Thoughts on a Life Well Lived


2015: A Year in Review

This marks the beginning of a tradition of self-reflection and evaluation. I’ll no longer receive an annual review since leaving a corporate work environment. This is the first of annual self-reviews to gauge my progress, direction, patterns, and short-comings as I progress along my life’s path and entrepreneurial journey.

2015 began for me in London at an epic New Year’s party with my brother Adam. We spent the following 10 days on an amazing tour of England. I’m truly grateful for that time with my brother. It is hard to believe a full year has passed since our share experiences abroad.

After London I enjoyed a brief stay at home before continuing to New Zealand for two months. I left New Zealand to attend a buddy’s wedding in Chile and finally returned to California, by way of 4 days in Portland, in the last few days of April 2015.

I have written elsewhere of my travel adventure. While these experiences played an immense role in shaping 2015, I pick up this review upon returning home as I began to craft the next phase of my life.

What follows is an honest and vulnerable examination of me and my performance as a human in 2015. Conducting this review reminded me of the moments this year worthy of praise and celebration. I also remember where I fell short, stepped off track, or (perhaps worst of all) allowed myself to fall into inaction.

I share my review - and the many to follow - to incite positive change in those read it. I hope that you may share in my lessons learned and feel inspired to open a similar self-discourse about your life. Enjoy.

2015: A Year in Review

By the numbers:

Countries Visited:          4 (England, New Zealand, Chile, Canada). 1 new…New Zealand.

States Visited:                2 (Oregon, Washington). None new.

Articles Written:             30

Articles Published:        10    Article archive

Podcasts Published:      3     Podcasts

Books Read:                   25    See Full list at the bottom of this post

Top 4 Non-fiction (because I cant’t choose 3)
 Move Your DNA
 On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
 The 4 Hour Chef
 Natural Born Heroes

Top 3 Fiction
Still Life with Woodpecker
The Graveyard Book

A short list of notables:


World Domination Summit - July 2015
I traveled to Portland, Oregon to attend the World Domination Summit. The WDS conference was nearly indescribable (although I did my best in this post) and brought immense value to my life. The connections made and the lessons and inspiration absorbed that weekend continue to move me forward.

Wanderlust Festival - Whistler,BC, Canada - August 2015
I spent a week in British Columbia at Wanderlust festival with two close friends, Josh and Adam. The three of us had not spent much time together since all leaving California. We had an amazing time reconnecting, doing yoga, and going to live music shows. Wanderlust was one of the highlights of 2015 not only for my time with Josh and Adam but for the new friendships we built.
This podcast was also a product of the festival.


Russian Kettlebell Certification - Level II

Precision Nutrition - Level 1

USA Gymnastics Coach Certification


Professional Development

My professional aspirations upon returning from my trip were to:

Create a business, both physical and virtual, from which to share my personal methodology to optimal movement, health, and wellness.

I was unsure of the specific steps to make this happen. My goal for 2015 was to immerse myself into the health and fitness realm. I knew that the first step was to surround myself with the people and influences that support my path. I have a long road yet to travel before building my vision but my commitment to this work has led me through doors I never knew existed.

I returned to coaching at C Street CrossFit, a job I held while still an engineer. I have an incredible relationship with the C Street family and I knew that it was a great place to launch the next phase of my journey.

No more than a week after returning to C Street the opportunity arose to work with Linda at Body Fat Test. I love the work and opportunity it provides me to expand my influence within the fitness community all over southern California. Linda aligns deeply with my health values and truly has my best interest at heart.

The next door to open was coaching gymnastics at Delano Athletica. I never thought I would coach kids gymnastics but it has become my favorite job I have ever had. I am incredibly grateful for the chance that Carmen, the owner, took on hiring me with no experience. I am extremely optimistic for what this opportunity holds for 2016 with our new facility and expanding class and team offerings.

In November 2015 I began to offer workshops and regular weekly classes at The Studio. The owner, Helya and I are friends from college and she asked me to teach after we reconnected earlier this year. I teach kettlebell and mobility classes and plan to add to these offerings in 2016. Helya and I share many core health and fitness ideals and she gave me the opportunity to teach nearly anything I want. I feel blessed to work with such a good friend and to be given the trust to teach classes that are born out of my personal values.

The most exciting development to my professional life for 2015 came in the growth of my personal coaching. I began to offer workshops, private nutritional coaching, and personal training. None of these have risen to primary means of income but I am optimistic with the momentum I am gaining. I could have worked much harder to push my entrepreneurial coaching further but will examine this in more detail below.

