My Year In Review: 2019

2019 was a huge year of growth for me. Through the various challenges I faced, they helped me gain clarity to my life goals and fueled me with motivation throughout the year. Here is a list of the things I’m most proud of in no order of importance:

1. How Much I Learned

At age 27, I pursued more education in 2019 than I feel I have my whole life. Ranging from writing in the mornings, reading over 50 books in a year, taking classes towards an MBA, running a Twitch stream, picking up a new sport, and more.

Writing Everyday

I’ve never been a daily writer until I came across the work of https://seanwes.com/. Sean introduced me to writing being the “gateway drug” to success. This changed my mindset around how important writing and reading are to my overall skillset. This made me want to become a better writer, and ultimately read some great classics on writing such as:

  • Zen in the Art of Writing – Ray Bradbury
  • On Writing – Stephen King
  • Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
  • The War of Art – Steven Pressfield

I challenged myself to write 500 words everyday. That shortly became 1000 words, and I’ve slowly come to just writing whatever is in my head until depleted as my goal as it tends to average around 1000 words. Making a small goal such as writing 500 words everyday helped me gain clarity that the number of words doesn’t really matter, but the act of writing does. By scheduling out my writing topics and content ideas, it has helped me battle writers block to which I can generally put down a shitty first draft that I typically can revise to be decent in a future iteration. This has challenged my perfectionism and instead allows me to feel okay with most of my writing feeling like crap on it’s first life.

Reading 50+ Books

Although I considered myself a big reader previously, I would only read about 12 books a year, usually one each month. After seeing the reading habits of people I aspired to be like, I challenged myself and changed my goal to be 52 books in 2019, otherwise known as a book every week. Not only did I accomplish this, but I found myself excitedly adding more books to my list for next year to read.

One of the biggest things I had to learn after reading this many books over the year is that if there’s a book I don’t fancy, I just stop reading it and pick up the next one on my list. I try my best to commit to the books until the end, but sometimes you gain more by abandoning the book if you find yourself dragging your feet or making your habit of reading difficult.

Top 5 Books In 2019

Although there are more books that I read in 2019 that I believe absolutely everybody should read, these are the top 5 books that had the most impact on me this year. The topics range from optimizing your daily routines, life lessons to absorb, and mental toughness.

  1. Atomic Habits – James Clear
  2. Anything You Want – Derek Sivers
  3. This Is Marketing – Seth Godin
  4. Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
  5. Can’t Hurt Me – David Goggins

Working On An MBA

I started my MBA in 2019 and did 6 courses towards my degree. This was a shock to my system after being out of college since 2013, however it hasn’t changed much other than needing to commit time directly to something in order to succeed. This helped me manage my time more efficiently and allocate just enough time needed to complete the lectures, readings, and homework. I’ve always been more of a technical person, and the insight into the business side has been quite eye-opening.

Streaming Every Week

I’ve always been into live streaming, and in 2019 I decided to give it a real shot myself. Every week I would help aspiring software developers with various aspects of how to grow your technical skills, preparing for an interview, applying for programming jobs, and much more. Creating a live stream is very creative and similar to building your own television channel where you’re responsible for the weekly programming. I’ve since expanded by streaming equipment and will be streaming much more in 2020!

2. Getting In Shape

I’ve always been in relatively decent shape. However this year, and especially becoming a new dad, I realized my fitness had dwindled and I’d gained over 30 pounds putting me upwards of 270 lbs at my heaviest. Although I was still weight lifting 3x a week, I realized that my diet and exercise routines needed to change to make a difference.

Needless to say, I took a break from exercise for a couple months completely to focus on my diet. After my diet was in order, I went back to my old routine of lifting weights.

I then went from lifting weights 3x a week, to going to the gym an additional 2x a week. This helped me shed over 40 pounds over a couple months, and introduced me back to the sport of basketball, which I play regularly to replace my cardio in the gym.

I’ve learned that the act of going to the gym used to be something I dread and would put off indefinitely. Instead, I commit to going to the gym by ensuring I have clothes ready, and block out time on my calendar everyday to go. Additionally, I’ve found that having an accountability partner who goes with you to do wonders in terms of motivation.

3. Finding My Focus

Outside of work, I tend to work on a number of side projects. Those side projects range from writing a book, twitch streaming for aspiring software developers, blogging my thoughts on the software industry, creating a mobile application for lawn care, performing & writing comedy at a local black-box theater, and much more.

This year I decided to downsize everything I was involved with, and gave myself a couple of projects that I would pursue instead. This not only helped provide me with clarity and focus, but it allowed me to make more meaningful contributions. Next year, I plan to change my focus to be a single project until it’s completed or abandoned.

Lessons Learned This Year

  • Perfection is a mindset. It’s okay to refuse to accept mediocrity and know what is good enough to you.
  • Instead of just doing, show and tell for others who may be in the same shoes you were once in to learn from.
  • You have to make the time to do what you want in life happen. This is especially important as your responsibilities grow.
  • Knowing who you are and what you stand for is your secret weapon.
  • The most rewarding path is the path with a tremendous obstacle. What stands in the way will become the way.
  • Ask all the questions you need to ask without apology for what you don’t understand while putting in the time to learn what you don’t know.
  • Taking ownership of failures and mistakes will make people respect you more and show it’s okay to make mistakes so long as they are corrected.
  • Don’t invest in things that eat up your time and resources with little to give back.
  • Creating wealth is a skill that needs to be practiced just as much as other skills.
  • You aren’t the only person who can do your job. Lift others up to your level and beyond.
  • Instead of taking all the shots given to you, go for the long shots instead. They are often closer than you think and more rewarding.
  • If you can think it, you can do it. The power of thoughts are indestructible.
  • Meditation can help reduce stressful situations, provide mental clarity, and bring a sense of calmness.
  • Practice mental toughness, it will help you master the decisive moment.
  • If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it or improve it.
  • Only deal with matters that are within your control.
  • Prepare your environments to provide a path of least resistance.
  • Enjoy the present and love everything that happens.