My 2015 Annual Review

Inspired by Chris Guillebeau,  I did my first Annual Review at the end of 2013. It was fun to relive the fun and I enjoyed creating it. It was good to look back at my goals and see which ones I nailed and which ones I failed. I like that now and in years to come, I can look back and get a snapshot of what happened in 2013. But, despite my 2013 Annual Review being titled “Why 2013 was the best year ever, and 2014 will be even better,” 2014 turned out to be the worst year ever. I didn’t do an Annual Review for 2014 because, to be honest, I wasn’t at all proud of who I was and how the year went down. I made some very poor decisions. I learned from them. Coming into 2015 I was determined to be a better person, a better friend, and to live a healthier lifestyle.

 

Health

I signed up for WellnessFX and took my first blood test at the very end of 2014. The results were alarming, yet not surprising. My liver health was deep in the red. “A marked elevation in liver enzymes can signify liver dysfunction.” Well, I was 3-4 times the normal upper limit.

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I made some big lifestyle changes:

  • I cut WAY back on the drinking. Way back. And the funny thing is, I don’t think I sacrificed any fun at all. More on this topic in a bit.
  • I stopped eating meat and started eating HEAPS of veggies. I even started growing veggies in the garden. (If you’ve known me for a while, this is crazy. You can read more here Why The Son of a Butcher Gave Up Meat)
  • For the first quarter of the year, I juiced every day. I learned beets are good for liver health, and had tons of the bloody juice.

In March I took another blood test to see if the lifestyle and diet changes were making an difference. When I saw the results, I was f*cking amazed at how big a change there was in such a short timespan. But I knew that it wasn’t just about making a short term impact. Summer was coming – the time of bachelor parties, company payroll events, unforgettable experiences, and Cabo and Cancun – and I knew I had to stay healthy and keep it somewhat mellow. I took another blood test in September, and I was stoked to see things were still looking pretty good.

 

Financial 

My liver was not the only thing in the red after 2014. My credit card debt soared and credit score was in the dumps. At the beginning of the year, CreditKarma said my credit rating was poor. Funny thing is, my financial problems were very tied to my liver problems. I really lived it up in my mid-twenties, to say the least. Long story short, after spending a year with much less partying and drinking, I was able to pay off a lot of debt and get my credit score back to a respectable number.

 

 

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

More than anything, there was one big lifestyle change that really made the biggest impact: I moved in with my Mom. Saving on the rent obviously helped, but that was hardly the difference maker. Mom is the perfect role model. She’s healthy, a vegetarian, a kundalini yoga teacher, very caring and selfless, and just an all-around great person. So naturally, spending a ton of time with her in 2015, some of those things rubbed off. I meditated 73 times and started growing kale in the garden. Obviously I had some outside influence here. I really do believe, more than ever, that if you want to make big changes in your life, you need to put yourself in the right environment and surround yourself with the right people.

 

Fitness

In 2015 I exercised more than 150 times… less than 5 times in a gym. My fitness goal was to get OUTSIDE – surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, biking, hiking, beach volleyball, beach runs, trail runs, hill runs. I went mountain biking for the first time. I went whitewater kayaking for the first time. I even played bubble soccer… twice.

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Books
In 2015, if I wasn’t listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast or reading articles on Brainpickings.org, I was probably reading/listening to one of these…
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Top 5:
#1 Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
#2 Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman
#3 We Learn Nothing by Tim Kreider
#4 Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
#5 The Martian by Andy Weir
The rest in no particular order:
  • On the Shortness of Life by Seneca
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • Endurance – Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
  • Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
  • The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh
  • Abundance by Peter Diamandis
  • Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson
  • The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Sean Covey

 

 

Favorite quote of the year:

“How we spend out days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

– Annie Dillard

 

Habit of the year: Discipline

Discipline is something I really focused on in 2015, and will continue to focus on. As a discipline habit, I took a cold shower more than 200 days in a row. 365 days vegetarian, despite loving meat, took a lot of discipline. I worked remotely (worked while traveling) a lot last year, and that took discipline. I learned that discipline is the key to freedom.

Discipline equals Freedom. I got this from Jocko Willenk, a badass Navy SEAL commander, when he was interviewed on the Tim Ferriss podcast. It would seems as though discipline and freedom are opposites. You would usually associate freedom with just doing whatever you want when you want. But, as Jocko explains, discipline equals freedom, because if you wake up earlier, you get more done, and have more free time. If you’re more disciplined with your time management, you have more time and freedom. If you are more discipled with your diet and health, you can accomplish more because you feel better and have more energy and are more capable. Makes perfect sense.

