2018 Q2 Life Review

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Another quarter has passed, another one has started.

Below is my Quarterly Life Review, a big picture reflection on my quarter. In it, I celebrate victories, break down challenges, and distill key learnings. This review is one of my favorite exercises. It allows me to see how far I’ve come, clarify and overcome challenges, and digest what I’ve learned. I publish my review publicly for three reasons: to hold myself accountable, to give you a candid look into my life, and to encourage you to conduct a similar reflection. I hope you enjoy the insights and stories you find in the review.

3 Victories

My mission

Six months ago, I set out on a mission to empower 10 million people to live a more conscious and fulfilling life. I’ve made tremendous progress on the mission this quarter by focusing on writing, experimenting, and growing the Life Reimagined community. After starting 2018 with 50 followers and finishing last quarter with 500, I now have over 1,500.

While I’m encouraged by the increasing number of people following my work, the most rewarding and meaningful part of this growth has been the interactions I’ve had with members of the community. This quarter, I had the opportunity to speak with an incredibly diverse and thoughtful group of people, including burned-out professionals wanting to spend more time with their family, creatives seeking the courage to start their journey, entrepreneurs hoping to scale their businesses, college students traveling abroad for the first time, finance professionals craving a fulfilling escape from the cubicle, young professionals looking to get more out of life, fathers struggling with the darkness, and mothers who have lost their children.

These interactions provide meaning to my work and keep me going. Completing a full site redesign and branding initiative was another significant accomplishment this quarter. The project consumed a lot of time and energy, but I’m excited about how it turned out. I now have a strong infrastructure to build out the community over time. If you haven’t checked out the new about page, give it a look!

Writing

I wrote 11 blog posts, 60 Quora answers, and 12 newsletters this quarter. On the blog, the most popular articles were: My Mom’s Path To Suicide: Battling The Darkness In A Broken System 12 Practices That Have Improved My Life Why Responsibility Is The Antidote To Being Screwed Over The Subtle Art Of Not Being Right

On Quora, a few answers struck a chord with readers: As a dying person, what is your advice to the living? If you can give me only one tip to improve my life, what would it be? What made you finally let go of something/someone? What are some things money can’t buy? If you can give me only one tip to improve my life, what would it be?

Finally, this quarter I had the opportunity to collaborate with one of my favorite productivity apps, Shift. They interviewed me about how to be a productive entrepreneur on the road. On the whole, the high volume of writing this quarter helped me craft my voice and clarify my beliefs about important topics.

Experimenting with life

After a few years of experimenting with various wellness and productivity practices, I wrote 12 Practices That Have Improved My Life. The piece inspired me to continue experimenting this quarter. Below are a few things I’ve been up to:

Surfing: While living in Nicaragua, I surfed at least once a week. Surfing is a ton of fun and humbling. I’m not very good, but I’m now able to hold my own and sometimes catch unbroken waves.

Ecstatic dance: This free-for-all dance practice helped me overcome a lifelong fear of dancing. It’s incredibly fun. If you do it, you can expect to feel a healthy dose of gratitude and a connection to the other participants in the experience.

Binaural beats: Binaural beats are vibrating tones that shift your brain into different gears. I started using this track to help me nap for 30 minutes a day, and it’s been a game changer. It relaxes my body while sending my mind into a clarifying meditative state. I also participated on a meditation walk across the Brooklyn Bridge that leveraged binaural beats.

New morning routine: After deciding that I wanted to spend less time on my morning routine, I started practicing this simple 15-minute routine. In just a few minutes, it grounds me and allows me to get the day started on my terms.

Less tracking: I used to track a lot of things in my life, but I’ve cut back on that practice. It’s been a healthy change. I’m spending more time enjoying and living life. I still think tracking is important when forming a new habit, but once it’s built, it’s okay to cut back.

Tattoo: I got my first tattoo this quarter. It’s a minimalist token of appreciation and gratitude for the 25 years I had with my mom.

