2016: A Year in Review
2015 marked perhaps the most dynamic period of my life. I began a tradition of conducting an annual review to celebrate all that I’m proud of and examine all the areas where I want to grow. I’ve found no better way to integrate the experiences of the past year into continued growth. I do these for myself, but share them here in hopes you may share in my personal insights conduct a similar self-examination for yourself.
The overarching theme of my 2015 Annual Review was transition. I spent the first 5 months of the year abroad, returning in May without a clearly defined direction. In looking forward to 2016, I imagined a year ago that I would have much more stability in my life. 2016 brought even more transition than I dreamed for its predecessor. My primary direction remains the same as this time last year: to share my experience and knowledge openly to inspire and empower others to live more embodied and healthy lives. Yet, the current day-to-day expressions of this aim remained completely obscure this time last year. My days abound with opportunities and tasks that were not even visible on the horizon at the dawn of 2016.
I find how easily I can forget the positive and dwell on the negative. Here’s to gratitude and pride for all the good that happened in 2016.
Cause for Celebration
In mid 2016, I began contributing to Breaking Muscle. This was a goal of mine since I began coaching over 5 years ago. I used to tell myself a story that I was not yet ready, not yet experienced enough, not yet knowledgeable enough to add any value to their offerings. This story still finds its way into my mind from time to time but I have grown to understand that no matter my experience level I can add value. My personal fitness and movement journey is completely unique. Through constantly seeking to learn and improve while introspectively examining myself along the way, I can bring unique insight to anyone who cares to listen (or read).
It was quite surreal to be welcomed onto a platform who’s current and past figures I consider role-models. I still admire their experience but understand them to be just like me: sharing the details of their personal journeys in hopes of empowering future athletes and movers.
My infrequent article contributions have become a steadily-growing body of written and video pieces. After taking a leap to apply and submit my first piece I can now look back to over a 15 published pieces (with several more in the editorial process). I now contribute weekly and have plans for new projects together. This body of work and our growing relationship are perhaps my greatest sources of pride from 2016.
I moved to Santa Barbara, CA in August 2016. This was an exciting but incredibly unpredictable time for me. I had plans to move to Orange County to work for my uncle. I felt ready for a new city and overjoyed to join his burgeoning program. This plan fell through due to some timing and business complications. This had nothing to do with our relationship and brought no ill feelings, but left me reeling at the prospect of making a new plan on three weeks notice. I had committed to leave Ventura, but now had no plan for where I was headed next.
Santa Barbara has come to feel like more of a home than I have known in a long time. I enjoy the culture and town but most of all I’ve found a true gym home. I arranged to join Gravitas Fitness before even finding a place to live. It was my first tie to my new home and supports the deepest connections I have here. I’ve never felt closer to a leadership, coaching staff, or membership family.
The RKC - My other fitness “home” is with the RKC. I resonate so strongly with with their mission and values and I want to grow to a leadership position within the organization. I began assistant teaching certifications to further my experience and connection. I participated in both of Level 1 and Level 2 certifications this year with growing plans for teaching 2017.
Work Flow Talk Series - I began a partnership with Impact Hub, a local co-working space, for a series of talks called Work Flow. These are a bi-weekly campaign to inspire movement through out working hours. Each one is a short talk and movement session aimed not only to get people up and out of their chairs, but to give them the tools to get up and move as often as possible through out their work day.
30-Day Video Challenge - I have always recognized the power of video as a means of sharing information. Videos, more than any written or spoken words, have the power to connect, inspire, and educate. Despite understanding the power it holds I felt an aversion to speaking on camera. I conducted a 30-day challenge to post a new video everyday for 30 days to both conquer my fear and hone the craft. I am in no way an expert but I have grown more comfortable and confident and began adding video components to all of the Breaking Muscle contributions. Check out all the videos from my challenge HERE and my Breaking Muscle contributions HERE.
I attended two personal development events this year.