I redesigned and rebuilt my website over the summer of 2015, switching the primary domain from to This deserves mention as a professional development.

Personal Development

2015 brought significant opportunity for personal growth. I spent the first 4 months of the year largely alone. I know no better driver for introspection than solitude.

Understanding Myself

I got rid of most of my physical possessions and distanced myself from all my personal relationships when I left on my trip in September 2014. Removing all of the influences of my previous life helped me to establish the things that I value. I now have a better understanding of myself and the life that I want to live.

I began crafting a new life since coming home in May. I learn new aspects of myself everyday as I progress through this journey. Like everyone, I used to dream about a life of my own design, but I discovered that we cannot know all of the details until we begin to create. The next step remains obscured until we move close enough to behold it. Every article I have ever written began with a core thought but developed organically into a series of beliefs and ideas that I did not know existed until I began crafting them. Musicians and artists describe a similar process, the work channeling through them with the finer details revealed only as they come to them. Crafting my life works just the same. All I can do is remain true to my core values and maintain my commitment to continue creating. The details appear as I approach. 

Coming Out of My Shell

I have always been quite introverted and remain so still. This year I learned to open up, begin conversations, and reveal myself to people sooner. I still struggle with this and it presents a hindrance to my personal and profession development (more on that below), but every time I open up, express myself, or show vulnerability I feel how our connections grows. This remains one of my primary focuses in personal development but my progress this year was noteworthy.

More Self-Aware in the Moment

I have always been very introspective…I can’t turn it off. I believe this to be a positive trait. Examining myself, my behavior, and the patterns I fall into forces me to re-evaluate the way that I operate. I constantly discover aspects of myself that need work. Knowing what I need to work on is one thing. Integrating this knowledge to manifest new behaviors in the moment is another thing entirely. This year I feel that I have improved my level of self-awareness in the present moment to actually create the positive changes I want to see in myself.

The most notable example of this is interrupting and talking over other people. I used to struggle quite a bit with this. I knew how rude this type of behavior could be but I used to lie to myself that the way I did it was different. When a topic arose that I felt passionate about my excitement would bubble over and I would jump in without regard for anyone else. I used to tell myself that I was just passionate and excitable. While this might be true for how I personally viewed my behavior other people see only my actions. Inherent in this action is a disregard, or at least a devaluing, of what others have to say. It says, “I’m not really listening, I just want to talk.” I now hold this thought in my head in nearly every conversation. When I do slip up I am immediately aware and feel guilty. Most importantly, I keenly recognize this behavior in others and feel first-hand the receiving end.


Areas Where I Struggled

The less fun yet invaluable half of the annual review: the short-comings.


I am hardly financially independent. I have no debt and no dependents, yet I can afford little more than rent, food, and gas. I am driving a borrowed car and it will be sometime (at the current rate) before I can afford to purchase my own.

All of my needs are met and I am blessed with incredibly supportive friends, family, and work that I love. I require no more than my current means provide but my goal for 2016 is to increase my income to support the supplemental aspects of my life that I desire: a car, the means to live alone, personal projects, and travel.

Fear and Inaction

As I stated above I could have worked much harder to build my personal business. This was also the primary way I to have improved my financial landscape.

I allowed fear to hinder my creation. The most pernicious pattern a creator (and I believe every person to be a creator) is inaction. Taking action is always a step forward even if it seems you no closer to your goal. Humans learn by making mistakes. Movement always teaches because new influences only enter our life as we move forward along our path.

I have lofty creative aspirations. Articles, ebooks, books, and manuals to write. Courses and seminars to create. Videos to film. Podcasts to record. All content to be created and shared.

Inaction is avoidance. If I never try than I can never fail. When I first began to write articles and record podcasts it was simply for me. The only reason I sat down create was out of love for the content and belief in the message. Now it feels like there is more on the line.

Every piece of content I birth into the world is a reflection of me. As I strive to create a platform and audience I am all too aware that some content (perhaps all of it) will be met with negativity. Intellectually, I know this to be false. I have received large amounts of positive feedback on my writing and podcasts, yet I still allow the fear of nonacceptance to hinder my creation.

My content that receives the most praise are those pieces that I created quickly and passionately and published before allowing my self-doubt and awareness of the audience to mire the purity of the message. The reason I started to write and create was because I had something to say. I had message to share and felt like it had to come flying out of me. In 2015 I allowed the awareness of my audience to paralyze me into inaction.

Stephen King advises in his memoir On Writing to “write with the door closed.” Write for an audience of one. Write for yourself and the one person closest to you. Let your writing be a true expression of yourself. Do not allow self-editing to disrupt your creation.

