I’m a few weeks late with this, but I still think it’s important to reflect on the previous year and take stock of what I learned, how I challenged myself, and what I need to do better. 2017 was a year of many new things that contributed immense value to my life.
I’d been hearing references to the Stoic philosophers for years. People like Marcus Aurelius and Seneca. 2017 was the first time I dove deeply into what they wrote, what they believed, and most importantly, how they lived their lives. Their approaches to the daily struggles, impediments, frustrations, and chaos that we all endure have proven to be very impactful in managing my own life.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
I grew up a baseball player and when I retired from baseball, I race Ironman triathlon until a traumatic brain injury put and end to that. Suffice to say, I have no experience with combat sports. In fact, I don’t know anyone that’s ever even practiced a martial art. Seriously. So it took many around my by surprise when I jumped headfirst into BJJ. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. It’s quite a paradox. As physically demanding as it is, it’s more of a mental exercise.
Jumping headfirst into something where I’m at true novice, with zero knowledge, zero muscle memory, and zero natural ability has pushed me in wonderful ways. Learning new things is a great way to strength one’s brain and keep it limber. Additionally, I’ve discovered a newfound creativity with BJJ. With so many things to keep track of, and so many different approaches to achieve a potential goal, I’ve essentially learned how to be creative when presented with variability in situations. It’s humbling at first – and probably always will be – but I recommend BJJ to everyone. Plus, a heavy dose of humility is good for all leaders.
I’m a big believer in the link between diet and not only physical performance, but also mental performance. As such, I’m always curious about how I can squeeze a little bit extra out of my body and mind. After listening to an interview with Peter Attia (brilliant guy, check out his blog), I decided to give the Ketogenic Diet a spin. Essentially, it’s predicated on putting the body in a state of Ketosis that is achieved by consuming a high fat, low carbohydrate diet. The links between this diet and reduction of cancers, increase in physical performance, wound healing, mental clarity, etc. are massive. In fact, a key figure in the ketogenic community operates a center that treats dogs stricken with cancer by feeding them a purely ketogenic diet and is seeing remarkable success in curing them. It can be tough at first, but your body will thank you in the long run.
I’m about as anti-new-age as one can get. I hate yoga. I don’t each vegan or gluten-free. I’ve never read a horoscope, and I don’t send “energy” to anyone. Yet, as read about person after person that I respect practicing meditation, I decided I should try it before I wrote it off.
The simple practice of doing 10 minutes of meditation once or twice per day has brought a true calm to my day and provided me a surprising boost of energy. It’s clumsy at first, but if you stick with it, you’ll be happy.
I’ve started to realize the true impact of all the distraction in our society. Frankly, it’s turned us into a must worse version of ourselves. Hop on an elevator and take a glance at all the people that pull out their phones so that they don’t have to say hello. As I took stock of what was creating value in my life, I realized that social media and the news weren’t contributing anything worthwhile – this includes my favorite vice, reading the Wall Street Journal cover to cover each day. I can’t control most of what I see, so why am I wasting my time with something I can’t control or impact?
Eliminating these distractions has not only freed up my time, but given me immense mental clarity and helped me tackle some big problems in far more pragmatic ways.
2017 wasn’t all gravy, however. There were plenty of misteps and wrong turns. Looking forward to 2018 (the rest of it at least), here’s shat do I need to do better:
Slow down and say no
I’ve become fanatical about how finite a resource time is. I want to use it wisely, and a big step in doing so is recognizing all of the things that I do because I think I’m supposed to rather than tying them to a desired outcome. The countless dinners, coffee, and even trips that I was going on because I subconsciously thought that’s what people did began weighing on me. In the next year, I’ll continue to become much more protective of my time, and ensuring that I’m saying no so that I can slow down and focus on things that really matter.
Much like the previous point, I have a long way to go in eliminating distractions, especially those for which I have can have no impact. YouTube is a great one. I may be reseaching something worthwhile, for instance, a great BJJ move, and 20 minutes later, I’m watching hockey highlights from 2010. Laser focus on the one super-power I’d like to have and in 2018 I’m going to do everything I can to get it.
In 2017, I was presented with a great deal of opportunities, both in business and personally. In some cases, I found myself pursuing too many things because they all seemed appealing. As I begin 2018, I’m sitting down and clearly stating what my goals are for the rest of the year. If opportunities don’t support that, they’re out. Some may say that I risk missing a life-changing opportunity. They may be right, but my goals will be life-changing, and thus, that’s what I’ll pursue.
All of that being said, I wish you all a great 2018 and would love to hear what you’re doing to make this the year you’re the best version of yourself yet.