 

New skill of the year: Photography

Towards the end of 2015, I bought my first DSLR camera and started learning photography. I took a few beginner classes on Udemy, and got pretty into it. Here are some of my favorite pictures from last year:

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Theme of the year: Redefining “Play”

Playing isn’t something we are restricted to doing only when we are children. I believe that life is better the more we grow older and retain our youthful enthusiasm for playing.

When I was a kid, play meant baseball, basketball, hide and go seek, climbing trees and getting dirty. When I was a teenager, play was surf trips to Mexico and Costa Rica, snowboard trips to Mammoth, and playing guitar and jamming with my friends. And then, in my mid-twenties, play became going to bars and clubs and getting as drunk as possible. Play was going to New York City and doing 5 consecutive nights of bar hopping until we couldn’t walk. Play was going to Vegas with bottle service and your favorite DJ. Don’t get me wrong, there are very few things that are as epic as a day party at Nikki Beach with your best friends, and I hope to do that once a year forever. But, after spending most my mid-twenties damaging my liver and spending money that I didn’t have, I thought that it might be time to redefine what “play” meant to me.

In 2015 I wanted to bring it back to what play meant when I was a kid.  I wanted to explore, climb things, get lost, stay up late, tell stories, laugh, find beauty, take pictures, do things for the first time, play sports, get dirty, and go fast…

So…

In 2015 I spent 30 days surfing… not at my home break. I surfed all over Australia, Tasmania, Cabo, Ventura, Morro Bay, San Diego, and more. I scored the best waves at K38 in Rosarito Mexico, over Labor Day weekend. I had the most fun every time I surfed with my brother, especially Christmas Day at Roaring Beach in Tasmania.

 

In 2015 I spent 6 days snowboarding… and it was epic. I boarded in Whistler and did Peak to Creek runs with my best buds. I took my dad and little sister to Mammoth for her 6th birthday, and she got to snowboard for the first time. And I lived like a ski bum for 5 days in Montana.

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In 2015 I spent 10 days camping… none of which at a campground. I camped with Evan and Derek just outside of Zion National Park for 3 nights, each night in a different spot at the recommendation of the waitress serving us that night. I camped in a van with my brother as we surfed and drove from Byron Bay down to Sydney Australia. I camped with Kyla, the camping-extraordinaire, for 2 nights somewhere outside Moab, UT. And I camped for another 3 nights with my brother and friends at 3 off-the-grid locations on the east coast of Tasmania.

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In 2015 I went to 7 National Parks… and I’m speechless. I went to 3 National Parks in Utah. I hiked Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park which is one of the most rigorous hikes I’ve ever done. I hiked the Fiery Furnace at Arches National Park, which is a real-life maze with exactly zero other people there. I hiked the Needles district of Canyondlands National Park which made me feel like I was on Mars. Yellowstone National Park in Montana/Wyoming was the first time I ever went in hot springs. At Royal National Park just south of Sydney Australia, we thought we were going to score some waves but didn’t. At Freycinet National Park in Tasmania we camped with the snakes at Bluestone Bay, and hiked over a mountain to Wineglass Bay. At Phang Nga National Park in Thailand I explored caves and saw some of the most beautiful island scenery I’ve ever seen.

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In 2015 I travelled… A LOT. We’re talking approx 150 days last year. That’s 40% of the year on the road. But I wouldn’t want it any other way.

  • 46 days in Northern California
  • 30 days in other California cities
  • 21 days in Australia
  • 10 days in Mexico
  • 10 days in Nevada
  • 9 days in Utah
  • 5 days in Montana
  • 3 days in Canada
  • 3 days in Michigan
  • 3 days in Oregon
  • 3 days in Thailand
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Tools/resources I used most in 2015:

  • Coach.me for tracking habits
  • Headspace for meditation
  • MapMyRun for fitness
  • WellnessFX for personal health
  • Five Minute Journal for gratitude
  • CreditKarma for personal finance
  • Udemy for learning new skills
  • Audible for reading books
  • Nikon D3300 for taking pictures
  • Chase Sapphire for free flights
  • SPG American Express for free hotels
  • Raen for sunnies and style

 

My goals for 2016: Coming soon…

 

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2 thoughts on “My 2015 Annual Review

  1. So awesome to read this! Well done and keep up the good work. Thanks to you im adding the cold showers to my morning routine. Thanks 😉

    Keep experimenting and keep sharing the results.

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