World Domination Summit - The 6th Annual WDS conference (my second annual) in Portland, OR. We are a collection of like-spirited individuals all trying to do big things in the world. While the details of each attendee’s life look completely different, we all seem bonded by the Summit’s founding values - Community, Adventure, Service - and our exploration of the founding question: How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world? Check out my impressions from my first experience in 2015.
Beyond Reasons - This weekend workshop from Productive Learning had a profound impact on my life. It helped me uncover the deep unconscious causes of why I struggle with putting myself out there. This is an on-going struggle, a big theme for my personal development, and my main area of work from this (and the previous) annual review. I leave this intentional vague because of my ongoing process but I look forward to future work with Productive Learning.
A Few Fun Notables
Hawaii, Wanderlust, and the Eddie Aikau - I traveled to Hawaii last February for a reunion with two amazing buddies (love you Josh and Adam). We attended Wanderlust yoga festival (my third festival and our second as a trio). The highlight of the trip was completely unplanned. A legendary big-wave surf contest ran at Waimea Bay my first full day on the island. “The Bay calls the day” and conditions aligned to create the largest surf the contest has ever seen in its 32-year history. We witnessed only the 9th time conditions have aligned and held to run the contest to completion.
Street League - My ex-girlfriend brought my brother and I to one stop of Street League, a professional skateboard contest tour. I have loved skateboarding since age 5 and been huge fan of this contest series since its inception. This was a special day.
Santa Barbara Winery - To fill my schedule after my whirlwind move northward, I began working at Santa Barbara Winery in both the tasting room and wine production. My casual interest in wine grew into a rewarding passion. The production season ended in December and I’ve scaled back to occasional tasting room shifts, but I cherish my new-found love for wine and personal time with the winemaker.
Areas of Work
Self-Publication and Self-Promotion
This was my greatest area of struggle last year as well. I feel that I have made progress but it remains an ongoing challenge. My chosen path toward teaching, speaking, and writing all bring me into a momentary position of prominence. I have no desire for fame, but speaking inherently brings attention (at least in the moment). While my primary focus will always be on the message, as the vessel through which I comes, I will always have all eyes on me. I feel no fear in this role. In fact in many ways I thrive on it. I have come to understand that my avoidance to put myself out there originates from questioning my own motives. Until relatively recently, I considered myself a terrible speaker and writer.
My writing process was slow, awkward, and arduous. Nothing ever seemed to flow and when I did manage a few clever insights, I could never express them creatively. I remember proofreading high school and college essays to find extreme dissatisfaction. They always felt so dry, boring, and devoid of any beauty. They were put together like math problems, all the steps in place, all the “right” information expressed, but lacking anything artistic. Objectively good (for relatively high grades) but subjectively flat. I knew this was not how good writing should feel, but I knew no other way to create.
Speaking presented an even greater challenge. I had a relatively severe (at least how it felt to me) speech impediment as a child. I’ll refrain from the details because this is the topic of a past post and future talks. Simply put, speaking and teaching did not seem viable life paths for me and brought far more fear and aversion than excitement.
I give this background to illustrate what a striking course shift I made. In many ways I am still reeling from this abrupt shift in persona and how it reflects in my new passions. I left engineering because I knew it wasn’t right. I didn’t love the work. On a deeper level though, I left because I had to coach. I had to teach. I had to share my knowledge and experience in health and fitness. As I was coming to this realization I remember telling friends and family “I have such an valuable message to share and I just want to shout it from a mountain top.” I still feel this way and I am actively working to build that mountain.
I construct so many false obstacles that slow my climb. In 2017, I believe I excavated some of my deeper, previously unconscious thought patterns that seek to hold me in place: I question my own motives. I look at where I want to go and think “why do you want to write a book, stand on a stage, have a large audience? Do you just want attention? Is this simply a ‘look-at-me’ tactic? Do you really think you can help people? The world?” Standing on a stage feels so contrary to any other path I used to imagine my life taking. Yet now, its all I want.