3 Challenges

Creative self-doubt

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Van Gogh

The creative journey is riddled with self-doubt. Even those who are the best at their craft grapple with the little voice that makes them question the value of their work. If you’re curious about this, check out Steinbeck’s diaries while he wrote his best piece of work, The Grapes of Wrath. It’s fascinating.

As I’ve started to hone my craft and launched various creative endeavors, I’ve struggled with self-doubt. And while I’ve developed tactics to overcome it, the most effective approach has been to accept that self-doubt is an inherent part of the journey. Once you accept the self-doubt for what it is, you can more easily keep going when the voice gets louder and better enjoy the feeling of working on things that are important to you.

Failed business partnership

I worked with another entrepreneur on a new venture that I was excited about, and to put it in a way that leaves the banana in its peel, it didn’t work out. This experience came with many uncomfortable conversations and large doses of anxiety. I worked through these challenges and came out the other side a much stronger person, but the failure consumed a lot of my energy earlier in the quarter.

Lack of grounding

Two years on the road began to take its toll. The lack of stability, constant moving, and steady stream of new faces became a lot less interesting this quarter. To my surprise, I found myself craving stability instead of the next new country or adventure. So I listened to this desire and slowed my pace. I decided to spend more time in familiar places like New York. And this was the right decision. I’m still finding ways to explore and do new things, but I’m enjoying the stability for the time being.

3 Learnings

Self-compassion is indispensable to achievement and fulfillment

As a driven and ambitious person, I’m prone to set aside my well-being on the pursuit of my goals. This quarter proved that this is not a good long-term strategy. In late April, I realized that I had lost the joy in my life. For the prior two months, I had been grinding away on a series of projects that excited me. And despite working on things that aligned with my values and passions, I pushed myself too hard.

I stopped doing the things that grounded me and kept me feeling refreshed. And eventually, that caught up to me. I found myself in a hole, and I spent the next month climbing my way out. I cut a few projects, spent more time with family and friends, and committed to smiling at least once every day. I spent more time relaxing, meditating, and reading. Within a few weeks, things got better. I started operating from a place of joy once again.

Life is too short to lose your joy. And if you’re not working from a place of joy and taking care of yourself, your work will suffer, especially if you want to inspire others. I’ve learned to take it a bit easier on myself.

Surround yourself with people who want the best for you

I entered a business partnership that ended poorly this quarter. And while I gained a few practical nuggets of wisdom about what to look for when starting a business with someone, a big takeaway has been to surround yourself with people who want the best for you. This is especially important when things go wrong. Because when things go wrong, you need people who want the best for you, not people who want to change you or people you can’t trust.

That said, if you unintentionally find yourself in a toxic situation, cut your losses, remove yourself from the situation quickly, and find a way to get back to people who want the best for you.

Follow your energy

I started this quarter with a long list of goals that excited me. I had a thoughtful plan. I was ready to work. But then a funny thing happened. As I worked on my roadmap, I realized that it wasn’t as fulfilling as I had anticipated. So instead of sticking to the script, I changed the plan. And then when that didn’t work, I changed it again…and again. Eventually, I found a path that created a lot of joy.

Had I kept following the script, I’d still be in a hole. As obvious as this sounds, it’s not always so easy to change your plan. It’s much easier to get attached to a particular path or narrative and stick to it. But if you can find the courage to break the plan when it’s not working, you will eventually come out on the other side with a better life.   The best way I know how to do this is to follow your energy. It’s an intuitive approach that requires you to listen to your body and break from the logical brain.

Following your energy allows you to realize that you’re heading down the wrong path and need to make a change. Following my energy led me to create more stability, spend more time with family and friends, and work a little bit less hard. And that’s it for this quarter! It’s been an immensely challenging and rewarding three months. I’m once again in a place where I’m enjoying life, excited about the future, and prepared to finish the year out strong.

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