I remember why I began to create in the first place. I have slowly drifted from this pure intent. I know that when I try to please everyone, I end up pleasing no one. In 2016 I will try to full integrate this belief into my creation, remembering that the reason to publicly share work at all is to express pieces of my true self and my core beliefs. I cannot allow any distraction from this intent.

No more avoidance to contact potential podcast guests. No more complete and unpublished articles. No more complete and unpublished videos. No more book-beginnings and book-middles without book-ends.

Communication and Relationships

The first half of 2015 brought two short-term romantic relationships. The first on the later part of my trip, the second within a week of returning home. Both ended for the same underlying reason: my failure to understand and communicate the fact that I was not ready for these relationships.

Both came at very dynamic and confusing phases in my life. I basically wandered solo for 8 months. I made friends and shared many wonderful encounters with them along the way, but one of the defining themes in my life for nearly a year was solitude.

I lost touch of what it was like to be constantly surrounded by people, both familiar and unfamiliar. Even on a crowded city block you can feel completely alone if you do not speak the language. Upon returning I struggled being in a room full of people, even my family, for any length of time. I can only describe it as reverse homesickness.

I was also thinking constantly about what would come next in life for me. I did not have a clear idea of what I was or where I was going. Everything felt up in the air. Uncertainty is exciting but also terrifying. 

This was very inopportune environment to invite an intimate partner into my life. 

I failed to communicate what I was feeling (largely because I still did not fully understand) in these relationships. I avoided discussing what I felt and when I did try I was unable to articulate my thoughts effectively.

I understand now that neither the timing nor the matches were right for me. I cared for both girls but I see now that I welcomed these relationships primarily out of loneliness. My greatest failure was in understanding what was best for me at these times and in my ability to communicate this effectively.


Defining Values for 2016

I do not believe in destination-based goals. I believe that we should commit to moving in a positive direction and not measure success by a strict outcome. Destination vs. Direction

Below are a set of defining values to shape my behavior in 2016.

Ruthlessly Eliminate the Nonessentials

I significantly downsized the stuff in my life before leaving on my trip. This began with the clearing out of most of my physical possessions but grew into a lifestyle. I began to look at all of the influences in my life - habits, patterns, relationships, jobs - and ask the tough question, “Does this truly add value to my life?”

Ruthlessly editing the things that occupy my mental, emotional, and physical space allows me to focus on the people and things that matter most. I have more energy and time for the relationships that I want to pursue and nurture. None of my physical space feels clutters. My time feels largely my own.

As I settle back into life in California, I feel the pull of consumption and negative influences trying to take hold. I feel the positive force of minimalism in my daily life and in 2016 I will remain committed to this ideal.

I have two favorite defining expressions for my choice-minimal lifestyle:

“Discipline is power” - Holding yourself to schedules, guidelines, and healthy habits is the highest form of freedom. It ensures all your decisions are you own and you are not prone to being blown off course from the slightest distraction or temptation. A life defined by only your personal values, free from external pulls, is the highest form of freedom.

“Busy is out of control” - Those who claim to busy all the time are really confessing that they have no control of their time, schedule, and life. An open schedule or one filled of your choosing demonstrates a mastery of the influences in your life.


I allowed my fear and self-doubt to prevent me from completing or ever embarking on many creative endeavors. I have a long list of topics for unwritten articles and a huge archive of unfinished works. The more often I require myself “sit in the chair” as Steven Pressfield says, the more I feel creative work flow out of me. Creativity is a muscle that grows stronger with use and practice. The largest obstacle to my work in 2015 was my own self-doubt and refusal to sit down and begin.

Allowing self-editing into the original creation lowers the purity of the message and obscures my true voice. In 2016 I will focus on creation and will create for myself first.

Create first. Edit later.

Publish and Share

I produced a lot of work in 2015 that I am very proud of. Unfortunately much of it never made it to publication. I allowed my doubt to creep into my completed pieces as well.

I often delayed the posting of a complete article by telling myself that I would let the ideas settle in my mind a bit longer and then come back to edit. This was a way to avoid the fear that comes with making a piece of your thoughts and yourself public.

In 2016 I will publish all that I produce knowing that if I feel strong enough to create, the end result must see the light of day. I must always remember that I am not writing for everyone. I am write first for myself, second those who need to hear my voice. I have made so many positive changes because of the words and other media I consume. My ideas, presented in my voice, could be the precise thing that someone in the world needs to hear to create positive change in their life. I do the world a disservice by withholding anything I feel strong enough to create.