Consciously, I know my intentions pure and understand this inner tape to be nothing more than some deep-seeded programming; the Resistance. Seeing things for what they are though, is only the first step toward overcoming them. Uncovering these patterns felt like victory. Understanding all the ways they play out in my life was the next step. Learning to dismiss them and step past remains an ongoing journey and my greatest focus in 2017.
Compromising My Stated Desires for Pursuits I Know to Be Less Meaningful
I discovered this pattern in seeing how I avoid creative work. I now see that this pattern applies more broadly in other areas of my life.
This is a bit vague so I’ll try to expound. I find myself falling into comfortable situations that keep me from pursuing what I truly want. I examined a version of this in my review last year. I use podcasts and audiobooks as a method to avoid creation. I tell myself that I’m learning and growing from what they have to offer. This is of course true, but I overfeed on them as a way to avoid sitting down to write or record.
I’ve since detected this pernicious pattern in other aspects of my life. Accepting a job at the winery was essentially a 3-4 month long podcast that kept me from the discomfort a building my coaching practice in Santa Barbara. The job was not a bad idea. In fact, it was an invaluable opportunity to learn about wine and I will cherish this harvest season. My unconscious pattern arose in the decision to allow it to take over my schedule. Simply saying yes to a job is far more comfortable than working to develop a network and prominent coaching/teaching/speaking practice. I justified this decision because I was learning, growing, and having fun (just like with a podcast) but was essentially placing a 3-4 month hold on my true work. I do not regret this decision. As I said, I cherish the opportunity to work so closely with the winemaker. Even though I enjoyed the outcome, I still learned how profoundly this unconscious pattern can effect my life.
The final major area where I saw this pattern arise was a romantic relationship. This is difficult to write about. But I conduct (and publish) these annual reviews in the spirit of growth and vulnerability and continue forth in the hopes that my words are not misunderstood. I believe I remained in a relationship longer than I should have. The comfort of staying was much easier than the pain of ending it. I did not enter into the relationship because it was the comfortable option. I cared for her deeply and was genuinely excited about beginning our relationship. I ended it when I came to the seemingly sudden realization that we simply were not a match. We had no problems in our six months together and I cannot say anything negative about her as a person or a partner. However, I knew that we were not right sooner than I consciously admitted it. I don’t mean to say that I knew the whole time. I could not (and still cannot) point to glaring issue in our relationship. The day-to-day details were good and this comfort kept me from discovering my deeper feelings. She is amazing, just not amazing for me. I’m happy that we shared what we did but I learned that I need to examine deeper into what I truly feel and the influence that I devote so much of my life toward.
Don’t let good keep you from great.
We over-estimate what we can accomplish in a day, and under-estimate what we can accomplish in year
The most special part of these reviews comes in reaching the end. We can so easily believe that we are not actually moving in the direction we’d like to. I love to look forward to where I’m headed but find that perspective makes it difficult to see how far I’ve come. I know I’m closer to the mountain, but its hard to judge just how far I’ve traveled. Turning around on the road offers the only true vantage to understand how much ground I’ve covered. No matter if the discoveries bring pain or pride, looking back in self-reflection brings nothing but gratitude and optimism. I write this conclusion swelling with appreciation for all the wonderful influences in my life and excitement for what 2017 brings.
2016 Reading List
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
- Rising Strong by Brene Brown
- Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
- The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin
- Tribe by Sebastian Junger
All the rest from A to Z:
- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (re-read)
- How to Ruin Everything: Essays by George Watsky
- Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Business Man byYvon Chouinard
- Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (re-read)
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King (re-read)
- Piranha by Clive Cussler
- Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln by James C. Humes
- The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi
- The Cinder Cone by Foster Huntington
- The Code by Shaun Tompson
- The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley
- The Emperor's Revenge by Clive Cussler
- The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
- The More of Less by Joshua Becker
- The Natural Method: Volume 1 by Georges Hebert
- The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown
- The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes
- The Tao of Seneca
- Zen Habits by Leo Babauta