to scratch this itch.

7. People - I’m an introvert by nature, and I don’t think anything is going to change that completely, but I’ve taken a new interest in people as of late. One of the tenants I write in my goals list every morning is “1 new person,” which means I try to learn one new person’s name every day. Ideally, I go beyond getting their name, and actually have a conversation, but I don't require it. Learning one new name a day is a baby step, and it makes the challenge of networking more digestible. I tend to interact with lots of people every day, but often it’s nameless. Simply asking someone’s name is a means of bringing humanity back to our transactions. I’m finding that in doing so, I have a lot more friendly conversations with strangers, and I meet lots of new and interesting people. As an introvert, I used to view people as obstacles I needed to navigate, but now I’m starting to see them as fascinating creatures in which to investigate.

8. Lidè - I consider myself extremely blessed. While I’m not rich by American standards, I’m extremely wealthy in the grand scheme, and I want to help others who aren’t. While I’ve given money to causes here and there, I’ve been searching for a cause to really throw my weight behind, and I think I’ve finally found one that makes sense to me. Everyone knows the old saying “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime,” but I believe there should be third line. “Teach a woman to fish and she feeds a village for a lifetime.” I believe that education is one of the most valuable resources available and studies show that educating a man tends to be beneficial for the man while educating a woman tends to be beneficial for everyone in that woman’s sphere of influence. Lidè is a charity organized by Rainn Wilson, better known as Dwight from “The Office.” It’s focus is using the arts to educate girls in Haiti. While I don’t feel this charity is the end all in my new found quest to educate girls, I do think it’s a good place to start. You can watch the imbedded video if you'd like to learn for yourself what it’s about, and go to the website if you’d like to donate yourself.