Q1 2019 Life Review

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Welcome to my Quarterly Life Review, a big picture reflection on the victories, challenges, and learnings from the quarter.

This review is one of my favorite exercises. It allows me to measure progress, identify and overcome challenges, and solidify 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 stories and insights you find in the review.

Victories

Skiing at Heavenly in Lake Tahoe

Skiing

My roommate inspired me to learn how to ski this year. The first few times were miserable – falling off of a chair lift, slowing other people down, getting a concussion, and living in fear were just a few of the challenges I confronted.

Determined to find the joy in shredding fresh powder, I kept going and challenged myself to do more every time I skied. My progress accelerated when I moved to Lake Tahoe and started skiing three to four times a week. By the end of my stay in Tahoe, I barreled down a daunting double black run and discovered the bliss of gliding through trees of fresh powder.

Instead of feeling fear every time I went, I felt excitement and joy. It’s great to see that with persistence and tackling fear head-on, you can pick up an activity like skiing later in life.

Book notes

Reading books is the most important habit I’ve developed as an adult. The knowledge and lessons I’ve learned through reading have accelerated my personal and professional success, making me a better thinker, communicator, friend, and professional.

As I wrote in How to Read a Nonfiction Book, I take notes on every book I read. I reference my notes regularly to reinforce what I learned, remind myself of important ideas, and solve new problems. For years, I wanted to find a way to share these notes with other people in a searchable and scalable way. I finally found a good way to do so this quarter with my new reading list resource that has summaries and lessons from the best books that I’ve read.

The resource has insights from 50+ books, and I will keep adding books as I read them. You can use the information to learn new concepts, vet books, and solve problems in your life.

Meditation

Along with reading, meditation has been a practice that has allowed me to better navigate the complexity and challenges of adulthood. While I’ve been meditating on and off for years, I set a goal to meditate every day this year.

I didn’t hit my target, but I meditated 93% of days during the quarter. I deepened my practice by completing the Waking Up course by Sam Harris and by reading Radical Acceptance. I also recorded a guided Vipassana meditation that you can use if you want a guided meditation.

Moving forward, I want to continue exploring new meditations and sharing my learnings with others. Next month, I have an exciting opportunity to lead a few meditations for entrepreneurs and freelancers in Lisbon.

Challenges

Balling with Harper

Business or hobby?

As part of my mission to empower 10 million people to live a more conscious and fulfilling life, I’ve invested significant time, energy, and capital into building this site and the Life Reimagined newsletter.

As I explored different avenues to work on the mission this quarter, I realized that I needed clarity on whether or not I want this project to be a business. Instead of thinking my way to the answer, I’m listening to my wise mind and not pursuing this as a business for now.

Over the next few months, I’ll focus on improving my craft as a writer and speaker, growing the community, and connecting with readers without needing to monetize my efforts.

Wavering on goals

I set a goal to write a book outline and launch a podcast this quarter. I made very little progress on either goal. In reflecting on why I failed, I realized that I didn’t fully commit to either goal. I also set unrealistic expectations for what I can do while working a full-time job.

I’m pressing pause on both of these initiatives until I’m ready and committed to making them a reality.

Isolation in Denver

After nomading around for a few years, I recently settled in Denver. Between working too much, the challenges of making new friends in adulthood, and traveling for weeks at a time, I’ve struggled to build a community of friends. For the first time in a while, I’m grappling with the isolation that comes from living in a place where you don’t know many people. I know that having a good community is essential to my well-being, so I’m focused on doing better in this area in the coming months.

Learnings

Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe

Be grateful for what you don’t have

While sitting on the couch with my grandma a few months again, she said, “Cal. Be grateful for what you don’t have.” Her words stuck with me. Every time I felt frustrated, lonely, or sad this quarter, I thought about all of the things that could be much worse in my life.

My life could easily be 10 to 20 times worse than it is. Be grateful for what you don’t have.

Doing vs. being mind

I spent a month in Lake Tahoe skiing, hanging out with friends, and watching movies. Instead of being seduced by achieving more and being better, I accepted reality for what it is. In speaking about this experience, a friend introduced me to the “doing” vs. “being” mind.

The “doing mind” is about getting things done and achieving goals. The “being mind” is about accepting your reality without feeling pressure to change it.

While I default to the goal- and improvement-oriented “doing mind,” I have learned to appreciate the virtues of the “being mind.” Finding the right balance between these two modes is at the core of living a balanced and fulfilling life.

Trading short-term popularity for long-term respect

As my life has gotten busier and more complex, I’ve learned that being able to prioritize the vital few things that matter is a critical, but difficult skill. Not only does prioritization require you to clarify what you want, but it also requires you to say no to the things that you don’t want.

So when your friend offers you a tequila shot and you don’t want to be hungover for your work presentation tomorrow, you say no. When you feel pressure to hang out with a group of people you don’t like, you say no. In saying no, you’re protecting your time and allowing yourself to say yes to the things that will improve the quality of your life.

For many of us, saying no can be uncomfortable and make us a little less popular in the short run. But when you have clear priorities and values and live by them, people will respect you in the long run.

And that’s it, thanks for reading! If you had any wins, challenges, or learnings from the quarter, feel free to shoot an email to [email protected] to let me know.

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