Even now, as I near the end of this review I am unconsciously searching for reasons to delay the posting. I add this paragraph during my third and final editing pass and hereby commit to publish. Let the posting of this review open the flood gates of vulnerability and publication for 2016!

This ideal also applies to my personal life. I feel how strong personal connections grow when I open up and reveal to those who I care about. My greatest struggle in past relationships has been in opening up. I am at the beginning of a new relationship and I cannot remember ever feeling so much excitement for a new person in my life. I try to remain committed to open up, say what I feel, and reveal myself to her as much as I can.

Build a Platform

My goal is to create a business - both brick and mortar and online - from which to share my ideas about how best to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. In 2016 I will focus on broadening my reach. I am uncomfortable with self-promotion and could have done a much better job of growing my audience in 2015. 

I do not want to grow a large audience for the sake of size. I do not even really want a large audience. I want to create a community of individuals that hold like values for life, movement, and health. I will focus on content creation and publication but also doing everything I can to ensure that my work finds those with whom it will resonate.

I prioritize quality of my personal relationships far more than the quantity of people in my life. I fell the same for the supporters, consumers, fans, and followers of my work.

To this effect, please reach out if you enjoy this review or any of my other work. I would love to hear from you. Are there any pieces you particularly enjoyed or disliked? Are they any topics you would like me to explore in the future?

Integration and Action

I consume a lot of media. I am nearly always listening to a podcast or audiobook. I read books, blogs, and articles voraciously. I love to learn. I constantly seek new ideas and new perspectives. 

In 2016 I will slow down this constant stream of information to be able to integrate what I have already learned into my paradigm. I believe in a hierarchy of information.

Raw data is simply information, facts about the world. We have more of this available to us than ever yet most people do not seem any happier or wiser than before. In fact, most seem less happy.

Knowledge is hearing what the data has too say. Seeing trends and understanding what they say about our world. These are the valuable insights that the best authors and other creatives offer.

Wisdom is integrating all of your knowledge into a cohesive worldview that shapes your values, relationships, behavior, and choices. Wisdom develops only from within. It comes from introspection and paring down of all the external noise. Holding onto only that which brings value and meaning and letting all else pass by. See the world outside yourself and understanding how you are only a small piece of it.

I love everything that I read and consume but I will shift my focus to slowing down and to integrating everything presented. Understanding and internalizing all that I learn. Fast-paced media turn over, even while aimed at learning and wisdom, can still be a form of running on the endless hamster wheel and avoiding deeper work.

I plan to re-read books that made a large impact on me. I plan to seek new material from old material; books and essays written long ago whose ideas have stood the test of time. We often obsess over the new and different. Works whose ideas are still relevant long after original publication present a far greater opportunity practical wisdom.

I find that I often use the consuming of new media as a way to avoid taking action. I trick myself into thinking I am productive when reading a new book when really I am avoiding the work I set out to do. I plan to curate my media choices more carefully, slow down the steady stream (this includes social media), and focus on taking action.

2016 is to be a year of focused work and growth.



2015 was an incredible year. I have made incredible progress in only the 8 short months since returning home.

This review has revealed to me how much harder I need to work to make my vision a reality. I have a better understanding of who I am and what I want. I feel a renewed commitment and drive to work and create. I have a clearer vision of the work that is to come.

I feel both excitement and fear for the vulnerability that comes from the sharing of this review, but it invigorates me to create and continue sharing.

Thank you reading all the way to the bottom. I hope that you have shared in the lessons and insight and feel inspired to open a similar honest investigation within your life. I cannot begin to describe the satisfaction and relief I feel in reaching the end.

- Justin


Full 2015 Reading List

(in alphabetical order)

A Renegade History of the United States by Thaddeus Russel

Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

Don’t Just Sit There by Katy Bowman

Hypnotizing Maria by Richard Bach

Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky

Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison

Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman

My Best Friend’s Funeral by Roger W. Thompson

Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall

Nocturnal by Scott Sigler

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Piranha by Clive Cussler

Recession Proof Graduate by Charlie Hoehn

Relax Into Stretch by Pavel Tsatsouline

Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins

The 4 Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss

The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaimon

The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau

The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book about Relationships by Neil Strauss

Ultimate Athleticism by Max Shank

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris

We Learn Nothing by Tim Kreider

Whole Body Barefoot by Katy Bowman


** Full disclosure - All book links are Amazon Affiliate links. I receive a small percentage of any purchase made after clicking on one at no additional cost to you.